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|After unpacking the review pair to understand, first-hand and in the flesh, how clever the whole design really is, the Tubulous One gets an A+ for concept brilliance. For execution, it only gets a B. At present. This solely has to do with manufacturables. The veneer/laminate seam at the rear of the upright hasn't been fully perfected yet and the painted trim ring still telegraphs too much MDF texture. Ditto for the veneer's scallop edge which, in places, is still a mite rough and ragged. But these are minor birthing pain nits. I'm sure they will be licked once first orders are being filled. Vinh's too much of a detail freak to let these minutiae slide. In fact, he solely rushed this delivery so I'd be able to handle the review prior to the Denver show and drop off this (already fully broken-in pair) at the Marriott Hotel.
As the insert above gave away already, the internal Neotek OFC copper wiring loom (also available from Gingko Audio as speaker cable to perfectly match the internal hookup wiring) is a barrier-spade color-coded and labeled affair. Translation? Dunce, moron and reviewer proof. Even if you didn't read owner's manuals or instructions on principle, the color coding would give away what to do. To wit, connect the pig tails to a four-pole barrier strip on the belly of the driver tube. Afterwards, it'll be completely hidden from view by facing into the upright column. Simple yet efficacious.
The crossover is mounted to the base plate and housed in a cylindrical sub enclosure. This stump sits inside a recess that leaves just enough of a ring of clearance around it to accept the upright tube without binding up. The stand column slips around the stump and rotates easily for toe-in. The crossover housing has two wires exit through a channel on the underside of the base. That lead connects to a high-quality pair of binding posts which are mounted on the far edge of the plate. Now the upright tube completely hides the amplifier cable connection from the decorator's evil eye stare. Simple yet efficacious.
Pre-mounted metal cones (with their screw-on tips removed to turn into lethal weapons only after removal from their packaging and installation) take the place of the usual cheap T-nuts 'n' spikes. A snap-on plastic cover can hide the integral bubble level from view once it has served its purpose. Simple yet efficacious.
A solid black-paint MDF cap with bullnosed edging seals the rear of the driver tube whose weight gives away that there's more inside than just the visible 6.5" woofer. Setup of this 3-piece speaker is a no-brainer and takes 5 minutes per channel. Simple yet ... enough already, we all got the effi(ng)cacious message by now.
Inside the crossover enclosure is a continuously variable pot. That's fitted on the outside with a nice knob to contour treble response. Three markers (left/center/ right) are provided, with 12:00 o'clock/center presumably factory preset/flat. I could easily have unscrewed the cover to peek inside the electrical network enclosure. Alas, I did not. Gingko Audio has been unusually forthcoming about detailing their first loudspeaker design and how it differs from convention. If someone wants to reverse-engineer the crossover network, let them at least buy their own pair. A few secrets should remain secrets.
Verdict for the cosmetics in the flesh? In my book and as demonstrably clever and effective as the design is, its form factor isn't exactly its strongest suit. It's unusual for sure and different but a bit of an acquired taste at least in the delivered laminate choice. How good or bad a thing that is depends solely on the individual viewer.
|You can turn the tweeter contour simply by reaching inside the tube (if your arm is long enough). Otherwise lift off the stand. This is one of those set'n'forget procedures you'll only do once (unless you change rooms, equipment or setup). Hence the minor inconvenience of the access isn't frustrating but rather, a tiny price to pay for utter invisibility of this welcome feature.|
|So there you have it - the nuts and bolts of what makes a Tubulous One come together like two, three, four. Though formal and final findings are still out, I already have heard enough to know that this is a very promising speaker indeed. It's unnaturally powerful, too. In turn, it also inhales power like cookie monster munches on Cliff bars. My 50-watt Pateks play plenty loud enough (with the 15dB gain ModWright set to 2:00 o'clock for the usual SPLs, however) but more power is clearly welcome. In a timely stroke of good luck, the NuForce Reference 9 monos happened to be on hand.|
|Delivering 300 watts into 4 ohms, theirs is the kind of power the Tubulous really thrives on. In Corey Greenberg's rebellious lip then, the Tubulous One is a he-man speaker. It's capable of explosive dynamics and completely counter-intuitive bass extension, pitch definition and, yes, even precision slam. Yet to wake up rather than coast on automatic semi- asleep, it needs a high-calorie lumberjack breakfast. Otherwise you sense restraint - as though the speaker hadn't really gotten out of second gear despite actual in-room SPLs. Sure, things can be loud enough. But they telegraph a certain stickiness.|
This reluctance or inhibition gets traded for ease and flow once the appropriate amount of muscle kicks in. Clearly, this is exactly the kind of speaker Gingko Audio has fashioned - Mesa Baron fodder. Bring on the McCormacks, Brystons or the monster WRAD 300 tube amp. I'm not sure what kind of back EMF one should expect from three paralleled motors. How about current demands set up by the minuscule air volumes which back-load those drivers when pushed to advanced excursions? The ultra-low output impedance of the NuForce monos with the concomitant high damping factor (plus triple power and higher current reserves) do the trick. All this kicks the Tubulous performance up a few notches and into high gear. It's a dramatically different tactic and religion than my usual high-efficiency low-effort deal. I might also press the Patek SEs back into service but bridged. This not merely doubles power but takes advantage of bridged mode's reportedly more "supremacist" demeanor into lower impedance loads...
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