Sunday, May 15, 2011
Audible Improvements at Lone Star Audio Fest 2011
While seeing someone making a speaker enclosure out of cellos certainly seems odd at first glance, I'm surprised someone hasn't done it until now. These speaker systems from Audible Improvements (www.audibleimprovements.com) use a heavily modified Fostex driver and they sounded much better than I expected. Think about it: a string instrument such as a cello or a guitar is tuned and voiced very carefully in the same way as a speaker enclosure. So the sound of these Merlot Cello speakers were colored but in a very musical way.
I had a few obvious questions for Paul Jeremias, the proprietor of Audible Improvements. For instance, how hard was it to find cellos for the enclosures? (A: Not very hard at all!) Was it difficult to match cellos for both sound quality AND appearance? (A: Yes, but there are different price points for the Merlots based upon how perfectly they are matched.) And finally, has Paul thought about using a double bass for a larger model? (A: Yes, that's the next project!)
Paul also makes some very industrial-looking yet very cool tube amplifiers; his 6a3 300B-based amplifier runs $3000, and his 845-based Aurora Borealis amp is $4500. He also modifies Cambridge Audio 840cs and 640cvs for a reasonable price. The cost of the Merlot Cello speakers is a mere $3500 for pair, which isn't that much considering the cost of cellos these days. We listened to some Ella Fitzgerald and the sound was smooth, extended, sweet and immediate. The only downside was the low position of the drivers near the floor made the soundstage cling to the ground a bit. But other than that, the sound was life-like and compelling.