Some Members Discuss Their Nola Speakers

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
0
0
FL
#1
The Baby Grand Reference Gold continue to be one of my 2 or 3 "dream" speakers. Although I love audio and music, I can't help but think I would derive more happiness with the Baby's and cash than the Concert Grands, but obviously YMMV ;)
I once said that too. Guess what I was wrong. Yes I am very fortunate to be able to afford them (not bragging) but it was a real stretch. I had tremendous trepidation about buying them. I was replacing my Baby Grands. My last experience of upgrading (sometimes the evil of good is better) in this manner was from Watt/Puppy/WHOW to X1s which left a very sour taste in my mouth and got me out of the high end for quite awhile, so when I was faced with this decision I wasn't crazy about it, especially since I like the "monitor sound" which by the way NOLAs do unbelievably well; and I mean that as compliment when a large transducer like the BBG or CGR can recreate the intimacy of a small monitor with minimal or no crossover points in a large dynamic speaker.

Well they are f--king amazing. I have heard and owned many amazing systems and not to brag but I have never enjoyed any as much as I have since going the CGR route. May HP rest in peace but when he called the CGR the BEST he ever heard as described in the last review he ever did, reading his words were like reading my mind, although much more refined.

The testament to my happiness, is with the exception of a few tweaks here and there and changing from the REF75 to GS150 nothing has changed in my system and "all I do" is just listen. These are HUGE and extremely SUBTLE and extremely FAST and natural and as transparent as you can get and transmit all the macro and microdynamics without any strain even and particularly at low volume levels like no speaker I have ever heard. The coherence and continuity from the lowest to upper most octaves is an experience I have never witnessed with any speaker. I don't like to compare this versus that, but anyone looking for a speaker in this price range owes it to themselves to audition them as they might just be in for a big surprise. They may not get the press of a Wilson or a Magico but I could care less. The smile on my face and my never ending desire to get home from work and listen is all I care about. I am also not the kind of person who is married to a piece of equipment because I own it. If I don't like something I don't waste my time or energy convincing myself with rationalizations and I just move on. Truth is living with these amazing speakers for the last year and a half in conjunction with the rest of my system I have no desire to move anywhere but to my listening chair every single day.
 

Carl

Industry Expert
Feb 25, 2014
22
0
0
#2
CGRG design

One of the concepts we believe in which we were more fully able to implement in the CGRG is that of low mass with high force. This is implemented over the full range to provide "life like" transients and the natural feeling of "aliveness" present in the real thing.
Starting with the sub woofer drivers, these twin 12 inch drivers without the crossover are fast enough to respond flat to 1000 Hz and can reproduce a female voice. They are only used from 40 Hz down to 18 Hz in this design. The 10 lb magnet system combined with low moving mass provides the foundation for fast response in the higher ranges without a separate sub woofer sound.

Instead of using a conventional sized woofer, CGRG use 4 small drivers with a moving mass of only 7 grams each driven by powerful Alnico ring magnets. These woofers handle the range down to 40 Hz. Consider that these drivers have less than half the moving mass of typical MID RANGE drivers. They are flat to 10kHz without break up without the crossover and yet are only used up to 400Hz.

The mid range system is composed of 4 small drivers operating as an open baffle line array from 400 to 1500 Hz.These drivers have only 3 grams moving mass and the powerful Alnico magnet systems provide the clean driving force for "life like" mid band transients. The open baffle does not have trapped air from a rear enclosure slowing down its response. Compare this with the typical 6 1/2" mid range with a moving mass of 16 grams.

From 1500 Hz to 30 kHz , we use a massive 12 inch true ribbon driver driven by a 25 lb Neodymium magnet system. This huge driver with extremely low moving mass provides "life like" dynamics and "live" output levels without strain.

In order to expand dispersion we have added a 2 inch true ribbon operating above 15 kHz to 100 kHz.

This driver protocol of low mass / high force is just one of the driving principles behind the design of the CGRG
 

Elliot G.

[Industry Expert]
Jul 22, 2010
662
1
18
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
#3
I once said that too. Guess what I was wrong. Yes I am very fortunate to be able to afford them (not bragging) but it was a real stretch. I had tremendous trepidation about buying them. I was replacing my Baby Grands. My last experience of upgrading (sometimes the evil of good is better) in this manner was from Watt/Puppy/WHOW to X1s which left a very sour taste in my mouth and got me out of the high end for quite awhile, so when I was faced with this decision I wasn't crazy about it, especially since I like the "monitor sound" which by the way NOLAs do unbelievably well; and I mean that as compliment when a large transducer like the BBG or CGR can recreate the intimacy of a small monitor with minimal or no crossover points in a large dynamic speaker.

Well they are f--king amazing. I have heard and owned many amazing systems and not to brag but I have never enjoyed any as much as I have since going the CGR route. May HP rest in peace but when he called the CGR the BEST he ever heard as described in the last review he ever did, reading his words were like reading my mind, although much more refined.

The testament to my happiness, is with the exception of a few tweaks here and there and changing from the REF75 to GS150 nothing has changed in my system and "all I do" is just listen. These are HUGE and extremely SUBTLE and extremely FAST and natural and as transparent as you can get and transmit all the macro and microdynamics without any strain even and particularly at low volume levels like no speaker I have ever heard. The coherence and continuity from the lowest to upper most octaves is an experience I have never witnessed with any speaker. I don't like to compare this versus that, but anyone looking for a speaker in this price range owes it to themselves to audition them as they might just be in for a big surprise. They may not get the press of a Wilson or a Magico but I could care less. The smile on my face and my never ending desire to get home from work and listen is all I care about. I am also not the kind of person who is married to a piece of equipment because I own it. If I don't like something I don't waste my time or energy convincing myself with rationalizations and I just move on. Truth is living with these amazing speakers for the last year and a half in conjunction with the rest of my system I have no desire to move anywhere but to my listening chair every single day.
It does SUCK when you are happy it makes it hard for a guy to make a living!!!!
 

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
0
0
FL
#5
Great, I have a pair of Nola GR6 (grand Reference 6)
WOW

Those must be amazing. As an owner of the Concert Grands I can "extrapolate" similar to an owner of a BBG can do in reference to a CGR

However while I thought I could "extrapolate" when I owned my BBG before getting my CGR they really are different beasts.

I would love to hear your impressions.
 

jpportier

New Member
Jun 23, 2015
4
0
0
71
Geneva Switzerland
#6
Before I had bought the GR6G I had the first GR ever made. They were fantastic but the improvement with the GR6G is phenomenal
The bass in the mid tower are much faster and the high frequencies are a lot more transparent but still smooth and sweet.
My old GR are now in my House in Brazil. I took all the components and I made new cabinets in Brazil, because of the weight it was
cheaper than the freight and custom taxes.Now I will move from Switzerland to Mallorca Spain. Unfortunately there is no condition
To put them in my room, so I Will sell them for half price and buy a pair of CGRG. Now In Mallorca I have a pair of YG Acoustics Anat Reference Professionnal, but I don't like them. I am very sad to sell my GR6G because I know theses are the best Loudspeakers I have ever heard, and I don't know if I Will be happy with the CGRG.
 

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Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
0
0
FL
#8
Before I had bought the GR6G I had the first GR ever made. They were fantastic but the improvement with the GR6G is phenomenal
The bass in the mid tower are much faster and the high frequencies are a lot more transparent but still smooth and sweet.
My old GR are now in my House in Brazil. I took all the components and I made new cabinets in Brazil, because of the weight it was
cheaper than the freight and custom taxes.Now I will move from Switzerland to Mallorca Spain. Unfortunately there is no condition
To put them in my room, so I Will sell them for half price and buy a pair of CGRG. Now In Mallorca I have a pair of YG Acoustics Anat Reference Professionnal, but I don't like them. I am very sad to sell my GR6G because I know theses are the best Loudspeakers I have ever heard, and I don't know if I Will be happy with the CGRG.
Pretty amazing. I understand regarding the YG. I have had many other speakers, including some like Magico and Wilson which basically "steals the shows" by reviewers and hence people often follow the reviewer crowd, while NOLAs get such little press or audition time. I look at it as other people's losses.

I can't say what you will lose going to the CGRG from your NOLA GR6G, maybe Carl can chime in, BUT I can tell you my CGR IS the best speaker I have ever owned or heard. Once a person hears the magic of Carl's speakers "PROPERLY" set up it is hard to go back to others. I am driving mine with ARC REF10 Pre, ARC's new GS150 (one of my favorite components of all time), MSB Diamond Plus with Valhalla II. I was using the REF75 with amazing results and Carl's amp of choice but I am not sure if he has heard the GS150 as yet. It is just an amazing setup.

I look at Carl's speaker as craftsmanship (sound not necessarily looks) similar to a fine watch. He tunes his speakers like few others do with abilities few other have.
 

kma

New Member
Jul 6, 2015
12
0
0
#9
I've never heard the grand reference, but I've heard the concert grand a couple times. Easily one of the best speakers ever produced. They make music enjoyable and mesmerizing. Having said that, I've also heard a few of Carl's other speakers down the reference line. When I first met Carl (he was demoing a CG at CES a couple years ago), he told me that the prospective owner should choose the proper speaker in his reference line based upon room size/volume. My initial impression was "the big speaker has to sound better!" After all, this is what most of us have heard with our own ears. However, after knowing Carl a lot better over the years, I can say he doesn't sugar coat or exaggerate. Earlier this year at CES, I heard his new studio grand. To my shock, the studio grand sounded a whole lot better than the CG in the same demo room (which was quite large). My initial impression was that the room would be way too large for the studio grand to fill properly. I thought the room size would be more aptly suited for the CG. I was totally shocked to hear a speaker at 1/10 of the cost of the CG just do everything better, musically speaking. I even had to mention that to Carl once the demo died down (after most people left). He also agreed. The CG was actually a bit constricted even in that relatively large room size, whereas the studio grands grew to fill the room (my guess is the studio grand was designed for a room size much smaller, which made the feat even more amazing). This had me rethink my whole "bigger is better" paradigm. In truth, many speaker manufacturers "lower line" speakers provide sound that is a shell of what can be heard from their top of the line series. As evidenced by the components used in all of Carl's reference line speakers, the midrange drivers on up is usually identical. Same crossover design approach. Same cabinet design approach. So one would hope they all sound quite similar. In this specific demo, of course the studio grand couldnt match the CG in bass output, but this is to be expected. Although the studio had a nice, tight bass in general. I'd say a nice music sub would fix this. Anyways, the point here is, pick the speaker that fits your room size and/or budget the best, and enjoy the same NOLA quality sound from any of them.

One other thing Carl mentioned during this specific demo, which caught my attention. He stated it is a common myth that people believe all the spaciousness, and overall sound stage size advantage gained from the NOLAs is a "gimmick", artificially created by a dipole speaker design. To debunk this typical myth, Carl played a recording that obviously had little to no depth or width in the recording , and the speakers responded by crashing the sound stage size into nothing. Of course, this proved the point. I've also seen this effect on my own baby grand ref 2. The NOLAs only play the sound stage that has been recorded, without any exaggeration. Although I would say being dipole the sound does feel more spacious, I also don't think there is any artificial increase in the stage size due to being a dipole. The "ease" in my mind could be attributed to lower distortion coupled with a clean crossover design.

Most people posting here already know what type of sound quality to expect from a NOLA ref speaker. But in case they don't, I think the best way to sum this up is in the first email I sent to Carl after receiving, and setting up my baby grands. I could still say that all the enthusiasm and hype I felt on the first day has not waned until now (over a year later). I still go home to enjoy a great musical experience. The stage is satisfying. Sounds emerge from nothingness when the recording warrants. The performance is out in front of me, where it should be, not sitting in my lap. For example, on a live CD, when the audience cheers or claps, I hear those claps flank my side, as if I'm sitting maybe 10 rows away. The imaging is not specific to a certain width or depth, but it is 3D. Sounds emerge from every quadrant of space bounded by the space between speakers, behind the speakers, in front of the speakers, above the speakers, and even in some cases, seem to startle me from almost behind me. This kind of reproduction would make people wonder why multi-channel sound is in existence, when high quality 2 channel stereo is more than capable.

Anyways, here is what I wrote Carl after receiving my speakers and after my first day with them:
I think you're speakers are going to make me go deaf, Carl! ;) I notice the volume keeps moving up! The presentation is super relaxed and smooth, but not rolled off or anything. Actually, quite detailed (more than I'm used to). I can't say if my ears "heard" distortion before, but since I have no "tenseness" while turning the volume up, I can say that my ears can tell when there is distortion, whether my brain knows it or not. I had the speakers in a 7.5ft triangle, firing straight ahead, which happens to be the "comfortable" size and spacing for my room, however I kept feeling the sound stage was constrained to the left and right (beyond the speakers), compared to my other speakers in a similar location. I ended up pushing the BGII's to 9.5ft apart, with my seating position about 9ft away from the drivers. I think this is possible because of the dipole minimizing side reflections, and because I have 4" thick Roxul panels on the side walls to absorb those waves that would otherwise cause confusion. After I spread the speakers to 9.5ft apart, wow, things changed quickly. The sound stage opened up dramatically left to right, with the same solid center fill. I guess these babies need a little more than 7ft to breathe. The depth (behind the speaker plane) is simply untouchable by any non-open baffle speaker I've ever heard. My other speakers had a more "you are standing right in front of the performance, on stage" kind of presentation, whereas the BGIIs put me clearly in the middle of the stadium, sitting in the audience for the event. The stage is much farther back, and spreads all around, just like it would at a real live event. I guess this is how it should sound (we are the audience, not on the stage..).

There is more detail and speed in the midrange, which is the biggest improvement from my Andra IIs from a pure nuts and bolts point of view. Of course, the detail and speed are still so silky smooth and natural. One thing I noticed is CDs that I once thought were recorded very poorly (irritating), although still noticeably compressed and non-ideal, are now very listenable. The BGII's make me dig through my entire CD collection and pop in CDs that I thought were irritating to listen to. And even with these non-ideal CDs, the volume keeps going up! I don't know how you did that Carl. More speed, more detail, more cohesiveness.. more of everything to make bad recordings sound "good". Amazing. Just pure music. I don't need to dissect each frequency band to talk about what I hear. I hear music, and it sounds right, end of story.

The synergy with my Berning 200W monoblocks is pretty good Carl. If you have not tried one of Berning's latest designs with your speakers, please do yourself a favor and try it out. See what you think. I think these amps fit your design methodology well (they are fast because of the lack of a traditional output transformer at audio frequencies). The amps complement the speed of your drivers. You may want to use a warmer tube preamp though, since most would characterize the Berning sound as "lean" or "cool". I don't see it that way. I feel they are neutral and correct (not extra warmed up like most tube components are).

I could write more and more, but I think I've covered the highlights. These speakers are definitely keepers. Until I go deaf! :) The louder I turn them up, the more they make me feel like I'm in the club or venue. I never truly experienced this before. Now I can safely say that I have better sound in my home, than many audio booths at the shows I visit. Finally!!!!!

Keep up the good work. You've got golden ears. Music is addicting. I've been listening almost all day, and still craving more. Geez.



I think part of the reason the music is so effortless from these speakers (in addition to Carl's design approach to minimize driver mass, enhance speed, lower driver distortion, etc) is the design of the crossover. I don't sense any anomaly in the crossover points (in terms of frequency peaks or troughs). The overall staging and imaging resolution are probably attributed to a crossover that exhibits minimal group delay as well. Carl clearly knows what he is doing in all respects of speaker design. Some speakers may be more dynamic (like certain horn speakers), and other speakers may do bass better, etc, but I have yet to hear a speaker (or speaker line) do overall music as much justice. Just sit back, close your eyes, listen to music. Don't dissect what the speaker is doing. I never do. Oh, just to make it clear, my amps are Berning Quadrature Z monos, and I've also employed the use of a pair of NOLA Thunderbolt 3 subs. I find they add more substance in the lowest octave (20-40Hz), but I could say most people wouldn't really care. I feel it helps the overall presentation this way. It was my way of cheating and trying to emulate a concert grand :) And, in parting, I would like to say Carl is pretty approachable and accessible. He works very hard during his show demos to educate and bring music to the people (as evidenced by his offerings over the price range). He's also very available over email to answer any questions and to help you get the most of your investment. Carl asked me a favor to help spread my experiences with his speakers on this forum, and I kindly obliged. I felt it was the least I could do for all of the help and guidance he has provided, in addition to thank him for designing speaker systems that deliver music. His designs need to be heard. Too bad most of the publicity goes to other speaker manufacturers.
 

kma

New Member
Jul 6, 2015
12
0
0
#10
Hi Steve, thanks for your response and glad to be aboard. I have much more NOLA insight to share, for any prospective buyer (or someone who is on the fence). Just ask away :) The speakers really do "speak" for themselves in the way they convey music. There is emotion to the rendition. I've not heard the micro grand, but I would be surprised if they didn't offer more of the same. The studio grand showed me all I need to know with regards to sound quality up and down the line up. I've heard the Metro grand, the studio grand, my own baby grands, and the concert grands. I've also had limited exposure to the KO, but I wouldn't be in proper company to comment on the KO. I heard them in passing. I wished I had time to sit down and assess them better. But judging from the driver complement and Carl's design philosophy, my guess is the KO probably offers the best bang for the buck out of Carl's entire line up. You get some of everything (same midrange, same crossover design approach, line array design, open baffle, etc), all wrapped up into a more economical offering.
 

Carl

Industry Expert
Feb 25, 2014
22
0
0
#11
Pretty amazing. I understand regarding the YG. I have had many other speakers, including some like Magico and Wilson which basically "steals the shows" by reviewers and hence people often follow the reviewer crowd, while NOLAs get such little press or audition time. I look at it as other people's losses.

I can't say what you will lose going to the CGRG from your NOLA GR6G, maybe Carl can chime in, BUT I can tell you my CGR IS the best speaker I have ever owned or heard. Once a person hears the magic of Carl's speakers "PROPERLY" set up it is hard to go back to others. I am driving mine with ARC REF10 Pre, ARC's new GS150 (one of my favorite components of all time), MSB Diamond Plus with Valhalla II. I was using the REF75 with amazing results and Carl's amp of choice but I am not sure if he has heard the GS150 as yet. It is just an amazing setup.

I look at Carl's speaker as craftsmanship (sound not necessarily looks) similar to a fine watch. He tunes his speakers like few others do with abilities few other have.


It is difficult to explain the sound of the Grand Reference 6 Gold so I will share a couple of my Grand Reference experiences.
There was the time when we first showed the system at CES. I was playing the Reference Recording of Fanfare for the Common Man. A reviewer who was at the original recording session came running down the hall because he thought the drums were real.
Another reviewer who lived in LA was using our restroom while I was playing the soundtrack from Jurassic Park. He came running out thinking it was a real earthquake.
Cary Audio was above us and they frequently commented that their floor was flexing up and down.
By the end of that show we had managed to blow off half the leaves of the ficus trees we were using for room treatment. They sat on the floor when the rental florist came to pick them up.
At the Munich Show in 2012, a reviewer complained that the bass could be heard two floors below--and yet the bass balance in our demo room was not exaggerated. The 4 towers were being driven by 1 pair of 80 watt 300B mono blocks.
At this show, we were jammed by wall to wall people all 4 days such that is was often difficult to get a good demo. And this in a 65 sq m room that is more like an airplane hanger than a room.
Many couples took photos of themselves standing in front of the towers--as if they are some kind of landmark. This was a humbling experience for me and my family. I had never seen anything like this.
To sum up I would say the Grand Reference is the least boring loudspeaker I have ever run into and provides a different level of experience.
 

Idefix

New Member
May 17, 2014
7
0
0
#13
Hi Guys,

I have eventually the time to post on the forum.
Happy to discover the dedicated part for Nola !

In few weeks it will be the 2nd anniversary of my Metro Gold Reference :)

My system has made a lot of progress and even if some are still to be done i spend some very pleasant time listening to my music and particularly live music.
My Nola are associated with: One Stereo Luxman M800A power amp, a Zanden 3000, Grimm Xlr cables, some High Fidelity Ct1e speakers cables and a Lumin A1.
I currently test the Totaldac Dual of one of my friends and i can tell you that it fits very well with my Metro Gold which give all the détails and fluidity of this network player.

The Metro need space and i have reorganized my room to try and give them some fresh air :) to produce what they are capable of. I would be very curious to test a Trinnov room/speaker optimizer on them as my living room is not as good as a dedicated room could be.

It's a pity for me that Nola is not well known in France but that's still a reality.
I've read the review of the French Magazine Haute Fidelité and i hope it will be good for Nola in France.
 
Jul 2, 2015
577
0
16
#14
since my experience is with Nola's previous incarnation, Alon, i will keep it brief;

these are not loudspeakers, they are transportation devices

:cool:
 

ekovalsky

New Member
Aug 20, 2015
8
0
0
Scottsdale, AZ
#15
Glad to see some other Nola lovers here!

I have an older set of (Alón) Exotica Grand Reference. My setup is somewhat unorthodox, being fully digital with DSP crossovers, I do not use the outboard factory passive or line level subwoofer crossovers. Rather I have each driver group directly connected to a modified TacT S2150 amplifier which is programmed with a custom filter that implements crossover, target curve, and room/driver correction along with gain matching and time delay. The amps are connected to a modified TacT RCS2.2X which is only used for measurements, master volume control, and digital signal distribution. Attenuation is cleverly done, being completely separate from the signal path. Volume is reduced by dropping voltage on the output rails of the amps so there are no lost 'bits'. The RCS accepts or upsamples the incoming PCM stream to 24/192 and passes same along to the amps.

All equipment is plugged into a PS Audio P10 regenerator/conditioner. Had some bad experiences with PS Audio regenerators in years past, but this one is a winner sonically and it has been flawless in operation - think they finally got it right this time around. An Aurender N10 is the primary source. I received it recently and absolutely love it. Cabling is Acoustic Zen (S/PDIF & AES/EBU digital links and custom made Hologram/Absolute quad speaker cable harness, which I have buried into the concrete under the carpet). I use exclusively Michael Wolff (RIP) carbon ribbon power cords.

Here are some pics... still waiting for a few last things including baseboards and a coffee table 'shroud' to conceal the equipment, which should be done in the next week or so. If anyone has any questions or wants to see the specific filters I designed for the Grand Ref, just ask.













The factory crossovers I have - which are not the latest version - held back the system's potential in my opinion, mostly in the suboptimal integration of main and sub towers, but also in dynamics. As fantastic as the Raven R-1s are, they really don't perform well below 3kHz or so, and using a steep crossover on them was sonically very beneficial. Nola's alnico midranges - which sure look like "new old stock" Vifa M13Mi-08 - are phenemonal drivers. As are the Seas W22EX001 woofers in the sealed enclosures - they are very tight and fast, and also improved with a high pass filter cutting output in the bottom two octaves where they fast run out of gas. I have them crossed to the subs at about 50Hz with a steep slope; the subs are sonically invisible, all the bass seems to come from the main channels, which is the way it should be. With the factory crossovers, the larger overlap in output and time/phase differences seemed to always preclude perfect integration.

The middle graph here is the frequency sweep of the fully corrected system at the listening position, which is basically my target curve.



Last, the aquarium... this photo is from my old house. The new tank should be filled in the next couple weeks. I will have the same amount of livestock, plus a couple larger fish, in about twice the gallons (235 > 450 display tank). I'm often asked if the bass bothers the fish. As powerful as the Nola subs are, compared to a whale whose low frequency vocalizations can travel thousands of miles through the ocean, they are nothing... And the air-glass-water interface is very inefficient for transmitting sound. So in short, it does not really bother them.

 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
0
0
#16
Glad to see some other Nola lovers here!

I have an older set of (Alón) Exotica Grand Reference. My setup is somewhat unorthodox, being fully digital with DSP crossovers, I do not use the outboard factory passive or line level subwoofer crossovers. Rather I have each driver group directly connected to a modified TacT S2150 amplifier which is programmed with a custom filter that implements crossover, target curve, and room/driver correction along with gain matching and time delay. The amps are connected to a modified TacT RCS2.2X which is only used for measurements, master volume control, and digital signal distribution. Attenuation is cleverly done, being completely separate from the signal path. Volume is reduced by dropping voltage on the output rails of the amps so there are no lost 'bits'. The RCS accepts or upsamples the incoming PCM stream to 24/192 and passes same along to the amps.

All equipment is plugged into a PS Audio P10 regenerator/conditioner. Had some bad experiences with PS Audio regenerators in years past, but this one is a winner sonically and it has been flawless in operation - think they finally got it right this time around. An Aurender N10 is the primary source. I received it recently and absolutely love it. Cabling is Acoustic Zen (S/PDIF & AES/EBU digital links and custom made Hologram/Absolute quad speaker cable harness, which I have buried into the concrete under the carpet). I use exclusively Michael Wolff (RIP) carbon ribbon power cords.

Here are some pics... still waiting for a few last things including baseboards and a coffee table 'shroud' to conceal the equipment, which should be done in the next week or so. If anyone has any questions or wants to see the specific filters I designed for the Grand Ref, just ask.













The factory crossovers I have - which are not the latest version - held back the system's potential in my opinion, mostly in the suboptimal integration of main and sub towers, but also in dynamics. As fantastic as the Raven R-1s are, they really don't perform well below 3kHz or so, and using a steep crossover on them was sonically very beneficial. Nola's alnico midranges - which sure look like "new old stock" Vifa M13Mi-08 - are phenemonal drivers. As are the Seas W22EX001 woofers in the sealed enclosures - they are very tight and fast, and also improved with a high pass filter cutting output in the bottom two octaves where they fast run out of gas. I have them crossed to the subs at about 50Hz with a steep slope; the subs are sonically invisible, all the bass seems to come from the main channels, which is the way it should be. With the factory crossovers, the larger overlap in output and time/phase differences seemed to always preclude perfect integration.

The middle graph here is the frequency sweep of the fully corrected system at the listening position, which is basically my target curve.



Last, the aquarium... this photo is from my old house. The new tank should be filled in the next couple weeks. I will have the same amount of livestock, plus a couple larger fish, in about twice the gallons (235 > 450 display tank). I'm often asked if the bass bothers the fish. As powerful as the Nola subs are, compared to a whale whose low frequency vocalizations can travel thousands of miles through the ocean, they are nothing... And the air-glass-water interface is very inefficient for transmitting sound. So in short, it does not really bother them.

Speechless .. Keyboard..less??? :D

Woah!!!
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#17
Last, the aquarium... this photo is from my old house. The new tank should be filled in the next couple weeks. I will have the same amount of livestock, plus a couple larger fish, in about twice the gallons (235 > 450 display tank). I'm often asked if the bass bothers the fish. As powerful as the Nola subs are, compared to a whale whose low frequency vocalizations can travel thousands of miles through the ocean, they are nothing... And the air-glass-water interface is very inefficient for transmitting sound. So in short, it does not really bother them.

I don't know what is more stunning, your audio system, its performance and room, or this tank! Unbelievable color and diversity in that tank. Love to watch them and listen to music on that system!
 

kma

New Member
Jul 6, 2015
12
0
0
#18
I had an "audio" friend over from out of state the other day. He never heard the NOLA sound before coming over. After his brief listen, I think he liked the sound a lot (and was complimenting of the overall ease, detail, depth of stage, height of stage, etc etc). But, he felt the presentation differed too much compared to his current, electrostatic type speakers (to be unnamed). He felt the rendition was lacking a bit of intimacy, meaning he felt he was sitting in the mezzanine of a live event, rather than 1st row (partly because of the vast depth of my system, which he said was deeper than anything he's ever heard before). I guess with the sound being diffuse, his ears are not used to it. I told him it sounds more like 10th row seating, or 3rd row (depending on how close mic'd the performance is, for example, an acoustic solo). I'm not sure why people feel sitting right up on stage with the performers is the right vantage point. I know whenever I go to a concert or a venue, I like to sit at around 10th row in an amplified event to let the sound system hit me with a cohesive sound. My guess his speakers present the sound as if he is on the 1st row, ready to reach out and touch the performer? I'm not sure, since I never heard those speakers before. Anyways, he gave very high compliments (as in, the best system he's ever heard, regardless of price, that perhaps doesnt totally suit his listening tastes). I gave him my personal experience. When you first hear the NOLA sound, your ears need a little time to adjust back to how it "should" sound. If you're used to razor sharp imaging and focus like what maybe a YG speaker will do, then sure, you're going to feel the sound from NOLA is very diffuse and lacking razor sharp focus. I also felt the same (at first listen). But over a short period of time, once my ears adjusted back to what I now consider "normal", I found the "diffuse" thing people talk about actually is a cohesive blending of the instrumental stage that is exactly how it would sound if listening live. For example, one instrument is not highlighted as playing "all by itself". The total sound emanates from the stage, blended beautifully with all other instruments that are playing on stage in their time and space. Instruments are whole and the stage is full. This happens while still preserving as much focus and precision as what should be considered real for a live performance. I can still tell exactly which location sound is coming from.. and there is much better delineation, in fact, than any speaker I've ever had before, especially in the depth and height dimensions (once you really relax and start to listen to music, rather than dissect audiophile like qualities). I think what throws people off is the sound being so cohesive and diffuse (free flowing). The typical audiophile ear is not used to such "proper" sound IMHO. I think my friend would have come around if he got a chance to listen more (we only had a couple hours to mess around with a few of his "test" tracks). He did also compliment the looks of my speakers. He did admit maybe he is a bit "weird", because he is not really into the "live" concert like feeling. He wants the total intimacy feeling (possibly like reach out and touch the performer on stage feeling, or feeling they are in the room with you). Funny thing is, if we got to playing more apt tracks, I think he would have felt the intimacy he was looking for. Since I'm very familiar with my own system, I can say it lacks no sense of intimacy, when recorded as such. The speakers just convey what is on the recording, at what depth they have been recorded with. You can't ask for any more than this.
 

Mcbrion

New Member
May 10, 2013
46
0
0
Connecticut
#20
The perspective that owners of the big systems bring is helpful as a comparison to other models. I own several generations of Nola, from the L'il Rascals to the Lotus Elite to Reference (crossover separate from boxes) to Contenders.
What pleases me most about Nola speakers - aside from the musical presentation - is their ability to reveal you've just changed your speaker cable or placed a Shakti Online on top of a Nordost interconnect. The lack of straining to hear the change in sound places them in august company. One never need wonder, as I did with my Hales Revelations (a very good speaker, by the way), whether or not I had lifted the ground correctly on a component or not. Of course, exquisite setup trumps everything. No matter how good a speaker is, if placed in the wrong position - by a matter of 1/2" - one loses noticeable musicality. For those familiar with the excellent speaker setup (and also, the sound of (live) music), 1/2" matters more to the satisfaction of the soul than in other areas, more of concern to Eros, where some prize size.

A Contender is capable of generating a vast sound field, as noted by Jonathan Valin in the April 2011 CES coverage issue of TAS - which piqued my interest, as I am no longer interested in speakers that weight a bit less than I can bench press. I want a speaker I can carry under one arm easily, and the Contender fits nicely. What is also phenomenal about it is how it shows the stage of break-in: the Nordost Frey initially put you in 3rd row center, hearing every intake of breath Ella Fitzgerald inhaled. After breakin, Ella was less breathy, but this only enlightened me to the fact, that, if I wanted 3rd row center, I should get an Audio Research preamp or one of the "front-and-center" school of components.

To have a component that is invisible enough to prevent you from making expensive purchasing mistakes is a godsend. I can now decide if I want Nordost power cords or Shunyata (I discovered while playing Hair on vinyl the other night, that the Python VX power cord imbues a voice with an exceptional realism and power, along with vibrato, in contrast to the Nordost Brahma I purchased recently, which, with its lack of subtlety - along with other traits of the Nordost line of products - revealed the plug had been modified, and all the subtleties of a Nordost unit, although not as vibrant in the you-are-there sense as a Shunyata of that generation, were absolutely and completely gone. Cord returned forthwith.

Even in the so-called "budget reaches" (which, if 'twerp 1987, would be considered reasonably expensive) remember that the WATTS, when they first came out in 1986, were "only" 4,400.00. People were outraged that a monitor cost that much. Nowadays, $4,400 is considered "low cost" (sure, sure), Nola brings the quality. About the only thing one could wish for is that there were more repair facilities available, or dealers who had at least had expertise in repairs.

Consistency, no matter the price point, is what allows a feeling of comfort about a purchase. To get the music on top of that in High End, is cause for rejoicing.
 
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