Be careful what you wish for...
That is an idiom I've never really understood. I wish for a lot of things and am never afraid that my wish might come true, yet am always disappointed when it doesn't. Which seems to happen about every time. After a long drawn out construction period complete with hospital visits and lawyers, my dedicated Audio Room was finished. I couldn't wait to just sit down, pour a nice stiff drink, and enjoy some music! At this point in life I was mentally and physically drained and thus in no mood for anything challenging or difficult. Occasionally, my prayers are answered. To recharge my soul and restore my faith in humanity; the universe sent me a new pair of Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers in stunning Walnut. Staring at them at the start of my review period, they look as if they were specially-designed for my new Audio Room.
This may be a spoiler alert; but yes. They sound as good as they look, right out of the box.
A Goal Without A Plan Is Just
My sample pair included the Audio Physic Magnetic Sound Optimizer feet (VCFII M-M8 at $850 retail), in a separate delivery. Once installed, the speakers were placed in the recommended distance off the sided walls (about three feet) and about two feet off my back wall. The speakers started their review session heavily toe' d in (like my Martin Logans) but were quickly placed almost flat across the front. Final placement was a mere 5 degrees off axis. The standard recommended isosceles triangle and crossing axis no longer applied, with these speakers.
Fit and finish of the Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers is nothing short of flawless. My walnut finish was a perfect match for my room. They offer other finishes (Cherry, Ebony, High-gloss White and Black) to suite every décor. Other than the walnut, I think gloss black would be my next choice. Being the owner of several German cars through the years; it's easy to detect that same style and performance in these speakers. Simple, elegant, powerful, yet subtle. This description would fit the Tempo Plus loudspeakers, at a brief glance. They are almost minimalist in their outward appearance. Inside it is a completely different story. These speakers are packed with the latest technology from Audio Physics. Much of the Tempo Plus advancements, come from the more expensive Avantera III, Codex, and Avanti speakers. It is my understanding that this is the ninth Tempo Plus release over the last 25 years. The ninth times the charm!
From the front baffle, the tweeter; described as a HHCT III (Hyper-Holographic Cone Tweeter III), is a ceramic coated aluminum cone with a poly dust cap. The midrange driver is a HHCM II (Hyper-Holographic Cone Midrange Driver II). Both the tweeter and the midrange drivers are proprietary to Audio Physics. Leaving the slim front to view the sides, and you will find two large (decoupled) bass drivers on each side. To provide outstanding bass performance (for their size) the Tempo Plus bass drivers feature "push-push technology".
Audio Physic describes this as, "two high-performance bass drivers, equipped with stiff aluminum membranes, located precisely across from one another. The location and switching of the chassis and the so-called 'push-push technology' create a symmetrical distribution of force on the loudspeaker cabinet when the loudspeaker is in use."
Quite noticeable from the side, you will also notice the Tempo Plus slight "lean back" profile. The Tempo Plus is a bit of an optical allusion. Thin from the front, wide and tilted back, from the side. The tilted front (from baffle to the back) is designed to eliminate unwanted cabinet oscillation. As a matter of fact, the Tempo Plus is an engineering marvel. In looking over the specification, you begin to understand, how something so small, can deliver such room-filling sound. The Tempo Plus is packed with engineering solutions, designed to heighten your musical experience. Engineering elements, like a heavily dampened MDF reinforced cabinet; including dampening material made up of 85% air. Other solutions, like Vibration Control Terminal (VCT) and Active Cone Damping (ACD) all lend themselves to the final product, called, the Tempo Plus loudspeakers. Each driver (tweeter, midrange and bass) is enclosed in its own separate "box", to isolate one from the other. Joining them together, are three separate "low-order crossovers", which somehow manage to bring this symphony of parts into one instrument. Internal wiring is reported to be manufactured by Audioquest.
[Insert picture of Tempos front and side]
Rounding out the back are the rear bass-reflex ports and a single pair of WBT nextgen binding points. Audio Physik's Tempo Plus loudspeakers typically rest on a pair of thick aluminum bars screwed to the bottom of the cabinet and steel spikes to the floor. My sample came with the Audio Physic Magnetic Sound Optimizer feet (VCFII M-M8) in a separate shipment. The Audio Physic Magnetic Sound Optimizer feet VCFII M-M8 provided an easy way to position the speakers on the new tile, and provided additional isolation from the room (floor).
Connections were with standard Audioquest Rocket 44 speaker cable, directly from a Bryston 4BSST2 amplifier or a pair of mono Bryston 7B³ Amplifiers (currently under review). The Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers are rated at 4 Ohms, with a 20-150 W amplifier recommendation. With a reported Sensitivity of just 89dB/W/m, you could run them with a tube amplifier and get great sound. My Bryston 4B SST2 is rated at 500 Watts per channel into 4 Ohms, and the Bryston 7B³ Amplifiers are rated at 900 Watts per channel into 4 Ohms, so I was mindful of my volume control at first.
The Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers sound great, right out of the box. No elaborate burn in time needed. What a refreshing change. I was pleasantly surprised. I later learned that Audio Physic burn in all their drivers. Decided to pick through the rest of my favorite Ed Sheeran songs off the new CD "Divide" including "Galway Girl", "Eraser", "Perfect", "Barcelona" and "Castle on the Hill" before stopping. I was smiling and quite happy. According to my wife; this is a rare thing lately. These speakers sounded good. Really good right out of the darn box.
Decided to give myself a timeout, put on my usual burn-in music, and closed the door. I would come back in a few days as planned due to heading out of town for the weekend. This let the Tempo Plus loudspeakers soak in the sound for an additional 72 hours. The world would be back to normal by then. Fortunately for me, it wasn't. After a completely unrelaxing extended weekend I returned home to the Tempo's.
To match my mood, I decided to change up my normal review process (soft music to hard) and go right for the "Demo of Destruction" playlist. "Don't Let Me Down" featuring Daya re-mix, and "Never Forget You" MNEK re-mix are the first tracks on the list. I usually play this list after matching the mid to low bass roll-off to match my subwoofer (a SVS Ultra 13). Often a tedious task; I was in no mood for this night. Surprisingly, the Audio Physic Tempo Plus loudspeakers failed to bottom out or distort in any way. They didn't reproduce the ultra-low bass that cause your heart to palpitate incorrectly (as I like), yet they did produce very tight, mid to low bass without any woofer distortion or muffling. A few AC/DC tracks later, and my weekend anger had subsided. I would be testing the limits to the bass drivers a bit later.
My next available listening session was dedicated to the ladies. I had begun compiling my go-to list of female vocal performers, and I was ready to give them a spin. Playing them in order; Pinks "What About Us" FLAC 44.1kHz/24-bit, Alicia Keys "Kill Your Mama FLAC 44.1kHz/24-bit, and Norah Jones "Come Away with Me" 192kHz/24-bit. All three tracks sounded wonderful, filling the room with a fullness and warmth that I prefer. The Norah Jones "Come Away With Me" [192kHz/24bit] track sounded as if I was listening to a live recording. Female vocals can be difficult to reproduce accurately on many speakers. Being mostly mid-range in timbre, female performances can come across bland and lifeless, if the mid-range driver isn't up to task. I call it the "Bose Effect". Thankfully,the Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers were up to the task. The female-lead performances came through with a rich, even timbre. There was a clear blending of the vocals, from mid to the mid-high range. Smooth transition, from the tweeter driver to the mid-range driver, and back. I was unable to detect which driver was more active, with each passing track. While I had several more female-lead vocal tracks to audition, I took a moment to search out a live recording of something. After a futile twenty-minute search, I discovered, that my music collection lacked any well-recorded live recordings.
Oddly enough, was feeling a bit melancholy earlier that week and was watching an old DVD of Sarah McLachlan in concert [Mirrorball, ASIN B00001ODGH]. Back in my installer days this DVD would be on-loop during any installation. Although my Audio Room was designed for music first (above all), it still retained its surround sound setup, retractable 100" screen and Sim2 projector.
My player of choice, was the OPPO UDP-205 UHD Blu-ray player. magazine/equipment/0717/OPPO_UDP205_Hi_Res_Music_Player_Review.htm
XLR balanced outputs from the OPPO connects to the ARC L27 preamplifier. The OPPO UDP-205 UHD Blu-ray player feature two HDMI outputs. One HDMI output is labeled as "Audio Only" and has a high-stability, high-precision HDMI clock and a special HDMI audio jitter reduction circuit when you use the audio-only HDMI output port for connecting the audio signal. OPPO's player is in my audio rack, and thus not racked within my A/V gear about 15 feet away, soI opted to use the balanced outputs for audio, and run a long HDMI to my projector for the video. Even down converted to stereo, the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers produced an "in concert" sound-space that filled the room. Dimming the lights, I spent the next hour enjoying Sarah McLachlan in concert. Having watched this presentation just the week before and hundreds of times before that, can honestly say that I enjoyed the stereo presentation with the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers over my Martin Logans! I don't admit to that very often. At this point I disconnected the video cables and returned the room to its usual audio configuration. [Note: At the time of this writing, OPPO announced that they would cease manufacturing any new products. Very sad news].
Since I had the system configured for physical music reproduction, I made a quick trip to our CD storage area. My usual burn-in process continued. To my ear, the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers didn't require any additional burn-in. They were good to go and the remainder of the listening session felt akin to a 1980's blur. While it can be said that music recordings from the 1980s leave much to be desired, with a lack of headroom and widely compressed masters, they do tend to expose flaws in your components from time to time. Fortunately, the only flaw that afternoon was an acknowledgement of the poor state of my CD storage environment (my garage). Each CD required a thorough cleaning before being placed into the OPPO's disc tray.
Many 1980s classics flew through the OPPO transport that day. Men At Work, "Down Under", Nena, "99 Red Balloons", Dead Or Alive, "You spin Me Round", Martika, "Toy Soldiers and Bros, "When Will I Be Famous"; just to name a few. All sounded wonderfully compressed and toy piano good. I do love my 80's. The Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers made the game, "Name That Drum Machine" all the more fun! Having the house to myself at the moment, it felt like a good time for the torture test. My current setup included the outstanding Bryston BP17³ preamplifier paired with the new Bryston 7B³ amplifiers.
I was also using their new BDP-3 Digital Player for my upcoming feature piece "Wholehouse High-Resolution Audio. Myth or Reality?" [Enter Link to this article...]
The BDP-3 Digital Player provided the bridge between my NAS and my Wadia di322 DAC.
This was the closest I had ever come to my dream system. It was also the most powerful setup I ever had in my possession, as the 7B³ mono amplifiers can deliver 600 Watts into 8 Ohms, and 900 Watts into 4 Ohms. The Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers recommended amplifier power is rated at 20 to 150 Watts ad so had to be careful here. Blowing a pair of review speakers is generally frowned upon.
By this phase of the review process (and before the torture test), I would have spent some time matching the Tempo Plus loudspeakers, with my SVS Ultra 13 subwoofer. Within an hour of attempting this task, (earlier in my review process); I decided that the SVS Ultra 13 subwoofer was not needed. I was only missing the very low end (sub-low), and frankly, I didn't really miss it at all. The SVS Ultra 13 subwoofer remained off, for the duration of the review.
My "Demo of Destruction" list, which consists of woofer-splitting bass tracks like "Don't Let Me Down" [featuring Daya re-mix] and "Never Forget You" [MNEK re-mix]) boomed out of the Tempo Plus loudspeakers. Starting on low; I gradually increased the level of pain (also called volume). By the third track, I had reached my pain threshold. Remarkably, the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers kept the faith. Only during the final moments of Bassnectar's "Above and Beyond", did the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers bass driver, finally give it up. The bass was clearly below 32Hz at this point. Backing down the volume, I settled in with Linkin Parks "Papercut", "Yeah" by Usher and finished with "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas for good measure.
To settle my heart rate and stop my ears from ringing, I put on a few Analog LPs. Unfortunately, I no longer had the excellent Oracle Audio Origine turntable in my possession. magazine/equipment/0917/Oracle_Audio_Origine_Turntable_Review.htm
I was forced to use my old college turntable, a Technics SL-D3 (with a new Grado Prestige Black 1 cartridge). The audio signal was routed through a Parasound Zphono Phono Preamplifier with Audioquest "Big Sur" RCA cables. These cables were routed to the pre-amplifier (the Bryston BP17³ Preamplifier- under review), out to the Bryston 7B³ Amplifiers (also under review), via balanced Audioquest Mackenzie XLR cables. Output from the amplifier stage would use Audioquest Rocket 44 speaker cables.
My go-to pressings of choice, are Beth Hart's "37 Days" (180 Gram) LP (as most of the LP had been recorded live, in the studio) and Bruce Hornsby and The Range LP ("The Way It Is"), also 180 Gram pressing. While I was looking forward to listening to multiple tracks of Beth Hart's strong, raspy vocals; I had to cut my analog LP session short. After living with the excellent sound performance of the Oracle Audio Origine turntable for several months; the old Technics SL-D3 just wasn't up to the task. No fault or issue with the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers. They faithfully reproduced every sound fault produced by the old Technics SL-D3 turntable. I have no doubt, that with a fully functional turntable; the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers would produce a very life-like sound reproduction with any turntable.
The final listening session was over ten days later. The Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers had remained off for the duration. Usually, my reviews start with a "Demo Playlist", which is a collection of High-Resolution DSD and FLAC files. I always play these songs in the same order, as they help me quickly identify a components weak spot (or spots). Because the Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers produced such an even and live presence in my Audio Room (right out of the box); my review process was up ended.
Anti-climactic is rarely a word I would use to describe a listening session, but that was what I felt, as I stared at the Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers. It was like drinking the last bottle, from a good case of wine. You know this bottle of wine will taste as good as the last 11 bottles. And after this last bottle, the wine will be gone. So, would the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers. Call tags had been sent, and the boxes were out of storage. Normally, I would start with listening for the de-tuned xylophone background phrase of Michael Jacksons, "Human Nature" [DSD 2.8MHz]. If it's not noticeable, then we have a problem. If I can hear it right away, I move on to the next track. This would be a no-brainer. On cue, the odd, de-tuned, xylophone background phrase was clearly audible. Front and center, no masking, no distortion.
Starting with a cappella performance bySonos, "SONOSings" [ASN: B002JCMZDC], both male and female vocals clearly produced a live soundstage, directly in the center of the room. Then, Buddy Guy's gritty, live (studio) performance on "Sweet Tea" [ASN: B00005CC2J], spilled out, dark and brooding. His raspy voice and classic guitar twangs land solidly in the mid to mid-low range, resonation off the walls of the room. Track after track, artist after artist, the Tempo Plus loudspeakers reproduced the gasping of every breath, and the gentle touch of each guitar string hour after hour. The intimacy of a musical performance is what we all strive to reproduce. The feeling of "being there" without putting up with the parking and the crowds. We all want to have Pink, singing in our Audio Room (but that's probably not going to happen). The best we can do, is to take the time (and what's left of our savings) and assemble a sound system; that reproduces our music of choice, to the best of its capabilities.
For me, the Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers can do just that. The loudspeakers reproduce music, with such a wide dynamic range; you would assume they stood six feet tall. They reproduce vocals, with such detail and clarity, you would assume they cost twice as much. Neither is true. The Audio Physic Tempo Plus Loudspeakers stand just forty inches tall. They cost, depending on the finish, between $6495 to $6995.
Before reviewing the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers, I had never heard of Audio Physic. They are clearly on my radar from now on. While it's fun to believe that there's a bit of "Magic in the Makeup", the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers are a result of years of R & D. From the impressive fit and finish, to the engineering marvels stuffed inside this small foot print, the Tempo Plus Loudspeakers are a direct descendant of Audio Physics more expensive models: Proprietary tweeter and midrange drivers, featuring Hyper Holographic Cone (HHC technology), bass drivers with "push-push technology" and the 'Vibration Control Terminal', can all be found on their (more expensive) Avantera III, Avanti and Codex speakers. And finally, the narrow front and gentle slope of the loudspeaker (which help eliminate unwanted cabinet oscillations) sum up Audio Physic's motto, "No loss of fine detail".
It's No Use Crying Over Spilt
As a matter of fact, for the first time in years, I think I had my sound dialed in. My Audio Room sounded good! Very good. It's simple math, really (The combination of the Audio Physic Tempo Plus loudspeakers + powered by a pair of powerful Bryston 7B³ Amplifiers + sound from a Bryston BP17³ Preamplifier = equal an awesome sounding room).
And that makes me sad.
Sad because I know this is temporary as Audio Physic's Tempo Plus loudspeakers are gone now. I miss them already and had the chance to own them, yet I balked. Am still holding out for my dream speakers. In the meantime, I listen to my aging Martin Logan Summits and ponder. Despite all of my praise for the Tempo Plus loudspeakers, had to let them go. While the sound characteristics were all there, I wanted more. More size, more volume... I wanted the Audio Physic Avantera III perhaps, et they are quite a bit more at $23,0000 per pair on up. Don't let the size fool you. If you get a chance to audition the Audio Physic Tempo Plus loudspeakers, please do so. If you are offered a chance to buy them, please do so. Highly recommended!
Analog Sources: Technics SL-D3 Automatic Turntable.
Digital Processors: Wadia Di322 DAC, Audioquest DragonFly Red DAC,
Pre-Amp: Audio Research LS27, Bryston BP17³ Preamplifier (under review)
Phono Pre-Amp: Parasound Zphono
Power Amplifiers: Bryston 4B SST2, Bryston 3B ST. Bryston 7B³ Amplifiers (under review)
AV Receivers: Denon AVR-X4300H, Integra DRX-5
Loudspeakers: Martin Logan Summit, Martin Logan Purity, Jamo Concert 8, Sonus Faber Chameleon B, M&K V1250THX Subwoofer, SVS Ultra-13 Subwoofer.
Headphones: OPPO PM-1 (Balanced), Meze 99 Classics, Noble Audio K10 CIEM, Noble Audio 3 IEM.
Cables: USB: Audioquest Carbon, Audioquest Cinnamon. Audioquest Yukon S/PDIF: Audioquest Optical Carbon, Audioquest Optical Cinnamon. Line level: Audioquest Red River, Audioquest Mackenzie (XLR), Audioquest Golden Gate, Audioquest Big Sir. Audioquest Irish Red, Audioquest Boxer. Audioquest Yukon (XLR),
Speaker cables: Audioquest Rocket 44, Audioquest Rocket 33, Audioquest Type 4.
Accessories: Dedicated 20A lines to dual Furman Elite ELITE-20 PF I surge protectors.
Voice: +49 2961-96170
North American Distributor