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August / September 2009
Superior Audio Equipment Review

World Premiere
Nightingale Concentus CTR 2 Open Baffle Loudspeaker
Of love found and love lost.
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
Click here to e-mail reviewer.

 

Best Audiohpile Products Of 2009 Blue Note Award  Loudspeakers come in all shapes, sizes and types. Each type may have an inherent benefit over the other, yet at the same time one must understand the 'care and feeding' to get the best sound production from them. Open baffle loudspeakers, like the Nightingale CTR 2 reviewed here, generally need to be carefully spaced away from the rear wall and perhaps some dampening on the rear wall to achieve the best music from them.

Nightingale products are manufactured in Italy by Simetel Corporation, a company operating in the professional and military telecommunications field since its foundation in 1959. With such technical knowledge mated with the love for music, in 1995 a small group of engineers led the company’s management to start manufacturing equipment for high-end audio products. While they manufacture a wide range of tube amplifiers, which have greatly impressed me since first seeing and hearing them at Italy's Top Audio & Video show. They also manufacturer line conditioners which i have not tried, yet if it is like their other products am sure they are well worth consideration. When they offered a world premiere review opportunity for their CTR 2 loudspeakers it more than piqued my interest.

 

Why Open Baffle?
Nightingale Concentus CTR 2 Open Baffle LoudspeakerReaders of Enjoy the Music.com's DIY Magazine have read our recent article on the art and science of open baffle loudspeakers. Within it, it says:

From Wikipedia we learn that an Open Baffle or Dipole speaker is:

A dipole enclosure in its simplest form is a driver located on a flat baffle panel. The baffle is sometimes folded to reduce its apparent size.

A rectangular cross-section is more common than a circular one since it is easier to fabricate in a folded form than a circular one. The baffle dimensions are typically chosen to obtain a particular low frequency response, with larger dimensions giving a lower frequency before the front and rear waves interfere with each other. A dipole enclosure has a "figure-of-eight" radiation pattern, which means that there is a reduction in sound pressure, or loudness, at the sides as compared to the front and rear. This is useful if it can be used to prevent the sound from being as loud in some places than in others.

 

In addition, Nightingale feels that "the sound radiating from the rear side of the speakers is slightly delayed as compared to the sound radiating from the front side. This effect is perceived as a 'reverberation', which provides a warm, transparent, three-dimensional outcome to the sound reproduction. Concentus CTR-02's speakers and crossover are designed and assembled on the acoustic screen following a scheme meant to guarantee that the impedance stays linear as the frequency changes."

 

Technicals
Nightingale Concentus CTR 2 Open Baffle LoudspeakerThis three-way design employs four drivers mounted on the handcrafted in Italy solid walnut baffle. Driver compliment includes a 1-inch silk soft dome tweeter, a 5.25-inch coated paper midrange driver and a pair of 7-inch bass units. The crossover is solidly housed and is filled with top-end audiophile-grade parts and allows for bi-wiring / bi-amplification. Binding posts are of very high quality, as they are gold plated and five-way to handle spades, banana plugs, bare wire, etc. Everything is rigidly mounted to the baffle and if you are a died-in-the-wool tweaker with an always-on soldering gun, you could easily have the crossover simply be outside the baffle and use wire of your choosing.

Overall frequency response is from 35Hz to 22 kHz while the sensitivity is 90dB/W/m at 8 Ohms. From my extended listening, i feel the sensitivity really is somewhere around 92dB/W/m as they can play quite well with my 8 watt 300B Wavelength Cardinal X-1 amplifier. Dimensions are at most 46 x 20 x 14 (HxWxD in inches) and weight in at 56 lbs. each. Like virtually everything wood handcrafted by Italian artisans, the color and finish on the solid Walnut is very nice.

 

Setup And Tweaking
The pair delivered to me already had many hours on them, so instead of waiting for 50+ hours for them to break in i could get right to setup. Open baffle speakers, like electrostatic and planers, mean that it is very critical to know what the rear-firing signal is doing and how to best control and use it for the best results. Having reviewed quite a few products with this type of design, i knew my preference was to keep the rear-firing soundwave in check so eliminate time smearing. This smearing happens when the front signal meets the bouncing off the sound off rear wall of my listening room. For me, it is in reducing it and not killing it off in full. To that end i employed some sound absorption. Towards the end of the review out went my homebrew devices and in went some RealTraps that had arrived for my upcoming  'studio' project and am happy to report they worked great.

Final tweaks and tuning include having the speakers toed-in a few degrees and they were placed on my tried and true 4-inch high Target amplifier stands that are topped by Symposium Svelt Shelves (reviewed here). Both front and rear grills were removed. Chosen loudspeaker cables were the Nirvana Audio S-X Ltd. (reviewed here) due to their extreme clarity and exceptionally neutral sound.

 

Sweet Sounds
Many hours were spent listening to these speakers and i can wholeheartedly say that time and again i was impressed with the very wide and deep soundscape the produce. Even when compared to my fave vintage Audio Note AN-J/SPx, the Nightingale Concentus CTR 2 open baffle loudspeaker added about 10 percent more to the depth. Both had the same nicely wide right to left and enveloping in front and encompassing the listener space. The only slight drawback was in the open baffle's ability for 'pinpoit' imaging, which was a touch less than the Audio Note's, yet i always wonder if audiophiles place far too much on a certain 'over sharpening' of imaging. From live acoustic performances to my own 'studio' recordings, the Concentus CTR 2's did a great job at rendering excellent imaging that is properly placed in width and, perhaps just as important, hall and instrument placement depth.

Uppermost frequencies were extremely smooth via the 1-inch silk soft dome driver. i can not stress enough that these loudspeakers are so smooth that if your system leans towards the euphoric 'rose color glasses' of reality than they will add to that a it, so these speaker reward those who have chosen a neutral setup. i did try what i consider as slightly bright items in my system and while it was easy to hear their effects, never did it become overly fatiguing. In fact these speakers are so all day listenable that when they left my home after this review my ears missed their smoothness and gentle ways.

Critical 5.25-inch midrange is, well, the Nightingale Concentus CTR 2 open baffle loudspeakers are beautifully made Italian loudspeakers. Anyone who has spent a great deal of time with Italian speakers know that when it comes to midrange, odds are it will be brilliantly outstanding. What is it about the Italians and their ability to manufacturer products with a midrange that just makes you want to kiss female performers — or the male performer if you are a woman, or whatever your preferences may be — after the song has ended? Billie Holiday, Elle Fitzgerald, great symphonic pieces, opera... oh yeah, that is the good stuff!

Due to my music preferences being all over the genre map, rock and roll rocked, Kraftwerk danced and those into Hearts Of Space will be washed over with gentle breeze of sound.

So i have written about the highs and the mids, but what about the bass. Well, those of you into pipe organ music might want to retire our subwoofers for all but below 35 Hz! The advantage of two smaller woofer drivers as within the Concentus CTR 2 means that yes, smaller drivers can more faster and more precise due to a lower mass needing to be controlled. The dual 7-inch woofers produced an astonishing amount of of bass. During setup used the bass region as an aid to tuning for best location. During my personally recorded 24-bit/192kHz 'studio' percussion/drum test tracks i was amazed just how accurate and deep these speakers could go. Once you hear what a Tama 20-inch gong bass drum can do...  Imagine a tuned 20-inch woofer driver, loaded by a circular cabinet and being whacked by a drumstick and recorded by laboratory/measurement grade microphones at 24-bit/192kHz.

As a side note, sent a compressed 48 kHz version of my test track to Dr. Bill Gaw and within his system the gong bass drum caused some mighty words of surprise as the extreme movement of air and vibrations within his home took him by surprise. While i am not going to say the Concentus CTR 2 can move the same air as Dr. Gaw's extremely long horn-loaded woofer set (at a price tag i dare not ask with cabinets probably big enough that combined  you could park a car within!), the Concentus CTR 2 were wonderfully extraordinary to my ears considering their size and price. If you love house, trance, bass or other types of music, with these speakers you may find yourself opting to remove your dedicated powered subwoofer

 

Of Love Found And Love Lost
Aside from the minor and debatable pinpont imaging precision, i can understand what many open baffle guys have been raving about for years. Front and rear dept, soundscape and full enveloping of music is found here. Add in the brilliance of Italian midrange and super smooth highs plus extremely deep bass and the Nightingale Concentus CTR 2 is what you get. While i never felt the need to tweak them, those who are tweakaholics have easy access to virtually everything and can go about their business. Sadly, my wallet is a bit tight right now and so back they had to go to the United States distributor. Would have bought them, yet.... My time with the Concentus CTR 2 was a gift as it were. In life sometimes you find love, sometimes you 'lose' that love. For it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. And that, my friends, is what sums up my feelings for these loudspeakers.

 

Specifications
Type: Three-way, four driver open baffle loudspeaker
Drivers: 1-inch silk soft dome tweeter,  5.25-inch midrange and two  7-inch woofers
Frequency Response: 35Hz to 22 kHz
Sensitivity: 90dB/W/m at 8 Ohms
Dimensions: 46 x 20 x 14 (HxWxD in inches)
Weight: 56 lbs.
Finish: Solid Walnut
Price: $10,920 per pair

 

Company Information
Nightingale
Via Pieve Torina, 42
Roma, Italia
00156

Voice: +39064121091 
Fax: +39064110557 
Website: www.nightingale.it

 

Nightingale USA
1111 Davis Drive
Lancaster PA 17603

Voice: (717) 299-9250
Website: www.nightingaleus.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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