Aliante One Loudspeaker
Speaking to me with Ferrari
styling, Ferrari color, and Ferrari performance!
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
here to e-mail reviewer.
I need another monitor
loudspeaker in my humble abode like the world needs another Starbucks.
Seems like everywhere you turn there is another small loudspeaker being
introduced. Perhaps there is some far off farm where monitor loudspeakers
and rabbits coexist. Their main goal is to increase their rule of the
earth, eventually achieving the ever-popular World Domination!
Whatever the case may be, if we count the quality of
monitor loudspeakers on the market in 2003 we would probably find there to
be 876 different models. i came up with the number 876 as it looked about right
after typing other numbers... and 876 was easy to type. Odds are the
quantity is much higher. So why on G-d's green Earth would someone
decide we needed yet another manufacturer offering yet more of these
proverbial "rabbits"? Ah, but then again the world may indeed
need something new, and different, from the usual faux wood or ugly black
rectangles (or awful Bose black plastic cubes ...if you actually bought
these hideous things due to believing their hype and marketing propaganda).
What the world may indeed need is something designed by a professional company
who has, for decades, been at the top echelon of performance. Enter
Aliante in conjunction with Pininfarina.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know about
the legendary Italian automotive racing team Scuderia Ferrari formed in
1929, also known (simply) as Ferrari. We also have Battista Farina from
Italy, going by Carrozzeria Pininfarina (or just Pininfarina) as founded
in 1930. Eventually both companies teamed up as Ferrari built the internal
mechanics as Pininfarina handled the visual styling of these
well-established and now legendary race cars. i specifically say
race cars as these creations were not like today's "race
inspired" or "autobahn tested" designs. These cars were
indeed track ready from the get-go and many of them won competitions all
around the world. So what does any of this have to do with the Aliante One
In October of 1998, while attending the Top
Audio & Video show, Pininfarina choose a very small handful of
reviewers to their factory for the launching of the new Aliante
loudspeakers. The fanfare centered on this famous design house, yet
you could also sense they were very serious about offering a
no-holds-barred line of loudspeakers. Only the best parts and drivers
would be employed within their designs just as only the very best is
"good enough" within a Ferrari. While there i was also privy to
enjoying a factory tour as seen
here. As a side note, my Ferrari factory tour can be seen by clicking
What Dreams Are Made Of?
ScanSpeak and Seas, long considered two of the best
European specialists, produce the drivers for the Aliante line to their specifications.
The ScanSpeak-produced 28mm silk soft dome tweeter is carefully hand made and manually coated in different steps to achieve
proper damping to ensure fast response while also reducing possible distortion.
When a manufacturer can ensure such high quality, they can also take
advantage of using a more gentle, 6dB/octave (1st order)
crossover. While the pros and cons of using such a crossover can be
debated, it most certainly means that very few parts are needed, thereby
less in the signal's path.
The 170mm woofer cone features an innovative polymer
while a carefully designed phase plug -- decided upon after much research
-- in mounted at the center of this driver. Seasoned audiophiles are well
aware of the use of phase plugs. In the Aliante One monitor loudspeaker,
this unit is carefully cut from a solid copper block to ensure precision
in shape and stiffness.
As for the crossover, Solo CFAC inductors, Audiocap PPFF film and foil capacitors,
plus special non-inductive resistor are employed. Internal cabling come from a high performance wire for fast data networks.
Bi-wire and/or bi-amplification is supported due to providing four
gold-plated binding posts. While not of the super hefty WBT variety, they
are quite solid. These posts are a bit inset into the cabinet and
therefore extremely large or stiff cables may take a bit of work to get
The cabinet itself in produced with MDF panels from 35 to 60 mm
thick that are shaped by a high-precision CNC machine. This care in design
ensures very tight tolerances while also allowing for precision shaping.
This type of crafting produces rounded outer edges to reduce unwanted,
distortion creating (time smearing) diffractions. A tilted front baffle
improves phase coherence while the area around the tweeter has been shaped to improve dispersion
while further reducing distortion. Once the cabinet is assembled, it takes
many steps to complete the final finishing. This complex task starts by
using insulators to make the wood structure inert. The expensive outer
color is applied with in a pressure cabin in several layers and then dried
for 72 hours. When doing the "knuckle test" you get a dead, deep
thump versus a high-pitched cabinet tone. The Aliante One is also
available with real wood side panels, though i naturally prefer Racing
(Ferrari) Red as reviewed here.
While the Aliante One is a monitor loudspeaker, it is on
the more robust side measuring approximately 16 inches high and 14 inches
deep. Included with these loudspeakers are "Acoustic Screens" --
small pieces that are meant to be placed just below and to the side of the
tweeter (see diagram above). This is to improve the imaging and focus ability of the
sound they reproduce. A brief owners manual, in both Italian and English,
is also included. it provides good basic information yet is no real
substitute for years of experience. For that type of information we have
great books like Robert Harley's The Complete Guide to High-End Audio - Second Edition
Lastly, for those who desire a bit of visual flair, or WAF
depending on your home life and decor, the matching Vela Stand PF ($1,395
per pair) is available. While this stand was not employed for this review,
have seen the combination together and it is indeed gorgeous! The
complimenting curves and lines are a relief to the usual awkward hard
lines as found with other combinations. Seen here in wood color, the
Aliante Vela Stand PF is also available in various matching colors to the
main loudspeaker. The construction is very solid as the "sail"
acts as a baffle said to aid in lower frequency reproduction.
Warm Up Lap
While it is no secret i have a soft spot in my heart for
things that come in the color Ferrari red. This is especially true if they
also come from the design house of Pininfarina. While these loudspeakers
are eye candy, it makes no real difference once the lights are out and the
music is playing. The United States distributor, O.S. Services, had
already put in quite a few hours on the review pair here. Once they
arrived it took about 20 hours to fully settle in while i also found the
best location within my listening room. For the Aliante One i found that
the same favorite spot for the Reference 3A MM De Capo-i (reviewed
here). Basically it falls close to the same setup as advised by
cable manufacturer George Cardas as seen by clicking
here. While this technique places the loudspeakers well into the room, thus providing wonderful imaging and depth yet lowers the room boundary's bass augmentation.
Some people may prefer these loudspeakers close to the
walls to add more bass, yet may find the front soundstage depth is
diminished. One man's panacea is another man's poison.
Sitting in my listening chair for various listening
sessions allowed me to fully understand these loudspeakers. First off,
they love power. i mean real power, with plenty of amperage. Smallish
8-watt tube amplifiers are ok, yet the fun truly begins when you have a
100-watt amplifier with plenty of current delivery. Yes, this means the
likes of Krell, Linn, Naim, VTL, etc. While a small single-ended tube
amplifier will work, within m system it simply ran out of steam when the
lowermost octaves were demanding. This is usually the case with many small
monitors; though suffice to say the Aliante One did better than most
without being overly demanding. It is when you have those extra watts,
like when using my 75-watt per channel beloved Linn Classik, that the
dynamics have more freedom to express themselves. In fact the more i use
the Linn Classic, the more i find it to be among the best audiophile
all-in-one bargains (see review by clicking
Sitting In The
If there were only two words to describe this loudspeaker,
they would be smooth and detailed. Very even octave-to-octave coherency
allows for a very natural harmonic structure. All the while small details
and the ability to follow complex passages show the Aliante One to be
quite a performer! This could be due to the very inert cabinet design
combined with top quality drivers and crossover package ("less is
more" theory). Another factor playing a big role is after precise
setup via my laser alignment system, the tightly matched drivers ensure
critical timing cues are not smeared, thereby reducing the music's
After some hours without the supplied acoustic screen,
they were placed in the appropriate locations and yes Virginia, the
imaging did indeed become more precise. it was not a huge difference akin
to day and night, yet was perceivable. According to the owner's manual
their effect can vary depending on the positioning within your listening
room and the acoustics thereof. In my room they made subtle
difference so i left them on during the remainder of the review.
Those of you who demand ultra-focused imaging will find
much to like about these loudspeaker. Width, depth, imaging outside the
loudspeaker plane, and expansion into your listening room. All this was
being produced within my listening room. The depth was rendered with
extreme precision as different recordings proved that insuring
natural mic'ing and phase coherency would outperform multi-tracks
synthesized technics for natural depth perception. While depth can be
faked with the use of modern effect and mixing techniques, the clarity of
the Aliante One showed them as just that, fake. Good for party tricks, bad
for those seeking a more organic rendition.
Organic is a great word as it also describes the natural
reproduction of acoustic music as portrayed by these monitors. In some
ways they truly have that "from Italy" sound as found in other
prominent manufacturers from that country. Is it something within their heritage,
the culture, or vast knowledge of music that has to be accounted for?
Whatever the cause, the affect clearly allows for a highly enjoyable
The 28mm silk soft dome tweeter was extremely smooth. In
fact my ears tend to generally prefer fabric to their metal counterpart.
Maybe metal domes have an unnatural or higher distortion and subsequent
harmonic distortions versus the more natural silk? As for midrange, the 170mm polypropylene pentapolymer
driver was fast and clean. While this same driver also had bass duty, the
tuned rear port gave more than just a glimpse. Bass was quite full down to
about 50Hz or so, yet did not appear to get congested, thereby reducing
midrange reproduction or "muddy bass" during some of the more
complex passages as found in big orchestral works (Tchaikovsky's 1812
for example). So what are the drawbacks?
Lovers of big pipe organ music will need a subwoofer. Do
not expect 30Hz Fugue in D minor to shake your home's foundation. Nor can
you expect room-gripping techo/house droning bass notes to fully energize
your room. This is why we have subwoofers my friend. Also, if you enjoy
your music on the hotter (louder) side, a 3 to 8 watt single-ended tube
amplifier may not be your road to nirvana. At 25 watts, like the Final
Laboratory or 47 Laboratory will just begin the trip the light fantastic
in my average sized (14' wide by 18' deep by 8' high) listening room.
Also, the loudspeaker five-way binding posts are a bit recessed within the
cabinet. While there is quite a bit of room for the cable and connectors,
if you have succumbed to the ultra-huge cable club, you may want to ensure
usability. Virtually all normal cables should easily fit without any
problems while the binding posts do allow for the use of banana plugs.
The Winner's Circle
The Aliante One is an amazing loudspeaker that excels in
natural music reproduction and ultra-precise imaging. For such a small package, the extremely
solid and heavy cabinet virtually eliminates enclosure resonances. Add to
this the gorgeous visual style available in both natural wood and color
combinations so we have a mix of the classic Armani with doses of the avant-garde
designs of Dolce & Gabbana. This is especially true of you opt
for the matching stands. In reality this Italian design comes from the
legendary house of Pininfarina, vita bella!
After hour upon hour of auditioning these
loudspeakers my ears never became fatigued, as can be experienced with
less than smooth frequency reproducers. i can foresee these loudspeakers
finding their way into the best of homes and also Italian car enthusiast's
personal home museums. They deserve no less. A test drive is
enthusiastically recommended! Of course
in the end what really matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Type: Two way, bass-reflex (rear port)
Tweeter: 28mm silk soft dome
Woofer: 170mm polypropylene pentapolymer
Frequency Response: 38Hz to 25KHz (+/- 3dB)
Impedance:: 6 ohm (min. 4)
Power Handling: 125 Watts
Dimensions: 255 x 350 x 400 (WxHxD in mm)
Net weight: 13.5 Kg.
Finish: solid wood or Blue, Red, Silver Grey, Charcoal Grey, and Racing
Price: With solid wood side panels $3,795/pair
In color as
reviewed here $4,995/pair
Matching Vela Stand PF: $1,395 per pair
Via Italia Sessantuno n. 20
12036 Revello CN
United States Distributor:
Specialty Audio Source
619 W. 2nd street
Antioch Ca, 94509
Voice: (925) 565-0588