Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 Loudspeaker Review
You might have to stand on your head for this review because Zoltán Bay turned the concept of speaker production upside down and inside out when he created the Bay Radial Speaker (BRS) Tweeter. And when you see the absolutely unique and creative Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 speaker design ($60,000), you're not going to be able to figure out how to stand, so just have a seat and enjoy the read. Maybe have the computer or tablet read it to you while you listen to your favorite composition in the background.... Be sure to grab your favorite beverage and have that cute dog (or cat) of yours sit in your lap and snuggle in; this is gonna be good!
Decades of research, and over 35 years in the industry, led Mr. Bay to a unique radial sound projection system. In essence, it is a cylindrical membrane surface capable of changing its diameter. As with a more standard speaker cone, the pulsations of the cylinder create sound in the direction of radiation but in a perfect 360 degree omni-directional wavefront. Because of the speed of BRS response and the natural physics of the cylindrical engine, there is an almost instant impulse resulting in very low distortion and insanely fast transients.
Design And Engineering
Zoltán recruited the help of Frank Nielsen and his Danesian Audio Engine Team for production and testing of the speakers, and András Voloscsuk and his Composite Project Team to fabricate the complex carbon fiber chassis. András and his team build carbon fiber monocoque for race planes, custom projects, and bespoke carbon fiber pianos. The result is a speaker that doesn't look like a speaker, at all. It looks like a carbon fiber sculpture that both stands out spectacularly and blends into a family room or listening room almost casually.
To describe the speaker imagine a carbon fiber tube of approximately 8" diameter looped around on itself in an oval around 48" long and 24" wide. The back houses a wood enclosure to properly implement porting and to house the bits that connect the speaker to the amplifier. The front is the only break in the carbon fiber, and this is where the woofers and cylindrical BRS is located. Below are two footer tubes to raise the speaker to the proper listening height, nestled into a granite base to keep the entire unit stable. The speakers themselves are remarkably light. Since they are omni-directional, the configuration of the setup involves where to aim the ports to best integrate them into the room, and where to place the main drivers to offer the most expansive stage and ideal tonality possible.
If you put the time in, these impressive speakers will reach down well below 30Hz and vanish completely and utterly. Poof gone! Where did they go?!? Like, I'm talking Star Trek holodeck kinda vanish. Get it? Good! Not really a soundstage, it's just what was there when the recording happened, where it happened. Is it time for another beverage yet? And don't forget to keep petting Fluffy, she's felt neglected recently with all that time you've spent listening....
The design itself implements an impressively simple two-way system. BRS and two woofers (both woofers play the same frequency band with a crossover point around 2 kHz), all nestled in a space-occupying no more than 12" in height. What that results in is the cohesion and unity of a compact two-way system with the magic of omni's and bass of a large floorstanding speaker. As an added benefit, with a super high tech low mass, high-density carbon fiber cabinet, and incredibly fast and precise drivers, this loudspeaker system yields very low distortion, excellent frequency response, and amongst the closest representation of a single point source radiator I have heard at any price point. Bayz Audio BRS tweeter system extends down to around 1000Hz, well below normal tweeters range. Keep in mind the total surface area of the membrane is many times that of a standard tweeter. This avoids ringing, distortion, and any harshness while maintaining extension and natural reproduction.
A discussion with Zoltán revealed his design goals regarding phase and time coherence. He addressed phase first, explaining that, "Most electrodynamic cone loudspeakers are phase linear: decreasing phase with rising frequency. The exception is the low-frequency band, typically 100 Hz or less. At the tuning frequency, vented enclosures exhibit greater phase changes, a worthwhile compromise to achieve much lower frequency response and lower distortion. Our main concern with phase is 200 Hz and higher including the effects of the crossover. Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 speaker exhibits extremely well-behaved, smooth phase linearity, and more importantly, the resulting group delay is essentially zero." He then segued into his principles on time coherence by explaining that, "This is intuitively to be expected: the Courante 2.0 is a coaxial speaker except the axis is vertical, not horizontal.
Bayz Audio Coaxial Configuration
Transitioning from objective to subjective is where the momentum meets the pavement though, isn't it? I found the design and its implementation to be unique, innovative, inspired, and quite brilliantly accomplished. The carbon fiber work is flawless, with perfect symmetry and perfect seams. The integration of carbon fiber and wood is elegant and masterfully crafted, and the simple but effective tube and granite support system allows for easy transport and stable and reliable anchoring. I never felt the speaker was unstable or anything other than solidly planted. WBT binding posts provide a five-way speaker cable connection and simply did what they were supposed to. These are eye-catching, art level additions to any room and deserve the attention they demand both visually and sonically. Oh... sonics.... You want to know how they sound? Almost there, I promise.
The fact that they are omni-directional, but not pedestal speakers, adds an interesting layer of setup. Although toe-in is not a setup issue, the design lends itself to rotating the rear of the speaker, and its ports, in the direction to best integrate bass response with the room in a way that no other speaker I have encountered can. In my room, I found the port aiming towards the front center wall to provide the best integration into the room without adding a hint of boom or overload. This point overlaps performance and setup so I decided to mention it here. I also preferred the way they looked this way, but I tried them in many configurations. Since the tube adjacent to the BRS is essentially acoustically invisible the speaker can be set up in any configuration that suits the acoustics of the room and the visual desires of the owner (or their spouse).
Acoustically, the easiest way to describe them is that they emit 360-degrees of sound, unlike your normal box speakers. Why the hell would we want that if we can just buy good dynamic speakers you ask? Because they also do all that stuff that makes omni-directional immersive sound so desirable. With tonal accuracy, dynamic palpability, wonderful timbral structure, plus an almost holographic acoustic reproduction as they disappear completely with incredible spacial location and dimensionality.Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 are also lightning-fast and wonderfully natural. Their performance offers just the proper sense of purity of tone, texture, and staging. They can be truly epic, yet refined enough to recreate wonderful micro dynamics.
For this review, I chose to forego the litany of commentary connected with specific song selections. I can talk about how natural they sounded with Sinatra or how dynamically they reproduced Infected Mushroom. I could also go on about the pace and rhythm conveyed listening to Elvis or the grandeur expressed with "insert grand classical composition of your preference here". But for a speaker in the $60,000 range, one would expect all of that.
Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 is a totally new design in loudspeaker reproduction. It is a speaker that some will buy without even hearing for its visual presence and majesty. The cost of ownership comes partly as a result of the expense associated with fabrication using carbon fiber in a complex and essentially bespoke cabinet (Courante and Counterpoint are both available in standard clear-coated carbon fiber or piano black finish. The customer can customize with any RAL color of their choosing). Courante 2.0 is made using a 16 square meter carbon fiber prepreg. The surface treatment with eight coats of polish and varnish, sanding and polishing, is two weeks' work for the painting team, all done by hand. Zoltan makes and measures every single BRS tweeter himself. Considering the cost of BRS driver manufacturing, the handcrafted integration of electronics, ultra-custom drivers, carbon fiber, wood, and granite. Thus that $60,000 starts to make sense, and even looks reasonable.
Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 Speakers Are Keepers
Find a pair locally to see and listen to them. Go Counterpoint if you need to move more air in a larger room. Stick with Courante 2.0 if your room doesn't need "more."
Yes's "Leave it"
Oscar Peterson Trio's "You Look Good To Me"
"Count Basie" Live at the Sands
Mussorgsky's "On Bald Mountain: Tuileries"
Hugh Masekela's "Coal Train" (Stimela)
Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" Time Out
Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven"
Sinatra's "The lady is a Tramp"
Rimsky Korsakov's "Dance of the Tumblers"
Alison Krauss's "Down to the River to Pray"
Mussorgsky's "Dance of the Persian Slaves"
Shelby Lynn's "You Don't Have to Say you Love Me"
"Asgard" Thor: Dark World
Saint Saens' "Danse Macabre"
David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" The Rise and Fall of Ziggy
Infected Mushroom's "Becoming Insane"
Infected Mushroom's "Vicious Delicious"
Kraftwerk's "The Robots" The Man-Machine
Aaron Neville's "Everybody Plays the Fool"
Mozart's "Ein Mädchenoder Weibchen"
Daft Punk's "The Grid"
Yellow's "Out of Dawn"
Hans Theessink & Terry Evans' "Talk to Your Daughter"
Mac Miller's "Everybody"
John Campbell's "Down in the Hole"
Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen"
Digital source: Laufer Teknik Memory Player MP64, Light Harmonic Davinci 3, and NAIM Uniti Star.
Preamplification: Pilium Alexander Preamplifier and Lamm Industries L2 Reference Preamplifier.
Amplification: Pilium Achilles stereo amp, Lamm Industries ML2 SET monoblocks, and Manley Neo-Classic 500 monoblocks.
Integrated Amplification: Dartzeel CTH-8550 model two, Octave V80SE with Super Black Box Integrated, Musical Fidelity TriVista Integrated, and NAIM Uniti Star.
Speakers: Dynaudio Consequence Ultimate, Laufer Teknik The Note, Elac UniFi B5, and a pair of Vandersteen Sub Three w/M7-HPB.
AC Power: Dedicated Square D 125 amp panel w/10 gauge runs to each outlet, Furutech GTX-D-NCF Rhodium outlets, dedicated circuits for each outlet, Environmental Protection EP-2750 ground filter on each circuit, and EP-2050 surge protection/waveform correction.
Power Conditioning: Shunyata D6000, Richard Gray 400S, and Torus RM20BAL
Rack and Shelf Support: Adona SR4 & Nemisis ALGC racks, Symposium Ultra shelves, Symposium Rollerblocks 2+ doublestacks, HRS Nimbus, Shun Mook Giant Diamond Resonator, IsoAcoustics Gaia 1 & 2, and IsoAcoustics Orea Bourdeaux
Interconnects: Crystal Cable Absolute Dream 1.0m XLR, Analysis Plus 1.0m Micro Golden Oval XLR, Shunyata Anaconda S 8.5m XLR, Cable Crystal Connect Reference Diamond 1.5m RCA phono w/ground cable, AudioQuest Wind 7m RCA, Wind XLR 1m
Digital: Light Harmonic Lightspeed 20G USB, AudioQuest Diamond 0.75m RJ/E Ethernet, Diamond USB A-B 5m, Wireworld Platinum Starlight USB, and Empirical Audio 1.0m S/PDIF.
Speaker: Crystal Cable Absolute Dream 2.0m (spade to banana), AudioQuest William Tell Ag 8' (banana to banana), and Analysis Plus Big Silver Oval 2.0m (spade to spade).
Power: Shunyata Z-Tron NR 15 amp, Shunyata Z-Tron NR 20 amp, Enklein DAVID 15 Ampere, Candlarus Power Hi-Current 15 amp (12').
Acoustics: Dedicated room, Vicoustics, GIK, Acoustic Wings, and Auralex,
Room: 15' 1" wide x 18' 5" long x 9' 2" high