I had the pleasure of listening to the new and revolutionary magnetodynamic Leonardo Speakers system by Extreme Audio in a large size room of the Holiday Inn Hotel, situated close to the German trade fair that was hosting, from 3 to 6 June, the Munich High End.
Extreme Audio had chosen a prestigious room to introduce these genial speakers with magnetodynamic technology and, thanks to their amazing performances, they will surely make a name for themselves.
This astounding system can brilliantly solve the main problem of the dipole speakers without any effort. The Leonardo Speakers are very easy to be fit in room and can give a sound image that is always consistent and homogenous without the idiosyncrasies that characterized the dipole emission typology. As the Leonardo behave like the traditional loudspeakers, you can ever get the acoustic scene you like more within a balanced sound context. I have immediately realized how accurate has been the work of the Extreme Audio’s technicians.
Aldo Zaninello is one of the designers and manufacturers of Extreme Audio: an Italian company that not only imports the KR Audio amplifications, but it is well known for the quality of its realizations. Just remember the Sigma Acoustics system, which employs the famous and fine Zellaton loudspeakers, and the White Gold Electronics cables.
For which reason Aldo Zaninello has decided to try out the tortuous way of the magnetodynamic speakers? I know the answer for some time. Everything has started when Extreme Audio met the engineer Daniele Coen. After twenty-five years of research in the audio reproduction field with dipolar speakers, the first outcome has been the realization of the true ribbon mid-tweeters loudspeakers with high sensibility and later, in the last four years, the realization of the ribbon-planar transducer with similar sensitivity and dedicated to the low frequencies. Thus, the goal of Aldo Zaninello and Daniele Coen has been the achievement of a product that has the typical performances of a dipole magnetodynamic without any of its defects. The last working year has been necessary to tweaking definitely the model that Extreme Audio is introducing at present, that is the Leonardo Speakers system.
Aesthetically the Leonardo Speakers are very good-looking. The finish is glossy black piano in solid poly-methacrylate with a narrow stainless steel plate on the edges. The design, that is particularly modern and technological, features a see-through metal grid with behind the diaphragm, which is realized with a special film and has some conductors in lightweight aluminium foil. The dimensions are not obtrusive. In fact, they are thick only seven centimetres and this option makes look slimmer the 165 cm of height and the 65 of width but has got little to do for the weight which is 140 Kg each piece!
The rated data are remarkable. The frequency response is wide and linear and goes from 20Hz to 100kHz. This result has been obtained firstly with the 0.45 m² surface of the ribbon-planar woofer with great magnetic excursion capacity and a dramatic constancy in push-pull configuration; secondly thanks to the employ of the true ribbon for the mid-high frequencies, which is 15 mm wide and 1,42 m long and guarantees a very strict horizontal directivity at high frequencies. The higher frequencies out of the audible range are given by a piezo-polymer super tweeter that is invisibly placed into the last portion of the mid-high ribbon.
The sensitivity is 93 dB in room, the nominal impedance is 4 Ohms and the cross-over is at 6+6 dB/oct at 900 Hz. Therefore they can be easily matched up to the most part of the amplification devices. I have been told in Extreme Audio that the performances have been excellent also with some monotriodes… Yet, the recommended power is between 5 and 250W.
Well, just think of what you could get from a mid-high efficiency loudspeaker, with an 80cm woofer, a 25m mid and a supertweeter that refines at 100KHz in perfect temporal phase, with also an incredible dynamic and control. And everything wrapped inside a simple dipole panel!
For the listening test, I have opted for an Italian-English audio system that I reckon very interesting: the digital source – the at3500 ASTINtrew integrated amp – of medium category, has behaved good in this contest of very high rank where also the slightest faults appear quite evident. The Tourbillon turntable, made by Extreme Audio itself, is a great analog prototype with Clearaudio Unify satiné tonearm and Koetsu cartridge. Very particular is the amplification of the Italian Grandinote with the pre-phono Celio and two Divina mono integrated amplifiers which have result ideal partners to these magnetodynamic speakers in order to go along with their timbric skills. The Stradivari White Gold interconnect cables do not need to be introduced as they are well known worldwide.
Notwithstanding I have used many tracks as a reference, I want to name only the one I have made played in all the rooms of the Munich High End. I am talking of Libertango by Astor Piazzolla, performed by the accordionist Roberto Daris and the percussionist U.T. Gandhi, two important artists of the Italian folk and jazz music (Ed. Bella Musica – J. Rinschler). Incidentally, this track has been appreciated – for its artistic and recording quality – by all, and I say all, the Munich High End exhibitors who got very curious by this track realized at the Artesuono recording studio whose owner is Stefano Amerio.
Actually, I have chosen this track because in a couple of minutes it holds many of the parameters that we audiophiles use to keep into consideration to assess the quality of the system we are listening to.
And that’s why I have been able of evaluating the scenic reconstruction and the spatiality reproduced by the Leonardo Speakers which, as perfect representatives of the dipole, rebuild with stable precision the musical instrument in the room where the performance has been recorded and give back all the reflections and echoes with spontaneous and credible resonances. Also the percussions are perfectly inserted in the musical window and show how they appreciate the control in all the range frequency the Leonardo Speakers can express. At this point Aldo Zaninello tells me that, in effect, the placement of the speakers in room is very easy thanks to their great dynamic and homogeneous linearity.
How noticeable and separate are the sudden dynamic flicks of the accordion with respect to the specific slowness in the cues and releases of the skins hit by the bare-handed percussionist U.T. Gandhi! I couldn’t believe I was listening to magnetoplanars which, notoriously, suffer a lot any dynamic performances of different intensity. The Leonardo Speakers express themselves without any detachment among the different frequency ranges and are incredibly linear and, guys, how deep they get down!
I have kept as last thing their best skill: the low frequencies. They are telluric and reproduced with a strong sound pressure; it is like a physical blast. I have had a definite feeling when, in the recorded event, the bass drum was hit and stayed still in the soundstage, deeply vibrant. I have never heard before such a performance. Unchanged remains the liquidity of the sound that is distinctive of electrostatics, magnetoplanars and magnetodynamics. The Leonardo Speakers added an unbelievable control and immediacy in giving back the transients: a quality not common in this kind of speakers. This feature, together with the absolutely natural timbric, make me define these Leonardo Speakers as the nearer magnetodynamic transducers to the sound of the traditional speakers that I have ever heard, able however to maintain that ability of stage reconstruction and the dimension of the soundstage of the most performing dipoles. This is the best compliment I can make to this typology of products and, most of all, this is one of the best sounds I have ever heard, in absolute.
First listening impressions of the nearer magnetodynamic transducers to the sound of the traditional speakers that I have ever heard,
In a word, the Leonardo Speakers have struck me. Without any doubt they are great musical objects and deserve for sure the consideration at an international high-end level thanks to their very interesting technical performances. I have also made a promise. I want to visit the Extreme Audio for a deeper survey and, maybe, for coordinate a listening test in one of our ReMusic listening rooms.
In conclusion, there’s no disguising the fact that I have had the chance of tasting some good parmesan cheese and fragrant salami with a sumptuous Prosecco, a small parenthesis among many German beers and delicatessen during the Munich High End 2012.
One more time the Italians have shown great passion in their realizations. The rest of the world is warned...
Official Italian dealer: to the Extreme Audio website
For further info: Aldo Zaninello, tel. +39.0426.320318