Cabasse Pacific 3 loudspeakers

09.01.2013..

"Cabasse is a French audio manufacturer founded by Georges Cabasse in 1950. It is mainly known for its home loudspeakers but has also produced professional audio speakers for studio recording or sound reinforcement in theatres and power amplifiers".

Do you know where you can find this definition? On Wikipedia.

Now just click on La Géode and you will also find that "The auditorium is fitted with a 12 point sound system with four large subwoofers that deliver 210,000 watts in surround sound designed by Cabasse".

In effect, Cabasse is into the history of high fidelity like few companies worldwide do. I can quote Klipsch, McIntosh, Altec, Tannoy, Marantz, as some of the companies that cover all the historical time frame of the high quality playback.

The founder, Georges Cabasse, has got in his DNA the visceral love for music. His ancestors, since 1740 had dedicated themselves to the handcrafted creation of violins, violas and violoncellos still used nowadays in some orchestras.

In terms of audio manufacturing, what can be expressed after sixty-two years of experience? This is what I asked to myself while I was connecting the Cabasse Pacific 3 speakers to my audio system. I was not expecting anything resounding or explosive, but a statement of maturity. And I get it. A mature and sober sound, consciously elegant and compassed.

 

Let us start by describing the system in use. My sense of subjection towards the great French brand has pushed me to study with more attention a system that could support the characteristics of the Pacific 3. The efficiency is 87 dB and, notwithstanding a not particularly difficult and devious impedance, I have immediately thought to the Symphonic Line RG7 MK4 power amp. This German amplification is at ease in driving difficult loads and its very high damping factor, equal to 800, is very good for low efficiency speakers. I have then chosen as preamplifier the Leben RS100. This Japanese preamp can assure the proper refinement and, at the same time, can soften any possible exuberance of the German power amp. Regarding the connection cables, I have used the complete set of the White Gold Reference Stradivari Professional: the new line of White Gold, a high point in their top range and an important business step as regards the quality and the sound refinement. This line of cables has a particular and original geometry in the twine of the Litz conductors that characterized all the realizations of the famous Italian company.

 

In sum, it is a French-Japanese-Italian-German High-End system that represents a sort of global statement of how putting together in a system different cultures, philosophies and technologies at the service of the good sound and good music.

 

The Cabasse Pacific 3 is the twin sister of the Pacific 3 SA, although being active in the lower part of the frequency response. The Pacific 3 is an important and demanding loudspeaker. The dimensions and the weight make everything more difficult. The transport and the positioning are not a healthy walk. In addition, the technical and manufacturing expedients are not to be underestimated. Let us describe them one by one. It is a three-way floorstander with four homemade drivers, two 21 cm overturned dome woofers, without any anti-dust grid, called 21ND34, with a special fiberglass honeycomb structure. If you lightly tap with your finger on this peculiar transducer, you can immediately notice the stiffness and lightness of the material employed. You can be surprised by Cabasse's philosophy, which observes and studies the efficiency of the nature to get inspired in its realizations. More than half century of technical experience and scientific research in the audio field has not stopped the designers to go on in observing the natural world around.

Then there is the very interesting 2-way convex coaxial transducer called BC17. Cabasse itself describes it as the ensemble of a dome midrange-tweeter made of a 35 mm membrane in polymer and coated with a metallic alloy called Kaladex, and a 16 cm low-midrange-woofer made of a particular material called Duocell. The convex shape of the BC17 gives to the Pacific 3 a non-conventional look. This portion of sphere that sticks out from the frontal of the speaker is quite odd and Cabasse has brilliantly solved the problem of the protection grid. In any case, I suggest removing with care, before any listening session, this metal grid coated with fabric. Once you have removed it, you can see the white Duocell mid woofer, a sort of foam looking like a blown ceramic or stiff polystyrene often used in military and aerospace field. This BC17 coaxial component, with its peculiar shape like a portion of sphere, is the main maker of the Pacific 3 performances, which materialize in a homogeneous and punctiform image with a coherent emission in the three dimensions. Cabasse defines this performance with the abbreviation SCS that is Source à Cohérence Spatiale. It is impossible to remove the BC17 from the cabinet without damaging it. Do not do it!

 

The only simple thing of the Pacific 3 is the possibility of removing the long and tight protection grid on the front side. It is a thin sheet of plastic material, enough elastic, with a hole to let the BC17 pass through, covered by black fabric and fasten to the speaker through magnets. Simple and efficacious!

 

Another interesting thing is the design of the cabinet. The front side is very narrow, therefore the depth is the bigger dimension. The frontwards reflex pipe terminates in the bottom end of the enclosure, practically very close to the floor. Besides, the design of the profile lets foresee a light horn loading near the bottom end of the enclosure. Cabasse' designers assure that this peculiar reflex port gives great performances in the emission coherence even if the speaker is positioned very close to the back wall. Useless to say that I do test what affirmed by Cabasse. With a big effort - the Cabasses weigh 57 kg (124 lbs) each - I have put them very close to the back and side walls. Well, Cabasse' designers are right: the emission and the image keep unchanged their coherence. There is no discrepancy, no central lack in the horizontal line of the sound. You never feel the sound coming from inside the speakers. The base of the Pacific 3 allows, through some inserts, to adjust without any difficulty the standard spikes from the top by using an Allen key: just unscrew the metallic cap on the top of the plinth.

The fourth order variable crossover has cuts at 420 and 1800 Hz, the efficiency is 87 dB, the frequency response starts from 41 Hz and, from what I can hear in my listening room, they are all in here! The single pair of input connection is of excellent quality but biamplification and/or biwiring are not possible.

 

To define the sound of the Pacific 3 speakers, what comes into my mind is the sound of my Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. I must admit that in youth I have just strummed it, but I have well in mind when a friend of mine, a young rapist of electric guitars too, brought me home an Ibanez with a Floyd Rose bridge: very quick, a butterfly on the string could get a clean and crystal clear note. I remained astonished by my unexpected mastery in chalking up scales and bending without any effort. Yet, this Ibanez did not have the "body" of the Fender. When a Fender plays, everything plays: the soundboard, the fretboard, the headstock and the tuning keys. And everything gives a solidity to the note like no other electric guitar can do.

The Cabasse Pacific 3 speakers are like the Fender Stratocaster: they can give back the "body" to the playback music. In comparison, all the other loudspeakers are more defined and detailed, but dramatically feebler for sure.

As we are talking of electric guitar, let us start the test with the rock music. Gary Moore plays a Gibson Les Paul. Ok, it is not a Fender, but a guitar capable of expressing what the guitarist feels inside and Gary Moore does well in making screaming of pain or making cry his guitar. In Story Of The Blues from After Hours, Charisma 1992, there is a simple blues progression interpreted by simple guitar interventions during the cantato, but the solo is something of devastating and intimate. With the Cabasse the warm and smoky air becomes denser, the electric bass and the drums assume a predominant dimension in spreading out a deep and velvety rhythmic floor.

Also with jazz music, the Cabasse 3 speakers confirm their feature of airy muscularity. The Art Pepper's quartet with Garland on piano, Chambers on double bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, in the album Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, expresses itself in a wide and deep musical soundstage, which materially occupies high and low all the back wall. It seems like being there, with the performers in the background just enlightened by feeble blue and red lights. Intense is also the sensation of a silent audience in the dark. The low notes are very present and deep and increase considerably the space occupied by the recorded sound event.

With classical music, and even more with symphonic music, the impression is of a magnifying glass effect that push me to think that the Cabasse Pacific 3 speakers need a wide space to express their full potential. My listening room is really too small. A huge sitting room would be better to put them at ease since without any hesitation they could fill it of music with their strong, deep and wide voice. Their ability in drawing a detailed sound picture with a punctiform and homogeneous image, full of dynamic substance with low frequencies with an important specific weight, are all typical features of any loudspeaker that has been thought and realized for huge rooms. And all that without ceding to the excess of attention-seeking, since the Pacific 3 can be put very close both to the side and to the back wall, always guaranteeing an homogeneous and linear acoustic scene.

 

In light of the fact that the design and the manufacture take inspiration from the sound of the orchestra "without any alteration, coloration or distortion", it is easy to share with Georges Cabasse the sound of these Pacific 3 speakers. Their sound, sometimes exaggerated and exasperated, approaches the listener to the live event, making a real and credible three-dimensional acoustic scene, with an emotional and involving sound impact. They define in such way the new reference models for the home playback.

The enthusiasts or the architects that are looking for something decisive under the sound point of view, also considering a style and design absolutely matching with the furniture of important houses for dimensions and finishing, should take into consideration the Pacific 3: they could result the ideal answer to their needs.

 

 

Official technical specifications

Type: three way floorstander

Drivers: one two way coaxial BC17, 35mm Kaladex® midrange-tweeter, 16cm Duocell low-midrange-woofer, two 21cm honeycomb dome woofer

Efficiency: 87dB

Filter: 420/1.800Hz

Frequency response: 41-20.000Hz

Nominal impedance: 8ohm

Minimum impedance: 3,7ohm

Power handling: 150W

Peak power handling: 1.000W

Dimensions: 29x131x59cm (WxHxD)

Finish: glossy black, glossy mahogany, glossy wildcherry

Weight: 56 kg - 124 lbs

Official Italian dealer: to Definizione Audio website

Official current price in Italy: 9,500.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to Roberto “The Rock” Rocchi's system

by Roberto Rocchi
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