LuxSapienti | The System

22.03.2012..

To the first part of this review

To the introduction article of Esoteric Masterpieces


The technique

Is it possible to explain the technical motives of a sound like this? Is it possible to explain also those not technical without being considered as a shaman or, even worse, a storyteller? I will try to do it here.

The overall manufacture is aimed, as I have supposed, exclusively to the sound outcome. Although I could feel the love put in its realization, everything seems to me a bit chaotic and beyond the conventional standards. I should take every single part of the system and call every detail into question, but we are talking about an instrument altogether and every alleged improvement on the paper could only compromise the magic it can give back.

Fender Deluxe 1957

Fabio (Calò) himself tells me about all the times he has tried to modify his Fender, Marshall or Hiwatt tube heads following the hi-fi standards. Every time the result was worse. The verification of the manufacture has been applied on every aspect, even on the more common principle of the electronics. However, in my next visit, I want to speak again of the manufacture. In fact, there is not so much left to say about the sound.

 

According to LuxSapienti, the Devacian loudspeakers are the core of the revitalization of the audio signal. Let us try to understand how they have been designed and made. They are two identical musical instruments, made up of a sounding board in Fiemme Valley‘s picea abies and a sounding chamber of 10 mm of solid rosewood. The sounding board is the secret of LuxSapienti’s sound. Its tuning is mysterious, of course. In lutherie, it is defined as bracing: the braces are put in some crucial points of the board so that they amplify instead of blocking the resonances. Fabio just adds that, to reach that transparency, the followed path is seen as a synthesis of music, lutherie, electronics and esotericism notions, which have merged into the board tuning. He tells me that someone had tried to clone his speakers but, having obtained only a drum, he has been asked for help. No comment. The loudspeaker has a very interesting reflex: instead of a classic Helmoltz resonator, the reflex has been obtained all along the board perimeter. That gives a double benefit: it avoids the classic ducted sound of the reflex and, above all, it spurs the whole sounding board. This last one is thinner and less curved downwards in order to generate big resonating differences: I test it by beating on it and I hear it “singing” with a wide and gradual frequency range. Upon the loudspeaker, there is a double bass handle whose strings are connected to the loudspeaker and to the board in two points, in order to tune again the resonances. Another way to move the correction of the resonance frequencies is by regulating the distance between board and chamber. The loudspeakers are of the Goodmans Axiom 300 type, modified and transformed into an electric magnet with 98 dB of efficiency.

The best informed of you will remember, at this point, other examples of “resonating” realisations. Labels like Spendor, good but normal loudspeakers, even if made of precious woods and “linearized”. Or Bösendorfer, that has tried to make something similar just moving a board near the loudspeaker in order to create a resonance perception. More has obtained Rehdeko with its resonant loudspeakers. But we are still talking about beech plywood loudspeakers. Defining them as truly resonating, in comparison with the LuxSapienti, is a euphemism, definitely. Here we are in different world. The world of a real musical instrument, apparently hyper-resonant like a drum and sounding, rather resounding, like every instrument it reproduces.

 

The signal, power, power supply and digital connections are, according to the manufacturer, the other key of the LuxSapienti’s sound. I quote him: “while in the loudspeakers the sound, although coherent, fades away, is in the cables that its nature is already compromised”. I have always agreed on that. Along meters of path, if the “message” is not preserved correctly, then very little remains. Since the connection is the most complex aspect to realise, he tells me that, to reach that aim, he has invested many resources. He adds that inside the cables there are various components, but he does not tell me which ones…(Grrr!). I think that these odd things create capacity problems, increase the resistance…, in short they do not sound! Nevertheless, at the listening, he says that his cables, after some initial obstacles, are linear at 0 dB and beyond 1GHz. They are amazing also from a technical point of view with the advantage of being linear, as many other excellent cables are, but with also the recovery of the sound life. He makes some comparison with other cables: Shinpy Quasar, White Gold Sublimis Pi Greco, Sublima Yasoda 6. The difference, in terms of realism is enormous and immediate. So are the LuxSapienti objectively superior? Yes, definitely. In a next article, I would like to have the chance of motivating, from a technical point of view, this “objectivity” with respect to all the components of a hi-fi system. I promise.

 

The amplificationsare prototypes aimed to “lab” practicalness and sound efficiency. On the Kamaloka amp, I noticed signal paths reduced to the minimum and, most of all, the cables’ optimization on the basis of the conducing tensions – in terms of thickness and make – from the aeronautic typology to a manufacturer’s component. I also noticed the wooden base full of holes, with a crazy or electronically wrong displacement of some components and approximate soldering…the manufacturer explains that this chassis was made to be object of some violence, assembling and disassembling to get to an outcome only after various options. He confirms this is the goal of designing and that now the real production is made with a technique that is unknown in the audio field but known in the aerospace sector. It is a construction without any soldering, although realized with aerospace materials and techniques where the contacts are crimped, numbered and certified, in order to guarantee the maximum stability in time and mostly, in our field, less interferences on the signal path. This coupling technique of materials, made with special and expensive tools, enables a link among the conducers by compacting the matter of the two poles but without adding any alien alloy that could perish the signal, as happens in the soldering. The Neapolitan expert Giovanni Riccardi has made up the device. “With him there has been immediately an excellent accord and a creative synergy. Only a technician not just a technician could listen and realize my theories apparently weird without any prejudice about this or that theoretic text”, affirms Fabio.

The amplifier is therefore unique: a mighty integrated amp, with two copper chassis, connected by a very short cable. The power supply is rectified with 5Y3 RCA vacuum tubes at direct heating, inductances Stancor, Tobe and Sprague paper and oil capacitors, Allen Bradley resistances. Only paper and oil capacitors for the power supply! The signal chassis has a wooden wengè armboard treated with boron salts to make it fireproof and suspended on springs upon which are anchored the air-wired components. It is a simple EC8020 Telefunken Class A single-ended three stages, whose first two stages are phono RIIA preamp and the last one is a power single ended coupled with Tango NC-20 transformers. The output transformers are of Tamura F-7002 type. Also here the capacitors and resistances are of top quality.

The manufacturer affirms: “The design choice has come out after long evaluations, for example about the kind of power and driver tubes”. The EC8020 Telefunken is great, thanks to its very high trans-conductance and amazing realisation, with an invisible grid and no microphonics: the maximum of velocity and signal coherence! We have preferred avoiding any classic triode like the 2A3, AD1 or 300B, because of their slowness although in other situations they are unbeatable in harmonic richness. Richness that comes from their high distortion of second order – therefore very agreeable since it emulates the harmonic decays of the real sound – still it slows down a lot the transient sound and gives it back less immediate and less lively. The transistors have been set apart because of their less agreeable harmonic characteristics and – although the high trans-conductance – for their need of local and/or total counter reaction. The counter reaction determinates at the end, besides the hardening, also the slowing down of the sound. We needed here a pure, fresh, rapid sound. A sound that has to be revitalized through LuxSapienti’s techniques without being slowing down, hardening, heating or sweetening. We had to realise what only an instrument does: to fill up the sound with Life”. All this exploit of resources to develop only one watt and a half of power! But the breath and the dynamic fluidity makes it appear more powerful.

 

The turntable is a very particular system. A Technics SP-15 direct traction drives the turntable as a motor and a flywheel, through a silk belt. The turntable has a platter of 20 kilos suspended upon three neodymium magnets, instead of the common pivot/bearing systems. It is then immerged in a sound wood armboard, laid on a big talcum cushion, which is, in turn, upon a base of 300 kilos of pietra serena stone and slate. Fabio says that this is the best way to sum up the insuperable immediacy of the direct drive to the richness and sweetness of the belt drive, which would be, however, a bit fake for its tenderness on the transients but for the motor-flywheel. The cartridge is a MC Allnic Verito.

 

The entire system is made up by LuxSapienti, except for the Max Research tonearm, the Technics SP-15 platter used as a flywheel and the CD-Transport Forsell. All the components are of good quality indeed. LuxSapienti has developed its own theory on the electronic transmission, seen as a vibration rather than propagation. All its electronics are fixed on wood with large grains, everything is on gel, air or pneumatic suspension and set on the heavy and stiff element.

This last one isolates the electronic device from the resounding of the loudspeakers and avoids all the vibrations on the signal. The wood absorbs the vibrations in an “organic” way without amplifying them. The manufacturer says that the wood in contact with the signal, if well managed, improves drastically the sound in terms of tonal richness and – this is harder to understand – of transparency and definition. He also says that “It seems that the vibrations could now propagate themselves freely in the wood, without coming back but becoming lively while they decrease and fade away. The vehicle has to die so that the passenger could travel undisturbed”.

The same principle of suspension has been applied to the stands of the speakers, the base of the turntable, and the flywheel.

 

The D/A converter is… weird! (Editor’s note: it is a prototype, as you can see in the photos from the unfinished connections). It seems a trunk with two blue leds. Joking aside, I am very interested in its make.

A big chassis realized with principles similar to those applied to loudspeakers. Nevertheless, here it is a sound red cedar very light and with large grain, in order to absorb the vibrations and make them “organic”, so says Fabio. The interior is very tidy and the analogue part is completely passive: the output signal from the chip has been token bypassing the motherboard and conduced directly to a transformer that adapts the impedance and gives the gain. Then it exits through the RCA pins. Also here a very simple scheme with very short signal paths.

 

2 out of 3 – to be continued

 
by Roberto Borgonzoni
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