March 2000
Jean Marie



The PHY-HP sets constructors off -
a stimulus for development.

The exceptional PHY-HP, a widerange speaker of rare qualities, more than proved its worth by encouraging the development of two speakers adherent to the same philosophy. Their light-weight cases are made of plywood in layers as thin as 4 mm, designed to absorb as little acoustic energy as possible. While cases are naturally given to vibrate, here, vibrations are of shorter duration and allow for greater harmony.

However, the idea is not hot off the rack. In the early 70s, a constructor named Mas came forth with a patented concept that followed the same principle and was dubbed the "musical speaker". For obvious reasons, this functional mode could not go unobjected. A case was not supposed to resound.

And yet, results are extant that provide convincing arguments against the conventional approach. This is especially evident in the model manufactured by "Auditorium 23" in Germany. Here, the ingenious solution of applying high pressure to bend the wooden side sheets to form an S shape positively affects both design and sound. The curving profile strengthens the thin material and makes for excellent esthetics and acoustics. The performance is balanced, vivacious and coherent to an amazing extent; it brims with musical power that immediately recalls speaker legends such as Siemens-Klangfilm which is an item pricily searched after in Japan. Astonishing how the sound appears in equal purity in front of and behind the speaker; no less astonishing the clarity and transparence of what is reverberating beyond the case. This "Rondo" alone is worth detour via Frankfurt!

With the speaker "Tilia" by "Acoustique et Lutherie", the sides are straight and their vibrations less well controlled despite the use of a supporting hardwood construction. The smaller case has limiting effects upon the bass, and the symphonic orchestra turns into a chamber ensemble.

On the other hand, this lightness allows for listening that is free of case-induced tones - provided one has tuned the port to an optimum. A piezo-tweeter has been added to this wide-range. Armed with such a treble-support, it manages additional emphasis in the upper spectrum - but at the same time, it also hampers the incamparable homogenity of the PHY-HP. If one is looking for concert feeling, it is advisable to omit the tweeter; the cabling supports this option. In either case, one will appreciate the airy, light and unfettered performance as well as the openness of the overall sound image.

However, since both two solutions vie for attention and invite comparison, one should opt for "Rondo" by "Auditorium 23"; while the price range is the same, this product clearly excels with view to balance, emotion and musicality.

Jean Marie Piel, Paris