Review link @ http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/audiosmile/audiosmile.htmlAudiosmile super tweeter
The review of this super tweeter custom-made by Audiosmile from the UK was a great learning experience for me. I now know very
well that the integration of an add-on super tweeter to any speaker
system is not a trial-and-error process. There are important parameters
that we must consider before choosing what type of super-tweeter will
subjectively please our ears the most. In this short review, I intend
not to describe my listening experiences album by album but rather,
explore plausible causes for the improvements.
Before Audiosmile sent me the super tweeter for review, they had
performed a thorough study of the Supravox widebanders used in my Da
Vinci Audio Lab Intonation speakers. Specifically, Simon examined the
off-axis behavior of the driver and found it rolling off quickly by 30%
starting at about 6kHz despite the driver's 20kHz reach directly on
axis. This has a large effect on the power response of a system. The
role of Audiosmile's super tweeter as I understand it at this stage is
to fill in the total sound energy inside a given room for greater
evenness. Audiosmile's job thus focuses on designing the most ideal
crossover filter to match as much as possible the upper on/off-axis
response of the midrange driver. In other words, this is a custom
solution that eliminates trial and error -- mostly error -- for the poor
The following graphs demonstrate the two possible filter
responses designed for the Da Vinci Intonation. The first graph shows
the Supravox's own response and the general slope of the two tweeter
filters. The next two graphs show the response of the Supravox summed
with each of the filters. The frequency response in either case looks
very flat. To compare, the muRata super tweeters I used previously begin
taking over at 15kHz according to their website. Audiosmile believed
the Supravox drivers would benefit a lot by lowering their super
tweeter's high-pass corner frequency.How does it sound?
I connected the super tweeter to the amplifier terminals of
the Da Vinci Grandezza 300B mono amplifier via a pair of Argento
Serenity Speaker cable, to burn in the super tweeter for 2 days before
sitting down for a serious listening. The custom-made solution was
clearly far more seamless than the muRata. First and foremost, treble
energy now filled up the whole room as though I were completely engulfed
by the recording venue. This was quite shocking. In my understanding, a
larger speaker cone narrows its dispersion at higher frequencies such
as to become severely directional and beam like a laser. If you're not
sitting directly on line with this laser beam, you won't hear the high
Simon of Audio Smile would remind us once again that we always
listen to sound energy both directly from the speaker and indirectly via
its in-room reflections. Unlike a laser beam, Simon's super tweeter
dispersion has far wider and more even off-axis response than the
Supravox has in the treble, creating a better tonal balance from a more
linear power response. Put differently, the AudioSmile tweeter engages
the room more actively than the Da Vinci Audio Lab speaker does on its
own. That's a very good thing.
notable but surprising improvement appeared in the bass. Transients
were much faster than before. I believe the technical reason is the
necessary presence of high frequencies at the very beginning of bass
notes. Think of the kick drum in a drum kit which consists of the low
frequency component from the oscillating drum skin and the high
frequency component when the head of the pedal first hits. For the first
split second when the pedal hits the drum, the development of the
leading edge (high frequencies) begins until the skin of the drum slows
down to its natural resonance frequency. Delivery of lower mid-bass
notes is thus much cleaner without losing speed and impact at all.
That is not to say the muRata is inherently inferior but when it comes to actual usage
its particular frequency response may not match the off-axis response
of your system as well. It certainly didn't for my Supravox. In
retrospect, the muRata
a complete section of mid-high frequency harmonics which were blanked
out by comparison. Yet improved bass transients survived with it.
Tonally, however, its effects on the bass were a little bit leaner than
With respect to the physical super tweeter (10.5 x 13.5 x 8 WxHxD
cm), the ribbon element is an isoplanar said to enjoy incredibly low
distortion and very fast decay rates. Frequency response extends to
45kHz and horizontal dispersion is apparently extremely wide and even.
The demo pair enclosures I bought were made from solid Beech. Cherry and
Ash are the two standard finish options. All Audiosmile super tweeters
are made to order and by hand.
The 'red' filter is a more gentle 2nd order and the 'blue' a
sharper 3rd order filter. Simon anticipated that the 'blue' filter would
work better for me as it protects the super tweeters a little more and
also gives a bit more high frequencies where needed. He will perform the
same computer modeling for every customer serious about his super
I now perfectly appreciate how without this matching feature,
perfect integration between midrange and super tweeter is a completely
haphazard affair and very unlikely to happen with a one-size-fits-all
stock offering. Simon's filter compensations for my application are so
well chosen, I believe Da Vinci Audio should deliver the Intonation
this Audiosmile tweeter as a standard package. It
really elevates the total performance of their Intonation speakers. With
respect to price and how it impacted my performance, this super tweeter
seems like a real bargain to me.
Sidebar 1: Super
tweeters have gained more respectability though the precise reasons for
their apparent efficacy are likely not fully understood yet. That
hasn't prevented an informal body of evidence to get assembled by those
who have actually experimented with such devices. Universally, the
subjective improvements are reported as rather more far-ranging than
merely 'better treble'.
among the vendors of super tweeters I'm aware of, Simon at Audiosmile
seems the first (only?) to focus his explanations on an improved power
response, i.e. the composite (overlaid or summed) totality of direct and
reflected sound. Drop-outs in reflected energy where the room doesn't
support the speaker's direct radiation as it does above and below the
gaps are far more audible than intuitive perhaps.
As an owner of Mark & Daniel's Maximus Monitor with the
optional ambient air motion transformer (upfiring into an omni
dispersion lens, high-passed at 3kHz), I'm familiar with its effects on
air (audible space), soundstaging (apparently bigger) and improved
definition in the lower bands (stronger focus). I have also experimented
with an add-on fixed-network muRata to find, as Linnman did, that it
worked better on some speakers than others.
While DIYers in particular will, as they always do, reference
only Madison Sound or equivalent price sheets for raw drivers, the
vital feature of Audiosmile is the computer-modeled custom high-pass
filter. While duplicating it will still be within the ken of more
advanced DIYers, it won't be for others. And non-DIY customers of course
are interested only in turnkey solutions that provide the best results.
To my knowledge, Audiosmile is unique in offering this custom-matching
feature, hence it's a fair assumption that unless competitors step up to
the plate, Simon's super tweeters will outperform them - unless those
others just happen to match your speakers' native response to the 't'.
In which case, all bets might be off. Whether you're inclined to take
that risk though is another matter altogether.
Weinhart Design is always interested in purchasing quality Audio, LP
collections, specialists buying Audio Estates and interested in most quality trades
All sales out of California are State Sales Tax exempt. California State Sales Tax of 9% applies for items picked up or shipped to a California address.
accept payments by Bank Wire Transfers without fees and is the only
form of payment on all sales out of the U.S. and Canada. We prefer this
method of payment and also makes shipping to addresses other than
VISA, MC and Papal are gladly accepted within the U.S. and Canada as long as the charge is approved and were shipping to the BILLING ADDRESS and shipping to the billing address on record and adds a 3% fee to cover costs.
Please visit our "ALL NEW & Improved Web Site @ www.weinhartdesign.com
me directly in my Audio showroom in Los Angeles weekdays from 11-4PM @
310-472-8880 or on my cell including weekends from 10-10PM
at 310-927-2260 and I can answer your questions and help you with all of
your new and pre owned needs.
Making better Sound One
system at at a time,
Weinhart Design, Inc.
President & CEO
The Audio and Video Expert
2337 Roscomare Road, Studio #1 Showroom) 310-472-8880
Los Angeles, California 90077