AUDIO EXPERIENCE FROM FRANCE
This week, I want to introduce you to the Alsatian craftsman who produces Recital speakers. They are a unique product that deserve a closer look.
Alexandre Chamagne has always had a passion for sound reproduction. After receiving a degree in electronic engineering, he funneled his energy into commercial pursuits in 2009, creating “Alex Audio,” an engineering firm. He used his expertise to design and develop speakers for both the general public and professional clients and ended up creating numerous products in collaboration with several major brands. At the end of 2012, he decided to design his own speakers and launch a new brand : Recital. It was an ambitious, albeit carefully planned, endeavor: he began by offering a line of five different models straight off the bat.
Rigid diaphragms and « homemade » filtering technology
Over the last several years, Chamagne has become interested in using rigid diaphragms, with an adapted filtering mechanism, in his loudspeakers. He comments, “It was rather complex to develop this type of diaphragm because, although it has many advantages, you systematically get resonance once you reach 5,000 Hz.” Indeed, the optimal functionality of such loudspeakers is constrained by the diaphragm’s maximum frequency; above this limit, the sound produced is no longer completely uniform. In technical jargon, this is referred to as cone breakup. Chamagne therefore developed a filtering mechanism—Pure-Motion technology—that completely removes any breakup effects. Across the entirety of the audible bandwidth (20 Hz to 20,000 kHz), no deformations are observed in the diaphragm. When asked what motivates his efforts, he answers: “Given that we are ideally striving for optimum neutrality, we seek to create a product that does not color the sound but rather that conveys the music and its message as recorded.”
When it comes to manufacturing, all of Recital’s products are assembled by hand in France. The woodworking is done in Alsace by a craftsman. The filters are designed and made in-house. Only the loudspeakers, with their rigid diaphragms, come from outside the country; they are produced in Norway, by SAES. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Recital brings up the topic of room acoustics in its informational materials. Manufacturers and retailers generally fail to address this rather essential subject. When they provide this pertinent information, speaker companies show that they being honest with their clients, which is reassuring. I have had a pair of Define floorstanding speakers in my possession for the past few days, and I have been looking forward to sharing my initial impressions with you here.
A flawless design and finish
The first thing that struck me was the speakers’ design and look, which are not mainstream. The Defines have a narrow profile, and the tweeter as well as the mid-woofer are situated high up. I really liked this positioning because, when the listener is seated, the loudspeakers are right at ear level. The depth and width of the cabinet are somewhat inversely proportional, lending balance and beauty to its appearance. The finish is absolutely remarkable; it was an extremely elegant matte ruby red on the model I received. The finishing work and quality of the assembly are exemplary and beyond all criticism. The only thing that surprised me was that the mid-woofer was left “naked,” that is to say, without a cover. This ill-considered decision is hard to understand because the diaphragm remains fragile in spite of its rigidity!
For the audition, the Defines were hooked up to reasonably priced and musical Atoll electronics, the HD120 and the MA100, using Atohm ZEF MAX cables. At first, the sound was both captivating and unnerving. The music’s message came through clearly, and any “box” effects were notable for their absence. The bass was unquestionably present but was neither hallow nor showy. The message was perfectly balanced, and the sound scene was vast and incredibly lovely. The listening experience was particularly enriched when I played “Oriental Bass” by Renaud Garcia Fons, a piece that is replete with tiny details. It is obvious that the Defines can showcase the best recordings. After auditioning them for a few hours, I concluded that they possess an uncommon quality: they are self-effacing in their transmission of the music’s message. Those looking for the speakers’ sound signature will come away disappointed because the Defines seek to highlight, not color, the music.
For those who may question the efficacy of the “little” mid-woofer, my use of relatively more powerful electronics in the audition revealed quite clearly that the speakers behaved similarly to higher-end models. In this case, looks are deceiving because the small-sized loudspeaker adroitly handled pumped-up volumes. Indeed, during the audition, I played a highly diverse range of tracks, so as to observe the speakers’ performance in a great variety of musical contexts. The level of detail, respect for the music’s timbre, and beauty of the sound scene was confirmed time and again.
These speakers really stand out and serve as a magnificent example of HIFI savoir faire. Chamagne is a craftsman who has created a beautifully made product that has real added value in terms of quality. I am already itching to try out his other speaker models. I also want to take this opportunity to tip my hat to Chamagne, a free spirit who is willing to think outside the acoustical box, pun intended, to focus exclusively on conveying the music’s message.
# # #
Technical Specifications :