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My visit to Romy the Cat's Macondo
My visit to Romy the Cat's Macondo
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Old 26th January 2019, 02:40 PM   #1
Joshcpct is offline Joshcpct  Germany
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Cool My visit to Romy the Cat's Macondo

Hi folks,

I wanted to share a bit of my impressions of my visit and listening to the Macondo System.
A bit, not everything.
I was hesitating first! To write anything...
Romy said he listened to a lot which he does not comment. He does not always want to rate things due to respect to their creators who can be remarkable personalities. They created a piece of art from their strongest believes and express their perception. You cannot go and tell someone you're piece of sh*. That were nice words and I agree with him. The audio scene is way to judgmental and too little gentleman.

But maybe the impressions are of use for people who cant go but are very obsessed about getting to know the sonic signature.
To put this into the right framework i begin with some circumstantial description before heading towards sound >interpretation< further down.


-- personal stuff ---

The visit
Big thanks to Romy for the invitation and kind welcoming with lots of care for his guest. It was funny and cozy. I had about 4 hours listening and 4 hours chat. He is an entertaining personality with charm, very very smart, and maybe even a bit different than you expect from his writing. Theres a lot more to say which i skip coz its not speaker related.


Romys ear
I think its important to first understand the individuals perception, goals and approach. This is what gives the signature to the system. It is not a secret that he loves classical music, he has primarily older recordings, and he seeks to keep clarity in separation of each individual component, even in most complex and dramatic ensembles. He also listens loud. Very loud... (!) I feel confident to label him liking decent responses, totally avoiding boominess or overexegderations.


My own ear
To put things in right position, a picture evaluated does not represent the picture but the perception of the observer. So i will try to give you a critical self reflection:
I am musically by far more eclectic, with way less specific understanding of the particular, compared to Romy.
I can listen to bad recordings, and well recorded bad music
Majority of bad recordings with big fun are for me electronical, blues, rocknroll, country, gospel, soul, new wave, vintage synth pop, ...
I love those on dynamic speakers with not necessarily hi-fi qualities, such as car, horns, fullrange, vintage stuff. Here i prefer a traditional voicing with elevated lows and hi-roll-off. Not too linear to add some dynamic de-compression.
On the other side I can also enjoy more simple romantic modern classical music such as Satie, or Chopin / Liszt, up to italian opera. Easy listening acoustics, swing, jazz as well.
I enjoy these particularly well on audiophile systems like conventional multiway, electrostatics and such. Here more linear, neutral, well equalized even with FIR.
Im quiet rational and do not believe too much in snakeoil and electricity cables. I have some isolation transformers and Parasound DAC but thats how far I go. I well understand the whole business from technical point, operate with FIR filters, and approach it 50% from engineering side. On the other hand I acknowledge to enjoy flaws of vintage stuff just for the purpose of their personality, variety, my affection to technical things, and of course lots of nostalgic emotions.


My motivation
I am of course searching for a new fun machine myself. I started buying way too many components. I got Horns build with Fostex. Electrostatics. Lowther, AER, vintage stuff. Backes&Müller. The basement is full with Fostex, JBL, Altec, TAD, Vitavox etc.

Then I noticed its far cheaper to just move your a** and visit people who built great things already. I did that with many Horns systems. Especially WE, Goto, and such exotics. Of course all the trivial ones from exhibitions too. Some years passed, and Romy was one of the biggest at the end of the list. Thats because I live 6000 miles away from Boston.

I am also half aware what i target is stupid and doesn't exist but still i do: hunt the nirvana. I think somewhere should be "THE" ideal speaker giving me endless pleasure for all purposes. The ultimate bulls* could be behind every corner. And the stupid internet allows almost every Eddy to describe his own invention, let it be DIY or commercial, as the ultimate thing. Immediately this triggers my jaw-dropping. Especially the process of buying, unpacking, and raving about it the first days is a modern sick approach i am also guilty of.

Romy's system is very much hyped, not last by himself and his strong statements. The whole system has provoked my curiosity to a huge extend, as its built with insane efforts from Amps to Horns and all in-between with magical hard to get components.



Lets get to it, how does it sound?

We started with mostly for me unfamiliar classical music.
I wanted to warm up an hour or two before playing my "evaulation-disc".
I instantly had the emotional perception the presentation is rather cold and harsh. The actual warm dull vintage expectation of such equipment did not come true. Funny, I would expect from tubes on 50 year old Horns. When I first mentioned this, Romy said this is all response related and he could just tweak the channels to my liking by turning some potentiometer and thats it. He got a point. At the end we could do this with many systems. OK, i will try to put the strong perception of amplitude-response aside, to go deeper into the actual "signature" of sound these components had to offer, hopefully.

My first impressions did not change. Not even with my evaluation disc.
Another was re-confirmed: it sounds like a normal speaker.
This was maybe the biggest shock of it all
For years you read magical words about the nirvana and when u get there its just another state of mind - no explosion. So i was listening to normal music from a normal speaker.
Dont laugh, it was just like that.

After hours of patience through classicals, i desired to "rock the macondo" a bit
Marla Glens "The Cost of Freedom" finally put some beats on the whole. Though... they were rather lean. Her scream did not attack nor shock me. It was loud but not with the up and down and shock of sudden loudness.
Same with Hugh Masekela "Stimela". This was too soft, and this way not really desired. Maybe the tubes soft clipping caused some compression? I actually prefer SSD amps for their extra slam. This confirms that i dont get along with vacuum. Tubes are for lullabies, SSD for air-guitar.

The voice was quiet reverberant. Actually all recordings got very reverberant though the room was well dampened. I assume the nearfield listening with a narrow dispersion system exaggerates the recordings environment or reverb-processors a lot more than usual systems. That also contributed a lot to a slight touch of (oh god he will kill me for saying this) canny tunnel sound, which was not as open/airy/free as I enjoy from some high-endy direct radiators.

OK lets be positive, the beats had a certain magic. Something that so far only "lean" systems had. This speedy punchy dryness in percussions. They were just crispy to the point. And not only that, they had a very pleasant reverb-tale that was jiggling me. Very nice. I must say that was kind of the highlight of it all. Its hard to tell from which particular element of this 300-way-system it came but i very much blame the Fane-8M Studio in the big 100Hz Tractrix. To my very surprise. Wasnt it the most unspectacular of them all? And it appeared to be the highlight!

The S2 was probably the most disturbing component of it all. It was too harsh. I experienced big listening fatigue along the evening and had to constantly lower the volume. He was so cold i almost had to put a jacket on. The ribbon did not really contribute much to the whole. Even putting my (young 18k perceiving) ear directly 2 inch in front of the ribbon did not unveil the sparkles. It was very much S2 plus the lows being the leads.

Another impressingly positive resume: it all sounded absolutely coherent from the center. It was purely focused. Though the system is unusually much vertically clustered. It in fact just sounded as coherent as any other single-fullrange speaker would. I guess the religiously precise time-alignment (of place of origin, not excess-phase!) pays off - A LOT ! Highly recommended!

Jazz variants, Isnt she lovely, Walking on the Moon (Jazz), Grandmas House, all the usual hifi suspects followed. I just notice now, it was remarkably hard to focus on how the system actually sounds. I constantly drifted away with my thoughts into earlier experiences (i just came from a USA road trip) ... A sign of insignificance in a way? The soft-washed vacuum? Hard to say. I cant say it different than "it just didnt blow me away".

He later played his most complex and dramatic favourite pieces of Anton Bruckner. I believe Symphony No 8 was one of them. I must agree, theres one particular ability this Macondo thing has. Even the biggest mish mash bath of sound is still being dissected into each single nuclear. No matter how complex the music gets. You still notice how many actors are involved in the 20th row, 2 oclock righthandside. So something pais off. It may be the intentional use of harmonic distortion...


Anyhow, its not for me, pros and cons. I left in peace. I now can commit to more simple systems which are just a bunch of fun for me. The pilgrimage helped me to put things in a more reasonable relation.

If I can recommend you all audio people something: be relaxed, do not make the mistake to interpret other peoples words with your own perception. Every human being lives in his own reality. Until you hear that something, preferably twice coz once your excitement can trick you...., dont believe the hype

This is not to disqualify any of Romy's statements regarding how he perceives his own system. Its his signature. And he assumably found his own nirvana in it. Which is adorable and requires a lot of effort. Doesnt mean it was for me. So as anyone else. Thats how it goes...

cheers
Josh

Last edited by Joshcpct; 26th January 2019 at 02:44 PM.
 
Old 26th January 2019, 02:58 PM   #2
TNT is offline TNT  Sweden
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And just there . . 1001 audiophiles gushed a deep sigh of relief. :-D

Did you hear Living Voice in Munchen 2017?

//
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Last edited by TNT; 26th January 2019 at 03:08 PM.
 
Old 26th January 2019, 03:11 PM   #3
scott wurcer is offline scott wurcer  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshcpct View Post
He later played his most complex and dramatic favourite pieces of Anton Bruckner. I believe Symphony No 8 was one of them. I must agree, theres one particular ability this Macondo thing has. Even the biggest mish mash bath of sound is still being dissected into each single nuclear. No matter how complex the music gets. You still notice how many actors are involved in the 20th row, 2 oclock righthandside. So something pais off. It may be the intentional use of harmonic distortion...
Josh
I love reading Romy's stuff especially vs. Arthur Salvatore you can't find two people as passionate and totally different as that. IMO of course.
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Old 26th January 2019, 03:26 PM   #4
Joshcpct is offline Joshcpct  Germany
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@ TNT: Yes i did. 2016,17,18... many hours. I find the Living Voice more exciting. Mostly coz it has some extra air on top. Still i notice the same origin of harsh fatigue in the VoxOlympian/Palladian when plaid loud, though its waaayy less, maybe 10% of Macondo. LVO though is way too boomy, bad voicing and room integration in Munich - may play better elsewhere.

@ Scott, i really dont intend to be personal so its simply my perception of music back then.
 
Old 26th January 2019, 03:28 PM   #5
TNT is offline TNT  Sweden
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OK! Would you call also LVP 2017 just a "speaker"?

So where do you find bliss these days?

//
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Old 26th January 2019, 03:33 PM   #6
multitask is offline multitask  Denmark
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i remember having fun reading this guys crazy posts over on his forum years back hehehe..
 
Old 26th January 2019, 03:38 PM   #7
scott wurcer is offline scott wurcer  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshcpct View Post
@ Scott, i really dont intend to be personal so its simply my perception of music back then.
Totally understood, these folks are a welcome relief to the 0.0001% THD crowd. More important is their diversity in musical tastes.
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Last edited by scott wurcer; 26th January 2019 at 03:43 PM.
 
Old 26th January 2019, 03:44 PM   #8
Joshcpct is offline Joshcpct  Germany
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@TNT, the VoxOlympian were actually ones of the few i was very much raving about earlier. Until i heard them second time So i kept coming back. I remain relaxed now. I say yes, just an average speaker.

I did listen to this Goto system and raved first time, second time way less but it is still a significant good system: Goto 5 way in Germany

I quiet liked (though not raved about) Martin Logans Statement, Wilson, ESD Dragon Horns, JBL 4367 on the exhibition.
I now do own ACR SOTA. Its a K-alike corner-horn, a 4 way DIY active.
Also several Lowther and AER, Phillips Fostex Fullrange for fun (though admit their sound lacks some fidelity...)
My rather "clean" sounding ones are Capaciti Electrostatics, and Backes&Müller BM30.


This i say to give you insights to my ear.
This is not to say that any of these are much better than Macondo and you should all run now and buy these Then obviously one wouldntve understood my message.
However i like my portfolio more than most but Goto.

cheers
Josh

Last edited by Joshcpct; 26th January 2019 at 03:51 PM.
 
Old 26th January 2019, 03:46 PM   #9
Juhazi is offline Juhazi  Finland
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A thread from 2008 Macondo speakers from Romy the cat

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 26th January 2019, 04:33 PM   #10
TNT is offline TNT  Sweden
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Thanks Johs - now I undertand your position! I'm sure it's good.

//
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