I have been following the evolution of Anthony Gallo’s loudspeakers for quite a while and over time have grown accustomed to, and even fond of, their futuristic styling. But Gallo speakers, as I have pointed out in past reviews, always look different for solid engineering-related reasons, not just for the sake of making a high-impact design statement. Where other designers have used traditional rectangular MDF speaker enclosures with wood veneers, Gallo has taken a much different path—often designing irregularly shaped die-cast aluminum or spun-stainless-steel enclosures, all in the name of structural rigidity, resonance control, and resistance to internal standing waves. And Gallo’s willingness to (pardon the pun) think outside the box extends beyond the realm of speaker enclosures to include fresh thinking about drivers and crossover networks, too.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I first set eyes and ears upon Gallo’s new Classico CL-3 floorstander ($2395/pair), which is the first Gallo speaker ever to feature a conventional wood-box enclosure. (Gasp!) I could well imagine the commercial considerations that might have prompted a move to wood-box enclosures, but wondered if this meant Gallo was setting aside the design objectives that had led the firm to use unorthodox metal enclosures in the first place. In short, I wondered if the CL-3 would sound like a “real” Gallo. As it turns out, however, I needn’t have worried, as I discovered very early on that the new Classico model not only equals the performance of Gallo’s critically acclaimed Reference speakers in many respects, but arguably surpasses them in some critical areas. To learn how Gallo pulled off this feat, read on.
The CL-3 is an unusually small 31"-tall tower-type speaker that features strikingly-angled panel surfaces intended to minimize problems with internal reflections. Classico models are offered with either genuine cherry or ash veneers and come with curved, magnetically attached mesh grilles that compliment the angular shape of the speaker cabinets. The CL-3 drivers comprise a pair of 5.2" mid/bass units with carbon-fiber diaphragms, plus one of Gallo’s signature CDT 3 (cylindrical diaphragm transducer) tweeters. The CL-3 enclosure is made from ¾" internally braced MDF and is configured, says Gallo, as a “modified transmission line,” which vents through a rear-firing slot. The transmission line, in turn, is loaded with Gallo’s patented S2 damping material, which I will discuss further below. Interestingly, a brief spin through the Gallo specifications table reveals this telling phrase: “Internal Crossover: None required.” Like many of Gallo’s Reference Series designs, the Classico CL-3 is essentially a crossover-free loudspeaker, which as you might expect yields audible benefits in openness, transparency, and freedom from crossover-induced sonic artifacts.
Let’s take a moment to review some of the technical highlights of the CL-3. First, as mentioned above, the CL-3 uses a CDT tweeter that has 180 degrees of horizontal dispersion and 30 degrees of vertical dispersion. Gallo notes that the CDT tweeter provides “consistent high-frequency response both on- and off-axis,” meaning that both “soundstaging and imaging are enhanced.” The tweeter features a semi-cylindrical diaphragm formed from sheets of a piezoelectric material called Kynar. As current flows back and forth, the material expands and contracts, with acoustic output closely approximating that of a theoretical pulsating cylinder. Significantly, the CDT tweeter naturally acts as a roughly 6dB/octave high-pass filter that rolls in at about 3kHz, so that the tweeter is able to serve as its own crossover. Apart from terrific horizontal dispersion, the CDT tweeter also offers good linearity, high resolution, and extremely fast transient response.
Like previous Gallo speakers, the CL-3 uses the firm’s proprietary S2 damping material within its cabinet. S2 is a finely shredded polyethylene film material that not only provides excellent general damping properties, but also improves the volumetric efficiency of the air within the speaker. As Gallo puts it, “Our patented S2 technology tricks the Classico’s precision woofers into performing as though they’re in significantly larger enclosures.” Previous Gallo designs have always used S2 material in relatively small sealed enclosures, but in the Classico CL-3 the S2 material is, for the first time ever, being applied in a larger, vented, transmission-line enclosure. For the CL-3 application, Gallo has strategically placed air-permeable bags containing carefully chosen quantities of S2 material at specific locations within the transmission line. The claimed result is a speaker that “sounds much larger than its actual size and delivers real-life impact without ever sounding muddy.” Gallo has given this distinctive transmission-line-loading methodology the acronym BLAST, which stands for Backwave Linearization And Synchronization Technology. According to Gallo, BLAST affords “an improved acoustic impedance match between the woofer/midrange driver and the air within the enclosure,” which “allows the speaker to play louder, deliver exceptional bass, and perform overall like a speaker many times its size.” And as you’ll learn in a moment, these aren’t hollow marketing claims.