Lansche Audio No.7 Loudspeaker

Smitten!

The No.7’s transparency to sources was so high that I could easily hear very fine differences in recording techniques, microphones, and microphone placement. The differences in spatial perspective, separation of instrumental lines, clarity, and timbre between recordings were amplified. Great recordings were revealed in all their glory, but poor recordings were left with nowhere to hide. This is what a loudspeaker should do, rather than impose a sameness over a range of recording qualities. This observation confirms my view that this is one highly transparent and un-editorializing loudspeaker.

These impressions were made with the corona-plasma tweeter attenuated in level by 2dB via the rear-panel jumpers. At the flat setting I thought the treble was pushed too far forward. This not only made the speaker sound a bit bright, but also caused the midrange to sound somewhat subdued and “hollow” by juxtaposition. Moreover, the upper midrange through the top treble had a bit of a “silvery” tint. That is, timbres were overlaid with a luster that was not entirely natural. It wasn’t the typical sound of a hot dome tweeter in which the sound is simultaneously hard and bright, but rather it exhibited just a hint of gloss without the hardness. These characteristics were ameliorated by reducing the tweeter level, although the treble still had a tiny hint of the “silvery” character mentioned. It wasn’t offensive the way an aggressive dome tweeter can be, but rather it sounded like an extra measure of an instrument’s natural brilliance—like a violin that naturally sounds brighter than another, equally fine instrument. I must stress that this description of the treble is by no means pejorative; the top end was stunningly great, with a slight bias toward incisiveness.

As impressive as these virtues are—and believe me, they are glorious—they present quite a challenge to the designer. Specifically, How do you create a full-range loudspeaker around a massless tweeter without the system sounding discontinuous? How does the designer hand off a treble that is so transparent and ethereal to a cone midrange, and then to a cone woofer, and still achieve some semblance of coherence from the full-range loudspeaker?

The answer is that Lansche has done a masterful job of creating a complete system that is seamless from top to bottom. The wonderful treble integrates well with the midrange, which then blends into the bass, without any abrupt changes in timbre or dynamics. That, in itself, is an amazing achievement. But that coherence comes at a price, namely that the No.7 has a “light” character that favors quick reflexes and transient fidelity at the expense of weight, heft, punch, and gravitas from the lower midrange down through the bass. The corona-plasma tweeter crosses over to two 4" midrange drivers (made by Audio Technology in Denmark) that were specifically designed to integrate with the massless tweeter. The midrange drivers have very light diaphragms, and based on the appearance of the surrounds, not much excursion. These two drivers reproduce the range from 200Hz to 2.5kHz, a range that encompasses much of the body and weight of instruments as well as their dynamic expression. It’s asking too much of a pair of 4" drivers that have been optimized to blend with a massless tweeter to deliver the visceral, whole-body involvement that many other loudspeakers in this price class offer as a matter of routine. They simply can’t move enough air to convey the full measure of a cello’s rich sonority, the “purring” quality of a Fender Precision Bass, or the dynamics of that Fender bass as the attacks of the bass notes lock-in with the kick drum to create powerful whole-body involvement.

Similarly, the woofers have been designed to blend with the lightweight midranges. The challenge of integrating the tweeter with the midranges has a parallel in the transition between the two 4" midrange drivers to the four 8.7" woofers. Again, the approach has been to value coherence and a seamless transition over ultimate weight and authority in the bass. The bottom end, although satisfying on much music, didn’t have the weight, power, and dynamic impact that one normally expects from a six-figure loudspeaker. Orchestral climaxes were diminished in intensity, sounding lighter than life or than comparably priced loudspeakers. Timpani lacked the startling sense of musical punctuation as well as the center-of-the-earth solidity in the bottom end that is available in far less expensive loudspeakers. Don’t expect to feel an orchestra’s physical power, the visceral thrill of unfettered dynamic impact on orchestral climaxes, the feeling of a kick drum’s attack striking your chest, or the body- involving rhythmic power of rock. That’s not the No.7’s forte.

The bass was, however, highly articu-late, tight, and precise, with outstanding pitch definition and good resolution of smaller- scale dynamics such as subtle rhythmic inflections on acoustic bass. The bottom end became progressively more weighty as the frequency decreased, making up somewhat for the lighter presentation through the upper bass and lower mids. In fact, it is remarkable how seamless and coherent the No.7 is when considering just how different the octave from 40Hz-80Hz sounds compared with the top octave. Despite the profound change in the nature of these frequency extremes, I was unable to identify any transitions within that continuum.

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