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Positive Feedback ISSUE 70
Audio Ramblings - Gauder Akustik Berlina RC7
The loudspeaker survey that I started a year ago culminates with the Gauder Akustik Berlina RC7. (Gauder Akustik formerly known as Isophon). These are rather interesting—and clearly different than the other loudspeakers I have written about in the survey—in that their 'tear-dropped' (or perhaps winged) shaped cabinet is composed of stacked 'layers' of ribs made from… well let me just take from their literature…
In contradiction to the classical construction method no boards are glued together but 38 mm thick moulded pieces of wood which show the shape of a rib are aligned one over the other and then screwed together. To eliminate vibration spreading there are 3 mm thick soft-fibre ribs coated with silicone between each two ribs which dampen sound spreading. All the ribs have a special shape and varying thickness to cut off resonances in them. There are also some ribs which are additionally stiffened by a cross between them. All in all there are eight different ribs all of them having a special task to fulfill. The bottom rib carries integrated spikes for leveling and height adjusting.
What is so drop-dead gorgeously amazing is how they finish these ribs so that the 'stacked-rib' effect is not lost. Truly fine work is being done here. One has no idea that they are made from wood—I was thinking of composite, the finish is so perfectly right.
Drivers consist of three 173 mm woofers, one 173 mm midrange, and one 25 mm Ceramic or 20 mm Diamond tweeter. The bass principle is what they refer to as a 'symmetrical triple-bass reflex system of 12th' (order?) and uses a downward firing port. Bass 'output' is adjustable via jumpers on the rear of each speaker allowing for either flat or a small 1.5dB boost or cut. Plus one adjusts the spikes to provide for more or less breathing room for the bottom-facing port, thereby changing how the bass is loading the room. Crossovers are at 170Hz and 3400Hz with a slope of 50dB/octave. Impedance is 4 Ohm. I had no issues driving these to ear-numbing levels and they played well in my room with any music I tossed their way—though ultimately I felt they would have sounded even better in a space of greater volume. It is not the distance I sat from the speakers (about 12 feet), nor their distance from the wall (about 4 feet from their front edge), but that they simply needed more room to breathe… even so these guys rocked!
The ceramic drivers do, though, give the impression of being sourced from Accuton though I have been informed that they are of their own design and construction—that is Gauder makes everything in-house allowing for complete control of what they end up with. And what that is, is a state-of-the-art loudspeaker from the ground up.
So what did they sound like here? Or better yet, how did they present my music here… big and robust come to mind while being quick and articulate. They did love Yello and, well anything and everything of the electronic music genre (Hecq, Drokk, Trentemøller, Dntel, and so on). Yeah man, they played that all rather well calling for maximum volume. At sane and, yes, insane volume levels, the bass was to die for, though I did feel it could become a bit too much—the room issue perhaps in that these speakers would prefer to see a larger room—with the presence of the proverbial 'bass bloom' on occasion. The bass simply lost, to a degree, the speed and clarity that the Berlina RC7 drivers bring to the table. It became somewhat too much… sort of 'obscure and wooly'—like the black sheep of the family who only appears on days featuring copious amounts of food or drink…. Dude, where you been? This was evident even with the bass set to a -1.5dB cut via the rear jumper and really only evident sitting there or standing here. Without a doubt moving them further out into the room alleviated the issue, but leaving them there clearly limited the use of our living room to that of audio and well, sorry, we do live here. So did backing down the volume control a bit—no need to ruin our fragile relationship with the neighbors ( I am talking sound levels well into the 90's). Now all this is a good thing in that the Berlina RC7 will give you all the bass you could ever want—it is just that you need to be in tune with the room and what is playing at the time. I loved what they could do bass-wise and felt it to be oh so musically engaging—even musically augmenting—but when push came to shove, they clearly benefited from either being further out into the room or simply being in a larger room. Obviously I can toss the blame to the music I play (bass heavy) and the fact that I am limited in placement... and that combined with my 14 x 17 room! I will say that in the years of reviewing loudspeakers, here in my room, this has been an issue with any loudspeaker that features a downward firing port—they work, but I am not able to get the best they can offer. Which tells me that the Berlina RC7 could do even better than what I experienced here in a more appropriate room… nice, and yet sort of scary at the same time!
Note to the readers... speaker/room interaction is the biggest issue anyone will face in letting a pair of loudspeakers reach their true potential. Any 'perceived' problems I had here is not the fault of the speakers, but that of me trying to shoe-horn a pair of speakers in a smaller room... that would benefit from a larger room. The Berlina RC7 are top-shelf in all respects, but my room suffers from a bass-bump that these darlings found easy to tease... BUT only when I got crazy with the volume while spinning tracks from the likes of Ben Frost, Hecq, and so on. At any sane level, they sang quite right with nothing I could shake a stick at! And that was playing the same tracks... lesson learned! Easy on the volume. My Reimer Tetons also reveal the same bass-bump when playing at such volumes with the same tracks, but once DEQX'd, that is now no longer a problem as I am able to EQ that issue with the room out of the equation.
The Berlina RC7 offers plenty of sparkle and extension in the treble without a hint of being dry or forward. Ditto the midrange. All the drivers offer a speedy clarity while still possessing a rich tonality of sonic splendor. Nothing hyper about the Berlina RC7 and nothing appears to be lost or hidden either… all rather natural and right. The loudspeakers offer a big sound that is engaging and rather robust while never being colored or lacking in detail and resolution. All that audiophile stuff that people want… Berlina RC7 has all that in spades without drawing attention to specifics.
Vocals, and all that lies within midrange, came across with a purity and presence that brought my music to a quite nice place (music here would be Calexico, Massive Attack, Low, Lambchop, Beach House, and so on). This area within the music was full, rich, palpable, and engaging… though the Berlina RC7 is perhaps darker than lighter, richer than leaner. Meaning that it is clearly not cut from the stereotypically clichéd sound that loudspeakers from Germany are all too frequently characterized: cold, analytic, sterile, and so on. So if you want analytically overly-neutral that emphasizes some things and yet everything… then this is not the speaker for you. No, the Berlina RC7 has a rich warm 'life' to their presentation—these are not the speaker for those who lack a personality. Unless of course you trying to make up for some short-coming in how you see yourself and the world. Speaking of personality? Why yes, I am. In previous loudspeaker reviews I have made an attempt to equate what I had heard from the loudspeaker to that of the designer's personality… that is, is there some correlation between the two? In the case of the Berlina RC7, the issue becomes a bit sticky as I was only able to meet the designer briefly at the past Newport Show (THE Show… you do need to attend these as well as any RMAF show). Now while first impressions can be wrong, Dr. Gauder came across as a most fun loving guy. Someone who enjoys life and all that that brings to the table, he was friendly and engaging, and most importantly, was having a great time with music. Much like his speakers!
Same with the Gauder's US Distriubtor: Charlie Harrison. If you have never met Charlie, well let me say that… he is the most loving and generous guy around. Always laughing and having a fun time, Charlie clearly appreciates the finer things in life while still being grounded in reality. Charlie has a big warm personality while still being humble and yet never flashy; he is not out to draw attention to himself... all of which pretty much sums up the Berlina RC7. Highly Recommended.
North American Distributor
Gauder Akustik USA