East End Hi-Fi have recently become a Cube Audio dealer. Cube Audio are a single driver full range speaker manufacturer that have designed and manufactured all the drivers for the speakers they sell. They are the only company that has been able to design a single a 10” driver that will truly go down to 30hz. Other manufacturers who make “full range” single driver speakers cannot go down to the 30hz range because their sensitivity is too high at 98db compared with the Cube Audio Nenuphar’s at 92db.
I received my Nenuphar demo pair last week, and I have to say it is a revelation! It is the first pair of speakers I have ever heard that truly plays like a very large set of headphones! It is the most pure sounding, best imaging, and sound staging speaker I have ever heard! You hear everything, all the detail in every recording with a smooth overall sound used with the EAR 509 Monoblocks. Please go to YouTube and search for all the videos of this speaker, especially Peter Breuniger’s AV Showroom. There are also reviews from many magazines.
Here are my first impressions:
250 hrs in…
Let me preface by saying that even with the new acoustical panel I received to put over the TV, my room is still on the underdamped side. As Peter Breuniger said, this is a very detailed speaker. I am hearing things in recordings that were overlooked by all previous speakers. Nenuphar’s purity of vocals and instruments is something special that cannot be had with multi-driver crossover based speakers. This is especially true from the midrange up. I expected a very bright sound, and with my placement, 3’ off the front wall, limited bass, but that is not the case at all. The Lawrence Cellos do produce more bass, especially in the mid-bass. Even though the Nenuphar is a different breed of speaker, I wouldn’t consider it a speaker for a small crowd of fringe fanatics. There is no special set up required or special ancillary upstream equipment other than a power amp 100w/ch or less, and a low (<100) damping factor.
The main aspect of what creates the sound of these speakers is of course it being a single driver speaker that is incredibly linear, thanks to the neodymium magnet system. This gives tremendous dynamics due to the speaker focusing on the initial transient. So, the piano really does sound like a percussion instrument. The initial attack is strong, just like a real piano.
Jon from Refined Audio, while being a Pass Labs dealer, thought the XA25 might be a little bit of a dry sound compared to the First Watt SIT-3 or a SET tube amp, due to the damping factor being 500. I do agree with him after spending a few weeks with the XA25. I think with the XA25, the Nenuphar is a pretty straight up sound, slightly cool, not leaning towards the warmth I heard with the Cello speakers. I think the Cellos are very neutral speakers, but they had that Pass Labs warmth that I enjoy. But…once I hooked up the Class A/B, EAR 509 monoblocks with 100w/ch and a damping factor of 20, the mid-bass filled in (thanks to the damping factor being 20). The rest of the range was just incredible giving the speakers a warmth I enjoy…only tubes can do that!
Having the speakers set up 3’ off the front wall, the bass response is probably going to 32hz. The mids are excellent, with both vocal and instruments; all the detail you could want, without any harshness you would associate with that much detail. I’m listening to Melody Gardot, The Rain from Live from Europe on Tidal, with the Cellos, this song sounded “messy and congested” not being able to differentiate and separate all the instruments. With the Nenuphars, it is a different song, the speakers aren’t overwhelmed, and image perfectly. The highs are amazing with cymbals offering a delicate, real life sound, no “fried bacon” here. As much as I like the AMT tweeters in the Cellos, this is the best “tweeter” I have ever heard, very much like planars.
The overall tonality of these speakers is excellent, but that is not what this speaker is all about. This full range, single driver speaker is about point source imaging! The image is pretty much like the Cellos are, with vocals starting behind the front baffle of the speaker. The reason for this fine imaging is that the Nenuphar being an extremely linear driver due to the neodymium magnets that equal 2.4 tesla of magnetic strength. That is as strong as an MRI machine! This creates the linearity of the driver. It performs like a true piston with its excursion in and out. The strong neodymium magnets also keep the voice coil centered in the gap. It is very easy to pick out every instrument on a stage. Strings are gorgeous sounding. Female vocals are also amazingly good. Rock should not be a strong suit of these speakers, but I have to say that I am impressed. Coming from the Lawrence Cello speakers, where bass response was a big attribute, the Nenuphar’s do hold up pretty well. You will not get a strong, in your chest kick drum, like the Cello speakers, but it is a concession I can live with.
The sound staging is just amazing. Every instrument has its own space, and the stage is as wide and deep as I have ever heard. I was expecting something akin to a two-way monitor, where the speakers just disappear, and that is what you get!