GMA Callisto vs. Reference 3a De Capo i

Hi friends,
I want to know if anyone could compare the Green Mountain Audio Callisto with the Reference 3A De Capo i.
As I know both are excellents minimonitors with medium-high sensitive and work perfect with SE amplifiers.
Please let me know your experience.
neither have real bass, but both have sufficent tonal accuracy, and image like gangbusters. there are however speakers like the totem, sonus fabor, and others that nail the tone and size of each intrument. set will limit your options, but both the above you've mentioned are good choices.
I would rate the Callistos much higher that the 3As. I had a home demo of 3As a couple of years ago and found that I preferred the considerably cheaper Athena AS-F2's. The 3AS sounded somewhat bright and forward to me.

I later took the advice of many Audiogon members and purchased a set of GMA Europas. They easily bettered the Athenas and I now have the Callistos which I am driving with a 12watt/channel Kr Audio amp. I still have the Athenas but only use them as home theater speakers.
Crgolfer, "To each his own". I own the Reference 3A MM DeCapos and owned a pair of Athena AS-B1s (bookshelf vs your floorstanders) for a couple of days. The Athenas had zero redeeming qualities IMHO (they were inexpensive though).

My DeCapos are the non-i version, so maybe that is the difference. In my system thay are nearly opposite of what you describe. They are somewhat soft on the top end and are distinctly mid-hall in my room.

I have yet to hear a better speaker in my room. This may be room dependent, but I've owned about 6-7 different speakers over the last ten years. The DeCapos have lasted the longest by a wide margin and they are not the most expensive of the bunch.


I have owned both Europas and De Capo i's. I don't think you will go wrong with either speaker you are considering, but they are quite different from one another.The GMA sound is "accurate but musical", a very appealing combination. The De Capos are less accurate to my ear but are extremely involving and expressive, thus also extremely musical. They do tend to be a little bright but it's not a deal breaker. Capable of very good bass. The GMAs will sound more clearer and more direct, the Reg 3As a little softer in focus.
>> 05-13-06: Jaybo
>> neither have real bass,

re. the GMA Callistos you have no idea of what you are talking about!
I have heard the Callistos in the GMA factory listening room which is a very modest room. The bass from the Callisto was big for a 6" woofer! it was surprising to hear & also commendable.
Have you actually heard the Callisto?
many times, as well as the decapos. the callisto is a good choice for a smaller loudspeaker.
I have found a review of the 3As in UHF Magazine. Here are some of the quotes:

by GR "The lively dynamics are something to behold" "... the upper midrange is more prominent that I would have liked..." "I still think this speaker is something special"

by AS "Mind you, at first I questioned the highs which sounded too sharp for my ears .... and seemed to affect female voices particularly." "Depth and space were particularly convincing. And speed."

by RL "But for a minor reservation concerning the top of the spectrum, which can get just slightly shrill now and then, I can say I liked these speakers a lot"

There a review for the Callistos on the 6 moons website and here is a quote:

"The treble was wonderfully open and clean with absolutely no trace of grain or sibilance. I cannot recall anther speaker at this price point that handles 'esses' and 'tees' as adeptly as the Callistos. They were completely devoid of hash or edge. Music sounded wide open and alive like a living, breathing entity - not unlike live music. The Callistos exhibited terrific dynamic range for such a modestly proportioned loudspeaker and displayed remarkable freedom from smearing and blurring."

These quotes reflect what I remember hearing with the 3As and currently hear with the Callistos. I would say that that the 3As would be more dynamic with rock music while the Callistos better at female vocals. I prefer the latter which is probably why I chose to look for something other than the 3As.

Man, that is odd. I've had about 10 different speakers in my current room and my DeCapos (non-i version) are about the easiest on the ears of any of the ones I've owned. Admittedly, mine are the non-i version and the tweeter is probably the most significant difference between mine and the current "i" model.

I've never heard the Callistos. When I bought my DeCapos for $1000 (for a cosmetically and functionally perfect pair) about 3 years ago, I got off the speaker merry-go-round. They've lasted longer that any other component in my audiophile history.


>> 05-15-06: Crgolfer
>> ....
>> I would say that that the 3As would be more dynamic
>> with rock music while the Callistos better at female
>> vocals.
>> ....

this is a very odd statement re. the Callistos! I'm afraid that I do NOT agree! I've not heard the Decapos but have heard the Callistos. We played all kinds of music on it: female vocals like DK, bluegrass like Garcia/Grisman, boogie-woogie like Memphis Slim, jazz that had double-bass. I can confidently say that the Callisto excelled at ALL of these genres. It slighted NONE of them + it favoured NONE. It had, what I'd call, chameleon-like characteristics. Very laudable for a speaker its size. I also like the "accurate but musical" description by Drubin above - another succinct & correct description for it.
I have never heard the GMAs but I did own the De Capo is for a little over 2 years. I don't believe that the De Capos are bright but they are definitely not forgiving either. If you are using ss electronics and a not-to-great CDP I would not go near the 3As. On the other hand, with a good tube power amp, even SET, and a decent front end, the 3As will floor you. They are best heard in the near field but this is quite normal for a monitor of this size. With the exception of the Quad ESL, which I am now using, I liked my DeCapos better than any speaker that I have owned in the last 10 yrs..
Pardon the small diversion, but I want to ask Bombaywalla how he would compare the Callistos to his Contiuums.
>> 05-15-06: Drubin
>>Pardon the small diversion, but I want to ask
>> Bombaywalla how he would compare the Callistos to his
>> Contiuums.

the 1st words that came out of my mouth after hearing the Callistos were "hey, these sound like a mini Continuum!"
I would say that they have the same GMA house sound - accurate but musical. They image very well, like my Continuums. The bass is not as deep & as heavy, which is perfectly expected. The bass sounds ported (because it is!) vs. my Continuums, which are a sealed box. I, for whatever reason, prefer sealed box bass. Just my preference. I have another 13 yr old Infinity Reference Three that is also a sealed box. So, I'm a long-time fan of sealed box bass. I must say that the Callisto port is quiet in that there is no bass overhang. Also, the port gets activated only at very lowest frequencies of the driver & not above. So, most of the time one is listening to the bass thru the driver & one can tell when it is reinforced by the port - one can hear the richness in the bass. The transition is very smooth - the port gets activated, reinforces the bass & then gets out of the way for the next music note. It's a superbly delightful speaker to listen to. Very easy on the ears.
Thank you, sir. I like sealed boxes, too. But I think all of Roy's current designs have ports, don't they?
>> 05-16-06: Drubin
>> Thank you, sir. I like sealed boxes, too. But I think
>> all of Roy's current designs have ports, don't they?

yes, all present designs are ported.
ALL his ported designs are superbly executed in that the port is excited only at the bottom end frequencies of the woofer.
When I was @ visiting the factory, there was a cabinet of the Calypso (3-way floor stander). I stuck my face into the woofer driver opening & tried to excite the port. My voice couldn't go down to 35-40Hz! Maybe some of you members have deep resonant voices & could. Altho this is no scientific/measured confirmation that the port does indeed respond to only the lowest frequencies, it certainly points to the fact, that the design of the port has been carefully thought out. From my audition of the Callisto, I found the same care taken in the design of its port.
I've hardly come across a speaker w/ a port that I like. There are a few but only a very few. However, w/ the care that Roy takes w/ his ported designs, I might want to change my mind!
Happy listening!
OK, I'm chiming in a bit late on this thread (two years, in fact!) but I have a couple very relevant points to make.

To help explain the contradictory comments posted in this thread about the de Capo's high frequency performance, I say this:

1. When using an amplifier with high output impedance (every SET I know of), a speaker's frequency response will be similar to the speaker's impedance curve (have a look at Stereophile's measurements of the de Capo in the December 2003 issue). It is for this reason that I regularly disregard a person's opinion of any speaker when auditioned with a SET amp, unless that speaker in fact has a relatively flat impedance curve. A speaker that does not, when driven by a SET amp, will sound drastically different than when driven by an amp of a different design, not so much because the amplifiers simply sound different, but because the high output impedance of the amp makes the overall sound of the combination of amp and speaker dependent upon the impedance curve of the speaker.

2. The de Capo is very sensitive to both toe-in and rake angle (the forward tilt of the front baffle). Again, look at the Stereophile measurements. The de Capo has a broad 4 dB peak that stretches from 5 kHz to 20 kHz and peaks at 12 kHz. Knowing this, Reference 3A recommends experimentation with both toe-in and rake adjustments.

Hence, when driven by a SET amp and auditioned on-axis with the listening position, the de Capo will probably sound bright.

Perhaps this helps explain some of the contradictory comments made in this thread.

I have heard my De Capo i's with a solid state amp (Cary) and did not like them . I then heard the De Capo i's with PP tubes (Cary & Cayin ) and bought them on the spot ! I compared them to Von Sw. and Usher , several models of each , and with SS and tubes .

I have talked to the manufacturer and witnessed it myself... The De Capo i's work better with tubes .
This might have something to do with what Emale is talking about .

Also , the mauf. setup directions recommend 'no' toe in !

I have not experienced the top end problems stated above . I do however , realize that these speakers are quite resolving of the upstream components . I have also enjoyed some CD's that were unlistenable with my other components .

These are the best speakers that I have owned and rank in the top three of all that I have heard . The other two were multiples of the De Capo's price and were in the flagship setup of the dealer .

These speakers are indeed quite nice . They are not plug N play however ! They , IMHO , do not play well with SS . They do not play well with standard placement formulas .
In the end , it is all about synergy !