Review: Harmonic Precision Caravelle Monitor

Category: Speakers

Hi, my fellow audiophools. Well, I've been listening hard for the past 3 weeks (perhaps too much so, time to relax) to my new Harmonic Precision Caravelles, from Star Sound Technologies. When not listening, my mind has been reeling with my impressions, (that's why I write them down) and how to convey those thoughts effectively through a review. Though reviewing is not my forte I want to do justice to what is the most exciting and amazingly beautiful sounding monitor that these tympanics have ever heard. The qualities of the sound rival some floorstanders, especially in regard to bass. Later for that.
I'm not adept, nor capable of explaining the scientific workings of their patent pending series crossover (one of the main reasons for this phenominal sound) or the reasons behind utilizing a hard dome tweeter rather than the ubiquitous soft dome or the complexity of the cabinet's composite material . All this is Star Sound Technologies job, should you want to explore their website and check the Caravelles out.
The Caravelles, all 9 1/2" x 12x 16"--50lbs of them, are finished in a high gloss rich black finish. While (black) not the color I usually go with for speakers, they match beautifully with my Sistrum Mini Monitor stands. Speaking of stands: these babies must, (to sound their best) sit atop the dedicated stands developed for them. I own their (dedicated stands) big brother, the Sistrum Mini Monitor Platform, while not on their website yet, will be shortly. Since the speaker was internally and externally constructed with resonance transferrence technology and principles, matching the Caravelles up with stands that couple rather than decouple, is fundemental and essential for the speakers to sound their best. That being said, there is not a stand out there that adequately couples (without modifications) resonances to mother earth. Of course, with proper stand filling and points, other stands can be modified, but will, still, fall short transferring deleterious resonances. Sistrum's stands, however, are not only beautiful (very unique looking), but perfect coupling conduits. The Caravelles have to be purchased with the dedicated stands. The cost of $4500, while some may find pricey, delivers big time, and considering what the Jmlab Micro BEs cost;-- a bargain. And they sound better. Many times you don't get what you pay for, but in this case there is true deliverance and then some.... Utilizing the Sistrum stands will ensure that the Caravelles sound the way they were designed to.
Now, onto the sound. First and foremost; the bass. If I had my eyes closed, and had no idea what I was listening to, I would never, in a million years, think for a moment that I was listening to a small speaker. NEVER! Prodigious, deep, well extended (enough ho hum adjectives for ya?) bass. Clear articulation of bass notes, with speed, clarity and slam rivaling anything I've heard. Patricia Barber's "Use Me" on her Companion album (second track)has a 4 string bass run that will rattle your sternum if your speakers have the balls. The Caravelles do, and handle this extended powerful bass line effortlessly with slam and spl levels at, near, earbleed levels. Barry White's Icons of Love cd, track 2 (as well as most of the tracks) is a real subwoofer crippler. Some seriously deep Hz. Also Jennifer Warnes Way Down Deep, track 8 on The Hunter, which will humble many speakers, again, sounded pristine, tight and powerful at high spl levels and quite robust and satisfying at low volumes, as well. Acoustic bass whether Scott Lefaro to Ray Brown sounds sweet, robust (there's that word again--I'm running out of adjectives-- novice reviewer that I am) detailed, yet delicate (if you can imagine) at the lowest volumes. Kick drums along with bass guitar? Lightning fast. Having been a Magnaplanar Tympani 1-D owner, years ago, I can fully appreciate speed. The Caravelles can play at incredible volumes without congestion. Telarac's Stravinsky recording of the Firebird soars. At loud levels--free of coarsness, graininess and handles complicated violin crescendos galore. Amazing. How's that for a treble segue? Drum sticks on cymbals, brushes on the same and snare as well, triangles,--- beautifully light and airy with enough sound of the metal to sense it, but, still with a lovely texture always keeping me attentive, but not fatigued . Brushes on a snare or cymbals can (with inferior speakers) awash the soundstage like white noise. Not with the Caravelles. Perhaps the Caravelles are allowing my Prima and Passion to do what they do best.
The Caravelles are, hands down, the most phase coherent speaker I've heard. No sense of the sound coming from the speaker. They disappear, with a wide and profound depth that flips me out. One of the reasons I love monitors. Enough!?!?! Can you hear what I've heard? No way, of course. Maybe, if William Faulkner lived today, and was a true audiophool, you'd have an idea. Then again; probably not. My Revels couldn't go a round with the Caravelles. Until I heard the Caravelles the Jmlabs Micro BEs were the best damn monitor I had ever listened to. Sam Tellig's review in Stereophool said exactly what my experiences were with the Micros. The weakness inherent in the Micros, are not present in the Caravelles. The review, otherwise, could have been about the Caravelles. Maybe the Micros tweeter had and edge over the Caravelles. Maybe. These babies go where no little speaker has ever gone. I hope I have conveyed enough enthusiasm to get you check the Caravelles out. Please feel free to ask away. I avoided,though tempted to compare them to the Sonus Faber Cremonas, the Revel Gems, the Jmlab Altos, the...woe silver!--, I said I wouldn't do that. Not fair. Star Sound has a winner. Thanks for listening.

peace, warren

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Roy that's a very good point. With me, the short comings usually come out over a longer time. Perhaps looking back at my review I was so gah gah that it sounds like this speaker is perfect. The shortcomings? You notice what I was saying about the treble? Is this as good as it can get for the upper end? Of course not. Is the bass as slam bang powerful as anything out there? Of course not. Could a Bosendorpher sound more dynamic? Absolutely. Does it sound amazing through the Caravelles? You bet. I guess what I'm saying is that there are no apparent cons. Just the plain ole truth that they do not do everything as well as other speakers, but they are in the big leagues, for sure. I hope that helps a tad.
Thanks, Warren. I think you're right; the shortcomings usually come out later.
Warren, Congratulations! I take it you love your new speakers. Is it not also amazing how wonderful sounding that YBA is with some really great speakers?

Although, one drawback....I think you may have to reconsider your CD purchase allocations for this year. I am sure that all of the music manufacturers are certainly happy with your new speaker purchase. They may actually see a profit this year. :)

And Cincotti?????

Happy Listening Warren.

I am interested in the long term on these. I heard them at a demo session preproduction and I was really impressed. It was hard to really compare them to the monitors I had heard although I have the Revel M20s. They are head and shoulders above those and really are competitive with the Gems and higher. Frankly I thought they had the best bass of any monitor I had heard by a long shot. These seemed to be pretty remarkable speakers and I would love to hear them now that they are in production.
Ken, I can only imagine your face after you hear these babies. Obviously you loved what you heard with the proto types, which I didn't have the opportunity to hear. These speakers are very exciting. I'm looking forward to others buying or at least, demoing them, to hear other audiophool's impressions. Your impressions are in the ballpark, now, considering what you've already, heard. I, too, owned the Revels. Different league. Comparison wouldn't, even, be fair. It still freaks me out how much slam these Caravelles are capable of. Enoug; there I go again. peace, warren