Review: Harmonic Precision Caravelle Speaker

Category: Speakers

I call this battle "David vs Goliath". Can a small manufacturer (and designer Brent Real) passionate about their product, design and build a $5000 monitor speaker that competes with the likes of Wilson Audio's MAXX, a well-funded, well advertised and reviewed, and superbly built product (at $40,000, it should be) designed by a legend in the audio world? Read on!

Let me begin by explaining how this battle came to be. While waiting for new VAC tube amplifiers a local friend asked if he could bring his Harmonic Precision Caravelles to my room to see how well they would fill the room with sound as he and his wife plan to build a home with a dedicated listening room similar in size to mine. I agreed and help set up his dedicated stands built by Sistrum and the Caravelles. This friend also had available two of Sistrums new amplifier stands for guitar amplifiers, so to completely isolate the vibration of my Krell 750mcx mono amps, we installed the Sistrum stands. Next, we swapped out my Transparent Reference XL speaker cables for the Sonoran Plateau 8ft. speaker cable designed and manufactured by a sister company to Sistrum and Harmonic Precision all under the banner of Star Technologies. We listened and then fiddled with the placement, the speaker distance apart and the toe in of the Caravelles. The speakers ended up around 8 feet apart and my listening position was around 9.5 to 10ft away. After a good two hours of warm up, the speakers finally started to open up...they had been sitting for 3 weeks unplayed, so they needed some time to warm up again. So what was my impression? BLOWN AWAY! Here was this small monitor with a 7 inch midrange cone and 1 inch dome tweeter filling my room of 13.4W X 18.6L X 10.2H with the most three dimensional, musical sound I have ever experienced in this room. The MAXX are a very revealing speaker and I have enjoyed the Wilson speaker for years, but the MAXX did sound better in my former room that was 2 ft wider and 8 ft longer. In my present room, the Caravelle's were superior (not just a little better). Let me say it again for emphasis, "SUPERIOR" to my MAXX. The imaging was superior, the depth of soundstage was superior, the inner resolution was superior, the tweeter was beyond superior. Never had I heard strings and classical music sound so smooth and real...not etched like the MAXX tweeter can sound. The dynamics were superior. I could not believe a monitor could reproduce the dynamics of classical music so easily and clearly without strain or muddling of the mass strings. The quiet between instruments and the space between instruments was eerie; by far the best I have heard from any speaker from any manufacturer. I attribute this to the cabinet design and the microbearing technology that the Caravelle has on the rear of the cabinet. To finally get the lower octave we had missed, we added my friend's Sunfire 10 inch subwoofer. This sub was not Sunfire's best but it integrated perfectly and delivered the low end in spades. The Saint Saen's Organ Symphony #3 was the best I have ever heard it reproduced. Keep in mind we were listening through Krell electronics which many people would criticize as bright. My friend is a VAC tube lover and I have heard the Caravelle's many times on his former VAC equipment and was always impressed with how musical and real the music sounded...the typical in the room type musical reproduction vs. a good reproduction of a recording like so many other systems. I also could brag that experience with the Krell driving the Caravelle. Even this friend, a die hard tube lover said he had never heard Krell or any solid state sound so real and life-like, like the sound prevelent in a tube system. I enjoyed this set-up for over three weeks as my friend waited for his new electronics to arrive. Well, as all good things come to an end, so did my time with the Caravelle's. The real test was reconnecting the MAXX again. I can honestly say the Caravelle's musical sound, imaging, soundstaging, and incredible sounding tweeter spoiled me. The MAXX sound big, bloated and flat across the soundstage, meaning they didn't have that in the room three dimensionality the Caravelles threw at me.

Friends and audiophiles, I can honestly say this speaker is a giant killer. It does everything's musical, dynamic, resolving of inner detail and most of all engaging. I loved them so much, if I can sell my MAXX, I will buy a pair and mate them with an even higher quality subwoofer and for a fraction of the cost, kill a $40k giant in the industry and its smaller best selling brother the Watt/Puppy 7's.
I want to be very clear. I am not an employee of this company nor do I get any financial benefit from writing this review. All I write is from the heart to give credit to a group of really great designers who love what they do and prove it by building a fantastic product at a fair price. You can wait until they advertise in Stereophile and Absolute Sound, but then you'll have to pay two or three times more for the same product. Find someone who has a pair of Caravelles and go listen for yourself. You will not be disappointed. My only caveat is be prepared for a long break-in if you buy them. I listened to this pair over several weeks as my friend was breaking them in and they just got better and better over that four week period. Thanks for reading this, I hope it has been helpful.

Associated gear
Krell KPS-28C
Krell KCT Preamp
Krell 750mcx mono blocks
Sonoran Plateau speaker cables
20ft, cheap microphone cables as ICT
Sistrum amplifier stands for amps

Similar products
Vs. Wilson MAXX
Very nice review, now be prepared for the assault!

I can understand the confusion. A product from a new or relatively unheard of company is something to be a little cautious about at first, but AudioPoints has been one of Stereophile's recommended products for years and years and years.

I think that the biggest concern people have is believing that these items can possibly be as good as they are when they're quite a bit cheaper than their competition. Like reviewers say, there's a difference between "is this better or just different?", and sometimes the real answer doesn't hit home until the commitment is made.

I switched to the Sonoran cables almost a year and a half ago, and made the upgrade from the AudioPoints to the Sistrum stand at Christmas. The Caravelle's are built using the same technology, and it's not a new technology. It's just a different implementation of it using steel microbeads, and the technology works.

I've known TheAudioTweak, a Star Sound Technologies dealer for a good ten years, long before he became one of their dealers. I've heard the Caravelle's over at his home many, many times, and they're very special speakers indeed.

I'm sort of in the same boat as you, except I'm more in a pontoon compared to you in a luxury liner. I have B&W Silver Signature's ( $8,000.00 ), and am having an extremely hard time accepting the monetary loss in selling them.
Very happy you like them, and it was a very nice review!

Regarding Krellman's comments about the affordable cost of the Caravelles(compared to any competition), we at Starsound always strive to produce high value products.

The Caravelles are no exception. Our goal is extremely high fidelity audio reproduction, with as affordable of a price tag as we can possibly do.

While our products certainly aren't the lowest price around, they do offer extremely good value for the dollars invested.

We're very serious about sound, but it does little good if nobody can afford it. Our technology allow us to provide higher performance, and keep the prices within "buying range" for serious audiophiles.

I'm glad that some are reaping the rewards, and enjoying the benefits.

Tom Lyons
Starsound Technologies
I apologize to designer Brent Riehl, for mis-spelling his name above. A new rising star in audio needs to have his name in print correctly stated. So it is Riehl, not Real, although he is for real!
I have heard the Caravelles and these babies weigh 50lbs. each! I agree with the reviewer about the three dimensional presentation, it's phenomenal. I also use Star Technology Cables all through my system, speaker and IC, for source and monoblocks. These cables, when warmed up, are very musical. I was listening to Carl Orf's Carmina Barana(Deutche Gramophone) and my monitors just totally disapear. However I do not have the Caravelles. I'm using Ref 3a MM De Capo i.

Which leads me to this comparison: "How do the 4K Caravelles match to the 2.5k MM de Capo i?" Well, they are both quality speakers, but when I heard the Caravelles they were 2 channel surround sound. The sound stage was not large but HUGE and with that holographic depth I can safely proclaim I have not heard any speaker that was more alive. The bass was deep and punchy showing how important cabinet material and geometry is. There are many good Mini Monitors but few great and 4k is more of a steal than a deal.