National Audio Show 2012

What was, in many ways, one of the best sounds at the NAS 2012 was also one of the biggest surprises. Alacrity Audio is a new name, while the simple, unadorned room, containing a pair of simple and distinctly unadorned speakers was a definite blast from the past. You don’t see many two-way standmounts these days -- and even fewer with a decent-sized (7", 170mm) bass driver and a mid-market price tag. The Caterthun Classic is a roughly two-cubic-foot enclosure with a square footprint and not a shred of styling save the drivers and the reflex port mounted on its front baffle. It’s almost like the speaker fell through a rent in the time-space continuum, straight from 1984!

I’m not sure what constituted the biggest surprise: the looks, the system driving them speakers or the sound they produced. Here was a 1995 speaker, being driven from a laptop (being used as a CD player, not a server!) via a Fatman iTube 25Wpc integrated amp/dock and some of the wimpiest cable this side of a doorbell, but it all sounded tight, neat, clean, engaging and downright fun. The bass went down far further than it had any right to, with far better pitch definition, pace and rhythmic integrity than you have any right to expect from a speaker of this size and price -- regardless of the driving electronics. One look at the spec sheet (88dB sensitivity, 8-ohm load and ridiculously wide bandwidth) suggests that there’s something quite unusual going on here. The cabinet contains a unique honeycomb-type granular filler that delivers that clean and uncluttered driver loading. The musical results certainly speak for themselves, so unlike many an extravagant claim made for new technology, this one looks well worth investigating. We’ll be attempting to lay hands on a review pair shortly, but until then those thirsty for additional information can reach Alacrity at www.alacrityaudio.co.uk.

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