18 December 1999
|As promised, this
weekend Nejat Basar brought his new
Lotus SE (distributed in Turkey by Proplan
Ltd.) speakers to my place. Cuneyt
Borcbakan was also with us. Alon Lotus SE was conceived to be used
with Single Ended and/or low power amplifiers (SE stands for "Single Ended").
For this reason in particular, Nejat wanted to hear them driven with my
Single Ended (25W) Nuance amplifiers.
Alon Lotus SE looks very much like its big brother CIRCE. It has the same dipole configuration for the mid range driver and tweeter (see the bottom picture), but its efficiency is kept relatively on the high side: 90dB/W/m. The low frequency unit is mounted in an infinite baffle enclosure and its impedance is 14 ohms which makes it easy to be driven by a Single Ended amplifier with a relatively high output impedance. Alon claims that "room filling response to 35 Hz is attained when driven by low power 300B type amplifiers". They also have an external box for the crossover which also allows tri-wiring. We used Alon's Black Orpheus tri-wire cable. The Lotus SE is not a small speaker: It is just 2-3cm shorter and a little less deep than my ProAc 3.8.
I should confess that our testing was a little premature: Nejat had run them for only 40 hours and therefore their break-in was not complete. To my experience you need at least 250 hours to break-in a speaker (or even a cable). This lack of break-in was especially apparent on the high frequencies which sounded a little edgy and grainy. But in spite of this major break-in handicap the speaker sounded very natural overall.
First we placed them in a random position but were not too happy with the bass performance. Then I moved them exactly to the same spot where my own speakers were standing and we noticed a big improvement on the bass performance. In this position the sound was very balanced from top to bottom, the mids gained body. One should never forget that a system's sound cannot be dissociated from its acoustic environment. Nejat said that Lotus SE's had a much deeper sound stage in his own listening room where there is more space between the speaker and the back and the side walls. I agree that my room is a little limited in this respect. But even under the unfavorable conditions of my listening room we still noticed that Alon Lotus SE had a very open sound. Off axis listening is very satisfactory. My ProAc's has no tolerance in this respect: if you move your head few centimeters to left or right you loose focus.
Finally I proposed to connect my Van den Hul - Revelation cable to the bass unit leaving the Alon Black Orpheus cable on the mids and treble. This cable configuration clearly gave us the best result. The bass had more power, extension and roundness. Funny enough mids gained more body and warmth and treble became sweeter. We wished we had two more pairs of Revelation for tri-wiring with the same cable. Of course I don't want to be unfair to the Black Orpheus cable which (like the speakers) were not broken-in.
Following this final change I can easily state that I was favorably impressed with Alon Lotus SE speakers, even in their unbroken-in state. They had a very natural, open and balanced sound with good resolution. Their general character were very similar to ProAc 3.8's. They are easy to drive and once properly broken-in and properly tweaked I'm confident that they will be one of the best sounds in their league. I will write a follow-up report once their setup will be complete.