Nola Concert Grands

Idefix

New Member
May 17, 2014
7
0
0
Hi LL21,
If you are interested in a certain model we can set up an audition at the factory in New York.
Also,
We will be at Newport with Metro Gold
Cheers
Hi Carl

Nice to ear from you,
I am so happy of my Metro Golds

I hope that you had a great show in Munich and that Nola will grow in Europe !
 

Carl

Industry Expert
Feb 25, 2014
22
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I do agree that a tube preamp driving a class A solid state amplifier can work very well on Metro Gold .
We used a BAT tube pre with the Plinius 300 watt class A amp on the Metros here at Munich.
However, once you get to Baby Gold, tubes, all the way is my preference.
 

Carl

Industry Expert
Feb 25, 2014
22
0
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Hi,
I saw Armando at Munich and he will bring in Metro Golds and Joel wants to review them.
Also shortly after Newport, John Atkinson will get the Metro Golds.
I was in a funny situation as I demonstrated the Baby Gold and the Metros sounded almost too good n an other room!
 

Idefix

New Member
May 17, 2014
7
0
0
Hi,
I saw Armando at Munich and he will bring in Metro Golds and Joel wants to review them.
Also shortly after Newport, John Atkinson will get the Metro Golds.
I was in a funny situation as I demonstrated the Baby Gold and the Metros sounded almost too good n an other room!
Hi Carl,
Good news !

i am looking forward to reading stereophile test
 
Jul 2, 2015
588
3
18
I dont know why these speakers are not talked about more. I have recently had the chance to listen to them in a clients home a few times and they are simply amazing. I know there are many excellent speakers being made however most of them are similar in sound since they are using closed box designs.
Is this a west coast east coast thing? Looks? I dont get it
for me it is primarily looks, followed by reliability.
i have owned (and loved) two pairs of Alon speakers, the Phalanx and the Alon iv's, both heavily modded. i still use the iv's in my av system.
but i have had to replace every single drive unit on both pairs of speakers, and i need to do it again for the iv's. the drivers are poor quality and that combined with the open baffle arrangement being less efficient so needing to be driven quite hard to fill a large room, they just don't last.
so i replaced my phalanx with a pair of focal stella utopia em and for the first time was able to play as loud as i wanted without painful distortion or drive units trying to leap out of the baffle.

for a while i missed the open baffle sound, i still do to some extent, so i went back to Carl to see what his modern offerings were and almost did a deal for a pair of baby grand reference golds, c/w the two sub towers from the flagship grand reference gold.
but after living with the sculptural presence of the utopias, the angular, sharp-edged, just plain fugly nolas really don't cut it look-wise, either with me or my missus. combine with the fact the stellas haven't put a foot wrong and feeling my days of tolerating speakers with one or more knackered drivers while awaiting replacements are behind me, i decided to stick with what i have.

i will keep looking in on nola as i will always have a soft spot for them, but until they improve the design visually i doubt i will seriously consider them again. i find the Concert Grand Reference Golds unforgiveably ugly; maybe acceptable in the 1970's but seriously dated now.
plus i am dubious about the ported subwoofers, for me the sealed sub bass box of the previous designs was one of the sonic highlights.
 

Carl

Industry Expert
Feb 25, 2014
22
0
0
In response to the above thread from infinitely baffled, I would like to clear up some facts.
The Alon IV used a 12 inch woofer with foam surround and these could be as much as 25 yrs old. The foam surround has a limited life of from 5 to 10 years. The rest of the drivers will not need to be replaced unless they are abused as they do not use foam surrounds. The reason for the foam surround is that it is light and making a 12 inch woofer that is fast enough to blend to a 5 inch dipole mid range is no easy task. Today we have natural rubber surrounds, not available in 1990, so no need for the foam surrounds. The Alon IV mid range driver used an Alnico magnet system and this is not an inexpensive drive unit.

With NOLA in 2004, the product line features the advancements that the last 25 years have made possible.
The Concert Grand Reference Gold design is unique and uses exotic components not seen in any of the major brands. These include:

4- 4 1/2 inch Alnico ring magnet woofers with response to 40 Hz. The reason for the small size is to maximize speed in the bass range that larger drivers cannot match
4 - 4 1/2 inch Alnico magnet line array dipole mid range system
12 inch true ribbon tweeter. This drivers weighs 25 lb alone
True ribbon super tweeter to extend response to 100 kHz
2- 12" passive high speed subwoofers for response to 18 Hz
Both the quality and the quantity of the drive units stand out from what is used in other major brands.
Same quality drive units are available throughout the NOLA REFERENCE line.

Note this design is 91 dB sensitive at 8 ohms ( 94dB 4 ohm equiv) and has played at "live" levels with a 75 watt amplifier.

The separate sub woofer towers both in the original Alon design and the current NOLA Grand Reference Gold are ported--not sealed. This proved optimum for this design in order to provide controlled response to 8 Hz.

Cheers,
Carl
 
Oct 3, 2011
276
0
16
Stockholm/Sweden
For a while i missed the open baffle sound, i still do to some extent, so i went back to Carl to see what his modern offerings were and almost did a deal for a pair of baby grand reference golds, c/w the two sub towers from the flagship grand reference gold.
but after living with the sculptural presence of the utopias, the angular, sharp-edged, just plain fugly nolas really don't cut it look-wise, either with me or my missus. combine with the fact the stellas haven't put a foot wrong and feeling my days of tolerating speakers with one or more knackered drivers while awaiting replacements are behind me, i decided to stick with what i have.

i will keep looking in on nola as i will always have a soft spot for them, but until they improve the design visually i doubt i will seriously consider them again. i find the Concert Grand Reference Golds unforgiveably ugly; maybe acceptable in the 1970's but seriously dated now.
plus i am dubious about the ported subwoofers, for me the sealed sub bass box of the previous designs was one of the sonic highlights.
Nola and Focal are quite different speakers. No traditional, boxed design will give you the openness and dimensionality of the open baffle Nola's imo. Add to that the most natural timbre and tonality.

As for design, taste will always be a subjective thing in the end. The standard Rosewood finish might be a challenge for some people and interiors, but the piano black and white will fit most interiors in a classic, elegant way.

Nola might not feel as bullet proof as a pair of Magico etc, but that's somehow beside the point if you belong to those who truly appreciate the musical qualities of these speakers.
 
Jul 2, 2015
588
3
18
In response to the above thread from infinitely baffled, I would like to clear up some facts.
The Alon IV used a 12 inch woofer with foam surround and these could be as much as 25 yrs old. The foam surround has a limited life of from 5 to 10 years. The rest of the drivers will not need to be replaced unless they are abused as they do not use foam surrounds. The reason for the foam surround is that it is light and making a 12 inch woofer that is fast enough to blend to a 5 inch dipole mid range is no easy task. Today we have natural rubber surrounds, not available in 1990, so no need for the foam surrounds. The Alon IV mid range driver used an Alnico magnet system and this is not an inexpensive drive unit.

With NOLA in 2004, the product line features the advancements that the last 25 years have made possible.
The Concert Grand Reference Gold design is unique and uses exotic components not seen in any of the major brands. These include:

4- 4 1/2 inch Alnico ring magnet woofers with response to 40 Hz. The reason for the small size is to maximize speed in the bass range that larger drivers cannot match
4 - 4 1/2 inch Alnico magnet line array dipole mid range system
12 inch true ribbon tweeter. This drivers weighs 25 lb alone
True ribbon super tweeter to extend response to 100 kHz
2- 12" passive high speed subwoofers for response to 18 Hz
Both the quality and the quantity of the drive units stand out from what is used in other major brands.
Same quality drive units are available throughout the NOLA REFERENCE line.

Note this design is 91 dB sensitive at 8 ohms ( 94dB 4 ohm equiv) and has played at "live" levels with a 75 watt amplifier.

The separate sub woofer towers both in the original Alon design and the current NOLA Grand Reference Gold are ported--not sealed. This proved optimum for this design in order to provide controlled response to 8 Hz.

Cheers,
Carl
hello Carl,
i am pretty sure both my Alon iv and my previously owned Phalanx had / have sealed bass enclosures?

also, it wasn't just the bass drivers that let go, but the mid range drivers also. i am pleased to accept that you have redesigned these, but i was personally a little jaded by the prior experience of blowing drivers, and associated this with the open baffle design having to work harder and the drive units not being up to that long term. please correct me if i am wrong.

i was using a 350 watt ss power amp with an ARC pre-amp. i bristled slightly at the suggestion of abuse, but i accept it is probably more galling for you to have someone raising questions of reliability. however i will say for the record i don't feel my use constituted abuse; no parties or bake-offs, but lots of electronic music at concert-levels in what is probably not a huge room by US standards (6m x 7m x 2.4m)

this aside, for all the sonic reasons so eloquently put by Eliot, Priaptor and others i would likely be saving for a pair of Concert Grand Reference Golds right now if i could accept their sharp-edged some might say dated appearance. i don't have a huge home, i have knocked together several rooms to create an adequate listening space in my only reception room and my speakers will inevitable dominate that, therefore also my home, all of the time.

so i prefer something that is also as pleasing to the eye as it is sonically....especially when it involves this amount of outlay.

but i am again happy to accept that as a purely subjective opinion as i can completely agree with others' descriptions of the sound quality....my own shorthand was to describe your offerings not so much as loudspeakers but more as teleportation devices. i can think of no higher praise.
gavin

edit: it was the technical opinion of a local hifi manufacturer that my Alon IV drivers were poor quality. his fuller opinion was that he loved the speakers and was amazed they achieved such good results with relatively average drivers. he had bench tested them when he did the last driver swap for me. for context he prefers / uses Volt drivers
 
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Jul 2, 2015
588
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Nola might not feel as bullet proof as a pair of Magico etc, but that's somehow beside the point if you belong to those who truly appreciate the musical qualities of these speakers.
i can agree with the rest of your post, but i don't think one should underestimate my individual desire, no i'm going to strengthen that to need, to have speakers that work reliably.
reading Carl's post above might provide the evidence that the new models will continue to perform reliably, but it was hard to overlook my own experience.
factor in my european location adding both cost and time to swapping drivers left me requiring a product that works consistently.

plus there is the psychological impact; i am not wealthy, these big ticket items require years of sacrifice, so when they break down it can be both embarrassing and personally devastating, and the timing is rarely convenient.
i am not in the least bit technical...perhaps others can interpret from the new speakers' specifications they will not break, but i don't have this ability and it would need to be explained.

again, my apologies to Carl if this is akin to a bmw 2002turbo owner being uncertain about the reliability of modern beemers. but when i hear the term 'abuse' i just think that's a manufacturer making excuses. when i tune car it is to be fit for purpose, no excuses, it's ready to be driven hard like a high performance car should, and the idea that i would say to a customer 'it's been thrashed' is laughable. that is what is was designed for, within the usual parameters of sufficient oil, fluids warmed, turbos cooled, etc etc. obviously a chump could kill it in five minutes by ignoring these basics, but i am aware who my customers are and they are an educated bunch. so i would never imply chump-like behaviour without evidence.
 
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Jul 2, 2015
588
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Nola and Focal are quite different speakers. No traditional, boxed design will give you the openness and dimensionality of the open baffle Nola's imo. Add to that the most natural timbre and tonality.
(ok right at the start i'm going to make clear i'm comparing my focal stella utopias with my previous speakers, the Alon Phalanx. if anyone wants to point out the modern improvements that make this post irrelevant i will gladly listen.)

the thing is, the Focals are more forgiving. they make all music sound good, i found the Alon's could be, well, unforgiving. i enjoy more music more of the time through the Focals, even if they can't scale the heights the Phalanx could with the right material.
i'll try that one again...with the Alon's i found i would listen to individual tracks and move on fast. with the utopias i listen to the whole album, new artists, new genres. they are on the side of the muician, where the phalanx betrayed their (in my case) mastering studio roots by telling you exactly what the musicians and producer had done. the Focals will tell you what they meant to do.

i have a theory as to why this is. ok i have spent far too much time thinking about this today, but i have enormous respect for Carl, massive affection for his products and no desire to malign either.
my understanding is that Carl is a virtuoso musician. i believe the Phalanx to be perfect for listening to other virtuoso musicians. if this is all you listen to, you would always have preferred the Phalanx.
however my choice of material is, shall we say, broader. it's not all Fluke, Hybrid, Trentemoller or Alt-j, often it's dj mixes or reggae productions of pretty iffy quality. in these instances the Phalanx oft became instruments of torture.

so i have known in my heart for a while my perfect scenario is two systems, the one i have now, in my living / reception room built around the Stellas, plus another, more private, in a withdrawing room and built around Nolas.
 
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Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
0
0
FL
(ok right at the start i'm going to make clear i'm comparing my focal stella utopias with my previous speakers, the Alon Phalanx. if anyone wants to point out the modern improvements that make this post irrelevant i will gladly listen.)

the thing is, the Focals are more forgiving. they make all music sound good, i found the Alon's could be, well, unforgiving. i enjoy more music more of the time through the Focals, even if they can't scale the heights the Phalanx could with the right material.
i'll try that one again...with the Alon's i found i would listen to individual tracks and move on fast. with the utopias i listen to the whole album, new artists, new genres. they are on the side of the muician, where the phalanx betrayed their (in my case) mastering studio roots by telling you exactly what the musicians and producer had done. the Focals will tell you what they meant to do.

i have a theory as to why this is. ok i have spent far too much time thinking about this today, but i have enormous respect for Carl, massive affection for his products and no desire to malign either.
my understanding is that Carl is a virtuoso musician. i believe the Phalanx to be perfect for listening to other virtuoso musicians. if this is all you listen to, you would always have preferred the Phalanx.
however my choice of material is, shall we say, broader. it's not all Fluke, Hybrid, Trentemoller or Alt-j, often it's dj mixes or reggae productions of pretty iffy quality. in these instances the Phalanx oft became instruments of torture.

so i have known in my heart for a while my perfect scenario is two systems, the one i have now, in my living / reception room built around the Stellas, plus another, more private, in a withdrawing room and built around Nolas.
As an owner of the Concert Grand Golds for close to two years now I can say I have never been happier in my quest for the ultimate sound. I hear you about looks BUT that is in the eye of the beholder and I kind of find most speakers whether they be Magico, Wilson, Rockport or some of the newer "fancier" European" designs are something you come to live with and not necessarily adore.

I can tell you the CGRs are the most intimate (when required) and most dynamic (when needed) in such an effortless manner that it is absurd. There is no congestion or requirement to play loud to extract accuracy or detail. On the other hand if loud is your preference these things will rock and don't need tremendous power to do so. I was using a REF75 until I got my GS150 which can easily generate 100 db without barely moving the needles on the front.

You mention the listening to tracks v an album. You actually described something that few have come to appreciate and I get what you are saying. In the past prior to the CGR I would often find myself going from one passage of classical to another, one song to another trying to stir my listening evoked emotions. With the CGRs more than ever a listening session now entails finding an album and just listening in its entirety. When you can be content to just listen to the artist as he or she meant to be listened to on the production that is, IMHO, a sign your system is near perfect.

I love my CGRs and am done with the comparisons looking for "better" as for me I am where I have always wished I could be and that is to just sit and enjoy the music.

Howie
 

Carl

Industry Expert
Feb 25, 2014
22
0
0
The current NOLA line uses advanced silk dome tweeters, which we have developed over many years for the Boxer Collection, and true ribbon tweeters for the Reference Series. Both of these high frequency transducers are much better at tolerating less than optimum software compared to the metal domes used in the Phalanx of 25 years ago. In addition, these new devices are more detailed yet, without high- lighting recording artifacts.
This makes for the enjoyment of a much wider range of recordings. For instance I now can enjoy all of the Mercury Living Presence CDs , including ones that are not such great recordings. I could not say that in 1995.
Cheers
 
Jul 2, 2015
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oh dear. you guys have now got my juices well and truly flowing.
long term economic plan #5 required.
this may take ten years
love gav
 

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
0
0
FL
oh dear. you guys have now got my juices well and truly flowing.
long term economic plan #5 required.
this may take ten years
love gav
IB,

I am not the type of person to endorse or pray at the alter of what I buy. Trust me, if I don't like what I buy it is goodbye. I think some of the incredible fights that go on over equipment is a little over the top. I am not here to tell you that CGRs are "THE BEST". I once was in the business back in mid 80s, have been a long time "audiophile" and there is little I haven't owned. I have had Wilsons, Magico, Avalons, ProAc, etc. I have never heard a more enjoyable speaker than the CGR. For me, "the search" is over.
 
Jul 2, 2015
588
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yes, understood, this is absolutely what gives your comments such weight!

(and the memory of what Carl's open baffle speakers can do. or maybe that should be 'where they can transport you')
 

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
0
0
FL
yes, understood, this is absolutely what gives your comments such weight!

(and the memory of what Carl's open baffle speakers can do. or maybe that should be 'where they can transport you')
Yes "transport" is an excellent description of what the CGRs do. You are there is an apt way of describing their biggest attributes.
 
Oct 3, 2011
276
0
16
Stockholm/Sweden
(ok right at the start i'm going to make clear i'm comparing my focal stella utopias with my previous speakers, the Alon Phalanx. if anyone wants to point out the modern improvements that make this post irrelevant i will gladly listen.)

the thing is, the Focals are more forgiving. they make all music sound good, i found the Alon's could be, well, unforgiving. i enjoy more music more of the time through the Focals, even if they can't scale the heights the Phalanx could with the right material.
i'll try that one again...with the Alon's i found i would listen to individual tracks and move on fast. with the utopias i listen to the whole album, new artists, new genres. they are on the side of the muician, where the phalanx betrayed their (in my case) mastering studio roots by telling you exactly what the musicians and producer had done. the Focals will tell you what they meant to do.

so i have known in my heart for a while my perfect scenario is two systems, the one i have now, in my living / reception room built around the Stellas, plus another, more private, in a withdrawing room and built around Nolas.
I believe that a comparision in between the Focal Stella's and the current Nola Baby Reference Gold would make more sense. Also, I actually find Focal in general (especially older generations) less forgiving than Nola, belonging to a different camp of speakers leaning more towards the analytical side of the spectrum. That said, the newer generation of Berrylium tweeters are indeed less harsh than the older ones.

Nola is all about the music, being able to remove the sense of listening to a system in a very convincing way.
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
Jul 22, 2010
730
29
28
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
If anyone is interested I havea pair of Nola Concert Grand Gold Speakers ( 197,000 retail price) in mint condition coming in first week of December.
Asking price of 59,900.
Have original crates and packaging
 

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