The Grand Reference III System provides state-of-the-art acoustic performance and delivers a sound that is closer than ever to a live experience. In addition, it offers expanded performance in the areas of clarity, wide-band dynamics, frequency range, high frequency transient reproduction, musicality and soundstage reproduction.
"Awarded a rare five stars by TAS founder and chairman Harry Pearson, this massive four-tower, 23 driver (per side) array has evolved into a great speaker, possessed as it is of breathtaking performance in all areas - from its flat frequency response to its dynamic gradations, from its three-dimensionality and body to its extraordinary top to bottom coherence, from its smooth yet revealing nature, to its sheer musicality." -The Absolute Sound, Recommended Components (Class I, highest rating), October / November 2002 (HP's Workshop, issues 133, 134, 136).
The system, consisting of five main pieces, is comprised of the following:
The Main Tower employs a total of 19 of the highest quality transducers per channel. The Main Towers are built in mirror-imaged arrays for accurate imaging. Bass and mid-bass frequencies from 40 Hz to 400 Hz are reproduced by four advanced 8 inch cast frame woofers per channel. Two woofers are mounted vertically at the top and two are mounted vertically at the bottom of the Main Tower. The four 8 inch woofers employ cast, surface treated magnesium cones with natural rubber surrounds and solid copper-machined phase plugs. Perfect piston response is maintained to a high 5 kHz, far beyond their 400 Hz operating ranges, for excellent impact and low coloration. The woofers are mounted in individual sealed chambers. Cabinet walls are bonded with proprietary damping layers for inaudible coloration. The four woofers operate with staggered bass resonant frequencies to increase the speed-bandwidth product.
The all-important mid range system consists of six 5½ inch tri-laminate cast frame transducers, per tower, operating on an open baffle over the range of 400 Hz to 3500 Hz and driven by premium Alnico magnet systems. The six mid range transducers are deployed in a short vertical line array, between the woofers and adjacent to the tweeters. The open baffle Alnico mid- range drivers provide excellent low-level resolution and dynamics, while eliminating cabinet mid range coloration. Harmonic structure is especially accurate, while the special transient response of this driver (as has been commented on before) allows clear separation of the attack, sustain and decay elements of musical sounds- for a more lifelike reproduction. The all-important mid range system consists of six 5½ inch tri-laminate cast frame transducers, per tower, operating on an open baffle over the range of 400 Hz to 3500 Hz and driven by premium Alnico magnet systems. The six mid range transducers are deployed in a short vertical line array, between the woofers and adjacent to the tweeters. The open baffle Alnico mid- range drivers provide excellent low-level resolution and dynamics, while eliminating cabinet mid range coloration. Harmonic structure is especially accurate, while the special transient response of this driver (as has been commented on before) allows clear separation of the attack, sustain and decay elements of musical sounds- for a more lifelike reproduction.
The high frequency transducer system consists of nine 4-inch ribbon tweeters per tower, operating in a short vertical line array. These transducers are true ribbons wherein the conductor and the diaphragm are one and the same. The moving mass is only .0061 gram for near instant acceleration. Extreme high-level transient attacks are taken in stride without harshness, allowing for instance, live levels of cymbals and other harmonically rich musical sounds to be reproduced. Driven by heavy neodymium magnet systems, these transducers are equally comfortable reproducing nuance as well as extreme peak levels. Nine small ribbons are utilized in lieu of one large ribbon in order to take advantage of the superior control of the smaller diaphragm, for greater accuracy.
The Grand Reference III Subwoofer Towers are designed to complement the response of the main towers from 16 Hz to 40 Hz. The Main Towers operate full range to their acoustic rolloff while the Variable Low Pass Filter rolls off the response of the Subwoofer Tower at 40 Hz. A separate, high current, stable amplifier is required to drive these towers. Each Subwoofer Tower consists of four high-output 12-inch transducers operating in a vertical array. Each transducer is isolated in a separate vented chamber to eliminate inter-driver interference. A 3-inch diameter exponential flared port is provided for each 12-inch transducer. The port is flared both on the inside of the enclosure as well as the outside, for minimum low frequency distortion. Special low distortion voice coils driven by massive double-stacked 7 LB magnets for each driver, provide greater than 1¼ inch peak to peak linear excursions. Output at 20 Hz with both towers driven is greater than 120 dB.
Based on a design pioneered by Carl Marchisotto when at Dahlquist in 1976, this remains the preferred way to integrate a subwoofer system with a high-quality, wide-band main transducer. The LP1 provides continuously variable cut-off frequencies from 37 Hz and up. Stereo bass is provided. Fine touch-up qualization is provided to trim the extreme low frequency response on each channel to match different rooms.
Issue 154 / June-July 2005
"hp's Workshop Updates No need to linger here. Carl Marchisotto, Nola's designer and an alumnus of Jon Dahlquist's old company, has, over time, made several revisions to this statement speaker system. The drive units have remained the same, hut the crossovers have not. Marchisotto has made three updates to the crossovers integral to the main towers. The separate crossover to the ported bass towers, an old Dahlquist DQLP-10, remains the same. I have no idea what internal changes he made to the three-way external units this time, but I do know he has devised a better isolation system for each unit, as well as sexier-looking wood enclosures. "
"Do I hear a difference? Well, he has enhanced even further the sense of continuousness and coherent soundfield from about 40Hz (the towers' lower limit) up. I already considered the Grand Reference the most continuous hybrid I've experienced. I call it a hybrid because it is a combination of cone drivers and a series of true ribbon tweeters, which now are better integrated than they were before. It's a case of improving on a good thing, even though any discontinuity previously there was quite minor-few even noticed it. That said because, otherwise, the revisions to the Grand Reference occurred during the time when the new and more revealing gear became part of the chain. And this was a period in which I, temporarily, as it turned out, thought I had lost my reference and so, without having the old crossover boxes to re-insert in the system, I can't judge the overall degree of improvement. "
Last Updated: January 5, 2009
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