Hits (And Misses…) Munich High End – 2023

This year, Rockport debuted the Orion loudspeaker, a ‘little Lyra’ in terms of both appearance and its related technologies. But this is not simply a smaller Lyra. Instead it is a thoughtful and exacting adaption of the Lyra’s unique approach and technology to a more affordable price point. In place of the flagship’s expensive two-part, interleaved and heavily machined aluminium clamshell cabinet, the Orion retains the ribbed, cast aluminium inner and pairs it with a simple moulded carbon-fibre skin that retains the all-important damping layer, while affording its own mechanical advantages. The driver count has been cut in half, with a single mid and bass unit gracing each cabinet, although each driver is itself larger than the Lyra’s equivalents. Importantly, the Orion’s bass unit is rated as a 13” driver, compared to the Lyra’s twin 10” units. That equates to a swept area of around 130 square inches in the Orion as opposed to 155 for the Lyra. In addition, the Orion places that larger driver closer to the ground, producing additional bass reinforcement.

I am always slightly (possibly irrationally) suspicious of speakers that separate the bass and mid drivers so widely. The Orion is nowhere near as extreme in this regard as the Estalons, for example, but I still wonder just how easily and seamlessly the undoubtedly potent low-frequencies will integrate with the superbly textured and nuanced mid-band the Orion has (hopefully) inherited from the Lyra? Driven by Absolare amps from Kuzma and Metronome/Nagra front-ends, the show system did enough to suggest that much of the Lyra’s performance has survived the transition, but final judgment will have to wait until we hear the Orion under more controlled and familiar circumstances. But for now, it definitely finds itself on the ‘well worth watching’ list.

Clarysis Auditorium Loudspeakers

Diptyque were not the only panel providers delivering superior sound in Munich. Clarysis have been generating quite a stir in online Fora and the Munich show was our first opportunity to experience the multi-national full-range ribbons. As an ex-Apogee owner, I for one was interested to hear what they’d wrought – and how many of the original’s weaknesses they’d eliminated.

Despite being a direct descendent of the storied Apogee designs, this is no mere clone. Clarysis has set out to refine the Apogee’s operating concept, materials and construction and, on this showing, they’ve certainly succeeded. The large, three-way Auditorium model with its external crossover (broadly speaking I guess it might be considered a Diva equivalent) was driven by an all-Soulution system, including bridged 501 power amps. So, whilst the Clarysis might not be quite the crippling load that the Apogees generally were, it’s fair to say that they still like plenty of power. But it’s also fair to say that the Clarysis are both more attractive and much better finished than the originals while possessing the same walk-in soundstage but coupled with much livelier dynamics that make far more of the design’s substantial bandwidth. Further, finer details will wait for the arrival of review samples but for now, let’s just say that this isn’t Apogee-reincarnate: it’s more like Ap-zilla!

The ongoing search for intelligent life…

by Dennis Davis