Gaining on the swings AND the roundabouts
By Roy Gregory
The audio world is full of speaker ranges in which the smallest model is also the best. Not just the best value you understand, but musically the best in absolute terms. It’s an observation that generally applies to mainstream product ranges and as often as not reflects the fact that the cheapest model in the line is also the only two-way! Leaving aside the exponentially more difficult task of designing three-ways (with their greater complexity in terms of crossover and larger cabinet panels) it also suggests the sheer pressure imposed by value engineering and the purity of focus it brings to the design process. All of which suggests that this is a rule that won’t apply further up the price range, where speakers enter genuine high-end territory (and where different rules and different cost equations apply).
So what are we to make of the Göbel Divin Marquis, a speaker that is neither small nor (at €89,000 a pair) cheap, yet still represents the most affordable model in the Divin line – and still manages, through sheer joie de vivre, to match in many ways, the musical performance of the bigger models in the range? In this instance it’s not a case of the increased budget or expertise failing to match the demands and ambitions of the larger designs. Indeed, both the Divin Noblesse and the even bigger Divin Majestic are extremely impressive. This is something entirely different. This is a speaker that, relative to its larger and more genuinely more accomplished brethren, manages to turn its weaknesses into strengths. The result is a performance that makes up in listenability and musical communication what it lacks in scale and bandwidth. That’s a very, very neat trick if you can do it – and just how it’s been done is worthy of examination.
Physically, the Divin Marquis is a big, bluff and angular box – albeit one that is immaculately constructed and finished. The review pair arrived resplendent in lustrous white piano lacquer with contrasting antique gold trim rings on the drivers and tweeter horn. Combined with the elegantly sculpted facets around and the sculpted profile of the front baffle, it could all be a bit bling, but somehow it pulls it off – a bit like a PA cabinet that’s been to finishing school, an experience that’s accentuated its natural charm. If the front baffle is obviously and heavily worked, the rest of the enclosure is prosaically rectangular. It’s substantial 150kg mass is supported on the same large, stainless steel feet as the Divin Noblesse, with the same huge, finely-threaded posts for angular adjustment. You also get the same Delrin ‘shoes’ to fit the feet, which makes moving the significant mass of the Marquis considerably easier.
The separate Installation Notes < https://gy8.eu/blog/installation-notes-gobel-divin-marquis/ > cover the finer points of handling and optimisation, but the supplied Delrin sliders and precisely adjustable feet make for simple (if exacting) set up. In the Music Room, the Marquis stood slightly further forward than the Noblesse, pointed directly at the listener’s ears and tilted 0.4 of a degree forwards to bring the tweeter axis to precisely ear height. Other than that it was simply a case of setting the cabinet height to optimise bass. I also ran the Marquis in the smaller Studio space, not least because Oliver Göbel suggested that despite its substantial dimensions it was still capable of maintaining control and quality in surprisingly small rooms. It proved to be a fascinating and worthwhile experiment.
Sweating the details…
Changing amps required (as always!) a shift in the position of the speakers. In this instance that was even more critical than usual, such was the clarity and transparency at low-frequencies, but it was also easier, the large flat feet being perfectly ‘nudgable’ on my wooden floor, as well as easily adjusted in the vertical plane. It was brutally obvious when you got it right – and frankly ruinous if you didn’t (it still amazes me how many reviewers, dealers and audiophiles are perfectly happy to ‘compare’ different amps – often radically different amps – without undertaking this crucially important step).