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Reviewer: Paul Candy
Financial Interests: click here
Digital Source: CEC TL51X transport, Audiomat Tempo 2.6 DAC, HP laptop, Win 8, J. River Media Center 17, JPlay v4.3, John Kenny JKSPDIF Mk3 USB-SPDIF interface
Analog Source: Well-Tempered Lab Amadeus with DPS power supply, Pro-Ject Tube Box SE phono stage, Ortofon Rondo Blue MC cartridge
Amps: Audiomat Opéra Référence integrated
Speakers: Green Mountain Audio Callisto on sand-filled Skylan stands, 2 x REL Q108 Mk II subwoofers
Cables: MIT Magnum M1.3 interconnects & speaker cables, MIT Magnum digital cable, Sablon Audio Panatela interconnects and speaker cables [on loan], Transparent Audio Performance USB cable
AC Cables: MIT Magnum AC1, Wireworld Aurora 5² & Silver Electra 5², Sablon Audio Robusto, Petite Corona & Gran Corona [on loan]
Stands: Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier rack on Apex footers with silicon nitride bearings
Powerline conditioning: BPT Pure Power Center with Wattgate, Bybee Quantum Purifier and ERS cloth options
Sundry accessories: Acoustic Revive RR-77, Auric Illuminator, Audio Magic/Quantum Physics Noise Disruptors, Caig Pro Gold, Echo Busters acoustic room treatments, Isoclean fuses, HiFi Tuning Disc Demagnetizer, Nitty Gritty record cleaning machine, Soundcare Superspikes (on speaker stands), dedicated AC line with CruzeFIRST Audio Maestro outlets
Room size: 11x18x8', long-wall setup, suspended hardwood floors with large area sisal rug, walls are standard drywall over Fiberglas insulation
Review component retail: Admonitor 311 $5.999, stands $1.699, Submonitor MkIII $13.999

Whilst relatively unknown in North America, Italian firm Capriccio Continuo has a more substantial presence in Europe. In the past year distributor Charisma Audio started importing this interesting speaker line into Canada. I experienced my first albeit impromptu listening session of the Admonitor 311 at the inaugural Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES) back in the fall 2011. Suitably impressed I asked for a review pair. Fellow moonie Glen Wagenknecht recently wrote about Capriccio Continuo’s Auralea 309 floorstanders. Since Glen did a fine job on the back story of Capriccio Continuo I won’t repeat it here. See his review for the full skinny.

The Admonitor 311 is a small two-way speaker housed in a gently sloping high-density polymer cabinet finished in high è-gloss piano black polyester. On the rear panel are a single pair of banana-style speaker inputs and a single port. The cloth grills are removable and affixed with small imbedded magnets. No nasty holes to mar the svelte cabinets, none of those pesky plastic lugs that invariably snap off after a spell, usually past when the warranty has expired.

Charisma Audio show exhibit with Admonitor

The tweeter is a custom SB Acoustics 29mm soft dome optimized for the Admonitor with a dedicated viscoelastic diaphragm coating and damping of the rear chamber. The crossover sporting Mundorf Supreme caps and air core coils is a “Multislope Elliptical Transitional Transfert 0 type (T²0)” [see sidebar at right].

The 130mm Ariacell GTi Z3² mid/woofer is rather special and not at all like the usual doped paper or poly-type variants. Essentially it is a state-of-the-art version of the aluminum/lacquer/foam sandwich cone invented in 1934 by Dr. Emil Podzus*. However this particular sandwich features a core of syntactic foam surrounded by ultra-thin outer layers of nano-graphite fibers in a 3D alea structure matrix strengthened with vacuum/plasma titanium.

This configuration of graphite fibers differs from traditional textile/woven structures as these fibers are considerably lighter and randomly arrayed in all directions which should result in greater damping of spurious resonances due to superior transformation of kinetic energy into heat. The plasma/vacuum titanium external skin allows for high-speed surface wave propagation and should contribute to a clearer more transparent sound than more conventional cone materials and structures. Incidentally due to the syntactic foam core the main ingredient of the cone is air to further reduce any overt sonic character.
  Transfert Zero Squared Z-Topology. 0Z is a further evolution of the T0 structure. Transfert 0 crossovers were first introduced by Christian Yvon at the end of the 70s with the Logos Dialogue speaker systems soon to become the Goldmund Dialogue and to be followed by the Apologue etc. One of the main ideas is to use elliptical transfer functions to 'accelerate' the slope near the crossover frequency and to avoid destructive radiation interference by limiting overlap. Neville Thiele has recently published an interesting Loudspeaker Crossovers with Notched Responses analysis on the JAES in September 2000 but besides the Yvon/Goldmund applications also Richard Modafferi in the USA has used similar crossovers since 1987 and some articles were published in Electronics World in August 1999. The Transfert 0 solutions are more evolved and elaborate than Thiele’s implementations. The main drawback of the symmetric scholastic approaches like the Thiele 'notched' and classic Riley-Linkwitz solutions is the assumption of the same radiation characteristics (identical directivity index at and around the xover frequency) of the two units which is seldom the case. The more symbiotic approach of Transfert 0 takes into account both the drive unit transfer functions and also their directivity indexes.

The T20 crossovers short for Transitional Transfert 0 are an evolution of the Transfert 0 solutions. Their focus is on back EMF from the drive units. In this implementation particular care was taken of the 'look-back' impedance of the filter, i.e. the impedance seen by the drive unit towards the filter as opposed to the input impedance seen by the amplifier which is very often a neglected factor. By optimising this 'look-back' or reverse impedance factor, we can optimise the damping of the back EMF of each drive unit. Through the Z-type topology of the circuit having components both in the hot and cold connections to the driver. the T0Z structure allows a further increase of definition and transparency of the reproduction. - Joseph Szall

* Ariacell GTi and ZSS ('Z' foam sandwich) past , present and future. Sandwich cones of aluminium/foamed lacquer were first invented in Germany by Dr. Emil Podszus in 1934 under the 'Z' name. This was the first cellular core membrane with thin external skins. In the era between the two world wars, everything was invented in the USA by Western Electric and in Germany by Siemens & Co. Gerlach invented the ribbon tweeter as well as the 'sheathing' transducer (later reinvented in the USA by Linæum), not to mention the Vogt electrostatics and Blatthaller planar magnetic types. The M7 as the most famous microphone capsule of all time was invented by Mr. Neumann in 1934 and has been a constant source of inspiration over 70 years (most of the best music in the world has been recorded on classic Neumann mics).

25 years later Donald Barlow in England rediscovered the sandwich cone in 1959 and thought of implementing them eventually with a honeycomb core. Barlow's products went on sale as Leak Sandwich speakers with polystyrene cores and thick Aluminium skins. Later came KEF with the classic flat oval B139 woofer. In the 70s some great Japanese companies remembered Barlow's ideas and implemented honeycomb sandwich constructions with high-tech materials like Nomex, Kevlar and carbon fibre. Here certain Mitsubishi studio monitors were first. In the 80s Cabasse in France and Eton in Germany followed along the same lines.

In the 50s the 'Z' Plural systems were regarded as the most musical and transparent along with the Quad ESL57. At the end of the 60s Klein & Hummel introduced the OY studio monitor which was a 3-way design based on a ZSS 10" woofer and a 5" ZSS midrange manufactured by Jürgen Görlich. This was one of the '3 musketeers'* of European compact studio monitors.

The 3 musketeers of European monitors introduced at the end of the 60s were the Klein&Hummel OY whose exceptional transparency of the ZSS woofer and midrange, Electro-Voice T35 and bi-amplification made this the reference for broadcasting and classical recordings in Central Europe as the first studio monitor with an active crossover. Second BBC's LS3/6 aka Spendor BC1, the reference for response balance and low coloration. Master-quality know-how in elegant crossover circuitry made this design the father of the modern English school of loudspeakers. The HF1300 tweeter used in this product can be considered one of the best high-frequency transducers of all times. The 8” Bextrene woofer innovated by making thermoplastic cones an industry standard. Third was the Elipson 2-way 40.2 sphere designed by the French acoustician Joseph Leon used in the French ORTF. He invented new concepts like low diffraction low resonance cabinets as well as time alignment long before these became fashionable some 20 years later among audiophile products. The use of some of the best 8” full-range woofer units (Goodman Axiette, JBL L8T, Omniex 21, RTF 215 in various iterations) matched to the glorious TW8B metal cone tweeter together with the unique characteristics of this design gave speed and freshness to the sound. Many high-end speakers today have elements from these forefathers even though not many designers acknowledge this (actually very few know who these fathers were). These three musketeers had their own D’Artagnan, in this case the JBL 4311 from USA, perhaps not the absolute in accuracy but a lot of fun to listen to!