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The speakers relatively easy load and efficiency opened up compatible amplification. Even the little Topping T amp produced disproportionately good results. Once coupled with more ambitious electronics, the Castas showed that they could sing with extreme fidelity. The lovely Italians simply pulled strong performances from whatever was ahead of them, being discriminating but not snobbish. Did our $28.000 flagship go wrong anywhere? By aiming at panel-like control and articulation, the design gives up ultimate bass reach and punch. While bass was excellent as far as it went and relatively seamless, it did not hit subsonic territory to be robbed of true full-range status. The other point that will divide listeners was the slight softening of the transient edge. The Casta differed slightly from those speakers which excel at that. Depending on one's reference point they will be described as either mildly forgiving or organically solid. At this elevated price point, these differences are subtle rather than extreme and present a designers personal choice of fine balance. The other side will offer you breathtaking speed of musical attacks, this one unravels huge amounts of fine shadings attached to that moment. Whether or not it satisfies you will depend on which balance you prioritize.

Comparisons? The Model C was the most expensive pair of speakers to grace my listening room yet, hence in many aspects it acted as a benchmark. The most obvious competition would be a speaker from Avantgarde, a different horn design with a high reputation with which I've only had passing moments. With regard to individual technical requirements and design goals, there are distinct differences. For similar coin Avantgarde aims at a considerably wider response and greater choice of setup options. Flexibility however is a double-edged sword and every parameter you can control you can also ruin. Avantgarde by reputation is capable of stunning results but those are hard earned. The Casta comes as pretty much a turnkey package which requires only a modicum of care to unleash its virtues. The music lover will enjoy almost instant gratification.

For another look at the merits of competing technologies, my choice on hand was Apogee's Duetta Signature. If memory serves, the current versions fall into a similar price range to constitute a valid study of different strengths. My Apogee is a two-way design with a 1-inch ribbon covering a very broad bandwidth to act as a line source before handing off to its planar bass panel. Midrange purity is quite similar and both speakers have excellent broadband resolution, with the Casta giving up some transparency against the thin-film Duetta. The Apogee shows superiority in transient attack and absolute bass response. The Casta counters with its vastly superior efficiency, unrestrained SPL and setup ease. Imaging is comparable, with the Apogee introducing a little extra depth due to dipole dispersion and leaning towards transparency whilst the Casta favors more density in its soundstage information.

For comparison against a direct-radiating loudspeaker, I settled on a truly tough challenger, the Mike Tang Feastrex-based MTA-F60 widebander. It may be significantly lower in price but at $7.300 it has distinguished itself with ESL-caliber tonal accuracy, coherence and lightning-fast reflexes. Mr. Tittarelli stated as his design goal a horn that has the tonal accuracy of a direct-radiating loudspeaker.vHow did the Model C fare? On tonal accuracy it came very very close. Mr. Tittarellis effort is virtually seamless and in terms of absolute cohesiveness especially between its horns beats out other challengers that graced my room including those with the illustrious Raal tweeter. Bass was similar to the Mike Tang by the numbers but the Casta achieved considerably better articulation due to its pneumatic suspension and was capable also of considerably higher overall levels. The Model C is bigger and brawnier but tonally a true rival. Where the Mike Tang takes the lead is in transient attack- There it unravels more information with more defined dynamic gradations. In audiophile vernacular, its incredibly fast. The Casta pushes a higher volume of air to energize the room but the Feastrex achieves greater dynamic life at the cost of lower SPL. In total the Italian horn displayed almost all the assets of a state-of-the-art single widebander, albeit with advantages in output level and bass.

Mr. Tittarellis flagship design strikes a compelling balance of virtues. The Casta Model C is both revealing and non-judgmental. It has an authenticity of tone that's extremely natural. Here it competes directly against thin-film panels and widebander alternatives. It gets quite loud with very little power and little apparent strain or coloration. Response is reasonably wideband and with sufficient bass to satisfy most although some could prefer a little more subsonic response and power. The Casta also played consistently to the strengths of the equipment rather than its weaknesses. That's a lot to offer. Of course any listener must decide if their biases mesh with the intent of any given designer. For some the incomparable beauty of an uncolored musical instrument will be a revelation. For others seeking a different sonic 'magic' it will be unimpressive. Same sound, different expectations. For those who understand and appreciate its considerable appeal, the Casta Model offers lofty performance to match its price.

The fact that it's unusually easy to set up and a snap to match adds to the allure. This is the organic end of musical enjoyment, not the scrutiny of a microscope. The industrial design aesthetic is luxurious old-world Italian craftsmanship. The sound is a modern horn. For those who like the description but need a smaller floorstander or monitor, there are two other models. Who should look elsewhere? If your sonic desires lean to transparency, transient snap and subterranean slam, these will not be your cuppa. Micro resolution devotees will admire the natural translation of information but miss the extra differentiation that some other designs bring to the table.

Quality of packing:
Wooden crates.
Reusability of packing: Yes.
Condition of components received: Perfect.
Delivery: Hand-delivered by the North American distributor.
Website comments: Distributor website covers extensive product lineup with pricing and links to the manufacturers site which has full company history, design philosophy and a wealth of product information to make for comprehensive and interesting reading material.
Human interactions: Responsive and helpful.
Warranty: 2-year parts and labor.
Final comments & suggestions: A loudspeaker that seeks beauty and truth and honors the music in that pursuit.

Casta Acoustics website
Canadian distributor's website