Having listened to the Berlina RC 9 with so many amplifier combinations allows me to better comment on the speaker’s sonic capabilities in any system.
In the second movement of Bach’s Concerto in D major on the Jacques Loussier Trio LP of Bach to the Future, there are sections where only a cymbal is sounded. As reproduced by the RC 9, these solo cymbal strikes shimmered realistically with a sweet and lovely sound that seemingly went on forever. In this same movement, where the contrabass “walks” the scale, the fingering on the strings and powerful-sounding timbre created an illusion of the real thing. Combined with the delicate piano playing, this movement made me feel as if the entire performance were being reproduced in my mid-sized space. When the third movement kicked in, the tempo picked up and the drum kit became more powerful, fast, and tight sounding. One could still focus on the contrabass while the piano’s quick rhythm created beautiful sound. Through the RC 9 every aspect of this recording was enhanced and enjoyable.
Moving to Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass’ Speak Love LP, on “Speak Low,” Ella’s voice sounded very dynamic, natural, and clear; Joe Pass’ guitar, just to the right of center stage, provided the musical foundation with rock-steady rhythmic playing. On “Comes Love,” Ella’s dynamic fortissimos were even louder than on the first track, and the clarity of playback revealed several page-turns of the sheet music. This track, in most cases, serves as a focused test for dynamic breakup in a cartridge or speaker. With the RC 9, there was nothing but music and more resolution than previously heard.
“I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You” from Linda Rondstadt’s What’s New LP shows a mix of jazz and orchestral playing in a single song. The well-recorded sax, drums, and piano were easily identifiable on the RC 9, while Linda’s voice transitioned effortlessly from delicate to dynamically soaring. While all of this was going on, orchestral placement was near perfect and realistic sounding. This was the clearest playback I’ve ever heard of this recording.
Playing “Kings of the Highway” from Chris Isaak’s Heart Shaped World LP through the Gauder Berlina RC 9 produced a saturated soundstage in which it was easy to follow all that was going on. Vocals were reinforced with overdubs, something that I’d not picked up on as easily before. The speakers maintained their composure no matter what volume was selected, which tended to lead to a desire to continually increase the level in order to feel more of the drive and pace in the music. Moving to “Blue Spanish Sky” provided a nice musical contrast that still played big, even though the tempo was much slower. Isaak’s voice sounds deeper than on the previous song, the soundstage was clearer sounding, the guitar played a lower scale, and the occasional trumpet took on an ethereal quality.
On Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s performance of Prokofiev’s Sonata No.1, the speaker’s ability to capture the beauty, speed, and transient response of the violin and the realistic timbre and dynamic of Sandra Rivers’ piano in a real space was on fullest display. The superb timing of this performance was felt to a greater degree than I’d previously heard in my system.
Mobile Fidelity’s reissue of Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms served as a fitting bookend to this musical tour. On its own, this LP is the best version of Brothers In Arms I’ve ever heard. “So Far Away” started off with a strong drumbeat that was big with plenty of power. The snare was clean, and so were the guitar and vocals. When the LP moved to the second track, “Money For Nothing,” I felt as if the floodgates opened and there was a wash of energy from this song I’ve never experienced before—gut-wrenching bass and a crisply pounding snare drum. (An added enjoyment was the occasional double-kick of the bass drum.) Along with this sensational low-frequency drive, the performance was cleaner than I’ve ever heard it sound before. When played back on the Gauder Berlina RC 9, the left channel guitar’s cut and boost were also clearer than I’d ever heard before. Additionally, this particular LP played extremely cleanly at levels that climbed over 100dB, during moments of weakness when I allowed the system to breathe a bit more than usual.
With the above-mentioned listening examples and equipment combinations, the Gauder Acoustic Berlina RC 9 showed itself to be a formidable speaker by any measure. So much so, it earned a 2015 Golden Ear Award from me. In many ways, I feel that loudspeaker choices are personal. Their character tends to set the limits of what’s possible with playback systems. The old adage that resolution lost can never be recovered fits all components in the listening chain, but none more than speakers, since they are the last bastion of potential purity from which the music must emerge.
Having said this, I’d like to conclude with a version of the text from my Golden Ear Award. Loudspeakers are often described as being a window to the performance. The best of them remove the window (and walls) entirely in an effort to place you within the performance, capture you, and let you explore—holistically or analytically—the essence of the composition as well as the individual music lines. The Berlina RC 9 fits the description of the best of them. This is not because of price (which is in part the result of using incredibly expensive pure-diamond midrange and tweeter drivers); it is because of the consistently stable pianissimo-to-fortississimo resolution, clarity, and dynamic capabilities within its methodically crafted DNA. This loudspeaker plays like a chameleon to music reproduction, as well as to the source and amplification components in front of it. Choose the correct amplifiier and be rewarded with reference-quality sound. An audition is highly recommended.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Four-way dynamic loudspeaker
Drivers: 3/4" diamond tweeter, 2" diamond midrange, 7" ceramic lower-midrange, three 7" ceramic woofers
Bass principle: 12th-order symmetrical bass-reflex
Crossover type: Symmetrical four-way
Crossover frequencies: 150/1000/6000Hz
Crossover slope: ›50dB/octave
Sinewave power handling: 340W
Impulse power handling: 750W
Dimensions: 23/34 cm x 145 cm x 61 cm
Weight: 102 kg
DE – 71272 Renningen
AXISS AUDIO (U.S. Distributor)
17800 South Main Street,
Gardena, CA 90248