Since I literally just got it yesterday morning, it is way too early to say whether it really is over when Morel’s The Fat Lady sings (although even on a first audition, with the speakers barely out of their handsome travel cases and not yet close to broken-in, two very experienced listeners, who’ve heard everything I’ve had in or out of my system for the last decade, seemed to think The Fat Lady might be “it” or very close to "it"—they loved her). The Fat Lady is certainly a witty name but it will be tough to live up to the implicit claim that name makes; after all, there are many great speakers out there. The name is certainly misleading in one sense: The Fat Lady ain’t fat. In fact, she’s a surprisingly demure (13 x 50 x 17 inches), strikingly beautiful, sensuously curvaceous bit of modern sculpture, molded out of fiberglass resin and carbon fiber, without a single straight line in her body.
Morel says she looks like a musical instrument—and with her modernesque, slimmed-down-doublebass-like profile, she does. Like a musical instrument, she also has no internal damping. Her high-tech chassis was specifically designed to “sing along” with the drivers in a controlled fashion—and, thanks to the superior damping properties of the materials it’s made of, to stop singing as soon as the drivers stop. The drivers, in turn, were specifically designed, developed, and fine-tuned to the cabinet.
Like Focal, Morel has a leg up on certain other speaker-manufacturers in that it not only builds speakers but also builds and markets high-tech drivers (indeed, Magico used Morel-made cones at one point in its ongoing metamorphosis), and The Fat Lady uses bespoke ones: Two 9-inch cabon-fiber/Rohacell composite cones (with integral one-piece domes, double-magnet hybrid-Neodymium/Ferrite motors, 3-inch long-throw aluminum voice coils mounted externally, copper-insulated center pole pieces, diecast aluminum basket) for the bass; a 6-inch cabon-fiber/Rohacell composite cone (with integral one-piece dome, hybrid Neodymium/Ferrite motor, 3-inch long-throw underhung aluminum voice coil mounted externally, copper-insulated center pole pieces, diecast aluminum basket) for the midrange; and 1.1-inch hand-coated soft dome (with pancake Neodymium magnet motor and underhung aluminum voice coil) for the treble. Frequency response is claimed to go from 20Hz to 22kHz (and to measure an impressive +/-1.5dB from 40Hz to 18kHz); I assume distortion numbers must be commensurately impressive. Sensitivity is rated at 88dB. With a nominal 4-ohm speaker like The Fat Lady this usually means that sensitivity is actually 3dB lower than its rating. Not here, however. If anything The Fat Lady seems higher in sensitivity than its specification, as I can drive it to very loud levels with a lot less gain than I’m used to from Magicos. Like the Nolas, these speakers will rock the house with considerable ease (indeed, Morel claims that The Fat Lady can handle peak power of 1000W, which would result in SPLs that would drive me out of the room).
An Israeli company, Morel has had three decades of experience in driver and speaker manufacturing, and it poured all that experience into The Fat Lady project. Over the next few weeks, I’ll post detailed listening notes to this thread, as the speaker breaks in and I get it set up to my complete satisfaction with the ancillaries that I think work best. (Russell Kauffman, the chief acoustic designer of The Fat Lady, is slated to visit me over this weekend—to help with setup and to give me the scoop on the speaker’s design and engineering. Any points of particular interest will be posted to this thread.) There’s no question this is an ambitious, fascinating, and (even at the very start) extremely promising loudspeaker that sounds a bit like a Magico Mini II albeit with considerable augmentation in the bass. Whether it coheres and disappears as well as, and is as neutral, finely detailed, dynamic, and transparent to sources as, that truly great Magico loudspeaker, I’m not yet able to say. But it certainly made a swell first impression on Da Boyz.