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Davone RITHM Loudspeakers Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 December 2009
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Davone RITHM Loudspeakers Review
Listening Session


Most speaker manufacturers recommend a certain amount of break-in before settling in for critical listening. The RITHMs arrived already well broken-in, however, so there was no lag from connection to audition. I'll admit openly to loving the speaker's looks without any consideration for the speaker itself. I was keen to treat the RITHMs as “lifestyle” speakers rather than just loudspeakers, but that changed the first time I listened. Sommovigo said he's a big fan of the Norwegian-made driver, and that the coaxial design allows Schenkel to simplify the cross-over and not worry about driver off-set. I liked how the tweeter and woofer work in concert to create a large stereo image. The RITHMs have superb mid-range and bass that seems to dip lower than the speaker's 50Hz limit. They are fleet – not super fast – but offer plenty of clarity, decay and sustain. These speakers can yield big sound, but need some power to perform. At 85dB sensitivity, the RITHMs behave like mini-monitors, so don't be shy with wattage.

Todd's Listening Space
Steve Morse is one of my favorite guitarists, and his latest recording with the Steve Morse Band, Out Standing In Their Field, is a hearty smorgasbord of gritty rock, Dixie-Dregs-style fusion and delicate classical guitar stylings. It's an energetic affair that blooms with Morse's immaculately picked lines and bassist Dave LaRue's liquid licks. Every song entrances, but while listening to “Relentless Encroachment,” drummer Van Romaine's toms sounded so immediate that I thought someone was knocking on my front door.

A bit bored with my standard handful of reference recordings, I asked my wife to pick five CDs at random from our collection to test with the RITHMs. They follow and include my partial notes:

1.    Jeff Buckley, Grace: Swell of guitars and vocals on the title track; vocals intimate and breathy.
2.    Dave Swarbrick, It Suits Me Well – The TransAtlantic Anthology: British pub energy presented with a real, live feel. The master fiddler makes toes tap on jigs, reels and shuffles. Muscular mid-range.
3.    Marillion, Brave: Lush and emotional presentation. Steve Hogarth's vocal sounds in-the-room on “The Great Escape.”
4.    The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations EP: Crisp tambourines and rounded bass on “Good Vibrations.” Loads of bass on “Let's Go Away For Awhile.” The RITHM's 7-inch woofer goes a long way to bring out the bass, even with its somewhat limited range. When paired with a sub, such as Velodyne's Optimum 10 subwoofer, the soundstage broadened and deepened, leaving me wanting for nothing.
5.    Queen, A Kind Of Magic: If the RITHMs sound dreamy, they never sound sleepy. On albums such as Queen's A Kind Of Magic, where Roger Taylor's drums are recorded very dry, the RITHMs will give you dry – but not brittle to the point of breaking.

A late-night listening session included Patrick Moraz's ESP and The Moody Blues' On The Threshold Of A Dream. The former is an album of solo piano compositions by the former Yes and Moody Blues keyboardist. I've heard plenty of piano recordings that were shrill and painful to hear, but Moraz brings out the harmonic richness of his instrument and the RITHMs serve to highlight his warm tone. Threshold's dreamy music seemed to melt into the RITHMs. And if there's a rub, it's that the RITHMs may be too laid-back for some. They are smooth, and with the Electrocompaniet gear – also suave performers – the sound is warm, mellow and lustrous.

I hosted Thanksgiving this year, with most of my wife's immediate family attending. After dinner, a group of us went upstairs to my listening room for a quick survey of some gear I had on hand to review, but none of the other equipment garnered such attention as the RITHMs. I explained the origin and design but folks really just wanted to listen. At the request of my wife's uncle, I played Earmark's 180-gram virgin vinyl reissue of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's debut album. This has long been one of my favorite records and recordings – the brute force of songs such as “Knife-Edge” are stunning when played back on good equipment. But “Lucky Man” got the nod on this eve, and we listened, nodding and smiling at the sustain and clarity heard throughout, especially during Keith Emerson's famous Moog solo.

One guest worked for Crane Song, a Superior, Wisconsin, manufacturer of studio electronics whose building also houses a recording studio (Inland Sea). He brought over a CD recorded recently at Inland Sea and we listened through the RITHMs. The disc not only contained intriguing music but a beguiling analog-like sound that had more than one of us requesting a second play. That listening session was an important reminder that many non-audiophiles have very perceptive ears and can recognize the nuances of sound given the chance.

Final Thoughts

At their current price (MSRP $5,595), the RITHMs are not entry-level, and cost twice what I paid for my couch, but I can't imagine another piece of “furniture” I'd rather have in my house. And last I checked, the couch had pretty poor sound. Easy on the eyes, lovely on the ears, the RITHMs are a triumph of design and execution. I await eagerly Schenkel's next loudspeaker.

System Setup:
  • Electrocompaniet PI-2 Prelude Integrated Amplifier (2 X100 W into 8 ohm)
  • Electrocompaniet PC-1 Prelude CD Player
  • Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable
  • Clearaudio Virtuoso phono cartridge
  • RS Audio Cables Illume Silver Loudspeaker Cables (8 ft)
  • RS Audio Cables Kevlar Starchord Power Cable (6 ft)
  • Davone RITHM Loudspeakers
  • Valhalla Technology VT Amplifier Feet 25
  • Valhalla Technology VT Spike Feet Deluxe

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