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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

ImageAs a kid I my family took a trip from my home in Beavercreek, Ohio, to Boulder, Colorado, for a visit with my mom's relatives. On the way we stopped in St. Louis, Missouri, for a day to take in a Cardinals baseball game and journey to the top of the St. Louis Arch. I was a huge baseball fan and any chance to catch a game outside my “home” Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati seemed as cosmopolitan an experience as a 10-year-old could imagine. Couple that with a story I had read about a guy who tried to catch a baseball dropped from the top of the arch, only to end up with a broken jaw, heightened the anticipation. It was a surreal ride, though, clumbering up the arch's 630 feet of curvature via an enclosed tram. The little cars moved so slowly that it seemed forever to reach the top, but reach we did and were greeted to an astonishing view of the city.

When I came across Davone Audio's RITHM speakers and their arching cabinets, that St. Louis experience of many summers past flooded my mind. Here was a loudspeaker like no other I had seen – as if IKEA had hooked up with Boeing to produce a forward-weighted boomerang that you'd want in the living room. The design is definitely Scandinavian – Davone is headquartered in Hillerød, Denmark. Call it furniture, call it art, all brought together in a loudspeaker. Thus, it didn't surprise me that an aeronautical engineer – Davone's Paul Schenkel – was responsible for the RITHM's graceful, bird-like lines. Schenkel's talents also extend to the fields of physics and acoustics, essential to getting an unconventional speaker design l like his off the ground.

Davone Up Close

Schenkel takes further inspiration from designers such as Oscar Niemeyer, Arne Jacobsen and Jørn Utzon, and writes, “I have been building speakers all my life, just like many people in the audio industry. With my interest in classic design I have never understood (and I still don't) that there are no loudspeaker manufacturers that try something new with the cabinet shape and yet keep it stylish, non-technical, like the famous furniture design classics. Often in furniture design magazines I can see that in the background of a very stylish house there are speakers that clearly do not match the rest of the house." To Schenkel, all objects are potential loudspeakers, but, obviously, not all objects are potentially “good” loudspeakers. The RITHMs go beyond potential thanks to some clever engineering:

1.    The RITHM's cabinet consists of 16 separate layers of wood. Its curved shape makes the cabinet very stiff and helps reduce vibrations.
2.    Wood layers are held together by glue, which help further reduce vibrations by absorbing and transforming them into heat.
3.    The tweeter is placed directly into the center of the woofer, creating a coherent, single-point, yet wide sound source – the highs and lows emerge from the same space, compensating for time-phase errors.
4.    Because the front of the speaker holds the driver, the back can be tapered to take up less space and create some drama with the asymmetrical bow.

Send Me A Pair!

Davone RITHM DesignMy RITHM hook-up was high-end audio distributor The Signal Collection, based in Cummings, Georgia, and headed by Chris Sommovigo. If that name rings a bell, it's because Sommovigo has been in the business for many years as a designer and manufacturer of audio cables. Sommovigo was extremely helpful and thoughtful, marking up a placement map according to the dimensions of my listening space. The RITHMs are designed for medium-sized rooms, and mine fits that bill. “WAF” is an acronym that runs through the audiophile community. It stands for “wife-acceptance factor,” a light stab for those who need some extra ammunition before given the go-ahead to bust open the wallet. To me, the RITHMs have “LRAF” (living room acceptance factor) and could perk up any such space. As Sommovigo told me, “We're not growing any new audiophiles. These speakers are intended for people who love fine things. Many folks think of a stereo as an appliance, but with the Davone we took a huge step out of the appliance category and into the fine furniture industry.” Sure, but how do they sound?

The day the RITHMs arrived, my FedEx driver looked a bit wild-eyed. I watched him disappear into his truck's cargo and emerge with a titan of a box (two boxes, actually) wrapped in plastic. As he carted it down my sidewalk, I was wondering how to even get this package in the house. Thankfully, the contents weighed less than expected and I brought the speakers in for a reveal. Of the three finishes available (black oak, walnut and oak) I received the RITHMs in walnut, with sides painted in a black matte finish. If you like the idea of floor-stander but don't want it to dominate a room, you'll like the RITHM's low profile: They stand 27.5 inches high and span approximately 23 inches from front to back foot. A single grill covers the coaxial driver – a 1-inch tweeter tucked into a 7-inch woofer – located about 2/3rds up the front of the speaker. Unlike most square cabinet speakers, the RITHMs are ported on the bottom of the front foot where the angled taper keeps the port off the floor. Binding posts are located on the lower back and they are very solid – two, gold-plated WBT plugs that accept bare wire, bananas (4mm) and spades – and form a tight connection to speaker cable. If you want to add spikes, there are two mounts on the bottom of the cabinet's front and back.

Denmark meet Norway

Call it serendipity, but I had matching components on hand from Davone's Scandinavian neighboor Norway – Electrocompaniet's PI-2 Prelude amplifier and PC-1 Prelude CD player. With these I built a Nordic system, including isolation feet from Denmark's Valhalla Technology. The only non-Scandinavian concerns were cables (RS Audio Cables) and turntable (Marantz).



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