One of my friends who lives on the East Coast shared that he had heard a wonderful-sounding speaker called the 001-AB that was manufactured by a company called Bache Audio, located in Brooklyn, New York. The 001-AB is Bache Audio's reference floorstander and most expensive model, retailing for around $10,000/pair. He also mentioned that the owner/designer of Bache Audio, Gregory Belman, had just come out with a smaller model called the Metro-001, which retails for $5,200/pair. Mr. Belman designed the Metro-001 for individuals who have smaller listening spaces and want a full-range floorstanding speaker with a relatively small footprint.
The pair of Metro-001s that was sent to me for review had a beautiful silver-metallic automotive paint job that reminded me of the type of finish you would find on a pair of Wilson Audio speakers. Each speaker has a black mesh speaker grille that is held in place by embedded magnets. The Metro-001 weighs 50 pounds and measures 40 inches high by 11 inches wide by 11 inches deep, and it is based on a three-way bass-reflex design. The port is located on the lower portion of the front baffle so that the Metro-001 can be placed closer to the front wall without losing lower-frequency accuracy and impact.
On the upper section of the front baffle is where its unique drivers are situated in a staggered array. The tweeter is a one-inch AMT (Air Motion Transformer) submerged into the cabinet to diminish any negative reflections that could take place on the baffle's surface. The midrange driver is a four-inch, wide-range (400 to 1,000 Hz) driver composed of bamboo; the wide range eliminates the need for a crossover point in this very critical frequency range. These speakers' crossover uses highly respected MUNDORF capacitors. Finally, Bache Audio developed its own proprietary eight-inch driver to ensure that the Metro-001 would have the ability to reproduce clear and articulate bass, with a rated frequency range of 35 Hz to 27 kHz. Its sensitivity is 89 dB with an impedance of eight ohms.
Behind each speaker is one pair of high-quality speaker-wire terminals and is shipped with a type of rubber footer instead of floor spikes. When I tried using very high-quality spikes instead of the soft footers, there were no positive results in the sonic performance of the speaker. Actually, it somewhat hardened up the overall sound, taking away some of the natural warmth and sweetness of its high-end performance.
Overall, the Metro-001 is an innovative design, with its AMT driver, its lack of a crossover point in the critical midrange region, and its bass driver that can produce very accurate yet deep bass for its size. The build quality is excellent--what you would expect from a much more expensive speaker. It is a small and attractive floorstander that will suit most listeners' acoustic space and décor.
My first listening selection was the classic Miles Davis album Relaxin (DCC Jazz), which would show me what the Metro-001 could do in rendering the timbres and colors of brass instruments. The tone and color of both Miles Davis' trumpet and John Coltrane's tenor sax were quite accurate, and the speaker captured each man's unique timbres on his horn. The overall perspective of the Metro-001 was slightly warm and neutral with a silky-smooth presentation--but not at the expense of speed or resolution to deliver all the little details in the music.
My next listening selection was guitarist Jim Hall's album Concierto (CTI), which is a small-group recording that can show a speaker's ability to create a realistic, natural soundstage in both height and depth, along with its ability to accurately place the location of each player. The Metro-001 performed like a small stand-mount speaker in that it completely disappeared but developed a magical illusion of space with distance and air between Hall and his band members.
Finally, I wanted to test the claim of Bache Audio that the Metro-001 could produce deep, powerful and articulate bass with dynamic types of music. I put Stevie Ray Vaughan's album Couldn't Stand the Weather (Epic) in my MBL reference transport, and I cranked the volume, which lead to almost an hour-long listening session that brought back memories of when I heard him play live years ago. The Metro-001 allowed the kick and dynamics of Vaughan's guitar to explode into the room, while the organ's lower register and electric bass came through with great grip, impact, and definition.
• The Metro-001 uses very special drivers, has no crossover points in the critical midrange region, and has the size and appearance to fit into virtually any listener's home theater or listening room.
• It is easy to drive and presents music with a silky-smooth/warm perspective, but it is still very dynamic, with excellent micro-details and a sweet, detailed top end.
• Because it can produce excellent deep, accurate, and forceful bass extension along with its small footprint, this speaker would be excellent in a home theater system without having to add a subwoofer.
• It produces a soundstage like a reference two-way stand-mount monitor, yet it packs a bottom-end wallop that cannot be replicated with small two-way speakers.
• The Metro-001 is a very easy to drive, so an AV receiver could drive it to high volume levels. However, the level of transparency and resolution that the Metro-001 offers could expose any shortcomings in your upstream electronics.
Comparison and Competition
Two competitors that have a similar price as the Metro-001 are the Nola Contender, retailing for $3,600/pair, and the Wharfedale Jade 7, retailing for $4,199/pair. Compared with the Nola Contender, the Metro-001 has way more bass extension and impact, along with the ability to disappear in a more realistic soundstage. The Wharfedale Jade 7 comes close to the Metro-001's bass extension and excellent transparency, which allows micro-details to be easily heard; however, the Wharfedale Jade 7 lacks the richer timbres/tonality and the extended detailed sweet high end of the Bache Audio speaker.
Bache Audio's Metro-001 speaker has the rare combination of superior imaging, more like a reference-level two-way monitor, and the ability to produce the overall dynamics and bass slam of a large floorstanding speaker. With the Metro-001, Gregory Belman joins the ranks of other very talented speaker designers producing innovative and wonderfully musical speakers on today's market. It is tuned to have a very slight, natural warmth/fullness, with the AMT tweeter providing a detailed yet sweet/natural top end that actually allows bad recordings to sound better; however, it does not get in the way of excellent recordings because it still has great clarity/transparency, which allows all the details in the music to be heard. It's extremely well built, has a small physical footprint, and acoustically does very well in smaller rooms.