After reading the very favorable reviews of Napa Acoustic's MT-34 Integrated Tube Amplifier and NA-208c CD Player by Home Theater Review managing editor Andrew Robinson, I became aware of this company's existence for the first time. When I went to its website, I saw that it also imports a speaker brand called Mistral. When I contacted Joseph Kwong, the owner/designer of Napa Acoustic, he recommended that I review the reference Bow-A2 floor-standing model, which retails for $2,299 per pair. By reading Andrew's two reviews of the Napa Acoustic pieces, I was expecting a tremendous bang for the buck ratio. As you will see, the Bow-A2 speaker turned out to be one of the greatest surprises I have had in my reviewing experience since I became a member of the staff here at HomeTheaterRerview.com.
� The Bow-A2 is a visually striking speaker, clad in a very attractive real wood veneer. Because its front baffle is narrow, it appears smaller than it really is and would easily fit into any home theater system.
� The Bow-A2 offers a build quality way above its price range. It seamlessly blends five drivers into one unified voice.
� The Bow-A2 offers bass extension down into the 30Hz range that is both powerful and tuneful. Consider a subwoofer optional for music lovers.
� The Bow-A2 has a reference-level performance in its tonality, sound-staging abilities and micro-dynamics, which will make it a music lover's delight. It will also do justice in the areas of dB levels and give total clarity to a movie's dialogue in a home theater system.
� The Bow-A2 is an easy speaker to drive. It has a very natural and relaxed overall tonality, so it will sound quite good without high-level electronics to drive it. However, it still can show up weaknesses in your source components or electronics.
� To get the best performance out of the Bow-A2s, you have to place them a little further into the room from the front wall, because the back-mounted ports need more room to function than do the front-ported speakers.
Competition and Comparison
Speakers that are competitors in the Bow-A2's price bracket of around $2,500 are the GoldenEar Triton Two, valued at $2,500 per pair, and the Dynaudio Excite X32, valued at $2,800 per pair. Both these speakers offer a high level of musical performance. However, in the areas of tonality, timbres, sound-staging, and micro-dynamics, I find the Bow-A2 to be at a much higher level of performance than either speaker. To my surprise, although the GoldenEar Triton Two has a built-in subwoofer, the Bow-A2's low-end extension was comparable, if not better, in this area. For more information on these and other floor-standing loudspeakers, please visit Home Theater Review's Floorstanding Speaker page.�
As I stated at the beginning of this review, based on Andrew's experience with other Napa Acoustic gear, I expected the Bow-A2 to be a remarkable speaker for what it costs. On the other hand, I was amazed at the level of refinement it had to offer. In my opinion, the Bow-A2 is nearly state-of-the-art in the areas of timbres, dynamics, sound-staging and micro-details. Yet astoundingly, it never sounds overly analytical and does not lose the emotional content of the music. The Reference 3A Grand Veena is one of my all-time favorite speakers, regardless of price. I'm not saying that the Bow-A2 is exactly at the Grand Veena's superb level of performance. However, I can honestly say that it is close enough that I have nicknamed the Bow-A2 the "baby" Grand Veena.�
I was so delighted by this speaker's beautiful, effortless musical performance that I decided to purchase the review pair and build another system around them. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a relatively inexpensive floor-standing speaker that offers beautiful looks and near-reference-level sonic performance. I strongly encourage you to audition the Bow-A2.