Reference 3A MM deCapo-i Speaker Reviewed

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Reference 3A MM deCapo-i Speaker Reviewed

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One of my favorite Reference-3A-MM-deCapo-i-bookshelf-speaker-review-small.jpgfloor-standing speakers, regardless of price, is the Reference 3A Grand Veena. I was quite interested to see if Divergent Technologies, the parent company that directs the operations of Reference 3A, could bring the stellar performance of its most costly floor-stander to its stand-mount reference, the MM deCapo-I, which retails for $2,995 in a standard finish. 

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When I contacted Tash Goka, the president and designer of Divergent Technologies, who directs the operations of Reference 3A, he explained that the original design for the MM deCapo-i goes back 25 years and has gone through at least three generations of modifications. These modifications mainly revolve around improved parts and new materials that increase the sonic performance of this two-way stand mount. From the beginning, the design goal was to use a wide-range mid/bass driver of the highest quality that would be directly driven by the amp and use a very simple device. In the latest model, a Mundorf Supreme Silver capacitor is the tweeter's high-end pass-by. Another notable change in this generation of the MM deCapo-i is an eight-inch carbon fiber midrange/bass driver with a new mechanism. It looks like a phase plug in the middle of this driver that actually is a type of air vortex control device to smooth out the radiation pattern coming off of the cone. A new low-resonance 2.7mm textile dome tweeter is another difference from the previous generation MM deCapo-i. The pair that was shipped to me for review was clad in a very attractive red cherry matte finish.

The MM deCapo-i measures 15 inches tall by 11 inches wide and 13 inches deep. Each speaker weighs 29 pounds and has a frequency range of 42Hz to 20KHz. The stated sensitivity is 92dB, with an impedance of eight ohms. I already had a pair of Reference 3A speaker stands, so the MM deCapo-is were set up on them for the review. The placement in my room that yielded the optimum performance had the MM deCapo-is six feet apart, aimed straight ahead, with the speakers two-and-a-half feet off of the front wall to allow their rear ports to breathe.

One of the great aspects of the performance of the MM deCapo-i became clear when I was listening to Franz Liszt's "Les Preludes, Symphonic Poem No.3" (Telarc). Not only did it display a large and deep soundstage with precise layering of the individual players, but it also gave a sense of the hall ambience in which the piece was recorded. The MM deCapo-i is very transparent, which gives you a totally open view of the music.

As I was enjoying the great alto sax of Lou Donaldson in his version of "Star Dust" with a big band arrangement (Blue Note), two other virtues of the MM deCapo-i clearly were on display. First, it produced natural and accurate timbres for all the band members' instruments. Second, even on the loudest passages, this speaker easily reproduced the macro dynamics and the power of this big band music.

I always use at least one vocal to measure a speaker's ability to convey the correct timbres and little details in a singer's voice. I also want to see how well the speakers can deliver emotions and feelings that the artist is trying to convey through his or her voice. The MM deCapo-i on Nancy King's beautiful rendition of the song "There's a Small Hotel" (MaxJazz), with Fred Hersch playing the piano, not only gave all the fine details in both their performances, but it also passed on the heartrending message in a very clear fashion.

Read about the high points and low points of the MM deCapo-i on Page 2.

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