I remember hearing the first Davone speaker, the Rithm, at a hi-fi show in 2008. The small, 31-inch tall floor standing speaker looked and sounded like nothing else. I've heard hundreds of speakers since then, but the Rithm stands out from the pack.
The Davone models that followed -- the Ray, the Mojo, and now the Grande -- are all unique, and they're all bona fide audiophile masterpieces. The company steers clear of boring, flat-sided boxes. With Davone, it's all about the curves.
So when the Grande arrived at Davone's New York City dealer, In Living Stereo, I just had to check it out. The Grande is a somewhat more conventional looking design, but only relative to other Davone speakers.
I started listening to the Grandes with Pink Floyd's "Obscured By Clouds" LP, and the first thing I noticed was how much bass these relatively small speakers can generate. The soundstage was gigantic, and as I listened I couldn't stop thinking that Thom Yorke of Radiohead must be into pre-"Dark Side of the Moon" 'Floyd. The first two tracks of this LP have a strong Radiohead flavor, but "Obscured" was recorded in 1972!
I next played jazz pianist Bill Evans' live album, "Waltz for Debbie," which I've listened to on countless systems. With my eyes closed, the Grandes all but disappeared. The piano, bass, drums, and the atmosphere of the club materialized in the store's sound room. I could hear the three players working off each other's moves, just as I would at a real jazz concert.
The Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed" LP elevated the energy level, and I listened louder than I normally would, but the Grandes seemed to encourage that sort of intensity. Again, I know this record really well, but the Grandes' scale was indeed grand; instruments appeared life-size, both on the album's acoustic and electric cuts.
As high-end speakers go, the Grande isn't all that big -- it's just under 3 feet tall and weighs 105 pounds. It will sound fine in average-size living rooms; I like that you don't need a huge room to unlock its full potential. The complex cabinet panels are constructed from 16 layers of curved beech wood veneered in walnut, and the central part of the front baffle is covered in real leather. The speaker is hand-crafted in Denmark, and has a 10-inch aluminum woofer, a 6.5-inch Egyptian Papyrus midrange driver, and a 1-inch dome tweeter.
The Grandes' U.S. retail price is $21,780 per pair. That's expensive, but on the low end for exotic high-end speakers.