Is It Over When The Morel’s Fat Lady Sings?

Morel-double-fat-lady-high-res-for-print

By naming their top of the line, $32,000, speaker “Fat Lady”, Morel seems to promise that this model will be the speakers that end all speakers on the market. Can they? Currently my money-no-object favourite is TAD Reference 1 speakers running at $80,000 a pair.

From the look alone, I personally am not a fan. The company call it “Fat Lady” but there is nothing “fat” about these speakers. In fact, they are surprisingly slim (13″ x 50″ x 17″) and quite a curvaceous bit of modern sculpture, molded out of fiberglass, epoxy resin, and carbon fiber, without a single straight line in her body. It reminds me like a slimmed-down double bass.

as for componentry, each Fat Lady uses two 9″ carbon-fiber/Rohacell composite cones for the bass (with integral one-piece domes and double-magnet hybrid neodymium/ferrite motors, 3″ long-throw aluminum voice coils mounted externally, copper-insulated center pole pieces, and diecast aluminum baskets); a 6″ carbon-fiber/Rohacell composite cone for the midrange (with integral one-piece dome, hybrid neodymium/ferrite motor, 3″ long-throw aluminum voice coil mounted externally, copper-insulated center pole pieces, and a die-cast aluminum basket); and 1.1″ hand-coated soft dome for the treble (with pancake Neodymium magnet motor and aluminum voice coil). Frequency response is claimed to go from 20Hz to 22kHz and to measure an impressive +/-1.5dB from 40Hz to 18kHz (which I find to be strange as most speakers can do flat to 22 kHz with no problem). Sensitivity is rated at 88dB with a nominal impedance of 4-ohm.

Furthermore, the drivers used in the Fat Lady use a self-cancelling breakup modes to minimize distortion. Drivers with self-cancelling break-up modes are nothing new. (Focal and B&W, for example, do the same thing in their midrange drivers). The expertise reportedly comes in limiting the “bad” behavior of the diaphragm. In the case of Morel tweeters, for instance, a compound is applied at the factory directly onto the fabric dome that behaves in the same way as a shock absorber does on a car’s suspension. With the midrange (and woofer) driver, the cone’s tri-laminate construction of carbon fiber skins sandwiching a thin layer of Rohacell does this same damping trick. Thus the amplitude of the self-cancelling break-up modes can be more controlled.

HFCS03.morel

When I listened to the Fat Lady, the speakers sounds to me still like a work in progress. Although the overall imaging is almost as amazing as the TAD R1, the Fat Lady’s bass region sounded “boosted” as if the entire bass range from 160Hz down to close to 20Hz was uniformly elevated around 5dB (which my subjective hearing test was proven through my measurement using a tone generator). The boosted bass regiment was just a little distracting – but it is not forgivable at the $32,000 pricing. Instead of listening to one full-range speakers, it is more like listening to a pair of satellite speakers coupled to a pair of subwoofer whose output had been turned up too much. This will sound great for first-impression listening session at the store, akin to vivid mode on a display, but not when you know what you’re supposed to be hearing.

Oh, and don’t forget the up to -3dB drop on the higher frequencies which is audible as a slight softening and dampening of the overtones and energy of very-high-pitched instruments

As a conclusion, I’m NOT saying that the Fat Lady to be bad speakers especially because I compared them to the TAD R1 speakers that cost almost triple of the Fat Lady. However, my search for another set of speakers that can replace the TAD R1 is not over, even after the Fat Lady sings.

Morel

SPECS & PRICING

Type: Three-way, four-driver, floorstanding, ported dynamic loudspeaker
Drivers: Two 9″ carbon-fiber/Rohacell sandwich woofers; one 6″ carbon-fiber/Rohacell sandwich midrange; one 1.1″ soft dome tweeter
Frequency response: 20Hz–22kHz (40Hz–18kHz +/-1.5dB)
Crossovers: 200Hz/2.2kHz
Nominal impedance: 4 ohms
Nominal power handling: 300W (1000W peak power)
Dispersion: Within 1.5dB at 18kHz (horizontal over 60º, vertical over 20º)
Sensitivity: 88dB (2.82V/1m)
Dimensions: 13.375″ x 50″ x 17.375″
Weight: 97 lbs., each
Price: $32,000

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