With the divine blessings of Lord Ganesha, the obstacle remover & master of intellect, I embark to write about my listening experience of Rethm’s latest flagship speakers, the Saadhana’s, which I was fortunate to hear at my friend Prem’s home last evening. The current iteration of the Rethm Saadhana’s have been on my 'to hear' wish list for quite some time and so was quite excited to finally manage to get a listening session lined up. A session that lasted for close to 4 odd hours, which seemed to fly by ever so quickly that I just wished we could slow it down. The speakers prior to the listening session had about 25 hours logged in on them so relatively still a long way for them to go to perform to their optimum (50+ hours for the wide band driver & about 200+ hours for the bass units, am informed by Prem) Having said that, one usually gets a fair idea of how the speakers would sound eventually if one has some experience of listening to a variety of speakers. So the initial impressions of the Rethm Saadhana’s look really promising & am eagerly looking forward to subsequent listening sessions as the break - in hours go by.
Prem’s set-up consists of:
Speakers: Rethm Saadhana’s Source: EMT 938 with TSD15 Cart & built in phonostage Amp: Custom 2A3 Power Amp with Dave Slagle Autoformer Volume Control Module separately encased Cabling: ASI Liveline Ref Cabling & Power Cords
Appearance: 1 word, Fantastic! That it delivers aesthetically is an understatement. Beautifully made, with a gorgeous metallic candy flake bronze colour alongside with eucalyptus veneer that just sets it apart real well, with a silver sash veneer placed between the paint & eucalyptus veneer. One just keeps looking at this combination as it sure is a treat to your eyes. One also gets the impression of how well the designer Jacob George has used his years of experience & his designer background to assimilate form & function. We should be very proud of Jacob’s efforts and kudos for his workmanship. Jacob has also paid attention to making things easy for the end user to level the speakers, as Prem explained it took him about 5 minutes to be done with adjusting the level without breaking into a sweat. This shows that Jacob has paid attention to all the finer details as well, which is always a bonus & sometimes overlooked by most of us. Rethm’s website shows 6 finishes available, but maybe one can get a custom finish made to order at an extra cost I suppose. The lower end of the Saadhana’s have the Rethm Logo back lit which really looks nice, but I wish they also had the word Saadhana below it back lit as well, as it does look a bit odd, not getting back lit. Ideally the Rethm Logo engraved in the upper portion on both sides of the Cabinet should have been back lit, but its quite possible Jacob might have tried & it may have interfered with something due to which he did not do so. Hope to hear from him with regard to this query of mine. A brushed aluminium frame sandwiched between the bottom & upper part of the cabinet holds the 4 footers on each corner, which are remarkably easy to adjust with the allen key provided by Rethm. Each cabinet of the Rethm Saadhana’s have a custom made 7” Wide band paper cone driver located right at the top portion of the cabinet & three custom made 6.5” paper cone woofers enclosed in an isobaric chamber located in the bottom portion of the speaker, which are actively powered by their own amplification of 210W. The custom made wide band & woofer drive units are made by Milind Patel of Hermit Audio, with extensive design inputs from Jacob George.
Listening Impressions: First thing that hits you is the laid back sound projected, which whilst being musical is also dynamic and detailed. Something which I am sure is quite difficult to achieve. The meat of the frequency range is presented by the wide band drivers, which are deceptively agile and induce a wide soundstage effortlessly. Having the flexibility of going lower(around 55hz) has the advantage of the bass integration taking place with the active bass units pretty much seamlessly, which is a big plus point. This point was proved when I requested Prem to switch off the bass units for a short period of time so that we could hear what the wideband drivers could do by themselves. Admirable efforts of Jacob’s Vision & Milind’s Execution is highlighted in these wide band drivers. Wow factor is high, no doubt about it. If I have to seriously nit-pick something about them, then its this: Finish of the surround & paper cone bonding is a little sore to look at especially when one keeps the overall beautiful looks of the whole speaker in mind. We heard a variety of music over the course of time which consisted of a lot of Hindi & English Music from the ‘70s/’80s/’90s. I have always felt that getting female vocals right is pretty much the easy thing to achieve by wide banders, but invariably the male vocals lose or gain something due to which the vocals sound coloured & unrealistic. Thankfully, the Rethm Saadhana’s cover both male & female vocals quite realistically atleast in my humble opinion & that is a huge positive for me. I also found the instrumentation to be well spaced apart and given breathing space which results in some finer aspects of an instruments nuances to be heard. Depth & width are conveyed when the situation demands & if present in the recording itself. A balance of the frequency range is maintained, though one also has the option of tweaking with the cross over points to provide a preference as per ones taste or liking. Having this option along with the bass volume level adjustment is a bonus as one can tweak to his/her hearts content & achieve results, keeping the size of the room in mind. This is important as many a time, people tend to forget that the room is always a partner in crime which 1 cannot ignore ever. Overall, when one starts tapping ones feet even when one is hearing unfamiliar music, that is always a sign of how good the level of a set-up is playing, as ultimately ones foremost aim is always to enjoy music, nothing else matters! I am glad that I was part of this listening session & hope to be present during ones in future as I would like to experience the different levels that the Rethm Saadhana’s would progress towards as the hours go by. The domestic retail price of the Rethm Saadhana's is Rs.5.5L + taxes/ whilst international pricing is US$ 16500/- Thanks Prem for being a wonderful host as always. I have already made mental notes of what music to play next time!