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Musical Maestro's - Precide Heil AMT Aulos Bookshelf Speakers

  • Written by Denom
  • Category: Speakers
  • Hits: 1793

Few book shelves have the capability to keep one engrossed in the music than the Heil AMT Aulos. An unassuming to look at speaker with the famed AMT doing duties in place of a run of the mill dome tweeter.  AMT was invented by Oskar Heil, an eminent physicist who has had a major hand in developing a magnetron and also conceiving the idea of field effect transistors back in 1970s. It was while working on these super technologies, that Oskar Heil came across this phenomenon of AMT, which later developed into a tweeter technology that is radically different from moving coil, magnetic, ribbon or even electrostatic. AMT uses a folded sheet made out of polyester that is structured around an arrangement of aluminium bars that are placed in high intensity magnetic field.

The objectibity of a tweeter is that it should be extremely light and, at the same time, very strong. The AMT is observed to have both of these desired qualities to the maximum possible extent and hence Heil claims it to be the best tweeter technology. Equal attention has been devoted to the mids and bass requirements of the speaker, to complete the whole frequency spectrum. The midbass drive unit is 6.3 inches and the cone made of composite material.

Appearance: The Cabinets appear to be well made using quality wooden materials. The unit on demo had none of the branding of Heil AMT, which was quite surprising to say the least. The speakers had 2 sets of speaker wire binding posts, so that they can be bi-wired. The walnut finish that we had on demo were quite sober and pleasing to look at. Do they look like expensive speakers, not really to be honest!

Absolute Sound, the distributor for these speakers were kind enough to send a very well made pair of speaker stands to do justice to the speakers. The stands were made by their sister concern called "Emotion & Kraft"

Performance: We had the Aulos for a very short period of time but we tried to hear them with a couple of electronics pairings in order to get a fair idea of what they are all about.

Electronics Paired:

BelCanto DAC2.7 BelCanto REFLink USB Converter

BelCanto REF600M - MonoBlock Amplifiers

Accustic Arts Power ES Integrated Amplifier

Accustic Arts Player ES CD Player

Naim Nait 5Si

Naim Nait CD5Si


Transparent Audio XL 110Ohm AES/EBU Digital Cable

Transparent Audio Reference MM@ & Reference Power Cords

Transparent Audio Ultra Speaker Cables

VDH - The Source Interconnects

Audio Quest Type - 4 Speaker Cables

AMT Aulos Bookshelf are one of those compact speakers, which can make you sit up at the first play itself. The trait that hits one head on is how can such relatively compact book shelf speaker have so much to offer? The highs thanks to the AMT are spectacular in extension, feel and quality. A faster, more precise and powerful bass is never easy to go with such unique tweeters and certainly not for compact speakers. That the Mid bass driver is able to keep up with the AMT to ensure seamless transition is a wonder in itself. Mids and lows are well defined, articulate and give one a very satisfying experience across the frequency range. Play any type of music, the Aulos just shine and delight in reproducing it in a very special way. The speakers are rather unfussy to a very large extent in setting up as well, with just a hint of a toe-in to give you the kind of soundstage that bigger speakers sometimes cannot do justice to. Our preference was pairing them with the Accustic Arts Electronics as they just made the music sound sublime. The Heil Aulos stretch the laws of physics to their limits - Chapeau Time!

Verdict:  A small speaker with the character of a big one. The midrange and treble this speaker has special qualities, beautiful sound timbre with transparency, good sound staging and an equally good depth.The bass is powerful and precise. At a price point of 2.75Lacs, they are pricey and certainly more options in this price range do become more attractive keeping their rather DIY type of finish and appearance in mind, but we urge the audience to definitely give them a listen as they deserve that at the very least.

Heil Precide Heil

Rethm Audio Saadhana Speakers – A New Journey Has Begun!

  • Written by Denom
  • Category: Speakers
  • Hits: 1415

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!

Amphion Helium 410 – The True Pretender!

  • Written by Denom
  • Category: Speakers
  • Hits: 1301

I have been playing with the Amphion Helium 410 for close to a year now, listening to them & watching the reactions of utter disbelievement of various listeners. I have placed them in small, medium, large rooms, paired them with various sources/amps/cables/stands/tables/bookshelves & what not. Each time, this speaker has managed to surprise me with it’s don’t give a damn to the surroundings/associated gears/placements. Give it a small room, it performs, a mid size room, it performs, a big room, it performs. A true David this speaker is. It kicked speakers costing 2 or 3 times over them pretty easily delivering the proverbial ‘hard in the nuts’ to each of its rivals with utter disdain.

Unboxing: The Amphion Helium 410’s came packed in a cardboard box with sufficient thermocol to protect them. One of the most simple packings used which made unpacking easy & fuss free. Simplicity at its best. Designed for maybe 2-3 times reuse at the most. Packing Quality: 4 Stars

Sources: Naim CD5XS

Philips DVD P

Marantz CD6004

Marantz CD6005

Marantz SA8005

Marantz SA8003

Amps: Naim Nait 5i

Krell 300i

Emotiva XPA-1 Mono Blocks

Technics Pre-Power SE/SU/SH – C01

Harman Kardon HK6550


Marantz PM6004

Marantz PM6005

Marantz PM8005

Arcam Diva A65

Cambridge Audio Minx Xi

Audiocontrol Rialto 400

Onkyo A-9050

Appearance: With the Helium 410, everything has been kept simple yet effective. The Helium 410 makes use of a one-inch titanium tweeter and a 4.5-inch paper mid bass driver. This mid-bass driver is made of paper which is meant to be rigid yet light in weight. The 1” titanium dome tweeter neatly sits behind protective grilles that play no part what so ever in the overall tonality of the Helium 410. Another visually striking part about the bookshelf speaker is that the conical design of the tweeter’s waveguide and the mid-bass driver are identical in their diameters, which gives of the impression that it is just another driver. The waveguide employed by the designer ensures a wide reach of the high-frequencies. Thus, the sweet spot is not confined to a smaller concentrated area, and instead it is spread over a wider spot. The 2-way bookshelf speakers have a rear firing port that is aimed at helping the bookshelf speakers deliver a tight low-end. Aesthetically, the 410 is a break from the wood-finished boxes that are usually found from the competition. The fit and finish is also excellent and it feels extremely solid with a sturdy, non-resonant cabinet. The pair on long term loaner has been a Nextel grey finish one, which look quite sober & eats up dust quite effectively. However that’s not to say that they won’t show dust after a while.

Technical Specifications (From Amphion Website)

Operating principle: 2-way, vented Tweeter: 1" titanium Mid / woofer: 4,5" paper Crossover point: 1600 Hz Impedance: 8 ohm Sensitivity: 86 dB Frequency response: 60 - 20 000 Hz +/-3dB Power recommendation: 20 - 80 W Measurements (h x w x d): 259 x 132 x 220 mm Weight: 3,5 Kg

Performance: Except for the NAD356 Amp, these speakers gelled with each of the rest effortlessly, with the best synergy being with the beastly Krell Amp. The 410’s image really well, putting out a rather huge soundstage which makes you wonder how it’s possible with that diminutive size of theirs. They are fast, very fast & just go RATATAT in a flash. Play any genre of music and they give one an instant sense of gratification. Adding a sub completes the LF response but by & large the Helium 410’s can give you sufficient bass in smaller rooms. The 410 has excellent clarity with voices and instruments, which make even very complex pieces simple to follow. This also makes it a satisfying performer at lower listening levels. Many a time, I’ve been listening to music late into the night at volumes much much lower than what I would with other speakers, making you sit up & look at them & appreciate them even more. These speakers have the ability to disappear pretty much effortlessly when placed correctly. Oh & did I mention about the Scary imaging?

Verdict: The Helium series is the entry-level offering in the Amphion range and the 410 is the smallest speaker in the Helium series. Four words to describe these speakers: Imaging/Timing/Dynamics/Tonality. That Amphion invites you to listen to a speaker with the volume lowered, might not be the most obvious way of selling it to a wider audience. However, there is a reason for this unusual approach. The Helium 410 is designed to offer excellent imaging and clarity even at very low volumes. There is no escaping the fact that at their price, one can buy any number of significantly larger speakers than the 410, but very few we have seen recently are as well built. Whether you value this over the larger size (and as a result, deeper bass) that other designs will offer will depend on listening room size and preferences. In terms of placement, the 410 is simplicity itself. We obtained best results on dedicated stands set about half a foot away from the rear wall. Using the Helium on shelves and tabletops still gave strong results and truly are one of the most unfussy speaker’s we’ve ever encountered. In terms of nearfield listening in computer or desktop systems, the 410 is extremely flexible and coupled with its small size makes it an excellent choice in this role. The 86dB/w sensitivity is a little low, but an amplifier of reasonable power ought to have no trouble with it. This is one heck of a smartly designed speaker. Kudos to the designer’ abilities to get so much out of such a small box, truly outstanding & Chapeau time!

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