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Reference 3A speakers

Discussion in 'audio' started by magentawhale, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. magentawhale

    magentawhale can't carry a tuna

    Having read some nice things about Reference 3A speakers, I could be tempted to try a secondhand pair of MMC's in my current set up. Has anyone compared these to the speakers that show up more often on these pages, like Royd, ATC and the likes? I am especially interested in how the Reference 3A do PRAT.

  2. paskinn

    paskinn pfm Member

    Would you like them to play music as well?
  3. Joe P

    Joe P certified Buffologist / mod


    Reference 3A are snappy speakers, but if your reference points and preferences are speakers such as Naim IBLs or original Kans you probably would find 3As a bit lacking in PRaT.

  4. Kt77

    Kt77 pfm Member

    I've only owned their little brother called the Dulcets - but seeming that I've also owned several pairs of Linn Kans - ProAc Tablette ( mk2 - 50 Signatures - Reference 8 Signatures ) and Response One SCs - Totem Acoustics Model One ( original version ) and their Mites.

    Along with quite a few other Mini-Monitors that offered a greater sense of no only PRAT - but integration as well. Said Reference 3A I'd have to say is a line that's more voiced to those whom prefer a more " round earth " presentation - they're about sound staging - imagining into ones room where so other designs sound merely like toys at best - they're about disappearing in a manner to which in a darken room - might literally scarce the s_ _ t out of you, as their sound is more about that space and time thing.

    This remains to this day - one of the only ones I regret letting get away - more in reality they're more about connecting the listener to the unlined messages within the musical notes themselves and away from the likes of said notions of the 70s/80s mindset.

    Either way you see it - one is about HiFi effect - while the other approach is about the purity of music for the sake of advancement?. Either you want honesty?, or said side effects?.

    In other word - trade offs.

    o_O scar
    samz likes this.
  5. magentawhale

    magentawhale can't carry a tuna

    Yes, that would be a welcome bonus.

    Thanks for the response so far. o_O scar: your description of the character of the Reference 3A's as presenting music in a more round earth kind of way is how I'd imagine they would be judging by the reviews.

    I guess I am looking for speakers that combine the best of both worlds (or should that be earths in this context?), without too much compromise either way. I have heard some, sadly discontinued, speakers that come very close to what I am looking for, and have rather high hopes with the Reference 3A's.
    I guess I'll give them a try.

  6. James Evans

    James Evans Bedroom Bodger

    Very happy with my Dulcets, which present music just as Oscar remembers. Would like to hear the speakers higher up the range. They can do that thing where you hear a noise and head out of the room to investigate where in the house it came from, only to realise it came out of the speakers.
  7. magentawhale

    magentawhale can't carry a tuna

    I would be interested to hear the Dulcet as well - unfortunately, these don't show up frequently on the secondhand market over here in The Netherlands. I have seen them advertised in Canada and the U.S. for not too much, but I'm afraid shipping costs will be rather high. Imho, The Dulcet is the most aesthetically pleasing monitor Reference 3A has made, yet.
  8. James Evans

    James Evans Bedroom Bodger

    Audiolincs and Ardhowenhifi in UK both have ex dem pairs of dulcets. Might be cheaper than shipping from the US. Hard to demo though.
  9. tenpercenter

    tenpercenter Don't ya rile 'em.....

    I had a pair of Dulcet's paired with a Consanance 2A3 valve amp for about 6 months - lovely combination bought from Audiolincs. Musical sounding with an exceptional mid-band but low powered and it did not suit my occasional need for high SPL blasts of rock music.

    The Ref 3A Dulcets are lovely but if your music taste is geared more towards rock and higher listening levels they may not be for you.

    Jim at Audiolincs is a nice guy to deal with, btw.
  10. Kt77

    Kt77 pfm Member


    You're more then welcome.

    As I see/hear it - the Dulcets are one of those little Mini-Monitors that can produce a beautiful manner of listening more into the actual recording venture more them some. What sold me on them was after emailing Chris Thomas " Standmount " of then Hi-Fi + back in 2004, and asking him about said Dulcets as I recalled he claimed they were his favorite Mini - Minis and liked them more so then the ProAc Tablette Reference 8 Signatures to which I had at the time - so it goes without saying I searched for a used pair which popped up on AudioGon for $850 so I purchased them.

    Unfortunately this was one of those times in my life where I had not settled upon which direction in amps to pursue - so never had the chance to hear them with the type of amp that I'm very content with these days using EL84s. Which to my mind would've clicked with those speakers - as it has a certain how would one put it " completeness " about it - that has caused me to rethink my passion towards EL34 based amps, as I now know them to offer a more rose tinted presentation - whereas EL84s are more geared/voiced towards truth.

    As mentioned - I loved/adored them, but at the time merely didn't know how to appreciate them, yet if it were able to get another pair of them tomorrow?, I'd in a heartbeat - as I'd happily live with them along side my DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 3s and merely rotate between the two for the rest of my days.

    As, a matter of fact - in the upcoming months, I'd do just that - and purchase another pair - I mean even new here in the states at $1.850/pr in that wonderful piano black finish is more then worth it considering ones options.

    Not many I might add - when it comes to ones that might actually offer something similar to having some sort of bass foundation below say 50Hz vs the standard 75-70Hz in ones from the likes of Stirling Broadcast - Harbeth - Spendor or Rogers LS 3/5As ( simply wonderful on vocals and simple acoustic based music - but on more complex music - no way in hell. I can live with them ) said Ducets then have very very few to compete with.

    Good luck on your Quest. And do keep me posted on where you end up?.

    o_O scar
  11. anubisgrau

    anubisgrau pfm Member

    the closest UK speakers to them are proacs, except they are (IMHO) more neutral and less fuzzy than proacs. very very musical and involving and much better than any ATC or naim at the price point.
    da capo is for me possible the best simple 2-way speaker money can buy. i love response 1SC too but for me da capo is better due to lack of crossover on the main driver. great with any tube or SS class A amp.
  12. paskinn

    paskinn pfm Member

    I think the sound of the 3a is directly derived from the philosophy behind the design..which is maximum simplicity. The 'crossover' between the two drivers has just a capacitor in the circuit (if memory serves me right) and so most of the work of blending the two drivers has to be done mechanically. You could see this as an elaboration of the purist single-driver approach used by Lowther, but with a greater frequency range. The advantage is a sense of life and detail, drive and scale. The disadvantage is a less smooth frequency range (because of the lack of crossover). As with designs of this type, efficiency is high and the impedance curve valve-friendly. But high efficiency in a small speaker also means poor bass output. That's physics for you.
    I don't think it sounds a great deal like traditional croosover-type speakers, it is livelier and more direct. But the unevenness distracts some listeners, as does the bass issue.
    In that sense it is a bit of a 'marmite' speaker which you might really like or really dislike. An audition is mandatory.
  13. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    The 3a speakers are the notional progeny of Robin Marshal's ES14's, no crossover, full range signal to mid drive, capacitor protected tweeter with all rolloffs achieved mechanically and electrically via the coil/magnet/mass design on the mid driver.

    The Grand Veena on the end of Paul's MSB Class A monsters at Heathrow a few years back is one of the best sounds I've ever heard.
  14. anubisgrau

    anubisgrau pfm Member

    actually, for a crossover-less speaker they are one of the most neutral and even you can find. the driver is less prone to wild cone breakups than any of stiff light paper variables (lowther, fostex) - their cones are made of some hi-tech material, carbon or whatever
  15. magentawhale

    magentawhale can't carry a tuna

    Thanks once more for all the information provided - much appreciated.
    I'll definitely try the Dulcet, or perhaps some of the earlier monitors made by Reference 3A in the future. In the meantime, I've found a pair of Reference 3A La Veritas which I'm going to collect soon.

    This certainly seems to be used in the La Veritas woofer unit, which has some kind of woven structure. I believe the Reference 3A MMC and other models had this woofer also.

    Does anyone know this specific Reference 3A model? I'll try to write some impressions after I'ver hooked them up. Btw, my other gear is mostly Sonneteer (Alabaster and Byron) with NVA SoundPipe interconnects and DNM SolidCore speaker cable.
  16. James Evans

    James Evans Bedroom Bodger

    Be very interested to hear how they gel with the Sonneteer. They're top of my list to try with the Dulcets.
  17. Kt77

    Kt77 pfm Member

    I've also love to hear how they'd sound with the Sonneteer Alabaster - as I once owned its little brother the Campion for almost 2 1/2 year before moving back to tubes and have decided this is where my heart says I belong.

    Not much out there on the La Veritas model - but it seems that Reference 3A offers BE tweeters in the new line up:

    Once again - the times are a changing indeed.
  18. magentawhale

    magentawhale can't carry a tuna

    Well, the 3A La Veritas have been hooked up about two weeks ago. First impressions are very good, especially concerning soundstaging, imaging and detail. Very clear highs, without becoming harsh or tiring, beautiful midrange. The only thing I am not sure about is the way they handle bass at this moment: it is somewhat ill-defined, and, despite the fact that these are the largest speakers I've had in my listening room, less apparent and powerful than with my Minstrels, for example. I'll experiment with some other cabling the next few weeks, and write a follow-up later.
  19. Kt77

    Kt77 pfm Member

    Hi magentawhale,

    It's great to see/read your follow-up. As for cables that worked extremely nice when I owned the Sonneteer Campion were either Crimson RM Music-Link and NVA L5 Speaker Cables - as both offered a more define - pronounced lower end that put many a more costly cables I was auditioning at the time to shame.

    In the end it merely comes down to synergy as well as voicing ones system to suit their taste/ears/room - and in some cases it's about finding the greatest compromise to suit ones space - in other words play around with their positioning as well - as front to back location to the wall is vital - as is the amount of toe in used with said speakers.

    When I had the Dulcets - I had them positioned 11' apart with their rear at 8" from the back wall and about 11" from the sidewalks located on the shortwall and crossed over at 3' in front of the listening position firing at either end of the sofa with with sound staging to die for as well as proper balance at every layering of the notes themselves.

    It'll come together - but you can't compare it to the speakers you once owned - as it should be viewed/appreciated on its own merits.

    o_O scar

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