Issue 157 / December 2005
Carl Marchisotto's ambitious "statement" design has evolved. The drivers, from the true ribbons at the speaker's top end to the dual towers of ported 12-inch woofers, have remained constant. But the crossover workings of the main towers have been refined more than once. The result is that the integration of the multiple drivers in the main towers, already a job nicely done, has become very nearly seamless. The bÍte noire of this system, and many another with freestanding woofers, lies in the integration of the bass with the main drivers but with matching amplifiers for towers high and low, it is more easily done. At its best in its current configurations, the Grand Reference achieves that most illusive of all qualities, "continuousness." Mate this with its dynamic quickness, seamlessness, and very wide frequency response and you have what can justly be called a "great" speaker and rarest of all, the closest you may get to the fell of music in the home. The Grand Reference joins that handful of "big" speaker systems that are able to capture semblances of certain aspects of the real thing.