Quadral Aurum Orkan Viii (£2700)

The Aurum range arrives in the UK packed with bespoke technology

This floorstander is no larger or more extravagantly equipped than many in this area of the market, but it is notably more substantial than the norm, at 31kg, and better finished too. Moreover, for a premium, there are numerous alternative finishes.
   Twin 170mm aluminium/ titanium/magnesium coned bass units work in parallel up to a specified 330Hz crossover and are reflex loaded by a single large rearfiring port. The distinctive slats we saw in the Titan VII are echoed in an array of vertical rubber cords that adorn the cut-out through which the recessed bass units radiate – in fact these appear to be part of the reflex/pressure chamber bass loading principle.
   Above these on the front baffle a third 170mm AlTiMg coned driver operates from 330Hz to 2.7kHz, where it crosses over to a ‘ribbon’ tweeter – actually an isodynamic type with a flat voice coil etched on to its plastic diaphragm and a quartet of neodymium bar magnets.
   At the back of the cabinet two pairs of input terminals access the split crossover, the lower terminals addressing the twin bass drivers and the upper terminals the midrange unit and tweeter. Short linking wires are provided to combine these for single-wire connection.
   Like the Titan, the Orkan VIII flies in the face of normal practice by not providing floor spikes, or inserts into which spikes could be screwed.

In many respects the Orkan VIII delivers a performance concomitant with its classy appearance. It is tonally neutral, has tuneful, wellcontrolled bass and thanks to its leaf tweeter an unusually clean and clear treble. It really is a cut above that delivered by the average dome tweeter, metal dome or otherwise.
   The Orkan VIII was notably good, for instance, at conveying and distinguishing the many different percussion instruments used in Henze’s Prison Song, ripped from Percussion XX [Arts 47558-6]. But it was noticeable from its first bars that the Orkan VIII projects a somewhat narrower stereo image than we are used to.
   Chesky’s natural, spacious recording of Christy Baron’s stylish take on ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ highlighted the Orkan VIII’s tuneful bass, which seems to have been aligned with more concern for clean transient performance than maximum extension. This was confirmed by the challenging ‘Annie’s Yellow Bag’ from Gwyneth Herbert’s All The Ghosts [naimcd135], whose opening combination of bass and drums was well handled. Yet there was a sense that the pace and pizzazz of this piece were somewhat suppressed, so that it lacked the sheer energy it can and should exude. There’s a some lack of drama reserve, an ‘introversion’ if you like, to its music-making that may appeal to some listeners but will leave others feeling a little distanced from the action.

Impressively built and finished for the price, the Orkan VIII also boasts an unusually neutral tonal balance, notably clean treble and tuneful bass. All that’s lacking is the touch of magic necessary to turn these fine ingredients into a fully satisfying dish – a pinch of vitality to make the music live and breathe.

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Originally published in the Yearbook 2011