Incredible Near Field Monitor Speakers
The Bonsai AL05 Speaker From Air Tight, $2500 Per Pair
A lot of us listen to music in small to medium sized rooms. Even if you have a big rig in a big room, many of us have a second system in a den or office so we can enjoy music without taking over the house. Truth is, many audiophiles spend more time in the near field than they do playing the heavy artillery.
By nature of the design brief of this system, it’s totally different from what the big guns need.
Invariably it doesn’t have to play real loud. It doesn’t need hoards of power. It usually just needs to deal with streaming, and MAYBE the ability to play silver or black discs. By these criterion, the speakers are by far the most important product of the system.
We’ve had terrific success with the Quad S1 ($800pr) and S2 ($1000pr) in this application. Hitch one of these boys up with a sweet NAD integrated, perhaps C328 ($550, 50×2) and you’ve got the start to a small, killer system. Toss on Bluesound Node 2 ($500) for streaming, Emo ERC-3 ($600) CD player for silver discs and Rega P1 with Orto Red ($575) for black discs. This yields very impressive performance for reasonable money.
The name of the game in this system is QUALITY and not QUANTITY. We’ve had a few customers say, ya know, I would really like THE VERY BEST RESOLUTION in this room. I’m willing to go more money. But I can’t go BIGGER and I don’t need louder.
With this in mind… and recognizing that big bass and volume aren’t important, we’ve been hunting for a way to unlock precision and musical intimacy that goes beyond what $1k speakers can provide. How far do you have to go to SHATTER the glass ceiling? The answer is $2500 per pair.
Now, there are loads of quality small speakers from $500-10k. Yet virtually all of them are
5-6” two ways that are intended to purvey a significant level of bass and hit reasonably high volume. To accomplish this, “everybody” employs a complex crossover network which minimizes efficiency and compromises musical intimacy in the process. We accept this in a good sized room when we want these small speakers to sound BIG.
In THIS system we want goose bump inducing immediacy. You want to drink in every last
attack and squeak of the guitar. You want to savor every last drop of piano technique and touch. You want a great singer to cut through the grill cloth. The solution to land HERE is to be smarter than the standard modus operandi. Open your ears and horizons to a different approach. Don’t just keep chasing the better mouse trip with a slightly different spin. Start over. Here we go.
Air Tight’s Bonsai AL05 Loudspeakers $2500 per pair (10 3/4h, 6 3/4w, 8 3/4d, 11 lbs)
How do you get the crossover out of the road? How about DON’T HAVE ONE!
How do you get drivers to integrate perfectly? You can’t. So how about ONE DRIVER?
This is how the Bonsai achieves better intimacy than “the other guys.” It starts with a different design brief. Because it isn’t trying to be all things to all people… it approaches the task from a more simplistic point of view. When you don’t need big bass and volume, a four inch one-way speaker can work magic!
Air Tight was founded by the legendary Atsushi Miura and is based in Osaka, Japan. Air Tight is known primarily as a state of the art manufacturer of tube preamps (ATC-2 runs $12k) and tube power amps (ATM-300 runs $11.5k). Also designing for Air Tight is Takanori Ohmura, a friend and designer that has worked it Miura since their Luxman days in the 70s. Ohmura has designed the new Bonsai driver and enclosure. He has been working on full range drivers since approximately 2000. Using a single full range driver achieves phase correctness. There is a strong market for small speakers in Japan due to small living spaces.
For openers the AL of AL05 stands for Alnico, an especially powerful magnet design. The Bonsai four inch starts life as a nano-woven glass fiber diaphragm to achieve lightning transmission speed. The Japanese have a long cultural tradition of polymer chemistry and lacquering techniques. Ohmura’s chemistry degree serves well, as do his studies of violin finishes and piano lacquers. The Bonsai cabinet is finished in beautiful high gloss rosewood.
The Bonsai has headphone detail and speed- with the image of a fine loudspeaker. Don’t expect deep bass and big power. Do expect an intimate presentation of voices and musical instruments at less than stadium filling volume. Think nuance and transparency. This is what Bonsai accomplishes!
Bonsai will work well with a quality cost effective amp like NAD’s C328, no problem. But…
why not get an amp that is commensurate with what Bonsai CAN do? How about the Rogue Sphinx V2 ($1500, 100×2) with tube preamp section?
Quad VA-1 Tube Integrated Amp $1600 (12×2 @ 8 or 4 ohms)
(7h, 7w, chassis 12d, 13d with connectors & vol control, 25lbs)
Affordably Delicious Tube Sound! Comes With Remote Control No Less!
Quad’s VA-1 is a full bore tube integrated amp for a modern listener. It has a DAC on board and headphone section. Start drooling.
Yup, tubes in the preamp section:
One ECC 83 triode
Two ECC 82 twin driver triodes
And tubes in the power amp section:
Four EL 84 EH output push pull pentodes
Mated with highly crafted transformers
Consider VA-1 when you want gorgeous tube color, without Herculean power needs.
Now, you’ll be surprised how well VA-1 will drive a wide array of speakers. But of course the main focus is for ANY speakers at a modest volume, or well mated speakers at a robust volume.
You can start with Quad speakers for example! The S Series is plenty efficient enough to be
driven by VA-1. No, not for urban music at 100dB +. But for what most of us listen to, VA-1 will drive the popular:
Using any of these gorgeous speakers, or alternatively yours, will provide a sophisticated audio flavor to lust for!
1/4” Headphone jack
Real binding posts for real speakers
Detachable C15 style power cable