There are only a handful of people in India who own these super expensive speakers. We met one of them, an entrepreneur and a passionate audiophile, at his plush south Delhi residence where we heard these speakers in action.
The Sound: Listening to Shiv Kumar Sharma’s santoor recital on these speakers was like a dream. With the eyes shut, it felt like we were at the venue of a live concert, so real and distinct were the sounds. The superb DCS Puccini CD player, which was playing the CD, made sure there were no hitches in the ‘music system’ department either.
The Look: All the structural components used in the new ACT are carbon-fibre composite and metal engineering materials. The wood paneling is inconsequential in terms of structural performance. It serves a visual purpose. Beneath the real wood veneers and the solid wooden top, the material is metal. There is no debate, this is quite simply the stiffest structure ever seen in any standalone loudspeaker system. Compared to the earlier ACT-I and ACT-II, the weight of the speaker has increased 80 per cent to 52 kg.
“These are extremely serious loudspeakers. To listen to music on these speakers and enjoy the experience, you need to have extensive knowledge of music. This is for an evolved listener. My advice: please do not listen to trance, house or similar kind of music on these speakers. The ACT speakers are like a magnifying glass—they magnify the faults of any music manifold. I love listening to jazz, folk and a bit of classical music on my ACT speakers. The woofers and tweeters in the ACT speakers are simply awesome. They are custom made silk dome tweeters—created by the Danish firm Scanspeak for Wilson Benesch. Of course, for the music to sound great, you need the right partnering gear. Unless you have a great CD player, the right kind of power supply and cables, the sound will not be the same. You can’t ever reproduce a live experience on a CD at home, but on these speakers it’s as close as you will ever get to the ‘real’ experience.”
Why is it so expensive?
The cabinets are made of carbon fibre. The same firm that works on Rolls-Royce cars, works on the finish here. The speakers also have zero resonance. The tweeters, too, are custom made, specifically for ACT.
The Wilson Benesch act speaker
Price: Rs 9,30,000
Specs: 2.5 way, true linear phase, free space, ported enclosure, floor-standing monitor
Drives: 1x170 mm (7 in.) Wilson Benesch Tactic bass unit; 1x170 mm (7 in.) Wilson Benesch Tactic bass/mid-range unit; 1x25 mm (1 in.) soft dome, hand-painted silk, ultralinear Wilson Benesch specification tweeter. Low-frequency loading. Bessel alignment of fourth order reflex. Double chamber, differential tuning
Frequency range: -6 dB at 32 Hz and 30 KHz; -3 dB at 35 Hz and 25 KHz
Frequency response: 35 Hz to 24 KHz give or take 2 dB Crossover frequencies: Bass-500Hz; Mid-5 KHz; Tweeter-5 KHz Internal wiring: Multi-stranded, silver-plated copper, PTFE jacketed cable harnesses with soldered connections
Input connections: In-house machined gold-plated copper alloy terminals Power handling: 200 W peak unclipped programme
Net weight: 52 kg Finishes available
Standard finish: Available in regal silver or black. (Speaker top will be in a high build black piano gloss).Wood finishes available in high build piano gloss or satin at an extra cost of £600 (Rs 48,000)
Gloss: Stained red cherry, Birds eye maple, Burr walnut. (Speaker top will be high build black piano gloss) Satin: Nat Cherry, Stained cherry, maple, oak (Speaker top will be in wood finish)
Sachin Desai is an entrepreneur and a well-known audiophile