Cabasse La Sphere First Impressions Review
Jay takes a festive jaunt to Harrods to check out the new Cabasse La Sphère system which is now available to buy for just under £200,000.
To paraphrase RoboCop's tagline - Part abstract sculpture, part exercise in point-source audio, all premium 4-way floorstanding speaker system. The latest La Sphère speakers from Cabasse are sure to be a talking point. Although, unlike its previous 2006 incarnation, if you were to order the Gallic giants from Harrods, you get so much more.
Cabasse La Sphère system
As well as the speakers, you get a whole package for your £197,500. Firstly there's a 600W Cabasse Class D power amplifier (actually Bel Canto units) for each driver, so eight in total. Then you get a Cabasse Digital Signal Processor, Cabasse Stream One music streamer, and a Parasound P6 pre-amp. All the wiring is Kimber Kable to match La Sphère's Kimber Kable internal wiring. So, also included in the bundle are four pairs of Kimber Kable speaker cables and all the required interconnects, Russ Andrews Evolution mains cables (to be released in a couple of days) and distro blocks - yup, even these use Kimber Kable! Also, last but by no means least, a lovely Quadraspire rack to put all your electronics on.
The 98kg speakers (those are the Peal and Peal Akoya in the photo above) are made up of a 1-inch dome diaphragm tweeter at the centre with a pair of 4-inch honeycomb ring mids and an 8-inch honeycomb ring low-mid driver in an arrangement the Brest-based company calls a Tri-Coaxial Aramid drive unit.
Finally, bringing the low stuff, is a 22-inch inverted dome bass driver. Cabasse quotes this team's frequency range as being 28Hz-23kHz +-3db on axis but the bass driver is capable of 20Hz in “open space conditions”.
Cabasse boasts that La Sphère is the world's only true point-source four-way speaker, with one acoustic centre, absolute linear phase, optimum impulse response and perfect spatial coherency.
Cabasse La Sphère design
These striking design icons are manufactured from composite materials with the main shell taking layers of fibreglass with a unique damping material in between that was initially designed for the European space programme - Arianne 5, if you're curious. That damping material was specially developed to mitigate the transmission of vibrations while also being thin enough not to impact capacity. Inside the speakers, the shell is braced with woodwork akin to a ship's ribs.
Making the 1.4m towers work aesthetically was the task given to multi-award-winning French designer and architect, Sylvain Dubuisson. The 70cm spherical enclosure is coupled to a helical die-cast aluminium stand, which positions the speaker at the perfect height for listening with absolute authenticity, according to Christophe Cabasse.
To ensure you get the very best from the system, each La Sphère system delivery is accompanied by a Cabasse acoustician who carefully adapts the response of the digital parametric filters to perfectly suit the room.
Sound quality first impressions
Even in the restricted environment of the bijou listening room on the fifth floor of Harrods, the imposing alien eyes on stalks (too much War of the Worlds?) behaved themselves. They never got overbearing - even with Christophe's eager fingers constantly nudging the volume northwards. Although, there were a couple of occasions when electronica tracks mixed with plenty of sub-bass were at the risk of being too much for the listener being in such close proximity.
However, I did truly enjoy the more standard band recordings which were presented with depth and realism - especially on a tenor sax part in one song and an opera that was played later where the strings and harpsichord just came alive. But, for me, the pièce de résistance was a surprise appearance by Manu Dibango's live recording of Andy's Tune. Here the groove was so firmly in the pocket I could feel my 'funk face' coming on. The drums stopped and started on a dime and the slap-funk bass had bite and attack aplenty.
As you might expect from a spherical speaker, even off-axis performance is impressive and, thanks to the point source output, the timing was, well, on point. The soundstaging was not only broad and high, but there is a notable depth to the audio imaging too.
Every which way you cut La Sphère, they are remarkable speakers.
Price and availability
You can order yours now from Harrods for £197,500 in white pearl, black pearl or glossy black. Naturally, custom finishes are available at an additional premium.
For more information, head on over to Cabasse.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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