Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Combak Bravo speakers vs. Gradient Prelude

You might have noticed that there is quite a bit of Internet discussion about the Bravo and the Gradient Prelude, i.e. claims that they are essentially the same speaker with different price tag.

In Enjoy The Music review Combak's Kiuchi-San went on-the-record, and said: "... Bravo is made for us to our specifications by the Gradient speaker company in Finland and we supply wire and parts. When the Bravo arrives from the manufacturer, we custom-tailor each one with our traditional resonance control technology so that the total frequency is flat, using our exclusive technical know-how... The crossover was designed for us by the manufacturer, Gradient. We pay particular attention to resonance control. We maximize the potential of the network design by selecting the optimal material for the front baffle (solid wood not MDF), the tuning of the driver inside and the box itself". Furthermore, "We designed Bravo to be much more integrated and to be acceptable to serious music lovers. So we redesigned the front baffle to use natural wood, we designed and supplied the internal wires and so on. The speakers are so different that there is no point comparing them any more."

Viewpoint: Personally I bet most of the claims actually originate from Finnish Prelude owners, hoping to own a special HE-gear. Finland is a peculiar country as for high-end audio (I should know, it's my home country although I have lived overseas some 12 years). It's most probably the least developped EU country in regard to high-end audio market penetration. Whether reason is a low purchasing power, small living space or something else, the fact is that overall supply of HE-gear is very limited (to mainstream offerings), and no esoteric gear is available. The prevailing mantra is that there is no difference between €150 DVD player's and dedicated €3500 CD-player's CD playback sound quality. Oh, well...

Back to comparison with Prelude. Some years ago I purchased a pair of Prelude to my office system. Not wanting to offend anybody here I can say that they did not last long. Don't take this wrong, Gradient enjoys certain reputation, initially because of their subwoofer integrated so well with Quad 63 speakers. Nowadays they Resolution speakers are well-known to interface well with "real" living room environments.

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