ANTE Supersonic One

MJ06.03.2011

Floorstanding loudspeakers

The Supersonics were visually inspired by Lamborghini Countach racer. The functional elegance of the Lamborghini does not come at budget costs and neither the Ante does. The price tag of €160,000 keeps the Supersonics in the company of Wilson Audio Alexandria X-2, Focal JMlab Grande Utopia EM, KEF Muon or Rockport Arrakis. With the Ante one invests not only into its sound but also into superb engineering, timeless and inspired design, and last but not least into the craftmanship of a legendary piano manufacturer.

100% reference

Function and form

55%
Ease of use
84%
Sound
67%
Appearance

The Supersonic One is conceptually a genuine 5-way speaker. Both 21.6“ woofers, which are driven by oversized motors, extend as deep as to unbelievable 8Hz (!) in rooms with an average response. To make a perfect grip of the woofer on the baffle they are bolted from behind into a massive ring-shaped piece of steel in the way the speaker’s assembly is almost welded into its front plate subpanel. A midtone driver occupies his own compartment and uses a neodymium assembly with Transcoil technology compensation – an extra stationary coil significantly reduces second and third harmonic distortions and helps to align the midbass impedance response to tweeters. The Ante (in a kind of flashback) uses paper membranes, carbon fibres loaded to suppress parasite resonances. By this the mass of the moving cone pushes down the resonance mode under 20Hz which is quite exceptional. On top of that, the cones are sprayed with a carbon fiber coating from outside, so they are velvet-like on touch. The upper range in the Supersonics is taken by three dedicated planar systems by Bohlender & Graebener. Whole crossover assembly is heavier than most commercial loudspeakers on the market. The 24dB/oct crossover utilizes Jantzen PP caps for the cones and Jantzen Silver line for the planars.

Papers specify the Supersonic One the bottom end extension at 12Hz+/-3dB. The baffle uses a Helmholtz resonator principle to reach down to subterranean bass. There is no real bassreflex port in the Ante, however, there is a 1050cm2 rectangular duct firing upwards that is conceptually not far from is known as a transmission line. To prevent your home pets falling down to the sizeable duct it is covered by a detachable grill. If you need so it is possible to use grilles on the Ante´s front plate as well to make it aesthetically more appealing in an interior.

The framework of the Supersonic reflects requirements for maximum acoustic inertness and zero-resonances. Not easy to find a manufacturer with skills and equipment to accomplish such a project. That is how PETROF, a famous piano manufacturer, has become involved. The basic construction work uses 1.18“ thick multiplex sandwich of Baltic birch (a very dense material with good shaping properties). The multiplex is further reinforced by 0.79” thick composite board (from inside of the front plate) and by a glass-fibre loaded fabric finished with a compression-molded ebony veneer (from outside of the frontplate). The rest of the cabinets is lined by 0.50” thick panels coated with hand polished piano lacquer – we have something to do with a company that has been doing this for 150 years, right? If you count all of this you will arrive to the framework thickness varying between 1.70“ and 2.00“.

The good thing is that the high gloss lining can be removed which may come handy in case of scratch repairs or repainting. On top of that, in PETROF they are ready to fulfill any wish for color or veneer you may like.

Well, let us not forget a base. The plinth of the speaker uses aircraft grade dural and adds another 70kg to the total weight of 370 kg (!). Optionally one may bolt spikes into the plinth but I would discourage you to do so unless you want to split your floor. Quite opposite - it is necessary to make sure that the carrying capacity of your floors and ceilings is high enough before you place the Supersonics in your house.

Bass management

Weight
98
Slam
82
Articulation
76

When you start auditioning the speakers of the Ante´s kind it is difficult to keep volume low. With purely acoustic and classical music the most of the ability to pressurize a room remains unused as instruments of an orchestra or jazz ensemble rarely reach below 30Hz (and a rock stops even higher). To savor the penetrating lows you have to search your CD library for a good synthesized music, for example Sade´s Love Deluxe with the contrast between a computerized background and the beauty of Sade´s voice. I loved club music trough the Supersonics – like the punishing basslines of Cobalt 60 (Twelve). The pressure would easily roll out a carpet or make a chandelier swing. This is the physiology of lows that are felt deep in your stomach rather than heard by your ears. To make it happen you either need a generously designed subwoofer or the Ante. Once you get accustomed to subterranean pulses of the Ante it is next to impossible to live in the 30Hz world again. The only alternative is to head up for a club, however, there you´ll miss the precision and accuracy.

The real deep bass may be problematic in any but the best listening rooms. To facilitate the ease of placement the Ante features a jumper at rear that may compensate for too low output. It is possible to adjust the woofers in three 3dB steps (0db, -3dB, -6dB). Should you need different values it can be done by changing settings on the crossover assembly.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
89
Air
78
Transparency
80

Spatial resolution is a strong weapon of the Supersonics. Images are outlined within the soundstage with authoritative precision, yet very naturally. The pinpoint imaging is independent of if you play soft or loud – it is wonderfully locked in space even at high volumes. I got especially excited about the way the Ante handles solo instruments. For example, in Danse Macabre I was able to follow the movements of both the violinist and the violin, I almost felt the air ripples caused by a fast movement of the violinist hand. The left to right and front to back perspectives are absolutely seamless with the Supersonics – there are no layers or artificial spatial expansion, instead I was amidst the wonderful performance. Here, only the quality of the used recorded program is a limitation.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
83
Dynamics
82
Temporal resolution
80

The spatial magic of the Ante has to be heard to be understood. There are violins in Danse Macabre, slightly to the left of the soundstage, a lot of violins. If I listened carefully I was able to pick out some of them and locate their coordinates. This is not unusual and many top-end speakers can do that. However, when you are at a live concert, the experience goes further – at a concert the massed violins do not represent a single source point of sound, they rather come from a spatially well defined area and arrive to a listener with certain level of inner resolution, with weight and with a momentum. You can still focus on individual players but the mass quality is something that makes the difference between what you can hear at home and at a concert. It is like the source of the sound was a few square meters big rather than coming from a speaker. And, from within such a sonic carpet, the sound rises, elevates and washes your senses. This is something I have never heard from any other speaker. Not even from Focal JMlab Grande Utopia EM that I have auditioned recently. I assume the Ante gets to the point where playback meets reality.

Spatial resolution

Holography
94
Soundstage width
95
Soundstage depth
92

There are many excellent speakers out there but with smallish dimensions (the trend of today) the world of real high end remains closed for them. Think of a grand piano, a double-bass’s weight or an a capella choir. I like the Christmas traditional of Gloucesterhire Wassail (Loreena McKennit, A Midwinter Night´s Dream) to check capabilities of a system to handle imaging accuracy and tonality. There are only seven singing voices in the song, that’s it. Honestly, I was never able to distinguish all the seven, I’ve got to the maximum of five. Maybe you expect I will say right now that the Supersonics managed to crack this nut. No, they did not. I was counting up to five. However, it was the very natural way of rendering the singers in the listening room that enthralled me. Indeed it was easy to visualize the choir including the height of individual singers – not only the voices were locked in the left-right and front-back perspectives, but they were locked also in the up and down axis. I wish you heard this with me.

Price as reviewed:4 000 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Media Control, Bratislava, SK, +421 905 613 928

Associated components

  • Sources: Marantz SA-11S2 (a CD transport) into  DAC Casea Cepheus
  • Amplifiers: proprietary DPA Dudek modified amplifiers
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: proprietary coaxial cables (identical to that used inside the speakers)
  • Power cables: standard, no conditioning

Gallery

ANTE Supersonic One

The Supersonics were visually inspired by Lamborghini Countach racer. The functional elegance of the Lamborghini does not come at budget costs and neither the Ante does. The price tag of €160,000 keeps the Supersonics in the company ...

Recommended resellers

Media Control, Bratislava, SK, +421 905 613 928

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