ESSE QUADRO L’UNA 177 SPEAKERS REVIEW


I’m always enthusiastic when the younger generation takes a bold step and dare to enter the world of high end audio manufacturing. Yes, it’s quite a challenge, that calls for some boldness and a risks, that not everyone is willing to take.

Spatafora Salvatore and his venture ESSE Quadro (from Trieste, Italy) is one of such brands and enthusiastic individuals, that has taken the challenging path. With a clear goal of combining captivating performance and eye catching/stylish design, Salvatore had a vision to encapsulated the very Italian heart with an interesting blend of musical potency and recognised Italian industrial design. 

And yes, thee is something unique, yet very familiar associated with the L'UNA 177 speakers. Even the casual glancing towards the speakers will anchor the eyes with a familiar shape. The moon! Or better to say Italian, half moon :).

L’Una combines two words, that translates to the “Luna” and “Unica”. In Italian Luna stands for  the “Moon” (the shape) and “unica” means “the only”. 

MEET THE L'UNA 177


L'UNA 177 speakers were designed to work as a via medium for the easy and potent music transfer within small listening environments. The problem of finding a proper position, that will evenly distribute sonic energy across the room, was drastically reduced thanks to the front bass loading and the possibility of adjusting the tweeter emission level. More about this later on... 


There is no easy solutions, when it comes to the energy transfer and there is no substitute for the small drivers (even if they are lined up into the array). The 17 cm paper/carbon woofer allows a surprisingly easy rendition of the low frequencies and also provides a great transient response and fast delivery of the attack. 

The upper spectrum is handled via the 28 mm silk tweeter works seamlessly with fine tuned crossover, that implements a higher grade components. All the parts were chosen for its sonic virtues and were tested during the prolonged listening test. All the internal wiring consists of copper/silver transducers and won’t find any PCB inside of L'UNA 177’s enclosures. Salvatore strongly believes, how printed board introduces lower lever of the performance and, how with this approach that large portion of the music is lost. 


L'UNA 177 loudspeakers are 2-way design with the front loading bass port. With 88 dB SPL (2.83V / 1m) and 8 Ohm (min 5.90 Ohm), they easily fit into the group to the speakers’ designs, that needs reasonable power to be driven, but excel, when they’re connected to the mightier amplifier (I’ll reveal more about this later on). 


Crossover (12dB / octave - 1.5 kHz) uses Jantzen Z-superior caps for the tweeters and Van De Hul - CS 12 OFC copper & silver oxygen free wires are used for all the internal cabling. 

Salvatore wanted to create the shape with as little as possible internal symmetry sidewalls and with beautiful design, that could host 177 mm driver. As you might have guessed already, the the number within L'UNA 177 refers to the woofer diameter. 

Both 28 mm Scanspeak silk dome tweeter and 177 mm (6.5") paper/carbon fiber driver with Symmetric Drive technology (SD-1) were chosen for for reliability, quality and especially sonic virtues. Salvatore was especially fond of the tweeter ability to deliver unaltered/uncompressed higher frequencies as well with the deep bass frequency response of the 17 cm woofer.  


L'UNA 177 enclosure is internally reinforced and implements strictly chosen absorbing material in order to bring well balanced sonic performance across whole frequency spectrum. 

On the back of the ESSE Quadro speakers there is interesting 7-positions tweeter volume selector...
“We've put this tweeter volume selector to come at the very end of user's needs: in fact, it's common knowledge that the environment, electronics, and cables may alter the frequency response of the speaker. Another important thing is the personal taste, which is not secondary. We recommend our "zero" position first, then everyone can find their proper balancing... Changing whenever he finds it appropriate or when something new in the system chain changes the sound”.
As advised by Salvatore, its great to start from ground zero. I've played around with different settings and found the selector very useful. Of course anything will depend on the given system, but its great to have a flexibility, that can help with tuning of the complete audio chain. 


You can easily spot the leather coating, that adds significantly to the stylish looks and more premium feeling. Front baffle is covered with the half moon shaped textile grill, that is attached with the help of small hidden magnets and as seen with many latest speakers designs. This approach offers easy, no brainer locking with the speakers, without fearing of damaging any plastic bolts, that I’m more than sure we all did at one point back in time.  


L'UNA 177 came with separated powder-coated stand, that have adjustable spikes. In addition, any type of material can be  filled inside of the four pillars if one wants to to increase the weight and rigidity of the stand.

THE MUSIC


There are many challenges and demands to be met, when it comes to the proper transmission of the energy from amplifiers to the speakers. However we twist and turn the subject around, loudspeakers are the final link with the listener. Thus, the most important part of the high-end audio chain. Without being properly driven and even more importantly, properly designed, there is no way to expect potent sonic outcome, that will engage critical listener for the prolonged aural sessions. 


With the selection of Scanspeak 6.5" drivers L'UNA 177 allows more energy momentum, then (usual) smaller drivers, that are too often implemented with the stand-mount monitor speakers and propagated as a hefty capable transducers.  


Especially with Doug McLoud - Come to find (AudioQuest Music ‎– AQ-LP 1027), not only sparkling energy needs a proper mass in order to induce the feeling of the believe guitar, but timber and tone calls for the grander portion in the scope of sonic balance. There is a great need of seamless energy transfer, when it comes to the proper conveying of the live instrument. There are no shortcuts. 

Doug's voice demands similar set of acoustical anchor points as guitar. Perhaps not with the same magnitude as Muddy Waters - Folk Singer (Chess, Classic Records, LPS-1483) tremendous howling, but still... There is a need of enough raw energetic impact, that can portray dynamics uncompressed and ESSE Quadro L’Una 177 speakers acted with enough "pomp" to deliver the objectified audio illusion, that could passed the grander test of the virtual, being there projection. 


Even with something "as simple" as acoustical blues, the perplexity of guitar notes and human vocal can too quickly become more than just a simple task. Its not even funny how quickly some speakers (even floorstanders) can start to choke and compress, when it comes to the rendition of Bring It On Home or My Home Is In The Delta.

ESSE Quadro L’Una 177 acted with surprising authority and managed to operate within the "hearth of the matter". Strongly formulated (and needed) mid range impact was represent with the right dynamic encounter. Both micro and macro details and acoustical anchor points were formed at the level, where music could reveal more then just traits of the original DNA. L’Una 177's could follow minute dynamic shifts, that clearly ensued from the way these Italian loudspeaker were designed and voiced.  Homework was done properly!

When it comes to the dynamics and real world instruments, one of the tracks or discs, that is always in the loop is Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin (Cantaloupe Music ‎– CA21028). There is no easy way to explain this particular record, but anyone who's remotely in touch with electronic music  needs to hear this live renditions of Richard D. James famous songs. 


The sheer energy and sense of the air floating creates unexpected voyage for the senses. Blue Calx (Arranged By – Caleb Burhans) evoke such an exuberant acoustical palette, that its hard to stay emotionally untouched. When the string poignance kicks in the sense of space and atmosphere evolves into a brief reflection of Richard's sleepless and lucid dreaming landscapes, that was the reason for this "alien" soundtrack. 

Yes, ESSE Quadro L’Una 177 couldn't move the air in the way 15" or 18" driver can. Still... The surprise was on the positive side as the L’Una 177's 177 mm driver have embraced heavily duty portion of needed drama exemplary, without usual quirks and bow downs. Let me say, that ESSE Quadro 177's gave the performance, that even some of the larger floor standing speakers would hanker for!

On the (not so) lighter note, my fascination with the human voice and piano is alway almost mystically address by the Franz Schubert, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Gerald Moore ‎– Franz Schubert Lieder (Deutsche Grammophon ‎– 2740 187). This 6 × Vinyl  LP package from 1970 is a true balsam for the ears and the mind. 

With this particular recording, personally there cannot be any involvement of typical percentages scaling. This album and songs acts as an instant decoder. For any high-end audio product under the stress (test), the failing of reproducing Franz Schubert Lieder brings an instant red alert and the activation of the "audiophile" breaks. It either clicks or not!


There's more going on, hidden below the simplicity of these German's lullabies. They are not just plain transcriptions of the traditional melody and words, but sublime musical message with a lot to tell. 

Without establishing subtle exchange, where music can move our inner compass, the goal of any high fidelity component fails dramatically and L’Una 177 loudspeakers have managed to deliver repeated copious emotional engagement with plentiful of reasons for a return listenings. 

Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor inspired by The Bride of Lammermoor brings another hefty challenge for any high-end audio loudspeaker. Inva Mula has sung as Violetta in La Traviata, La bohème etc. but, the arrangement of the aria sung by Mula became sort of a phenomena. 

By any means its not even remotely easy for any speaker to enter into the pitch "madness" and get out of it "alive". 

ESSE Quadro L’Una 177 speakers managed to keep the "Il dolce suono" ("The Sweet Sound") without falling on many cliffs, that were lethal for even much more pricier speakers. 

Any dome tweeter will be challenged with the hypnotically lighting fast changes of the pitched notes. There is really no easy escape from the "too ordinary" response across complete frequency range and not only the upper spectrum. 

L’Una 177 speakers has shown their predicted limitations, but not in the form of design mistakes, but in general shortcoming of any dynamic speaker. In the ultimate sense, I've heard only the horn speakers nailing this utmost task profoundly. Still, for the type of speaker approach, that ESSE Quadro L’Una 177 follows, they've performed in absence of corrupt augment. Their ability to evoke this one of the kind scenic sonic sense with such gestalt calls for more then a shy applaud. 

The excerpt from the aria sums the L’Una 177 spot on:
Il dolce suono mi colpì di sua voce! Ah, quella voce m'è qui nel cor discesa!
The sweet sound of his voice struck me! Ah, that voice has entered my heart!

CONCLUSION


The ESSE Quadro L’Una 177 speakers are clearly a project infused by the passion and love for music. In these days and age we need a positive, enthusiastic ventures like ESSE Quadro's Spatafora Salvatore.


ESSE Quadro L’Una 177 speakers encapsulates Salvatore's vision of both design and voicing. From aesthetically point of view L’Una 177 speakers embodies combined traits of both traditional and contemporary Italian design and sonic wise ESSE Quadro brings a lot of sonic potential to the table. 

ESSE Quadro L’Una 177 easily engages listener into the grand musical enjoyment and with the seven positions tweeter volume selector one can fine "tune" the preferred sonic orientation. 


In the wild jungle and overflow of ultra transparently, non natural sounding speakers L’Una 177 pleasantly surprised with their given voicing, that follows the constitutional, "holly" trinity of the timbre, tone and colour with highly positive outcome.


When driven properly ESSE Quadro's current flagships can extend the music beyond its given size and easily disappear into the space. Especially with Ubiqu Ubiq integrated amplifier L’Una 177 speakers have really shown its true nature. Ubiqu locked with 177's with a particular great synergy, letting the music flow without typical constraints, when improper power handling fails to deliver the real performance of the speaker.

Ubiqu/L’Una 177 filled three very differs listening environments  with sense of authority and without over saturated pomp. 

These are the speakers for the music lover, designed by the music lover. 

Matej Isak

PRICE


L’Una 177: EUR 5500 (without VAT)
Stand: EUR 740 (without VAT)

TECHNICAL 


Type: 2-way bass re ex front loaded
Efficiency: 88 dB SPL (2.83V / 1m)
Impedance: 8 Ohm (min 5.90 Ohm)
Drivers: Tweeter: Scanspeak 28 mm silk dome / Woofer: Scanspeak 177 mm (6.5 ") paper and carbon  ber with Symmetric Drive technology (SD-1) Dimensions: 24 x 41 x 42.5 cm
Crossover: 12dB / octave - 1.5 khz Connectors: WBT next gen 100% nickel free Van De Hul wiring - CS 12 OFC model - copper & silver oxygen free
7-positions tweeter volume selector
Magnetic Front grill removable
Leather coating
Customisation available

CONTACT


Esse Quadro Speakers
Via Galilei 21A
34126 Trieste
Italy

Tel: +39 040 2606552