BAYZ Audio Courante speakers review


Among many privileges and luxuries that my full-time job as an audio reviewer provides, is personally meeting so many interesting people from our beloved industry. And among those, there are a few that really don't fit into the usual definition of high-end audio manufacturer. 

One of such eminent personalities is Zoltán Bay. This Hungarian designer has the most impressive history, family heritage, and he's the owner of many patents and a person who truly loves the music and who won't settle with anything mediocre. 


BAYZ Audio two speakers already won many accolades and hearts at the recent high-end audio shows. Courante loudspeakers are the brainchild of Zoltán Bay. 


I've had a chance to hear last year at the HiFi deluxe. We didn't have much time on our first encounter, but this year we finally set down and took the proper time to discuss the company and their products. It was nice to discover Bay's inspiring passion for the ultimate audio and to learn more about Bay's vast technical expertise. We set a plan for the review and in summer Bay has visited me and personally installed a pair of the BAYZ Audio Courante speakers and his matching and most interesting power amplifier.  

MEET THE COURANTE


We're used to all kinds of shapes and forms of the high-end audio loudspeakers, but like yours truly, many of you were taken by the surprise with the uniquely shaped and out of the box sounding BAYZ Audio Courante speakers from Hungary.


Over a decade in the making with a BRS tweeter (a cylindrical membrane made from a proprietary ultralight material) that emanate the sound by pulsating in the direction of radiation. The unique tweeter is joined by two custom-made lighting fast woofers designed by Frank Nielsen of SB Acoustics. Those were strictly designed from the ground up to deliver an unprecedented speed.


Add to the story carbon fiber enclosure with the proprietary dampening compound manufactured by András Voloscsuk (a developer of Formula 1 monocoque and Redbull Air Race plane's chassis) as well as 30+ years of high-end audio design background and I'm more than sure that these most highly unique two-way passive loudspeakers have caught your attention. 


The Courante loudspeakers are using patented technologies that are only used with BAYZ Audio speakers. They're an interesting extreme blend of exotic Hungarian hand-made cabinet, that is assembled and rigorously tested in Denmark to provide the state of the art performance and quality. 

THE MIND BEHIND 


Zoltán Bay has been designing and manufacturing top level audiophile-grade high-end audio products like preamplifier, amplifiers, media-players, cables, and loudspeakers for almost four decades. Along with many interesting products, his work includes a patent for a “sliding biasing circuit” amplification, that is implemented in the power amplifier that Bay delivered along with the Courante speakers for the review. 

Unlike most of the designers, Zoltán understands the fine balance between measurements and subjective listening tests. Although he's using the state of the art measuring devices like Audio Precision gear, for Bay there is no substitute for the old-school-sit-down listening part. 

Yes, the Courante is without the doubt and object d'art yet despite its unique sculptural looks the forms follows the function as Bay describes: 

“I have always wanted to transcend the prevailing state of the art. This ambition is all I have and all I follow. It is my life. For me the sound quality is foremost, the design is very important but secondary. When someone looks at the design, they get an idea of how the loudspeaker sounds.”

One of the fascinating things about Bay is his path as an independent designer. He started his solo path as an audio designer at the age of 27 following his studies of electronic medical instrument design at the university. The before mentioned, “sliding biasing circuit” that later become his first patent was theoretical research at the university. 


In the former countries under the heavyweight of the iron curtain being a self-providing manufacturer was not exactly a small thing. After all of the years, he's still following his quest and dreams with the unaltered determination that is wonderfully contagious. 

At the very beginning of the CAD Bay understood the impotence and benefits of the computer-aided design and virtual simulations. Over the years he invested a lot of time and funds into 

Let me deepen Bay's historic plot with a few interesting facts. His uncle Zoltán Lajos Bay was one of the Hungarian scientists who were part of the Apollo program and still owns Neil Armstrong's signature that was given to his uncle and father. 

Zoltán Lajos Bay was the leader and his father was a member of the team who first received a radar echo from the moon and this consequently started radar astronomy. Zoltán's father also designed tubes, amplifiers for theatres and high-quality microphones. One of his products was the iconic BEAG MD 14 microphone that was all known for its sonic virtues and was widely adopted in the former eastern block countries. 

Interestingly and as a cherry on top of the cake to such splendid family heritage is the 2003's naming of the QQ29 minor planet with Bay Zoltán.

THE PROJECT


The Courante is designed by Zoltán Bay, CEO and Chief Engineer at BAYZ Audio. Frank Nielsen of Danesian Audio ApS, and András Voloscsuk of Composite Project Kft. adds to the golden triangle that embraces the innovate new approaches that are a grounding stone of the radically different BAYZ Audio speakers. 


It has been quite some time since traditionally constructed loudspeakers reached the limit of what the human ear can sense, concerning sound pressure, output, and frequency response. In the interest of achieving the final objective, i.e. realistic stereo sound reproduction, High-End loudspeaker developers have increasingly turned their attention to loudspeakers emitting 360-degree sound. There have been many different technical solutions proposed for devices that precisely create radial or omni sound fields. However, the solutions created up to now are only able to realize radial sound projection at the cost of significant compromises.

The spatial projection abilities of radial sound radiation significantly exceed the spatial experience offered by traditional point speakers. It is also a known fact in the current world of High-End loudspeakers that in order to achieve appropriate stereo sound, the loudspeakers have to be very carefully located in the room, e.g. they need to be 0.5 – 1.0 m from the wall behind them. In the case of dipole loudspeakers, the stereo experience very much depends on the precise positioning of the loudspeakers and the listener. Radial or omni loudspeakers can reduce these positioning disadvantages.

The decades of research and development work carried out by the founder, Zoltán Bay in the subject of radial sound projection finally brought a result in 2011: he created his own, unique radial sound projection concept, the Bay Radial Speaker (BRS). The BRS is actually a cylindrical membrane surface capable of changing its diameter, made from a special material, which creates sound by pulsating in the direction of radiation. This is a revolutionary new radial loudspeaker, which is protected by patent in numerous countries around the world. Its uniqueness does not only come from its radial sound projection ability, but also from its outstanding sound quality.

The BRS’s exceptional acoustic and electronic parameters make a level of sound quality available that has never been experienced before and raises High-End quality sound reproduction to a new level. As a result of its outstanding impulse response, the concept of holographic acoustics gains new meaning. It is capable of reproducing the spatial location and dimensions of musical instruments so that they are almost palpable.

As the total surface area of the membrane used is many times that of dome tweeters (as much as 30–50 times), the sound energy projected into the environment is much less concentrated in a single direction. Due to this the sound field created provides a significantly more pleasant sound experience for the human ear.

Based on BAYZ Audio experience, the audio quality of the BRS is much less influenced by the acoustic features of the environment, in other words, it can give the listener its special qualities even in relatively poor conditions.

As a result of its construction, it handles extreme impulse loading much better than dome tweeters usually used.

THE BODY


András Voloscsuk and his Engineering Team fabricate and supply the Courante’s carbon fiber composite, high strength-low weight, speaker enclosure advancing the state-of-the-art with an unheard of ultra-light 30kg loudspeaker. András Voloscsuk and the Composite Project Team have worked decades developing new carbon fiber materials for F1 monocoques, race planes for Red Bull Air Race World Championships, and even carbon fiber pianos. 

András Voloscsuk with Corvus Racer 540 and Peter Besenyei Redbull Air race World Champion

Using decades of experience and learning, András has raised carbon fiber fabrication to an artistic level. The beauty and elegance of the Courante would not be possible without this vast knowledge and lifetime of experience.


THE DRIVERS


Frank Nielsen, CEO, Danesian Audio ApS and designer of world-class Satori drivers has been in the electro-acoustic industry for three decades designing high-end transducers for SB Acoustics, ScanSpeak, Vifa, Danish Sound Technologies, Tymphany, and others. 


Frank and the Danesian Audio team provided an improved, unique, ultra-fast Satori-like driver to match the speed of the super-quick BRS tweeter. The Denesian Audio Engine Team builds and tests the Courante guaranteeing each loudspeaker is matched and passes stringent quality control.

MEASUREMENTS


All measurements with  4ohm/1W/1M (2,83V)



Copyright © 1997-2006, Grenander Software Workshop LoudSpeaker LAB 3.1

MEASUREMENT EQUIPMENT: B&K 4220 Pistonphone • B&K 4165 Condenser Microphone • B&K 2639 Microphone Preamplifier • B&K 2610 Measuring Amplifier • B&K 2716 Power Amplifier • Audio Precision SYS-322 Audio Test System • Audio Precision DCX-127 • GenRad 1689M RLC Digibridge • Digigram WXPocket V2 soundcard • LoudspeakerLab software

THE MUSIC


The evaluating time with BAYZ Audio Courante speakers never felt exactly like work. I've enjoyed every minute and happily returned to prolonged divings into the endless music universe. While Courante is genre-less speakers and can provide hours of fatigue-free enjoyment of any kind of music, I can easily envisage many of classical music aficionados and connoisseurs finding their listening nirvana with BAYZ Audio speakers.  

Zoltán Bay is an avid classical music fan and this is perceivable within first orchestral, recital, small ensemble, choir or opera music. Experiencing the seamless distribution of the music felt like sailing in new uncharted seas. 

Handel - Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno - Emmanuelle Haim (Conductor), Le Concert d'Astree (Orchestra), Natalie Dessay (Performer) floats through many emotional changes and spirited sensitivities. It's quite a challenge for any speaker to follow such metamorphosing, but Courante was no stranger to sensual shapeshifting. My listening notes provide many remarks like lustrous, cantabile, lyrical, etc. To have such a repertoire of positive remarks clearly points to something remarkable.  


Dessay's voice was painted with needed silkiness, a striking vividness that reflects the cut through clarity of high-pitched metallic sounds and so much color in tone richness. Courante allowed Dessay to drift effortlessly through these alluring and most melodious Handel passages.

The proper foundation of the transients is one of the key advantages of the horns speakers. Most of the traditional dynamic struggle with their fundamental rendition. At my amaze Courante didn't smear the leading edge, thus forming the unexpected believability and realism.



BAYZ Audio Courante expertly shapes a favorable conjunction tone, texture, and dynamic circumstances, that are too easily convoluted for even top tier speakers. This is too easily evident with     Händel: Duetti Amorosi - Nuria Rial & Lawrence Zazzo & Kammerorchester Basel.



The beautiful interplay of Rial Zazzo and Kammerorchester Basel calls for an equilibrium of a higher potion. Courante exhibited a remarkable clarity of form letting both vocals seamless blend in harmony and with Kammerorchester Basel chamber orchestra. Fluency of the singing and playing was spotless with sharply etched dynamics and sensuous, rich sonic canvas. 

Many might remember THIS IS K2 HD SOUND! - First Impression Music, FIM K2 HD 078 played as demonstration disc on many shows. Especially the Pachelbel/Canon in D offers a stunning dynamic diversity as well as remarkable horizontal and vertical expanse. 

BAYZ Audio Courante speakers absence of typical dynamic speakers mechanical stress resulted in spontaneous and ebullient reproduction. 

On the properly balanced high-end audio system and particularly with ultra high performing speakers the Pachelbel/Canon in D allows the suspense of a higher degree. Speakers with the right capacity will emerge a different kind of density and Courante rendition of the decays, delays and environmental cues emerged with unexpected acoustical internodes solidness. 

Music became a spontaneous and interactive impetus. It felt how Courante could respond to every single environmental node and anchor trigger by creating a formidable aural illusion. The usual constrained spatial distortion was gone and there were no hints of the artificial lens like overblown ill (d)effect or saturated colors. Instead of the contextualized idea, Courante delivered phase accurate and coherent audio illusion. A profound and profusely lush sonic mirage! 

There are many of the fundamentals needed to be observed and followed like the sameness of the C# and Db. While on piano plays the same note for both the shifting pitch acoustical instruments like violin and nonetheless vocal can fluctuate, thus creation variations in tone. This peculiarity shouldn't be a surprise to the musicians as the seamless blend of varieties like tone, timbre, and color, and their clear dissimilitudes shouldn't be a rude-awakening for true high-end audio speakers. The sobering act is too often too hard-hitting when it comes to the primaries with too many of so-called industry-standard loudspeakers. On the contrary, the BAYZ Audio Courante marvels with the fervent dedication of being open to boundless music's ambiguity.

CONCLUSION


By no means Courante look ordinary, they don't sound like the conventional dynamic speakers and they don't convey music in the usual way. Courante mirrors Zoltán Bay's mindset by offering completely out of the box experience with lightning-fast speed transients, massive life-like energy formation, and instantly captivating sonic impact.

Bay is no stranger when it comes to the loudspeaker design. Over the years he tried many designs. In the past he put a lot of efforts into the development of his electrostatic panel speakers, that was granted a special and rarely given Hungarian industry award for technology. Following this design Bay started to explore the 360° driver that would propagate the sound evenly and without distortions. The resulted radial driver was something extra, but to fulfill the deeming R & D in the fullest extent was a too demanding task. 


The follow up of this concept resulted in a new 360° driver with a design that would be suitable for the implementation with the dynamic speakers. It took Bay almost a decade to succeed in making the working prototype of the highest degree and in 2011 started to apply for patents that were quickly granted in the most important countries around the world. 

The whole Courante concept is a non-ordinary, but propriety tweeter is even further from ordinary realms. Structurally this curvilinearly shaped driver pulsate with up to 100 % more wide dispersion than an ordinary tweeter. This ensures far more broadband and non-fatiguing sonic energy transmission. The enliven quality can be easily recognized within the very first notes' strike. 

BAYZ Audio Courante speakers sound exactly like they look... Completely out of the box! An immersive, full 360 degrees sonic expanse easily portrays a dramatic music scale of cinematic propensities. With Courante the music simply permeate thought the sense and bypass the usual mind barriers. 

Courante's unique capacity of vanishing is like no other dynamic speaker. Music is presented with tons of details and holographic three-dimensional scope that sets a true benchmark. On top of it, there is something about Courante's quaintly performance that deepens my enjoyment of the favorite classical repertoire. 

Although I've tried the Courante with various amplifiers, the real synergy comes with the Bay's patented Class A power amplifier. They're sophisticatedly interlocked and interlinked, acting in the most complimentary way. The Bayz Audio amplifier is something extraordinary, but that is the story for a separate article, but anyone interested in these unique loudspeakers should not overlook this important fact. 

I like and love Zoltán's extreme, cut no corners approach that reflects the striking aura of extreme, ultra-performing sports cars like Pagani and Bugatti.


It took over 40 years of Bay's painstaking R & D to create something as extraordinary as Courante and the very result is astonishing sculptural work of art that for aesthetics alone deserves its place in the MOMA. 

On the sonic side, Courante offers one of the best disappearing acts I've had ever experienced. The instant music delivery is energetic, unapologetically raw and brutal when needed and the feather-like subtle propensities are mirrored as easily. As with the real real world orchestra, momentum Courante divulges an unaltered music's message vividly, intoxicatingly and utterly close to the reality. 

Prof. Erno Sebestyén (Former concertmaster of Leonard Bernstein, Lorin Maazel and György Solti, Artistic Leader of the Berlin Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, first violin and concertmaster of the Deutsche Opera Berlin Orchestra) was one of the early adopters that could recognize Bay's speakers unique qualities.

Zoltán Bay Courante's name picking was undoubtedly connected to an era that relates to. Similarly to the 16th-century court dance short advances and retreats the Courante is mimicking the music a lighting speed.

Courante qualities are perhaps even more appropriately addressed throughout Johann Mattheson's Der vollkommene Capellmeister (Hamburg, 1739) where he put into words the affective qualities of music: "Chiefly characterized by the passion or mood of sweet expectation. For there is something heartfelt, something longing and also gratifying, in this melody: clearly music on which hopes are built."


In the spirit of German Affektenlehre BAYZ Audio Courante speaks are exactly such apparatus figuratively mentioned and cherish by Baroque theorists and composers: "by making use of the proper standard musical procedure or device, the composer could create a piece of music capable of producing a particular involuntary emotional response in his audience." And this pinpoints the before mentioned Courante ability to bypass the sensual logical safeguarding. At the end of the day, what more can one expect or demand from the transducer, then such an ultimate aural zenith!

As you've already figured out, the BAYZ Audio Courante speakers impressed yours truly. Especially as I didn't expect such a powerful and lingering impact. I did recognize their qualities and potential at the show. What happened later in the reference room/system became quite transformational. 

Too often we hear how high-end audio is in a vacuum, status quo position and in absence of real advancements or new products worthy of calling push-forward and with the performance that sets the technological bars higher. Courante is a practical proof, counter-thesis and an antidote to such claims, that shouldn't come as surprise. Zoltán Bay is no ordinary designer, BAYZ Audio far away from typical high-end audio brand designation and the Courante are nowhere near to the usual loudspeakers. And this is why I'm wholeheartedly granting BAYZ Audio Courante loudspeakers a very rare and highly distinguished Mono and Stereo Editors Choice Award. Yes, they are that good! 


The only thing that I strive for after the completion of the review is the in-depth exploration of BAYZ Audio Counterpoint flagship speakers. And as it seems, this is already in motion, so do stay tuned for that new adventure.  

Matej Isak

PRICE


- 37.000 EUR per pair

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Frequency response: 27Hz — 22kHz 
  • Impedance: 4 Ohms 
  • Sensitivity: 90 dB 
  • SPLmax: 111 dB (Anechoic)
  • Power: 140W Continuous
  • Configuration: 2 way
  • Crossover: Approx. at 2 kHz
  • Warranty: 5 year
  • Trial Period: 30 days 
  • Height: 1.4m (55")
  • Weight: 30 Kg (66 Lbs)
  • Material: Painted Glass Fiber


CONTACT


BAYZ Audio
Hungary

Tel: +36 30 99-88-781