Bache Audio 002AB Loudspeakers
Sometimes opportunity prompts us to take a journey. Depending on one’s resolve, a person might stand to face a challenge straight on, while another might shrink from it. Gregory Belman, the owner and speaker designer of Bache Audio does not shrink from a challenge. This observation came to mind as I reviewed his Bache Audio model 002AB loudspeakers.
Belman and his friend Alex Chorine (of Alexus Audio - high-end audio components designer), both originally from Russia, showed their wares together for the first time at the New York Audio Show in 2015. I certainly recall our first meeting – I liked these two soft spoken fellows and enjoyed what I heard in their room. With their businesses based in Brooklyn, NY and Coney Island, NY respectively, proximity made delivery of the Bache Audio 002AB’s convenient, so both men arrived and set the 002AB’s up for review in our loft a few months back. Clement Perry joined me for this introduction and I lived with the 002AB’s for a few weeks, mostly during break-in. I had just begun jotting down a few short listening notes when Gregory texted and asked whether I need the speakers for a longer period. Clement cleared the way for us to have them for more time, saying two weeks is hardly enough time to properly evaluate a component. So true.
Bache Audio's 002AB loudspeaker is an efficient full-range, dual ported, four-way design, rated at 96dB sensitive with an impedance of 8 Ohms – so, 8 -100 watt amplifiers are ideal. The 002AB is the update to Bache Audio’s 001AB, which are both based around the increasingly successful widebander driver. The bass drivers are powered by two separate 100 watt amplifiers; one powering the front-facing 10" woofer and the other powering the 10" Vifa down-firing lower bass driver. My old reliable 40-watt Opera Consonance M100 SE integrated powered these widebanders and tweeters just fine during most of the review process. Bass volume and crossover settings are adjustable on the 002AB's rear panel. The tweeter is also adjustable via a 2db boost via jumper pins. The review pair came finished in a handsome high-gloss Zebrawood finish, elevated 2” above a black lacquer base that serve as vents for the 10" down-firing woofer.
Quoting from the Bache site, “Despite the popularity of wideband drivers, it is well known that they suffer from whizzer cone distortion, and weak bass. In their previous model, the Bache Audio 001AB, Belman addressed the coloration by removing the whizzer cone completely. We then added a high-frequency Fostex ribbon tweeter to supplement the upper frequencies and a woofer to provide increased lower frequency response. While we were generally pleased with the result, we continued to do research and came to the realization that all wide band drivers, because of their light paper cone, have a deficiency in the range of 100- 500 Hz Sonically, this had the tendency to make instruments such as the piano, sound smaller than real life. To address this issue, we are pleased to announce the release of the Bache Audio Model 002. The Model 002 [AB] has the same three drivers as its predecessor, but also includes a lower midrange/upper bass driver. This qualifies it as a 4-way design.”
Back To The Story
A few days later, Clement called, asking if he and his friend Dennis could slip over to listen to the 002AB’s. As it happens, our neighborhood musician John (The Bassist) Hébert had also planned a visit around the same time. Upon entry and greetings, Dennis asked me what I thought of the 002AB’s - I responded that I thought them quite nice and intimate. I’m not sure such a large speaker should be described as such, but there you have it. He asked me to explain, which I did. While I did like what I heard from the 002AB’s, to my ear, there was something lacking in the high frequency presentation. When Clement listened to them he thought the mid driver needed work. We listened for a while to the music sourced from the Memory Player Mini through my Opera Consonance MT100 SE and into the 002AB speakers. With my guests sitting, I hovered about, managing the audio program as well as our audio pups and lunch. As has been obvious for some time, it appears Dudley, one of our sweet Cockapoo’s, is always happiest near or on Clement’s lap. As is usually the case when food enters the picture, the migration to the kitchen area was inevitable, and conversation turned to things other than audio (i.e: there’s always pizza!).
As it happens, John’s personal interest that day was hearing the Core Power EQUI-CORE 1800 (reviewed here), which I had just installed deep in my main rig, Once my appetite was properly satiated with said pizza, I fired that system up and began playing an album through the main rig and my Eminent Technologies LFT-8b’s.
“What did you just do?!” Clement asked. A quick explanation and we were off on the challenge aforementioned as a group critique began in earnest. As mentioned previously, I had not listened to my main rig for a couple of weeks, so I was as surprised as Clement regarding all the LIFE that entered into my loft space via ET LFT-8b's. Guessing it was the Opera Consonance that may be culprit, Clement reached out to Gregory and Alex Chorine with our observations. A few days later Clement shows up with Alex Chorine's imposing and beautiful sounding Alexus Audio 833SE Single-Ended Class A Monaural 100 watt tube amplifiers (review to come), convinced that what we heard was a synergy issue: my old and reliable but inexpensive integrated wasn't providing the sonic goods. Or so he thought!
What a roller coaster
While the improvements were immediate; improved musicality, dimensional and more dynamic via the insertion of the Alexus Audio 833SEA mono amps, I still was not convinced they were performing on a world-class level. Clement agreed and once again, after about two weeks, relayed this Gregory. Gregory kindly asked if he could return in another week or so. The following weekend, he returned with a brand new widebander midrange-driver – the latest version version using an original bamboo coned driver! Thankfully these had the same mounting schematics, so installation was quick. Gregory had removed the whizzers and updated his crossovers and installed these updates in less than an hour. Clement, Gregory and I, again, listened intently for the results.
Immediately, new bamboo midrange drivers were providing far more natural edges, greater definition and finer musicality. Finally they speakers were now performing at their price point and beyond that of my super affordable $3,000 ET’s - as any $15k loudspeaker should. The original widebander appeared to step on the tweeter response a bit and this masked some of the tweeters extension. I’ve gone through some equipment while reviewing the Bache Audio 002AB’s, from my Opera Consonance M100 SE integrated to the larger Alex Audio 833SE tube amps, a Grandinote Preamp, as well as my main rig powered by an Emerald Physics 100.2SE amp and my newly rebuilt and upgraded CJ PV-5 preamp (thank you Bill Thalmanns of Music Technology, Inc.!). All of this equipment has covered a lot of listening territory with these Bache Audio loudspeakers and one thing that remained constant is how wonderfully more open, expressive and musical the 002AB's perform with that new widebander.
On John Lurie’s soundtracks for the films “Down By Law & Variety” (Strange and Beautiful 1999), listened as a CD rip here, the bleak spontaneity came through loud and clear over the Bache Audio 002AB’s. Percussive bass and insistent brushwork accompany Lurie’s droning and dominating saxophone lines here, with excellent imaging and soundstage depth throughout this intimately styled recording. The stark “Down By Law” soundtrack has long been a favorite. These newer wideband drivers offers up a flatter response and this creates impressive details to both the mid and lower frequencies. Transients are now more finely etched, bass response feels more dimensional and the soundstage seemed to deepen. Prior to these upgrades, my Eminent Tech’s wanted to go toe to toe with the 002AB’s in overall performance. With Gregory’s improvements, the 002AB’s clearly outperform the LFT-8b’s – especially with respect to focus, transient response and overall musicality.
“Promenade Du Maquereau” was a raucous affair, with bluesy gritty interplay, powerful bass and luscious horn section part of the wonderful atmosphere – glorious textures, big, bold bass and atmosphere abound. “The Invasion of Poland” loomed on a great stage with the smallest sounds amplified for effect. The 002AB’s conveyed the warm, dynamics and guttural delivery very well. On “Please Come To MY House”, the 002AB’s reproduced fantastic dynamics and palpable percussion that pulled me into the moment. The 002AB’s provided great instrumental body and breadth of playing convincingly, recreating the atmosphere of the recorded event quite well.
On to Ray Anderson’s ‘Blues Bred In The Bone (Gramavision Records 1988). Trombone isn’t exactly the easiest of soloing instruments, but Anderson playing sounds effortless and downright slippery on this raucous, joyful and playful on his 1988 release. Anderson continues the bawdiness accompanied beautifully by John Scofield’s guitar work that mirrors his affectations well. Anderson, that loose, percolating, whinny, guttural, bombastic and ever-expressive great horn player was presented beautifully by the 002AB’s.
Through the 002AB’s, René Marie’s title track on “The Sound of Red” (Motema Music LLC 2016) reproduced powerful bass that reached way down to build a very nice foundation for these accomplished players. Marie’s lovely and lively vocals with great body were presented full, throaty, dynamic and clear, with a sense of urgency. There’s was a nice snap to rim shots and a nice drive to the music. Cymbals had great texture, light, quick and with nice decay. Nothing bright nor etched here. “If You Were Mine” continued to wow with great sound: close, intimate, bawdy. Quick transients and expressive brush work reminiscent of a tap dancer’s efforts. Very live. Percussion popped playfully and, accompanying a great piano sound, with tremendous drive and presence.
Playing the title track from EST’s “Somewhere Else Before” (Sony 2001), the 002AB’s painted an intimate picture, with impressive depth and width to the soundstage. Imaging was precise and the piano’s voice full, persuasive and very nicely rendered. The drums had good depth and dynamics and the bass was full and well-grounded, reaching quite far down. The low end dynamics were impressive and demanding. On “Dodge The Dodo,” I wrote ‘Wow’ in my notes. During play of “From Gaugin’s Point Of View” the 0002AB’s gave strong bass and rendered the effects well, with nice dimension and depth, successfully delivering this added layer of interest to trio interplay.
On “Remember” from “Gil Evans & Ten” (Prestige 1957), played here from a stereo 24/96 rip of the SACD, there was a wonderful twinkle to the paino keys. The horns were warm and dimensional and there was a delightful depth to the percussion and stage. Sweet horns overlapped one another as they swayed to and fro, an Evans’ trademark. Strong bass and great pacing were captured by the 002AB’s, along with a sweet sax timber and texture and a nice depth to the drums and cymbals. Not bad for 1957.
After the aforementioned revisions were behind us, and the music was all I needed to concentrate on, I (and I believe Clement too) are now thoroughly convinced that Gregory Belman has produced a great loudspeaker. Not just any loudspeaker either but a uniquely designed one built around a very exciting midrange widebander fused into a 4-way semi-active system. The Bache Audio 002AB produces powerful bass on its own with a very life-like midrange coupled to sweet, seductive highs. We live in a large loft space and the 002AB filled it nicely and performed remarkably well with the Alexus Audio 833SE mono amps providing an ever-so sweet and dynamic sound (while those baby-bottle sized transmitter tubes served as eye candy). I should also mention, my old and reliable Opera Audio, 40 watt tube integrated amp also did a nice job, as it did the 100 wpm Emerald Physics EP100.2SE power amplifier.
I originally described the 002AB’s to Dennis as intimate. With these new improvements, the 002AB’s now reproduces music with the crowd-pleasing power and pizzazz as any speaker at their price point should. Their performance is now considered remarkable by all who sit before it. They command a greater and expanding overall presence, with a more palpable and tactile presentation. There’s a punctuating, percussive and impressive groove to the music when played through the Bache Audio 002AB’s that compels one to sit and listen… and listen…. and listen.
- - -
Price $15,000 USA
10 year warranty
Bache Audio 002 specs：
Frequency Response: 22Hz-40kHz
Sensitivity: (2.83V/1m): 96
Impedance: 8 ohms (minimum 6.4 Ohms)
Power Requirement：8-100 recommended
Tweeter: Model—Fostex FT96 EX-2.
Wide range: Tang Band paper cone 8
Midbass - 8 “ composit cone phase plug driver
Lower bass-10” Vifa neodymium magnet driver
Crossover Frequency: 100Hz 500 Hz and 8000 Hz
Crossover’s Attenuation Slope: Low Woofer -24, Midbass -12dB, Widerange-6 Hz Tweeter -12dB
Crossover Components: True copper Audin is used for tweeter crossover Jentzen coil.
Connective Cable: Teflon insulated OCC cable
Damping Material: The polyester fiber and the PU foam
Connections: 4 pcs 18mm gold-plated copper connectors
Cabinet Material: High quality MDF
Finish: The standard finish is Zebrawood high gloss paint. Furthermore, there are also Figured maple PE high gloss paint, Cherry PE high gloss paint and the Black PE high gloss paint for options.
Dimensions (HWD): 43.3″×11””x12″
Net Weight: Gross Weight: 93 lbs.
Mon - Sat 9:00am - 5:00 pm
750 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232