Bache Audio Sonata Monitors
Fresh off the review of the Bache Audio 002AB speaker review, Gregory Belman, owner and designer of Bache, delivered a pair of his Sonata-001 monitors for my consideration. This very pretty speaker with an African Hardwood front baffle and piano finished gloss black tapered cabinet.
I’ve always loved monitors for their speed and accuracy. For the most point, I’ve always been able to divorce myself from their lack of ultra low frequencies… a good small monitor should deliver an adequate and convincing bass foundation with synergy and proper installation. I’ve been the owner of Spica TC-50’s and still have a pair of TC-60’s and never wanted for a subwoofer when listening through them. To my wife’s credit, when we got our Eminent Technology LFT-8b’s, my wife told me not to sell the TC-60’s when I offered to lighten the financial load with their sale. She’s got a great ear.
I installed the Bache Audio Sonata-001 Monitors in my basement system and went about breaking them in over the next few weeks. I liked what I heard during their burn-in and even more as the sound improved over the next 40-60 hours. My brother-in-law flat out loved ‘em.
The Sonata-001 monitors are a 3-way bass reflex design, with a unique crossover design based around wide-band driver. According to Belman, it’s quite difficult to get a 3-way design into a small enclosure, but doing so avoids the distortion typical at 2000 Hz. The Sonata features an attractive and thick sandwich type baffle of exotic African wood for the front panel that possesses excellent acoustic properties. The rear cabinet, which tapers smaller to the rear panel, is finished in a shiny piano black. The driver complement consists of a 5″ Composite cone woofer, a 3″ bamboo paper cone wide range and a 1″ AMT tweeter in a rear-ported box.
The rear panels of this 27 lb. pair each have a single pair of 5-way binding posts. Though there was no bi-wiring option, my bi-wired banana connectors adapted to use both the banana connections and the hole in each of the binding posts, allowing me to make complete secure and safe connections. Bellman chose to remove the widebander whizzer cones and augment his design with a separate tweeter, which is generally a good idea to remove any potential whizzer distortion. The addition of the 5″ composite cone woofer driver handles low frequencies and the ported design allows for further extinction of bass response.
Our smaller 550 sq. ft. basement space was perfect for the Sonata-001’s. The two brick walls and slab floor with area rug make for a snug and cozy change from the open loft space above. Visitors love the sound of this room, smaller systems sound great there. With the Sonata’s connected to my 40 watt tube integrated and source material delivered from an iMac using Amarra HiFi through a couple of weeks long break-in, things were ready and waiting for serious listening sessions.
Up first was Esperanza Spaulding’s “Radio Music Society” (Heads Up 2012). The Bache Sonata-001’s delivered Spaulding’s first track Radio Song with punchy bass and strong, solid imaging on a nice soundstage, and delivered with great timing, pacing and surprisingly authoritative bass from these small monitors. The result was foot-tapping and fun. The bass appeared to go down lower than the Sonata’s rated 55Hz frequency response.
On Cinnamon Tree, The highs were graceful and not at all gritty and voices were full-bodied and breathy. I sat there enjoying the Sonata’s quite a lot, without the desire for a subwoofer… It’s not how low you go, it’s how well you go low. The bass they produced was full, and forceful, with good body and depth – the Sonata’s appeared to go convincingly low without sputtering to a stop. These rear-ported boxes really moved a good deal of air to extend the lower frequencies. Spaulding’s voice is quite high and can sometimes appear a touch edgy, but on Crowned & Kissed the Sonata’s delivered the vocal with a nice focus and sweetness. The Bache Sonata-001 Monitors are long-listening speakers… and they throw a nice soundstage.
Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band’s most recent effort “Landmarks” (Blue Note Records 2014) is music played often here at home. The title track presented a very nice stage with sharply focused imaging. The bass had good body and wood texture and the horns were honey-dipped. Blade’s playful cymbal work and willingness to hang well in the background shows his maturity as a leader. The lower frequencies had a strong presence and impact and the bass clarinet was beautifully captured and quite realistic. The piano body was solid and sure, percussion was emotive and commanding and the sax players breathy, blow was mostly air. A lot of energy was captured and the Sonata’s conveyed it well.
Scott Amendola and Charlie Hunter’s sophomore effort, “Pucker” (Sazi Records 2013) rushed forth from the Sonata’s demanded “Don’t just sit there waiting to be asked to dance!” as they delivered this duos’ drums and bass work with damn good energy, weight and punch. The descriptor “Punch” came to mind time and again while listening to the Sonata’s. As a guitar player, I appreciate the simplicity of Hunter’s guitar work and have to remind myself that he’s playing both the guitar and bass lines on his 8 string instrument… at the same time. Geez, I need to practice more! “Pucker”, the title track was a snappy and enjoyable piece, full of dynamics, and, through Deep Eyes, quick transients and dynamics had a right-in-the-room feel with the Sonata’s.
Perhaps Kip Hanrahan greatest talent is assembling a great intuitive band. From effort to effort, his unions of talented musical and poetic souls never disappoint, and his use of jack Bruce as his primary voice was the single source of my sadness when Bruce passed. Such great music… and a side of Jack so few even heard – Hanrahan’s musical events have led me time and again to marvel at Bruce’s abilities. A quick run through “Coup De Tête” (American Clave 1981) showed that the man doesn’t shy away from a good beat, and the Sonata’s-001’s picked up on the foot tapping rhythms without, uh, losing a beat. Braying saxophones broke the plane with dissonant brittle lines as percussion held everything together.
The vinyl release of Lalo Schifrin’s ”Bullitt” soundtrack, is serious fun to play! To my ear, while late 1960’s-1970’s in style to be sure, has aged very well and the score and playing are top notch. Great care was taken for the vinyl RSD 2014 (Aleph Records) release – 200g vinyl and it came with a digital download card – even those downloaded 320 kbps tracks kick serious butt. “Dynamic, quick, rhythmic, fun!” were my first responses noted when listening through the Bache Sonata-001 Monitors. Driving rhythms, powerful bass and punchy sonorous horns and bold piano body enliven a score full of dynamics. Breathy flute solos possessing a sense of danger and immediacy, coupled with boastful sax displays, carry the themes with great texture and intensity. Big, bold electric bass lines support this entertaining score. – all beautifully conveyed through the Sonata-001 monitors.
Finally, a play of Petros Klampanis’ “Contextual” (Circle Music 2011) was eye-opening. Klampanis, a masterful arranger, is also one heck of a bassist. Through the Sonata-001’s, the presentation of Thalassaki was an in-the-room picture of the recording event – raw, rosin-dripped, urgent, pleading strings overlay a percussive undercurrent – insistent and almost desperate in tone. On Skylark, “Klampanis’ solo upright bass imaged very well here with great body, wood texture and drive. With a play of The Necessary Blonde, the Sonata’s provided deep full-bodied bass and intense saturated string tone and wood resonance with a 3-D quality to the soundstage. So sure, so very sonorous and so well-played are these tunes by these talented participants who embedding intense emotion in each and every instrument played.
I bought my refurbished Spica TC-60’s from Parasound back in the mid-nineties. They weigh in at 26 lbs. each to the Sonata’s 27 lbs, and both speaker models are blessed with the same 87 dB sensitivity… a comparison was in order. The TC-60’s sold for $800 at the time, the Sonata-001’s sell for $2750 as I write this. An inflation calculator brings the TC-60’s to a cost of $1258 if new today – not exactly a dollar for dollar comparative value, but a head to head comparison I could not resist.
Swopping out the Sonata’s for the Spica’s surprised me. The crisp, strong, bass energy was not as evident as with the Sonata’s, even though the TC-60’s are rated to go lower and have a larger woofer. Those desperate and pleading strings I heard with the Sonata’s seemed to lack a bit of the emotion through the Spica’s. The renowned Spica imaging and soundstage traits were evident, but the music felt a touch more tame, less immediate, not as intense and even slower at times. A replay of the “Bullitt” soundtrack revealed the same results. Are the Spica’s more refined or are the Sonata-001’s better at reproducing the rawness in this music? Given that widebander drivers tend to deliver more punch and coherence, my money is on the Sonata-001’s for displaying more musical truth with their augmented design.
I liked the Sonata-001 Monitors from early in their break-in, as did my brother-in-law. He said “Looks like it’s time to replace the Spica’s.” My wife heard me talking about the Sonata’s and she voiced concern for our beloved TC-60’s – maybe it’s time for her to come down and give the Sonata’s a listen.
The Bache Sonata-001 Monitors are a seriously “fun to listen to” pair – they convey immediacy, speed and drive in program material quite well and I like how small they are and how big they appear. Highly recommended if you’re in the market for an over-performing monitor.
Addendum: Belman has further modified the crossover, adding a coil to roll back the tweeter for an improved high frequency response.
3 Way bass reflex monitor
Thick sandwich type baffle using combination exotic African wood with excellent acoustic properties.
Performance: Unique crossover design based around wide-band driver, which cover the range from about 500 Hz to 10 kHz, without crossovers in the critical range to which the ear is most sensitive.
Frequency Response：55Hz-27kHz +- 3db
Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohm
Recommended amplifier power: 50-300 W
Crossover frequency: 500, 10000Hz
Sensitivity: (2.83V) 87 db
Drivers: 5″ Composite cone woofer, 3″ bamboo paper cone wide range, 1″ AMT tweeter
Dimension: 14″ H x (8.5″ W front, tapering back to 4.5″W ) W x 13″ D.
Weight: 27 lbs
Price: MSRP: $2,750.00 USA – (We offer a 2 week free trial period. Full amount refund with no question. We pay return shipping.)
10 year warranty. Bache Audio 30-Day Risk-Free Trial. We are confident that you will love your purchase, but we know that playing speakers in your intimate home setting is the only way to truly test them. If you are not completely thrilled with your purchase, you can return the speakers within 60 days, subject to the following terms – returned speakers must be in new condition – no signs of damage or abuse, including scratches, fingerprints, dust, etc.
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