TAVES 2012

For me, one of the best sounds of the 2011 TAVES was the system from Blueberry Hill Audio ("The Home of Musical Thrills"), featuring their Rhapsody 3D speakers. This year, they had a new speaker called Nocturne 3D, priced the same as last year's Rhapsody 3D. (Click here for a description of that speaker.) The Nocturne 3D bears considerable resemblance to the Rhapsody 3D, and still uses a bipolar arrangement Fostex drivers in the midrange, but these drivers are 6" rather than 8", and it has a completely new subwoofer section, using two drivers rather than a single driver. The price is $14,900/pair, factory-direct, and, just looking at the components used and the construction—never mind the sound—if the speaker sold through normal retail channels the price would be easily double that. (There is now a Rhapsody 4D, at $24,900/pair.)

And what about the sound? Clean, wide-ranging (claimed to go down to 12Hz), ultra-quick, with startling dynamics. Most definitely one of the best sounds of the show. The Nocturne 3D is shown here with its designer,
Marlen Mogilever Ph.D.

This room gets my vote for the “Best Sound at the Show”. Marlen Mogilever the Director of R & D at Blueberry Hill Audio is an elderly gentleman who can barely contain his passion for pushing the state-of-the-art in reproduced sound. At TAVES he demonstrated his top-of-the-line Rhapsody Speaker and his more affordable Nocturne Speakers as well as his Figaro Cables and interconnects including a USB cable.
The speakers have a very unique design and incorporate Fostex  (Japanese) driver units that use banana fibre pulp (you read that right) as cone material. According to Marlen, banana fiber pulp is a great choice for cone material because it is supple and dense. This apparently improves mid-high frequency response.

For those of you who have read my reviews over the past 30 years, you know I am not given to hype and I am very hard to impress. However, the sound of the Rhapsody Speakers did impress me. This is one of my closest encounters to experiencing sound so close to the live performance via speakers. The dynamic range, the air around the voices and instruments, the way the leading edges were rendered and the tuneful way that the bass was reproduced really did sound very close to the real thing. And here is the kicker, the Rhapsody retails for $25,000. I have no hesitation in proclaiming that these speakers were better in most respects than many of the speakers I have reviewed and heard that carry a 6-figure price tag.  Even if you have a 6-figure budget, I would strongly recommend that you listen to the Rhapsody Speakers before you pull the trigger. You could end up with speakers that satisfy you in every respect and still have enough money left over to splurge on a fully loaded BMW 3 series.

Blueberry Hill Audio’s more affordable Nocturne Speakers are priced at $15,000 and although I did not hear them, Marlen claims that they have the same tonal characteristics as the Rhapsody Speakers. If that is true, it would make them an incredible bargain as well.