Davis Acoustics Courbet No.7 Loudspeaker
Exactly 35 years ago, Michel Visan decided to establish his own production of speaker units. Having spent a certain amount of time in Audax, Visan joins the French manufacturer Siare Acoustique in 1968, in which he spent seven years as a developer and then technical director. When Siare passed into the hands of Harman, Visan left in 1986. and found Davis Acoustic. Davis Acoustic was one of the first companies to start using Kevlar, carbon and glass fiber in making speaker units, so the first product of the year of incorporation was a bass/medium with a Kevlar membrane, marked 13KVL5A. After producing only speaker units and kits for several years, in 1993, they were launched their first loudspeaker system on the market: Davis Acoustics DK200.
In 1988, two years after its founding, Davis displayed the first model for DIY community, and a year later TiCoNal magnet designed for 20TK8 driver, which still today represents a kind of legend and a benchmark for what the wide band driver of this type can transmit. In the same year the development of car speakers began. In 1994, management moved to Troyes, and in 1998 a production facility was opened in the city center. In the same year, Davis won the European award for best sound in the car for their speaker system installed in the Ventura MVS. Many awards followed - the Havalon wins awards in Russia, and on the wings of success in 2002.
Davis throws out the Cesar, model with a bass unit with 31 cm diameter. The Nikita model, now in its second incarnation, was designed by Olivier Visan in 2005, and a few years later, the Karla model represents the concentrate of all technologies developed by Davis Acoustics. In 2011. 20DE8 was born, the broadband speaker presented to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the brand.
Following the death of Davis Acoustics founder Michel Visan, in 2012 his wife Brigitte Visan took the top executive position at the company, while Olivier Visan, his youngest son, took over the management of Davis in 2014.
In 2015, new version of the cone of tweeter arrived, as well as the result of research performed for the Karla and this driver with the membrane of Kevlar found its way to Davis César HD.
Courbet No 7 Floorstanding Loudspeaker
The Courbet No 7 is a real three-way speaker that uses three interesting drivers, all three manufactured at Davis' own production facilities in Troyes. The 110 cm high box houses drivers which, each in their own segment, represent a reflection of Davis' philosophy in driver production. The tweeter is a soft dome with a diameter of 28mm with a double decompression dome, which also found its place and justification in the brand-new Model Karla 2.0 (several times more expensive speaker than the Courbet No 7).
The midrange driver is made from Kevlar, 13 cm in diameter, taken from the award-winning Olympia One Master model. A special story is a bass driver with a diameter of 17 cm, with a membrane made of carbon, which, in addition to being fast and with high definition, is specially designed to achieve an almost flat frequency curve. As its basket was trimmed on the outside, the box could be further narrowed with its total width of minimum of 18.5cm. This should contribute to a better space recreation of sound.
The depth of the box is 28.5cm, slanted backwards by several degrees and internally reinforced with two partitions. In the upper part of the box there is a tweeter in its own dome and a midrange driver suspended in bass reflex. In the middle chamber, open to the lower one where the bass driver is located, there is a crossover with parts of decent although not the best quality connected in the air. Special attention during the development of the series is paid to internal wiring.
After extensive hearing tests, it was decided that each driver would receive a different type, that is, the diameter of the cable. Tweeter and midrange are connected to the crossover via silver-plated wires in Teflon dielectrics and are of different sections or diameters. Davis said the approach optimizes the response, especially for the tweeter. The bass driver is connected by a copper wire of a significantly larger diameter.
It is interesting to choose cutting or meeting frequencies among individual drivers. Those are somewhat shifted "upwards", so the crossover frequency between the bass and the midrange is at 400Hz, and the midrange and the tweeter at 4000Hz, which means that the midrange itself covers a very wide and important range of at least 3-3.5 octaves in which a good part of the music takes place (tech. ed. note: These frequencies are actually quite close to the old gold standard of 500Hz / 5000Hz in traditional monitor three way systems – Danko Šuvar). How this is reflected to the sound, we will find out a little later.
Before we go for listening impressions, let's also mention that the large diameter bass reflex opening is located at the front of the box, which facilitates accommodation in smaller rooms (as we will see, in large rooms it makes it a bit difficult). The speaker terminals are of a single-wire nature, are of good quality, and according to the manufacturer, the frequency range is 40 Hz to 25,000Hz, with a declared sensitivity of 92.5dB/W/m and a minimum impedance of 5 Ohms.
So, finally, how does Courbet No 7 sound like?
We listened to the Courbet No 7 in the usual listening room with Exposure 3010S2 monoblocks, Chord Hugo TT, SMSL SU-9 and tube NOS AD1865 DAC, Exposure XM7 pre-amplifier and DAC, Pass XA-25 and Aleph 3 amplifiers, and XTZ EDGE A2-300 output amplifiers, as well as Schiit Freya Plus pre-amplifier.
For starters, a few notes. The speaker has been in my room for quite some time, so I've had plenty of time to get to know them, maybe more than with a number of other speakers. Furthermore, the speaker replaced Magneplanars in the listening room, which always requires a certain amount of time to adjust to the sound of the box, because there is simply no such sound with Maggies. However, from the very beginning, several things were clear: the speaker is sensitive to speaker cables, the speaker is sensitive to room placement, the speaker is sensitive to supporting electronics, and it obviously responses extremely well to the quality of ancillary equipment.
It was necessary to bring it somewhat closer to the back wall, a bit closer than with some of other models that passed through this listening room, in order to retain the heft and slam in the bass. Everything else mentioned above means that Courbet No 7 requires the owner to be dedicated and to put some effort to get the highest possible return from the speakers in terms of sound quality. Courbet No 7 also asks the rest of the system to be up to the task. Any savings on the quality of the device that precedes it, the Courbet No 7 will denounce with ease.
Let's start with the speaker cables. We quickly wrote off the Xindax FS1 because there was no synergy with speakers at all. VdH CS122 got along slightly better with these speakers, but we also experienced a better synergy with these cables. Anticable showed its usual virtues, although the whole sound was somehow flat and uninvolving. Next, the cable that in a history has not worked as expected in most combinations - Furutech u2t - fits perfectly with Pass Aleph 3 and XA-25, and slightly less well with Exposure monoblocks 3010s2, stretching details and definition through the overall frequency range. A close fight was ultimately fought between Furutech u2t and Wireworld Eclipse 7, only to hear Courbets at their best with both cables, with a slight WW advantage, given that it pulled a few Hertz and a bit more details from the speakers, along a deeper stage.
Speaking of stage, from the first moments, despite a rather long break-in period, it was clear that along with the midrange area and infinitely clean and precise bass, it was the painting of space into depth and width that was one of the best and most striking characteristics of the speakers. The vertical perspective is not as monumental as that of Magneplanar, but it can be somewhat offset by the additional tilting the speakers backwards.
As we have already noted, the Courbet No 7 is a detailed and open speaker with an extraordinarily clean and airy sound, whereby the dedication to making a midrange speaker, which forms the backbone of many Davis models, has its complete justification. This means that the reproduction of piano, vocals, string instruments is fantastic and if there were only a little less coloration of the box in the result, we could declare the midrange area impeccable. It is at an extremely high level and compared to other speakers of a similar concept or price, which we have had the opportunity to listen to, Courbet is at the very top.
For the highs, those maximum 2-2.5 octaves are in charge of the soft dome tweeter. Although a bit shy at a first glance and never aggressive, it can deliver a natural and pleasant sound, which goes on beautifully with the character of the Kevlar midrange driver, thus making listening to acoustic music a rather special experience. On the other hand, if you are a fan of explosiveness and stampedes of transients and details, you will have to look elsewhere, because this Davis in the high-end area is moving in a different direction – the direction of roundness, naturalness and balanced presentation.
Smoothness is certainly its greatest virtue, which guarantees that the sound of Courbet 7 will never be fatigue and hard. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the entire sound character of the speaker is shifted to upper part of the spectrum covered with the midrange and tweeter duo, leaning a little towards open but not a bright sound. For example, the Dynaudio X38 is a little darker in this part of the spectrum, and the Audiovector R3 also has a few lighter shades less.
Let us mention here that the final sound of the midrange driver depended significantly on the character of the amplifier used, thus varying from hyper-precise sound with somewhat stripped-down tones and lack of seductiveness, to a full-bodied sound with a significant amount of flesh and blood around each tone played, turning the speaker into a euphonic companion through music.
Especially interesting is the bass area, for which, along with frequencies up to some 400 Hz, a carbon driver with a diameter of 17 cm is in charge. Its inherent qualities, coupled with the construction of the box and Davis's philosophy of bass tuning, give it a quite special and unaffected characteristic - the bass is extremely accurate, precise, clean and clear. The legibility and cleanness of bass is exemplary, but the price is paid by its volume and depth.
Courbet 7 simply does not have that attack and slam that you psychologically expect from boxes of these size. A bass punch won't hit you in the chest, but you'll hear every tone played clearly and accurately. In doing so, it should be considered how we experienced this characteristic by listening to the speaker in a large room with a volume of approx. 150m3.You can make up for the lack of response in the lower octave by bringing the speakers closer to the back wall (we moved them as far as 35cm away from the back wall) and connecting them to slightly darker and more powerful amplifiers (Exposure, XTZ).
Although by placing it closer to the wall we got a few dB and Hz, we lost on one of the best and most important characteristics of Courbet No 7, which is layering and impressively delineating the sound image into depth. Returning them to their usual distance (front panel 90-100cm from the back wall), we enjoyed a sound stage built in Courbet's way, with beautifully positioned musicians laterally with solid and easily readable depth. In a way, we have forgotten the lighter bass area, but with Courbet No 7 it is not hard compromise to make given that drawing space is something that we have a strong preference of in music playback.
Although audio memory is unreliable and quite deceptive, it seems that in terms of spatiality, the Courbet No 7 has made perhaps the most striking impression among similar speakers that have passed through the listening room in recent years. Certainly, one of the positive qualities of the Courbet No7 is smooth transition between the drivers, the impression of phase and frequency balance, which allows unhindered listening to instruments with a wide frequency range of activity.