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Product Review
 

Duevel Bella Luna Omni-Directional Floor-Standing Speakers

December, 2004

Jason Victor Serinus

 

Specifications:

● Omnidirectional 2-Way Full-Range
● Drivers: One 1.5" Carbon Fiber Tweeter,
    One 8" Woofer

● MFR: 40 Hz - 20 kHz Ī 3 dB
● Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms
● Sensitivity: 91 dB SPL
● Power handling: 150 W RMS
● Dimensions: 42.6" H x 11.2" W x 11.2" D
● Weight: 65 Pounds/Each

● MSRP: If purchased direct from the
    importer, the Bella Luna is priced at
    $7500/pair. The Diamante
    pictured below costs $8000/pair. The
    price is set to go up after a dealer
    network is established at CES - 2005.

 

 

The speakers are currently available from:

http://www.highendaudio.com

Introduction

I canít recall how I first connected with Ted Lindblad of High End Audio, but weíve exchanged e-mails for several years. When I finally got to meet this personable man at CES - 2004, I discovered him playing music through one of the most attractive and unusual looking pair of speakers I have yet encountered. These, I learned in short order, were the Duevel Bella Lunas. Duevel speakers are manufactured in Germany.

It was difficult to evaluate the sound of the Bella Lunas in Tedís cramped hotel room. The amps were Klimo 7W single-ended triodes. The confined room made it impossible to appreciate the speakerís much-touted omni-directional quality. But what I did hear whet my appetite for a review. I was especially eager to evaluate the claim that the speakers image wonderfully off-axis. That they are light enough for an in-shape man of my diminutive stature to pick up and carry about made the prospect even more inviting.

The Design

Duevel describes its woofer as, " . . . a high efficiency 8" diameter cone loudspeaker with 1.5" diameter voice coil. Other features are a carbon diaphragm and a double roll textile suspension. The woofer has a die cast chassis, a large magnet, and a vented pole plate." The tweeter is a 38 mm carbon fiber dome with a Nomex voice coil.

Omni-directionality is achieved by means of the two lathed wooden wafers.

As you can see from the diagram below, the tweeter points downward, with the sound radiating out 360 degrees from between the two wafers. The woofer, on the other hand, points upward, and radiates outward into the room below the lower wafer. The speaker cabinet itself also resonates down low, albeit not without a minimal albeit inoffensive degree of boxiness.

Setup

For audiophiles with carpets that must not be punctured or floors that cannot be scratched, the Bella Luna vibration support system is ideal. Instead of spikes, the speakers come with their own removable ball-bearing supports that can rest atop any flat, solid surface, without damaging it.

Each speaker has four supports that fit into its four rubber-capped feet. Each support consists of a top and bottom steel wafer, in between which is placed a single small ball. To assemble the support, the bottom wafer is placed on a solid surface, in my case a maple cutting board sitting atop a thick Afghan rug atop a hardwood floor. The ball bearing is then placed atop the wafer, resting in a small hole in its middle. The other wafer, which rests atop the bearing, has a small hole in its bottom to accept the bearing. It also has a raised circle on its top side that fits into the bottom of the rubber foot. I had no problem placing the speaker on the cutting board, then tilting it one foot at a time to place the supports underneath. The whole procedure took but a few minutes.

The Bella Luna speaker lugs accommodate a single pair of speaker cables. There is not much room for hand and cable movement in the triangular space at the bottom of the speaker reserved for the speaker lugs. Some might find it necessary to lie on their bellies and use a flashlight to connect their speaker cables. Huge bellies are to a disadvantage here. So are bifocals. I would hate to have to connect inflexible speaker cables to these lugs.

Given that my Nordost Valhalla speaker cables are bi-wired and spade-terminated, I found it a challenge to get both spades onto a single lug and then get the other two onto the other lug without everything coming loose before I could tighten things down. I admit to yelling into the air once or twice before I got the knack of it. (Why people design speakers and amplifiers without making it easy to connect wires is beyond me.) Happily, once I mastered the angle, I found connection pretty easy.

As for design aesthetics, Iíll let the images speak for themselves. I love the look of these speakers, and would be delighted to make their long-term acquaintance.

 

The Sound

Rather than auditioning the usual stack of test CDs, I turned to Chandosí new DSD-recorded hybrid SACD of Samuel Barberís Opera Vanessa. I was delighted by Chandosí sound, which is very extended on top, rich in the midrange, and thunderous in the bass. I donít recall Susan Grahamís voice, which Iíve heard live on several occasions, having the edge I hear on this recording, but other voices sound quite fine.

Several things immediately struck me during my extended listening sessions. The first is that the Bella Lunas set the image much farther back than my reference Talon Khorus X Mk. II. Thereís a wonderful depth to the soundstage, with a huge amount of air surrounding voices and the stage as a whole. Itís not clear to me how much of this is actually on the recording, but the effect is both captivating and musical.

The sound, too, is surprisingly full. I did not expect the image to have the weight of the twice as expensive, double woofer/single tweeter/single super-tweeter Khorus X, but it did have a surprising amount of bass extension. I did not in the least feel deprived of bass with this speaker.

The treble was another story. Because the Bella Luna design is omni-directional, it does not have the pinpoint treble impact of conventional speakers. Itís not as if treble is not present, or high extension is lacking, but impact on high is far less immediate than Iím accustomed to. This was especially apparent listening to opera segments that progressed from solo or ensemble singing to orchestral interludes. Soprano voices, horns, piccolos and cymbals lacked the cutting edge I had expected to hear.

Listening to Bella Luna is analogous to moving from an optimal front and center seat in a concert hall to one considerably farther back. Up close, treble is very direct and brilliant, as is the bass. Move back 15 or 20 rows, or ascend to the second balcony and you lose the brilliant immediacy and detail on high. Bass, on the other hand, remains strong. (Sometimes, in fact, the bass seems stronger as you move back due to the extra resonance of the hall that reaches your ears.) In place of treble directness and in your face highs one discovers a newfound warmth and glow. Many prefer to sit farther back or in the balcony precisely because they love this resonant glow so much. This mid- and far-hall perspective is what you hear with the Bella Luna.

Comparison

When I switched to the Talon Khorus X Mk. II and revisited key passages in the opera, the difference in sound was dramatic. There was a richness and fullness to the midrange not available through the Bella Luna. Especially marked were the rich, almost syrupy liquidity and resonant roundness of the luscious cellos, which were obviously multi-miked. Equally arresting were the silences between sounds, and the marked contrasts of timbre between high treble, midrange, and bass instruments. What through the Bella Luna seemed relatively uniform in color sounded far more alive, impactful, and contrasted in timbre through the Khorus X Mk. II.

While the Khorus X Mk. IIís top was far more immediate and brilliant than the Bella Lunaís, its lower bass seemed if anything less impactful. Especially after hearing a recent Magnepan/Halcro DM 38/Levinson/Audio Logic/Levinson system at a fellow Bay Area Audiophile Society memberís home, I am convinced that the Khorus X would benefit from a subwoofer. The Bella Luna, on the other hand, does remarkably well for a speaker with a single woofer of moderate size.

Omni-Directionality

The Bella Lunaís omni-directionality is everything itís claimed to be. As I moved around my large living room, the image did change in size and character, but I never had the sense that I was ďoutside the soundstageĒ or that the imaging perspective was all mixed up. Rather, the music remained as a piece no matter where I stood. Itís a wonderful experience to move around without losing a sense of air, depth, and coherency. Omni-directionality makes the Duevel Bella Luna a great speaker for both serious and casual listening.

Designer Markus Duevel would argue that the pinpoint imaging of conventional speakers is unnatural, and that reproduction of recorded sound benefits from an omni-directional presentation. Whatever the truth of that statement, it must be noted that live, un-amplified music is never produced through speakers, regardless of design, and that it does radiate from a set, rather pinpoint source. A voice sounds very different heard from a singerís front than from the rear, while it sounds the same everywhere in the room through the Bella Lunas.

In short, omni-directional speakers are a phenomenon in and of themselves. Their sound, IMHO, is neither inherently more or less natural in character than that of conventional speakers. Itís simply different.

Speaker preference is ultimately a matter of taste. The Bella Lunaís highs and image are far less in your face than through the speakers Iím accustomed to. But that does not render their presentation inherently less musical. On the contrary, the extra benefits of omni-directionality will, for many music lovers, take precedence. It goes without saying that careful component matching is essential.

Conclusions

The Duevel Bella Luna is a one-of-a-kind speaker. Physically stunning, its unique design produces an equally unique, unquestionably musical sound that demands extended listening before passing judgment. Many will be drawn to its omni-directional presentation and surprising fullness of sound.



- Jason Victor Serinus -

Reference System


Digital Front End
Sony 707ES transport modified by Alexander Peychev of APL Hi-Fi
Theta Gen VIII DAC/Preamp
Theta Carmen II transport (on loan from Theta)

Amplification
Jadis Defy 7 Mk. II about to be upgraded to the current model

Loudspeakers
Talon Khorus X speakers MK. II (with latest modifications and Bybee filters on woofers and tweeters)

Cabling
Nordost Valhalla single-ended and balanced interconnects and balanced digital interconnects
Nordost Valhalla bi-wired speaker cable
Nordost Silver Shadow digital interconnect for DVD-V
Nordost Valhalla Power Cables

Also on hand and sometimes used:
Interconnects: WireWorld Gold Eclipse 5 and Gold Starlight 5 digital, Harmonic Tech Magic One, Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II balanced, and Nirvana BNC-terminated digital.
Power cables: Elrod EPS Signature 2 and 3 plus EPS 1, 2, and 3; WireWorld Silver Electra 5, PS Audio X-treme Statement, Harmonic Tech, and AudioPrism SuperNatural S2.

Accessories
PS Audio P600 Power Plant power synthesizer with MultiWave II
ExactPower EP15A
PS Audio Ultimate Outlet; PS Audio Power Ports
Ganymede supports in main digital chain and under speakers
Michael Green Deluxe Ultrarack, Basic Racks and Corner Tunes
Michael Green Audiopoints, and Black Diamond Racing Cones elsewhere
Shakti stones on amp, Theta, and transport
Stillpoints ERS EMI/RFI sheets on most components
Bedini Dual Beam Ultraclarifier, Audioprism CD Stoplight,
Marigo Signature Mat for use atop CDs, Ayre demagnetizing CD and the original Sheffield/XLO demagnetizing and break-in CD.

Room Size
25.5í deep, 37í wide opposite the speakers, 21.5í wide in the listening area. Ceilings are 9í2Ē high with heavy wooden cross-beams. Floors hardwood and carpet. Speakers are totally decoupled from the floor, resting on Ganymede supports and maple.

    Related to the article above, we recommend the following:

Primer - Speakers

 

 

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