It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Theophany speakers. I’ve been running a set of the M5 Series 2 floorstanders for years and they’ve stayed in my system despite many other excellent speakers competing for my attention. They’re not all things to all men – Gary Steel replaced his M5s with a set of Martin Logans but these big South Island made multi-driver loudspeakers always did enough to keep me happy.
My M5s have been in a storage locker since May thanks to my midlife crisis holiday but while I was away, I started thinking about replacing them with a newer version. After all, the M5s have been upgraded a number of times since the Series 2 model – there have been new drivers including a new tweeter, along with a host of other improvements.
A few weeks after I arrived back in NZ, I took a look at the Theophany website to check out the latest incarnation of the M5 only to find that there had been some major changes to the speaker, along with the rest of the range. New models, new names, new drivers, no more upward firing drivers. What the heck? A call to Garth Murray (the boss man at Theophany) was in order, which was swiftly followed by a list of questions.
The previous Theophany models were based on numbers – the more upmarket models carried the bigger numbers. The new ranges on the other hand are based on some rather interesting names – Paizo (“to play”), Psallo (“to sing”), Psuche (“soul”) and Rhapsody, with the various types in a range each having their own further designations e.g. Kardia (“heart”).
The full range of new products can be found here but as an example, the M5s have been superseded by the Psuche Kardia model. The upward firing midrange driver is gone, the tweeter is a new 22mm silk dome, the single mid is a 5” unit, while the two 5” woofers have been replaced by two new 6” high efficiency units. The cabinet shape looks similar but as Garth explains below, there have been some major changes.
Witchdoctor – What happened to the upward firing drivers? They were part of the Theophany look and part of the sound as well – has their removal been for sonic reasons?
Garth Murray – The upward firing driver did several things, it did enhance the image in certain ways but there were also some minor negatives with this. Predominantly they supplemented the bottom end. The top driver had a resonant frequency of 55 hz in the M3. The way to get bass was by utilising the back wave at a harmonic of the desired frequency we wanted to get to, a little like a transmission line. In the case of the M3 it was a harmonic of 34 hz. However this meant the speaker had to remain open and a single chamber. The company that now builds our drivers built us a new driver that has a resonant frequency of 28hz. This allows us to get much lower in a normal configuration. The minus 3db point is now 32hz in our new slightly larger bottom chamber in the Psallo Kardia. This also allows us to introduce a sealed top chamber in the Psallo Kardia which really improves the mid range detail. We have also found that due to the slightly revised shape and the new truncated 6” woofer in the bottom chamber our imaging has improved significantly. The image used to be very central but the image in the new speakers while very focused is also very expansive so that while the vocalist is in the middle the instruments are spread often outside the speakers on some occasions. The depth of image is also better.
WD – Is the 22mm tweeter similar to the torroidial tweeter in the recent M5 speakers or is it a new development?
GM – The new tweeter is not torroidial. We had some efficiency and slight peak problems with that tweeter although it was a very good tweeter. The main difference is that because of the sealed mid range chamber the 5” woofer is going very flat up to 2500hz rather than the 1600hz we were using previously. This has meant that we can reduce the size of the silk dome from 25 to 22mm. One of the reasons for the torrodial was to eliminate siblance due to dome deflection. This is not such a problem with smaller domes. The new tweeter is also more efficient and has a flatter frequency response.
WD – Have there been any changes to the cabinet construction?
GM – None of the cabinets are the same. They look similar but have had a lot of development. The Psallo Kardia is about 100mm taller and about 10mm wider than the old M3. The Psuche Kardia is shorter and narrower than the old M5. The new shapes give us better chamber volumes but more importantly are designed to further eliminate standing waves. We have come to realize that this is one of the single most beneficial advancements that can be made in cabinet design. Our testing has been very focused on this area. Hence the new Rhapsody shape which goes a long way to eliminate standing waves even more so than both the Psallo and Psuche range.
WD – Where does the Paizo range fit in?
GM – The Paizo range has been specifically designed to replace the M3b. They were such an important speaker in our range that we did not want to eliminate them. The Paizo looks similar but is slightly taller and a little wider. They go both lower and higher than the M3b. They are also flatter in their frequency response but more importantly like all our new models they are significantly more efficient and will pair very well with almost any amplifier on the market.
More info from Garth will follow soon…