Vegas 08: Acoustic Systems

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by Josh Ray on January 16 '08


If you're familiar with the the brand Acoustic Systems and the mad scientist Frank Chang, well, forget everything you know. The story from CES isn't the stick 'em tweaks, but the new Acoustic Systems Tango loudspeakers ($20k, big pics here). The speakers combined with 1200 watt (yes, into 8 ohms) monoblocks by Karan Acoustics simply blew me away and provided one of the very best Vivid style sounds at the show.

I last heard the Acoustic Systems Tango speakers at RMAF and wasn't thrilled. Same Karan equipment, but at CES the Tangos appear to have new midrange and bass woofers. While at RMAF the sound was nice and laid back, at CES it became lively and exciting and just made me want to get up and dance. Vivid sound is defined by a warm tone with in-your-face precision and attack. The sound isn't laid back or mellowed for everyday listening, but big and full and tons of fun.

While the magic is in the midrange and treble, the bass is in another world entirely. I put on the loudest, most annoying hiphop track I had then took a gander at the triple 8" drivers -- no movement. The system was hitting in the low 20s and the drivers were barely breaking a sweat. I asked Frank Chang about the driver technology and he was either coy or confused by my questions. I'm a junky for driver specs but I could find out a thing.

What he did reveal is a unique "pressure releasing" port system in the form of a little notch the size of a fig newton. A few other companies have used tiny pressure ports (typically in subs) with great results and the new Acoustic Systems Tango really takes it to the proverbial 11. Fantastic job and I can't wait to hear the speakers and amps again.


Yes, these speakers are very good. It's interesting to note how very similar they are in design and execution to those from Consensus Audio and Lumenwhite. I believe it's Lumenwhite who first came up with the "pressure ports" idea. At some later time the Lumenwhite designer left to start Consensus Audio. Interestingly, I've read somewhere that Consensus uses Karan to voice their speakers and that Karan designed the amps that Consensus has marketed under their own name.
Hey Zombie, that is interesting. I took a look at the Lumen and Consensus speakers and, you're right, they feature the same pressure release style port. Their rated specs (for what they're worth) seem to fit with what I heard -- flat to 25Hz and below. I wouldn't be surprised if the same designer is involved with the Tangos.
Gentlemen, The port of Tango looks the same as the speakers you mentioned above but is completely different. The ports (two more at the rear side of the mid & high) of the speaker because of the shape of the cabinet. In fact, inside the Tango speaker's cabinet is much more complex, I convert the pressure to tension (damping factor) in order to control the resonance, at the same time the dynamic and overtone, specially near the port of the bass drivers, there are three different types of resonator in line to recycle maximum the pressure produce by woofers for better density (dynamic), transition (speed) and modulation. I only contributed (small amount) the design of Consensus at the early model, but not anymore. Designer Franck Tchang
Hi Franck, thank you for the clarification. It's a really interesting design and sounds fantastic!
I've decided to change my screen name to Voodoo. Sure like those new Harbeth 40.1's though!
Hi Josh Thank you very much for your show coverage also your comments. Tips for your listening enjoyment: Use a empty wine glass, thiner is better, put it upside down on a table or flat surface in your listening room while you listen music. The sound will become slightly more transparent. Simply reason is : the thin glass cup converts certain amount of the room's LF to HF, nothing voodoo.and is free! Vivre la musique ! Franck
Speaking of Karan Acoustics: who is the distributor for Karan?? The people at Audiofreaks in the UK report that they are the exclusive worldwide distributor for the brand, then there's Avatar Acoustics reporting that they are the North American distributor. What's the story with that?
As far as I know, Avatar is it in the US, and has been for a year or more. Email Darren at Avatar -- he's a cool guy and knows his stuff.
More tips for your listening enjoyment: Drink the contents of the wineglass and the bottle which filled the glass, then put the glass upside-down on a table or any flat surface(if you can still find one) and do what you will with the empty bottle. By the time you get this all done, you'll be rockin' and even your clock radio will be slightly more transparent!