Gerald (Andy) Andeskie (March, 2019)
I like things to be as simple as they can be. I don’t like complicated processing. Don’t like crossovers. I am a big fan of single driver high efficient speakers. I recently had the pleasure of auditioning Brian Charney’s Companion Excalibur for a little over two weeks.
Brian took about two hours setting them up in my listening room on a Saturday afternoon. He was careful in adjusting their distance from both side and back walls; their toe in; and the rake of the front panels. He ending up placing them a little further back than my Omega SAM’s and toed in to cross just slightly behind the listening position. So that is about 17” from my side walls a 24” from the back wall. My room is 11x17’ and the speakers are on the short wall. I listen semi-nearfield.
After he left, I spent most of my Sunday moving them around trying a number of different
positions thinking that I could better Brian’s placement because I know my room best. At the
end of the day they ended up right back where Brian placed them. The man knows his product.
These speakers excel in immediacy and dynamics. Their speed and detail are exceptional.
Percussive pieces in particular were well served. Mickey Hart’s Reference Recording LP
Dafos (RR-12) Subterranean Caves of Krono starts with peaceful percussive vibraphone-like sounds then erupts with a giant kettle drum and numerous cacophonous explosions. The startle factor is off the charts. Not only do you get the impact of the drum but a real sense of a mallet hitting the skins. Then the decay of sound in the recording studio once subsided. I played this piece for several visitors. I liked to watch for their startled reaction when the drums kicked in. My rat terrier would look up from her nap every time as well during this passage. High praise indeed.
The Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet with John Zorn LP (Voodoo BSR 0109) title track also
shone. Great walking bass line, very tactile drum solo, and Zorn’s sax strangulation was unlike anything heard before in my room.
Skip James Today! LP (VSD 79219) Hard time killing floor blues had a delicate ethereal quality that was seductive putting Skip in the room between and slightly behind the speakers.
Sonic accomplishments aside, I’d be remiss if I did not comment on the high level of craftsmanship Brian has put into his product. Each speaker is hand crafted to impeccable standards. My pair was walnut veneered with maple accents and had Voxativ AF 2.6 drivers.
This is a 5” driver! Brian is getting full range sound out of a 5” driver! The driver’s back wave is amplified via a horn Tractrix Theory design. Absolutely brilliant!
For reference, the rest of my system consists of a Grado Epoch/ VPI TNT HR5 with Rim Drive and 3d Arm/ VAS Citation One preamp/ and Sophia Electric 91-01 300 SET mono blocks.
I have been active in this hobby for more than 30 years. My time spent with Brian’s speaker has been one of the most revelatory, mind bending experiences I have ever had. Give these a listen!
Tim- Audiogo.com (March, 2019)
I have listened to many speakers over the years (40 plus) and fallen in love with a few and even owned some of them. However, I recently heard the Charney Audio offering at the Capitol Audiofest and was impressed enough to visit Brian Charney's residence where he builds the Companion Excaliber with an 8 inch Voxativ driver. This speaker has a huge sound stage not only side to side but front to back and presents a very "live - you are there" organic sound. It also does this at almost every volume setting. So you don't need to turn it up to high volume listening levels to capture the dynamics.
I spent several hours with my finest CDs testing the limits of his speaker offering. It passed with flying colors in every area (delicacy, bass response, speed, clarity, separation, midrange magic, etc.)
No matter what I threw at them they sounded astounding. And all this from some good electronics (300b amp) and a reasonably priced CD player ($1,400 Sparkler). Buy these speakers and pair them up with just some decent electronics and you will be amazed. Don't waste your time and money on megabuck speakers like the Wilson, Tidal, KEF and Avantgarde which I have all listened to with associated megabuck electronics from VAC, Krell, McIntosh, Audionote, Levinson, Lamm and others. You can't go wrong with the Charney's. I am not associated in any way with Charney Audio other than being an interested hobbiest. I also currently own a pair of Musical Affairs Grand Crescendo's which are very close to the Charney performance. Wish I had found the Charney offerings sooner. Just my opinion and just saying but you owe it to yourself to go have a listen. Oh, BTW the speakers are gorgeous looking and the build quality is exceptional (fit & finish).
Ahn Tran (November, 2018)
So the first time I spoke to Brian, he said "before you do anything, you need to come over and listen to my speakers, and then you can use your ears to decide." At first, I thought it's kind of weird that he didn't make any claim about his speakers (he didn't say these are the best, or these are the most detailed, realistic speakers you have ever heard, etc.). Usually when someone is trying to sell you something, there typically is a sales "hook" s/he would use, especially when I originally called Brian on something completely different (swapping out my speakers was the last thing on my mind...).
I decided to come over his place to check out his speakers. At least they look interesting, i.e., not in a box, but then I also thought that how they can sound good if they are not in a box (well because speakers in a box were all that I know - other than open baffles).
WOW. That's what happened when you hear speakers that let you hear things that you didn't think would be possible with reproduced music.
I heard guitars sounding like, ironically, guitars, piano sounding like piano, and most amazingly, the pipe organ... I firmly believe Beethoven's 5th Symphony played with pipe organ is one of the most difficult pieces to reproduce due to its quick pace but at the time requires the speakers to reproduce extremely low notes. It's like asking a monster truck to have the agility and pace of a bike.
Somehow, Brian's Companions with the Voxativ 6-inch drivers reproduced exactly that. I thought I was sitting in an European cathedral during that piece. It was quite unbelievable, especially if you were to take another closer look at the Voxativ drivers, they are definitely not 6 inches. Maybe 4.5 inches at most. I still don't understand how something this small can reproduce big, massive PIPE ORGAN notes and their decays. But they can.
And then we switched to jazz. I find the quick bass notes of the jazz bassline the most difficult for most systems to keep up with. These speakers, being 6 inches (or less), reproduced them perfectly. And when I say perfectly, it's not only that they can reproduce all of the notes consistently and not exaggerating any of them (which is already impressive), they do it extremely gracefully and naturally.
The way I describe these speakers is that they are not speakers, they are musical instruments in their own rights. Because to me, they don't just reproduce sound, they play music the way music is intended to sound. It's like playing music on a (very excellent) guitar - that's how music is supposed to sound for me.
Then my next question for Brian is whether this sound is only possible with his somehow-special electronics. So I swapped in my preamp and amp, which I recommend you do as well to gauge where your gears are at. Let's just say that you should keep an open mind on what's going to come out of those speakers and be open to the possibility that they may not be as good as you think they are. These speakers are brutally honest.
Let's just say that by the time I walked out of Brian's house, I was already asking him about the best places to sell my gears and speakers. And after purchasing and spending a few weeks with his speakers, it's going to be hard for me to go back to speakers in a box... They all sound like speakers in a box, closed, boomy (and that's why they require so much room treatment to make them sound decent... - I threw out all of my room treatments as much as I didn't want to, and my girlfriend really appreciated it), and overall just not how a guitar or a violin or piano should sound.
I'm glad I met Brian and went over to his place to see what he has to say, or really to hear what his speakers have to say... And trust me, you won't be disappointed. At the very least, let your ears hear and make your decisions based on those, not online reviews - including this one.
Tom F. (February 6, 2016)
" I’ve known Brian for 10 years. I had purchased some pre-loved equipment from him and had him custom modify some of my components to fine affect. My perception is that he is honest, does not cut corners in his design/modification work, and has a sound sense of design decisions that pay off in audio value. I feel there is hardly anything that Brian cannot design or fabricate.I had to have a serious listen when I learned that Brian was going to market his Concerto speaker. I found myself doing business nearby and spent an evening listening to his system and prototype Concertos on both digital and vinyl. I don’t have “golden ears” and I find enjoyment listening to systems of all different designs and price ranges. But, I do feel I am a discriminant listener and I have heard some very expensive systems at various audio shows. Brian’s Concertos were fabulous – dynamic, natural, continuous, with an impressively large soundstage and bass that went as deep and as taunt as one could possibly expect – all without special room acoustics, just a plain, moderately-sized living room. No Lowther “shout” or attenuation at either frequency extreme. I am certain the quality of his custom electronics all contributed to the sound. I left his house that evening thinking what I heard rivaled or exceeded anything I’ve heard at audio shows. I’m putting my money where my mouth is – Brian has a deposit from me on a pair of Concertos.
Here’s some thoughts on my Concertos after living with them for a month
“ I took delivery of Brian’s Concertos over the Holidays 2015. They were delivered in a single box approximately 4’ x 4’ x 8’. The shipping crate was constructed very well, and the speaker components were well protected inside of the box. I had the crate wheeled into my garage by the local delivery company where I could “de-construct” the box and remove the speakers at my convenience. I sent Brian pictures of the crate packaging. Once the crate was deconstructed, the removal and set up of the Concertos into my finished basement listening area was relatively easy. The maple base is the heaviest component of the 3 pieces. One needs two people to move the horn section merely because of its dimensions, but it is not that heavy. Once the enclosures got set up in my listening area, I fished my Kondo Copper speaker wire through the horn enclosure, connected the speaker wire to the DX4 Lowther drivers, and screwed the Lowthers into the horn enclosure with the screws Brian provided. The fitting is precise. It is obvious to my eyes that Brian built great precision into the labor-intensive cabinet construction. The Tractix curves are complicated, the black paint finish flawless (slightly “textured” by design), and, to my eyes at least, the lacquered maple horn surround and support base is a very nice contrast to the black horn enclosure. I had purchased from Brian the Lowthers (8-ohm version) separately, and had been breaking them in for a month before my Concertos were ready, but I could not play them very loud because of family considerations. Still, some break-in is better than none. My electronics paired with the Concertos consist of the Kondo KSL Nieiro 2A3 PSET amp, KSL-M77 pre-amp, KSL DAC, 47 Labs Flatfish (modded by Brian), and a Steve Dobbins Garrard 301 TT/Reed 12” 2A arm/ Koetsu Azule cartridge.These are superb speakers in my opinion. The Concertos are quick, dynamic, resolving, yet tonally rich, with a big sound and excellent sound stage. The highs are extended and natural; the bass goes satisfying low, and my guess is that the Lowthers will give even more as they continue to break in. I feel no need for a subwoofer. Being horns, the bass will benefit from corner reinforcement, however. The Concerto has a full range driver with no crossover; there is no issue with driver integration, the bass being “slow”, or whatever. There is no Lowther “shout”. Repeat…”no shout”. I know many manufactures tout the latest diamond/beryllium/graphene drivers in heroic enclosures. They can sound excellent; I’ve heard some of them and am not new to the high-end scene. The Concertos design, at first blush, seems much less technically advanced. But, the Tractix theory as executed by Brian in the Concertos just works to my ears; compensation for deficiencies elsewhere is not needed. The Concertos, to me at least, push multiples above their price point. The Concertos are truly unique in the market place are an end point for me, personally. I’m done. If you have the room for the speakers and can afford them, talk to Brian and see if you can hear them for yourself. Then compare the Concertos with what a similar sum, or even multiples thereof, buys you in the market place. I’ve personally known Brian for 10 years. He is a perfectionist, has a great ear, ethical, and wants his customers satisfied. That works for me."
HOME OF THE CONCERTO
NYAS 2016: Sunday Near the Park With Ken
New York Audio Show 2016:
PartTimeAudioPhile had chosen the Companion as one of the best audio components of 2017 in there year end report
Roger Kelly (February 25, 2018)
So i picked up the Companions last night. Brian spent 3 plus hours with me educating me on positioning these, his past audio equipment adventures and tons of other stuff. Seriously just a top notch human being. Let me say that he has owned tons of equipment and i am talking stuff most of us can only dream of. So i trust hid opinion, advice and guidance on equipment and set up.
As far as how they sound so far........
I am speechless to be honest! I worked on positioning a bit and they just sound incredible! Detail, transparency, speed, timing, decay and bass even at extremely low listening levels. The width, depth and height of the soundstage is outstanding. Like wife sleeping in the bedroom next to the left speaker low level. LOL
I am 18 inches off the front wall before toe in pointed at my nose like Brain recommends. At that point I am 5-1/2 ft to the middle of the drivers width wise and sit 5-1/2 to6-1/2 feet away. They exceed what top monitors and electrostats can do but with bass! I never thought i would like single driver loudspeakers let alone own a pair. Glad I kept an open mind and took the time to audition Brian's offering. These are end game for me! One truly needs to audition these to really appreciate what they have to offer. They really and truly sound like the musicians are in your room.
I am an extremely satisfied client of Charney Audio and feel that the Companion would have been a great purchase at even double the price. I hope Brian doesn't read the double the price bit. Lol, Just an update. The Companions just continue to surprise me and make me smile. They are incredibly coherent and super smooth with 0 listener fatigue! I find i just keep turning up the volume! I just can't get enough and does not what kind of music i hit them with. Classical, jazz, metal, electronica, pop etc..
Chris Rodgers (March 5, 2018)
I have known Brian for 11+ years. I live about an hour away and first met when purchasing a used DAC form him. He wanted to show that it worked, and played it on his then Little Big Horns. This was the first time I had listened to a full range single driver horn and was bowled over at what I had heard. Over the following years Brian had built and modified many pieces of my gear and advised on different full range single driver speakers. At first there were three different Omega speaker designs and then a pair of Medallion II back loaded horns with the Lowther DX4.
During this time Brian continued to talk about implementing the Tractrix theory and building his own horns. My first response was "Yeah sure, good luck with that" but I had a feeling, like a bog on a bone, he was going to pursue building them. Life happened and for a couple of years there was the occasional text to keep up with each other.
Then in August of 2012 I got a call from Brian...
" Yo man, remember how I wanted to build those horns on the Tractrix theory?"
"Well I did it"
"What do you mean you did it?
"I built a C&C machine, applied the theory and made some horns”
Two days later I was in his listening room looking at a pair of Concerto and Maestro horns. My first impression was What the? These things are works of art! Absolutely stunning! "Wait till you hear them" was his reply. So for the next six hours I was transported to a musical place I had never been before. Height, width, depth, tone, and deep articulate bass. They handled everything we threw at them and played back to us sweet 3D engaging music. I didn't hear sounds, I was completely engaged feeling every nuance deep into the artists soul. We played some Pop music and for the first time I began to think that some of these top 40 artists actually had talent!
On the drive home my mind was all over the place with one burning question "How am I going to afford a pair" Well it took a little over a year and I purchased a pair of Maestro's and have been very happy since! My room is 15x11x8, I have enjoyed them with a number of amps from class A/B SS, Class A SS, Digital SS, Vintage push pull tube, and now Class A SET 300b. The unique thing with Brian's speaker is, no matter what I was listening with, I always enjoyed the music. The positive characteristics of each amp was displayed as well as the limitations. My listening room doubles as my home office and some days it's hard to get out the door and go to work. I just want to hang in my chair and...
Thank you Brian for building a speaker that brings all I could want to my ears, heart, and soul.
Steve Farley (June 6, 2016)
"Over the last 45 years I have had the pleasure of listening to many loudspeaker designs. Planar, electrostatic and dynamic. For many years 2-way monitors were my reference account their imaging, soundstaging and coherency but I was curious of full-range single-driver systems. This brought about a visit to Charney Audio in N.J. I auditioned his Companion speaker with Lowther DX-55 driver. At first I admired the build quality of the cabinets. Gorgeous, finished craftsmanship and extremely unique in design. From the first notes of a Pat Metheny live in Europe cd I knew I was hearing the most dynamic, lifelike loudspeaker I have ever heard. Dimensionality, accuracy, tonality, coherency and musicality were all beyond any speaker I have heard. Bass extended into the 30's, treble into the stratosphere and midrange that is so light, fast and alive! This speaker is a sonic tour de force and a Must Hear for all audiophiles to hear!!! Bravo Mr. Brian Charney."
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