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Review: Thorens SoundWall HP 600 Dipole Speakers: A Sonic Marvel with Design Elegance

Review: Thorens SoundWall HP 600: A Sonic Marvel with Design Elegance and Considerations for Discerning Audiophiles - Immerse in audio brilliance: Thorens SoundWall HP 600's sonic journey

Exploring Sonic Frontiers with Thorens SoundWall HP 600: A Dipole Marvel

In the early 1980s, Thorens, synonymous with crafting iconic record players, embarked on a sonic odyssey by introducing the SoundWalls HP 360 and HP 380 – unconventional open baffle dipole speakers. Fast forward to the present, and Thorens proudly unveils the HP 600, a daring reinterpretation of its historical predecessors. Crafted to celebrate Thorens’ 140th birthday, this dipole speaker represents a fusion of tradition and cutting-edge innovation, bringing forth the collaborative expertise of Thorens owner Gunter Kürten and the acclaimed loudspeaker guru Joachim Gerhard.

Reviving Tradition with a Contemporary Twist: Gunter Kürten, an avid dipole enthusiast, found inspiration in the unconventional brilliance of the HP 360, propelling Thorens into the limelight of speaker design. Teaming up with Joachim Gerhard, renowned for his groundbreaking work with Audio Physic, they embarked on the challenge of resurrecting the dipole concept in the form of the HP 600. This speaker pays homage to Thorens’ rich legacy and introduces a new era of audio exploration, defying conventions and redefining the boundaries of sonic excellence.

Introduction to Thorens Legacy: In the early 1980s, Thorens, renowned for its iconic record players, ventured into uncharted territory with the SoundWalls HP 360 and HP 380 – open baffle dipole speakers. Fast forward to 2023, and Thorens has revisited its heritage with the HP 600, a dipole speaker born from the collaboration of Thorens owner Gunter Kürten and loudspeaker maestro Joachim Gerhard.

The technical data

Thorens Soundwall HP 600
Concept:Dipole speakers
Equipment:TT: 12 x 15cm, MT: 2 x 15cm, HT: 2 x 29mm
Nominal impedance:7,6 Ohm
Efficiency (2.83 V/m):92,5 dB
Max. level (duration/short term):107 / 119 dB
Power for max. level (duration):> 50 Watt (8 Ohm)
Versions:Walnut high gloss, black high gloss
Dimensions (W x H x D):60,0 x 125,0 x 16,0 cm
Weight:39,9 Kilo

What are Dipole Speakers

Dipole speakers are a type of loudspeaker design characterized by the emission of sound in both forward and backward directions. Unlike traditional monopole speakers that radiate sound primarily in one direction (forward), dipole speakers create a more complex sound field by emitting sound waves from the front and back of the speaker diaphragm.

In a dipole speaker, the diaphragm is typically open on both sides, allowing sound to propagate in a bidirectional pattern. This design creates unique acoustic characteristics, including a more open and spacious soundstage. The interaction of the forward and backward sound waves can result in cancellations and reinforcements, affecting the overall sound dispersion and room interaction.

Dipole speakers are often used in home audio and theater setups for a more natural and immersive listening experience. They can be particularly effective for reproducing ambient sounds and creating a sense of spaciousness in the audio presentation.

Engineering Marvel: Mastering the Dipole Challenges in Thorens SoundWall HP 600

The creation of the Thorens SoundWall HP 600 represents a triumph in audio engineering, particularly in addressing the inherent challenges of dipole speaker designs. Unlike traditional enclosed speakers, open baffles, especially dipoles, confront a fundamental issue: the cancelation effect that occurs when the forward-moving pressure wave from a bass driver meets the negative pressure wave generated by the back of its membrane. This phenomenon often results in a significant reduction or absence of deep bass, a hurdle that Thorens aimed to overcome with their latest creation.

Joachim Gerhard, the seasoned loudspeaker designer behind the HP 600, drew inspiration from the limitations of the past, notably the HP 360, to devise a modern alternative. One of the critical innovations lies in the significantly larger baffle incorporated into the HP 600. The baffle boasts an impressive width of 60 centimeters and a height of 125 centimeters, providing a substantial surface area for the twelve bass drivers to operate effectively. Gerhard recognized that a larger vibrating bass surface was essential to counteract the cancelation effect, allowing the dipole to produce a substantial and fundamental bass even without the support of a dedicated bass cabinet.

Beyond the bass challenges, dipole speakers face additional hurdles related to the radiation pattern and potential sound errors caused by housing. Thorens strategically addressed these issues in the HP 600. The dipole design ensures that bass is not radiated spherically but in a figure-eight shape, minimizing unwanted interactions with the room. Furthermore, the absence of a traditional housing eliminates sources of resonance and vibration, contributing to a cleaner, more accurate sound reproduction. Thus, while the dipole configuration introduces challenges, Thorens’ engineering prowess has effectively turned these obstacles into opportunities, resulting in a speaker that not only overcomes the limitations of its predecessors but also sets a new standard for open baffle dipole designs.

Efficiency and Design Mastery in Thorens SoundWall HP 600

The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 is a testament to the seamless fusion of efficiency and design mastery, a synthesis that underpins its exceptional performance and visual elegance.

Impressive Efficiency: A Sonic Triumph

Central to the HP 600’s prowess is its remarkable efficiency, measured at an impressive 92.5 decibels (2.83 V/m) by the LowBeats measurement laboratory. This efficiency results from the thoughtful integration of twelve bass drivers on the expansive baffle, showcasing the synergy between engineering precision and acoustic excellence. The dipole configuration, radiating forwards and backward energy across the entire frequency range, adds an extra 3 decibels when accounting for room interaction. Joachim Gerhard, the design maestro, emphasizes that this high efficiency, coupled with the dipole’s unique energy distribution, contributes to a sonic experience that transcends conventional speaker setups.

Design Mastery: Harmonizing Form and Function

Beyond its sonic achievements, the Thorens HP 600 exhibits design mastery that harmonizes form and function. The housing, a sophisticated construction comprising a large 19-millimeter panel flanged onto a slightly bent side panel, reflects the artistry of product designer Helmut Thiele, renowned for his turntable craftsmanship. The aluminum strand that elegantly binds the two panels imparts stability and a touch of sophistication. This deliberate design choice ensures that the housing remains inconspicuous, allowing the speakers to take center stage in the auditory experience.

Moreover, the depth of the housing, measuring 16 centimeters excluding the base, serves a dual purpose. It accommodates the magnets of the twelve woofers and the narrow crossover while enhancing the lower frequency response. To maintain the aesthetic appeal, magnetic covers discreetly conceal the technological intricacies, providing a sleek finish to the design.

In essence, Thorens has achieved a delicate equilibrium between efficiency and design, demonstrating that the HP 600 is not merely an acoustic powerhouse but also an objet d’art that seamlessly integrates into diverse interior aesthetics. This balance speaks to Thorens’ commitment to crafting audio experiences that are as visually captivating as they are sonically immersive.

Design Elegance and Practicality Unveiled in Thorens SoundWall HP 600

The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 transcends the realm of mere audio equipment, standing as a pinnacle of design elegance and practicality, where aesthetics meet engineering finesse.

Elegant Construction: Merging Form and Function

Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the HP 600’s housing exemplifies a marriage of form and function. A large, cleanly painted 19-millimeter panel, artfully designed by Helmut Thiele, is seamlessly joined to a slightly curved side panel. This construction enhances stability and introduces a touch of sophistication to the speaker’s visual appeal. The unison of these panels, elegantly bound by a sturdy aluminum strand, presents a streamlined and contemporary aesthetic that complements the modern living space.

Beyond its visual allure, the housing is designed with practicality in mind. With a depth of 16 centimeters (excluding the base), it ingeniously accommodates the magnets of the twelve woofers and the narrow crossover, contributing to a sleek profile. This deliberate design decision ensures that the technological intricacies remain discreetly concealed, allowing the HP 600 to integrate into diverse interior styles seamlessly.

Practical Considerations: Magnetic Covers and User-Friendly Features

In an astute nod to user convenience, Thorens has incorporated magnetic covers to conceal the speaker’s rear, where the intricate drivers and components reside. This shields the technology from view and adds an extra layer of practicality for users who prefer a clean and uncluttered aesthetic. Magnets ensure easy removal and attachment, simplifying the process of accessing the speaker’s internal components when needed.

Furthermore, including a rear tweeter in a dipole design introduces a layer of versatility. To address potential reflection issues, Thorens incorporated a control for the rear tweeter, allowing users to fine-tune its output. This practical feature provides additional customization, adapting the speaker’s performance to the unique acoustics of individual listening spaces.

In summary, the Thorens SoundWall HP 600 not only captivates with its design elegance but also demonstrates a thoughtful consideration of practical aspects. Its seamless integration into various interiors and user-friendly features showcases Thorens’ commitment to creating a speaker that not only delights the ears but effortlessly becomes a sophisticated centerpiece in any audio enthusiast’s living space.

Navigating Impedance Challenges with Precision in Thorens SoundWall HP 600

The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 excels in sonic brilliance and adept handling of impedance considerations, forging a harmonious partnership with a diverse range of amplifiers.

Impedance at a Glance: Stability and Precision

Joachim Gerhard’s astute engineering understanding is evident in the impedance design of the HP 600. The speaker maintains an impedance at the DIN level, ensuring stability and compatibility with a broad spectrum of amplifiers. Operating at over 3.2 ohms, this choice strikes a delicate balance, offering a secure yet amplifier-friendly terrain for the audio signal to traverse.

However, the HP 600’s impedance profile undergoes a nuanced transition above 3,000 Hertz, a point where the two tweeters come into play. Here, the impedance drops below three ohms, emphasizing the transition from the midrange to the high frequencies. It’s worth noting that this impedance drop only occurs when the control for the rear tweeter is dialed up to its maximum capacity. A reasonable reduction of the rear tweeter level increases impedance, adding an element of control and flexibility to the system.

Amplification Synergy: Tailoring the Sonic Experience

The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 amplifier-friendly nature opens up possibilities for audiophiles seeking to tailor their sonic experience. With an efficiency rating exceeding 92 dB and a stable impedance profile, this speaker proves remarkably adaptable, and capable of synergizing with both tube and transistor amplifiers.

During testing, the HP 600 showcased its versatility by gracefully responding to the characteristics of various amplifiers. While the Canor Virtus I2 tube amplifier delivered a beautiful sound, the Electrocompaniet AW 800M truly brought the Thorens baffles to life with its unbridled power of 1,500 watts. This dynamic responsiveness demonstrated that, despite its compatibility with a range of amplifiers, the HP 600 particularly thrives under the stewardship of a potent transistor power amplifier.

In essence, Thorens has not only crafted a speaker that excels in acoustic fidelity but has meticulously considered the intricate dance between impedance and amplification, allowing audiophiles the freedom to curate their sonic journey with a diverse array of amplifiers. The result is a speaker that not only reproduces music faithfully but also invites users to explore the nuances of amplification, tailoring the experience to their unique preferences.

Unleashing Sonic Power: A Transformative Listening Experience with Thorens SoundWall HP 600

The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 transcends the ordinary, inviting listeners into a realm where sonic power meets transformative engagement, redefining the boundaries of what’s possible in high-fidelity audio.

Aural Grandeur Unleashed

Upon immersing oneself in the listening experience facilitated by the HP 600, the first impression is an overwhelming sense of scale. The sheer size of the baffles is not merely an aesthetic statement but an embodiment of the expansive soundstage they effortlessly command. The auditory landscape stretches wide, matching the visual grandeur, and voices emanate from heights exceeding 1.5 meters, creating a three-dimensional sonic panorama that defies convention.

One of the striking attributes of the HP 600 is its adept handling of dynamic range. Nick Cave’s “Idiot Prayer” becomes a sonic revelation as the piano resonates with authentic size and depth. The speaker exhibits an impressive ability to faithfully track the master’s nuanced touches, delivering dynamic jumps with an effortlessness that breathes life into the music.

Bass Authority and Percussive Mastery

The HP 600’s prowess comes to the forefront when faced with music genres demanding authoritative bass. Japanese percussion, featuring large Kodo drums, becomes a visceral experience. In concert with the open baffle design, the twelve bass drivers generate a powerful and resonant bass that defies expectations. The absence of a housing filled with insulating material allows the free vibration of the diaphragms, resulting in a bass performance that is both commanding and agile.

In a moment of sonic revelation, the HP 600 elevates electronic music to levels that induce involuntary grins. With a level limit reaching an astounding 119 decibels in the short term, the HP 600 proves its mettle in the hi-fi sector and ventures into sound reinforcement territory. Tracks like “Cowgirl” by Underworld become an audible and visceral, room-filling experience that transcends the traditional boundaries of home audio.

Amplifier Synergy: Tailoring the Sonic Journey

The HP 600 doesn’t merely accept amplification; it demands a partnership that complements its sonic ambitions. During testing, the pairing with the Electrocompaniet AW 800M, boasting an unbridled 1,500 watts at 4 ohms, proved to be a revelation. The synergy between the amplifier’s power and the HP 600’s capabilities resulted in a sonic journey that defied expectations. The levels achieved, reminiscent of sound reinforcement environments, underscored the HP 600’s capacity to deliver an immersive experience beyond the typical hi-fi realm.

In conclusion, the Thorens SoundWall HP 600 is not just a loudspeaker; it’s a gateway to an unparalleled listening adventure. Its ability to reproduce music with authenticity, dynamic prowess, and an insatiable appetite for sonic exploration cements its status as a transformative force in high-end audio. Whether it’s the nuanced subtleties of acoustic performances or the thunderous beats of electronic compositions, the HP 600 invites audiophiles to reimagine their listening experience and rediscover music’s sheer power.

Tailoring Setup and Navigating the Acoustic Landscape with Thorens SoundWall HP 600

The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 delivers a spectacular auditory experience. It demands a thoughtful approach to setup, coaxing enthusiasts to embark on a nuanced journey in search of the sonic sweet spot.

Cables and Connectivity: The Lifeline of Sonic Precision

The HP 600, with its intricate network of twelve bass drivers, midrange units, and tweeters, is sensitive to the quality of cables employed in its setup. In a nod to sonic precision, low-inductance cables prove to be instrumental. Cables such as the twisted Kimber Kables exemplify the meticulous attention to detail required to extract maximum energy and precision in the fundamental frequency range. Every cable choice becomes a brushstroke in the sonic canvas, influencing the final masterpiece that unfolds.

Distance Dilemmas and Room Harmony

Finding the optimal setup for the HP 600 extends beyond cable selection. Thorens’ recommendation of maintaining a distance of 1.2 meters from the back wall serves as a starting point, but the journey toward the ideal setup becomes a personalized quest. Experimentation becomes key, and the interplay between the speakers and the room acoustics becomes a dance that requires finesse.

In the LowBeats testing environment, 2 meters from the back wall emerged as the optimal compromise, delivering stable bass and maximum tonal balance. This underscores the HP 600’s adaptability, allowing for adjustments based on room characteristics and individual preferences. The speaker’s responsiveness to changes in distance, even as small as 10 centimeters, accentuates its sensitivity to spatial nuances.

Versatility in Rear Tweeter Control

Thorens introduces a distinctive feature to address the challenges of a rear-mounted tweeter in a dipole design—the control for the rear tweeter. The ability to modulate its output and even reduce it to zero if necessary adds a layer of adaptability. This feature comes into play particularly when the speakers are positioned near the back wall, mitigating the risk of unpleasant-sounding reflections. The control safeguards against potential issues and grants users the freedom to fine-tune the speaker’s behavior to suit their listening environment.

The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 invites enthusiasts to become architects of their acoustic domain. From cable nuances to room dynamics, every element contributes to the symphony of sound. The speaker’s responsiveness to these subtleties transforms the setup process into a journey of discovery, where the sweet spot isn’t just a fixed point but a dynamic destination shaped by the confluence of user preferences and the unique characteristics of the listening space.

Usability, Connectivity, and Unique Functions: Navigating the Thorens SoundWall HP 600 Experience

The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 isn’t just a speaker; it’s a versatile audio companion that seamlessly integrates into modern living spaces, offering a user-friendly experience while boasting innovative features that enhance the overall listening journey.

Usability with Elegance: Aesthetic Integration and Magnetic Covers

The HP 600’s usability is intertwined with its aesthetic appeal. The housing, designed by Helmut Thiele, provides structural stability and ensures an elegant presence. The 19-millimeter cleanly painted panel flanged onto a subtly curved side panel, exudes sophistication. The slender profile, a mere 16 centimeters in depth (excluding the base), allows the speaker to integrate effortlessly into diverse interior styles.

Adding a touch of practicality, Thorens incorporates magnetic covers for the back of the speaker, discreetly concealing the intricate drivers and components. These covers serve a dual purpose, maintaining a sleek visual profile while facilitating easy access to the speaker’s internals when needed. The user-friendly design extends beyond audio quality, ensuring aesthetics and practicality coalesce seamlessly.

Connectivity: Adaptable Integration into Modern Spaces

The HP 600 is designed with connectivity in mind, allowing it to adapt to various audio setups effortlessly. Its compatibility with a wide range of amplifiers, owing to its stable impedance and high efficiency, ensures that users can seamlessly integrate it into their existing audio systems. Whether paired with tube or transistor amplifiers, the HP 600 accommodates diverse sonic preferences.

Moreover, including adjustable controls for the rear tweeter adds more flexibility. Users can fine-tune the output of the rear tweeter to address specific room acoustics, enhancing the adaptability of the speaker to different listening environments. Thus, Thorens engineered the HP 600 as a standalone product and a harmonious component in a customizable audio ecosystem.

Unique Functions: Rear Tweeter Control and Dipole Design

Incorporating a rear tweeter in a dipole design is a distinctive feature of the HP 600. Recognizing the potential challenges associated with this configuration, Thorens introduces a control for the rear tweeter. This innovative feature allows users to adjust the rear tweeter’s output, even reducing it to zero if necessary. This not only mitigates the risk of unwanted reflections but also provides users with the ability to fine-tune the speaker’s behavior, enhancing the overall listening experience.

The dipole design, emitting sound equally to the front and back, is a unique function that sets the HP 600 apart. This configuration contributes to a three-dimensional sonic presentation and interacts predictably and constructively with room acoustics, making it particularly well-suited for contemporary living spaces with diverse architectural characteristics.

In essence, the Thorens SoundWall HP 600 transcends the traditional confines of a loudspeaker. Its usability, connectivity, and unique functions collectively create an immersive and tailored audio experience. Whether seamlessly blending into a room’s aesthetic, adapting to diverse amplification setups, or offering innovative controls for optimal performance, the HP 600 is a testament to Thorens’ commitment to enhancing the user’s journey through high-fidelity audio.

Conclusion: Thorens SoundWall HP 600 – A Daring Evolution

In the realm of audio engineering, the Thorens SoundWall HP 600 emerges as a loudspeaker and a sonic masterpiece that transcends expectations. Drawing on its rich legacy, Thorens has birthed a speaker that seamlessly blends efficiency, design elegance, and usability. The meticulous craftsmanship is evident in every facet, from the elegant housing designed by Helmut Thiele to the innovative features like rear tweeter control, ensuring a harmonious integration into diverse living spaces. With its three-dimensional sonic presentation, the dipole design serves as a testament to Thorens’ commitment to pushing the boundaries of audio innovation.

The HP 600 is not just a speaker; it’s an invitation to embark on a sonic journey. Its adaptability to various amplifiers, nuanced responsiveness to cable choices, and the ability to fine-tune to room acoustics offer audiophiles a canvas for sonic exploration. Whether reveling in the thunderous beats of electronic music or savoring the subtleties of acoustic performances, the HP 600 is a gateway to rediscovering the transformative power of music. With its commitment to artistry and functionality, Thorens has crafted not just a product but an experience that invites users to immerse themselves in the sheer beauty and dynamism of high-fidelity audio. The SoundWall HP 600 is a beacon in the audio landscape, inviting enthusiasts to elevate their listening experience to new heights.

Reasons to Consider the Thorens SoundWall HP 600:

  1. Sonic Marvel: The Thorens SoundWall HP 600 stands out as a sonic marvel, delivering an immersive and transformative listening experience. Its dipole design, innovative rear tweeter control, and adept dynamic range handling make it a compelling choice for audiophiles seeking unparalleled audio fidelity.
  2. Design Elegance: Beyond its acoustic prowess, the speaker boasts a design that seamlessly integrates into modern living spaces. The elegant housing, crafted by Helmut Thiele, not only ensures structural stability but also adds a touch of sophistication, making it a visually appealing centerpiece in any room.
  3. Versatility and Adaptability: The HP 600’s compatibility with a wide range of amplifiers, both tube and transistor, makes it a versatile addition to diverse audio setups. Its stable impedance, high efficiency, and adjustable controls cater to audiophiles with varying preferences and room configurations.
  4. Innovative Features: Unique features like the rear tweeter control showcase Thorens’ commitment to innovation. This allows users to tailor the speaker’s performance to their specific room acoustics, adding customization and adaptability.

Considerations Against Purchasing the Thorens SoundWall HP 600:

  1. Size and Space: The large size of the Thorens SoundWall HP 600 may be a consideration for those with limited space. While contributing to its sonic grandeur, the dimensions might pose a challenge in smaller rooms or setups where a more compact speaker is preferred.
  2. Setup Complexity: Achieving the optimal setup for the HP 600 may require some experimentation with cable choices, distance from the back wall, and fine-tuning of controls. Users looking for a plug-and-play solution without intricate adjustments might find the setup process more involved.
  3. Amplifier Preferences: While the HP 600 is compatible with a variety of amplifiers, users with a preference for lower-wattage amplifiers might find that the speaker truly comes alive with more potent transistor power amplifiers. This consideration could influence the overall cost of the audio system.

In conclusion, purchasing the Thorens SoundWall HP 600 depends on individual preferences, room size, and the desire for a speaker that marries sonic excellence with design elegance. For those seeking a transformative audio experience and are willing to invest time in setup optimization, the HP 600 proves to be a captivating choice. However, those with space constraints or prefer simpler setups might explore alternatives better suited to their needs.