Audio for the elite
that classic axe out of your reach? Fear not, there are always affordable options that strut almost as manfully as the legend.
THE Les Paul has endured somewhat of a strange existence in its lifetime. It came out in the 1950s, was discontinued early in the 1960s and experienced a resurgence late that decade courtesy of Eric Clapton.
Then it died during the hair rock era of the 1980s but was given a new lease of life, this time by Slash, late in that decade.
Since then, it’s been a guitar that’s remained a fantasy for many players of the instrument. So, it’s barely surprising why it’s also one of the most-copied designs by many other guitar makers.
Hence, what you get out there is the good, the bad ... and the ugly.
Cort certainly makes them pretty and neat, so an LP copy would always be welcome, and what more from a range called Classic Rock.
Handsome, not pretty
The CR250 was already begging to be played when seen hanging in the retailer’s store. Yes, this one was a beauty – simple, yet with well-applied aesthetics. It’s tried and tested tradition here of two humbucking pickups, with two volume and tone controls each and a three-way toggle switch for configuration changes.
The guitar’s body is a straightforward affair of a mahogany (and the neck, too) slab capped with a flame maple veneer. Unlike an authentic LP though, the CR250 has square fretboard inlays on its 22 frets, which span a 24 ¾-inch scale neck.
The nickel hardware is a nice touch. Overall, this is a handsome guitar, not a pretty boy. LET’S say you belong to an elite breed of consumer who demands the very best. House, a luxury prime-area bungalow with exotic accoutrements; car, a Bentley on week days, an Aston Martin for the weekends; holiday ... oh, alright, you’re just loaded with it. So when it comes to an audio or home theatre system, you’re not going to settle for anything less. Here’s something for you, then.
Eclectic products are not a rarity in the world of hi-fi, but even then, there are statement designs by a handful of manufacturers that occupy a niche that’s all their own. Take for example, the collaboration between the legendary piano manufacturer from the United States, Steinway & Sons, and cuttingedge audio innovator Peter Lyngdorf.
Lyngdorf, a Dane who designed the world’s first full-range DSP room-correction device when he was with the now-defunct Snell Acoustics, dreamed for years of building the perfect sound system. The story goes, he promised Steinway, who have turned out the world’s finest pianos for more than 150 years, that the system he designed would make a recorded Steinway sound like the real thing.
The result was the imposing Steinway Lyngdorf Model D system, comprising a podium-sized module housing a CD player and processor, and a pair of massive digital speakers. The Model D, without argument, is a no-compromise product for the music lover yearning to make a statement. It’s no off-therack system but built to order – the wait time is two months, because the finish is done at the Steinway facility. The price tag, not surprisingly, runs in the high six-figure range.
Of course, there are more “affordable” products in the range, built for smaller spaces and needs. The latest among them, launched worldwide a couple of months ago and in Malaysia this month, is the S-series, a speaker system that promises to deliver, whether in stereo or multi-channel configuration, “stunning, true-to-life sound from a surprisingly compact size.”
The system was demo-ed to the media at the showroom at Starhill Gallery in Kuala Lumpur by Steinway Lyngdorf’s Asia Pacific vice-president (sales and operations) Ranjit Wijedasa.
What was impressive was how the 5.2 system – yes, two boundaries subs are used in multi-channel configuration, each with two 10-inch woofers – filled up a large room without losing control of detail or dynamics, when Wijedasa played us a concert video. Was it as good as the real experience – well, if you stretched the imagination a bit, you could be in the moment!
Then again, factor out the hassles of going to a live event, and you can understand why concert videos, on high-definition video and high-resolution audio, are so popular.
Even with a 2.2 set-up, the S-series sys-
This axe was variously plugged through Silvertone 1482 and National Tremo-tone amps – low-watt, single twelve-inch tubed jobs. For gain purposes, a Vox Ice-9 overdrive pedal was pressed into duty.
The CR250 is a hefty chunk of wood that balances nicely when played. Neck access is as good as a single-cut design would allow but the 12-inch, rather flat radius took a lot of getting used to.
Tonally, though, this is a fine piece of plank. It was hard not to whip out the gems ... tunes from Free, Led Zep, Skynyrd and so forth.
This baby’s a ragged glory. It’s not a refined instrument – it’s rude and crude, so when you sculpt your tone across the volume range on tem sounded spectacularly punchy and detailed, capturing kick drums and low bass with finesse, while allowing the midrange to breath easily. One was impressed by how natural the whole presentation sounded, no matter the seating position.
The S-15 satellite speaker’s heart is the AER (Ambience Enhancing Radiation) dipole tweeter design, which disperses higher frequencies for a spacious dipole effect. It can be placed up against or parallel to a back wall. The AER design, explained Wijedasa, allows the high frequencies to spread out at a wider angle, thus favouring less critical seating position.
Of course, at the heart of the Model SP-1 Surround Sound Processor that is part of the S-series system (you also get monobloc digital amplifiers) is the proprietary Roomperfect
A go-to axe
Years ago, a made-in-indonesia guitar was considered the lowest common denominator, but this guitar is certainly going to cause some reassessment of opinions.
For its asking price, the finishing is immaculate, the electronics are top-notch and the guitar sounds just like a rocking Les Paul. But then again, this is the philosophy that Cort has continually sowed, so this shouldn’t be all to surprising.
If you know a Gibson Les Paul is out of your league, you really have to give this one a go. And if you are looking for a lowly-priced back-up to your Gibson Les Paul, this is also the go-to guitar. So is this mine, then? technology developed by Lyngdorf. This offers an esoteric alternative to the traditional route of adapting the room to the sound system using acoustic room treatment. Steinway Lyngdorf instead adapts the sound system to the room.
The S-series is, given the number of components in it, competitively priced, closing in on a six-figure tag for a 2.2 system that comprises two speakers, two subs, the processor and amplifiers. A full 5.2 set-up would, of course, cost a bit more than double. Yet, for a unique home theatre experience at home, this one rides out in front of the pack.
For more information on Steinway Lyngdorf, see steinwaylyngdorf.com. Or just head down to the Steinwaylyngdofshow Suite(% 03-21451669) to hear it for yourself.