It’s an iron age Scottish hill fort apparently. What this has to do with a company based in the south of England or the two-way speaker that has taken the name is not clear, but it makes you look twice before you try and say it. Alacrity is a young company and this is its first product. It’s not the most impressive looking speaker for the £2,000 asking price and the lack of badging or labelling of any kind suggests that it will stand or fall on performance alone. It cannot be easy to get a foothold in the hi-fi market today; the costs of manufacturing in small numbers means that it’s impossible to compete with the big boys. Most small companies tell me that every £10 they spend on parts equates to at least £100 on the retail price. That sounds extreme but the fact that the manufacturer only gets paid a third of the retail price gives some explanation. The only answer is to build something a little bit different and hope to find a niche audience. This would appear to be Alacrity’s approach because on paper the Caterthun doesn’t look like it stands a chance, but in the same way that measurements can never tell you what a product sounds like, appearance and spec are equally deceptive.
The real wood veneer is very professional however and the drivers are of a high quality, but it takes more than that to compete in today’s hard fought market place. On the other hand, plenty of long standing brands started out the same way and only time will tell whether Alacrity will join their ranks.
The website describes the Caterthun Classic as a boundary-proximity design, by which I understand that it is intended to be placed close to the rear wall. The front firing reflex port backs this up to some extent as does the pleated surround of the main driver. This is an uncommon sight on modern twoways, and usually equates to high sensitivity and short excursion, but this is specified at 88dB, which is not unduly efficient. The cone appears to be polypropylene and is 120mm in diameter but sits in a 170mm chassis that sits on top of the cabinet rather than being recessed into it. The tweeter is less distinct and looks like a hundred others except for a short horn to assist sensitivity, the dome is a soft textile that’s rather larger than the 20mm indicated in the company’s specs, it’s closer to 25mm.