The audio world is a very different place now. Where mass market has its place, now more than ever so too does bespoke, and Zellaton’s core concept fits well now; arguably better than ever before. Every loudspeaker is built by hand, and the drivers themselves are essentially ‘grown’ by Manuel over a period of several weeks. The process has a relatively high rejection rate, as the 0.006mm thick aluminium foil used in tweeter construction is not easy to work with, and the process of bonding foil to foam is not routine, even after nine decades of honing. Once completed though, the individual drivers are painstakingly pair-matched before being used in one of Zellaton’s range. The brand’s Reference models frequently win ‘best in show’ awards whenever they are exhibited, and more recently the little Legacy two-way standmount played to wowed listeners at the Bristol Sound & Vision show.
The brand has moved on past just making bespoke loudspeaker drivers now, and the cabinets made for the company’s loudspeaker range exhibit the same innovative and inherently bespoke nature. ‘Innovative’ where the loudspeaker cabinet has effectively free movement of air across the rear baffle, yet seemingly exhibits performance more akin to sealed box designs (think of it similar to Briggs’ sand-filled baffle, except folded in on itself and using constrained layer damping for airflow); ‘bespoke’ because all that brightwork on the loudspeaker is made by the people who make the shiny things on Rolls-Royce cars. These are inherently expensive loudspeakers, but the words ‘off the shelf’ have no meaning for Podszus or Zellaton, and the performance of the speakers reflects that change.
We had a unique chance to hear Zellaton’s current range at its Munich factory earlier this year, and the range is uniformly impressive in its detail delivery, speed, and freedom from the artifice that besets much of high-end audio. It’s one of those instinctively ‘right’ sounds that are as enjoyable as they are rare. Being the complete opposite of the ‘box of off-the-shelf drivers’ methods used by some high-end speaker brands, they are hard to come by, but worth seeking out.
And this year, at Munich High-End, Zellaton is expected to launch a flagship loudspeaker beyond even the performance of its Reference three-way, five driver floorstanders. This will not be cheap, but it just might be the best speaker at the show.
Watch this space…