When you go to a live concert, where do you sit? Are you a stalwart occupant of the first five rows, keen to hear everything the conductor hears, including the rustling as he turns the score? Or do you sit a little further back, maybe the next ten rows or so, preferring to let the venue make more of a contribution, perhaps? Your answer to this question may give a clue as to whether the Brodmann F2 loudspeakers are for you.
The Brodmann name is well known in certain Viennese circles; the good Mr. Brodmann started making pianos in Vienna over 200 years ago, passing the baton to his protégé, a Mr. Bösendorfer, in 1828. Over the years, the Bösendorfer name became extremely famous for piano making, but the Brodmann name never completely went away. Several years ago Bösendorfer, developed a range of high-end loudspeakers, but when Bösendorfer was taken over by Yamaha, the loudspeaker range was handed over to Brodmann, which still makes a range of well-regarded pianos.
The F2 sits at the top of the junior range of Brodmann loudspeakers, the Festival series, which comprises one wall-mount, one standmount, and two floorstanding models. The more expensive VC (Vienna Classic) models are all floorstanders. The F2 is an elegantly proportioned, moderately tall, and fairly slender floorstander finished, as you might expect, in impeccable piano black. For the Festival series, Brodmann has helped keep prices manageable by adopting Henry Ford’s colour palette, whereas other finishes are also available for the VC series. I do enjoy a nice piano black finish, particularly one as well executed as this one (unsurprisingly proving that piano makers know how to make a good piano finish), so this was absolutely no hardship at all.
The thing that struck me about Brodmann loudspeakers when I first heard them was the way in which even the small standmounts filled a moderate sized room with music. There was something about the way the musical energy found its way into the room, which felt quite natural and unforced. Thus, a small box, without obvious strain or effort, could drive a largish room to quite respectable levels. This is something of a Holy Grail among loudspeaker builders. The reason for this appears to be a feature of the unusual ‘sound-board’ design adopted in all Brodmann designs, in one form or another. Certainly, the Brodmanns’ room-filling abilities extend beyond what might be expected for the size of the cabinets.
Brodmann does draw on some musical instrument design principles, most obviously the fact that its loudspeaker cabinets are entirely devoid of damping materials. Like the sound boxes of many instruments, the loudspeakers rely on bracing for rigidity, and careful design to produce a cabinet whose contributions are minimal and largely benign. Not having to work against damping is said to help the driver to more accurately follow the signal, and unwanted resonances are minimised by careful driver design.
The second interesting feature is Brodmann’s ‘sound-board’ bass management. Rather than a port or a transmission line, bass output is controlled by a slot in the cabinet, which creates what Brodmann refers to as a ‘horn resonator’, an invention of the loudspeakers’ designer, Hans Deutsch. The mass of air in the cabinet is driven by the output of the sideways-firing bass/mid driver (hence the lack of damping), and this energy exits the cabinet via a carefully dimensioned slot created by the gap between the cabinet proper and the ‘sound-board’. In the VC series, this slot stands off from the cabinet sides, but in the F2 it utilises the speaker’s baseplate.