June 05, 2020

Odeon Rigoletto 2020

As I conducted experiments almost over two decades with DIY open baffle loudspeakers, horn systems, transmission line solutions and all that stuff mostly in combination with full range drivers, time was come to search for a professional option. I always had the fun of the handicraft work in my focus and sometimes even created very interesting solutions which had its (sound) qualities in some special aspects. But I never created the Holy Grail of music reproduction which I always was hoping to get sometime...
Odeon Rigoletto 2020, veneer finish is called "Mappa"


On the other hand I have had my ears very close in touch to the loudspeaker market all the time and I believe I know most of the systems which potentially could be (or could have been) a perfect match for single ended triodes. My triode amps were even liaised with a nice professional two way system consisting of a horn tweeter and a bass reflex woofer for a few years (I am not going to mention the manufacturer here as I do not want to blame the speaker; honestly speaking I really had fun with that system). But finally I got more and more the impression that the lower octaves were slowly hobbling behind the mid and high range.
Compression driver in spherical horn and 18 cm bass-midrange driver from GAP in a back-loaded horn

This is an effect I never experienced with any Odeon Audio model I have ever heard. If you ask me Odeon Audio from Germany (located in Haltern am See / North Rhine-Westphalia) is indeed one of the most serious and reliable loudspeaker manufacturers in the world. Founder and managing partner of Odeon Audio, Axel Gersdorff, is one of the most creative master minds of the scene with his more than 30 years of experience and he obviously has a heart for tube amp lovers.
"My" new Odeon Rigoletto 2020 cabinets at Odeon, still without the drivers
(© by Odeon)

Some of you still might know the two way horn loudspeaker Odeon Rigoletto which has been produced approximately from 2003 to 2016. This was a design following the "pure doctrine" from the perspective of single ended triode maniacs. But I missed to grab this speaker in time when it was available. Unfortunately it has been discontinued as the follow up model Midas has been launched that time (around 2015/2016). Even coming along with a sensitivity of 95 dB, honestly speaking this follow up model with its two bass reflex drivers running in parallel and an impedance of 6 ohms is a very good choice for stable, stronger tube amps but never was a perfect match for single ended triodes up to let´s say 7 watts nominal power output (e.g. like a 300B is providing).
First rough positioning in my listening room

Slightly irresolutely how to proceed in terms of searching for a professional speaker system for my 2A3 triodes (a pre-owned Odeon Rigoletto speaker was no option for me), I spontaneously called Odeon in February 2020. Mr. Constantin Buchholz explained that they were close to finalization with the development of a new smaller speaker system being dedicated also for flea watt triodes. It was the new Odeon Rigoletto 2020 (but the name of the speaker still was not fixed that time)! Main technical boundaries he indicated: compression driver with Odeon´s famous spherical horn which is milled out of a block of birch plywood for the heights and an 18 cm bass-midrange driver from Galm Audio-Produkte (GAP, Armin Galm, Badenweiler, Germany) in a back-loaded horn for the lower frequencies. Odeon and GAP were developing the final design details of that chassis together over a period of about one and a half years in order to get the perfect system for their demands. Size, material, folding of the seam, Thiele/Small parameters etc. still had to match perfectly for a back-loaded horn solution.
Proud to own serial no. 01 (a and b for left and right); WBT nextgen terminals
Abbreviation "Rigo II" indeed should be "Rigoletto 2020"...

I will describe the technical specifications more detailed later, important to point out for now is: I simply pre-ordered this speaker even as neither the technical development was finished nor the final market price was fixed, simply trusting in Odeon´s skills, know-how and experience. It was a very promising blind buy to me but at no moment I did feel uncomfortable.
Both - ring radiator and paper cone chassis - are driven by a neodymium magnet

In early spring 2020 I was still hoping that I might pick up my speakers very soon at Odeon in Haltern am See. For me it´s just a three-hours-drive from the place where I live and I intended to bring along my new built Sun Audio Uchida 2A3H "special edition" together with my Audio Note M2 Phono pre amp to Odeon to have a first session directly at the manufacturer. On the one hand to pay homage to my new babies and on the other hand to meet Axel and Constantin in order to share our thoughts and have a talk about freak scene and hifi spleens. But then COVID-19 appeared in Germany...

Well, finally we agreed on shipping the speakers by a shipping company and accordingly they arrived by end of May. Unpacking them was feeling like Christmas to me! As I missed to inform you about further technical details up to now, it´s time to catch up on everything:

Dimensions (height, depth, width): 110 cm x 40 cm x 22 cm
Sensitivity: 94 dB/W/m
Impedance: 8 ohms
Max. power handling: 80 watts
Cross over: @ 2,100 Hz (slew rates: 18 dB/octave tweeter; 12 dB/octave bass-midrange driver)
-3 dB point: 42 Hz
Terminals: WBT nextgen 
Price: Euro 6,580 + 10% for special veneers

The positioning of the speakers is uncritical. They do not necessarily need the wall very close in their neck but they benefit from such a position. In my room the best position is a distance of 20-30 cm from the (back) wall. The advantage of the Rigoletto 2020 is that it has a bass horn which is firing downwards, using the floor as a virtual extension of the horn mouth. The substance of the bass foundation is simply unbelievable compared to the relatively small size of the speaker cabinets. Don´t get me wrong: the bass is very deep and the -3 dB point at 42 Hz seems more than reliable to me. But it is not booming - in fact it is very clear and free of any artefacts. There is no coloration except the one coming directly from the historical triodes... That really gives me the creeps!

I don´t wanna step too much into details now as next time my report about the Odeon Rigoletto 2020 will be published on hifistatement.net anyway. But I am getting more and more convinced that this speaker might be the last one I will ever own. I really like the relatively small size (keeping also their wife acceptance factor into account...) and from the technical point of view I believe that this speaker is almost perfect and technically on the edge in terms of the bass foundation which generally can be achieved with a 2A3 triode.

We do not need to talk about the mid range and high range sections as everything is perfect, too. It is so sweet sounding with a cross over between both driver systems which simply seems not to be existing - as if you are sitting in front of a full range driver. Of course no speaker is really perfect but the Odeon Rigoletto 2020 is the perfect partner for single ended triodes (of course even not being limited to!). I would even give it a try with a 45, RE604 or other similar special low power SET´s. The Rigoletto 2020 generally has a very neutral overall character and is free of any artefacts, allowing to enjoy and concentrate on the values, colorations and essence(s) of historical triodes.

For my recently new built Sun Audio Uchida 2A3H "special edition" the "Rigo 2020" simply is a perfect match and the calming effect is that I now can concentrate on collecting vinyl. Key word Uchida 2A3H "special edition": this is stuff for a new story to come next time. If you now should have tasted blood, I strongly recommend to keep directly in touch with Axel Gersdorff or Constantin Buchholz of Odeon Audio. Please note that you currently (5th June 2020) won´t find any details about the Rigoletto 2020 on their website. I assume details will follow soon but of course you still can order this new speaker.

Contact details:

Odeon Audio / Axel Gersdorff
An der Ziegelei 16
45721 Haltern am See
Germany
phone: +49 (0)2364 50 63 77
email: info@odeon-audio.de

Edit (January 08, 2021): follow up for the test on hifistament.net or for the test in English language.

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