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Quadral Vulkan VIII
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Quadral Vulkan VIII loudspeaker

From Hi-Fi World - April 2012 issue

 

Volcanic

 

quadral-vulkan-viii-site

 

From Quadral comes the massive Vulkan VIII loudspeaker. German for volcano, would it live up to its fiery name, Noel Keywood wonders?

 

Vulkan with a ‘k’ is German for volcano, harking back to the Roman God of volcanic fire, Vulcan. Would it set our listening room alight I wondered? How many Globes would it get if it did? Hmmm...


As a loudspeaker designer myself I know the various approaches and their justifications and can sense what the designers of the Vulkan VIII had on their mind with this towering monster, one that stands 1.27 metres high no less. A metal coned midrange and ribbon tweeter will together sound ‘fast’, but it is difficult to get equivalently ‘fast’ bass able to keep up and you end up with a two part loudspeaker, sound wise. Deep bass can be wrung from ports, and plenty of it if a couple of 8in drive units are used, as in Tannoy’s DC8T.


This solution never gives the bass slam of a big 12in or 15in bass unit in a giant cabinet. It is something many crave once they have heard it, usually from big, old loudspeakers bearing resemblances to a broom cupboard. Having lived with Leak 2075s and then Leak 3090s, followed by Tannoy Yorkminsters I know a thing or three about this broom cupboard experience. It’s like having one thrown at you!


However, use a 12in bass unit in a loudspeaker and you are faced with a monster in the lounge. Just look at contributor Adam Smith and his Leak 2075s, with their Leak Sandwich 13in bass units. Great aren’t they! But the front of such a loudspeaker stretches out to broom cupboard width to accommodate a 13in sandwich bass unit and not everyone is happy about the visual result, namely the rest of the family. Also, wide front baffles image badly.


Faced with this problem manufacturers are tempted to put the bass unit on the side of the loudspeaker, but then it cannot handle anything above 100Hz. Quadral use a massive 32cm bass unit (12.6in) in the Vulkan VIII, mounted on an angled baffle and vented though front and side panels. This approach allows them to keep the front baffle acceptably narrow, just 29 cms, which lessens the sense of looming presence. And you’ll be happy to know that a 32cm bass unit still has more cone area than two 8in (20cm) bass units, giving more slam.

So although you cannot see it, the big Vulcan VIII is a three way, and a heavy one too, weighing 55kgs apiece. It is ported and you cannot see this either, because the port is underneath, firing downward. A plinth holds the cabinet just above the floor to provide breathing room, as it were, with a rear facing vent. So the Vulkan VIII is a three-way with reflex loaded '12in' bass unit, all cleverly arranged so as not to look like a broom cupboard. Big bass units consistently produce low distortion, our measurements show, and give cleaner, tighter bass than struggling 8in units, so the Vulkan VIII has potential.


Quadral go to all this trouble to engineer in bass that can keep up temporally with their 17cm Altima midrange unit and this in turn must keep up with their large ribbon tweeter. The Altima midrange uses a “blend of the three light metals, aluminium, titanium and magnesium” they say, to avoid the metallic coloration of aluminium cones, and the sluggishness of plastic cones.


However, it is the ribbon tweeter that sets the pace, because these things are fast, as well as clean. The Vulkan VIII has Quadral’s own design, newly enlarged to go lower and louder, +10dB louder they say. All the ribbon tweeters I have used in the past reached down to 4kHz, leaving an awkward gap to be filled by expecting rather too much from the midrange unit. Quadral’s ribbon reaches down to 2kHz they say, so no gap! Big ribbons that go low have been done before, notably by Celestion’s Graham Bank, but they are difficult to make and expensive.

There appear to be five different finishes but ours came in deep gloss black. The rear connecting panel has sturdy screw terminals that allow bi-wiring and accept bare wires, spades or 4m plugs. As you might expect, the Vulkan is very well built and finished.



 

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