Cabasse Bora

This substantial model is a genuine three-way, due to its special proprietary co-axial driver

France’s oldest hi-fi speaker brand, Cabasse is now owned by Japanese multi-national Canon, though its Britanny heritage remains strong, with members of the Cabasse family still involved.

A major technology plank is its particular proprietary approach to co-axial driver design. Cabasse’s BC13 co-axial drive unit is very much at the heart of this £2,200 per pair Bora, as well as the main reason why it’s the only three-way design amongst our standmounts. This driver uses an annulus or ring-shaped midrange diaphragm, surrounding the tweeter proper and nominally operates from 800Hz to 4.4kHz (rather less than two-and-a-half octaves). One potential advantage is clearly to enable a single driver to handle the section of the audio band where human hearing is most sensitive, free from any crossover artefacts.

Another key advantage is that a design like this, which steadily reduces the diameter of the source with increasing frequency, will deliver a more even distribution right across the frequency range and hence a flatter power response. Power handling too will be enhanced by distributing the spectrum across three separate drive units.

The Bora is a quite substantial and hefty affair, weighing some 15kg. The solidly built enclosure has gently curved sides, which should add extra strength and help to spread the effects of horizontal reflections and standing waves. A slot-shaped reflex port is incorporated low down on the front.

The bass-only unit, a 210mm driver with a straight sided 160mm paper cone, actually operates up to 800Hz here. The midrange unit has a white convex annulus (ring-shaped) diaphragm, with 95mm and 50mm outside and inside diameters respectively. The tweeter sits inside the 50mm diameter and has a short flared horn, loading a transparent diaphragm roughly 21mm in diameter. A single pair of terminals is mounted through a solid metal plate.

SOUND QUALITY

Despite – or possibly because of – its sophisticated and relatively complex driver technology, the Bora wasn’t well received by the listening panel. The measurements seem positive enough and the high sensitivity would appear to be a further bonus, but the panelists were nearly unanimous in placing the Bora behind the others.

It’s not a bad loudspeaker by any means and in terms of headroom and loudness capabilities it’s the obvious leader of the pack. Dynamics too have a welcome vigour and enthusiasm, but the sound as a whole seems a little too mid-dominant and lacking in basic transparency.

The bass end is a little light in weight, but shows good air, space and speed, while the limitations seem to lie in the rather exposed midband, which also lacks sweetness and delicacy. Arguably the most serious failing is that it sounds a bit less coherent than the simpler two-way designs and is consequently less musically interesting and involving.

While the Bora would seem to offer the best material value for money amongst our test group, its sound quality didn’t seem to measure up to the impressive engineering content. However, anyone who regularly likes to play their system at very high volumes might well find it fills the bill nicely.

LIKE: Lots of headroom alongside considerable loudness potential
DISLIKE: Lacks transparency through the upper registers, and coherence is also suspect
WE SAY: Loads of loudness thanks to high sensitivity

DETAILS
Origin: France
Weight: 15kg
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 270x500x330mm
Features:
• Two-way co-axial mid/treble driver
• Curved enclosure sides
• High-gloss black lacquer or veneer finish
• Slot port at base front
• Full three-way design
Distributor: Cabasse
Telephone: +33 2 98 05 88 70
website: cabasse.com/en