I like the futuristic styling of the Reference 3.1s, as does my
wife, so we preferred to have them on display. I also like the smaller
apparent size of the speaker without the grille. The Reference 3.1 is not a
large speaker, which is one of the things that make it attractive to me. It
stands only 36" tall and is a mere 8" wide by 14" deep, but its pillar and
separate enclosure design make it seem even smaller.
Reactance is a way to describe energy storage in an electrical circuit. Its
counterpart, resistance, describes the dissipation of energy in a circuit.
Resistance just turns electricity into heat, and does not affect the time
response of a speaker, but reactance is a completely different kettle of
fish. In changing the frequency response of a speaker, a crossover stores up
energy and then releases it over time. It is the fundamental nature of the
crossover that it will alter the time response of a speaker. While the crossover-less design of the Reference 3.1s does not eliminate reactance
above 125 Hz (the drivers themselves present a reactive load), the design
goes a long way towards a time coherent system without the use of
complicated electronics in the signal path. Their sensitivity is a modest 88
dB/w/m. While likely not in the single digit wattage SET amplifier
regime, the Reference 3.1s should be fairly easy to drive with most solid
state or tube amplifiers.
The Gallo Reference 3 S.A. amplifier was designed specifically for this mission, although it can be used to drive any non-powered subwoofer as well. The output power level is 240 watts RMS x 2, and it offers one of the most complete set of adjustments available to properly tune the performance of the Reference 3.1 woofers or separate subwoofers.
The crossover frequency is continuously adjustable from 40 Hz to 180 Hz. The phase is also continuously adjustable from 00 to 1800 for the left and right speaker independently. Gain controls are independent for left and right speakers, making tuning for oddly shaped rooms of asymmetric speaker positioning possible. Both low level (RCA) and high level (five-way binding post) inputs are available, as well as a low level "subwoofer" input which bypasses the crossover controls for use with the bass management features of a surround sound processor. The amp is also bridgeable to mono with 650 W available into 4 ohms.
The very solidly built rack mountable unit weighs in at 42
pounds. An unobtrusive thermostatically controlled fan passes air over
internally mounted heat sinks, and both a signal sensing option and remote
trigger allow the amp to be automatically turned on if desired.
The two outer drivers are used as woofers, with low pass crossovers that limit their operation from 55 Hz to 100 Hz. The center pair of drivers is used full range as in the Reference 3.1, with the high frequencies limited to 3 kHz acoustically.
The CDT II tweeter has had its horizontal dispersion limited to 1200. The five drivers are mounted on an aluminum cross-member, housing the binding posts and electronics. A perforated metal grille covers the drivers. While this grille is removable, the speaker is meant to be used with the grille on at all times. This speaker can be directly mounted on the wall below a flat panel display, or used with an optional stand. This cast aluminum stand is very sturdy, and allows adjustment of the speaker for vertical tilt. The loudspeaker is built to the same very high standards as the Reference 3.1, using the same drivers, sub-enclosures, binding posts, and construction techniques. It makes an excellent visual compliment to the 3.1s, while not taking up a huge amount of space, as do many other center channel speakers of this performance and price class.