I can't recall how I first connected with Ted Lindblad of High End Audio,
but we've exchanged e-mails for several years. When I finally got to meet
this personable man at CES - 2004, I discovered him playing music through
one of the most attractive and unusual looking pair of speakers I have yet
encountered. These, I learned in short order, were the Duevel Bella Lunas.
Duevel speakers are manufactured in Germany.
It was difficult to evaluate the sound of the Bella Lunas in Ted's cramped
hotel room. The amps were Klimo 7W single-ended triodes. The confined room
impossible to appreciate the speaker's much-touted omni-directional quality.
But what I did hear whet my appetite for a review. I was especially eager to
evaluate the claim that the speakers image wonderfully off-axis. That they
are light enough for an in-shape man of my diminutive stature to pick up and
carry about made the prospect even more inviting.
Duevel describes its woofer as, " . . . a high efficiency 8" diameter cone
loudspeaker with 1.5" diameter voice coil. Other features are a carbon
diaphragm and a double roll textile suspension. The woofer has a die cast
chassis, a large magnet, and a vented pole plate." The tweeter is a 38 mm carbon
fiber dome with a Nomex voice coil.
Omni-directionality is achieved by means of the two lathed wooden wafers.
As you can see from the diagram below, the tweeter points downward, with the
sound radiating out 360 degrees from between the two wafers. The woofer, on
the other hand, points upward, and radiates outward into the room below the
lower wafer. The speaker cabinet itself also resonates down low, albeit not
without a minimal albeit inoffensive degree of boxiness.
For audiophiles with carpets that must not be punctured or floors that
cannot be scratched, the Bella Luna vibration support system is ideal.
Instead of spikes, the speakers come with their own removable ball-bearing
supports that can rest atop any flat, solid surface, without damaging it.
Each speaker has four supports that fit into its four rubber-capped feet.
Each support consists of a top and bottom steel wafer, in between which is
placed a single small ball. To assemble the support, the bottom wafer is
placed on a solid surface, in my case a maple cutting board sitting atop a
thick Afghan rug atop a hardwood floor. The ball bearing is then placed atop
the wafer, resting in a small hole in its middle. The other wafer, which
rests atop the bearing, has a small hole in its bottom to accept the
bearing. It also has a raised circle on its top side that fits into the
bottom of the rubber foot. I had no problem placing the speaker on the
cutting board, then tilting it one foot at a time to place the supports
underneath. The whole procedure took but a few minutes.
The Bella Luna speaker lugs accommodate a single pair of speaker cables.
There is not much room for hand and cable movement in the triangular space
at the bottom of the speaker reserved for the speaker lugs. Some might find
it necessary to lie on their bellies and use a flashlight to connect their
speaker cables. Huge bellies are to a disadvantage here. So are bifocals. I
would hate to have to connect inflexible speaker cables to these lugs.
Given that my Nordost Valhalla speaker cables are bi-wired and
spade-terminated, I found it a challenge to get both spades onto a single
lug and then get the other two onto the other lug without everything coming
loose before I could tighten things down.
I admit to yelling into the air once or twice before I got the knack of it.
(Why people design speakers and amplifiers without making it easy to connect
wires is beyond me.) Happily, once I mastered the angle, I found connection
As for design aesthetics, I'll let the images speak for themselves. I love
the look of these speakers, and would be delighted to make their long-term
Rather than auditioning the usual stack of test CDs, I turned to Chandos'
new DSD-recorded hybrid SACD of Samuel Barber's Opera Vanessa. I was
delighted by Chandos' sound, which is very extended on top, rich in the
midrange, and thunderous in the bass. I don't recall Susan Graham's voice,
which I've heard live on several occasions, having the edge I hear on this
recording, but other voices sound quite fine.
Several things immediately struck me during my extended listening sessions.
The first is that the Bella Lunas set the image much farther back than my
Talon Khorus X Mk. II. There's a wonderful depth to the soundstage, with a
huge amount of air surrounding voices and the stage as a whole. It's not
clear to me how much of this is actually on the recording, but the effect is
both captivating and musical.
The sound, too, is surprisingly full. I did not expect the image to have the
weight of the twice as expensive, double woofer/single tweeter/single
super-tweeter Khorus X, but it did have a surprising amount of bass
extension. I did not in the least feel deprived of bass with this speaker.
The treble was another story. Because the Bella Luna design is
omni-directional, it does not have the pinpoint treble impact of
conventional speakers. It's not as if treble is not present, or high
extension is lacking, but impact on high is far less immediate than I'm
accustomed to. This was especially apparent listening to opera segments that
progressed from solo or ensemble singing to orchestral interludes. Soprano
voices, horns, piccolos and cymbals lacked the cutting edge I had expected
Listening to Bella Luna is analogous to moving from an optimal front and
center seat in a concert hall to one considerably farther back. Up close,
treble is very direct and brilliant, as is the bass. Move back 15 or 20
rows, or ascend to the second balcony and you lose the brilliant immediacy
and detail on high. Bass, on the other hand, remains strong. (Sometimes, in
fact, the bass seems stronger as you move back due to the extra resonance of
the hall that reaches your ears.) In place of treble directness and in your
face highs one discovers a newfound warmth and glow. Many prefer to sit
farther back or in the balcony precisely because they love this resonant
glow so much. This mid- and far-hall perspective is what you hear with the
When I switched to the Talon Khorus X Mk. II and revisited key passages in
the opera, the difference in sound was dramatic. There was a richness and
fullness to the midrange not available through the Bella Luna. Especially
marked were the rich, almost syrupy liquidity and resonant roundness of the
luscious cellos, which were obviously multi-miked. Equally arresting were
the silences between sounds, and the marked contrasts of timbre between high
treble, midrange, and bass instruments. What through the Bella Luna seemed
relatively uniform in color sounded far more alive, impactful, and
contrasted in timbre through the Khorus X Mk. II.
While the Khorus X Mk. II's top was far more immediate and brilliant than
the Bella Luna's, its lower bass seemed if anything less impactful.
Especially after hearing a recent Magnepan/Halcro DM 38/Levinson/Audio
Logic/Levinson system at a fellow Bay Area Audiophile Society member's home,
I am convinced that the Khorus X would benefit from a subwoofer. The Bella
Luna, on the other hand, does remarkably well for a speaker with a single
woofer of moderate size.
The Bella Luna's omni-directionality is everything it's claimed to be. As I
moved around my large living room, the image did change in size and
character, but I never had the sense that I was “outside the soundstage” or
that the imaging perspective was all mixed up. Rather, the music remained as
a piece no matter where I stood. It's a wonderful experience to move around
without losing a sense of air, depth, and coherency. Omni-directionality
makes the Duevel Bella Luna a great speaker for both serious and casual
Designer Markus Duevel would argue that the pinpoint imaging of conventional
speakers is unnatural, and that reproduction of recorded sound benefits from
an omni-directional presentation. Whatever the truth of that statement, it
must be noted that live, un-amplified music is never produced through
speakers, regardless of design, and that it does radiate from a set, rather
pinpoint source. A voice sounds very different heard from a singer's front
than from the rear, while it sounds the same everywhere in the room through
the Bella Lunas.
In short, omni-directional speakers are a phenomenon in and of themselves.
Their sound, IMHO, is neither inherently more or less natural in character
than that of conventional speakers. It's simply different.
Speaker preference is ultimately a matter of taste. The Bella Luna's highs
and image are far less in your face than through the speakers I'm accustomed
to. But that does not render their presentation inherently less musical. On
the contrary, the extra benefits of omni-directionality will, for many music
lovers, take precedence. It goes without saying that careful component
matching is essential.
The Duevel Bella Luna is a one-of-a-kind speaker. Physically stunning, its
unique design produces an equally unique, unquestionably musical sound that
demands extended listening before passing judgment. Many will be drawn to
its omni-directional presentation and surprising fullness of sound.
- Jason Victor Serinus -
Digital Front End
Sony 707ES transport modified by Alexander Peychev of APL Hi-Fi
Theta Gen VIII DAC/Preamp
Theta Carmen II transport (on loan from Theta)
Jadis Defy 7 Mk. II about to be upgraded to the current model
Talon Khorus X speakers MK. II (with latest modifications and Bybee filters
on woofers and tweeters)
Nordost Valhalla single-ended and balanced interconnects and balanced
Nordost Valhalla bi-wired speaker cable
Nordost Silver Shadow digital interconnect for DVD-V
Nordost Valhalla Power Cables
Also on hand and sometimes used:
Interconnects: WireWorld Gold Eclipse 5 and Gold Starlight 5 digital,
Harmonic Tech Magic One, Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II balanced, and
Nirvana BNC-terminated digital.
Power cables: Elrod EPS Signature 2 and 3 plus EPS 1, 2, and 3; WireWorld
Silver Electra 5, PS Audio X-treme Statement, Harmonic Tech, and AudioPrism
PS Audio P600 Power Plant power synthesizer with MultiWave II
PS Audio Ultimate Outlet; PS Audio Power Ports
Ganymede supports in main digital chain and under speakers
Michael Green Deluxe Ultrarack, Basic Racks and Corner Tunes
Michael Green Audiopoints, and Black Diamond Racing Cones elsewhere
Shakti stones on amp, Theta, and transport
Stillpoints ERS EMI/RFI sheets on most components
Bedini Dual Beam Ultraclarifier, Audioprism CD Stoplight,
Marigo Signature Mat for use atop CDs, Ayre demagnetizing CD and the
original Sheffield/XLO demagnetizing and break-in CD.
25.5' deep, 37' wide opposite the speakers, 21.5' wide in the listening
area. Ceilings are 9'2” high with heavy wooden cross-beams. Floors hardwood
and carpet. Speakers are totally decoupled from the floor, resting on
Ganymede supports and maple.