Product Review

Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference Speakers

Part I

January, 2007

Chris Groppi




Reference 3.1 Floor-Standing

Drivers: 1" Tweeter, Two 4" Midrange,
  One 10" Woofer

FR: 22Hz - 35kHz +/- 3dB
Dimensions: 36.25" (H) x 8" (W) x 14"
Weight: 47 Pounds/Each
Finishes: Black, Stainless, Maple,

● MSRP: $2,995/Pair USA

Reference S.A. Sub Amplifier

● Power Output: 240 Watts RMS x 2

● MFR: 10 Hz - 28 kHz

● Connections: RCA Inputs, Five-Way
   Binding Posts
● Input Sensitivity: 130mV
● Phase Adjustment: Continuously
● Low Pass : 40 Hz to 180 Hz,
  Continuously Variable
● Dimensions: 17" W x 4" H x 14" D
● Weight: 42.5 Pounds
● Finishes: Black, Silver

● MSRP: $900 USA

Reference AV Center
● Drivers: One 1" Tweeter, Four 4"

● MFR: 55 Hz - 35 kHz
● Sensitivity: 88 dB/w/m
● Dimensions: 6.25" H x 25.1" W x 6" D
● Weight: 23 Pounds
● Finishes: Black, White, Silver-Gray

● MSRP: $1,200/Each USA (Center Channel Stand is $200/Each)

● Driver: One 3"

● MFR: 80 Hz - 18 kHz
● Sensitivity: 88 dB/w/m
● Dimensions: 5" Sphere
● Weight: 3.5 Pounds
● Finishes: Gloss Black, Matte Black,
   Matte White, Silver-Grey, Stainless
● MSRP: $240/Each USA

Total System MSRP: $5,775 USA


Anthony Gallo Acoustics


Most reference class speakers are cost-no-object designs that are supposed to be put into cost-no-object listening rooms. They are typically huge, incredibly heavy, and require an enormous listening room to meet their performance potential.

I have been searching for years for a speaker system that would provide stellar performance, exceeding the sound of my stalwart Platinum Audio Solos, while still fitting into both my modestly sized family room and my reasonable budget.

A great man named Costanza once said, "Festivus is for the rest of us!" The Gallos reviewed here are for the rest of us too, those audiophiles who want reference class performance, but can't afford the giant "statement" loudspeakers or the listening room to fit them. And I guarantee they are better in every way than an aluminum pole.

Anthony Gallo founded Anthony Gallo Acoustics in 1994, and has always produced speakers with unusual designs, but designs based on sound physics and engineering. Gallo's speakers have combined a cylindrical ribbon tweeter with traditional moving coil midranges and woofers in spherical enclosures.

There are several reasons why these features are desirable. Cylindrical tweeters offer a wide, even lateral dispersion, with a relatively narrow vertical dispersion. This typically results in a very wide soundstage with lots of air in the presentation, while limiting reflections off the floor and ceiling. Only ribbon or electrostatic designs can be made easily in this geometry, and care must be taken in the design to avoid resonances in the large radiating area.

Spherical enclosures also have a very desirable property. Many people claim that spherical enclosures have "no resonances." This is not true. A rectangular speaker enclosure has three primary families of resonant modes, defined by the distance between the three opposing walls of the enclosure. A spherical enclosure still has resonant modes, but only one family, defined by the enclosure's diameter. This means that a rectangular enclosure has many more resonant frequencies per octave than the spherical enclosure. With fewer resonant frequencies in the operational range of the driver, the design is simplified dramatically.

In fact, the Gallo Reference 3.1s have virtually no crossover. Only the woofer, in a standard cylindrical enclosure requires a crossover, and only a low pass crossover at that. The midranges, in spherical enclosures, and the cylindrical tweeter, both require no crossover at all. The midrange and tweeter have had their bands defined only through careful mechanical and acoustical design, eliminating the need for an electronic crossover with their accompanying (and essentially unavoidable) time and phase errors.

The Design

The first Gallo Speaker, the Nucleus Reference, used spherical enclosures and the cylindrical ribbon tweeter exclusively, even for the low frequencies. While they were known for stunning performance, they were somewhat expensive, and had limited low frequency extension.

The Reference 3.1, an evolution of the original Reference 3, uses the spherical midrange enclosure and cylindrical tweeter for frequencies above 125 Hz, and a standard 10" moving coil driver with dual voice coils in a cylindrical enclosure for frequencies below 125 Hz. This design offers frequency extension down to 22 Hz with the optional Reference 3 S.A. amplifier, and makes for a smaller, simpler, less expensive speaker as compared to the original Nucleus Reference.

The Reference AV Center uses four of the same midrange units as the reference 3.1, plus the cylindrical ribbon tweeter, combined in a 2.5 way system (i.e., one pair of the midrange units is tuned to a different frequency range than the other pair). The tweeter has its horizontal dispersion limited to 1200 rather than the 3000 of the units used in the Reference 3.1s.

The A'Divas use a single 5" driver in a spherical enclosure. This very simple design uses no tweeter, only the single high performance driver to cover the entire frequency range from 80 Hz to 18 kHz.

All the Gallo speakers reviewed here are enclosed in a very different way compared to traditional "box" loudspeakers. Each driver is mounted in its own, independent enclosure. These enclosures are then co-mounted on a structure that forms the complete loudspeaker. This makes for a very unique looking loudspeaker, but also mostly eliminates interaction between drivers via the enclosure. It also adds a level of manufacturing economy, since the Gallo speakers are made of modular components. This is a savings that can then be passed along to the consumer, increasing the speaker's "bang for the buck."

The A'Diva speaker (shown on the right), used in this system as a surround, is one of the simplest of Gallo's speakers. The simple spun aluminum spherical enclosure is similar (although not identical) to the spherical enclosures used as components of the other speakers. The 6" diameter enclosure houses a single 5" driver that covers almost eight octaves of bandwidth, an astounding achievement for one driver.

A permanently attached mesh grille covers the driver, and simple knurled five-way binding posts can accept moderately sized speaker cable. Their very small size allows them to be unobtrusively mounted in a myriad of ways. A threaded ball fitting can be screwed into the rear of the sphere, allowing mounting from a wall bracket, ceiling bracket, or stand. A recessed mounting fixture is available to mount them in a wall or ceiling as well. Small tabletop stands, or the included rubber "o-ring" can be used for tabletop use, which would make them ideal for use as a computer speaker system. Their fit and finish are excellent, especially for a speaker of such a moderate price, and they have a great, modern look.

The Reference 3.1 speaker is an evolution of the extremely well received Reference 3. Improvements to the drivers and crossover have refined performance, and the removal of the tweeter level control switch of the previous version has simplified the signal path and increased reliability. The speaker combines two custom made carbon fiber 4" midrange drivers in their own independent spherical enclosures with the patented CDT II ribbon tweeter and a 10" dual voice coil woofer in a cylindrical enclosure.

All the speakers are carried on a stout MDF pillar and baseplate. This pillar is backed with an anodized aluminum plate, housing two sets of well made five-way binding posts (not for bi-wiring!). Four adjustable spikes that must weigh nearly a quarter of a pound each are provided to level and aim the speaker. Welded steel frames covered with acoustical fabric can be mounted over the speaker and securely bolted to the pillar, but I auditioned them without the grilles.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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