rench company Cabasse, founded in 1950, launched its first loudspeakers. And already this first product in brand's history, a two-way speaker designed for Cinemascope cinema, was build around a coaxial driver. Since then such transducers have become sort of a trademark for Cabasse, that have been developed and used for over 60 years. The famous top of the line La Sphère were presented in 2006 and featured a coaxial three-way transducer complemented by a 55 cm woofer. This was the top embodiment of an idea of a point source sound, as all the diaphragms had a common axis and were embedded in one another.
Interestingly, this design includes also four mono power amplifiers per channel - each of which drives one diaphragm in one speaker. By purchasing the La Sphère a lucky buyer became an owner of two large loudspeakers featuring fancy stands, eight mono amplifiers, plus an additional control unit. Equally unusual as the design of these speakers was their shape reflected in their name. And because these "spheres" were 70 cm large in diameter and featured those cosmic-looking stands, so the whole was (and still is) one of the most original speakers in history of audio industry.
I'm not sure if I should even admit it, but despite the long history of this respected brand, the Jersey MC170 is the first model of their speakers that I have a pleasure to review. Wojtek, chief editor of HF tested the Jersey MT32 model in 2015, the predecessor to the MC170. It was a design of nearly the same size and weight, but a two-way one. It featured, beside the two polypropylene woofers, a classic tweeter dome working in a small wave-guide While coaxial speakers have always been a trademark for Cabasse, due to their price they have not been used for cheaper models.
For the reviewed model, Jersey MC170 and the second, smaller one called Antiqua MC170, the French company has developed a completely new coaxial transducer. Its design is a development of the driver used previously in the Eole satellite speaker. The two 170 mm woofers the complement MC170 are also new products. Though they have an identical size and distinctive shape, their diaphragms are different from the ones used for MT32. The manufacturer does not specify the material they are made of, but first of all they are silver (in MT32 they were black), although it is not aluminum, to my eye and ear at least, and secondly, their surface is not smooth, but rather crimped.
Same as in the previous model, they work in a vented cabinet with b-r port shooting downwards. A plinth is screwed to the bottom of the cabinet the ensures proper distance between b-r port and the surface we place speaker on. Adjustable spikes are screwed onto the plinth and a set of protective pads is also included. Through the use of a coaxial driver in contrast to a previous model, the Jersey MC170A is a 3-way design. All these changes resulted only in a slight increase in prices, which at least in part we own to the inflation, so the price change is really only a “cosmetic” one.
For a test we received loudspeakers finished with white oak veneer and although it is not my favorite color, I have to admit that looked really attractive. Of course, the quality of the make and helped too. Before I started my first listening session I checked parameters declared by the manufacturer. While the nominal efficiency (90 dB) and the impedance (8 Ω) might be considered to be very friendly even for low power amplifiers, information about impedance dropping down as low as 3.2 ohms suggests that these boxes are not really good partners for such low-power tube amps. These do not tolerate such impedance drops too well.
Recordings used for the test (a selection)
Japanese issues available at
I started with one of the Aga Zaryan's albums. From the first moment I was impressed by the presentation of the vocal, and as soon as they came out, also with the particularly vivid percussion instruments in the background. Aga's vocal was first of all big in volume, and secondly, amazingly natural. I was truly surprised by Jerseys, because although four thousand Polish zlotys is a lot of money for a regular Joe, in the audiophile terms it is just an "entry-level". Apparently, the new Cabasse coaxial driver benefits from the vast experience of company's engineers, and even though it can be assumed that had to meet some particular cost criteria, they have apparently done their job perfectly.
With the placement I found optimal in my room, some 50 cm from the rear wall, slightly toed-in, the Cabasse rendered a soundstage starting behind the line of speakers. The vocalist never stepped in front of this line, and yet she was able to focus my attention on her completely. The rest of the band was placed clearly behind her on a fairly deep stage. Each of the instruments was precisely placed on the stage and even if their outlines were not clearly described, they were three-dimensional, they had mass which was enough to convince me that the band was only a few meters away.
In one of the tracks producer used a nice trick moving Ms. Aga step by step towards the back of the stage while instruments, one by one, appeared now in front of her. Interestingly the MC170 were able to present that really well. I mean her movement was smooth, as if she was actually walking, or rather drifting away. The piano moved now to the foreground of the stage became bigger and louder, and the sound was almost realistically deep.
The only element that did not work out as well as I would have liked, was my favorite double bass. Let me point out that while I like this recording as a whole a lot for its intimate, addictive atmosphere, the bass is a bit overblown. The Cabasse did not add anything here, but they did not try to discipline it either and played it just as it was recorded. So the instrument was large, heavy and powerful but there was a bit more wood in the sound, so the individual sounds were dragged, sometimes they sounded a bit dull. This album showed me, however, that the Jerseys feature two woofers for a reason, not just for show. They can create an impression of a low, deep bass, even in such a recording. It was time to play some higher quality (in this respect, I mean) recordings.
Instead of listening to one of Ray Brown's or Garcia Renauld-Fonse's albums I played... Al di Meola's Flesh on flesh. I will get back to the master's guitar in a moment, but first, it was supposed to be about bass, although this time an electric one. It did not have the same weight as with my Ubiq Audio Model One speakers, but that was easily explained by the difference in size (of both, woofer and whole loudspeaker). It was clear, however, that Jerseys were quite capable in this respect.
With fast passages they presented short, tight, even quite “hard” bass, and when needed, bass went deep down allowing me to not only hear but also feel lowest notes. These French loudspeakers differentiated and saturated low range nicely, as well as the rest of the band, with a large dose of energy. This was not as extremely energetic performance, as for example the absolutely unique in this respect Bryston Mini-A (Polish) but still impressive. The Cabasse at first glance did not impress me as boxes that would really rock, but they actually did it sounded easy, unconstrained.
Hence, with an album such as Flesh on flesh it was impossible to play it in a background while doing something else. There is a lot going on in this music and the Jerseys were able to communicate (I would even say: surprisingly well given their price) so much information that there was no time to relax, to do something else because in the opposite side of the room, mostly (but not only) between the speakers constantly something attracted my attention. It was master's acoustic guitar sounding very natural, and a moment later an electric “fleshy”, fast, agile guitar and then cymbals shimmering gently just to change a pace within a splinter of a second to sound fast, powerful and almost aggressive.
Leaving the acoustic bass session for later, I reached for a few more jazz-rock and rock albums. Those belonging to the former genre sounded really good because of the high quality of these recordings nicely conveyed by the reviewed speakers. The Jersey MC170, as I have already mentioned, are not particularly analytical, nor tonally perfectly neutral, but it doesn't mean that there is any (that I noticed) tendency to “improve” poorly sounding recordings. They did really well even when playing faster tracks, nicely differentiating the whole range, surprising me with their dynamic range and kicking it with mid and upper bass really strongly.
They nicely saturated and differentiated the midrange, where after all most “action” is happening in such music, while sounding also pure and quite transparent too. The latter elements had a big impact on the perception of the whole presentation, which seemed rather bright. Not too bright, but clear open and transparent enough to create this impression, which was surprising considering the price tag on these boxes. Also, many loudspeakers, especially those (relatively) inexpensive, are voiced with some emphasis in the lower midrange / upper bass range to make them sound more “friendly”, but it seems Cabasse engineers did not choose to use this trick. While listening to many different recordings sometimes I even wished they had, because I personally like more tangible and the present. Sure, it is a coloration of the sound, which objectively should be avoided, but it does often make listening even more enjoyable especially with lesser quality albums.
While listening to the above mentioned albums of John McLaughlin or Pat Metheny I also could not just sit back relaxed, because of tones of details, or usually less "audible" elements of the music, when played with Jersey constantly attracted attention. It was not about intrusive presentation of details, about emphasizing them - such a performance might be good to analyze the correctness of the recording, but not when it comes to enjoying music. A credit for this feature, as well as for the openness and clarity of this sound, and also for the extraordinary coherence I have not yet mentioned, goes to this new coaxial driver. A coherence is an intrinsic feature of this type of speakers – in the MC170 the coaxial plays the range from 700 Hz up (the tweeter takes over from 3600 Hz) and acts as a point source. This combines into a presentation, which in terms of coherence is difficult to match using two separate, classic transducers.
As I mentioned, I listened to several rock records. Those when played with Jersey MC170 sounded... sometimes really well and in some cases not that good. A bit pop, mostly electronic Genesis album seemed to sound quite "shrill" – that's were the above mentioned “emphasis” in lower midrange could come handy. Collins' vocal also sounded rather bright, with strongly emphasized sibilants, and the cymbals tended to sound "glassy". This does not really prove weakness of Cabasse, because they only conveyed the nature of this recording, without sugar-coating it, without making it sound better than the actual recording.
Next albums proved that, despite belonging to a price range that suggests pairing with inexpensive electronics and so a need to partially “cover” for its shortcomings, the Jersey MC170's performance is more “high fidelity” than that of most of their competitors. It has its advantages and disadvantages. The good thing is they can be combined with a system with more expensive components and they won't necessarily be the weakest link, they won't color the sound, they won't impose their own sonic character. The downside, or should I say “downside” is that they won't do a job of hiding shortcoming of accompanying system or of the played recordings too well.
Genesis was one example, another was Dire Straits Money for nothing album, where the poor quality of bass guitar or drums recording (when played from 24/96 files) was painfully obvious. Especially the drums sounded very artificial somewhat in opposition to the Knopfler's well-recorded vocals and guitar. Most of the loudspeakers, even a little more expensive one, let you forget the weaknesses of this recording in one way or another and make sound more “friendly”, better. But again, that's not a real downside of the Jerseys if you after the truth about the recordings you play. This is actually an advantage when it comes to playing good quality music, such as most Pink Floyd and many Led Zeppelin albums.
They impress with dynamics, are able to show fast, fairly tight bass, well reflect the springiness of the drums, cymbals "chirp" nicely and are not monotonous due to a good differentiation, the sound is open, full of air, and the essence of such music, electric guitars' performance, sounds great. There is proper drive, they sound “fleshy”, sometimes harsh and even sharply when needed. Floyd's discs were beautifully rendered with all the fun spatial elements – that's a strong side of the tested loudspeakers. Sounds appeared not only in the space between the speakers but also far beyond them, thus creating a huge soundstage surrounding listener.
Finally, I came back to acoustic, well-recorded bass with Christian McBride's, Isao Suzuki, Ray Brown's albums. And again, it was confirmed that these French speakers needed a good quality material to present their full potential. The double basses in the hands of such masters of this instrument were powerful, agile, fast, colorful (not colored) and each time, in every song, different. The McBride Trio's "live" recording showed that the Jersey MC170 may not be the masters of conveying room's acoustics, but again let me remind you what price level they represent, and in that context they do a very good job. And because the reactions of audience (quite spontaneous on this album) were convincingly conveyed, so this lack of such a prominently “audible” room did not really matter and I did enjoy listening to this album anyway. Same goes for other live recordings – each time proper dose of fun was guaranteed.
In most cases when I know that I would be reviewing some 4 kPLN speakers I also know I have to prepare myself for several compromises in sound quality. The Cabasse Jersey MC170 are not perfect speakers, of course, but it is difficult to point out any obvious weaknesses. Sure, more expensive competitors will present many aspects in even better way, but that's what one pays more money for.
The new coaxial driver, which reproduces midrange and treble, performs exceptionally well. It delivers clear, transparent, well differentiated performance, with nicely conveyed timbre of vocals and instruments. The whole presentation is open, spatial and well organized. The two woofers supported by down-firing bass-reflex might not perform as remarkably as coaxial driver, but they their job very well too (this is, of course, just my theory, but I believe that the coaxial driver could be used even for more expensive models with higher grade woofers).
Bass is nicely extended even it doesn't cover the very lowest part of the range, it is not rounded-up in the bottom, not colored in any part. How the bass performs depends mostly on the recording and its quality. It was obvious when playing tracks with well-recorded bass, bass guitar or drums, which Cabasse presented in an unconstrained way with a large amount of energy, clean and with good control and definition.
The Jersey MC170 are not this type, that is very forgiving, so one needs to make sure that the accompanying system offers a good quality, balanced presentation so that it delivers maximum information to the speakers and they will return the favor by rendering a quality, engaging performance. The high fidelity and good performance are not the only advantages of this model. The manufacturer hasn't forgotten about high quality make&finish which makes Jersey a nice piece of furniture their owner might proudly place in their living-room.
The Jersey MC170 are mid-size floor-standing 3-way loudspeakers measuring less than 1 m tall and with a narrow, 21cm front baffle. They attract attention with high quality make and finish and unusual (for this price range) presence of a coaxial driver. This transducer is a new unit marked with the symbol 10T15MC. This is a development of a designed used previously for Cabasse's Eole model. Below, still on the front baffle, one finds two woofers. These are also new models marked with 17TN20. Both share the size (170 mm) and the characteristic shape, same as the drivers used in the previous model, Jersey MT32, but the membrane is definitely different, although the manufacturer does not share information about what it is made of.
These speakers feature a vented cabinets with down-firing bass-reflex port. To ensure optimum distance between the b-r port outlet and the first reflecting surface, manufacturer added a plinth which is fixed to the bottom of each cabinet to ensure correct distance. Four solid, adjustable spikes are screwed into it, and the small protective pads are also provided to protect the floor.
The cabinets are made of MDF. Unlike n the case of their predecessors, these are not classic rectangular boxes. The front baffle is slightly wider than the rear one, while the side walls are slightly rounded, which allowed designers to avoid too many parallel surfaces, thus preventing formation of standing waves inside cabinets. There are four types of finishes – tow cheaper ones: black mahogany and white oak; and two more expensive ones with five layers of white or black glossy lacquer. The plinths are finished with black mat color.
A solid plate with a pair of single speaker connectors is located at the rear of the enclosure. The loudspeakers come fitted with elegant grilles. The manufacturer opted for magnet-mounted ones so that their assembly is very simple, and when listening without them, the user does not have to look at usually not very aesthetic mounting holes, nor worry about often broken (especially with less expensive models) mounting pins.
Specifications (according to manufacturer)
- Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
- Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
- Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
- Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
- Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
- Power amplifier: Soulution 710
- Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
- Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
- Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
- Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
- Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
- Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE
- Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
- USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
- LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
- Router: Liksys WAG320N
- NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
- Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
- Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
- Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
- Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA
- Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
- Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
- Power Line: power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m); wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
- Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
- Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
- Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
- Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
- Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
- Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
- Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4
- FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One