pl | en

Loudspeakers & integrated amplifier (a system)

Closer Acoustics

Price (in Europe): 15 150 EUR/system

Contact: Closer Acoustics brand
by Jacek Grodecki JSG Consulting
ul. 11 Listopada 76a
41-218 Sosnowiec | POLAND


Provided for test by: CLOSER ACOUSTICS


Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Images: Jacek Grodecki | Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Marek Dyba

No 197

October 1, 2020

CLOSER ACOUSTICS is a Polish company, established in 2013, run by JACEK GRODECKI in cooperation with his brother ANDRZEJ and ROBERT ROLOF, focusing on loudspeakers with full-range drivers, but also offering tube electronics. We test a system consisting of the 300B SET integrated amplifier, speaker cables and Adam loudspeakers with an efficiency of 94 dB.

couldn't believe it myself when I checked the date of my review of the Eva loudspeakers, prepared by the Polish company Closer Acoustics - six years have passed since then! (more HERE). A lot has changed in the company since then, it has a completely new, interesting headquarters, but what I heard and saw back then remained unchanged. The point is that the focus of their interests are solutions invented several decades ago, most of which were abandoned by engineers long ago in the name of technically superior solutions..

| Anachrophilia à la Closer Acoustics

The same exactly description could be included in the introduction to any description of a company occupying the niche, which in the late 1980s John Atkinson, then the editor-in-chief of "Stereophile" magazine, called "anachrophile". It is a trend in which it is believed that while modern solutions and technologies are technically superior than the previous ones, but at the same time they are doing a worse job at communicating music to listeners. There is something to it, I have to admit it, and although I am not one of such outspoken supporters of "what-was-before"; I can probably be considered a moderate supporter.

But also the Closer Acoustics, if you take a closer look at it, is not dogmatic in this respect either. Its basic scope of activity, ie loudspeakers, are characterized by a high efficiency and feature wide-band drivers, in the top model these are drivers with an electromagnet instead of a voice coil. So it’s a "for". Its latest product, the 300B Provocateur integrated amplifier, uses a tube technique, the 300B tube, an amplification element from 1938, to be exact. So - another "for". And, finally, its primary signal source is the modified Lenco L75 turntable from 1968.

But this is not a blind fascination. Let's take a look at the products in the test, i.e. the 300B Provocateur amplifier and the Adam speakers, and we will see something more. First of all - a perfect execution. After all, not all "old" products are equally well made and do not feature a mechanically advanced chassis. I would even say that only a few have passed the time verification.

Secondly - they look great combining vintage style with modern materials and workmanship. There are no hard-glued wooden sides or other tacky elements. There is, however, a tasteful artistic design and excellent, extremely time-consuming workmanship. For the Grodecki brothers, it is very important that people like the way their product looks like, that it is not a "laboratory" device. It took a long time for the company to reach this point. Below you will find a short summary of the six years that have passed since the test of the original version of the Eva speakers and the current review.

| Closer Acoustics 2014-2020

⸤ 2015 | New drivers supplier, the EMSpeaker Electro Magnet Speaker – Fertin family – France.
⸤ 2016 | New cabinets technology.
⸤ A prototype of the new EMS LB12 loudspeaker is being built and is inaugurated at the LencoHeaven Meeting in Beauvechain, where it was enthusiastically received.
⸤ New speaker models. Vigo gets its name, and an Allegra is developed based on the EMS LB8 driver.
⸤ 2017 | Establishing cooperation with Robert Rolof in the field of designing and manufacturing electronics leads to the birth of the Provocateur SET 300B tube amplifier, which - traditionally - goes to Belgium for evaluation. By the way, Allegra speakers accompany him.
⸤ We take the opportunity to visit the Electro Magnet Speaker in Béziers, France to introduce EMS speaker maker Michel Fertin to the EMS LB sound in a Closer Acoustics enclosure powered by Provocateur.
⸤ Closer Acoustics participates in the Audio Show in Warsaw. We present the VIGO EX loudspeakers with electromagnet drivers, the 300B Provocateur and the Stelvio phono preamplifier.
⸤ 2018 | Adaptation of new rooms for workshops and a listening studio.
⸤ 2019 | Expansion of the machine park - purchase of a CNC plotter.
⸤ 2020 | An enhanced version of the Provocateur 300B amplifier is developed. Later this autumn, the Flō phono preamplifier will make its debut.

| System Closer Acoustics

The first idea that came up in the context of this test concerned the ADAM speakers. I agreed right away, I was curious what the larger model of this company sounds like, but also interested in how the production technology has changed - after all, today it is a completely different company than six years ago. Soon after, however, I received an e-mail in which one of the owners of Closer Acoustics, Mr. Jacek Grodecki, suggested another option - he was just finishing a special, refined version of his 300B PROVOCATEUR amplifier and suggested a test of a system.

It is like this: I prefer to test individual products, not systems. The point is that only in this way can I assess their quality, describe their sound, suggest the best combinations in different systems, not just one. This time, however, I hesitated and finally agreed. The thing is that these elements play at the manufacturer's premises, were designed and listened to together, and - finally - it makes technical sense. After all, high-efficiency loudspeakers are designed for low-power tube amplifiers and vice versa. This is the only way to deal with the energy transfer for which these systems are so valued.

So we decided to test the system which would include Adam speakers, 300B Provocateur amplifier and speaker cables; the latter is simply the top model of a professional Klotz cable, terminated in-house with solid copper spades and put in a black mesh jacket. If someone wants to hear something more, they can ask the manufacturer to use also the company's phono preamplifier and the first modification of the "Heaven" Lenco L75 turntable prepared for the 10th anniversary.


It is no coincidence that I mentioned the "cool" new headquarters - the company rents renovated rooms in a modernist, really good-looking, closed train station in Jastrzębie Zdrój Ruptawa.

Mr. Andrzej Grodecki is responsible for the manufacturing of Closer Acoustics products. His main activity is actually furniture renovation. If you take the time to visit the company's headquarters, in the listening room you will see revitalized armchairs by Mieczysław Puchała - a beautiful memento of industrial projects of the Polish People's Republic. The company manufactures all mechanical elements, including knobs, feet, housings, etc., in-house. They even make solid cases used to transport speakers and electronics devices in. In turn, Mr. Jacek Grodecki is responsible for the presentations, auditions and the conceptual work. They are both perfectionists.

Cabinets | The Adam speakers are floor standing, two-way, two-driver designs. The unusual housing, the shape of which can also be found in the company's logo, immediately attracts attention. Little is known about the internal design and Mr. Jacek does not want to discuss it. He only says that this is an old patent, no longer used today, and - as he says - it’s an excellent one. What we do know is that the design combines two transmission lines of different lengths and the fact that the cabinet is made of birch plywood glued and milled inside, which is similar to what the Finnish company Penaudio does.

The chamber inside was made in such a way as to dissipate energy without the need for damping materials. And that's part of the solution we're talking about - the damping is achieved by direct dissipation of the acoustic energy into a channel system. Their outlet, in the form of two narrow slots, is located on the rear panel and on the bottom. The sides of the speakers are reinforced with panels made of Corian - a synthetic material resembling marble, created by DuPont. It is used in the production of durable countertops, but is also found in audio, such as in loudspeaker cabinets and turntable bases.

Drivers | The heart of the Closer Acoustics loudspeakers are full-range drivers. Adam features a driver made by the French company Supravox, the 215 Signature, connected without a crossover. It sports a 200 mm, lightweight, uncoated cellulose diaphragm with a total vibrating mass of only 9 g, and it is sealed with a fine, one-inch dust cap. The upper suspension is made of three folds (of the outer rim of the membrane, without gluing any other materials to it). This solution provides a characteristic of up to 10 kHz (on the main axis). The manufacturer recommends the use of a TQWT (Tapered Quarter Wave Tube) enclosure, but excludes a classic bass-reflex.

Supravox 215 Signature is available in two versions - a double-membrane one with an additional "horn" in the center used in the Eva model, and a single membrane one. The latter is used in the Adam, so the frequency response has been extended using an additional B&C Speakers DE 35 horn tweeter. It has a diaphragm with a diameter of 32 mm and a neodymium magnet, and a frequency response of 3500-18,000 Hz. The signal is fed to single pair of CMC speaker terminals made of pure, gold-plated copper. The cabinet rests on brass spikes. I must say that Adams look great.


The development of the electrical and mechanical design of the 300B Provocateur amplifier, as well as its execution is the work of Robert Rolof, its visual design was prepared by Jacek Grodecki, and the outer chassis was made - including the glued knobs - by Andrzej Grodecki. Robert Rolof is a character known in Polish audio, but usually as a designer for other companies. It just so happens that I am using a device that is one of his works - the RCM Audio Prelude Sensor IC phono preamplifier.

I bought the device in 2007, right after the test (more HERE). Since then, I have listened to it at home with the most expensive turntables and compared it with the most expensive preamplifiers. They all showed clearly what they were better at, except for one feature: none of them was able to guarantee as lightning fast energy transfer as the Sensor did. And an energy transfer means natural sound. Therefore, 13 years later, I still use this device, I will probably replace it sooner or later with something top-notch, but only if I get what I am talking about.

| A few simple words…

Owner, designer

⸤ Grodecki brothers – Jacek and Andrzej

Why 300B? For me, the 300B is the queen of tubes. It came from the fact that when I traveled with my speakers to Belgium for the Lenco Heaven Meeting, I had an opportunity to connect them with 300B amplifiers. Some designs were very advanced, expensive to make and sounded great. When I heard such a good amplifier for the first time, its sound captivated me, because there was both dynamics and detail in it. In 2016, if I'm not mistaken, the Japanese came to Belgium with Western Electric speakers and they brought a set of 300B amplifiers - monoblocks and a preamplifier. Plus original Western Electric tubes. And I was stunned and amazed.

The 300B tube was designed to play music. That's why I realized that if we were going to make an amplifier, it would have to a 300B design. I knew Robert Rolof before that and I suggested that maybe we could do something together. With time it turned out that he designed something very unique and we decided to convert it into a real product.

When we were ready with the first prototype on board, without chassis, a customer came to us who wanted to buy an American tube amplifier, which he brought with him to check how would it perform with our speakers that he was going to order. When he heard our prototype he said he must have one - and the first ever 300B unit was made for him. JG

THE 300B PROVOCATEUR looks great, even though it does not follow a standard of a classic tube amp. Its body has been divided into two parts: the upper one with the audio circuit and the lower one with the power supply and output transformers. Which brings to mind another Polish design, the G•Lab Design Fidelity Block, which was featured on the cover of the "High Fidelity" in September 2014.

The chassis is made of the same plywood as the loudspeakers, but in the version delivered for test it was covered with a material called Alcantara - the same material as used for the interiors of luxury yachts and cars, such as, for example, Ferrari. In turn, the front, back and top are made of a thick black acrylic.

The markings on the knobs were made in an unusually and very interesting way. Instead of engraving or screen printing them, manufacturer used small semi-precious stones - rhinestones.

It is clear that designers really thought even about smallest details, because the RCA and loudspeaker sockets are also high-quality WBT components from the nextGen series.

It is a fully tube amplifier - both the amplification stage and power supply are tube-based. The circuit works in the A Class in single-ended mode. In the input you will find the CV181-TH (6SN7) tubes, and the beautiful 300B-TH in the output. The power supply section features a 5U4G rectifier. All of them come from the Psvane, and the power tubes belong to the prestigious T Series Mk II.

It’s easy to take a look at the electrical circuit because it is located under a magnetic removable top cover. It's really nice to see an excellent, motorized, 48-step Khozmo resistor ladder attenuator, huge polypropylene capacitors from the Polish company Miflex (!) and the French SRC. Large polypropylene capacitors were also used in the power supply - something that Gerhard Hirt, the head of Ayon Audio, "practiced" a long time ago; there are no electrolytic capacitors in the power supply of my Spheris III preamplifier.

As the input selector and the attenuator are located at the rear panel, which shortens the signal path, long spindles connect them with the knobs in the front, just like it used to be practised in the best audio years. The assembly is precise and clean - it's a beautiful sight!


HOW WE LISTENED TO IT | The 300B Provocateur amplifier was placed on the top shelf of the Finite Elemente Master Reference Pagode Edition rack, and the speakers in almost exactly the same place as the Harbeth M40.1. After a short listening session, I pushed them a bit further, closer to the front wall - this way the lower midrange gained in richness. Ultimately, the Adams were placed 2.5 meters away from me and 2 meters away from each other (counting from the tweeters). The amplifier and the loudspeakers were connected with a speaker cable that the company uses in their studio, the power to the amplifier was provided using the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable.

As a source I used the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD Player.

Recording used during review

⸤ Al Jarreau, All I Got, GRP ‎065 082-2 | SUDL 003630, Test Press SACD/CD (2002)
⸤ Karl Bartos, Off The Record, Bureau CD 974282 BB079, CD (2013)
⸤ Enya, Enya, BBC Entertainment BBC CD 605, CD (1987)
⸤ Genesis, Duke, Virgin/EMI 385181 2 9, „New 2007 Remaster”, SACD/CD + DVD (1981/2007)
⸤ Brian Eno, Another Green World, Virgin/Astralwerks 7243 5 78034 2 7, „Original Masters”, Master CD-R (1975/2004)
⸤ Art Pepper, Intensity, Contemporary Records/Universal Music Japan UCCO-5114, “Jazz The Best Legendary 150, No. 114”, CD (1957/2006)
⸤ Paul Chambers Quintet, Paul Chambers Quintet, Blue Note/EMI Music Japan TOCJ-7152, “Blue Note Records: RVG Edition”, CD (1957/2009)
⸤ John Coltrane, Giant Steps, „Deluxe Edition 60 Years”, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan WPCR-18311/2, SD 1311, 2 x SHM-CD (1960/2008)
⸤ Nat ‘King’ Cole, The Nat King Cole Love Songs, Master Tape Audio Lab AAD-245A, „Almost Analogue Digital”, Master CD-R (2015);

DO YOU REMEMBER what I said about the RCM Audio phono preamplifier? The Closer Acoustics system has the same, incredible ability to transfer energy. This is a result of the nature of the components themselves, i.e. a simple SET amplifier circuit, and the loudspeakers themselves featuring high-efficiency full-range drivers. But there is something else, some "added value" which benefits this particular setup.

The system sounds incredibly fast and direct. The drum beat is immediate and therefore natural. This is not an artificial acceleration that is achieved by hardening an attack, but a real speed. Each element of the sound has its own character, both in terms of dynamics and timbre. Oh yes - the dynamics: my system is unique in this respect, but the Closer Acoustics system is just as fast.

I would place it in the higher part of the spectrum in terms of tonality. The frequency response is quite flat, good, but at the lower end of the spectrum there is no "physical" slam, but rather just information about it. One can’t achieve a massive sound with this type of system. But everything above - let's say - 80 Hz is so resolving, so coherent that reproducing the higher harmonics creates an impression, as if the band was extended all the way down. This is how the double basses sounded on each of the three jazz albums that I listened to one after another (in the order of recording sessions, not releases): Paul Chambers Quintet and Paul Chambers Quintet, John Coltrane from Giant Steps and Art Pepper from Intensity.

| Our albums

„Deluxe Edition 60 Years”

Atlantic/Warner Music Japan | 2 x SHM-CD

Giant Steps was John Coltrane's first album recorded for the Atlantic Records. Recorded over two days - May 4th and 5th, 1959, with an additional session for the Naim track held on December 2nd of the same year, it remains a model recording for jazzmen still today and a kind of "horizon" of saxophone skills. The disc shows Coltrane at the moment in time searching for harmony and progression, that was followed by a period in which spiritual elements began to dominate his work, i.e. melody and simplification of the structure.

Interestingly, this material was created almost in parallel with another masterpiece - Kind of Blue, on which the saxophonist took part in the modal revolution. There is one more interesting thing about it. While listening to the tracks recorded in May and one recorded in December, one should pay attention to a completely different style of Coltrane’s playing. Ever since he was a child, the musician struggled with dental problems. At that time, they turned out to be so serious that by the end of 1959 he underwent a major surgery to insert eight (!) new teeth. And that changed his way of playing, and therefore the "sound".

The new version of the album was released on the 60th anniversary of the original. The material was remastered from the original "master" tapes at London's AIR Studios by John Webber; originally Tom Dowd and Phil Iehle were responsible for the sound. Webber is one of the studio's youngest engineers, but he has been quite successful in his work which included well-received remasters of David Bowie and George Michael albums. His jazz discography is short, but it does include Miles Davis' album Rubberband.

After all, the sound of this re-edition, especially on the SHM-CD, is excellent. There is a lot of information in it, so it can seem more detailed. And it is not, it is just resolving. I would even say that it sounds quite dark, as if it has been touched by „patina”. But it is a noble patina that only emphasizes the value of its sound. The extended version, on the second disc, includes a rehearsal session for the album from March 26th, as well as the second track recorded on December 2nd, i.e. Like Sonny, here in an alternative version. A must have!

By the way, it was impossible not to notice that it is a system that differentiates everything beautifully. These are discs recorded in different ways, by different engineers, in different recording studios, and it is perfectly clear. But it was not emphasized at all. Even though the Closer Acoustics system perfectly shows various aspects of the sound of the recordings, it does not “lean” towards a petty emphasizing of this or that. These are great albums recorded at the best moment in their leaders' careers, and that's all that matters.

As I said, the tonal center of gravity is set higher here than in my system, although it is still a presentation where the midrange plays the key role. But it is also not a "midrange-heavy" sounding system. The musical image has a momentum, it is extended on both range extremes, there is no feeling of being locked in some part of reality. It’s only that after "tasting" such albums as The Nat King Cole Love Songs by Nat King Cole, that is a copy of Master CD-R from an analog tape, what remains on the tongue is... midrange.

This part of the range is played in a fast, open and resolving way, therefore it is not "warmed up", nor can one hear a "tube" signature. I put quotation marks around these two terms because I mean to evoke their stereotypical understanding. Stereotypes make the message shallow, but they also serve as a summary of information, so I use them every now and then. Anyway, "tube-like" in this case is all that I was talking about: naturalness, extraordinary speed and immediacy of the sound. One can easily relax and enjoy jazz and vocal music with this system.

However, it is a system with a specific sound signature, a specific sound, different from the sound of most systems available on the market. Adam loudspeakers act like a magnifying glass, bringing the sound closer. But not physically - everything 'happens' behind the line connecting the speakers - but mentally. The sound is more intense than with other designs, which is why we perceive it in a stronger way. It is for this reason that the sound of the Closer Acoustics system promotes elements from the midrange, because we are evolutionally most sensitive to this range. We get something close to reality with it, so we are all the more aware of it.

The system is therefore not very suitable for playing highly compressed music. A short visit to the world of Karl Bartos on the Off The Record and everything was clear - the compression forces this system to make the timbres shallower, die down the energy and sharpen the sound. In itself it is neither sharp nor bright, but intense, so the upper midrange, in cases like this one, will irritate. But if you play such a good master as the one prepared by Nimbus Records for Enya's debut album, or Brian Eno's Another Green World, and you will see that the system will also play an electronic music really well, as long as it is well-produced and released.

Assessing this system in absolute terms, one would have to say that it won’t offer a low bass and air pressure comparable to classic designs, it simply cannot be done. However, if you are looking for everything that I wrote about above, i.e. immediacy, energy, naturalness, smoothness, differentiation of timbre and dynamics, you will get used to it quite quickly - for me it also worked with the newest Avatar Audio Number Two Mk2 loudspeakers.

Then even albums such as Duke by Genesis, even its fairly bright version, like the remaster released in 2007 on SACD disc, will seem fine, and after some time you will come to the conclusion that this is the only possible way to present it and that all others are wrong.

| Summary

It all depends on what WE need and what WE are looking for. The Closer Acoustics system gives us an alternative to the current consensus look at how music should sound like. This sort of presentation is not for everyone. To appreciate what it offers, you need experience, both in terms of live and reproduced sound of music. These are two different experiences, but only combining them gives us knowledge of what we really want.

As I write these words, I am listening to Al Jarreau's album from 2002, entitled All I Got, from a unique a "Test Press" SACD. I hear an organic presentation, coherent sound, great dynamics and nice colors. There is no movement of air in presentation, there is no "physicality", there is rather an immediate airlift of information between the album and me that constitutes something more than just a mechanical reconstruction of the recording.

If you are looking for that in music and you are able to sacrifice what I wrote about earlier, then you are at home. The system is beautifully designed, fantastically made and sounds brilliantly. This is a real, not an imaginary high-end.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

| Adam
Wside-band driver: Supravox 215 Signature
Tweeter: B&C Speakers DE 35
Impedance: 8Ω
Sensitivity: 94dB
Power handling: 35 Watt
Binding posts made of pure copper and gold-plated.
Dimensions (H x W x D): 1170 x 305 x 44 mm
Weight: 43 kg/pc.

| 300B Provocateur
Power output: 8W/8 Ω, Class A
Frequency range: 18-23 000Hz (+/-2dB)
Channel separation: >70dB
THD: 0.3% (1 W)
Input sensitivity: 200mV
Input impedance: 100kΩ
Dimensions (W x H x D): 400 x 19,8 x 455 mm (H: 325 mm incl. tubes)
Weight: 28 kg


Reference system 2020

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC