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I should preface the following by saying - I've got no particular motivation or agenda apart from, being a loudspeaker DIY'er for some years, a genuine interest in the story of a local manufacturer who seems to share many of my own ideals of what a loudspeaker should be and do! Thank you Nick for indulging me!
I was fortunate to catch up with Nick on a recent trip to Adelaide and we spent a great afternoon chatting about his journey as a designer/constructor and listening to the Maestros, as well as the Serenade and Mikro bookshelf models. I had heard the Astors at the recent GTG hosted by @Marc, and knew the others would be worth a listen if I got a chance.
What struck me after a few hours with some familiar program material was just how pleasantly non-fatiguing and consistent in virtues of imaging and spatial presentation all of these designs are. Nick's painstaking choice of drivers, crossover design/components and optimisation of cabinet structure/volume has yielded a really defined synergy across the range. Strange, because I would have thought this should be the basic stuff for any loudspeaker manufacturer, yet so many seem to miss the mark in trying to be all things to all people.
To me, the most important characteristic about any good loudspeaker design is neutrality and accuracy across the human vocal range, and the ability to convey the depth and breadth of the recorded soundscape and pinpoint performers within it. While the latter especially is hugely subjective and reliant on the system and room as a whole, I believe the former is really down to the priorities of the designer and the lengths they will go to in order to get the basics right.
Plainly, no loudspeaker driver is without it's quirks and flaws, and while technology in driver design has come so far, the fundamental game of loudspeaker design is still won or lost in careful driver matching and crossover/enclosure design. Seems almost ridiculous that it needs to be said, but I think it's here especially that Nick's dedication to nailing the fundamentals have really paid off. Looking at the drivers, in all models (apart from mid range in the Astor @HA_Nick, correct me if I'm wrong?) SB Acoustics with natural cone materials and powerful, highly optimised motor/voice coils are used. I think this, along with careful crossover development plays a big part in why they image, and handle particularly vocals, so consistently well across the range, and are immensely engaging without being fatiguing.
So, nothing particularly revolutionary or unique there, but all the Hulgich products present a convincing argument for the value in a traditional approach to loudspeaker design. I was very pleasantly surprised by the Mikro's ability to fill a moderate sized room, and the sonic virtues of the larger models were there in spades. Bass extension of course improved substantially with the stand mounted Serenade, and the new floorstanding Maestro came to the party with added authority and weight in the lowest octaves, with two drivers and dedicated internal volumes acting as one.
I am hugely impressed with Nick's work, and it's so refreshing to meet a designer who is prepared to talk with genuine passion and humility about his priorities and goals and how they've evolved, and how keen he is to use both international design expertise and local talent in cabinet making and finishing to weave together the promising threads of Hulgich. Thanks again and kudos, Nick!