Jump to content

Steve M

This Speaker Deserves Fame and Fortune! Nakamichi Dragon Electrostatic

Recommended Posts

I recently purchased a pair of these magnificent hybrid electrostats from Charlie Van Dongen at Reality Technologies in Melbourne.

Firstly, there is a bit of a sad story with the Nakamichi Dragons (also known as the Whise HA1500). They were produced by Charlie and an Australian design team in collaboration with Nakamichi Japan and Rob Mackinlay of ER Audio, around 2008. About 200 pairs of the Naks were produced in a Chinese factory employing up to 70 people. And, this is the bad part ...2008 was the year of financial turmoil in the World, the year of the GFC and bank failures - as a result, Nakamichi pulled support from the project, the factory was closed down and it all went belly up. Its a VERY sad tale as the speaker itself is an absolutely world class product and deserves fame and fortune. The Naks were meant to compete in the price range of $12,000 - $18,000 loudspeakers.

As to the design features, firstly, it is an ACTIVE loudspeaker with 400w/ch of Class AB amplifiers on board. This means that all you need is a source with volume control to use it, namely direct from a CD player, iPod or computer audio (so long as you can attenuate volume at source). The electrostatic panel is a Rob Mackinlay design with ultra thin super-fast membranes capable of doing 20kHz of feathery detailed treble (very few stats can do 20kHz). The panel is driven by a 100w/ch on board amplifier with a crossover point at 250Hz , meaning that the panel is relieved of bass duties, this is critical in allowing the panel to play at high volume levels up to 110dB. The bass section is also driven by a 100w/ch amp and is a sealed isobaric box using 2 x 8" woofers in a bandpass design that is limited at 350Hz, meaning that no voices come out of the woofer, bass is specified to perform down to 26 Hz @ +/- 6dB ...a pretty impressive figure for such a small box.

Now as to the sound of the speaker ...in a nutshell it sounds fabulous. It is definitely in the $10-15K (or more) class of commercial loudspeakers that I have heard or owned over the 30+years in this hobby. The Naks sound refined and balanced with all the detail at the transient edges as you would expect from an electrostatic, they have a huge soundstage and are capable of playing VERY loud without stress or compression. One word of warning they need to be fed with the best music material, source and recordings ...good recordings are excellent, less good just comes across that way ...well, less good. Try and have them out about 5' in the room for good imaging. From what I am hearing thru' the Nak Dragons, vinyl source sounds the best ...its not that they are only good with vinyl - as badly recorded vinyl will still sound bad. You just need to throw the best recordings at the Nak spkr anything less will sound less good, this is their achilles heel, but they are not to be blamed as they are just telling it like it is. On some stuff they sound just OK, on good recordings quite exceptional, you need to be patient with them as they just tell it like it is and - not very forgiving of average recordings. I imagine in a dealer's showroom they could be a bit of a hit-n-miss affair and misconstrued as somewhat bright sounding, but get them into the right acoustic space with superb source and recordings and they will sound like World beaters.

Any caveats with the speaker? While the speaker is beautifully constructed, there is not an external nut-n-bolt to be seen - it is locked up tighter than an Egyptian tomb! I am concerned as to how you would service the speaker should an amplifier or a woofer goes wrong, you can't seem to get into them too easily? I suppose you could always hire Indiana Jones (or Charlie) to break in ;-))

One final word on the bass integration between the boxed isobaric woofer and the electrostatic panel, IMHO, the integration is nigh on perfect and the quantity of bass punches waay above its weight and size! Well done Charlie and Whise on the bass, in fact, well done on the whole project of putting this excellent Australian loudspeaker out there on the World stage!

In the end the Nakamichi Dragon/Whise HA1500 loudspeaker is a very competent, loud playing, excellent sounding, compact and sexy speaker package ...you can't really ask for much more can you?

Regards,

Steve.

PS: No affiliation with Whise/Reality Tech, other than I am a happy customer ...

DSC_5672Large.jpgDSC_5666Large.jpgDSC_5671Medium.jpgDSC_5660Large.jpgDSC_5665Large.jpgDSC_5645Large.jpgDSC_5646Large.jpgDSC_5651Large.jpgDSC_6107Large.jpgNakamichiESLpictiled-1.jpg

Edited by Steve M

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As to the design features itself, firstly, it is an ACTIVE loudspeaker with 400w/ch of Class AB amplifiers on board.

Very cool looking design, Steve. Does this mean that the crossover is active (at line level) or simply that the speaker is powered by built-in amplification prior to a traditional passive crossover? In my mind active line level crossovers (be they analogue or digital) with their steeper slopes are the way to go for any kind of hybrid design using an electrostatic panel.

The electrostatic panel looks to be flat, as opposed to curved a la MartinLogan, SoundLabs, etc, which would theoretically make the design easier to place in room due to the more predictable (and directional) radiation pattern. It would be interesting to compare this speaker to the equivalent offering from Sanders since the two seem to share some common ground.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a pair of these also. I agree with the original posted comments. Very happy with the purchase. Have had them for more than 2 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heard about these from Grimmie when I went to have a listen to his system on Sunday, they look very nice indeed. Thanks for the write up, it's a shame they are not being made anymore.

Cheers Dave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve M, you forgot to mention that they look fabulous!

Lucky barstud!

Graham

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Ferdinand Ferrari could have designed those !!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Muon

Very interesting read, cheers for that :)

I'm sure they must sound excellent!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What he [steve] said.

These sound how Martin Logans should.

Their story is both heroic and tragic .

All those involved in their design and construction need to be applauded on fullfilling the potential of this type of speaker.In my experience nobody else in the world quite got it right.These people did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moderator

Excellent, Steve. If they sound as good as they look then they must be sensational.

So how would you compare them to your ERs?

Also, can you give us an idea of their height?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×