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BANTAM HiFi Magazine Review

BANTAM HiFi Magazine Review

Review of BANTAM by Ádám Torday (HiFi Magazin - Hungary)


Little Bantam? Take it! (seriously)

Quick technical overview

It was a very precise and long development work, preceded by many experiments before it became the final product. The interior is very complicated, even though it is a tiny box. It is a labyrinth system where the path length is critical for linearity and bass transmission. It is self-vibrating, so the inner surface is etched so that the power of the speaker can be absorbed by the box and then delivered in the intensity of the bass, but without the disadvantage of the standing waves. One aspect of the construction of Bantam was the avoidance of sealing, in which this concept is succeded. The sound box itself is made of plywood by gluing. The raw material is machined with a automatic CNC mill to form complex internal and smooth exterior features. It can be ordered varnished or pickled in different colors. It is covered with a sophisticated black plexiglass decoration, partly on the front and back, which completes the design of the compact box, but it is worth taking care of these, because it is not so resistant to stronger mechanical impacts, so it is relatively easy to scratch. One of the key design principles of a loudspeaker is self-vibration. Raffai uses a support that allows the box itself to vibrate, while also isolating it from the speaker stand. The textile pads in the corners of the speaker box are responsible for the detachment. Structurally sound, gold-plated speaker connectors are ready to connect the speaker cable.

The location of the small 3”speaker in the speaker box is far from irrelevant to the sound. It’s good to know that the whole construction was built around this consideration in order to get the most out of its capabilities. So the total diameter of the speaker is about 7 cms including the speaker frame, - it actually looks so 5-6 cms, that is, impossible small to its box, which isn't too big anyway. The fiberglass membrane is 2.8 grams and has a relatively large magnet on its back.

This product is really about exactly what is not in it. There’s no crossover, no stuffing, no swinging mass, no extra tweeter - as simple as the abc, the refinement is in the design. My question is, is there a good sound? There are parameters that are in favoure of this, even without listening. For example, one is the ability of the membrane to follow the waveform extremely well. This is aided by low self-weight as well as low inertia and extremely low electrical inductance; it can quickly return the membrane to its rest position and is not delayed by the air mass moved. At this point, it’s worth asking the question that since the air it travels gives our ears the bass, what can we achieved with this speaker size? This is where the importance of proper box design comes into play, as well as the decently stiff box, which is designed to amplify the bass, despite the minimal vibration. The agitated air escapes through the reflex port, amplified through a labyrinth system, but the long journey from the speaker to the outlet assumes a high vibration-absorbing capacity that the cabinet can absorb. What is shocking is that it was possible to bring all this linearly (in room conditions) from 40hz according to the measurements of the developer László Raffai. The frequency response up to 10kHz remains within the 1dB, and above that its volume only increases and goes up to 20kHz. That would be great even for boxes much bigger than this.

Digging deeper in technical data

The movement of the electromechanical speaker is forced by a magnetic field, the membrane then moves in a straight line with a two-way deflection, thus following the signal. The ability to follow its subject to the inertia of the materials being moved, which can be done by the mass of the membrane and the coil body. Influence is also influenced by the leniency of the rim and the pill, as well as the amount of air moved.

The induced magnetic field causes the membrane to move by the coil. The amplifier signal at full bandwidth on the speaker terminals used in the box because there is no crossover. Because of that, there is no phase problem. Being a one-way design - unlike multi-way solutions - there will be no time difference between the deep and high sections, as the speaker works at the same time on all frequencies over the entire bandwidth. Although even low membrane mass has inertia, it is delayed compared to changes in magnetism, but its tracking is still much more accurate than that of its heavier counterparts. The ear can still be tricked and now this tracking ability is ample enough for the brain to experience a very dense amount of incoming information. However, a ribbon or static panel follows even more efficiently due to the smaller mass to be diverted. Their disadvantage is that the crossover required in sound reproduction is a serious factor and the matching with the middle and / or bass section is complicated compared to the simplicity of broadband transmission and can be said to be almost to difficult in my opinion.

In the case of multipath solutions, the negative effect of the crossover is therefore very often compensated by the ear, i.e. the brain, and this is accompanied by the strain on listening to music, i.e. it is quite simply more tiring to listen. Bantam is a refreshing exception in this case, because it is not tiring at all, but it does not stand above all else, - as might be felt from this part of the above text,- as it is by no means superior to any personal influence (because of its own nature).

It can be fine tuned with the components in front of it, from the rounded sound to the monitor like sound, but it can't really be made to be slow or lack information. It will always express the electronics assigned to it and it may not be to everyone’s liking. They are not necessarily required to hear "everything." The ideal sound of detached from the system, is a beloved, longed-for ideal with its peculiar self-voice. Especially if it is more in tune with individual taste…

But let’s stay tuned to the data flow... the role of bass in adding sound is unquestionable. This is because air movement starts from the inner surface of the membrane in the labyrinth passage inside the box towards the posterior reflex exit. This movement of air reacts with the longitudinal passage of the speaker and intensifies as it moves towards the outlet of the box. I am listening and I am wondering if amplifying the bass delivered by the speaker to the inside of the box in this way causes this delay compared to the size of the speaker in an otherwise very pronounced bass section?! Small sizes are coupled with great agility because you can’t hear that. You could be sure to hear this necessary delay in the bass of course, if you had an even better speaker at hand. However, I have not yet encountered a speaker that would be more convincing in terms of principles and implementation within its size class.
However, it is also worth mentioning the limits of its applicability. One is the limitation of the size of the acoustic space, i.e. the ideal listening room. I do not recommend over thirty square meters, I rather recommend a maximum room size of twenty-five, or even closer to twenty. The other is the speaker stand. A well-chosen stand does not particularly affect the speed of the radiation, as it does not particularly affect the speakers vibrations. As the design of the boxes is self-vibrating, there is no need for such accessories, they can be placed on a shelf or on a table.


First listening

So the whole membrane is a half-palm surface, - it raced through my mind as I assembled the system. We tried several source, both CD and analog. We used a Sony DZ-555 discman and a CDP-555ESD player. The D / A converter used the Human Audio D42 DAC, with the Human Audio A42 amplifier, the cables and racks are our all time references. Since the DAC is battery powered, we also included the Sony discman from our own battery, which, if one didn’t know it, was the absolute top model in Sony’s line. I refined the racks a bit, but it’s so easy to find the location of the speakers that there’s no necessary of a lengthy installation right now.

The first two movements of Dave Brubeck - We’re All Together Again For The First Time (Warner Germany) were in circulation (Truth, Unfinished Woman). It can fill the space, the music 3D, also coming from the sides. There seem to be no limits to the resolution, the sense of presence. It is very convincing, especially with regard to the bass, which accompanies the part; it is present with energy and dynamics. The presentation blows me away. As I write this, I feel this is the usual cliché, but I want to put it simply and objectively, and making the point seems to be the easiest way.

Marianne Antonsen - Blomster I Soweto (Kirkelig Kulturvested). We also took the exam with the first two songs. I can write: the speaker has an extremely good expressiveness, it makes it tangible, every little detail that affects the signal flow. The otherwise full-bodied and very complex music on the CD was especially enjoyable, so much so that we forgot everything and just listened. The vocals were also present in the right proportions, the sound of the male choir and the deep section are also in place. There’s no shortage of resolution, and we’re actually learning to hear more because it brings so much more detail that you have to get used to it. It is said that too many details are tiring, but it is not when it complements it with dynamics and emotions.

Juliette Greco- Recital (Philips, Japan). A typical example of the above is this record. It is very nuanced and filled with Greco's song. He is a master of the transmission of emotions and it is now so intensely managed that our members are amazed. The performance seems a bit unearthly, I might write,  - but the reader wouldn’t believe this, overstatement, - but not because the sound is increasingly leaving its physical limits. This is already the level at which your brain should compensate for to be abke to listened to. Being liberated in listening to music in this state is a very serious and defining experience. There is no hue, no narrowing, no unique character, there is only listenability and music, but unfortunately we have to take out the record as we want to hear the next one as well.

RoBERT - Six Pieds Sous Terre (DEA France), - (Personne, Aphone). Great recording and the system delivers. If I didn’t want to puff up clichés, all I would write was that the display was worthy of the music content. Since I've heard it "a thousand times," not the slightest flicker escapes my attention. It is enough that I write so much that I can still listen to this system almost as many times as I can! The experience of the 3D objectively follows what was recorded on the record, the details are elaborate and sophisticated, and the hearing of emotions in the vocals, as it is, appears. The different formats still provide different experiences, the difference of which can be easily interpreted in the interpretation of the speaker. The intensity of the deep sounds is the only thing that keeps surprising, the others are almost natural to have.

London Grammar - Truth Is A Beautiful Thing (Universal, EU), (Oh Woman Oh Man). Indila - Mini World (Capitol, France), (Derniére Danse, Love Story). Tini - Martina Stoessel (Hollywood Records EU), (Great Escape). We also wanted to probe the speaker in the light of contemporary pop music. In fact, the main concern is the extent to which the defects in the making of the LP disc, or the distortion due to over-control of the volume of the disc, or the digital taste of the recordings, leave a mark on the audibility. They are present, but at the same time the music can be enjoyed so it distracts from them, or rather, doesn’t focus on it. The musical experience is still convincing, and amplification has a role to play in this, because the whole system is built to support audibility. All this without having to give up the details or the sense of presence. We enjoyed listening to all three speakers, and we still get an accurate picture of the source and the elements of the system.


Even more fun

The famous sound of Three Blind Mice (1998) XRCD transcript on DAT tape. The source is now a DAT tape recorder, Sony PCM-2700 studio, actually a professional version of the DTC-77ES. Its symmetrical output is directly connected to the Sony MU-A51 power amplifier. The sound is large, the details are separate, with proportional spatial mapping and dynamics, and the resolution leaves nothing to be desired. It's all together for making music, and so far I can only criticise the human voice, and it's not here. Musical instruments, on the other hand, are easily attracted with their live vibrant performance and can actually be immersed in them. Later I even asked myself a few times because the elementary power of the bass strings kept me in the couch. The Hammond organ also gurgled through the room, covering it with playfulness, penetrating the material, into the realm of the soul.
Samantha Fox - Samantha Fox (1987). The atmosphere evokes age, as well as my own childhood, the reproduction is perfect in this respect. It comes to mind right away when I begged the shop owner for his last remaining pictures, which he didn’t like because he was glued to the shop window behind a pile of other publications. I was a collector, my room was full of photos and posters. I don’t search for great sound, the point is what it be like if I went back in time, it even crackles in part because the recording is from LP and there was a little dirt at the end of the record. I bought it, so it was used plenty.

Francoise Hardy, - there are these data DAT tapes. I recorded a selection from him a long time ago, something lasting five hours from his favorite records. Well, uh, the family already hates it so I can only listen behind closed doors. It goes on almost all day and has a chance to stay in the player for a while longer. The musical unity strikes through it coherently, it could even fill an attendance sheet. Simple, objective, musical, light and liberated at the same time. Acceptable, longing for each song over and over again. It is the Gin Tonic album (1980) that is based on jazz. The vocals are clear and soaring, with an aura filling the middle part, which the band complements with piano and bass basics. If the chord is clumsy, then it is definite, then it is well traceable, the melody comes down flawlessly - the vocals sound directly and only to me.

Mylene Farmer - Ainsi Soit Je (1988), - L’autre (1991) albums. I’ve practically grown up on these and are still regular guests on the players, whether it’s a tape, an LP, or a CD, but now it’s going from DAT. Miss Farmer has never been famous for the quality of her records, perhaps L’autre is somewhat of an exception, although she has a CD (Anamorphosée), seven copies of which all sound different. There’s quite a lot of good within, but even that isn’t worth of a good quality jazz release. However, they are completely suitable for evoking mood, what’s more, I find a song that I can forget everything, just listen to it. The rest remains a desire for a higher standard, all of which in the interpretation of Bantam is sometimes ruthless, but sometimes provocative.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik - Flaunt it (1986) It is written in the reviews that they have acquired music that builds exclusively on appearances and the music is now completely secondary. It may still be captivating even now. Infantile, he proved to be a bit of a messenger compared to his age. Punk music evokes the era with moving, influential and trendy ingenuity. I didn't take it out for days, what's more to ask for such a volume from the tiny boxes, that I was already uncomfortable opening the door because of the neighbors.

Marianne Antonsen - Blomster I Soweto (1995). After using the CD a few times for the tests, I took out a copy. It didn’t go wrong, the Digital Audio Tape format is famous for making it difficult to hear the difference between the original and the copy. Obviously, it was used as a studio standard for master recording. What I have to say is uninterestingly perfect and elaborate to boredom, I don’t notice anything I don’t already know. The plus in music is often aided by the emotional charge that connects to some life experience. This is not the case, unless I recall a number of test occasions, but they are so common that they are accompanied by a kind of disinterest in the record. Everything is clean, - I've pointe out. Resolution is good, dynamics as well, chorus is okay, solo organ is in place. Pedantic, almost perfect, I'm already taking it out of the tape recorder. Is it good for me to test with it, or it is good to listen too? - it could be good, but I'm in a different mood and the system doesn't do anything special either, it just tells you what, that's all. Perfectly boring. Let it me taste, smell, do something extra that grabs my attention. Actually, after all, I just want something else and it may not sound like this excellent recording, yet it involves me more in the music because I prefer it that way. This hobby is very subjective.



The sensitivity of the speakers is very close to the capability of microphones. With this, the transient transmission, the resolution, the signal transmission approach the ideal. Thanks to the design of the speaker box, it is able to create the bass without missing anything. There is no shortage of dynamics, the lower tract of the band is elaborate, detailed, easy to follow, almost notable and surprisingly intense! It complements the upper register of the deep range, the detail and pace of which together show a complex unity. We are easily distracted from the technique, into the music and the emotions. The most shocking thing, however, is to hear the plus that the speaker intervenes for because of its intense signaling capability. It’s not just unusual, it is downright unique.

As the speaker is small, it is not designed for party, it is definitely for a small room or an enclosed space that is no larger than 20-30sqm. The performance will be perfect in this conditions, and the volume is plentiful enough - we didn't listen to high volume at all. It is not particularly sensitive to placement, can be put on a shelf, table, or almost any rack. It has horizons within which it is well tuned and easy to adjust. You should be prepared, it can show you almost everything!

Enjoying its company - I write this on purpose - is also easy and not tiring at all. The music goes on it almost all day and it never occurred to me for a moment that it should be turned off. What’s more, I went out several times at night to listen to music.

Its resolution, show off ability, uniformity and easy reception are extremely attractive. In its interpretation, one can dissolve deeper into the music, the mood of the music, the era, the personality of the performer is almost an open book. The emotional string between the Bantam and me is almost real, even though I have heard the song up to a thousand times before.  It is a small time machine and only the distortion or other imperfections of the recording can sober me up, unless it belongs to the basic quality of the recording and is therefore not a defect but a characteristic of the recording technique of the age.
It’s an interesting term, but in this case, the flow really means an in-depth realistic insight into the music. Its interprets as if the shape patterns of the signal together appear as a truly endless and unshakable process for the ear.

If you have the right conditions, you will get it's best all the time. How it performs depends primarily not on the devices that make up the system, but rather on the conditions of the installation. It shows everything from the playback, but also the qualities of the playback system without any comprimize. It can get the “recommended” or “best buy” stamps from us, but instead it will be included in our reference speakers!

Ádám Torday - Editor, HiFi Magazine, Hungary