Letter about Role Audio Speakers experience.
To: Mr. Erol Ricketts
Your cordiality and warmth on the occasions we've spoken have been a very real part of the positive experiences I've enjoyed with Role Audio. Thank you.
To specifics: I've just ordered, as you know, another pair of the Skiffs. They are extraordinary. As I mentioned in a long-ago conversation, I use them in hotels/apartments for periodic residencies out of town, and I could not be more pleased. In those rare instances when I can 'open them up' they offer a consuming musical experience; full (not gigantic, in keeping with their size), nearly visible soundstage; clarity and air in the mid-range, accuracy and a bit of 'forgiveness' in the upper octaves - and fully satisfying in the upper bass. I use a Pinnacle SUBcompact 6 for deep bass and, since its' crossover allows up to a 150 hz setting (I use 140 hz just to take the low end pressure off the Skiffs; the Pinnacles' low end is down 3db at 28) it is sonically a near-perfect match - as well as of manageable size.
The Skiffs respond happily to most amplification from, for example, a little Teac 25 watt a side receiver - and, joyously, to an Arcam Solo. I'm planning a system of the Skiffs, Antique Audio 25 watt monoblocks (Wave AV-25 DT) and either an Adcom or an Anthem pre-tuner with a Pinnacle riding low. I'll report, if you'd like, when I've had some time to assess the set-up.
The Kayaks are in place as nearfield monitors in my home Tascam CD/ DAT/Cassette archiving system. They, too, are subwoof'ed. Amazing.
But the true stars in the Role firmament are, for me (so far), the Sampans which you kindly had modified for me by using the original Skiff 3.5" driver. They were first evaluated (no sub) with the Czech Philharmonic/Karel Ancerl performance of Stravinskys' Rite of Spring, employing modest amplification. We listened, drop-jawed, to detail, a seamless soundstage, crisp warmth (Oxymoronic? Not in the least), and next to no sense of compression or congestion at climaxes. (That recording is analog from the early 60's, so some distortion was inevitably audible; not the fault of the speakers - played, as they were, at a fairly conservative level.)
The Sampans are now set up in my bedroom at home, supported with a small Totem subwoofer* (not particularly powerful or extremely deep - but musical and truthful) and they handle everything from big band and small ensemble jazz (Jazz at the Pawnshop, all volumes; Kenny Burrell; Bob James; Claude Bolling - small ensemble and big band; etc) to Ravels' Daphnis et Chloe (Munch/Boston). Mahlers' Symphony #8? Mmmmmmmm, maybe not. Big system for that. But the Mahler 4th; 1st; even 3rd - ?Tell me when it's time to press play and I'll be there.
A frequent critical observation from your quoted reviewers can be summed up in the phrase "the speakers disappear". And it is the truth. While my needs have not brought me to the larger Role offerings, I think I can assume with nearly absolute certainty that they support - perhaps even surpass - the quality, utterly satisfying sound and remarkable value of the speakers I've come to rely on and which give me such reliable sessions immersed happily in the Art of Music.
Many thanks, Mr. Ricketts, and please give my regards to the designers and craftspersons who bring these speakers to service of music lovers.
David Ogden Stiers
Actor; Director; Associate Conductor Newport (Oregon) Symphony Orchestra
*and driven variously by Arcam Solo, Music Hall integrated amp, Adcom pre-tuner controlling a pair of 45 watt p/p EL 34 monoblocks and anything else I feel like throwing at them. They remain blithely musical and satisfying.