CLOSER ACOUSTICS OGY LOUDSPEAKERS

The Closer Acoustic OGY loudspeakers are a small single-driver design that uses no crossover but do employ a transmission-line loading for the minuscule 4″ driver. They cost €1766 as tested. Stuart Smith takes a listen for HiFi Pig.

CLOSER-Acoustic-OGY

OGY is a small but really nicely put together loudspeaker.

Closer Acoustics is a Polish manufacturer headed up by founder and CEO Jacek Grodecki. I think we first encountered the brand at the Warsaw show five or six years ago and I seem to remember being particularly taken by their Provocateur 300B amplifier, though I’ve yet to have the opportunity to take a listen to that in our system – a shame, as I love a 300B.

As well as the Provocateur amp and the OGY loudspeakers we have for the test here, the company makes the Flo phonostage, a power supply and a range of four other speakers, though OGY is the smallest and only standmount speaker they produce.

The company also sells a range of EMS (Electro Magnet Speakers) from France that heavily feature field-coil designs, for which the aforementioned power supply is for, plus more conventional wide-band drivers.

The driver used in the OGY is the 10cm (4”) EMS LB5 produced and handmade in France by Katy Fertin and designed by Michel Fertin. Drawing from a Closer Acoustics interview with Michel it’s clear that this Frenchman has a passion for what wide-range drivers can offer to the overall listening experience, stating that he believes them to be more cohesive due to the lack of filtering by way of a crossover network. In many ways I agree with this sentiment and having owned several pairs of wide-band loudspeakers I agree that they do have some benefits over conventional drivers – speed and clarity being, for me, their major attractions. There is a certain naturalness to a well put together loudspeaker that uses wide-band drivers well. Of course, like pretty much any loudspeaker system wide-band driven loudspeakers have their pitfalls and for me that has always been the complex cabinetry and loading needed to get a good bass response from that single driver. However, another positive point of these types of loudspeakers is their inherent sensitivity which allows their use with low output Single Ended Triode (SET) amps. Wide-bander loudspeakers powered with SET amps is a particular audiophile niche that still has its ardent advocates and in many ways, I too adore that simplicity and purity of signal path for the reasons previously touched upon.

DESIGN AND BUILD

The speakers arrive well packaged in one box with protective high-density foam and then in two nifty cotton bags with handles that allow them to be pulled out of their box and easily carried to where you want them. This is a tiny feature that most folk will think me daft to mention, but it’s actually a very useful thing to include and one perhaps others could take note of – these speakers are a light (7.4Kg) product, but you try getting your hands down the side of a hefty amp in its box and you’ll appreciate why I’m mentioning this.

The speakers are narrow (13.3cm) but deep (30.6cm) making them an odd size to find a suitable speaker stand, though they worked absolutely fine on our SolidSteel stands. The speakers are 31.2cm high and they look pretty cool in their white acrylic stone (Corian) finish and with their little happy smiley transmission-line port – OGY is available in this white and piano black, though bespoke finishes are available to order, which got me thinking about a pink pair of match our English Acoustics 21C amplifier, though this was before I’d had a chance to listen to them! The acrylic stone finish helps, claim Closer, to damp the cabinet and add mass. Internally the speakers are 6 Litres, though that is made up of the internal and undamped transmission-line. Around the back are a very nice set of binding posts and the back itself has Closer and OGY logos imprinted into the acrylic stone – it’s a nice touch and almost a shame to hide this!

Closer Acoustics OGY back 1

Finished in Corian the name of the speakers is moulded into the back.

Reading the Closer Acoustics information about the speakers, much is made of the OGY and its prowess with “natural” instruments such as violins, piano and double bass and there’s mention of them being “ Perfect for all kinds of music where the natural instruments are used – Classical or Jazz…”. Now, regular readers will be well aware that classical and jazz music makes up only a tiny fragment of my day-to-day listening fodder, however, let’s not write these speakers off before we’ve even got them plugged into the system.

I spoke to Jacek Grodecki about the design and aims behind the OGY loudspeaker:

HP: What were your aims with OGY?

JG: This is our first bookshelf loudspeaker. Sometimes customers are asking us for something smaller than our bigger floorstanders. So this is our answer. They can be used in smaller rooms but they are also excellent as near field monitors.

HP: The driver is tiny, why did you want to use such a small driver?

JG: Well, when I had a first listen to the LB5 wideband driver during my visit to EMS in France, I knew that this was a very special driver. It is small, but is have a very low resonant frequency (fs 50Hz). It is also very fast and presents very good linearity. All this put together suits it well to create a loudspeaker able to present a holographic 3D soundstage.

I drew the first design already in 2017, but it was a floorstander with distributed resonance cabinet principle we use in other speakers….So it was on hold and I was making other trials with classic transmission line technology in a smaller compact cabinet. The final result is OGY.

HP: What were the design challenges in using this driver?

JG: I wanted to have a well-equilibrated sound. Sometimes full-range drivers are used in cabinets with over-dimensioned low-frequency response. It may at first be attractive but it is not natural and in the longer run fatiguing. So I needed some volume to give a body to sound, then add a little bit to the low frequency in order to go lower than 50Hz, but in a way so as not to destroy the overall balance.

HP: You chose a transmission-line loading. Why and what benefits does this loading bring over other loadings?

JG: Speed and neutrality is the answer. A carefully designed transmission line with no damping materials inside also helps to preserve the efficiency of a driver. It offers a natural sound both in mid, low-mid and low-frequency ranges. I do not like dragging in the bass response and the transmission line cabinet seems to help a lot in this matter, especially comparing to a standard bass reflex cabinet.

Closer OGY Inside structure

Inside the OGY showing the transmission-line.

Speaking of the system, I put these into the upstairs system using the Auralic Aries G1 with a Leema Libra DAC/Pre and both Krell KST100 and English Acoustics C21 amps. The room is what I’d call of average size and akin to most folks sitting rooms, though it is acoustically treated with GIK panels.

SOUND AND MUSIC

First up the speakers went in the system and were left playing Roon Toons by way of running them in, though I believe they had been fully run-in by Closer. This is something I do, whatever the product!

So what was I expecting from these speakers? The truth is I wasn’t expecting much. I expected them to be fast and to have good staging given their point source and driver type, but I also expected them to be compromised in the bass. I expected them to major on the mid-band and be a bit too lacking in what more conventional speakers would bring to the table…for my taste. In short, I expected them to be a bit crap and a bit like the speakers you would get on an old radiogram. Also and as mentioned, I expected them to only work with small-scale classical and simple jazz music, which I don’t listen to much. However, I approached these speakers, as I do all kit sent for review, with an open mind and hopefully without prejudice. Let’s see…

Needless to say that given my misgivings with regards to my expectations from these speakers, the natural choice of musical genre was a bit of techno in the form of Anfisa Letyago and the track Rhythm Tension. Colour me pretty impressed if not wholly bowled over! Bass is good, if not earth-shakingly low. In this room (normal kind of living room size) it’s just about enough and much more would perhaps be a bit too much. This tune has a filter on it that is intended to make the track (in parts) sound a bit tin-canny and so that’s not really helping with my preconceptions of what these speakers would sound like. Whatever, I let the track play through and the next track Fuga play. The deep bass kick and tone is substantial enough for this self-declared bass-head to have no real complaints in this room. It’s reasonably low and with a good deal of information with regards to its makeup – it sounds suitably hollow and the bass line that is over the top of it is pretty easy to pick out. A distorted clap on the breakdown of this track leaps out into the room and emphasises how good these little speakers are at imaging – fully expected, to be honest. Actually, these are a really entertaining and lively speaker to listen to this kind of music. Yes, a sub may add a bit of body down low, but, so far, I’m genuinely not really missing it and what the speakers lack in absolute bass grunt they make up for in detail and imaging.

Closer Acoustics OGY Side

OGY is narrow and deep.

The Prodigy’s Razor pops up on Roon and this busy track does lack a bit of oomph at the low-end. With that said, it’s not bad or unlistenable by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just not got the kind of kick to it that I’m used to. I pop on 17 Days Of Acid Rain, a classic acid house track by Nouveaux Nation, and the 303 sounds like a 303 with detail and suitable squelch to it. I also enjoyed how the acid line projected out into the room and moved about in the soundstage – If you know the 303 you can almost see what knobs are being twiddled. The underlying bassline (not the acid bassline) is there but a little recessed when compared to our Xavian Perla loudspeakers, but on a par with our LS3/5As. Fangdanz and Domo’s This Isn’t Acid pops up and the sampled “aaah” moves about the soundstage and, actually, the whole thing is very listenable, only without the kind of oomph I’d have liked – again, a sub would fill this out.

So far it sounds like I’m giving these speakers a hard time, and that’s because I intended to play music that I expected them to struggle with. However, despite that feeling of the speaker not moving a lot of air in the room, I actually enjoyed listening to this kind of stuff. There is certainly detail and fantastic imaging going on that makes the Closer speakers an entertaining listen, though not wholly suited to this kind of music when things get chaotic and frantic.

Eric Clapton’s version of Call Me the Breeze plays and whilst the previous and more synthesised basslines were a little difficult for the OGYs, the lolloping bassline here was easy to follow and in keeping with the rest of the track. Clapton’s vocal was projected well into the room and instruments in the mix nicely lineated in the mix, though not artificially so. Guitar licks were excellently portrayed and whilst this is a relatively busy track nothing was lost or confused. An excellent listen. Likewise, the vocal of Johnny Hallyday on Regarde-Nous was huge and forward in the mix with the rest of the track underpinning it in a natural and unforced way. This is a big sounding track and it could quite easily have been recessed and tinny, but the room was filled with natural-sounding music. Not on the same scale as the floorstanders we have, and perhaps a little less dynamic than our Perlas, but an entertaining listen, nonetheless.

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden’s My Ship from the Last Dance album is lined up and this is altogether a much more suitable bit of music for the OGY. The piano is wonderfully depicted with small nuances in playing being well evident and “in the room” real. Actually, I’d say that this is easily on par with the same track played on the LS3/5As, which I suspect is the natural competitor and marketplace for these speakers. The track is recorded at Jarrett’s home studio and there is a real feeling of intimacy and how the two musicians are playing off each other. Haden’s contrabass is placed a little back in the mix and Jarrett’s piano a little more forward – there’s a real sense of being there and looking in on the room. As the track fades to silence it’s as if you can see the two musicians look over at each other with a knowing “we nailed that” look. Really beautifully done and hats off to Closer who I think really do have a grasp of their intended audience and their preferred musical fodder.

In use at HiFi Pig Towers.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Unomathemba from 1987’s Shaka Zulu album again plays to the strengths of the OGY speakers. Again there’s a naturalness and uncoloured feeling to the way the OGYs portray this track – there are only voices and no instruments. The collected vocals have reverb to them which comes across really well and again there’s the ability to see the “choir” in front of you – it’s almost as if you are looking down on the stage about two thirds back in the stalls and raised slightly, though not quite in the circle. I let the album play through and it sounds excellent with these speakers in place.

Bobby Womacks the Bravest Man In The Universe gets pulled out and the reason I reached for this record was that it sort of has a foot in the electronic camp and another in the acoustic camp – it’s an excellent record and well worth you getting hold of it if you don’t have it. So, here the electronic bass is deep (within reason) and underpins the whole track very nicely and in (a bit of) contradiction to the way I found electronic bass when I first started listening to these speakers. Bass still doesn’t move the amount of air I’m used to, but it is certainly there and has good body to it. What is really excellent is the way the vocal track is pushed out of the mix towards the listener with everything else going on in the track finding its place between the vocal and bass. The same is true on Please Forgive My Heart and the speakers do actually sound to go lower than with the tunes I started rabbiting on about in this review. Womack’s voice is absolutely wonderfully done and the effects added to it in parts are easy to hear. Closer should use this track when demonstrating these speakers (in fact the whole album sounds fantastic) to prospective buyers! Love Is Going To Lift You Up is foot-tappingly infectiously delivered and the bassline on Nothin’ Can Save Ya is delivered with a real sense it being forceful, though not massively low!

Even with bass-heavy dancehall reggae, they sound fab!

QUIBBLES

They are physically very deep loudspeakers compared to their width and so “perch” atop the speaker stands. Perhaps Closer should produce a dedicated stand.

With techno the speakers don’t move the kind of air or have the dynamism top to bottom as I’m used to, though they are far from unlistenable and some will actually like that near-field detail that is presented in the mix laid out in front of them.

On really hectic techno I found them to be a little confused and confusing – with the caveat that you should read the review in full and not pull out individual statements as that’s not giving the full story with regards to these speakers.

CONCLUSION

There’s something addictive to these speakers that is hard to nail down. They aren’t perfect at all with some techno tracks, but then when less hectic electronics are combined with vocals they shine and demand you to sit up and take notice. There’s a real sense of bringing more simple music alive and with realism and in the room feeling that allows you to sit and just enjoy the music without wanting to analyse it. They are an easy speaker to forget and just get on with appreciating your tunes, and this has to be a good thing!

With the likes of piano and vocals, I found the OGY’s to be wonderfully communicative, expressive and free of artifice that draws you in and just allows you to lose yourself in the music.

The truth is, I was fully expecting these speakers to fall well short of anything approaching what I look for when choosing a loudspeaker. What I actually got was a speaker that has a lot more positive attributes than it does negative and I’d, for the most part, be very happy with them taking a more permanent position in a system.

It may seem from reading my review that the bass is compromised on these speakers (and it is true that it isn’t massively trouser flapping) but what is there is fast, precise and not at all over-bloated. The small drivers allow sounds not to linger in space giving an overall sense of speed that, despite what I said about the Prodigy tracks in the body of this review, has drum and bass sound crispy and engaging – go figure!! They are a much more dynamic speaker than I expected and that, allied with the uncoloured mid-band and attack of the bass proves to be very moreish

They look really cool on a stand, are impeccably finished and that little smiley port the transmission line is fab.

The guys at Closer have managed to produce a speaker that is something quite special within certain limits and I really do recommend that if you have the chance to listen to them you do so with an open mind. Do this and I suspect that you too will be as enamoured as I was. I really did enjoy these speakers and spent a lot longer in front of them than I was expecting to – and I think you may well do likewise!

AT A GLANCE

Build and Features:

Beautifully finished

Narrow but deep design that deserves a dedicated stand being produced

Smiley fron port is a nice touch

Sound Quality:

Transmission line gets more bass out of the speakers than expected

Pin-point accurate imaging

Speedy and dynamic

Excellent sense of vocals and mid-band

Lifelike and in-the-room with acoustic recordings

Can get a little confused on some tracks, but then on other similar tracks they sound great

Value For Money:

Less than two grand as reviewed is about right

We Loved:

In the room realism on acoustic tracks

Engaging and involving listen

You do forget that you are supposed to be evaluating the speakers and just get into the music

We Didn’t Love So Much:

Some very busy tracks sounded confused…some didn’t

They are a small speaker for the money, but then there’s a lot more like that

Need a dedicated speaker stand producing

Price: Piano Black: €2103. White: €1766. Plywood:€1490. All prices are without VAT.

Elevator Pitch Review: The Closer Acoustics OGY is a small but substantial single driver, no crossover and transmission-line loaded loudspeaker that costs €1766 as tested. They go surprisingly low for the size of the cabinet and really do excel on pretty much all types of music, but from time to time I found they got confusing with busy techno tracks. With simple music the OGY disappears and this allows you to really get into listening to your music rather than the speakers. Surprisingly (again) on the likes of drum and bass and dancehall reggae they sound excellent. Overall they are a superb loudspeaker that deserves your attention and are far from the one trick pony that I was expecting. Well done Closer!

 

SUPPLIED BY CLOSER ACOUSTICS

 

 

 

 

Stuart Smith

Review Equipment: Auralic Aries G1, Leema pre/DAC, Krell KST 100 and English Acoustics C21 amps. Cables by Tellurium Q and Atlas.

HiFi Pig Tenth Anniversary Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Impedance: 8 or 16 ohm

Efficiency: 92dB

Frequency Response: 40Hz – 18kHz

Power Handling: 15W

You can read more about the transmission-line design and concept at this Wiki entry.

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