During my visit to Indonesia back in February, I ended up reviewing two speaker systems handcrafted there, with pricing at either end of the spectrum. On the starting end, I tested Aurel Bryan speakers, which I will report on in a different article. And on the top end, I tested the Vermouth Audio Little Luccas mkII Limited Edition Upgrade 2. Both speakers are famous beyond Indonesia, in places like Australia and European countries.
First of all, the Little Luccas is a two-way bass reflex with a rear firing port. It consists of a five-inch papyrus-fibre cone, with large voice coil mid woofer custom manufactured by Sinar Baja Electric (the same factory that manufactures speaker cones for the Devialet Phantom, Revel, Genelec, Bentley), paired with a RAAL true ribbon tweeter made to Vermouth's specifications. Designer Hendry Ramli created the speaker with the goal of it having a wide soundstage, yet transparent, dynamic, and neutral, and still having an impressive low frequency.
According to Ramli, the mkII Limited Edition Upgrade 2 (it's a mouthful, I know) features the following upgrades compared to the previous iteration:
• Upgrade from Jantzen 15awg wired coil to Jantzen 14awg foil coil
• Upgrade from Jantzen Standard Z to Jantzen Superior Z
• Upgrade from Jantzen RSS resistor to Jantzen Superior Resistor
• Upgrade Internal wire Binding Post to Crossover from Vermouth Rhapsody Internal Wire to Vermouth Red Velvet Internal Wire
• Upgrade Internal wire Crossover to Mid Woofer from Vermouth Rhapsody Internal Wire to Vermouth Red Velvet Internal Wire
• Upgrade Internal wire Crossover to Tweeter from Vermouth Serenade II to Vermouth Hybrid multi-size OCC internal wire
• Solid wood crossover panel (see photo below)
• Point-to-point wiring
I started the review process using a strange setup. As a source, I used an antiquated Denon DCD-1420 CD player I bought more than a decade ago (or maybe even two) which analog output fed to a $76 Fosi Audio 25w per channel D-Class power amp. Further, everything was wired using unbraided RCA cable, and some crud-tastic 14/2 builders-grade speaker wire. Nothing can be considered "audiophile" other than the speaker itself.
With all that basic equipment playing back my usual Judas Priest "Ram It Down" album, amazing control from the 5-inch papyrus paper mid woofer and the directivity from the RAAL tweeter, I was dumbfounded. Usually ribbon tweeters are not a good match with these types of music, but the amount of presence and intensity while neither being shrill nor ear-poking sharp was a welcome sound signature.
With any bookshelf speaker, one should never expect deep bass. No bookshelf is going to plumb the depths of bass, so expect to get at least a subwoofer to complete the bottom-most frequency range. Mid bass, as expected was fast and tight.
The overall sonic panorama of the Little Luccas speakers gave satisfying levels of width, but was a tad short on creating three-dimensional depth in order to bring multi-layered sound. The spacing between the left and right speakers, however, was clearly defined, although I don't really hear sound coming from outside the speakers' panorama.
What I truly love about this speaker is the consistency. It plays various CDs without any disappointment. Yes, they are not perfect, but the closest speaker to perfection for me is the TAD by Andrew Jones, which runs in the US$80,000 price range.
In the end, what kind of loudspeaker do you get for your (approximately) $3,300? (US$2,447). Subjectively, I find these speakers to be solid performers compared to competitors. They give you a slight "discounted" price over competitors, and I'm always searching for good value.
Ramli jam-packed these speakers with premium parts by leveraging its manufacturing location (Bali, Indonesia) without compromising the quality of construction.
In fact, this is the first speaker since the Celestion 5000 circa 1989 that melded ribbon and regular cone so seamlessly. If you're looking for a hybrid loudspeaker that is meant for the majority of music listening, and represents a cohesive, realistic, and pleasing presentation, the Vermouth Little Luccas mkII Limited Edition Upgrade 2 is your answer. Now, if Ramli could only fix the naming convention.
Vermouth mkII Limited Edition Upgrade 2 At-a-Glance
• Design: Two-way bass reflex, rear firing port
• Midwoofer: Vermouth 5" Special Made, large voice coil, Papyrus Fiber Cone
• Tweeter: RAAL TRUE RIBBON, Vermouth Special Specification
• Frequency Response: 48Hz-38kHz ±3dB
• Bass extension: 42hz (-6dB)
• Sensitivity: 86dB @ 1W @ 1m @ 1 KHz
• Impedance: 8ohms nominal, 6.2ohms minimum @220Hz
• Crossover frequency: 3.6KHz Premium components.
• Internal Wire: Vermouth Serenade II & Vermouth Rhapsody
• Connector: 1 Pair Vermouth Tellurium Copper Rhodium Plated Binding Post
• Power Requirements: 20 to 150 watts
• Dimension (H x W x D): 340mm x 175mm x 320mm
• Cabinet: 24mm Face Grain wood board, Minimum resonance enclosure & internal bracing.
• Finishes: Close Pore Satin Finish