Australia’s Richter has been busy in the design room to celebrate its 35th anniversary, and the results are now announced – two Series 6 ‘Special Editions’, one of which is an entirely new range-topping floorstanding speaker design, the Excalibur.
“We’ve had this bigger floorstanding project on the table for a number of years now,” Richter’s Managing Director Brian Rodgers tells us. “Many times we were asked, is there going to be a larger floorstanding speaker – a Series 6 Dragon? But we weren't interested in a Series 6 Dragon. In the previous Mk V Series we’d had too many close floorstanding models, with a Wizard, a Harlequin and a Dragon, and they cannibalised each other a bit.
"Martin [Dr Martin Gosnell, chief designer] wanted to do something even better, and so after many discussions, many design meetings and many drawings – as well as being able to get the new drivers built to deliver the vision – we settled on the new design for the larger floorstanding speaker.”
The new larger and more heavily-woofered speaker resurrects a name not used by Richter since the 1990s – ‘Excalibur’, so maintaining the mystical naming preference of the brand across models including Merlin, Wizard, Dragon, Griffin, and the taxonomically-outlying Harlequin and Thor.
“It seemed fitting, since it’s just over 25 years since the last Excalibur,” says Brian Rodgers. “We’ve still got dedicated followers that have these Excaliburs at home, and people asking when we are going to do a bigger speaker.”
The Excalibur was the biggest production Richter speaker back in 1996, “although there were models that never really went to production, like the Secret Weapon,” notes Rodgers. “It just seems fitting and overdue that we can bring the Excalibur back to the market.”
The new ‘Special Edition Black’ Excaliburs boast improved drivers over the standard Series 6 range: a new more efficient and more sensitive 25mm soft-dome tweeter, and ‘next level’ high-power 165mm (6½-inch) SE drivers.
“They use the same cone material as the rest of the Series 6, but everything else about the driver is different,” says Rodgers of the new SE drivers. “We’ve got bigger voice coils – about 1.2-inch over 1-inch: you don’t want it too big because it gets a little bit sluggish – but also higher excursion, very stiff alloy baskets and a much bigger motor, dual magnets on the back.
The new Excalibur has two of the new 6.5-inch drivers dedicated to the midrange alone, enclosed in their own internal chamber and rear ported, positioned D’Appolito-wise with the tweeter between the two mids, thereby both aligning the tweeter well for seated listeners and presenting something of a point source for the mids and highs.
Then two more 6.5-inchers below handle the bass, also in their own larger internal bass chamber. Both chambers are rear-ported, and can be port-tuned with supplied port plugs.
While the current range-topping Wizard floorstander is a 2.5-way design, Rodgers describes the new Excalibur as a quasi four-way, with the tweeter and mid-range having their own frequency ranges, but then the bass woofers rolling off at different frequencies.
In terms of size, the Excaliburs stand 115cm high on their S6 stabilisers, a full 15cm taller than the Wizards but exactly the same width (22cm for the box itself, extended to 30cm by the stabilisers), and an extra 4cm deeper at 40cm total. Their overall volume, then, is some 28% higher than the Wizards, which, together with the additional drivers, should significantly extend the Excalibur’s bass performance.
“The bottom line is it’ll be fast, it’ll be tight, and it gives us what we want from the midrange and particularly the low bass,” says Rodgers. “It’s a matter of stepping everything up to give us higher excursion, faster response and more accurate punchy reproduction.”
Black all over
Then there’s the new finish, the Special Edition Black, which takes the premium finish currently used on Series 6 front baffles and extends it to the whole loudspeaker cabinet.
“In the standard range the baffle is a matte black paint finish,” confirms Brian Rodgers, “but the bodies are all textured vinyl wrap. So when you’re talking about a spray finish over the whole speaker, that increases costs, but I liken it to the Mercedes-AMG, or the BMW or Audi matte black look, very much the premium look today. So the whole speaker will be sprayed matte black finish; you won’t see the seam from baffle to vinyl. The model we will have at the show [Stereonet Hi-Fi Show, 3-5 June] will have a high gloss body, which was my original thinking, but that’s now a one-off only – and it works for the show, a bit of glitz!”
Wizard Special Edition Black
The other new speaker announced applies the new drivers and the new finish to the existing Wizard Series 6.
“Yes, because of the work that we’ve done on Excalibur, that allowed us to do a special edition Wizard. While the special edition looks similar to the existing Wizard, it will be an all matte black finish, and it’ll have the new crossover, the new drivers, the new tweeters – so it’ll be quite a step up. Next level!”
Which would be quite something given the prowess of the standard S6 Wizards (see our floorstanding speaker group in the upcoming issue of Sound+Image). The ‘SEB’ Wizard (shown on the right in the picture above) will be priced at $3699 a pair, compared with $2699 for the standard models.
The price for the Excalibur S6SE Black will be $5699 a pair, with both new S6SE designs to be available around “midway through the second half of the year”, hopefully September, all going well, we’re told. And only in the new purposeful matte black editions.
As Brian Rodgers tells us: “We’re pleased to push the boat out a little bit further – and keep the imported brands honest.”