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Diapason Prelude VS

[Italian version]

Product: Diapason Prelude VS bookshelf loudspeaker
Manufacturer: Diapason - Italy
Approx. price: 1600 US$/1400 Eur (ask your dealer for details)
Reviewer: Mimmo Cacciapaglia - TNT Italy
Reviewed: September, 1999

[Diapason Prelude] This test has been written down after a sooo loooong period of extensive listenings at home. In the meanwhile I've changed something into my reference system: for example a brand new DNM Reson Reca cartridge has replaced a good old Stanton WOS Signature while our popular FFRC speakers cable has replaced some other well-known commercial product.

I must confess I was curious to test the Prelude, after the rave review of the Diapason Micra II CE done by our editor, Lucio Cadeddu.
Since I know him to be an audiophile very hard to please and given the very positive review he wrote about the smaller Micra, the test of the bigger Prelude was going to be more than a reality check.

First things first: what does the VS suffix stand for? It means Video Series as this Prelude, though still using the same drivers of the Classic Prelude, can be used into a Home Theater system, near a TV screen.
You can be pretty sure its drivers will not cause that annoying color-shift on the images of your TV screen.
Then, Diapason claims the Prelude is a loudspeaker well suited even for multimedia applications (such as PC sound etc.)...and this is a clear example of understatement: the Prelude is a true audiophile product...don't believe the hype! :-)
The Video Series is also different because of the finish of the cabinet: instead of wood the new Diapason's come in fresh new colors as you can see in the picture below. This way the new loudspeakers become easier to match even with the most modern furniture.

[Video series]

The pair of Prelude's I had under test had a shiny red-scarlet finish and, matched with the black Diapason stands, they successfully passed the wife-acceptance test in a snap!
The Video series includes the Micra and a center channel for Home Theater as well as a wall-mounting stand for using the Micra (or the Prelude) as hi-quality surround speaker.

A closer look

The cabinet is made out of MDF fiberboard and is finished with an anti-scratch paint which gives a harsh feeling to touch.
The two drivers are protected by a metallic grid so to fit the severe CE rules on home-safety. This grid can't be removed and it is especially designed to not influence, by any means, the performance of the loudspeaker.
The rear panel, as usual on Diapason products, has a Speakon Neutrik connector, fully-CE-compliant (so, no bananas nor forks, thanks) plus the rear-firing reflex port. The contour of this port is smooth so to minimize turbulences of the air flowing through the conduct.
The tweeter is a classical Diapason 1" silk dome tweeter though the woofer is a non-filtered 13 cm unit.
This technology, already seen and successfully applied to the smaller Micra, allows the woofer to be directly coupled to the amplifier, without inductances, resistors or caps of any kind. For this reason the woofer has to be an extremely high-quality unit since, being directly coupled to the amp, there's no way for the designer to control its performance.
Diapason claims a pair of Prelude to be coupled with a mere 1% of difference between the drivers.

The Diapason Prelude's claim to have a good efficiency (89 dB/W/m) so that they become an easy load for any decent amplifier (the minimum of the impedance is attained at 200 Hz, 3.6 ohm).
For this test I've used the Diapason stand, a neat and well-designed object (see the picture above), then I've connected them via a Dali Cobra LS cable (monowiring) or TNT-FFRC speakers cable (biwiring) to a Copland CTA-401 tube amplifier.

The sound of the Prelude

The pair I've received for this test was brand new so a good amount of break-in was necessary. Diapason suggest a minimum of 100 hours.
Before than that I've started to listen to these Italian babies and I'm sorry to repeat what our Editor said about the smaller Micra II. Two things caught my ears: the extension of the bass range and the sweetness of the mid-high range.
The tonal balance is undoubtly NEUTRAL and the reproduction is relaxed, smooth and refreshing, with plenty of detail and refinement, qualities sufficient to put the Prelude into an ideal "Audiophile Olympus" together with few other loudspeakers into this price range.
A must for any HiFi system with a harsh note that seems impossible to cancel...
The smallish woofer performance is outstanding for extension...it goes deep with apparent effort! On my CD-player it's time for Chasin' the Bird (from the cd Parker's Mood with Roy Hargrove -trumpet- and Christian Mc Bride -doublebass-): what an impressive performance! I've never heard a trumpet so smooth and silky but still "bad" when it has to be so.
With the double-bass, while searching for the ultimate and deeper note, the Prelude seems to lack some harmonics and speed...but please remember that we're talking of a pair of loudspeakers that cost an half of many hi-end competitors which fail to sound as good as these Italian beauties.

As for the tweeter: there's nothing to say or complain about it...refined and detailed but still never harsh or "tizzy". Maybe, with a good solid state amp, the performance would have been even more balanced, vivid and intriguing.
Actually, besides the smooth Copaland tube amp, even my analogue front-end sounds pretty smooth and sweet (Thorens 316 + Mission Cyrus Arm + DNM Reson Reca).
The power handling is really good and you really need to exceed with the volume knob to make the Prelude cry. I'm sure nobody will use the Prelude VS for a party :-)

Let's talk about the soundstage: always behind the loudspeakers, always deep and wide. With the Dali cable (monowiring) the height of the scene was just fair but it has improved as soon as I hooked up our TNT-FFRC cable (biwiring)...Warning! To connect our TNT-FFRC to the Neutrik Speakon connector I've struggled for a while :-(
Finally, the position of the players inside the soundstage is faithful without trying to be hyper-realistic.

Some advice

First of all, couple the Prelude VS to a good HiFi system...they clearly deserve it. Avoid too lazy, slow and old-style tube amps as well as solid state amps with poor driving capabilities.

Placing into the listening room: just put them far from the near walls (rear and side), slightly toed-in, so that the axes from the tweeters cross together in front of the listener. 2 meters between the speakers is normally enough, tough it depends mainly by the size of the listening room.
If you're going to buy the Prelude, please consider to buy the dedicated Diapason stands: they're nice, well-made and good-sounding. They give their best when the central column is filled with sand or lead balls.


First of all let me spend two words about the Speakon connectors: I don't like them, period.
I understand they're fully CE compliant but I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like "rules" and "standards". So, while the Speakon connector is neat, good sounding and fully CE compliant, it is so hard to match with different cables that I definitely hate it.
From a sonic point of view I'd have preferred a slightly more brilliant tweeter...but it is possible to get this with a solid state amp that doesn't mimick the sound of the tubes.


This listening test took a while to be written down. The reason is simple: every time I took a sheet of paper to write down my humble opinion on the sound of the Diapason Prelude VS I ended up just adding more records to the CD player...on and on...

In my opinion the Diapason Prelude VS deserve to be put into the short list of HiFi components that allow you to re-discover the pleasure of pure Music listening, without the hassles caused by the audiophila nervosa that forces us to "upgrade" our system every now and then...
Not exactly the kind of speakers meant to impress your friends, these are loudspeakers for the serious audiophile, for anyone who judges HiFi components for their sound and not for their "brand" or price tag.

A big thank you to Alessandro Schiavi of Diapason for having sent us this louspeakers for this premiere test. I'm sure I'll miss them...

© Copyright 1999 Mimmo Cacciapaglia - www.tnt-audio.com

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