Product: Duevel Bella Luna Diamante loudspeakers
Manufacturer: Duevel - Germany
Approx. price: 8500/9000€/pair (depending on finish)
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Reviewed: June, 2017
Some years ago I reviewed the entry-level models of the Duevel catalogue, namely the Enterprise, and the amazing, small Planets. I simply fell in love with the baby Duevel (the Planets).
The Bella Luna Diamante are quite different beasts, being just one step lower than Duevel flagship loudspeaker, the impressive Sirius. The Bella Luna are an instant classic and it is almost impossible to find an audiophile who hasn't ever heard of them. Even non-audiophiles might have noticed them, considering the Bella Luna are Dr. House's loudspeakers (the famous TV serial). More or less, they share the same philosophy behind other Duevel loudspeakers: high sensitivity omnidrectional horn-loaded drivers that cover a 360° angle.
The Bella Luna diamante are two-way floorstanders equipped with a 22 cm pro woofer with Kevlar® membrane, die-cast basket and 14 cm massive ferrite magnet, while the tweeter is a titanium dome unit, with neodymium magnet, Nomex voice coil former and a patented phase plug that horn-loads the driver. Both drivers face two omnidirectional diffusers (plates) that almost magically keep the sound correct in phase and time alignment.
The massive woofer is reflex-loaded via four ducts (one at each corner of the cabinet) that fire towards the foot of the speaker. These Bella Lunas offer a simple and solid monowiring connection to the amplifier. Overall, these speakers seem extremely well designed, engineered and built, which is not a surprise, considering the 8,000€ price tag.
My expectations, considering how much I liked the entry-level models, were quite high but these Bella Lunas exceeded my best hopes! Let me put this straight, so you don't need to read the whole review: the Bella Lunas have simply amazed me, and for many different reasons. The first surprise has been the tonal balance, so deeply different from that of the small Planets, for example. While the baby Duevel were warm sounding, almost relaxed, calm and smooth, these Bella Luna are explosive, lively and sparkly. They make no apology they aim at the highest-end of the market.
The Planets delivered a surprisingly deep and powerful bass range, considering their diminutive size and the Bella Luna somehow follow the same lines, with an extremely powerful, tuneful and deep bass performance, even though there's just a 22 cm woofer at work. The claimed frequency response reaches 40 Hz at -3dB and it is a realistic claim, but it is the power above 100 Hz that surprises. The sheer amount of bass energy helps the reproduction of devastating drums, with power, impact and speed. Even the pipe organ is reproduced with ease down to its lowest notes. 30 Hz pedals notes are clearly audible, tight and powerful. Electric bass and double bass are extremely tight and nervous, even at extremely high listening levels. The stunningly good bass performance helps to give the listener the idea of a sound that is big and solid, and it naturally expands in the listening room in an extremely natural way, almost effortlessly.
The second surprise is the mid-high range which is definitely more open and lively than the one I found with the Enterprise or the Planets. Hence, if you were expecting a kind of Planets on steroids you should be prepared for a shock. There's no place for euphonic sounds here, but don't think it is an aggressive or harsh performance! Quite the contrary: they sound precise and transparent without any trace of harshness, in some sense these speakers brought to my mind some of the best Klipsch loudspeakers, without the sting :-)
The omnidirectional sound field removes overwhelming directivity and, hence, listening fatigue, which is quite often a problem with horn loaded tweeters that fire directly and mercilessly towards the listener's ears.
Thanks to this excellent balance of precision and 360° involvement the Bella Luna overall performance is almost magical: naturally well defined male and female voices, with the latter just slightly above the former. String instruments like cellos, violins or guitars appear naturally metallic when necessary, always precise and harmonically rich.
Generally, it is not easy to describe the sound of these speakers as a part of a whole, dividing it into different frequency ranges: you perceive it as a whole, not as a mere sum of its parts. This notwithstanding, it is extremely easy to concentrate and isolate single instruments or voices and, in my opinion, this is the main characteristic that differentiates an excellent speaker from one that is just good: you can just follow the flow of the music or, every now and then, focus in on an individual performance without any kind of effort.
The Duevel omnidirectional “trick” works amazingly well on these Bella Lunas, despite the fact it has been built in a completely different manner. The sound doesn't come directly from the speakers, but from the space surrounding them, behind, laterally and above the cabinets. This doesn't mean there's a kind of mind-puzzling surround (or Bose-like) effect. Quite the contrary, the Bella Luna build a stage right in front of the listener exactly like a traditional speaker does (just better :-)).
When compared to the smaller Enterprise or Planets the Bella Lunas prove to belong to a whole different league: the amount of musical information they are able to retrieve is impressive, so much that the different price tag is easy to forget (or justify!). Despite being a sort of magnifying glass they never generate listening fatigue, a kind of magic that just high-end loudspeakers are capable of.
Because of the use of a horn loaded tweeter and a professional woofer the sound is always lively and the overall dynamic performance is simply astounding. No matter how dynamically challenging the music is, they reproduce everything effortlessly, even at insanely high listening levels. Only just above 100 dB at the listening seat (!!!), does the mid range seem to slightly overtake the bass range, which might show some trace of loss of control, especially when playing extremely deep bass notes. Nothing you can experience if you live in a flat, where these sound pressures can't be reached.
Musical preferences? Be it symphonic music, rock, highly demanding electronic music, big choirs and pipe organ, they will just get the job done.
Speed and punch are excellent and quite far from the relaxed performance of the small Planets, for example. Attacks and decays are lightening fast, and drums, in particular, appear just like live. Indeed, I've rediscovered, after many years, the joys of the Sheffield Drum Record played at outrageously high listening levels: the snare drum and the cymbals were so stunningly real! Just crank up the volume and feel (physically!) the beat!
As with the other Duevel omnidirectional speakers I've tested, the 3D image is large and stable, even if the listener moves from the ideal listening position. There's no need to remain glued to the vertex of the ideal listening triangle to enjoy a realistic soundstage. Even if you stand up the soundstage doesn't change much. Now try this with a conventional speaker!
Of course, don't expect the pinpoint sculpted 3D image some of the best minimonitors can create but the Bella Lunas build, in my opinion, a virtual stage that is much closer to the real thing. Actually, you don't get a precise 3D image when listening to an orchestra in a large concert hall! With smaller ensembles the like live presence effect is amazing and in a few minutes you'll forget you're testing loudspeakers and will focus your attention on music alone.
Manufacturing & finish.
It is very hard to find weak spots in the finish or manufacturing of these speakers, as they are extremely well designed and built. Of course, one might like or dislike the fancy/weird looks and the pagoda-shape of the omnidirectional plates. I, for one, find the Bella Luna quite original and elegant, instead. Of course, a careful choice of the finish is mandatory, in order to find the perfect match with your furniture. The Santos Rosewood finish of my test samples isn't exactly easy to match, but luckily there are many different color schemes from which to choose.
Technically, the monowiring option might be not welcomed by biwiring aficionados but, as a matter of fact, it simplifies cable routing and is a wise, cost-saving choice, in my opinion.
Sometimes, with certain recordings with an aggressive mid-high range, the sound might become too bright and lively. This happens especially with poor quality jazz recordings with lots of trumpets and trombones. In any case, do not try to transform the Bella Lunas into something else with mismatched components, in an effort to tame their sincere live attitude. If you're looking for an euphonic, warm and smooth loudspeaker (like the Duevel Planets, for example) you maybe should look elsewhere. Not for the faint of heart.
As with any other Duevel model, room placement is easy, normally easier than with traditional loudspeakers. I've first listened to them in a casual easy-going mood: just placed somewhere in front of my usual listening position, without taking proper care of walls distance etc. And they sounded extremely good from the first few seconds. If you want more bass, just move the speakers closer to the rear wall and that's it. In my listening room even placing the speakers very far from the rear wall didn't cause a significative decrease of the bass range level. Just let them breathe a little bit (50 cm from nearby walls, at least) and you'll be amazed.
The load for the amplifier isn't difficult and their high sensitivity (91 dB) lets you choose even low power amps. Considering their character, do not try to slow them down with a warm and laid back sounding amplifier, as they deserve muscular, fast and solid amps to really shine. They can play extremely loud, if you wish, and it is very hard, in a standard listening room, to reach their limits.
It's impossible (and it wouldn't be fair) to compare the Bella Luna to the other Duevel speakers we have reviewed. With the same amount of money you can purchase 8 pairs of Duevel Planets! The price tag isn't low, but they are very different beasts, not the usual cuboid loudspeaker. They have a fairly complicated cabinet, a sophisticated omnidirectional system and a level of craftsmanship that justifies the 8,000€ tag. Considering they cost 8 times a pair of Planets I can hear you asking whether they sound 8 times better or not. There's no way to measure the performance in quantitative terms, but I can assure you that after having spent 30 minutes listening to the Bella Luna you can't go back and enjoy the perfomance of the entry-level Duevel models. The Bella Luna are a world apart.
Bellissima Luna! is the subtitle I chose for this review and I believe it summarizes, quite well, my feelings. These speakers are so fascinating and entertaining that after a couple of hours I forgot my role as a reviewer and just spent my time changing one record after the other, just for the joy of listening to my favourite music. I was as stupidly happy as a child with his new toy, need I add more? Certainly there are speakers that sound better, but few are as entertaining and easy like the Bella Lunas. Do yourself a favour: listen to them even if you can't afford the steep price tag. You'll be amazed.
© Copyright 2017 Lucio Cadeddu - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.tnt-audio.com