Founded in 1950 by George Cabass, the company inherited not only the name of the creator, but also his spirit. George Cabasse, himself from the world of music, was gifted with a special talent, probably a gift from his ancestors, associated with the first violin made by Cabasse in 1740. Five generations of craftsmen followed him, following the tradition and supplying Europe with violins, violas and cellos, most of which are still played in orchestras today. The fact remains that George Cabass’s idea was to reproduce the concert recordings he loved so much without any alteration, coloration or distortion of the sound. This boundless passion drove him to relentlessly develop, transmit and share his strict requirements with the rest of the Cabasse team, so that everyone could enjoy the music and natural sound when listening to the recording.
Since its founding almost 60 years ago, Cabasse has always engaged in applied and experimental research to support its technological innovations with a truly scientific approach, constantly challenging what is taken for granted. Knowledge of the propagation of acoustic waves, the way we hear and perceive them, is fundamental in the development of high-quality reproduction systems. Acoustics is a complex science and as a result of its application we often obtain a combination of parameters, the optimization of which is extremely difficult. The personal factor plays a huge role in the development of any company. But the degree of self-realization of the founder in the enterprise he founded is different in each case and depends on many different factors, including, of course, the creative properties of his nature. A brilliant, resourceful economist can create a successful speaker company. But for an acoustic product to acquire the status of, so to speak, a “branded” product, an elastic commercial vein and high economic qualifications are not enough. Georges Cabasse in his brainchild seems to have embodied all aspects of personal creative potential, including reliable mechanisms for self-development and self-preservation of the company.
Cabasse provides a unique example in the acoustics industry of the inviolability of the connection between times. The founding of the company dates back to 1950, but its historical roots go back, scary to say, to the depths of the 18th century. No, loudspeakers with the Cabasse logo were not yet released. In those days, the public preferred to listen to live music from live instruments, blissfully unaware of the hidden musical possibilities of electrical energy. But the name Cabasse sounded already then, or rather, the stringed instruments created by the master who bore this name sounded. An original violin made in the mid-18th century is carefully stored under glass, occupying the most honorable place in a small exhibition set up in the foyer of the head office of a modern company. In the middle of the 20th century, a love for music and the rapidly developing art of cinema awakened a thirst for technical creativity in the young scion of an ancient family. In 1950, the couple Georges and Elisabeth Cabasse founded a workshop on the eastern outskirts of Paris, where they restored damaged speakers and slowly began making their own. The above-mentioned passion of the young Cabasse for cinema was not of a purely consumer nature; he was well acquainted with the film technology of that time and had a good understanding of the problems of sound production, interest in which was growing in connection with the emergence of multi-channel sound in cinema. It turned out to be appropriate to start with the production of dynamic heads, which even then had considerable advantages, and therefore their popularity quickly grew. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the fact that Cabasse speakers were used in the multi-channel audio system of the first large-format Parisian cinema, the Grand Rex (1953). The idea of coaxial radiators creating a spatially coherent sound field was studied by the maestro very carefully from the very foundation of the company. And it received its first embodiment already in 1955 – in the form of a two-way coaxial Diphone. The young company quickly grew stronger and began to look at things more broadly. In 1958, the first active loudspeaker equipped with a tube amplifier was released. In the 60s, this direction was developed – a whole series of two- and three-way systems with active sections assembled on semiconductor elements followed.
Cabasse Petrel 3
At the end of the 50s, a very significant event occurred that had a strong impact on the development of the company and on the image of its products: Cabasse moved to the western tip of France in the city of Brest, where the construction of new factory buildings and a research laboratory with a magnificent anechoic chamber had just been completed. Since then, the Ocean has become the leitmotif of all the company’s activities. Rumor has it that the mentality of the inhabitants of the coastal part of Brittany, where the city of Brest is actually located, is radically different from the mentality of the population of the continental part of the province. What is not difficult to believe is that the sea dictates its own laws. But we are not only talking about the traditional features of the Primorye economy. Probably, an equally significant factor is the key geography of the place for the country, which has left its own special imprint on its appearance – everything here remembers countless naval battles of the distant, very distant and very recent past. Modern Brest is the largest haven not only for the merchant and fishing fleets… And where there are many ships, the scientific and technical base is usually strong, and such a branch of physics as acoustics is always in favor. So, by moving to the sea, Cabasse immediately solved the problem of qualified personnel. On the other hand, the emergence of a new well-equipped acoustic enterprise in the region attracted the attention of very interesting customers, which gave a powerful additional impetus to the economic, scientific and technical development of the company. There are many wonderful, but not very well-known pages written in the history of Cabasse. The company, in particular, accepts orders for the creation of PA systems (Public Address – loud-speaking public address system) on naval ships, provides sound for expensive private yachts, and participates in a number of underwater research projects (development of hydroacoustic equipment). This kind of practice has had a beneficial effect on the quality of solutions to technical problems relevant to home audio.
Cabasse la Sphere
In 1975, a control and measurement computer complex was created, which made it possible to significantly increase the level of the company’s research activities. A series of loudspeakers with a servo control system that corrects the movement of the diffusers is being released. The company is experimenting with different materials and diffuser designs; in the late seventies it began to develop dome polymer membranes with a honeycomb structure. Cabasse honeycomb diffusers are characterized by high structural rigidity and effective absorption of bending disturbances; Despite the fact that the thickness of the domes can reach 5–7 mm, their mass remains insignificant, because most of the volume is air (close analogues in the global audio industry still need to be looked for). In 1980, the company released a whole series of mid-low-frequency drivers and bass drivers with honeycomb domes, the size of which ranges from 170–550 (!) mm. In the same year, a servo-controlled four-way speaker appeared, the bass/midrange and low-frequency heads of which were made using new technology. In 1984, a range of powerful high-frequency and mid-frequency drivers with carbon fiber membranes was introduced. In the same year, the new 12-channel system of the Parisian cinema La Geode was equipped with acoustics on which such heads and “honeycomb” bass drivers were installed. In 1986, the production of drivers with diaphragms made of Duocell foam polymer began. With economic growth, the scope of the Brest production areas became tight, and Cabasse branches were created in different parts of France for the mass production of speakers and the assembly of acoustic systems.
It is quite acceptable to consider individual achievements of a dynamically developing company that has been developing for forty years as fragments of the solution to the main task – creating, if not an ideal, then at least a sound source very similar to it. An integral property of such a source, according to Cabasse, should be its spatial coherence. That is, waves of any spectral content must emanate from one point in space, which does not happen in the case of a conventional loudspeaker design with more than one band. No one would object to such a demand if it were not for the ephemerality of hope for its adequate satisfaction. The idea of coaxial speakers lying on the surface has many flaws, which, in particular, include the inevitability of negative consequences of the interaction of high-frequency radiation with the membrane of the bass/midrange head. In addition, the positive effect achieved due to the coaxial design is often negated by diffraction distortions of the sound field structure.
For forty years, the Kabass team struggled to solve these and many other problems of coaxial structures. And so, in the early nineties, a small masterpiece was created – a three-way (!) coaxial head TC21 of the SCS (Spatially Coherent Source) series, which at that time represented the most complete embodiment of the idea of a perfect spatially coherent sound source professed by Cabasse. Having achieved the desired result, the company embarks on a grandiose project of creating the absolute flagship of its own model range. In 1992, a fully active 4-way “cruiser” rolled off the factory’s stocks, cutting through the space with a sharp front edge, in the center of which is the round eye of the TS21 three-way coaxial. Its name was given to Atlantis – Atlantis.
I admire the grace and completeness of the implementation of the ideas advocated by the authors. Associations with the ship, generated by the surreal appearance of Atlantis, provide the right direction of thought. The column stands in almost the same relation to sound waves as the white steamship stands to ocean waves, which do not want to know anything about any boundary conditions. Its metrics will help you get some ideas about the sound potential of the flagship: dimensions – 2340x740x7120 mm, weight – 180 kg, frequency range – 20 Hz–20 kHz, nominal power of built-in amplifiers – 2×100 W, 2×200 W, peak – 2×700 W and 2×1400 W. A pair, by the way, can now be purchased for approximately $76,000. And after the man-made Atlantis, the no less impressive Adriatis (passive version of Atlantis) appeared. In the second half of the 90s, Cabasse adapted its model range to the task of building cinemas at home. All the necessary theatrical attributes are available in the MT200 series (1999). The iO “ball” satellite system with two-way coaxial (SCS technology) with an active Jupiter subwoofer was put into operation (it is currently recommended to use iO in combination with Furio). Since 2000, as a result of a series of organizational changes, the company’s economic growth rate has sharply increased, and its turnover doubled over the period 2000–2002.
In 2002, the new High End line Artis was presented to the audiophile public, the flagship of which was the latest version of the Adriatis – Adriatis II ($26,500). The three top models in the series – Adriatis II, Kara ($14,400) and Baltic II ($3,960) – are equipped with the latest version of the TC22 three-way coax in a spherical casing. For reference: the power of the four-way Kara (1400x380x540 mm) is 150 W (1050 W peak) with a sensitivity of 93.5 dB, frequency range – 32 Hz–22 kHz. Last year, the next stage of reconstruction was completed. Near Brest, on the very shore of the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of the “acoustic valley”, where almost all the scientific forces of the region are concentrated (research institutes, higher education institutions), a new complex has been erected – the Cabasse Acoustic Center, equipped with a new anechoic chamber. It is planned to move all research activities and pilot production here. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the French Cabasse is not so much fidelity to tradition, but the ability to create them, based on a deep knowledge of the subject and a precise understanding of the goals of creative activity in the field of sound reproduction.