Loudspeakers of the Future

By Jack Lawson 21 February 2020

Sixth Factory Visit To Zingali, January 2020

 

Forty minutes drive from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport is the headquarters of a modern Italian creative genius. This is where for over ten years Zingali Loudspeakers have been created by research, production and distribution under one roof – by far the largest and most modern loudspeaker facility in Italy. 

 

Warmly greeted at the gates of the factory, this was my 6th visit in 28 years!! A colleague whom I have known for many years greeted me and spontaneously anticipated the new loudspeaker range I had come to hear: “You know, when it comes to loudspeakers, Giuseppe is truly a genius.”

 

It is never easy to work for a driven man, so I can only imagine the heartfelt sincerity of the comment which I can confirm. As stated, this was my sixth summons to the factory, but the Master’s words were surprising. This is a revolution in sound. A tall claim from a man who has achieved greatness but never described it as such. 

 

The back-story was about what I had guessed. The patent on the revolutionary Omniray horn had expired. In the meantime Omniray-2 was in conception. Since then, over the years, a number of incremental techniques had resulted in cabinet waveguides and an innovative bass tuning reflex double chamber. Zingalis are not just horn loudspeakers; they are a sophisticated and holistic acoustical design that can only be designed and manufactured under one roof. 

 

In the company’s museum are models from the early cabinets employing JBL’s professional drivers through to replicas of loudspeakers Giuseppe has been honoured to supply the world’s most iconic musicians, leaders, and heads of state. 

 

Since my last visit the massive complex – like a university’s campus – had been further developed. Between the cinema and demo rooms, there are various production buildings (the company has not one but two paint-shops with ovens) then there is a courtyard whose grass lawn is shaped as a Client Name. 

 

Across this courtyard is a new studio where they use the analogue mixing desk that created Pink Floyd’s The Wall in London. In this new studio, the Z-series is tested and demonstrated: this is called “High End Pro” because studio monitors are notoriously rugged but by no means neutral, musical, or even accurate. Sound engineers use them as tools, simply to check for balance etc. 

 

The studio and professional range is not entirely a new venture as the company has many distinguished clients, musicians and studios all over the world, but Z-series is …. well, revolutionary.

 

The word reminded me of the Hi-Fi range I had come to hear. I was the first person outside of the company who would hear it before its launch at ISE, Amsterdam in February (2020). Listening to The Wall through professional monitors, I could hardly walk away. It was an unforgettable experience. But … could the domestic/ stereo loudspeakers perform like these? “They use the knowledge we acquired,” Giuseppe assured me with a smile.

 

The Italians do not rush things but now it was time to find out. 

 

We walked back to the factory’s main showroom where Massimo (who had collected us from the airport) wheeled in “the new range” and I melted emotionally. Zingali loudspeakers has been a major part of my life. And I was flattered when Zingali told me that I was number two in the factory, second only to him for understanding the product, and its longest standing distributor.

 

I was not disappointed by what I then saw. Wow!! Architectural, futuristic, stylish, but thank goodness, in no way eccentric and bizarre as many of the new horn loudspeakers you will see made in China and launched at Munich!!!!

 

Time to listen, in good order, from the smallest up. The Quantum Array will consist only four models. Welcome to the QA 2.8 (indicating two eight-inch drivers, compression driver, and the internal Omniray-2 horn. This is the innovation that integrates high frequencies and upper mid-range, where the human ears are most sensitive and discriminating.

 

The source was modest, a standard Zingali “trick” – a Denon CD player and a vintage Primare 301 – with basic cables but the sound was simply unbelievable, with small loudspeakers driving a room the size of an airport hangar. Characteristics deserving the word revolutionary were the speed and clarity; and yet the sound was not an image, it was rich and palpable.

 

Could the 3.8 improve on this using a third driver as lower mid? You bet, but I could live with the 2.8 easily. Everything depends on prices and I could feel the weight of these very serious products. Depending on finish chosen (and there is a wonderful choice by which every loudspeaker is custom-built and delivered to the customer in fourteen days) £6,000 and £8,000 per pair including VAT. I breathed a sigh of relief. Could hardly be less.

 

I was also able to hear the next day a pair of Quantum Array 2.10 (two ten-inch woofers) and they certainly filled the room but the realism just made the dealer and the designer laugh out loud. They sound like full range ribbons but with bass.

 

For those who prefer the distinct musical presentation and the tradition of horns, good news. For more than ten years the model TWENTY (for the company’s anniversary) featuring twelve-inch woofer and horn has been the sweet spot iconic model. Over the years it has evolved and now celebrating the company’s THIRTIETH anniversary a new version with the learning from the Z-series has been launched. Priced still £12,500 (satin finish) to £14,500 (solid wood) including VAT, no price increase. Recognizable instantly by restyled front curve above the waveguide, and by super fast sound, bigger soundstage, tactile presence, the best just got better. Its full name is TWENTY series 1.12 EVO 30. 

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