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Clarisys Audio Minuet planar ribbon speaker system Review

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Checking out the buzz (finally) about Qobuz

It is also high time I explored beyond Tidal as a streaming source. I had heard for years that Qobuz was sonically superior to Tidal’s upper tier subscription. But I also heard initially that Qobuz’s music offerings were limited, so I put it off.

As the Aurender review came to fruition, just weeks prior I received delivery of the stunningly beautiful and sonically beguiling Clarisys Minuet Speakers distributed by Michael Bovaird of Suncoast Audio. Knowing that the Aurender A20 review was coming, I asked whether he had music that I could use to assess the A20. He directed me to the Suncoast Audio playlist on Qobuz. Uh-oh, that would be impossible to access as I was only using Tidal. He commented that David Solomon might allow me a subscription for reviewing, which he graciously did. I reveal such things because I have no intent to manipulate you as a reader. I disclose such things so that you see my comments have integrity. As you read on, if you wish to disdain my assessment of Tidal vs. Qobuz, that’s your prerogative. I will share with you my impressions as I compare them.

Currently, I have been paying for years for a monthly subscription to Tidal’s better tier of streaming music. However, in just the few days after setting up Qobuz, I concluded that the high resolution (indicated by a gold square with the letters “HR”) tracks of Qobuz are inherently superior to the apparently same tracks on Tidal. As regards the tracks that are not designated HR on Qobuz, the sound quality is for practical purposes equivalent to Tidal. If you don’t care about HR tracks, then the question of use of Qobuz falls to content, and I am not currently prepared to address that question knowledgeably. Come back in five years and I will have that answer!

Assessment of these two streaming music services involved using a rig including the Clarisys Minuet dipole speakers and one of my all-time favorite amps, the Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra, a system that with cabling and the Aurender A20 tops out at about $95K. I played select review demo instrumental tracks such as Acoustic Alchemy’s “Who Knows” first on Tidal, then on Qobuz. You may object that the same track on Qobuz is high resolution. That is why I also played instrumental demo pieces that were not high resolution on either site — apples to apples. As I listened to the track on Tidal, I queued up the same track on Qobuz. When I chose, I began play of the same track on Qobuz, and instantly I was hearing the same piece on the alternative music service.

I did the same with both non-HR and HR tracks as heard first on Tidal, then on Qobuz. The result was clear and consistent. Non-HR tracks did not pass my Law of Efficacy, meaning that Qobuz offered little to no advantage sonically over Tidal when it came to non-HR tracks. Am I prepared to say that there is absolutely no difference or that no difference would be detected regardless of the caliber of the system? For instance, would I say there could be no difference detected were a person hearing the comparison on a $500K rig (given the same settings used for both)? No, I am not. At the level of this rig in my room, the difference was negligible. I regularly have more easily discerned changes from one power cord on an amp.

In what might be a surprising finding to some, accessing the Aurender’s Advanced 2 menu and switching from Redbook settings for digital playback to the highest setting for bit depth and sampling frequency (24/768) resulted in bringing Tidal’s standard tracks closer to MQA sound quality. However, when maintaining that highest setting and for bitrate and frequency when playing HR tracks on Qobuz, a clear advantage once again showed itself. Additional rapid-fire comparisons (for perhaps 30 seconds) of MQA tracks on Tidal to HR tracks on Qobuz firmed up my conclusion. I doubt I will bother to continue trying MQA tracks on Tidal if the HR version of the same track is available on Qobuz. I have no interest in entering debates or arguments about the providence of recordings or the steps involved. Such discussions tend to be like quicksand, a lot of work with little real progress in terms of system advancement.

Vocals were also easily discerned as superior, with more fullness, warmth, and even more resolution, when the HR track was played on Qobuz. An example, Natalie Merchant’s “I May Know the Word” was rendered as deeper, richer, more emotionally engaging as played via a Qobuz HR file. After conducting comparisons of up sampling and frequency settings on the A20, I concluded that none of them should be applied! I have no bias for or against manipulating the Redbook signal, but no signal treatment seemed the most pristine. I did leave the MQA setting on for Tidal playback. As a result of these comparisons, I am confident that, barring an intrusion or development, Qobuz distinguishes itself as offering superior playback through HR files. If I didn’t get a complimentary subscription, would I pay for that sound quality improvement? Scanning my demo list, I see enough of the HR variants of files that I would pay to hear that music rendered better. Would I drop the Tidal subscription to get that result? Not unless I was confident the vast majority my music was duplicated on Qobuz. Barring that, I would keep both.

Suncoast Audio’s playlists on Qobuz brought me some new demo-worthy tracks to enjoy. In the review process I used Jessica Williams’ “Heather” (live), Joan Armatrading’s “Down to Zero,” Kenny Loggins’ “Angry Eyes” (live), Lonnie Smith’s “Paper Tiger,” and AR Ralman’s “Dacoit Duel.” These represent different genres of music and the A20 adroitly handled them all. The playlist contained some harder-edged rock pieces as well as techno music, which I do not like, but including them in my assessment showed me that the Aurender is not captive to polite audiophile music but can handle any genre with equal precision and approachability. If you have Qobuz, I suggest you go to the Suncoast Audio playlists to hear a sample of music used at audio shows.

Appearance, build quality and shipping

The Minuet, which is named after the slow, graceful music and associated formal dance, is a good name, as the speaker showcases in a limited way the refinement of Clarisys speakers. This smallest speaker in the lineup is just about 4’ tall and 2’ wide, and costs $46K per pair. There are many dipole and hybrid dipole speakers on the market for considerably less, so to justify its price the Minuet must distinguish itself through presenting a more erudite performance.

The Minuet is diminutive compared to the size and cost of the rest of the Clarisys line. Moving upward, the Studio Plus is a foot taller and reaches 5Hz lower, and the Auditorium shoots up to 2 meters (6.6’) while retaining the 20Hz bottom end specification. It is fiendishly difficult to make a dipole play much lower, as the speaker must grow massively in scale. Clarisys seems up to the challenge, as it has announced two even larger models shown on the company’s website. Both top end models are multi-tower designs. The Hall is a two tower per channel speaker set to make its debut at the Florida International Audio Expo in 2024. The Stadium evidently is a cost-no-object design featuring a ribbon tower flanked by two curved mid-bass (or bass, according to Clarisys) towers, which would require a sizable room. A concept image of the speaker is shown on the website.

The following is the summary of the features of the Minuet from the Suncoast Audio website:

The Minuet is built using neodymium magnets and uses a double-sided bass panel, allowing more current to flow through the panel and react more accurately in the magnetic field. It also gives the speaker a higher impedance making it easier to drive for an amplifier.

Clarisys ribbon tweeter starts at 500Hz and is a multi-segmented 5-trace design. The entire speaker is very rigid and has no flex, and the only moving parts are the panels and nothing else! This is because of the aluminum substructure.

Clarisys only uses point-to-point copper foil internal wiring to ensure exceptional signal transfer and sound.

  • You can order this speaker in any color at no extra charge.
  • This speaker is built using neodymium. This pushes the speaker’s efficiency to 88dB per watt at 1m and allows the use of tube amplifiers with a matching 4-ohm output transformer.


Every driver is from the same material with the same motor structure. If you play any instrument, it will have the same harmonics over the entire spectrum.

The appearance is of a very fine product, akin to a luxury car or piece of jewelry, and the build is robust, quite solid. I am reminded of the fine aesthetics of the Pathos Classic One MkIII, one of the few products I would be tempted to own for the looks alone. Indeed, they sounded as they looked, and if I was forced to return to a more affordable setup, they would be on my short list.

As two of my friends and I handled the Minuet’s frame and footers to set them up, they displayed no physical tentativeness, no weakness. The finishes on the aluminum fins across the face (the speaker is not to be laid on its face) and the inset brushed aluminum racing stripe that flanks the ribbon tweeter are classy, as is the piano black gloss finish of the thick outer frame concealing the inner solid aluminum cradle that holds the drivers. A raised framework on the back of the speaker protects the driver elements and is covered with an acoustically transparent black fabric. While the front is artistic, the back is utilitarian in that bolts are exposed, allowing access should the speaker need tweaking in the field. The speaker arrived at my home with the drivers in perfect condition, properly tensioned. Though the odds of it are low, should a driver need to be tensioned for any reason, such as shocks delivered in transport, the dealer can make the correct adjustments.

8 Responses to Clarisys Audio Minuet planar ribbon speaker system Review

  1. Ken Basar says:

    My Audio Room is 17 x 25 x 8. Is this room too large for the Minuets?

  2. Ken,
    God’s Peace,

    My room dimensions are not far off from yours; 13’x23’x7.5′. The Minuet is plenty large for my room. However, have worked with several much larger speakers, such as the King Sound King III, the Legacy Audio Valor, V, and Whisper, Aspen Acoustics Grand Aspen, and the PureAudioProject Quintet15. So, my tolerance for a much larger speaker in a moderately sized room is high.

    The Minuet would presumably work quite well in your room, but if you wished to have the same technology/presentation but with a larger sound stage/scale, I suggest you consider the next model up, the Studio Plus.

    Douglas Schroeder

  3. Ken Basar says:

    Douglas another question. How far out from the head wall did you achieve? I would prefer about 5 feet but I guess 4 feet would work.

  4. Douglas Schroeder says:

    God’s Peace,

    Think of the effect of reflectivity of the head wall as being on a continuum. I had the speakers about 5′ from the head wall. If you have the space and inclination, experiment with the distance from the head wall, perhaps ranging from 2′ to 5′ or more. The presentation will change holistically as a result of such placement. I did not place them very near the wall because my Perlisten subs are situated and tuned for the room, and I was not going to move them for any speaker under review. The Minuet blended well with the Perlisten subs and added extra power and depth to the system.

    Though it might not be absolutely necessary, I strongly recommend that fine subwoofers be used whenever possible with even larger dipole speakers. Some may disagree, suggesting that subwoofers cannot keep up with the speed of the dipole driver. I disagree, at least when it comes to the Perlisten subs.

    Douglas Schroeder

  5. Ken Basar says:

    Thank you so much for your reply.
    I have a set on order, so sorry for the additional questions.
    1. How far should they be placed from the sidewalls?
    2. I have some Stillpoints Aperture 2 in the center behind my present speakers, and also some ASC tube traps in the corners, what do you think of having them in the room?

  6. Douglas Schroeder says:

    God’s Peace,

    I would not place them closer than 1′ from side walls. Feel free to experiment with such things. The soundstage will change according to how far apart from each other they are.

    Do not overemphasize ancillary things such as footers. Tube traps are effective for the right purposes, but I would definitely try removing them also to see what the effect is on the presentation. The speakers will not create the LF of subwoofers, so if you do not have subs, then definitely try both ways.

    Feel free to experiment with all such things. The final result is like cooking a meal, so have fun.

    Doug Schroeder

  7. Alessandro Chiocchetti says:

    I owned and got rid of a Legacy Audio iV2 Ultra Amplifier purchased solely trusting the dealer recommendation (huge mistake). To keep it short I found it being by far the least musical amplifier I ever owned during four decades.

  8. Alessandro,
    God’s Peace,

    Audiophiles have different taste and priorities. My experience is that the i.V4 Ultra continues to be one of the two or three very best I have handled among the tube, SS, or hybrid amps I have reviewed. I also have been at it for about 40 years. Congratulations on being a true long-term music lover!

    If the audiophile’s priority is for a very fat, rounded, and (what I would call) syrupy sound that is heavy in the mid bass and light on the treble (what some audiophiles would call musical. I’m not sure if that applies in your situation), then I would not expect the i.V4 Ultra to satisfy you. I find that audiophiles tend to fall into two camps, those who want the above characteristics and those who don’t. I’m one who doesn’t want that particular combination, as imo it convolutes the performance and is not as tonally balanced across the frequency spectrum as the i.V4 Ultra. I also have found the majority of amps called musical to be lacking in definition and resolution. We are speaking in generalities.

    For owners of Clarisys speakers or other dipoles, such speakers are going to potentially sound more bright and detailed to the ear than traditional dynamic speakers, especially those with a lot of cabinet resonance such as Audio Note or Harbeth. My experience with the attempt to make such speakers warmer is that unless an extreme tube amp that offers higher power is used, the performance of the dipole will suffer in terms of macrodynamics. To get a speaker like the Minuet to have warmth of a speaker like those above and with the dynamics of the i.V4 Ultra would take an extreme amount of money, imo. Note the high MSRP amps that are used by Clarisys. It’s pretty easy to get even a budget speaker to sound “musical” if that means tonally ripe. To get a speaker like the Minuet to be tonally ripe and still have excellent resolution and dynamics would be a challenge. Even then, you are not guaranteed to get the result you want.

    I hope that you are able to achieve the sound you desire!
    Douglas Schroeder

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