Cabasse Pearl Pelegrina Loudspeaker

hfncommendedAvailing itself of the latest DSP and Class D amps, the Pearl Pelegrina is a sophisticated 'connected' speaker

There's no escaping it: sitting in front of Cabasse's Pearl Pelegrina, the £22,599 flagship of the French company's Pearl speaker range, the punning phrase 'the eyes have it' kept going through my mind, so great was the sense of these spherical enclosures fixing me with a beady stare. Of course, this look is nothing new for the designers in Brest, out on the tip of Brittany: at the top of its range is the huge La Sphère loudspeaker [HFN Feb '10], its 70cm globe perched atop a helical stand, and driven by a rackful of dedicated crossovers and amplifiers.

The Pearl Pelegrina, named for a 55 carat pearl discovered in 1913, has been made to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Cabasse, which is why it comes in a limited edition of 70 pairs, each individually numbered on a plaque on the base of the stand. The Pearl range includes the compact Akoya, and the 2.1-channel Keshi system whose sub is available separately.

Loving The Alien
Whether the Pearl Pelegrina is a more domestically acceptable version of La Sphère rather depends on how much of a visual impact you want your speakers to make. After all, its 'ball' may measure a more compact 42cm in diameter and – like all the models in the series – the speakers may contain all the amplification required to drive the four-way driver configuration within, but there's no denying that with their helical stands they make a statement, whether in white or black.


A 42cm spherical ‘cabinet’ is mounted atop a Lissajous pattern frame with the treble, midrange, low midrange and subwoofer amplifiers, and custom DSP, all housed inside a circular base

With their driver covers in place, and all their wiring concealed in those convoluted legs, there's little to give away what they are, or how they work, adding to their slight air of menace and other worldliness. Nothing here is conventional: the main driver assembly is what Cabasse calls a 'tri-coaxial' array on the front of the sphere, combining low-mid, midrange and treble drivers, while a 30cm version of the company's in-house HELD bass unit fires to the rear.

Sphere Factor
Each driver element is powered separately thanks to DSP crossover control, Cabasse claiming 300W apiece for the treble and midrange, 1250W for the low-midrange driver, and a massive 1850W for the bass. A 134dB peak sound pressure level is also claimed for 1m, but the company does acknowledge these are all figures at the uppermost limit and that protection circuitry is used to avoid damage to drivers and amplifiers.

The sphere here is purely the speaker: all the (Class D) amplification and control systems are in the base of the Pelegrina, keeping all the connections down at ground level. This is a complete 'system in a speaker', with built-in streaming capability as well as conventional analogue and digital inputs, and extensive DSP to manipulate the sound, from CRCS automatic room optimisation using microphones built into the speakers to what the company calls DFE (Dynamic Fidelity Enhancer). This works by analysing the incoming signal and then tailoring the speaker's response to the chosen listening level.

All of this is governed via Cabasse's StreamControl app along with access to streaming services including Deezer, Napster, Qobuz, Spotify and Tidal, plus the user's own music, whether held on network storage or USB drives plugged into the speaker system.

The speakers include Wi-Fi and Ethernet networking, Bluetooth, and optical/coaxial inputs, and depending on which input is chosen can handle audio at up to DXD-level LPCM and DSD128. Meanwhile, analogue inputs are also provided on RCAs and balanced XLRs, with a stereo pair on each speaker – sources connected this way to one speaker will be shared to the other via the network connection.

Cabasse SA
Supplied by: Henley Audio Ltd, UK
01235 511166