This new speaker completes the ALR Jordan Classic model range, and that means that it has a hefty dose of added Karl-Heinz Fink.
The doyen of European speaker design voiced this speaker, along with the entire ALR range, several Castle designs and more. The Classic 1 is a two-way compact, measuring 13.7x22x19cm (WxHxD) and finished in real-wood veneer.
The sealed box acoustic loading, however, is unorthodox, and so is the use of a Ted Jordan alloy cone bass/ mid driver. This is normally used in single-driver, full-range systems, but here, it is partnered by a conventional polyester dome tweeter, which takes over the reins at 2.8kHz, with 24dB/ octave slopes to avoid excessive overlap.
Sealed (or infinite baffle) loading means no port noise, of course, and also, a bass roll-off typically starting at a higher frequency than a vented enclosure, though the rate of attenuation will be correspondingly reduced.
This doesn't show in the published numbers, which indicate bass extending to 70Hz, but without any idea of how far the output is down at this frequency. Our best guess is -6dB.
The small size of the enclosure, plus the IB loading, mean a low sensitivity (claimed at 86dB), so budget for a moderately high power output, though the speaker gives every indication of being an easy electrical load. The Classic range (not just this model) is available in a choice of alder, birch and black ash real-wood veneers.
The Classic 1 was supplied with a pair of matching ES72 pedestal stands, optimised for the speakers. They're well finished and stable, and come with adjustable spikes and some Blu-Tack for use between the stands and the speakers.
To put it bluntly, the Classic 1 is a peach. There's no magic here; nobody has waved a wand, or reinvented the laws of physics, and the bass doesn't extend deeper than is feasible. It's a small speaker and it doesn't pretend to be anything else.
Indeed, the absence of port loading almost guarantees that bass weight will not be maximised, but the tonal quality of the speaker is remarkably neutral across the band upwards of the upper bass.
Even with medium to large scale orchestral material, the lack of bass weight is not always obvious, and it has clear and open voicing. Yes, of course, the low frequency fundamentals are missing, but the early harmonics are certainly present, which means the loss is not always immediately apparent.
There are some mild colorations here, perhaps associated with secondary radiation from the relatively lightweight enclosure. This can be felt clearly with fingers resting lightly on the boxes while music is playing.
The resulting colorations can be heard with stringed instruments and especially clarinet in the upper-middle registers, which tends to sound a little hard and insistent. The treble is surprisingly well behaved, however.
The Classic 1 even makes a decent stab at playing loud without sounding too stressed, given an amplifier with enough power - an Arcam FMJ A32 on this occasion. This amp's laid-back balance is ideal for this application.
The Classic 1 is an exacting, yet easy on the ear design, but unfortunately, it's also a rather costly little speaker for those who are space strapped.
The lack of absolute bass weight can be addressed to an extent by careful adjusting of positioning relative to the back wall. Apart from a midband balance that sounds as though it is lacking in gravitas due to the limited bass output already highlighted, it is difficult to be anything but enthusiastic about this talented newcomer.