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Newport Audio G60MBR, G85REC, and G85.2SUB

October 20, 2008 By Brent Butterworth

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Newport Audio G60MBR
Newport Audio G85.2SUB and G85REC
Newport Audio G85.2 Subwoofer

Masters of Metal

Plastic is often unfairly derided in today’s world. Without plastic, we wouldn’t have Barbie dolls. Or Tupperware. Or Hyundais.

But sometimes plastic’s bad rep is warranted. Most in-wall speakers are made from plastic, and that’s one reason some of them don’t sound good. Unless the plastic is impregnated with a stiffening substance, it tends to vibrate in sympathy with the speaker drivers. The result is often smeared, unnatural sound.

Of course, you couldn’t make cheap in-walls without plastic. But Newport Audio isn’t interested in cheap in-walls.

Newport is a spin-off of California Audio Technologies, also known as CAT. Much of the technology in CAT’s ultra-high-end speakers trickles down into Newport’s line. CAT uses sophisticated computer numeric control (CNC) machines to carve the 5mm-thick aluminum faceplates on Newport’s Gold Series in-wall speakers. The faceplates provide a firm mounting surface for the speakers’ woofers and tweeters—and the faceplates contribute practically no vibration of their own.

Aluminum even finds its way into the doglegs that clamp the speakers into place.

The Newports feature drivers made in CAT’s own factories, using techniques developed in CAT’s high-end designs. The woofers employ a curvilinear cone design to increase stiffness. While the cones are made from polypropylene (a kind of plastic), they’re mica-impregnated to improve rigidity.

The crossover circuitry relies on high-grade components, such as 400-volt capacitors with a 5-percent value tolerance instead of the 100-volt, 5-percent (or even 10-percent) caps used in most crossovers.

Newport Audio G60MBR

I recently spent some quality time with a Newport Audio surround-sound system: seven G60MBR speakers for left, center, right, and surround channels, plus two G85.2SUB in-wall subwoofers. The G60MBR is an LCR-type speaker with two 5.5-inch woofers flanking a 1-inch tweeter. The tweeter has a switch that boosts or cuts the treble by 3 decibels to compensate for applications that don’t use a grille, or that hide the speakers behind thick fabric. The G60MBR produces little bass, so it must be used with a sub.

The G85.2SUB has two 8.5-inch aluminum-cone woofers. Each has a compact neodymium magnet positioned in front of the cone instead of behind it, an arrangement that allows the woofer to fit in a standard 3.5-inch-deep stud bay.

I later auditioned a pair of G85REC speakers, each of which has a single 8.5-inch woofer and a 1-inch tweeter (and the same tweeter level switch). This one can be used without a sub, so it’s the choice for a stereo system and for multiroom audio.

All of the speakers were installed with Newport Audio’s back boxes. These prevent the sound from the speaker drivers from leaking into the walls, and also minimize vibration of the drywall panels.

Newport Audio G60MBR back panelThey’re optional, but strongly recommended. Incidentally, all of these speakers are weather-resistant enough to be used outdoors; several of them are already in service on yachts.

What dazzles me about the Newport Audio Gold Series speakers is their simple, fundamental clarity. Super-high-frequency sounds like the glockenspiel in James Taylor’s “Shower the People” ring out with lucidity. Medium-high-frequency sounds like the cymbals and Taylor’s acoustic guitar sound crisp but never etched or edgy.

Dropping down into the vocal range, female vocalists sound about as natural as I’ve heard even from CAT’s flagship speakers, with no trace of sibilance and none of the chesty sound that’s the most common speaker flaw when the girls start to sing.

Only the very deepest male vocals (in this case, Hawaiian baritone Reverend Dennis Kamakahi) reveal any flaw in the vocal reproduction; Rev. Dennis sounds a tad bloated, but I suspect that might have been an issue with the subwoofer crossover or level settings.

And no matter what the range of the instrument, the soundstaging is spectacular—sounds wrap around behind my head even when I’m listening in stereo. This spacious sound, combined with the power of the huge CAT amps driving the system, gives delicate audiophile recordings shocking vivacity.

The G85.2SUB seems to prioritize precision rather than maximum output. The dual 8.5-inch woofers convey melodic bass lines beautifully—not that anybody plays melodic bass lines anymore, but it sure sounds wonderful when you play old Steely Dan tunes.

The G85.2SUB delivers the punches and kicks of action-movie soundtracks with urgency. It doesn’t pick up your room and shake it the way that 15-inch subs sometimes can, but I didn’t miss the super-deep bass (and that’s an omission your cohabitants won’t mind, either).

Newport Audio G85.2SUB and G85REC

The G85REC gives up just a little of the G60MBR’s vocal clarity, but that big 8.5-inch woofer brings in a lot of bass. I can’t imagine anyone would bother using a sub with this speaker.

Perhaps most remarkable of all is the price: These speakers are actually less costly than most high-end in-wall speakers, but I’d say they’re competitive with just about anything else on the market. If you like your speakers concealed but compelling, the Newports will make you very, very happy.

In-wall speakers for home theater or stereo use. Subwoofer optional with G85REC, mandatory for G60MBR.

G60MBR: two 5.5-inch poly-mica cone woofers, 1-inch silk dome tweeter
G85REC: 8.5-inch poly-mica cone woofers, 1-inch silk dome tweeter
G85.2SUB: two 8.5-inch aluminum cone woofers

G60MBR: gold-plated five-way metal binding posts
G85REC: same as above
G85.2SUB: same as above

G60MBR: 15.25 x 8.5 x 3.13 inches (hwd)
G85REC: 16.13 x 10.13 x 3.69 inches (hwd)
G85.2SUB: 17.88 x 10.13 x 3.56 inches (hwd)

PRICE: G60MBR $1,650 per pair, G85REC $1,290 per pair, G85.2SUB $2,980 per pair
CONTACT: 888.530.4379, newportaudio.com


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