Bag End has been manufacturing speaker systems for some time, and has now added a processor controlled system with a geologically influenced name, the Quartz and the Crystal.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound, sound reinforcement, installation
Key features: Time Aligned/phase corrected; two-way column speaker with dual 12-inch woofers; 18-inch woofers for sub
Price: Quartz-R – $3,980 Crystal-R – $3,320; INFRA-MX2 controller – $1,390
Contact: Bag End at 847-382-4550, Web Site.
The Quartz-R ($3,980), is a sub-bass cabinet, featuring four 18-inch cone speakers, arranged in a physical time/phase-aligned fashion, that at first glance, would appear to be an odd combination. The cones are placed in a manifold type placement, except each cone is contained within its own sealed enclosure internally. The Quartz operates with a companion processor called the INFRA processor ($1,390). The INFRA processor acts not only as a conventional crossover, but narrows the actual frequency operating range of the sub through means other than conventional time/phase degrading low-pass filters. Through use of their own patented electronic processing, the four 18 inch woofers are set to exacting simultaneous movement.
In order to power this particular speaker cabinet, it is fitted with two sets of connectors, such that each top to bottom pair of 18s are powered by one side of a power amplifier, thus one stereo power amp is required for each Quartz-R speaker cabinet. Bag End recommends 800 watts at four ohms per side as a power amp complement, with a crossover frequency of 80 Hz. Each half of the Quartz has two banana style connectors, along with a Neutrik NL4 connector. The banana plugs are handy to test components while still inside the actual enclosure. Wheels are attached to the cabinet on the rear surface of the cabinet so that the Quartz actually transports on its back, and stout feet on the bottom to keep it from walking or moving.
The Crystal-R ($3,320), is the companion piece for the Quartz, and can be stacked directly on top of the Quartz, or through use of recessed cups, can be pole-mounted to the Quartz. The Crystal speaker box contains two 12-inch cone woofers as well as a 3-inch titanium diaphragm compression driver coupled to an elliptical waveguide horn with a 1.5-inch exit opening. The Crystal has a connector array of banana, dual quarter inch and dual Neutrik NL4s.
Both the Quartz and the Crystal cabinets are constructed of 13-ply birch plywood, with a thickness of 3/4 inches. Both cabinets are covered in a durable but attractive black urethane, with safety yellow nylon feet. Rigging hardware is standard on the top cabinets for both a vertical or horizontal dispersion, and rigging hardware is optional on the sub. Both boxes also have an expanded metal powder-coated grille with the Bag End logo emblazoned on the front. The Quartz sub weighs in at 237 pounds and is 40 inches tall, 30 inches wide and 32 inches deep. The Crystal has a weight of 110 pounds (no wheels on this one) with a height of 40 inches, width of 15 inches and a depth of 17 inches.
The initial test of the Quartz and Crystal system, was in our shop, with CD being the input source. The Bag End speakers had a friendly sound, with no noticeably glaring frequency statements. We powered the system with Yorkville AP6040 power amps, which put out 2,000 watts RMS per side at four ohms, both sides driven. We overpowered the subs excessively, and they sounded quite good.
ButÉCD is easy, most everything sounds good with a CD being played through it, so we decided to torture the Quartz sub separately from the Crystal full range speakers, by taking the sub to a local venue called the Marquee Theater, an environment known for grunge, hardcore and other rather loud acts. The Quartz was used extensively as a drum-fill sub-bass speaker on at least 12 occasions. We used the sub with both the INFRA sub processor, as well as other processors, and each time the results were quite astounding. The Quartz performed flawlessly, with numerous compliments from the drummers about the tightness and smoothness of the speaker.
We opted to test the Crystal in its own environment as well, hearing what it could do on its own. We employed the Crystal as front fills for the Al Jardines Beach Band at an outdoor car show. The Crystals rocked quite nicely, and here again, had no glaring frequency emanations, but instead required a minimal EQ application. The Crystal speakers were placed such that their assignment was to cover an outdoor dance floor that measured 40 feet wide by 60 feet long. The speakers performed admirably and had an even upper frequency coverage for the entire dance floor.
On several shows, we combined the efforts of both speakers (what the heck, they are being marketed as a system), placing them relatively together, and they functioned quite seamlessly, with no noticeable negative phasing characteristics. One of my favorite applications to test the fidelity of a system, is to employ it as a reinforcement system for a symphony orchestra at an outdoor show. My company has provided full concert production for the Phoenix Symphony for 20 years, and on several outdoor shows, we used the Bag End speakers as both nearfield front fills, and medium throw, time-delayed rear house fills. On each occasion, the Quartz/Crystal demonstrated excellent clarity and full bandwidth necessary to reinforce a symphony orchestra.
I was not familiar with Bag End product prior to this review, but I was impressed with quality of construction of the actual cabinets, as well as the sound quality of the speaker systems. Both the sub and the full-range upper boxes showed good dexterity in the dynamics and efficiency departments, as well even distribution of frequency throughout the intended listening area. If you are in the market for a speaker system out of the mainstream, this is a good choice.
Soundcraft Series Five/48 channel console; Klark-Teknik Helix digital processor; dbx 2231 EQ; Sony portable CD player; Yorkville AP6040 and 4040 power amps; Shure Beta 52 and SM91 kick drum mics.