This behemoth of a loudspeaker isn’t even the largest model in the Nola Speakers product line-up, and it surely isn’t the smallest by a long-shot.
The Grand Reference Gold 2 ($250k pr USD) sits second to the throne in Nola Speakers Reference Gold series of loudspeakers that runs six models deep, and ranges from 24-inches tall, up to 84-inches tall. The Grand Reference Gold 2 only towers at 71-inches tall, making it a formidable speaker to stare down when you don’t know where the volume knob is before the music starts.
The Nola brand comes from Accent Speaker Technology and was founded by Carl and Marilyn Marchisotto. President and Chief Engineer Carl Marchisotto has been designing audio equipment since 1973 at companies like Dahlquist, Acarian Systems/Alon, and since 2004 his own company Accent/Nola.
When it comes to loudspeaker design, Carl is known for two-things: Semi open-baffle driver loading, and not being able to make a bad speaker. In fact, Nola Speakers if you’ve never heard them, are known for sounding incredibly like live music. Their open-baffle portion plays the room almost flawlessly, giving space to any recording unlike no other. Music goes from between you and the loudspeakers, instead taking over the whole listening space, and seemingly a few feet beyond.
My first interaction with Nola Speakers was with a much smaller tower version called the Metro Grand Reference Gold, which by comparison to the Grand Reference Gold 2, stands only a diminutive 45-inches tall. That Metro Grand model demonstration was so open and live sounding, that it made my best-in-show top five list.
The new Grand Reference Gold 2 being the larger sibling takes everything we love about Nola Speakers and turns it up to eleven. Not to say, these speakers must be played loud, but that they have the requisite driver-count to do so if called upon.
Starting at the top of the Grand Reference Gold 2, a 12-inch-long true-ribbon tweeter. Above 10 kHz and on up to 100kHz an additional 2-inch true-ribbon super-tweeter extends frequency response. Four 4-1/2-inch Alnico ring magnet midrange drivers with solid-copper-gold-plated phase plugs are loaded in a line-source open-dipole array. From there we enter more traditional box-enclosure loading, and yet still remain in exotic territory. Four ultra-light 4-1/2-inch Alnico ring magnet midrange bass-drivers with solid-copper-gold-plated phase plugs — yes, you read that right — cover frequency response in the 40Hz to 400Hz range. At the low-end, two 12-inch subwoofers (per tower) are each loaded into individually tuned chambers and extend bass frequency response down to 18Hz.
In the photos you might notice that the Grand Reference Gold 2 (like all Nola Speakers) are manufactured and sold in mirror-image pairs. Nola uses their exclusive Unison crossover design in the ‘GRG2’ that isolates components on separate boards to eliminate the need to bi-wire or bi-amp. Also of note, is that each tower loudspeaker uses a ball-bearing double isolation base to eliminate unwanted floor-borne resonances.
The Nola Concert Grand Reference Gold 2 loudspeaker is currently available in a True Piano Rosewood finish with a True Piano Black base. True Piano Black and other finishes are available by special order.
How does all of this sound? Despite the hotel space being grossly undersized for a speaker this large, the Grand Reference Gold 2’s still made my best-of-show top five list for exhibits. Given a larger room, the GRG2’s would likely walk away with all the awards for the year.
The use of light-weight and fast moving dynamic drivers, along with open-baffle arrays that eliminate box colorations, and are the main contributor to the Nola GRG2’s open and live sound. This solidifies for me that the Nola way of doing things is the right way (if there were to be such a thing as one-right-way) with this over-built monster of a loudspeaker.
The bass delivered from the GRG2’s is deep, authoritative, and in this small exhibit space, I could feel it tickling my lungs when the volume knob got a little wild. So what does this all mean? It means that if you have the requisite deep pockets, and long arms to boot — this halo type product reference speaker from Nola should be near the top of your shopping list. If you’re pockets are still deep, but you have T-Rex arms, then also consider Nola’s other tower offerings as they too can play inconceivably large space with absolute control, authority, and that Nola signature sound.
by Eric Franklin Shook