Tortuga Audio had a great time and a fantastic sounding room at the inaugural Florida Audio Expo in Tampa, Florida in February 2019. Here are some comments and pictures from that show.
The show went off without a hitch, was well attended and the organizers can be quite proud of all the hard work that went into conceiving, planning and executing this new audio show. A show in sunny Florida in mid-winter has always struck me as a natural fit. I think it speaks volumes about the state of our shared audio hobby and the overall industry that the show was fully subscribed by exhibitors and that attendees were in large supply. Well done.
Road Trip (A Short One)
Prepping for any show is just plain hard work. But what made this show particularly less stressful and less challenging was the fact that Tampa is only a 2 hour car ride north of where we are in Cape Coral, Florida. And since this was our first show with our new Loggerhead speakers, all we had to do was load up our pickup truck and head north up I75. No shipping companies. No airports. No car rentals. And thanks to the rooms at this show having adjoining bedrooms, no separate hotel rooms. Nice.
Painless (Almost) Setup
Setting up a room at a show is an exercise in controlled chaos. Jammed loading docks and terminally slow elevators are common. Hurry up and wait becomes your reality.
At this show we only had 2 mishaps. First, try as I might I could not get our local WiFi network to work (the overall hotel WiFi worked just fine) so there would be no controlling our music server via the Roon application on our iPad nor would we be streaming QoBuz. No worries as we had a keyboard and monitor for our server plus almost a terabyte of FLAC music files on our hard drive along with a backup drive in case the first one crashed. The second mishap was far less hi-tech and involved dumping one of our plants into the hallway by the freight elevator (yes, that was our spill). There’s nothing quite like getting down on your hands and knees scooping dirt off a linoleum floor with your hands to remind you to stay humble.
As you can see in the above picture we arranged our system along the long wall rather than the short wall. This allowed us to keep the natural light from outside rather than close off the room entirely which gave the room a bit more of that sunny Florida feel for our frozen visitors from the north. The plants liked it too! The shorter distance between the speakers and the listener was not a problem and many commented on the excellent sound stage and stereo imaging despite the cramped geometry.
Our “big reveal” at the show was the coming out of our new Loggerhead series speakers. We’ve kept the development of these speakers quiet until now and will be putting out more info on them soon including info on our website. These speakers have been developed over the past 2+ years in conjunction with our LDR preamp plus tube buffer to produce outstanding overall sound quality. Visitors to the Tortuga Audio room in Tampa know what I’m talking about.
Here is a summary of the Loggerhead’s features:
- 2 way – ported
- Bohlender Graebener Neo3-PDR magnetic planar tweeter (a type of ribbon tweeter)
- Scanspeak Revelator 7 inch woofers
- 2.8 cubic foot cabinet
- sensitivity ~ 86 dB/W/m
- No passive crossover – external crossover/equalizing via DSP (included with purchase)
The cabinets are over sized for the Revelator driver but with this large a cabinet these exceptional drivers are capable of getting down into the low 30 Hz range and doing so very coherently and naturally. This yields excellent deep natural base without the heavy hand of a subwoofer. The single Revelator driver gives the Loggerhead a killer single point-source mid-range that really brings out the best in vocals and acoustical instruments with an exceptional “you are there” realism especially with well recorded material. Last but not least the Loggerhead avoids all the impedance, phase and back emf issues associated with passive crossovers by using an external active DSP crossover/equalizer by MiniDSP which is relatively easy to configure and optimize. The result is clear coherent sound with no smear or timing issues. It really does sound fantastic!
These are meticulously hand-made speakers including imported 13 ply baltic birch plywood, robust internal bracing and dampening, CNC machined baffles, real wood veneering, and multiple coats of premium marine grade varnish.
We had planned to also reveal a new Tortuga Audio tube preamp at this show but since we weren’t quite ready by showtime we went with that preamp’s progenitor – the combination of our LDR3.V25 Passive Preamp (attenuator) coupled with our TPB.V1 Tube Preamp Buffer running Genalex Gold Lion ECC88/6922 tubes.
The pairing of these 2 components produces a beautifully refined sound that we find very enjoyable and compelling. This was clearly a widely shared view in Tampa based on all the compliments we received.
The Equipment List
We were pleased to be supported by Pete Grzybowski of Triode Wire Labs for this show. Triode provide all of our cabling including interconnects, power, speaker and USB. Pete was very helpful and the Triode gear definitely help give our system a nice clear coherent sound.
We received numerous comments about our use of simple low-cost pro-audio QSC amps. We are not an amplifier company and chose to employ workhorse utility amps that we know to be neutral with an excellent flat response. While I’m sure better amps would raise the performance bar even further, these amps got the job done and sent a clear message that the level of sound quality in our room was definitely not dependent on high priced amps. Since our use of external DSP crossovers require the use of 2 stereo amps (4 total channels) we thought this was a point worth making.
Tortuga Audio Products
|Tortuga Speakers||LoggerHead – 2.8 cubic foot 2 way ported speakers sans internal passive crossovers. Requires external crossovers and bi-amping (not included) | Custom made to order||$12k|
|Tortuga Preamplifier||LDR3.V25 Passive Preamp – Light Dependent photoResistor (LDR) based single-ended volume controller with graphic OLED display and 3 input switching||$1195|
|Tortuga Buffer||TPB.V1 Tube Preamp Buffer – Unity gain 2 stage hybrid buffer with Genalex Gold Lion ECC88/6922 tube input stage, LSK170 JFET class A solid state output stage and optional Belleson SuperRegulator plate voltage controller and VCAP OIMP high performance output coupling capacitors||$1733|
Triode Wire Labs
|Power Cords||Seven Plus – Audiophile 7 AWG power cords – used on the amplifiers|
Digital American – Audiophile digital power cords – used on the DAC
|Speaker Cables||American Speaker Cables – Audiophile bi-wired speaker cables terminated with premium Cardas CAB bananas||$1099+ per set|
|Interconnects||Spirit II – RCA interconnects with cotton outer dielectric utilizing Ohno Continuous Cast 7N copper|
Discrete – Precision 90 ohm digital USB cable with both power & data leads
|$399+ per pair|
|DAC||Schitt Audio Yggdrasil – Closed-form 21 bit ladder DAC||$2399|
|Amplifiers||QSC GX3 – Pair of workhorse 300 watt pro-audio amps||$350 each|
|Crossover/DSP||o MiniDSP 4×10-HD – Digital signal processor based active crossover and equalizer with 28/56 bit DSP engine, 24 bit ADC/DAC, with 114dB SNR and 48/96kHz sampling rate||$499|
|Music Server||Generic no-brand custom PC running Windows 10 with Roon Labs music server/player software via stock USB out to DAC||$750 estimated|
Here’s another view of the setup. The PC based music server and monitor is right behind the left speaker next to the chair. This is where I parked myself for most of the show.
Those Loggerheads really are both beautiful looking and beautiful sounding speakers.
Could not have managed it all without Sara. (heart goes here)
All packed up and ready to head home.