If Carbon is Squeezed Hard Enough, a Diamond Emerges

Introducing Carbon Ltd. by REL

Once in a great while, we decide to do something purely for the joy of it. That was the case for the past year as our senior engineering team received an assignment to create and build a “what-if” dream product. We’re pleased to let you know that this special model will be arriving in key markets almost instantly. We are thrilled to launch Carbon Ltd., a no holds barred, ultimate exemplar of our medium-sized chassis, as used in Serie S.

Since this special project was about removing practical limits, we began with the Reference  12” carbon fibre ultra-lightweight bass engine used in our Reference class G-1MKII. The cone structure is some 73% lighter than the cones we used five years ago, just a couple generations of product back. Compared with the original G-1 driver of 2010, the Carbon Ltd. features a full 4” of stroke, specially designed lead-in wires capable of handling the extreme flexing created by the outrageous dynamics of our Reference class products and a host of special tricks and techniques we’ve had to develop over the years.

We elected to remain with the incredibly reliable 550 watt main amplifier used in the standard S/5 SHO since the moving mass of the carbon fibre driver is lighter than even the low mass cone of the standard S/5 SHO driver. The driver’s weight reduction means it is as though we were able to realize a free 20% increase in power. The ultra-low mass carbon fibre driver supplies a full doubling of the stroke of the standard S/5 so we pushed the electronic limiter all the way out to the end stop to take maximum advantage of what this combination can do.

Our class leading input filters mean that the transient speed of our filter set is already a core strength, but we performed a sequence of updates to extract the most out of filter, the first gain stage of the preamplifier and the final limiter to obtain the best balance of power and speed. The result is near-Reference performance in a packaged volume that is half the size of our most compact Reference model.

Naturally, with all the output this combination delivered the standard passive driver on the bottom which provides the bloom and easy release of the Serie S, as well as the floor crawl that is associated with the deepest bass. We recognized immediately that the standard passive could not keep up. We dug deeply into our high-performance parts bin and fitted the long stroke passive from our legendary 212/SE. Once we had finely tuned the mechanical parameters, we knew we had something that sounded remarkable. But it was missing that special something that sets aside the great from the merely very good.

Any special model deserves a set of aesthetic upgrades commensurate with its status. We spent months refining the finishes of our metal work. The main badge now requires almost three months from initial extrusion, through 5 different machining and etching processes needed to arrive at final installation in the top surface. And, oh my, what a badge. Triple chrome plated, as performed on the finest show cars, the aluminium is first acid dipped to eliminate any striations left over from diamond-machining the top surface. It is then dipped for three hours in copper plating to both fill in any micro surface blemishes and to give the final nickel plating a perfect surface to adhere to.

The final result would be described as mirror-like, were it not that mirrors do not possess the depth of finish required to be selected as a Carbon Ltd. main badge.  Finally, we hand apply organic black enamel, filled deep within the die stamping that forms the REL logo, in a process that would have seemed familiar to the finest carriage makers of the 18th century. The dimensionally rich, black letters supply a subtle, expensive finish to a very special product. As the eyes travel downward, the owner is gratified to note that even the feet, which are responsible in our designs for reflecting the surrounding floor treatment, receive the same special finishing treatments as do the main badging.

In the end, we wanted to provide a special few customers the opportunity to own something rare, something exquisite for systems that may be built to the highest of standards but simply lack the scale of either soundroom dimensions or the ability to accept a larger, perhaps Reference grade REL. For them, we offer the Carbon Ltd. with hopes that it brings them as much joy as it did the team that conceived and built it.

November 2, 2018 - Posted in: News, Principles of Sound