MC Audiotech Forty-10 Loudspeaker, Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL Preamplifier, ZOTL Ultralinear Amplifier, and Reference 40 Amplifier

The MC Audiotech Forty-10 ($35,000) is probably the most exotic speaker seen and heard at the Florida Audio Expo. In our conversation, MC Audiotech’s Mark Conti revealed that the upper portion of the Forty-10, a two-way, is based on a patented Wide Band Line Source (WBLS) transducer; according to a white paper from the designer Paul Paddock, it could be called a “predictable flexible membrane” transducer and is related to “bending wave” technology. Though this represents a modern iteration, the device had its earliest conceptual origins back in the 1920s and 1930s; Paddock’s original patent, on which the Forty-10 is based, dates from 1985.

The top array of each Forty-10 houses 10 WBLS drivers behind a flexible membrane of a proprietary fabric that comes in a wide array of colors to suit your décor. Its frame is supported by a Folded Cube woofer, a dipole design, which reproduces frequencies of 100Hz and below. It comes with an external hybrid crossover that includes user-adjustable low-frequency levels and contouring to “tilt” deeper bass.

The Forty-10 is an efficient design, spec’d at 96dB sensitivity (93dB for the dual woofers; the Forty-10 must be biamped). In the demo system, the array was driven by Linear Tube Audio amplification, the ZOTL Ultralinear amplifier, which employs NOS 17JN6 power tubes (as employed in this amplifier, these exotic tubes have a claimed lifetime of 10,000–20,000 hours) and no output transformers ($6800), and the EL34-based ZOTL40 Reference amplifier ($6800). Preamplification was provided by a MicroZOTL preamp ($4450). Digital music data was delivered by a Wolf Audio Systems Alpha 3 music server ($6895) and rendered into analog by a PS Audio DSD DAC ($6000). The components were wired with Audience AU24 SX Series cables and supported by the Symposium Foundation Ultra rack ($3600).

I enjoyed this system’s aesthetic nod to midcentury modern design, but the best thing about it was the sound, which, on tracks from Bill Frisell and Count Basie, and on “Long Time Gone” by Billie Joe + Norah, was spacious in staging (yet to scale), smooth in dispersion, full of detail and texture, and natural. The Forty-10s seemed to disappear sonically more than many loudspeakers of more conventional design.

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