Hardware Reviews

Lyngdorf Cue-100 redefines the standmount

Lyngdorf Cue-100 loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Lyngdorf Cue-100 loudspeakers

Regular readers may recall that I have reviewed two Lyngdorf amplifiers, the TDAI-1120 and the TDAI-3400, and been very impressed with both of them. Indeed I acquired one of the latter models for my own use and it is regularly used in my review system. That same machine has recently paired with another product from Lyngdorf, the Cue-100 loudspeaker.

Having only seen the Cue-100 in photographs before they arrived, I had somehow envisaged a relatively small stand-mounted loudspeaker, but the arrival of the delivery soon disabused me of that notion. The shipment comprised five boxes, the two largest contained the speakers themselves while the two smaller ones contained the oak legs and their metal mounting circle. The fifth package contained a pair of the covers, which unlike regular grilles are fitted over the top of the speaker enclosure and are tucked between the bottom of the speaker and its base. using a cunningly designed plastic tool. I strongly recommend that you take the time to read the set up instructions before you embark on the next phase.

Lyngdorf Cue-100 loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Of course, Scandinavians are renowned for their design ethic and the Cue-100s are another fine example of that. Available with an enclosure in black or white, the speaker base can be ordered in matching black or white or, as in the case here, in oak. To install the legs the whole enclosure is turned on to its head and the black metal circle is then bolted into place on the underside. Once that is done the three legs are screwed onto the base at which point the speaker can be turned right side up and put into position, which in a relatively crowded space like our lounge needs to be done carefully. They weigh 16kg each once the legs are attached, something to be mindful of if you are installing them yourself.

Unlike most conventional loudspeakers, the gold-plated binding post are on the bottom surface of the enclosure, with a channel in the base through which the speaker cable passes before turning upwards to the sockets. Make sure to connect your chosen loudspeaker cable before fitting the base that accepts the legs. I fitted it first then discovered that the Audioquest Robin Hood cable that I had been using couldn’t be used because the DBS block near the end wouldn’t fit through afterwards. 

That terminal placement is just one way in which the Cue-100 breaks away from conventional loudspeaker design. The speaker cabinet is triangular in section, the front baffle plays host to an Air Motion Transformer tweeter, with a Kapton foil and two neodymium magnets. Below that is a Purifi woofer with an aluminium cone, 4-layer copper clad aluminium voice coil on a fibre-glass former and die-cast vented basket. The cone itself has Purifi Neutral Sound Geometry, which is carefully arranged around the cone. Everything within this complex drive unit has been designed to deliver absolutely minimal distortion. On each of the other faces of the cabinet sits a passive radiating woofer, again designed and built by Purifi, using much the same technology as the main unit.

Lyngdorf Cue-100 loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

The overall height of the Cue-100 with its legs attached is just under 1.2m (nearly 4 feet) which makes it taller than most standmount loudspeakers and quite a few floor standers too. Make no mistake, this is a large loudspeaker, which would look very elegant in a minimalist Scandi style room but rather dominated our modest British lounge. Mrs K was slightly taken aback on her first encounter with the large tripods facing her as she took her usual seat next to mine, making reference to similarly configured machines depicted in HG Well’s The War Of The Worlds. Without getting too far ahead in this narrative, suffice it to say that after her first evening in their company she pronounced these tripods to be benign and even welcome visitors!

Once installed I made sure that each loudspeaker was the same distance from the wall with a modest amount of toe-in towards my listening chair. At this point I would usually have started to play music but as very strongly suggested by Lyngdorf I had one final task to perform, and that was to run the Roomperfect set-up software that is built into my TDAI-3400 amplifier.

I know that room correction software can be a bone of some contention in the wonderful wonky world of audio. Let’s put that to one side for the purposes of this discussion but not before I tell you that when the TDAI-3400 is in use in my system I always run Roomperfect when I install the amplifier or when I change loudspeakers. It’s a purely digital amplifier with Roomperfect built in so why not use it? If your exposure to room correction is with Dirac or one of the other flavours available I can assure you that running Roomperfect is comparatively straightforward. Using the cable and microphone supplied with the TDAI-3400, a reading is taken with the microphone placed at the primary listening position and then at user-selected random positions in the room. Each new microphone position is subjected to a carefully curated series of sounds. After five or six iterations of this the software on my iPad pronounced that Roomperfect had gained 97% knowledge of my room, which is about as high as it ever gets.

The whole process took about 20 minutes. Once the settings have been saved, the listener has three choices available: ‘Focus’ concentrates the sound on that first measured position, ‘Global’ opens up the corrected sound to the whole room or ‘Bypass’ can be selected, which takes Roomperfect out of the loop entirely. I tend to use ‘Global’ for most of my listening because there are often other people in the room and because I slightly prefer it in most cases even when listening alone.

Lyngdorf Cue-100 loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

The sources used with the Cue-100s were an Auralic Mini streamer, which has benefited from quite severe tweaking with Network Acoustics ENO ethernet filtering and a power supply from the same stable. Connection to the TDAI-3400 was with a Tellurium Q coaxial cable. TV sound was fed in by optical cable. The Yamaha CD-S3000 player was connected with Tellurium Q XLR cables into the upgraded analogue input board in the amplifier and my Linn Sondek LP12, with the exceptional Vertere Dark Sabre moving magnet cartridge fitted in the Ittok arm was connected to the very competent moving magnet phone stage built into the amplifier.

Listening to Cue-100

As I would with any factory-new loudspeaker, I gave the Cue-100s a couple of days playing music streamed from Qobuz before any serious listening was done, the volume was set to -25 on the TDAI-3400, which is loud enough to give the drivers some exercise without causing ornaments to rattle.

When I returned the playlist had got onto my Rolling Stones track selections, and the epic You Can’t Always Get What you want from Let It Bleed was just starting. I sat in my chair and was completely spellbound. The seven minutes and 30seconds of the track came and went as if in the blinking of an eye. The final section, with the London Bach Choir at full throttle had goosebumps rising on my forearms. I was there, at the recording session. The Wellsian tripods had completely disappeared and the soundstage was wider than the room. It felt cinematic. And I promise you, nothing more stimulating than caffeine was in my system at the time. I stopped playback at that point, took a deep breath and composed myself. I then used the iPad to navigate through Qobuz to some of my all time favourite tracks to see if the same experience could be repeated. It most certainly could. Pink Floyd’s One Of These Days was delivered with every ounce of menace intended by its creators, and then came Echoes, which on vinyl takes up the second side of Meddle. This was nearly 24 minutes of musical magnificence, with volume advanced still higher.

Lyngdorf Cue-100 loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

That evening we watched television. We spent a delightful evening in the company the Cold Case Unit in BBC’s early 2000s series Waking The Dead on iPlayer – we have been binge-watching the whole series. Dialogue was crystal clear and minute details on the soundtrack were not only audible but presented with great precision in relation to where they occurred on the screen.

From that first evening I felt that I had already heard enough from the Cue-100s to bring forward my critical listening, so on the next day I gathered a stack of vinyl albums that I was anxious to hear through this system, armed myself with a mug of coffee and got the first disc onto the LP12’s platter. Having so enjoyed the Pink Floyd tracks on the previous day, I thought I would bring out my original 1973 pressing of Dark Side Of The Moon. I have all sorts of copies of this landmark recording, but I am not sure any of them outperforms this one. Why would you play analogue stuff through a digital amplifier? Fair question, and I can only tell you that it just works.

The MM phono stage in the 3400 is very well implemented, and through the Cue-100s the sound was absolutely compelling. The stylus was clicking in the run out groove of side one for what felt like minutes, although probably was less than a minute, before I walked across to turn over and go through that wonderful song sequence that starts with Money and ends, as side one had started, with heartbeats. As I came out of my reverie I realised that my coffee was now barely lukewarm. That happened a lot when I was listening to the Cue100s – when I sit down and listen to them the soundscape becomes my world.

Lyngdorf Cue-100 loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

I have played jazz, rock, blues, electronica, opera, choral and classical music through them and the net result has always been the same – a full immersion listening experience. The bass goes deep, 35Hz seems a conservative measurement, and the Air Motion Transformer tweeter gives the higher frequencies a rare degree of airiness. Playing any of my Shpongle albums on vinyl, Raja Ram’s flute has an almost ethereal other-worldliness to it, yet when playing a dub version of Dark Side the bass has terrific heft without ever losing its musicality.

For the sake of completeness I did fit the petrol blue cloth covers onto the enclosures. They are made by the Danish fabric specialist Gabriel and are available in six colour ways. I kept them on for one afternoon’s listening but, Philistine that I am, I actually preferred seeing the drive units on the undressed Cue-100s, so if I ordered a pair I would not opt for the accessory box. You might well prefer the opposite – they certainly had little effect on the amazing performance of the bare enclosures.

My last agenda item for this test was to run the Cue-100s with the Roomperfect switched off. I am pleased to report that even in that mode, while the sound seemed slightly flatter, it was still highly listenable and enjoyable. From this I might extrapolate that they will work well driven by a non-Lyngdorf amplifier, but I suspect the majority of buyers will be existing Lyngdorf users or will add a Lyngdorf amplifier to their shopping list.

Lyngdorf Cue-100 loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Final thoughts

By now you will have gleaned that the Cue-100s have made a deep and positive impression upon me. The conjuring trick of making these large and imposing devices seem to disappear is really quite astonishing, and the music that remains is vivid, lifelike and quite addictive. As rule, I always try to review audio components on their own merits, and quite often I do not go out of my way to discover the retail cost, but I was sufficiently curious about the Cue-100s to do that research. I compared a couple of UK dealer websites, both of which priced the Cue-100s singly, which I cannot recall seeing for loudspeakers before this. And the price in the UK is £9,499 for a single Cue-100, or £18,998 for a pair. In my world that represents a very significant investment indeed – in fact these are the second most expensive components to have graced our room in all the years that I have been reviewing, and yes that was also a pair of loudspeakers.

At this price point the potential buyer will have the choice of some other very serious contenders. However, if you have heard them, particularly with the TDAI-3400, and the design aesthetic appeals to you, and if you have the budget, you will be hard pressed to find another pair of loudspeakers that are so effortlessly engaging, so musically communicative yet so stealthy as to disappear when the music starts. I shall be very sorry to see them go.

Specifications:

Type: 2-way passive radiator loaded loudspeaker
Crossover frequency: 2.3kHz
Drive units:
Bass: 2x 180mm passive radiator with aluminium cones
Mid/bass: 180mm aluminium cone
Tweeter: planar Air Motion Transformer
Nominal frequency response:  35Hz – 22kHz (-3dB)
Nominal impedance: 4 Ohms
Connectors: single-wire binding posts
Sensitivity: 83dB @ 2.83v/1m
Dimensions HxWxD: 1196 x 597 x 520mm inc. stand
Weight: 13.2kg/16.2kg inc stand
Finishes: white/oak base, black/oak base, white/white base, black/black base, stand legs in oak, optional fabric covers
Warranty: 2 years

Price when tested:
All black or all white inc. stand £18,998 per pair
Black/oak base or white/oak base inc. stand £19,998 per pair
Manufacturer Details:
Type:

standmount loudspeakers

Author:

Chris Kelly

Distributor Details:
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