The Grande Utopia Project

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  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    I saw 3 pairs sell in Europe in the last ten to fifteen years, one I bought from Poland (and I have to correct myself, it was in 2019), the other two sold in Germany in 2020. The example photo you posted above of the black pair with dark woofers is one of the German ones, the other pair was wooden, same reseller, I think CJM Audio. Parallel sale, both went within a month, the wooden more expensive.

  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    Btw, 3-4k USD in parts is not too bad! Not too bad at all.
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,475
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    Ha! Trying to fit them all in and the labor involved is. That's the kicker. Then there is the know how and tooling.

    I am appreciating the latest conversation(s) on this thread. Does anyone know how many GU's were ever sold worldwide over the years?

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 28,164
    edited January 7
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    For sure, I'm well into the 200 plus hours mark in labor and still plenty to do.

    I doubt focal would ever release those numbers but I can't imagine it's many.

    I know with the exchange rate they were more expensive than Wilson audio in the states which really hurt sales here.

    The competition from Wilson was the x1 or x2 at the time.
    Post edited by VR3 on
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 28,164
    edited January 7
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    Correction, the grand slam was the Wilson competition and the x1 came out in 2000.

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    The Wilson used a modified focal tc120 ferrite magnet tweeter and a focal 10 and 15 v series woofers. I forget the mids they used but it wasn't focal.

    The vx series has a similar motor but different cone to the w

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    The Wilson tweeter
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    The grande used a slightly modified version of the audiom tlr. Focal model tgu

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    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
    edited January 7
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    In the one Stereophile issue where the Grande Utopia was reviewed, they had the chance to directly compare it to the then main Wilson competitor Grand Slamm in the same studio on the same equipment. They spent some time carrying the amplifiers and all in between rooms and plugging one system and then the next and them the first again. It was this review that finally sent me on my way to make the purchase .)

    I'll take photos and post today. I am sure you have that Stereophile Trey but others might not.
  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    Stereophile review. Is it readable?

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  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
    edited January 7
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    The brochure:

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    Post edited by Machalik on
  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    I see nothing is legible in the brochure, do let me know if I should zip the images and post a ZIP archive or a PDF;;; maybe I'll make a PDF.
  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    The certificate says there were 300 pairs made of the GU Mk I.

    My pair's SN is 44 and 45.

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  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
    edited January 7
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    I really do have dark drivers. When I inspect them from up close, I can see the salt and pepper-like structure of the W cone, but it's much darker than on your pair. Even in the brochure, they seem to be lighter gray. Maybe one of the former owners had them in a brightly sunlit room? The color is consistent across both speakers, both bass and midbass. Funnily enough, the midrangres are lighter gray. And, finally, when I put light on them, e.g. from a LED spotlight, all drivers take on a yellow tinge, but that may be the iPhone's TrueTone LED color.

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  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 28,164
    edited January 7
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    Stereophile review is excellent, they really liked the first series but not so much the second generation.

    Man that brochure is amazing! If there was a way to have it professionally scanned and sent over I would gladly pay! The one with the enclosure cut aways and component pics, very cool!

    300 pairs! That's more then I thought but also not a lot compared to many mass produced speakers. I wonder if Mr Donard assembled them all.
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • Toolfan66
    Toolfan66 Posts: 16,981
    edited January 7
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    What is going on here? Are these just covers that came with them to protect them when not in use?

    I love following this build Trey, again, super cool as always..

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  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    I'll deliver you the brochure in high quality for sure. I have a scanner but only up to the Letter format while the booklet is larger, maybe twice as. I'll start with an iPhone 13 Mini camera and, if not enough for reprint, I'll have it scanned. We'll need to send via e-mail as PolkAudio compresses attached imagery heavily. I'll make sure to deliver to the rest of the folks here, too. I'll wait for a sunny day so that minimum post-processing is required.
  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
    edited January 7
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    That said, I'd like to thank you all for the warm welcome! I've been a member of various local high end forums but this is my first international. I only found this thread by chance yesterday as I was looking for some info on the Mk I version: suddenly it poped up pn Google. Started in 2021 and, voila, still current! Hope you don't mind me for having hijacked the thread like this, I'll shut up soon and wait for the next phase of your mods. Which are excellently done, by the way! Super clean, meticulous care. The custom handles, black lacquered, as if they belonged there. I'd love to see how you pried away the back plate, if you have more images. Not that I am inclined to do that .)

    Let me know if I can stay here and talk aside of the mod project, occasionally digressing, or you want me to start a new thread. I think this is the one and only GU thread in the world .) And certainly the only with them opened up and being tuned. Awesome.
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 28,164
    edited January 7
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    Yes all the grande utopia chatter is welcome! Feel free to find other owners and bring them here!

    High quality scans would be great and I could have them printed and bound here! Thank you!

    Thank you Larry, those are decorative wood covers when not in use, I don't have them but I most likely will build a set in the future! They look awesome when the covers are on, like a sculpture of sorts
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    They look like some sort of Japanese evil robots, or like totems, with the covers on. I think Focal calls them transport covers.
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,475
    edited January 7
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    Machalik wrote: »
    I see nothing is legible in the brochure <snip>

    FWIW, if you are on a computer and not a phone, click onto the image and open in another tab. Then zoom in. Everything is perfectly legible.

    Tom

    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    Oh great! I'll try that tomorrow, enjoying my last computer-free day today (end of vacation).
    Jiri
  • Gardenstater
    Gardenstater Posts: 4,214
    edited January 7
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    Apparently according to their whitepaper the Focal midrange and woofers have been developed to utilize Faraday Rings within the magnet structure, even though they don't mention it at all in that sales brochure.
    George / NJ

    Polk 7B main speakers, std. mods+ (1979, orig owner)
    Martin Logan Dynamo sub w/6ft 14awg Power Cord
    Onkyo A-8017 integrated
    Logitech Squeezebox Touch Streamer w/EDO applet
    iFi nano iDSD DAC
    iPurifier3
    iDefender w/ iPower PS
    Custom Steve Wilson 1m UPOCC Interconnect
    iFi Mercury 0.5m OFHC continuous cast copper USB cable
    Custom Ribbon Speaker Cables, 5ft long, 4N Copper, 14awg, ultra low inductance
    Custom Vibration Isolation Speaker Stands and Sub Platform
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 28,164
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    Where did you locate the white paper?
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • Gardenstater
    Gardenstater Posts: 4,214
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    George / NJ

    Polk 7B main speakers, std. mods+ (1979, orig owner)
    Martin Logan Dynamo sub w/6ft 14awg Power Cord
    Onkyo A-8017 integrated
    Logitech Squeezebox Touch Streamer w/EDO applet
    iFi nano iDSD DAC
    iPurifier3
    iDefender w/ iPower PS
    Custom Steve Wilson 1m UPOCC Interconnect
    iFi Mercury 0.5m OFHC continuous cast copper USB cable
    Custom Ribbon Speaker Cables, 5ft long, 4N Copper, 14awg, ultra low inductance
    Custom Vibration Isolation Speaker Stands and Sub Platform
  • xschop
    xschop Posts: 4,759
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    Is that similar to a "focus" ring?
    Don't take experimental gene therapies from known eugenicists.
  • Gardenstater
    Gardenstater Posts: 4,214
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    xschop wrote: »
    Is that similar to a "focus" ring?

    Seems like different manufacturers use different terminologies for the same thing, doesn't it? I think that was PSB Synchrony's term for it.
    George / NJ

    Polk 7B main speakers, std. mods+ (1979, orig owner)
    Martin Logan Dynamo sub w/6ft 14awg Power Cord
    Onkyo A-8017 integrated
    Logitech Squeezebox Touch Streamer w/EDO applet
    iFi nano iDSD DAC
    iPurifier3
    iDefender w/ iPower PS
    Custom Steve Wilson 1m UPOCC Interconnect
    iFi Mercury 0.5m OFHC continuous cast copper USB cable
    Custom Ribbon Speaker Cables, 5ft long, 4N Copper, 14awg, ultra low inductance
    Custom Vibration Isolation Speaker Stands and Sub Platform
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 28,164
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    Sopra is a much newer newer product, the first generation utopia line didn't have the focus ring.
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • Machalik
    Machalik Posts: 22
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    Let me digress a bit, and feel free to shut me down if inappropriate.

    What brought you to the Grande U's, what preceded them on your path, if I may ask, Trey? Have you progressed your way through the line, as I know now you also have the Mini and the Mezzo, or have you owned whatever else and the GU just happens to be your last speaker, and is it gonna be your final, or are you still tempted? They are so rare one is not inclined to part with them, as one might be with some of the lesser speakers, and they are so expensive that one hardly finds the cash (and space) to spew it out for another comparable box, such as the Grand Slamm or Sentinel or something. They pretty much plant themselves upon you, is my experience. Are there still speakers you dream of owning, or listening to? Where have you been and where would you still like to go, if circumstances favoured it? I've always been interested in stories.

    Cheers,
    Jiri
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 28,164
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    I've had... a lot of speakers!

    I have always had an interest in Wilson, focal and avalon acoustics. Back when I first entered the hobby those were the brands that were really pushing envelopes in the higher end space. Avalon had the sentinel.

    I actually planned to stop at the mezzo but when the grandes popped up on the east coast at an obtainable price point... It was hard to say no.

    I really enjoy the original utopia line sound signature, it is the opposite of the sound most higher fi is doing now. The grandes have a great blend of detail and musicality. Most newer brands are so dry and detailed they don't even sound like music but the original utopia line doesn't have this issue at all.

    I don't ever want to say ever... But I do plan to keep the grandes as long as it makes sense for me. They are large speakers and once you experience the capabilities of a speaker like this it is hard to go back.

    I sold everything back in 2012 or so, I had a very nice Tyler acoustics setup which sounded pretty incredible.

    I started to get back into it in 2015 with the mezzo and have not looked back.

    I have had other speakers in here the past ten years... Wilson... Canton, etc, several others... The utopias are going no where that's for sure!
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • Gardenstater
    Gardenstater Posts: 4,214
    edited January 7
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    VR3 wrote: »
    Sopra is a much newer newer product, the first generation utopia line didn't have the focus ring.

    We can open yours up and bring them up to date 🤣
    George / NJ

    Polk 7B main speakers, std. mods+ (1979, orig owner)
    Martin Logan Dynamo sub w/6ft 14awg Power Cord
    Onkyo A-8017 integrated
    Logitech Squeezebox Touch Streamer w/EDO applet
    iFi nano iDSD DAC
    iPurifier3
    iDefender w/ iPower PS
    Custom Steve Wilson 1m UPOCC Interconnect
    iFi Mercury 0.5m OFHC continuous cast copper USB cable
    Custom Ribbon Speaker Cables, 5ft long, 4N Copper, 14awg, ultra low inductance
    Custom Vibration Isolation Speaker Stands and Sub Platform
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 28,164
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    And then they might sound like the sopra..... 😢
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.