One-Step High Fidelity

The Cabasse The Pearl Pelegrina contains multitudes


Eight mono amps totaling 7,400 watts, two four-way speakers with 12" woofers, active crossovers, and a streaming DAC. Imagine the mess that might have been.

All of this equipment is what you get with Cabasse's The Pearl Pelegrina, but in the neatest package you can imagine. And guess what, it's as airy and detailed as you'd expect all of those separate components to sound, even though they're not spread across racks with cables everywhere. Instead, you just have two spheres atop those elegant Lissajous curves, with all of the electronics and most of the cabling hidden away in the structure.

Skeptical? You're Not Alone!

Many of us at the store are "traditional" audiophiles and need a little convincing about certain kinds of products. Any expensive "all-in-one" gets treated with suspicion.

However, last Tuesday, one of the members of the sales team had scheduled a Pelegrina customer demonstration in our main room, so our floor pair was set up and playing. (We always start playing music hours or even a day early for demos so the systems are completely warmed up.)

That was also the day we had a few of our remote employees in the store, and they got to hear these top-end active speakers for the first time. The reactions were overwhelmingly positive, and yes, mixed with some surprise.

One of us, a solid-state fan with a love of fast, dynamic sound, was immediately struck by the headroom of the Pelegrinas. Even at low volumes, the sound was dynamic with good separation, and there was simply no sign of struggle even as the dB's pushed firmly into the three-digit realm.

What's 'Headroom', Precious, and What Does It Sound Like?

If you've ever enjoyed cruising at 40 mph in a car or on a motorbike with a massive engine that's capable of 200 mph, you understand headroom.

That sense of barely contained brutality just waiting to be unleashed is exactly what very big amps and fully active systems sound like. When they play, the walls, floors, and ceiling—especially the ceiling—seem to vanish. Words such as "ease", "openness", "authority", and "grip" will come to mind, but not for long, as you'll soon find yourself forgetting all that and just enjoying the music.

Cabasse's The Pearl Pelegrina achieves this headroom by employing a separate amp for every driver. That means, with two four-way speakers, there are a total of eight mono amplifiers. The tweeters and mids are driven by 300 W amps, the low-mid by a 1,250 W amp, and the bass by a 1,850 W amp, giving an amazing 3,700 W per channel. Because they control just one driver each, these amps are just cruising along for sane (and even insane) listening levels, with a huge amount of bandwidth open and available for those sudden changes of loudness or loud musical transients. The result is a very open sound that quickly becomes addictive.

black Pelegrina speaker

One Axis, One Great Sound

Another reason Pelegrina presents such a compelling package is the driver configuration. Imagine how tall a four-way speaker with a 12" woofer and 8" mid would have to be. Instead, Cabasse mounts the drivers on a single, common axis, and is able to contain the entire speaker complement in an 18" diameter sphere.

It's not just for space-saving though. Coaxial drivers launch their waves at the same time with little interference, so don't need complex timing corrections in the crossover. The result is extremely stable imaging with no phase distortion. Simply put, it sounds real enough make you feel you could reach out and touch the singers or instruments.

Fully Connected

In addition, the Pearl Pelegrina offers room correction (the microphone is built-in), allowing you to balance out all the issues in your room and deliver linear, riveting sound. And what about actually playing music? Pelegrina is controlled using the excellent Cabasse app and will find music stored on your NAS drives, plus it offers integration with Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify and more. AirPlay is also available.

If you've heard truly high-end sound at a friend's house or an audio show, and dream of it, but can't bear dealing with racks, boxes, cables, equipment matching, room treatments, and more, the Cabasse The Pearl Pelegrina is your one-buy high-fidelity system. It's not a compromise. You just have to decide whether Cabasse's signature lively and engaging presentation is to your taste.

Premium Headphones from Europe: Upscale Welcomes Meze Audio

Meze Headphones at Upscale Audio

The Meze Audio Empyrean open-backs are crafted from leather, carbon fiber, and CNC'd aluminum, and like all Mezes, use custom drivers from Rinaro Isodynamics

We are happy to welcome Meze Audio into the family. If you aren’t familiar with the products from this small Romanian company, you’re missing out. For several years now they have been a leading name in high-end planar magnetic headphones, with models such as the Empyrean and flagship Elite. Both of these headphones are phenomenally comfortable and have a warm and dynamic presentation that has won them many fans, especially amongst those who also enjoy two-channel audio.

Flagship Closed-Backs

Meze has also recently released the Liric, their first closed-back effort, which continues Meze’s tradition of crafting superb, linear, but listenable headphones. Again, their famous comfort is not to be understated—these headphones offer some of the most sumptuous, plush earpads and headbands on the market.

"There have historically been few great choices for closed-back headphones, but the Meze Liric is part of a new generation of flagship closed-backs with which I would be more than happy to live," said our personal audio manager, Grover Neville.

While Meze’s planar magnetic flagships are the obvious stars of the show here, Meze has several other fantastic products, (which we haven't brought in yet, so definitely let us know if you're interested.) These include the much more affordably priced 99 Classics and 99 Neo, as well as a line of universal-fit in-ear monitors. The Rai Penta and new Advar IEMs share the house sound of the full-sized Meze headphones, and have a warm and inviting signature that doesn’t sacrifice detail. They are also curved and sculpted in the shape of an ear canal, and are some of the most comfortable IEMs we’ve tried.

If you’re curious to know more about Meze, get in touch with us, and stay tuned for information on CanJam SoCal 2022 which is coming up September 17-18. We look forward to seeing many of you in person there.

 Meze Audio Empyrean Headphones Meze Audio Elite Headphones Meze Audio Liric Headphones
Meze Audio Empyrean Meze Audio Elite Meze Audio Liric

What We're Listening To

By Joel Myers, eCommerce Manager

Stay Proud of Me by NoSo

NoSo - Stay Proud of Me

This 2022 album is Abby Hwong's debut album as NoSo. NPR nerds may remember their soulful and rich vocals from the 2019 Tiny Desk Contest; this proper recording sounds amazing on my Tannoys.

As a "normal" white guy from the suburbs, the lyrics both resonate and challenge; I'll say it: suburban living is somewhat psychotic just below the surface. It's strangely comforting to hear that other people have been shaped and scarred by it, but differently.

Favorite song: 'David' offers a nice catchy pop element and all the honesty that permeates this album. In my head, albums should have a "time", and Stay Proud of Me is absolutely best listened to as evening music in the late summer/early fall, so it's perfectly in season.

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