Company: Aliante srl
Address: Aliante/Acoustical, Revello (CN)
Tel. & fax.: ++39 0175-759529
Reporter: Lucio Cadeddu
My voyage starts here, under the shadow of the almighty Mole Antonelliana in Turin, the monument which is considered as THE symbol of the city, now used as a center for various cultural activities (exhibitions, art galleries etc.).
The Mole Antonelliana, originally designed by A. Antonelli back in 1862, was initially intended as a Neoclassic Israelian temple. Nowadays it seems it will quickly become the center for the National Cinema Museum. I've been able to take a picture of just a small portion of the monumental tower. I'm not a great photographer...but the Mole is enormous!!! Certainly one of the must-see things when in Turin, please take note.
My "link" with Turin dates back to the early '90s, since when I was a PhD student I've lived in Turin for a couple of years.
So, during the last years, for one reason or another (work or fun), I've been in Turin both as a researcher (for workshops, seminars, scientific collaborations etc.) and as a tourist. So I couldn't miss one of these occasions to pay a visit to the Aliante plants, located in Revello (CN), not far from the city.
You may have already read a previous factory tour about Aliante speakers...yes, it was a couple of years ago, when I was invited to visit the Centro Stile Pininfarina in Turin. Of course you already know some of the best Aliante speakers have been designed - cabinet and looks only - by the Pininfarina maestros, the same guys who design Ferrari's and other lovely gorgeous Italian cars. Needless to say I luuuuv Pininfarina stuff soooo deeply, and it is not a coincidence my car has a Pinifarina badge in the middle of the red dashboard (more on this...soon!!!) :-P
Enough about cars, let's talk about speakers :-)
If you love Ferrari's you can't help BUT fall in love with the Ferrari Red lacquered Aliante Pininfarina which is nothing else than a Aliante One Zeta with a sexier finish (for a cool picture, please refer to the already mentioned Pininfarina reportage).
I was very curious to discover, learn and see what was hiding behind the design of a good sounding speaker so when Eng. Giuseppe Prato invited me to "tour" the Aliante plants I couldn't resist. Few hours later we were heading West to reach Revello (CN) and, finally, the Aliante plants.
Revello is a lovely small village, plenty of historical things to see, beautiful scenarios and clean fresh air. I can't imagine a better place where to design and build loudspeakers. Only when you're surrounded by Beauty and Art you can produce beautiful things.
The tour has been instructive and amusing at the same time. Given the fact that too many loudspeaker Manufacturers just make and sell few speakers per year, mostly when they have enough orders, it is pretty reassuring to see how much stuff Aliante makes and has in stock.
Inside the 1,100 sqm (that's 12,200 sq. ft) of the Aliante plants, some of the best Italian loudspeakers come to new life, are designed, assembled, finished, tested, checked and packed. Not just 10 speakers per year...but tons (literally!) of them!
Not only, you can be sure that every product of the Aliante catalogue really EXISTS and is currently made in quantity. Not the same can be said for other Manufacturers who CLAIM to have a complete line of...phantom products. Products that live just inside the designer's head and on catalogues and brochures...not in real life!
What's wrong with this? Simply put, you buy a product that can cease to exist from one day to another, leaving you with a useless, impossible to sell and/or service/repair HiFi component.
Lifetime warranty? Are you kidding or what? Once the Company evaporates, your warranty is definitely and sadly VOID.
How many HiFi Companies have you seen "evaporating" during the last, say, 10 years? Too many, is the answer. And together with the Company it is the value of the money you have spent on their gear to evaporate. Not convinced? Try to sell - second-hand - a product of a recently closed Company...you'll be surprised by the results.
So let me say I prefer solid and REAL Companies, especially when buying HiFi, considering how weird - to say the least - this micro-market is.
Here you can see some Aliante Moda (don't miss the listening test here on TNT-Audio) waiting for the final tests and packing.
As you can see, they all have the electric blue finish, so I guess this is one of the preferred ones, though I still prefer natural wood for speakers. And it seems the majority of the Aliante Linea speakers buyers think the same, since almost any Linea I've come across during my visit had this wonderful natural cherry wood finish (see picture).
The Linea is the first floorstanding loudspeaker from Aliante, designed by G. Prato, after the famous Acoustical RS 4 of the mid '80s, a model which was available for the Italian market only.
You may know that Aliante still makes a line of more affordable speakers, called Acoustical, just for the Italian market. They are meant for the budget-conscious audiophile, have a more common and less sophisticated natural wood finish and, let me add, it's a pity these bargains are not available abroad.
One of the secrets of the good sound of the Aliante speakers is certainly the crossover network, well-thought, designed and carefully assembled using nothing else than the best components available in the market (and some are even custom-built...).
As a proof of this extreme care for details you may note that only CAT 5 cables have been used for the internal wiring of this crossover, instead of the ubiquitous "figure 8" multistranded cables. CAT 5 cables, normally used in data networks, have proven to be an excellent choice to build speaker cables, as in our well-known DIY project TNT FFRC and in our newly developed TNT Triple T reference speaker cable.
Internal wiring is very important indeed, since it can be quite long, making your efforts to use esoteric speaker cables almost useless...you can easily have more than 50 cm of "el cheapo" cables inside your hi-zoot super-duper hi-end speakers. For a more detailed report on "internal rewiring" please refer to a recent TNT-Audio article about the "update" of a good old speaker as the Acoustic Research 94.
Besides HiFi, Aliante makes Home Theater products such as the Voce center channel speaker and several HT-Ready (that is, shielded) bookshelf speakers, under the brand name Acoustical. And if this isn't enough, you may want to know that Aliante makes loudspeakers for third parties, for example the line of Suprem speakers - available in Italy only - and sold by a famous HiFi store in Rome, Audiotech by Lyric.
Not enough? Well, what about a complete line of professional speakers, labelled Royal Device? There's no doubt the Aliante staff does have the kind of know-how other Companies can only dream of and for sure their experience in so many different fields of sound reproduction has to be considered an "added value" to their products.
Designing loudspeakers for the Pro market isn't all that easy and I'm pretty sure the experience in this field does - positively - affect the design of any audiophile product.
Now, while all of the above wasn't too surprising, considering Aliante isn't exactly a small Company, one thing caught my attention while strolling the factory plants:
a dedicated room for assembling fiber optic cables!!! Yes, as you can see in the picture, reels of pure fibers arrive at the Aliante plants where - after hi-precision assembly procedures - they become fiber optic cables ready for industrial applications.
Impressive, isn't it?
Now let's talk about audiophile products again. Could I miss the possibility to ask Mr. Prato about new designs and projects on his desk?
Sssshhhh, expect something BIGGER than the top of the line One Zeta sooner or later....
Though I've enjoyed this speaker so much, it was clear the bass range wasn't at the same extremely high standards of the mid-high range. Even the review appeared on Ultimate Audio referred to this fact. In order to become a reference full-range speaker the One Zeta needs some extra bass kick. Though I don't like subwoofers (for HiFi) I understand many customers would love this solution.
I still prefer full-range floorstanders, and this for many reasons. First of all, a bookshelf (stand-mounting) speaker has to face a SERIOUS problem: the mechanical interface with its stand.
Though it is clear different stands sound differently and finding the right one could be a real nightmare, sometimes good stands cost an arm and a leg, hence raising the cost of the whole set (speakers + stands) to a price target where one could easily find better floorstanders.
Not to mention the obvious fact that floorstanders, given the same quality for the drivers, do reproduce better and lower bass notes, are less prone to vibrate while playing (bookshelf speakers normally "rock'n'roll" together with their stands!!!) and hence can create a stabler and better focused soundstage.
So, while the One Zeta is an excellent standmount speaker, it could easily become better if one could only avoid the "trembling" stand problem :-)
Mr. Prato, in the meanwhile, has already designed some new speakers aimed to the Home Theater crowd so that lovers of the Aliante sound can still enjoy it while watching their preferred DVDs.
Not only, thanks to the Pininfarina design and touch of class, these speakers could easily reach a broader market, different from the one of die-hard audiophiles and this fact is certainly positive, considering our small World of hi-quality sound lovers is becoming smaller and smaller thanks to MP3, PC speakers and "el cheapo" HT systems. NO pictures of these new speakers were available at this time.
So, while I wait for a floorstanding One Zeta :-) or even for a completely new full-range model, low frequencies nuts can now enjoy earthquakes at home with the brand new active 10" (25 cm) Aliante subwoofer!
PF 1000 being its name, this new subwoofer comes with a hefty 10" (25 cm) bass-reflex loaded driver, powered by a 100 watts internal amplifier. The whole package isn't exactly small, at 44 cm (W) x 38 cm (H) x 44 cm (D), nor particularly light, at 60+ lbs (that's 30 kgs!)
Subwoofers and Home Theater stuff aside, one thing is for sure: at Aliante there's just one goal, the quest for the ultimate sound reproduction at home, by means of clever and well-thought products, designed by someone who, first of all, loves Music and his work.
Indeed, my visit to the personal Mr. Prato's Sancta sanctorum (his listening room) confirmed this, and I've had the possibility to appreciate his deep love for Music and its faithful reproduction at home. His reference system is one of those "must-hear" set-ups: a large room with an extensive acoustic treatment by means of various tube traps, carpets etc, a pair of Aliante One Zeta (what else? :-)) powered by custom-made electronics (preamp, power amp and D/A converter) and cables. We have spent a whole afternoon talking about HiFi and, mainly, listening to some fine good Music.
When behind an audiophile product there's an audiophile designer, we can be sure our money is well spent. At Aliante, besides an impressive and rare hi-tech know-how, everything is designed having Music in mind, as the ultimate goal.
Finally, let me thank Mr. Giuseppe Prato for having spent so much time with me and my questions, for the wonderful typical Italian lunch we have had, and for all the time he has dedicated to our common Passions: Music & HiFi.
If you want to know more about Mr. Prato ideas about HiFi and loudspeakers design, please don't miss the Interview published a couple of years ago here on TNT-Audio.
For any other info on Aliante products let me suggest you to visit the nice and complete Aliante official site, a site designed and built several years ago when the Internet, in Italy, was mostly unknown (TNT-Audio aside :-)). Another clear sign of extreme care to technology and science. Kudos!
© Copyright 2000 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com