Within seconds of hearing Sir Paul McCartney singing "Blackbird" on the Ubiq Audio Model One, I knew it wasn't just another high-end speaker. Voices had a lot more body and sounded so much more like real live human voices. Instruments were also close to life-size, the Model Ones do scale like no other comparably sized and priced speaker. The Model One had my attention from the get-go -- it's that special.
Acoustic instruments' tonality was spot-on, bass ran deep, and the treble was clear, but never overemphasized. There's a sweetness to the Model Ones' sound that never failed to pull me in, with every music genre. Bass was downright muscular, you feel it as much as hear it!
The Model Ones can play stupid loud without straining, so I found myself playing music louder than I normally would, just for the thrill of it all. When I played Charles Wuorinen's "Percussion Symphony," which I saw in concert 10 years ago, at realistically loud volume the Model Ones really hit their stride. The all-percussion orchestra's chimes, marimbas, xylophone, cymbals, gongs, bells, glockenspiels, wood blocks, tambourine and lots and lots of drums were all given their full due. The sound was astonishing, simply and utterly astonishing.
So rock music, which never comes close to the dynamic range of this well-recorded percussion piece, would never threaten the Model One's composure. I'm stressing the Model One's freewheeling visceral capabilities because I have so rarely encountered speakers of the Model One's size and price ($16,000; £9,990 per pair) that can deliver this kind of power and glory.
I went to Rhapsody Music & Cinema in New York City to listen to the Ubiq Audio Model One. It's a three-way design with a 12-inch (304mm) woofer, 8-inch (203mm) midrange driver, and a 1.5-inch (38mm) horn tweeter. Impedance is rated at 6 ohms. The big, handsomely constructed speaker's curve-sided cabinet stands 46 inches tall (1,180mm) and weighs 92.5 pounds (46kg). The Model One is available in white, black or walnut finishes. The speaker is engineered and hand-crafted in Slovenia.
The Model One is a real party animal. Play it as loud as you want, but it also sounded great turned down to hushed, late-night listening levels. Acoustic music sounded natural, so I definitely wouldn't rule it out for classical or jazz, but the Model One isn't as clear or transparent as Wilson Audio's Sabrina ($15,900 £15,000/pair) or Bowers & Wilkins' 803 D3 ($17,000, £12,500/pair) speakers. Those two also outrun the Model One's stereo imaging precision and bass definition.
No speaker I've heard, and I've heard a great many of the world's best speakers, get everything right, but the Model One's strengths of dynamic power, natural midrange and ability to play loud without distress are unmatched for the price. A smaller Ubiq tower, the Model One Mini, will be released soon, but the price has not yet been set.