SGR Active

exquisite, fully-active Loudspeakers from Australia
Uncompromised design, beautiful craftmanship, absolute world challangers.

SGR made their international debut at CES 2013
I am very pleased to report that SGR Audio made their international debut at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Shown for the first time were the highly anticipated MusicKube and the MT3.2 active loudspeaker system. Rounding out the system was an MSB Technology Signature DAC IV Plus with matching Signature Power Base, an SGR Audio Signature equipment rack, and top-of-the-line interconnects and power cables from van den Hul. An MSB Technology Signature Data CD IV also featured for those wanting to play their own reference optical discs while SGR Audio’s CX3B and CX4F active loudspeakers made for a very attractive passive display. Feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly positive with comments like “wow, can’t believe I have never heard of you guys before” and “the best [sound] they have heard at the show so far.

A very satisfied customer:
I was first introduced to SGR well before they become a household name. My first experience was a at an invite event at SGR headquarters. I was astounded by what these guys were producing. Speaker systems which in my opinion could easily match some of the best around the world. At the time I never thought I could ever afford such speakers. Having stayed in touch with SGR and finally having enough funds to consider these speakers, I asked for an audition, there were no hard sales, no pestering phone call, and they also knew I was auditioning other speakers at the same time. After this time, my mind was made up and I had decided to order a pair of SGRs. I have now lived with these speakers for almost 3 years. In that time, I have also purchased SGR centre speaker and subwoofers. The service as always has been outstanding, Every speaker system was delivered by SGR, setup by and tuned by them. They did not leave until I was completely satisfied. I have yet to find a speaker system to better the SGR octagons, and I dare say these will be the speakers that will remain with me for a very long time. And with the after sale service one receives from SGR, I know if I ever have any problems, they will be resolved very quickly. I can highly recommend SGR to anybody out there looking for a great speaker system. Thank you SGR for all the great service over the last 3 years. Keep up the great work
..........John A"B Bookshl

SGR Audio design and manufacture a range of high-quality audio products, but we are probably most well known for our active loudspeakers.

In addition to the products we make, we have choosen to supply a number of other brands which compliment our own high-end product range. This allows us to offer complete audio solutions, from source to speaker!

SGR Audio are a proud sponsor of the Mad About Audio and Stereo.Net forum, a forum for aussies who enjoy hi end audio.

SGR History

SGR Audio began as a Melbourne based father and son initiative to deliver world class audio excellence. Harry Ralston, the father, has been involved in the audio industry for over 40 years. Stuart Ralston grew up surrounded by audio equipment so it came as no surprise when he followed in his father's footsteps. Now Harry and Stuart are an inseparable team combining the best of both generations. Harry's strong business values and extensive industry experience proved the perfect match for the advanced electronics knowledge, the exposure to modern technologies, and the fresh insight that Stuart's youth brings.

SGR has spent the last 10 years working quietly behind the scenes with a small loyal fan base to perfect its product range. The strength of these products has recently secured SGR distributors in Brisbane, Canberra, and New Zealand. In early 2010, a state of the art R&D and manufacturing facility was set-up in Templestowe, Melbourne, and now that the bulk of the design and infrastructure work is behind them, SGR is making its public foray to showcase an impressive range of active speakers, electronics, and equipment racks. With this full featured and fleshed out product range, SGR is excited about its potential to increase the reputation of Australian HiFi locally and internationally.

Our Mission

SGR was founded on a passion for music and audio reproduction. It is our mission to uphold and share this passion in all that we do. To this end, we seek to provide:

•Value for money

•Easy decision making

•No nonsense, no tom foolery, no snake oil. Only honest sonic improvements easily verifiable by listening tests and science.

•Highly functional and easy to use components.

•Superior service.

•High levels of build and design quality.

•Increased recognition of Australian products on the international stage.

What makes SGR different?

We can objectively tell you about our technical excellence, our achievements, and our design goals or principles. However, the real test lies in the final listening tests with your music. To this end, we kindly invite you to come and audition our products and hear for yourself what makes SGR so special. With so much to gain and nothing to lose, why not come and have a listen? Even if you decide to walk away empty handed we're still happy to have had a chance to share our knowledge and passion with fellow enthusiasts. We don't just offer great service, we also offer hospitality. You are cordially invited to participate in the SGR experience.

Family Owned and Australian Made

By purchasing an SGR, you are supporting local Australian industry. SGR operate out of a high tech production facility which employs a team of highly skilled workers in addition to the large amount of work it outsources to other Australian businesses. In addition to supporting the local economy, by buying from SGR, customers get direct access to the designers of the product. All Melbourne demos are run by the designers themselves allowing customers to get direct answers to any questions they might have about the products or any other general audio topics. And for anyone interstate, they are only a phone call away! We also have our highly commited New Zealand agent who is able to demo SGR and look after your interest well.

Engineering Excellence

SGR uses the latest in materials science and technology to create products that push the boundaries of audio reproduction and are truley world class. All products are designed to last and thoroughly tested to ensure performance standards are met. We have invested heavily in CNC machinery, electronic and acoustic test equipment to make all this not only possible, but also repeatable with high precision.

Exemplary Customer Service

At SGR, we pride ourselves on the service quality delivered to all customers. We strive to go above and beyond throughout the sales lifecycle, from presales home demonstrations to full installation and optimisation all the way through to future upgrade guidance.

Active Systems

SGR specialises in active speaker systems. Active speaker systems use a separate power amplifier for each driver in a speaker. These amplifiers come after the speaker crossover so the amplifiers are connected directly to the driver, avoiding a number of issues including all the distortion mechanisms associated with passive components in a typical loudspeaker. Active systems allow the best possible control of each driver and ensure optimal amplifier and speaker matching. Our speakers sound as linear and are just as enjoyable at low volume as they are at high volume, this is only achievable by using active technology for very important technical reasons. Feel free to give the designer, Stuart, a call and ask him why active loudspeakers are such a quantum leap forward in performance...

Strong Business Ethics

At SGR we uphold a very strong code of business ethics. We will always support our customers and stand by our products. While we are extremely proud of our products, we operate a friendly no pressure sales environment. We realise that the final decision is up to you and you will purchase if and when you are ready. We take a patient stance with all customers and provide as much help as possible without rushing or pressuring the decision making process

 

All Products

Reviews

All Products

Audio Racks & Speaker Stands

SGR 01 RACK
Price on application
Style, Performance & Flexibility! - SGR modular rack designed to suit any system configuration.  The SGR Audio Signature Series Hi-Fi Rack is not only eminently flexible and effective;...
Customisable, highly damped, brushed stainless steel uprights   Available in various sizes,...
No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. Indeed. And in these times such self...
SGR 01 RACK DW3
NZ$ 10,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Style, Performance & Flexibility - SGR modular rack designed to suit any system configuration.  The SGR Audio Signature Series Hi-Fi Rack is not only eminently flexible and effective;...
Customisable, highly damped, brushed stainless steel uprights Available in various sizes, allowing...
No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. Indeed. And in these times such self...

Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

SGR 02 CX3B
Price on application
3-way Active Bookshelves - Small and elegant form factor with high WAF - 3-way design for optimal midrange performance - Completely sealed enclosure with low bass response. They say...
, DriversSGR designed and purpose built.1" soft dome tweeter, linear extension out to 20Khz without...
EXTENDED REVIEW: I’ve had my SGR CX3B’s for several months now and while I know there have been a...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
SGR 03 CX3C
Price on application
3-way Active Centre Channel No home theatre is complete without a centre channel, but unfortunately the importance of clarity in this speaker often gets overlooked. In an ideal world it would have...
Drivers Purpose designed and custom built for SGR: 1" soft dome tweeter, linear extension out to...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

Floor Standing

SGR 05 CX4F
Price on application
4-way Active Floorstanders  The natural design progression from the CX3B bookshelfs was of course a floorstander. Public request was to keep the enclosure slim without increasing the footprint...
Drivers Purpose designed and custom built. 1" soft dome tweeter, linear extension out to 20Khz...
Floor Standing
SGR 08 MT3F D10
Price on application
MT 3.2F fitted with 2x 10" bass drivers:
DriversScan Speak Revelator ring-radiator tweeter, low distortion and power compression with a...
Congratulations to Stuart Ralston of SGR Audio Pty Ltd for being awarded the winner of the...
Floor Standing
SGR 13 IL4F
Price on application
The Illuminator speaker range by SGR is built around the flagship range of drivers by high-end Danish driver manufacturer ScanSpeak. Yes, you guessed it, this driver range is called the Illuminator...
ElectronicsThe 12" LSG woofers will be connected in pairs and driven by onboard 600W SGR monoblocks...
Floor Standing

Home Theatre

SGR 11 MT3C
Price on application
3-way Active Centre Channel The MT3C consists of the same drivers as used in the MT3F's. The same floating baffle arrangement has also been adopted, but in an MTM form to maximise vertical dispersion...
Home Theatre

Reviews

the EL30s as being capable of outputting 160 watts RMS continuous into 8 ohms, 240 into 4 and 275 RMS into 2. Bandwidth is given as 3Hz to 50kHz at -3dB, gain as 28dB and input impedance as 47kohm.
Edgar Kreamer

The brave shall triumph
SGR Audio is a relatively new Australian company but ‘struth, is landing on the audio scene running. SGR’s team of father and son Harry and Stuart Ralston are grabbing the bull by the horns. They have launched an array of high-end weaponry with a product depth that’s almost unprecedented in our country. In a relatively short time the company has successfully launched three comprehensive high-end and fully realized ranges of loudspeakers - and there’s a growing stable of electronic components.

The EL30s is the middle unit of what will eventually be a three-model range (the ‘s’ stands for stereo). What we’re looking at here is a very unusual aesthetic design with high-quality componentry in and out.

Interior circuitry also benefits from quality components. For starters, the EL30s features 4-layer PCBs with ultra-thick copper traces, a large low-profile Plitron toroidal transformer, Nichicon Muse and WIMA capacitors, Vishay and Mills resistors and a whole lot more goodness expertly sprinkled and spiced throughout. Let’s just say that the EL30s, small and devoid of artificial bling as it may be, feels sturdily built and intelligently engineered.

The speaker line-up includes the anything-but-entry-level Convex Series with its curved enclosures, gorgeous gloss wood finishes and leather baffles; the mid-level MT Series featuring twin-box designs, exotic drivers and high-tech enclosure materials; and the flagship Illuminator Series at this stage made up of a multi-driver multi-enclosure monolith resembling the Rockport Arrakis or Duntech Sovereign. The two newly released amplifiers—with more to come—will soon be joined by matching preamps, active crossovers and source components. Quite the staggering catalogue for a newcomer.

What’s more, the company has recently acquired a large factory unit in Melbourne’s outer suburbs which will serve as headquarters and house administration offices, design and development spaces, demonstration rooms, manufacturing and assembly facilities and expansive warehousing. I was also privy to the expanding range of machinery that SGR is installing, such as the CNC lathe for machining cylindrical-type objects like volume knobs, speaker spikes etc.; and two CNC mills for machining heat sinks and enclosure panels. A CNC router is used for machining timber panels for speakers and subwoofers. A wave-soldering machine is used for automated soldering of through-hole PCBs. As much of the manufacturing process as possible is done in-house. The Ralstons want total control.

On a recent visit to Melbourne I was given a private tour of the still-developing facilities which I found very impressive even in a state where there was still substantial building, painting and development going on. Later at the nearby Ralston home, I was treated to a delicious banquet (the word is no exaggeration and its emphasis is appropriate) beautifully prepared by Ann Ralston who not only kills in the kitchen but plays an active and important role in the running of the company. Post feast and as an extra treat, I was led into a couple of well-appointed listening environments where I briefly tasted some of the speaker creations. The Ralston men can do some cooking of their own.

For the Elite
SGR’s philosophy mandates active speaker design and being fanatical about quality and controlling as much of the engineering as possible, this led the company to design and manufacture its own amplification. The subject of this review is the Elite Series EL30s amplifier, part of the range that will power the high-end MT and flagship Illuminator series but which are also available as stand-alone products (the Convex Series speakers have high-quality plate amps built into the rear baffle).

The EL30s is the middle unit of what will eventually be a three-model range (the ‘s’ stands for stereo). What we’re looking at here is a very unusual aesthetic design with high-quality componentry in and out. Unusual is that the main—almost cubic—chassis is flanked by massive custom heatsinks and fronted by a rather attractive synthetic granite fascia which features a chromed brand and model metal plate, a bank of LED VU meters and an on/off switch. The rear panel is where the action is however. Here we have both balanced XLR and RCA connecting options (Neutrik and WBT respectively), WBT speaker connectors and an IEC socket with AC fuse next to it. Alongside the connectors there’s a number of small toggle switches, namely VU meter on/off; ‘Stealth’ mode which kills all lights including the internal LEDs; an auto mode which allows the amp to power down automatically; a protect option; and finally a switch to toggle between XLR and RCA inputs. SGR provides a choice of rubber feet or small machined cones which come with small surface-protecting dish/puck receptacles. All switches and connectors are of very high quality.

Interior circuitry also benefits from quality components. For starters, the EL30s features 4-layer PCBs with ultra-thick copper traces, a large low-profile Plitron toroidal transformer, Nichicon Muse and WIMA capacitors, Vishay and Mills resistors and a whole lot more goodness expertly sprinkled and spiced throughout. Let’s just say that the EL30s, small and devoid of artificial bling as it may be, feels sturdily built and intelligently engineered.

SGR quotes the EL30s as being capable of outputting 160 watts RMS continuous into 8 ohms, 240 into 4 and 275 RMS into 2. Bandwidth is given as 3Hz to 50kHz at -3dB, gain as 28dB and input impedance as 47kohm. Damping factor is over 1000, albeit with no frequency specifics, THD+N is 0.001%. SGR classes the amp as an AB design with the first 5 watts in class A. Throughout its stay within our system the EL30s did not get more than very moderately warm whether at idle or during many a mayhem listening session. I asked Stuart Ralston to discuss some of the engineering ideas and decisions made in the design of these amplifiers.

EK: The EL series amplifiers are housed in very attractive and well-finished if rather small chassis. In light of the generous power rating, what design methodologies (in terms of circuit board layout etc) were applied to maintain the diminutive size?

SR: The EL series amps were actually designed from the outside in. Years ago I was in the warehouse of a local aluminium profile supplier. While there I saw, sitting at the back of a shelf, an off-cut of a particular heatsink profile that really caught my eye. It was one of those light bulb in the head moments and within a few days I had designed the concept of the EL30 chassis using 3D CAD. It wasn't long before I had purchased all the stock of that profile from the local supplier, then all the stock in Australia and then another 1.2 tons of it was bought in especially for me from overseas.

The EL series are standard equipment width (430mm) but take away half the width occupied by the heatsinks and there isn't much room left. Fitting in all the electronics including the power supply circuitry was a real challenge! Even more difficult was creating a design that could be replicated efficiently and consistently in a production environment.

First problem, the power supply. Transformers are noisy and radiate nasty electromagnetic fields which easily find their way into audio circuitry. Many manufacturers avoid this issue by either keeping the power supply in a totally separate chassis or by physically locating the power transformer as far away as possible from the sensitive amplifier circuitry. Because of the limited space in the EL chassis, I had no choice but to mount the amplifier circuitry directly on top of the transformer. I was able to do this by isolating the amp circuitry from the transformer radiation with a 4mm solid steel barrier plate. This essentially creates two sections in the chassis, basically the "clean box dirty box" technique. In addition to this steel barrier, the actual transformers used are custom designed to be very low noise and incorporate a magnetic shielding strap which dramatically reduces radiation in the first place. The transformers were also carefully designed to minimize mechanical hum and when I say minimize, I just about mean 'eliminate'. How annoying is a hifi system where transformer hum is louder than the noise floor through the speakers!

With the power supply now worked out and isolated away in its own little area, I needed to somehow get the 'power' through the steel barrier and up to the amplifier section. Now I'll be honest here, I just don't like wire looms. They're tedious to make and slow down production. They're also ugly, the connectors can be current limiting, they're a common point of degradation over time and they can be inconsistent between batches. Did I mention they're ugly? Okay, now that I have that off my chest, obviously there are no wire looms in the EL series. Instead the power rails are bought up through the steel barrier via gold plated 8mm diameter solid copper buss bars.

The rest of the design came down to the main amplifier PCB, again designed a lot from the outside in. The position of the output devices was governed by where they bolt onto the heatsinks and with the buss bar connections now set, I just had to join the dots. Much easier said than done! It's one thing to have a good amplifier design on paper (schematic), but a good PCB design is a major hurdle especially in this case without a lot of space to achieve it. With the position, orientation and proximity of each component and PCB track being extremely critical, the pursuit for ultimate performance required a multi-layer PCB design to implement the much needed field cancellation topology (FCT).

Lifting the lid on an EL series amp will reveal that the main amplifier PCB is a complete mirror image about the center line. This was one of my initial design criteria. Often a stereo amp will be constructed using the same amplifier PCB for each channel rather than mirror image. The problem with this is that the PCB layout can only be optimized for one side of the chassis, which typically means one channel only. So you get an imbalance in performance between channels. This imbalance can range from significant to almost immeasurable but nevertheless it was something that I wanted to avoid completely.

EK: Ok, so can you then expand on Field Cancellation Topology (FCT)?

SR: A wire or PCB track with an electric current passing through it generates a magnetic field that is proportional to the amount of current flowing. In a power amplifier, considerable current can flow in certain tracks, producing considerable magnetic fields. The opposite can also occur - a wire or PCB track in the presence of a magnetic field can produce a flow of current. The last thing we want are the fields generated by high current tracks to be picked up or induced into any areas of the circuit such as the sensitive input stage.

Luckily the fields generated by these high current carrying tracks are totally predictable and with careful track layout can be cancelled out. All current must flow from the power supply but it must also return there. Field Cancellation Topology uses the field generated by the return current to cancel out the forward current field. As the forward and return fields are generated in opposite direction, the net result is no (or minimal) field generation.

EK: Can you tell us more about your decision to use ThermalTrak output devices?

SR: In a typical solid-state amplifier, a certain amount of current is intentionally run through the output devices in order to reduce distortion. This current is known as 'bias current'. In general, the more bias the lower the distortion. The problem is that the current running through the output devices heats them up and as they get hotter the bias current has a tendency to increase. This increase in bias leads to more heat which leads to more bias which leads to more heat and then of course more bias. Next thing, bang, the output devices explode because they reach their current limit and burn out. So to cool the devices down we need heatsinks to dissipate the heat. But this isn't enough. We also need a control mechanism to regulate this bias current. As the devices get hotter we need to sense this and reduce the bias in order to keep it constant.

Eventually, this heat sinking and sensing arrangement will reach a thermal equilibrium and the amplifier will hopefully remain stable. The issue arises how to sense this bias increase and keep it under control. The most common method is to use a sensing device bolted to the heatsink which changes properties with temperature just as the output devices do. But with this arrangement exists something known as 'thermal lag time'. The output devices all need to transfer their heat to the heatsink, which then takes time to heat up before the sensing device can compensate for the bias increase. This can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or so. ThermalTrak transistors contain a sensing diode inside the actual output device itself. So lag time is eliminated and thermal stability is essentially perfect because as the output devices heat up the sensing diode instantly heats up also.

EK: What other important design philosophies we reapplied to the Elite series amplifiers?

SR: I'm very much of the "straight wire with gain" mentality. I believe it's important to have clear design goals and objectives and I do rely heavily on measurements to achieve them. I've often said that good sound is not so much about putting the good stuff in, it’s about taking the bad stuff out. I could build the best amplifier circuit using the best available components and it would buzz, hum and probably oscillate without careful layout consideration. Implementation is very important.

EK: Tell us a little about your background.

SR:My audio understanding was built up from years of reading, experimenting, prototyping, measuring and listening. I have also been very lucky to have direct contact with one of the world’s foremost loudspeaker engineers who has proved to be a wealth of information and when things just don't seem to make sense he always has the answers. He has taught me more than any book could ever have.

I have a degree in digital systems, which is a combination of electronics, computers and robotics. I spent 9 years in the R&D department of a local electronics manufacturer working on all elements of product development including 3D CAD, schematic & PCB, software and firmware. I wrote over 1 million lines of assembly-based firmware code. I’ve also worked on contract for various local and international high-tech design companies including large scale automotive where I worked on over 60 safety critical PCB designs.

EK: How was SGR born?

SR: Audio started as a hobby and grew into a business from a shared passion to build and achieve something better than average. We started from very humble beginnings, working out of a garage with no more than a few hand tools. Today we have a large factory equipped with multiple CNC machines and state of the art facilities. My father Harry’s audio background spans some 30 odd years now, detailing elements of importing and retail sales as well as product development. I’d call him hard to please but that's a good thing because he has a very good ear and when he is pleased with the sound then we know we're on to a winner. I also need to credit my girlfriend Belinda who handles the accounts and admin side of the business and as a quite awesome web developer designed our SGR website; and a computer and software guru who always just 'knows'. His assistance behind the scenes has been essential to product development so to most around here he is known elusively as 'The Oracle'.

more focused imaging perspective with a marginally deeper soundstage and more precise lateral placement.
Egdar Kramer

 The SGR Audio Signature rack is a truly superb design. Mostly machined and constructed in-house (only the veneer of the platforms is contracted out), the design is visually attractive and structurally rigid. There’s an imparting sense of rightness about the concept and its vibrational isolation. The quality of build and manufacturing precision inspires confidence in the Signature rack’s ability to allow the very best sonic performance to emerge from your electronics....The SGR Signature audio rack features awesome build, solid engineering, great sonics and sharp pricing.

There’s no doubting the elegance and refinement of the SGR rack. There’s a fair bit of perfume to be whiffed here. Assemble such an exalted component-quality rack system of massive structural integrity and you’re not going to do your electronics’ sound potential any harm. Quite pleasingly in fact the SGR Signature racks displayed some subtle yet worthwhile sonic differences over the Finite Elemente racks I’d been using long term.

No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. Indeed. And in these times such self determination and autonomous ambitions may lead the intrepid and aspiring to great glory.

A local company that exemplifies these principles of independence and autonomy is SGR Audio from Melbourne, Australia. In a relatively short time this father-and-son company of principals Harry and Stuart Ralston has gone from producing extraordinarily well-engineered active loudspeakers now expanded to two lines to its own line of solid-state amplifiers, a proprietary custom software all-in-one plug’n’play media player about to be launched and finally a SOTA audio equipment support system, the latter the subject of today's report. 

In each of these product lines and categories most of the metal and chassis work, CNC machining, circuit board solder baths etc. have been brought in-house into a modern and immaculately maintained factory which the company is quickly and steadily expanding into and already nearing filling up. To this writer’s knowledge this level of in-house manufacturing, design control and quality of facilities is at present unique in our domestic audio industry. 

It is obvious that considerable capital investment was poured into the superb SGR facility, which I had the pleasure of visiting at an economic time when stakes are rather high. The risks however have paid off, with SGR Audio now enjoying a raised local profile, impending expansion into overseas markets and strong sales I’m told. This is the kind of market penetration and respect which normally takes many more years to achieve. All is backed up by products of extremely high quality which are built with pride and technical excellence. In fact talk to Harry Ralston at length and you become aware of his extensive audio industry experience. In turn talk to Stuart Ralston and you’ll likely walk away dazed and with a sore head, such is the profound knowledge of technical and engineering subjects—both mechanical and electrical—he is able to casually cover. These are ingredients for a successful audio formula indeed.

Although at its core SGR Audio remains an electronics engineering company, Harry and Stuart have cleverly capitalized on their factory’s CNC machining capabilities and jumped on the opportunity to expand their core product lines to include the manufacture of ancillary products. Thus was born the SGR Audio Signature rack.

The modular SGR Audio Signature racks arrives in separate boxes each housing all hardware required for a single shelf module. The hard foam protective inners with their snug-fitting individual template-molded cutouts will keep the contents in pristine condition whilst being freighted around. Only the most disastrous of accidents will have any chance of damaging the parts.

Stuart Ralston:

The overall design is as simple as it is clever. Beautifully machined and sand-filled brushed solid stainless steel posts of various lengths—90, 135, 180 and 225mm, larger lengths by requests—form the frame work with four per module. Solid anodized aluminium precision-machined cross braces (similar to the concept used by SolidTech in its Spider rack) join at a central large solid aluminum puck (the SGR logo is nicely etched into this puck). This elongated ‘x’ cross member now becomes the support for the Stuart Ralston-designed constrained-layer damped marine-grade plywood shelf. 

This platform is available in a number of wood finishes in satin or gloss lacquer and features edge-wrapped veneers on all sides. By the way, knuckle rap the platform and all you get is a duller-than-dull thud. The cross beams feature a number of threaded holes for the insertion of viscoelastic vibration isolators that look like a form of Sorbothane. The number of Sorbothane isolators depends on the weight of the component being supported. 

A choice of footers is available, with SGR recommending the flat base for timber-suspended flooring and the spike system for solid concrete floors. Both types are constructed from marine-grade stainless steel superbly finished and feature a ball-bearing floating scheme similar to the Finite Elemente family of Ceraball feet. Fine threading allows for small incremental adjustments for precise leveling. A very clever machined aluminum cable support system can be ordered as an option to keep clutter at bay. All components feel solid and unusually heavy and are extraordinarily well finished. From the packaging to the end product, the SGR rack oozes pure class.

Assembly is piss easy. From unpacking to final placement where my Finite Elemente Pagode Signatures used to live took just an hour and a half. And that was for two racks of three shelves each. I used the flat base feet as recommended for my wooden floors. Simply screw the feet to the first cross brace and then screw the four posts to the brace. Take care to position the cable management hooks on the grooved post (two posts per level feature the indented template for the hook system). 

Finally screw the viscoelastic vibration isolators (VEVI from now on) to their receptacles. Now you’re ready to place the platform on them, in my case done up in gorgeous black gloss grain finish. The platform has four small receptacles that allow metal grommets atop the VEVI to slip in for proper suspension without the platform slipping or moving horizontally. That’s it. Now you’re ready for the next level. Once you’ve assembled the last, solid aluminum pucks screw into the tops of the four lateral posts to finish off the construction. Done.

Beauty unaccompanied by virtue is as a flower without perfume. There’s no doubting the elegance and refinement of the SGR rack. There’s a fair bit of perfume to be whiffed here. Assemble such an exalted component-quality rack system of massive structural integrity and you’re not going to do your electronics’ sound potential any harm. Quite pleasingly in fact the SGR Signature racks displayed some subtle yet worthwhile sonic differences over the Finite Elemente racks I’d been using long term. I attribute these to the conceptual difference in design and execution. The FEs couple to multiple spiking points to address and drain vibrational issues whereas the SGR racks decouple and float the electronics via the VEVI system and the utterly resonance-dead platforms. 

Where the FE racks certainly improved over my previous very solid rack in terms of micro detail and bass tightness, the SGR racks over the FEs added a slight gain in dynamic contrast and further solidity and control to the deep bass. Ditto a slightly more focused imaging perspective with a marginally deeper soundstage and more precise lateral placement.  

These differences weren’t night and day but careful listening saw me comfortably reach these conclusions whilst bearing in mind the total impracticality of immediate back-to-back A/Bs (a couple of swaps took some minutes to perform). I’m confident however that my long-term use of the FE racks and profound familiarity with my system’s sound entitles me to these informed observations after careful extended listening sessions with the SGR Signatures and then back for some more with the FEs. Yes, I’d say that dynamic contrasts, image specificity and bass tightness were the attributes I took as being the most noticeable differences, subtle as they were. All else remained unchanged and unharmed from the sonic excellence of the FEs.

So how do the SGR racks fit in relative to the higher-profile competition from overseas suppliers? I’ll tell you where. These racks are as well built as the very best available from anywhere. I’d say they compete with the bees knees of audio rack systems, be it Finite Elemente, Grand Prix Audio—with whom they share principles and equally remarkable engineering— HRS, SolidTech, AudiAV etc. In the context of our local market here in Oz, what this rack system has over those imports is lack of customs duties and horrendous freight costs which large and heavy rack systems incur whenever transported to our beautiful but distant shores. Which, whilst playing in that field and at the price of $750 per module, rather makes the SGR Signature rack somewhat of a bargain.

No one should drive a hard bargain with an artist – Ludwig van Beethoven. The SGR Audio Signature rack is a truly superb design. Mostly machined and constructed in-house (only the veneer of the platforms is contracted out), the design is visually attractive and structurally rigid. There’s an imparting sense of rightness about the concept and its vibrational isolation. The quality of build and manufacturing precision inspires confidence in the Signature rack’s ability to allow the very best sonic performance to emerge from your electronics. 

After upgrading to an AMR CD-77.1 CD player which weighs in at a confounding 28kg; and noting that figure’s very close proximity to the FE top shelf’s weight and support limits... these events motivated a change in audio racking at the Kramer’s. The SGR’s much higher weight support capability relieved us of one nightmare where things take a middle-of-the-night crash into expensive self demolition. Our new racking reference this is. 

The SGR Signature audio rack features awesome build, solid engineering, great sonics and sharp local pricing. It’s also an extraordinary find for overseas buyers as SGR is set up for global freight. For us locals having a technical whiz such as Stuart Ralston available for advice on anything audio is simply that final tomato sauce on an already very tasty mushy-peas meat pie. Bonza! 
......... Edgar Kramer

I’m not going to go on anymore about how good these speakers reproduce music, suffice to say that I have experienced all the qualities others have written about them as well. They are quite superb.
atavid

REVIEW SUMMARY: So to me these active speakers are a near perfect package of sound qualities, superb craftsmanship, beautiful finish, great mix of really useful features and excellent value for money when you consider all that you get in the package. And did I mention that they have WAF in spades. 

EXTENDED REVIEW: I’ve had my SGR CX3B’s for several months now and while I know there have been a lot of reviews on SNA about these and other model SGR speakers I thought I might be able to contribute my own story with some pics as well. I’ve also held back till now because there has been a lot of threads/discussion about the SGR speakers generally and I didn’t want to overdo the forum with another SGR thread, but it seems as time goes on, so do the threads. So what it’s worth here is my (slightly different) take on the SGR CXB3’S.

I first heard these speakers at a GTG evening organised by Anthony from Audio Marketplace at his house here in bayside Brisbane. He is the Queensland rep for SGR up here. I had read a lot of posts here on SNA about them, but that wasn’t what spurred me on to make my first personal contact with Anthony . 

Many many years ago I was fortunate enough to hear a set of Meridian M10’s ?(long ago, not sure model)anyway they were active, or ”powered “ I think they called them back then. I was struck by their sound. At the time they were quite different to a lot of the other speakers I had seen and heard. I don’t know exactly what it was in audiophile terms, I liked, but I always remembered them and their effect on me and the idea of a ‘built in’ amp really appealed to me as well. So I took the opportunity to hear these active SGR’s when the offer was made. 

I was having a bad few months with my audio equipment. First off my preamp went DC on me and I sent it off to Trevor (Zaphod Beetlebrox) at Rage audio to see if he could resurrect it after being told by a dealer up here that it was beyond any help at all, at any price(was charged for the privilege too The fault was a two edged sword because I lost my preamp for a while, but Trevor fixed and modified the preamp and really made a very nice improvement to its sound. Then a couple of months later my power amp lost its left channel. I couldn’t believe my luck. Again I sent this off to Trevor, and he did a fantastic job of repairing ,modifying and improving the unit. Upon its return I took the lid off and peeked inside and it looks brand new, fantastic.

But as fate would have it, a month or two later the preamp then faulted again. I was beginning to believe I was jinxed. But Trevor fixed the issue at no charge to me even though it wasn’t necessarily a fault related to his previous work. The pre is 20 years old so I wasn’t surprised. Thanks Trevor, great service. Has worked faultlessly since.

Anyho I was getting a “little jaded “with my system by now as you can imagine. As well as all the recent problems, I had for some time been unhappy that my then speakers needed to be pumped up to unacceptable (especially for my wife) volume levels to push the sound out into my room. I knew I wanted a change but didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I had been out and around listening to whatever speakers I could find in the few shops left in Brisbane. One place had a lovely set of Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento’s. I had recently heard a set of Sonus Faber Toys in another SNA member’s set up and they sounded fabulous. I was particularly struck by their beautiful mid bass. Thanks Goopie. really nice sounding system you have there .So I knew I couldn’t settle for something less than that nice sound and so the Guarneri’s were in my sights.

Then I saw the notice here on SNA about a GTG at Anthony’s house and I thought it might be interesting to again listen to some active speakers, and also a chance to meet some SNA members at last.

The first speakers I listened to were the CX4’s.They sounded as great as everyone else has said here many times. But just way out of my league price wise. Later in the evening we fired up the CX3B’s and they were pretty astonishing, especially given their relatively small size. The difference between the 3’s and 4’s were there but I think were more obvious due to where each pair were placed, the settings on the 4’s at the time, and the choice of music(was different for each pair).I can honestly say that as impressed as I was with the 4’s, I was as equally impressed with the 3’s. I knew almost immediately that I could be quite happy with their sound (something of an understatement), but for me the CX3’s were still a lot of money and with my wife recently made redundant , I couldn’t see me affording them in the near future.

I went home somewhat despondent and of course started thinking about my system, what it was that was bugging me about it and what I could do to get over the disillusionment I was feeling as a result of the recent troubles I was having, and, the necessity to push the volume up to get the full sound I wanted from the speakers in my listening room.

I thought about the Toy Sonus Fabers… affordable for me, but then I reckoned that they justified a better amp than I had, and if I got a good amp I would surely need some good (probably expensive) speaker cables. Then I wondered about how I could select an amp that had the right “synergy” with the Sonus Fabers, especially up here in Brisbane with fewer and fewer hi fi shop demo facilities. Then I thought about the cost of all these new parts and pretty soon it was just “doin’ my head in” and I decided to put it all on the back burner. It was all just too hard.

As fate would have it, a few months later ,we came into some unexpected cash and suddenly I was in a position to consider some new gear. Almost simultaneously Anthony contacted me(must be psychic) about my previous interest in the SGR’s, and not long after I was the proud owner of a set of CX3B’s.

No one it seems can talk about SGR without mentioning the great service, and it was no different in my case.

Anthony helped set them up in my house and spent a great deal of time getting the positioning just right, he also did some magic with a sound sweep and frequency ‘thingamabob’ to make sure we were getting as flat a response as possible. We experimented with my subwoofer settings and generally tweaked things here and there. I was really impressed with his attention to getting things perfect.

As it turned out SGR (Stuart) had apparently just made some changes to the amplifier modules for the CX3B’s and Anthony received two of these to replace the existing units in my CX3B’s. (I thought this very impressive that they would update the speakers even though I had already bought them, after all, I would have been none the wiser).Anthony again came to my place and spent a couple of hours changing over the amps and the new BIGGER power supplies, once again spending a lot of time getting everything right with the setup.

It was about this time that my preamp faulted the second time. I mentioned my bad fortune to Anthony and he contacted Stuart and they flew up a second hand pre amp Stuart had in Melbourne and loaned it to me just so I could have something to keep my system going while the repairs to my own preamp were happening. It was a great service and much appreciated.

Living with the CX3’s has been one revelation after another as I play my music collection through them. You think you know a recording ,then you play them through the SGR’s and hear them in a totally different light. Even my wife likes the music they make, and that’s saying something.

I ‘m not comfortable trying to describe what I’m hearing in audiophile terminology, (I’m no “ripping dragon”)however I do know when I’m hearing something not only new AND MORE OF IT, but also more pleasing than I was hearing than before.

What I am hearing is lots of extra detail right throughout the range, and while I can pick out these details they aren’t there in isolation, the sound is very together, very cohesive. This is especially the case when I listen to a recording with instruments placed about the recording space. It’s so easy to pick where they are but at the same time it all sounds so together (i know that probably doesn’t make sense but it’s what I think I’m hearing).

The mid and upper bass don’t have the trademark sound of the Sonus Fabers , but the CX3’s ability to differentiate between these two levels makes listening to that ability a real joy to the ears for me.

If it’s one overall quality I have really noticed with the CX3’s it’s the expansive soundstage. When I first experienced this it sounded like instruments were placed not just outside the speakers, but right to the side of me on some recordings. It’s an exhilarating effect.

I don’t know if this is related to the sound staging ability, but at last with these speakers, I can enjoy them at much lower volume levels. Something that was becoming a ‘bone of contention’ with my other speakers and my wife.

A few weeks ago I bought some interconnect cables from Anthony and I picked them up from his place. He invited me in for coffee and of course the conversation immediately turned to hi fi. He fired up the CX4’s and invited me to listen to some music. It was great to hear them again because it gave me a better opportunity to compare the two models now that I was more familiar with the CX3’s.I was curious to know if, and how much I was missing out on by not stretching to the CX4’s. They sounded fantastic, but to me I only felt I was missing out on some bass extension. I can live with this as I have a very good subwoofer in my system, although as Anthony first predicted, I now find myself turning down my subs level more and more as I grow to like the quite exquisite bass of the CX3’s. Ok when I want a real head banger experience it’s good to crank up the sub, but that’s less and less these days. 

Would I buy the 4’s if I could afford them…in a heart beat, but not because I think I’m missing out on something with the 3’s, but because I like the idea and look of the floor standers, and that extra bass if I want it without a sub.

After I left Anthony’s I didn’t feel that I would go home and think that my system was lacking something compared to what I had just heard, it was a nice feeling. I’m sure you have all experienced “system envy” at some stage of your audio journey so you will understand what I mean.

I’m not going to go on anymore about how good these speakers reproduce music, suffice to say that I have experienced all the qualities others have written about them as well. They are quite superb.

Why I think I chose these speakers was for a lot of other reasons as well. When I was pondering changing my system and thinking about buying new amps and speakers and cables etc etc etc, and how I could achieve that synergy that makes some systems just work better than others I realised that with an active system like the SGR’s I wouldn’t have to worry about all that stuff. I wouldn’t have to wonder if bi- wiring, bi or tri-amping would sound better. How many watts should I aim for to work best with the speakers I would choose?. I wouldn’t have to wonder if I should get this or that speaker cables, or if a class A or class AB or a class D amp would suit better. Then if I had all that right, what stands would suit best and add to the speaker’s abilities, how do I isolate them, should I isolate them? These were all questions that could just be dealt with in one package. So many of the things audiophiles angst over just immediately taken out of the equation.

What else do I like about the SGR’s? Well of course the fabulous finish is hard to find in anything I’ve ever seen at near this price. Some folks may say it’s all about the sound and who cares what gear looks like, but that’s not my view. As a tradesman in a previous life, I really appreciate craftsmanship and beautiful aesthetics. I get great pleasure out of looking at my hi fi gear as I sit back and enjoy the sounds it makes. My wife even reckons my turntable looks like a piece of modern sculpture, and because she like things that “shine” the CX3’s fit right in to her décor ideas.

I like the thoughtful design touches on The SGR’s like where the wiring can be routed unobtrusively through the stand column, or how the sorbothane isolating pucks locate the speaker on the top plate exactly and quite securely in position. I also like that the power supplies can be located away from the speaker if one wishes. In my case I have them just behind the speaker stand base, and Stuart and Anthony were happy to supply me with a shorter connecting cable so I didn’t have extra length of it lying about.

The ability to run them with either a balanced or unbalanced cable is great. I like that I can run and control my subwoofer through them if I wish. Another biggie for me is being able to connect my HT through them at the same time. This is another bonus feature that solves a lot of problems I’ve had in the past trying to run both a stereo and HT system in the same room. Previously I had so many sets of speakers in the room it was just ridiculous ,ugly and I don’t think helped the sound qualities of the room.

Other little touches like being able to adjust the subwoofer crossover point and the high and mid frequencies to get the response just right is just icing on the cake for me.I like that I don’t have to worry about all that matching up stuff ,no speaker cables, no amping considerations.

I liked the quality of the finely finished allen headed bolts that secure the top and bottom stand plates to the really solid, and might I add, beautifully welded columns. The way everything just lined up and screwed smoothly into place. As I say it’s the old tradesman in me ,but its these little things that indicate quality and if the little things are right then that’s a good indication that all the other stuff you can’t see will be right.

Finally I like that the CX3’s appear to be almost bomb proof with all sorts of protection abilities built in, especially important when you have young kids as i do who might switch on/off the wrong plug while my gear is powered up.

So to me these active speakers are a near perfect package of sound qualities, superb craftsmanship, beautiful finish, great mix of really useful features and excellent value for money when you consider all that you get in the package. And did I mention that they have WAF in spades. 
…….. atavid