October 24, 2021 § Leave a comment
When reviewing audio equipment, I always attempt to elucidate what the reviewed component does different than, or better than, or worse than similar components in its price-performance category. This can be difficult if I’m not in-home familiar with the review component’s competition. But it was easy with the Stenheim Alumine Threes.
What separates the Threes from most other top-tier luxury-class speakers is twofold: First, the Stenheims’ look is living-room, partner, and family-friendly, not audiophile weird. Second, and more importantly, the Alumine Threes are not dreadful-to-drive, low-EPDR speakers that will only work with massive crazy-money monoliths that are capable of driving 2 ohms. While the Stenheims responded extremely well to large amounts of high-quality amplifier power, they were equally exciting when powered by a 25W class-A solid state amp and a 22W single-ended triode. I regard this as proof that a well-engineered speaker need not be difficult to drive.
October 21, 2021 § Leave a comment
That said, there’s a slight sense that the bass can be a tad slow at times – Andreas Bye’s crisply forceful drumbeats opening ‘In The Mountains’, from the Espen Eriksen Trio’s Never Ending January album [Rune Grammofon RCD2173] have a little of the ‘plastic barrel’ about them. However, the balance when the entire trio joins in is entertaining enough, Eriksen’s piano having stately weight in the lower octaves and fine delicacy in the right hand, while Lars Tormod Jenset’s bass is suitably sonorous, and the soundstage image unforced.
With the testing Britten ‘Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra’, from the Michael Stern/Kansas City Symphony Britten’s Orchestra set [Reference Recordings RR-120], the HDI-3800s sail through the masses of detail, presenting a persuasive view of each instrumental section. The vivid percussion is particularly enjoyable, and all the while there’s a well-realised picture of the orchestra as a whole. And the great fugue with which the piece concludes sounds magnificent, not least due to the drama the speakers deliver with massed forces and bass slams.
October 17, 2021 § Leave a comment
The mid/bass driver and tweeter work together using a custom-designed crossover from the same team behind Dynaudio’s Heritage Special and Core speakers. The Emit 20 use a hybrid first- and second-order design for the tweeter and woofer respectively.
On the back of the Emit 20 you’ll find single-wired connections and a new dual-flared bass-reflex port. A rear-firing port arrangement makes speakers more sensitive to placement, so we’d try to refrain from tucking the ’20s up against a rear wall or into the corners of a room. We also found a little toe-in towards our listening position helped give the stereo image greater focus.
October 16, 2021 § Leave a comment
In addition to onboard amplification, the introduction of the Silverback module (the passive Legend 40.2 can be upgraded if desired) replaces binding posts with a USB service port and IEC mains socket, plus an XLR input for wired connection to a balanced preamplifier. Around these are a series of status LED lights that signify the channel position of the speaker when used with the wireless Stereo Hub. For a two-channel set-up, it’s just a case of assigning one as right and one as left, but it also caters to multichannel installations (centre, surround back, etc), if the speaker is paired with the eight-channel Surround Hub.
System Audio’s hubs use wireless WiSA technology to stream a 96kHz/24-bit signal direct to the Silverback speaker, and both models are well endowed in terms of source connectivity. USB-B, HDMI ARC, coaxial and optical (x3) digital, plus RCA and 3.5mm analogue, and Bluetooth, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay wireless hook-ups should be enough for anyone using these speakers.
In practice you’ll utilise the hub to stream music direct from your home network or streaming service, and SA’s RAM Tweaks to massage the sound. But the flexibility doesn’t stop there. The company’s app-based EQ facility, Room Service, which aims to smooth in-room response below 300Hz is now integrated into the comprehensive SA Cockpit app. This includes a three-preset manual parametric EQ adjustment with gain and Q value control across the full spectrum. It’s a powerful tool, but with power also comes responsibility
October 13, 2021 § Leave a comment
So, it’s clear these are highly capable speakers, right? So why haven’t we given them the full five stars? To get that, these Dynaudios need to deliver the music with a bit more energy. It’s not that we want the speakers to hype-up music to make it sound more exciting, it’s more that some of the music’s drive and drama seems to be reined-in to help that impression of sophistication. Rhythmic drive is more muted than we’ve come to expect from the brand and the Emit 30s don’t attack a track with the expected sense of verve.
Regardless, these remain accomplished performers that tick most of the boxes enthusiasts would consider important, but in not fully delivering the energy in music they fall short of the best at the price.
October 11, 2021 § Leave a comment
The M5s let me hear all the differences between amplifiers and recordings via its clean treble, open midrange, and controlled, authoritative bass. The M5 was a forensic instrument when needed and an audiophile speaker capable of reproducing rich, true-to-the-source sounds when desired. For not a lot of money. The KLH M5s are intoxication kings, urging me to hear my most beloved vinyl via its big personality and well-scaled dimensionality.
I thought, “If only I’d kept that pair of original M5s I found uptown!” But the revived KLH Model Five turned any regrets into a hearty smile of satisfaction.