April 15, 2021 § Leave a comment
First, the visual. Where the T-series was always a basic square box, the new T/x series features rounded cabinet corners, giving them a more refined visual feel. Driver and amplifier updates allow these new subwoofers to go deeper with more speed and refinement than their predecessors. Considering how much the cost of materials and shipping have increased in the last few years, the T/x versions are less expensive than the models they replace.
April 13, 2021 § Leave a comment
An example of the musically accurate fine detail that the 1.7i conveys can be heard on the SACD version of Alison Krauss + Union Station Live on Rounder Records [11661-0515-6]. This live concert was performed and recorded in the beautiful and acoustically excellent 1927 Louisville Palace theatre. Especially with the SACD layer, natural detail and definition abound. This is audible from the individual bluegrass instruments (ranging from rapid-fire three-finger Scruggs banjo picking to the distinctive metallic tone of Jerry Douglas’ dobro to the plectrum-struck twin strings of the mandolin to Alison Krauss’ fiddle to the upright bass and various percussion instruments). The entire set is laudably three-dimensional and natural. The available detail goes all the way down to the sound of the audience applause, which is very much like what you hear at a concert in a small, acoustically distinguished venue like this. The separation of various segments of the audience applauding at different speeds and varying distances from the microphones is preserved by the Magnepans (almost, but not quite, the sound of one hand clapping). This fine sense of detail is also quite audible on the reverberant decay of a full orchestra when it completes a piece of music. Again, very natural, like an actual live concert.
April 12, 2021 § Leave a comment
The Estelon X Diamond Mk II is a fantastic loudspeaker in every regard. It excels at the frequency extremes, but its sound is also amazing everywhere in between. The big Estelons play low and authoritatively in the bass, and marry that to almost impossibly airy, silky highs and an entirely uncolored midband. And when that superb sound quality is considered in the context of the most beautiful enclosure I’ve ever had the pleasure of living with, you have a complete package.
April 10, 2021 § Leave a comment
Once I had finalized the speakers’ positions, I started my serious listening. As always, I started my critical auditioning of the Lumina IIIs with the test-tone files I created for my Editor’s Choice CD (Stereophile STPH016-2). The Lumina IIIs were initially toed in to the listening position. With the dual-mono pink noise track, the treble balance was reminiscent of the Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature’s: a little accentuated in the top two octaves, especially when compared with the KEFs. I increased the toe-in a little so that the speaker axes crossed just in front of me; now the high frequencies sounded in better balance with the midrange, though still a little high in level, especially if I sat upright so I could see the tops of the speakers. While the pink noise had a touch of “character” in the lower midrange, the image of the pink noise was narrow and stable, with no “splashing” to the sides at any frequency.
April 9, 2021 § Leave a comment
Those two 22cm bass drivers do just what we would expect and generate the kind of impressive low-end heft their appearance suggests, giving the presentation a wonderfully solid foundation to work from. If all this talk of muscle and physicality suggests a lack of finesse or subtlety, you’re mistaken. If anything it’s the Elysian 4’s impressively civil nature that appeals to us most.
They have the insight and delicacy to bring Ólafur Arnalds’ Found Songs album – a beloved go-to in our collection – to life. The Wharfedale’s sound is full of detail, which is organised in a natural and intuitive way. We like the way these monster floorstanders express the album’s dynamic nuances and the skill with which they communicate instrumental textures. It’s an unforced presentation that’s comfortable and easy-going without sounding bland. There’s a great deal of analysis on offer, but the musical experience always comes first.
April 6, 2021 § Leave a comment
Raidho’s latest two-way is the most evenly balanced small speaker they’ve yet produced, adding convincing and beautifully judged body and weight to the marque’s traditional strengths of transparency, speed and clarity. The results are significantly more convincing than those achieved by the D1.1 or the C1.2, but I’d still hesitate to call this a speaker for everyman. Better balanced yes – a genuine all-rounder, not so much. The TD1.2 doesn’t do scale or allow music to swell as convincingly as the Stenheim Alumine 2SE or the Wilson Duette. It lacks the astonishing air and absence of the best diamond tweeters and still sounds a little closed in at high frequencies, but this is a level of criticism that can be applied to any speaker and small stand-mounts more than most. So no, this isn’t a speaker that’s a slam-dunk for every system or every listener. But if you value its special qualities and you get to hear them, then you might well struggle to find an acceptable alternative. Its poised delicacy, intimacy and precision, its unusual combination of relaxed unforced ease and energetic dynamic response make it arresting when it comes to appreciating a musician’s technique, in isolation or in ensemble. Listen and you might discover hidden musical gems in the most unlikely places; listen and you might just discover the heights a great guitarist can reach in terms of musical expression. The TD1.2 might not fool you into thinking you are there, but it sure as shootin’ will make you wish you had been!
April 4, 2021 § Leave a comment
The Duevel Bella Luna Diamantes show what careful design and considered updates can do for a loudspeaker’s performance. Like the smaller Venus, their all-around presentation takes a little acclimatisation, but the enveloping soundscape is quite addictive. Add impressive bass, a fine horn tweeter and relative ease of positioning, and you have a design that is rewarding and entertaining companion.
March 30, 2021 § Leave a comment
Wharfedale’s Evo4.2 is not the complete all-rounder, but I am not sure that’s what the company intends. What this gentle giant can do is deliver certain types of music in a manner that is largely beyond most rivals at the price and if you are happy with its style and can work with its demands it will delight, making it definitely worthy of a thorough audition at the price.
March 28, 2021 § Leave a comment
By describing the Cerica XL’s bass as slightly rich, I’m not sugarcoating a shortcoming. The Aurelias’ bass was plenty tight, and worked perfectly—I wouldn’t change a thing. Just listen to Gord Sinclair’s lithe bass guitar in the title track of The Tragically Hip’s Fully Completely (LP, Geffen 4704109). Sinclair’s bass playing is understandably underrated, given that this band’s sound orbited around the late Gord Downie’s singing. But Sinclair’s got the chops. Through the Cerica XLs I could hear his bass’s warm, rich growl with a touch more roundness than I can from my Focus Audio FP60 BE speakers. Admittedly, the Focus Audios are minimonitors, but they punch far above their weight, and I’ve never found their bass lacking in any way. So yeah—the Cerica XL was just a bit warmer down there.