Okay, so, these days, loudspeakers have a wider range of demanding materials thrown at them than ever before; low-resolution you-tube clips and mp3s, as well as other compressed and uncompressed low-res and high-res digital files, audio and audio-video material from many sources, analogue material from fewer sources these days and, in some cases, the ability to change between 2.1 and 5.1 set-ups at the flick of a switch. I almost feel sorry for them.
I must admit; I’m a Primary Repeat Offender when it comes to that sort of thing… Admission 2; I incorporate both audio and video files when testing my speakers. And being a father to a young boy, I’ve been exposed to the Star Wars movie series (in fact, we found them at a similar age…LOL). For example, lets look at Star Wars II; the Clone thing (if you’re new to the Star Wars movie concept, let me say “Welcome to planet Earth!” and point you in the direction of Google).
This is not a critique of the movie, it’s a critique and expose of my latest design.
The movie opens with a spaceship approaching a planet from orbit and landing. No trouble to describe the action and plot but, blimey, the bass response of the speakers and the demands put on them by the opening sequence, which sets the ‘scene’ of the sound for the rest of the film, are breathtaking. Such a small drive unit, limitations on power, but the engines of the spaceship were portrayed in a stunningly believable fashion.
I know what 115 dB sounds like on my speakers. Those sub-light engines were obviously based on some sort of re-breathing ultra-ramjet technology; you could tell by the way the Doppler effect phased as well as toned. They weren’t rockets, impulse engines, or orbital ion-drives. That particular sound could only be sub-light re-breathing ramjets!!!.
Details aside, my new speakers were, at certain times, putting out 115 dB when called upon, running on just a 60W/ch amp. This equates to an overall sensitivity specification of approx 95 dB @ 1 W @ 1 M.
We are going to have to revisit our power and sensitivity specifications across our whole range.
A chase sequence then had us enthralled. The dynamic range of these speakers is incredible. Combine the elements that illustrate their dynamic range (boom crash bnag) with the subtlety of the atmospherics and sound track. Listening into the depth of stereo image is as much fun as staring off into the depths of this new galaxy, far far away…
Then there was a fight scene with Boba Fet, and the combination of the action and the smoothly integrated and fully supporting audio left us open mouthed on the edge of our seats. However, once again the speakers became the star when Kenobi chases Fet’s spaceship into the asteroid belt, and the seismic charges dropped by Fet’s ship absolutely stole the special-effects show.
In addition, though I’ve mentioned them previously, the choir and symphony orchestra are fabulously recorded and a feast for the ears. All my speakers have the ability to bring forward distant details without flattening or otherwise compromising the depth of stereo image, but these new ones are summat else again.
With that in mind, I’d like to draw your attention to, what for me was, the most impressive part of the speakers’ portrayal of the soundtrack. One particular voice was revealed in such clarity that it’s importance (which had been lost on me until now) hit me like a brick.
When Skywalker goes into the desert in search of his mother, and slaughters the Sand People in revenge for her death, the spirit of Kenobi’s old master (Quigon Jinn) makes an appearance to Yoda, which Yoda describes as feeling a “great disturbance in the Force”.
It was his voice. I recognised it without any visual clues. Previously, I’d just attributed that bit of dialogue as a random spiritual voice crying out in despair, but no. It was ACTUALLY Quigon Jinn (or, at least, the actor Liam Neeson, who plays Quigon Jinn in the previous film).
It’s in moments like that, that truly great speakers distance themselves from the merely ‘good’, and distance themselves by a fair way.
After that, there was still plenty of audio-entertainment to be had out of them (the droid-factory section, the gladiatorial scene in the arena with the three monsters), but no shocks like the sudden realisation of what the artist had been trying to communicate to me for so many years. Well, the three-horned monster sounded GREAT as it galloped around the arena. Haha, these new speakers have SO much headroom, which they keep showing all the way to the end of the movie. Seriously, 115 dB out of 5″ cones at 8 ohms on a 60W/ch Class D amplifier.
Smoo-oothness, but we’re going to have to re-visit all the Sensitivity specs on my speakers. I have ordered a dB meter. Watch this space!