Infinity Prelude MTS loudspeaker Page 4
The Prelude's bass performance was everything I'd hoped it would be, and more: deep and solid, yet not mechanical-sounding, overdamped, or thumpy—bass I could really feel in my gut. With R.A.B.O.S., the Prelude MTS stands a good chance of producing the same bass performance in a room that's less than ideal. Once you've heard this kind of low-frequency performance—especially if your room has an impossible-to-tame hump—you'll find it hard to do without. It rivals the bass produced by Aerial's much larger SW12 subwoofer, which costs $5000.
The integration of subwoofer and tower was seamless, with an impressively smooth, clean, and natural sound overall. (The tower runs full-range, so don't be concerned about the deleterious effects of a high-pass filter.) The narrow-baffled tower disappeared, leaving an expansive, open, CinemaScopic sonic picture. The speakers produced solid, three-dimensional images that were believable, appropriately sized, and placed accurately across the stage. Even well off-axis, horizontal dispersion was remarkably smooth and extended.
The Prelude MTS was absolutely the smoothest overall performer I've yet heard. Even on the most familiar recordings, it revealed previously hidden details without edge or hyped-up highs. On disc after disc I heard studio tricks and reverb tails behind vocalists that I'd never known were there. More important, the Prelude revealed previously buried musical events consistently and with ease, while providing believable timbres all over the frequency map.
This speaker defined the difference between real "detail" and "bright" as no other has in my experience. At first I thought the highs were rolled-off and smoothed-out, but over time I came to realize that the Prelude revealed more detail and exhibited outstanding top-end extension while never sounding bright—unless the source material was. What were missing were the resonances and peaks that can give as false a sense of detail as turning up your TV's Sharpness control all the way.
Bad recordings sounded bad, good ones great. Hamhandedly equalized recordings sounded particularly lumpy: I could hear where the engineer had inserted his bumps because the speaker itself had so few. The Prelude was chameleon-like, sounding sweet on warm, natural-sounding recordings like the stunning Make Way for Dionne Warwick, and brash on the hard ones. (Find an original silver/red Scepter pressing of Make Way and hear "Walk On By" as you never have before!)
One thing this speaker had in spades on every recording I played was rhythmic "togetherness." No matter how hard I pushed it, the Prelude MTS had the Linn/Naim pace'n'rhythm thing down pat.
Was the Prelude without "character"? No. After I'd listened to at least 100 CDs and LPs, it was clear that there were two identifiable but very small colorations: a slight upper-midrange accent (probably around the midrange/tweeter crossover point) that imparted a slightly forward quality to the overall sound; and a slight thickness to vocalists' sibilants that just couldn't have been on every recording of every vocalist I played. But I really struggled to find flaws in what I'm sure will be prove to be textbook measured performance. (Though I've been wrong before...)
I drove the Prelude's 90dB-efficient tower section with three different amplifiers: the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 300, which outputs 600W into 4 ohms; the KR Enterprise VT8000 MK; and, for a very short spell, a vintage Dyna Stereo 70 I'd just had retubed. The Nu-Vista drove the Preludes to extremely high SPLs without strain or dynamic compression. I played the Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," from Mobile Fidelity's pressing of Sticky Fingers, which has awesome bass extension. Clocking 106dB peaks, the sound was open, easy, and detailed. The bass, of course, shook the house, but it was controlled, and not at all compressed. If you think MoFi's mastering is thin, or bass-heavy, or antiseptic, I think you're blaming the messenger. It's your system.
The KRs, seeing a flat, 4 ohm load, sounded cleaner and more extended than I'd ever heard them, and their slightly softer, harmonically richer top, coupled with the powered sub, created a fabulous sound. As did the Dyna Stereo 70/Prelude combo. This high-tech speaker proved to be a tube amp's best friend. Think of it: a transducer so sonically and electrically neutral that it can reliably show up colorations in electronics! But think, too, of the flexibility: with 850W, the bass is covered. For everything above that, all you have to supply is power for a 90dB-sensitive easy-to-drive, flat 4 ohm load.