Infinity RS-4.5 loudspeaker system JGH Returns
More on the continuing saga of the 4.5, now into its fifth modification in a relentless attempt to conquer the sounds of trombones and cellos...
The latest version is better than any of the previous ones, which is only to be expected after all. The original hardness is completely gone, the stupendous low end and high end remain unscathed and while that elusive (at least for the 4.5) capacity for vulgarity when called on has been improved, the system is still more lushly polite than aggressively outspoken.
We have an old Phase Four London recording of Stokowsky doing his arrangement of Mussorgsky's Night on Bare (Bald) Mountain, which contains some of the most flamboyantly flatulent trombone passages ever committed to a disc. They almost made the grade through the 4.5s, but both the stentorian "aww" quality and the requisite spikes were tamed by the system.
So, the 4.5 isn't perfect yet. So, some other, cheaper, systems do a better job with trombones and cellos than the 4.5. It is still one of the best speaker systems available today, regardless of cost—one that is quite capable of making most instruments sound palpably alive and just as gorgeously rich and smooth as they do in a live situation. Perhaps we are making too much of its one, really minor shortcoming, but much music does lose some of its dramatic impact because of that shortcoming. Despite it, we are adopting the RS-4.5 as our reference test system simply because it is now the best full-range dynamic system we know of (and is thus ideal for power-amplifier testing), and because—all cavils aside—it does everything else so blessedly well. It has been added to our "Recommended Components" list in Class A, with that one little reservation.
Incidentally, the RS-4.5 is the only speaker system currently in-house that will handle the humongous cannon-shot impacts on Telarc's new 1812 Overture recording without 1) bottoming, 2) developing acute hangover, or 3) going "Phht"! And that is an accomplishment.