Meadowlark HotRod Shearwater loudspeaker Page 4
In the Meadowlark Hot Rod Shearwater, designer Pat McGinty's determination to maintain the absolute integrity of the musical waveform has resulted in a presentation that is accurate without being analytical: spectrally balanced, dimensionally full, and a dream to drive. Talk about cruise control—it displayed terrific speed and bass extension with a modestly powered solid-state integrated amp like the Simaudio i-5, and a gloriously deep, detailed midrange with a tubed juggernaut such as the VTL MB-450. Stacked up against the best two-way floorstanding designs I've experienced up close and personal, the no-compromise HotRod Shearwater more than held its own against such worthies as the ProAc 2.5 and the Merlin VSM (which employ roughly the same ScanSpeak woofer), and for considerably less money.
But while I rarely found the Shearwater ultimately wanting in its presentation of raw rock or R&B recordings, it might be too mannerly and refined for some tastes. If you're not going to mate it with high-resolution components, or dedicate an acoustic space to proper and meticulous setup, then the forward presentation of the more forgiving Kestrel might be right up your alley—for half the price. The Kestrel has a punchy midbass/lower-midrange character that the more revealing, transparent Shearwater does not.
Still, I never found the Hot Rod Shearwater wanting for drive, and it never failed to offer me a direct spiritual connection to the music, more than living up to its advance billing as "a two-way lover's two-way." If the two-way Joseph RM22si Signature I was so enamored of a few years back reminds me of a refined white wine, then the Hot Rod Shearwater suggested a hearty, full-bodied Merlot—earthy and textured, with a robust clarity.
Now if that ain't enough performance for $3195/pair, then dig deeper, son, because you need more speaker. Meadowlark Audio's flagship two-way is an utterly non-fatiguing, elegantly dynamic loudspeaker that plays nice and loud without distortion, and should illuminate all the most subtle aspects of your upstream equipment while portraying the spatial dimensions and acoustic signature of fine recordings with luminescent ease and grace. The Hot Rod Shearwater is the kind of clear, captivating, straightforward loudspeaker around which you can assemble a true high-resolution sound system, secure in the knowledge that goodness in will translate into goodness out.