ProAc Response D Two loudspeaker
The D Two is built in mirror-imaged pairs, with the tweeters offset to the inside edges. The cabinet is claimed to be made of thin-wall birch plywood with rigid damping. The speaker is available in standard real-wood veneers of black ash, mahogany, cherry, or maple for $3500/pairor, for extra, bird's-eye maple or ebony (my review pair). Woodwork and build quality in general are excellent. The speaker is built at ProAc's plant in Brackley, Northamptonshire, England. Black stretch-fabric grilles were provided that attach with the usual front-panel grommets, but I didn't use them. A small fillet or shelf of wood at the bottom of the front panel gives the speaker slightly more visual interest with the grilles on. The rear has a recessed connections panel with two pairs of nonEC-compliant, rhodium-plated binding posts, and a jumper for single-wiring.
ProAc states a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, a sensitivity of 88.5dB, a frequency response of 30Hz30kHz (no range of error specified), and recommends that the speaker be used with an amplifier providing 30150Wpc.
I've already commented on the sound of the Response D Two (as did Robert Deutsch and John Atkinson) in my report on the Leben CS600. Both in Montreal and in my listening room, the Leben-ProAc pairing had a finely balanced combination of transparency and clarity that coexisted with musical weight and warmthnot an easy trick to pull off.
Switching from Harbeth's excellent P3ESR to the larger Response D Twos, it quickly became apparent that the ProAcs did not have the classic "nearfield monitor" sound, with an exaggerated upper bass. I ended up positioning the D Twos about 3' farther back from me in my listening room from where the small Harbeths had been. From that position, the tonal balance was better and the speakers did a better job of filling the room. The Response D Two's tonal balance remained consistent regardless of whether I sat or stood.
With Mirror Canon, Tor Espen Aspaas's recital disc of mostly solo works for piano by Beethoven, Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern (SACD/CD, 2L 49SACD), which I recommended in my December 2009 column, the predominant impression was one of great clarity. There was a satisfying sense of heft, but only when that heft was actually in the music. Hand in hand with the clarity went speed. The Response D Twos did not flatter the music by making things sound richer than they were. However, in order to prevent this virtue from turning into a vice, the source components and amplification need to be of excellent quality.
Playing Mirror Canon in Luxman's DU-50 universal player with the Leben CS600 tube amp, the left-hand chords were a bit plummy, the right-hand lines punchy. Switching over to Luxman's solid-state, 100Wpc L-505u integrated amplifier, which at $3500 is $2395 less expensive than the Leben, there was a "bigger" sound, with more of a sense of sustain in the held-down notes of the left-hand chords, and a sound that did not give up all that much in refinement. I heard the same results when I switched from Leben to Luxman with Nathaniel Rosen's recording of J.S. Bach's Solo Cello Suite 4 (CD, John Marks JMR 6/7)a noticeably larger if not quite as refined sound, though by no means whatsoever shabby. But regardless of the amplifier, the Response D Two never gave the impression that there just wasn't enough bass.