Energy Veritas v2.8 loudspeaker Page 3

Thus began a series of equipment and setup changes designed to wring this problem out. First I replaced the Straight Wire loudspeaker cables with a bi-wire set of Monster M1.5 of the same length. The Monster has a somewhat leaner sound than the Straight Wire, which definitely tightened things up—as did some additional break-in, particularly 18 hours of repeat play of a track that has lots of thumpy kickdrum. But this still wasn't enough. Adding another length of the Monster cable to create a full tri-wire arrangement was another step in the right direction, but still more drastic measures were needed.

I moved the Veritases to the room's short wall and a third of the way into the room. I placed my listening chair another third of the room's length from the loudspeakers, leaving me just under 9' from the plane of the speakers. (I usually prefer to sit fairly close to the loudspeakers, though generally a foot or two farther away.) The Veritas's bass performance was improving, and things were starting to come together; but I still wasn't satisfied.

The shapes of the rooms in Las Vegas in which I'd heard the Veritas (different rooms each year, but closely matched) were similar to that of my listening room—though a shade larger. The ceilings, as in my room, were higher than most. Acoustically, the Las Vegas rooms were on the lively side of neutral; for instance, about half the floor was finished in carpet, the rest in polished tile. If anything, the Veritas sounded a bit uptilted in the Las Vegas rooms, though not objectionably so. The Veritas did not have a problem with mid- and upper bass the two times I heard them in these rooms, sounding totally open and unmuddled.

Between those two CESes, however, I heard the Veritas at the 1993 Stereophile High-End Hi-Fi Show in San Francisco. At that time the speaker displayed a heaviness similar to that which I experienced during the review period, though to a more pronounced degree. This may have been due to a room problem—at least one other exhibitor who was also displaying in a long, narrow room had similar problems. I judged the sound of the Veritas in Las Vegas to be more accurate than that heard in San Francisco. (Randy Tomlinson reports no bass problems with his pair, and his room, with a standard-issue 8' ceiling, is considerably smaller than mine.)

Putting all of this together, I began attributing the bass sound I was getting to an unfortunate combination of room and loudspeaker. I hesitate to blame the room too much. While I've only had it for five months, I've listened to seven other pairs of loudspeakers in it (some for only limited periods), and none has exhibited the same degree of mid- to upper bass and lower-midrange emphasis. This is a dedicated listening room, built from scratch according to a set of ratios known to provide good performance (1.0 by 1.6 by 2.33). Though the perfect room may not exist, this one certainly appears to be above average.

Finally, I remembered a setup often used to good effect at CESes: firing the speaker across the room's diagonal. This has several advantages, not the least of which is the fact that the side walls now angle away from the loudspeakers. But I was simply looking for a different set of modal excitations and nulls. The bass modes of a given room are fixed by its dimensions. All rooms have modes; in better rooms they're just more evenly distributed by frequency. The degree to which these modes are excited depends on the low-frequency absorption of the room and the location of the excitation source (in our case, the loudspeakers).

Did the repositioning work? Yes. Did it cure the problem? No. I never did get the Veritas's bottom end to completely meld into the overall sonic picture in the same way it did in those CES auditions. On a scale of 1 to 10—5 being neutral, 10 the Orson Welles of bass, 1 the Don Knotts—I rate the bass neutrality of the Veritases in my room with the diagonal setup as between 6 and 7. In its worst case, along the long wall, the emphasis hovered around 8, extending further into the upper bass and lower midrange and generally sounding like a subwoofered system in which the subwoofer is blending poorly with the overall mix. With the speakers firing diagonally, I found the bass balance only occasionally bothersome; those used to the lightweight sound of minimonitors will perhaps be less tolerant.

I also tried cabling and preamp changes. The Rowland Consummate's sound is on the warm side of neutral; substituting the Krell KRC, the picture tightened up noticeably, but a certain degree of palpability and liquidity was lost. I returned to the Rowland and changed the Cardas balanced interconnect (preamp to power amp) to a Monster M1500. Same result. At the very end of the review period I replaced the Levinson No.31/35 CD transport/processor combination with Accuphase's new DP-65 one-piece CD player. The latter appeared to sound warmer than the Levinson duo; the Monster M1500 now produced an improvement. Though I'm still far from the point of drawing any conclusions about the Accuphase vs the Levinsons from this experience, it emphasizes the fact that the Veritas was, like most revealing loudspeakers, sensitive to small setup and system changes.

My only reservation about the diagonal listening setup was that it forced me to sit a bit farther back than I generally prefer, exchanging a bit of immediacy for enhanced openness and spatiality—not an unwelcome tradeoff.

At last, I was able to hear what the Veritas could really do. On small-scale program material, the Veritas beautifully captured the delicacy and detail inherent in the best such recordings. There was still occasional warmth, but it didn't obscure the superior transparency of the overall sound. On "My God Called Me this Morning," from the Fairfield Four's Standing in the Safety Zone (Warner Bros. 26945-2), the very bottom of the lead singer's voice was a bit rich, but this was hardly noticeable in light of the superb overall clarity. Individual voices were distinct and unmuddled. I did notice a slight metallic tinge to the vocals, which I heard on other program material as well; but I wasn't troubled by this, and the Veritas's open, airy sound more than compensated for it.

Gordon Lightfoot's voice on If You Could Read My Mind (Reprise 6392-2), a recording I've used for years as a test of male-vocal neutrality (especially "Me and Bobby McGee," "Sit Down Young Stranger," and "Pony Man"), was suspended in space between the loudspeakers, absent any colorations save the small degree of excess warmth.

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