Energy Veritas v2.8 loudspeaker Page 4

The cello on "Superman's Song," from the Crash Test Dummies' The Ghosts That Haunt Me (Arista ARCD-8677), was properly rich, surrounded by a compelling ambience. The guitar was sweet, yet detailed; the voice was in almost perfect balance, the vocal inflections of the lead singer's gravelly voice highly expressive and clear.

I did note a minor left-to-right spectral imbalance caused by the asymmetry of a diagonal setup in a rectangular room. The right channel had a slightly lighter sound than the left, but this did not affect the soundstaging—which ranged from good to exceptional with good recordings. On the "Tuba Mirum" of Mozart's Requiem (Denon 81757-9152-2), the voices were precisely focused laterally and finely layered in depth.

On the soundstage mapping band from the new Sheffield/XLO Test & Burn-in CD (Sheffield Lab 10041-2-T, reviewed elsewhere in this issue), I could follow Doug Sax's movements precisely; only the sound of the claves at the very end sounded wrong (voice centered but claves right)—an aberration which appears to be in the recording.

The top end of the Veritas was smooth, open, and extended. It could also be a bit forgiving, though by no means dull. Occasionally, recordings which tend to "bite" a bit on other good loudspeakers sounded sweet and open via the Veritas. The sound was notably free of high-frequency glare and irritation, even when pushed hard.

And I could push the Veritas very hard: One of this loudspeaker's most impressive aspects is its ability to play loud without falling apart or becoming congested. The soundtrack from Patriot Games (RCA 66051-2) was nothing short of stunning. "Omigawd," I wrote in my listening notes. The midbass was still up a bit, but the powerful bass line didn't get in the way of the midrange. The sound was three-dimensional, spacious, and dynamic, with all the punch I could stand.

The Alien3 soundtrack (MCA MCAD-10629) emerged as if from the bowels of space. The bottom end energized my 5500ft3 room but did not muddy the upper-bass/lower-midrange region. "These babies can take what the big Krell can dish out," I wrote in my notes. The Veritas reproduced this recording in a manner not even the NHT 3.3s could match.

I jumped from my listening chair when I heard the spatial and spectral depth of the drum whacks on "The Long Ships," from Enya's Watermark (Geffen 24233-2). The organ pedals on the new Pomp & Pipes (Reference RR-58CD) produced a bit of distress (but no woofer bottoming), prompting me to temper the level a bit. But it was sort of loud at that point.

At the very bottom of the bass range, below 30-35Hz, the output of the Veritas began to soften, then roll off noticeably. On the most challenging material, the NHT 3.3s—which I also heard in this room not long before beginning the Veritas listening tests—extended deeper. Fellow Stereophile reviewer Robert Deutsch, on a visit to Santa Fe, commented on this. He was definitely favorably impressed by the overall performance of the Veritas, but noted that in his (smaller) room, the Dunlavy SC-IV definitely seemed to go deeper into the bottom octave than did the Veritas in mine. It's possible that, in seeking a setup that would tame the mid- and upper-bass emphasis I initially experienced with the Veritas, I also sacrificed a bit of their ultimate bottom-end performance.

But the subjective bottom-octave performance of the Veritas was relative, and very much program-dependent. No sooner would I conclude that I'd like to hear the Veritas with a subwoofer than something would come along—like those cuts from Patriot Games and Alien3—that would rattle my teeth and force me to reconsider. Fans of pipe-organ music will likely be happy with the Veritas, though perhaps not driven into ecstasy.

For a comparison, I had earlier set up in my listening room the pair of Snell B minors recently reviewed by Larry Greenhill (April '94, p.167) and sent to Santa Fe for measurement. The $3599/pair Snells are similar in size to the Veritases, but look much less conventional. I set up the Snells on the room's short dimension, a third of the way out into the room. In this position, with a closely positioned listener, they performed strikingly well, and much as LG described: midbass was a bit full, but not excessively so; bass extension was good, with little or nothing obviously missing, but somewhat outpointed at the very bottom by the best subwoofers and a very few full-range loudspeakers; the midrange was very clean and uncolored; and the top end was notably smooth yet detailed.

The Veritases, again with a rather different setup but in the same room, had an airier, more expansive sound. I'm certain that most listeners will be impressed by the sheer weight (in the best sense of the term) that the Veritases bring to "power music." While the Veritas went louder more gracefully and handled demanding program material with more aplomb, the Snells were hardly lacking in this respect.

I came away from the Energy Veritas v2.8s with very positive impressions. I was blown away by their sense of power and majesty on demanding program material, and with their ability to remain subtly delicate and refined on simpler fare. This combination is rare in a loudspeaker, and must be counted as a prime accomplishment of Energy's showcase design.

My friend Randy Tomlinson, who has at least as much experience with the Veritas as I, has suggested two simple, external "mods" that are easily reversible. First, he removed the screen that covers the midrange and tweeter module (footnote 5). He also recommends slightly reducing the level of the midrange. (I didn't find excess midrange to be a problem, but his room, as noted, is much smaller.) Since separate terminals are provided for the midrange, he merely wired a 1 ohm resistor (of a reasonable power rating—10W are readily available) in series with this input.

My sole reservation about the Veritas is its slightly too-rich bottom end. Whenever two loudspeaker drivers are placed in close proximity and used to cover the same frequency band, acoustic coupling and mutual reinforcement occur. This can make the system more sensitive in the region covered by the drivers, which is sometimes a positive result and an integral part of a design. But it can be difficult to pull off. Note than many manufacturers who use two closely spaced woofers roll one of them off short of the upper-bass/lower-midrange region to prevent just such reinforcement. I don't know if Energy has tried this, or even if it would work with the Veritas. Still, I'd welcome slightly better control through the Veritas's mid- and upper bass—if it could be obtained without sacrificing the system's strikingly dynamic, full-bodied, high-level performance.

The Veritas v2.8 is worthy of inclusion on any list of high-end contenders. Its strengths definitely make it worthy of a recommendation, though a cautious one. I strongly suggest that you ensure its compatibility with your listening room, system, and setup restrictions—a procedure that should be followed with any serious loudspeaker purchase.

Footnote 5: Use extreme caution if you try this; the metal-dome drivers can be easily and permanently dented. It's also unlikely that such damage will be looked upon kindly by Energy's warranty department. And no matter how careful you may be, there are visitors, or even family members, whose sole life objective it appears to be to test loudspeaker diaphragms for dentability.—Thomas J. Norton
3641 McNicoll Ave.
Scarborough, Ontario M1X 1G5
(416) 321-1800