ProAc Response D Two loudspeaker Page 2

I found similar results in experimenting with sources. I borrowed an Oppo BDP-83SE universal Blu-ray player (Kalman Rubinson wrote about it in his column in the March issue). My first impression was that it was shockingly close in sound to Luxman's far more expensive DU-50. However, extensive listening, mostly to "Red Book" CDs vs "Red Book" CDs, but also to some SACDs, showed that the Luxman had greater weight in the bass and a slightly more cohesive sound. Interestingly enough, what clarified this for me was one of my rare listen-from-another-room experiences. While I was busy in the kitchen, a friend went from playing the Salonen Gurrelieder in the Oppo to playing it in the Luxman, both through the Response D Twos: the voice of Soile Isokoski, as Tove, became noticeably more agreeable.

This is no knock to the Oppo BDP-83SE, which is an amazing player—and a bargain—at $899. As of now, it has become my default recommendation in affordable digital gear. Assuming nothing more revelatory shows up in the next few months, it should get my vote for Budget Component of the Year. However, this comparison might actually tell us a little more about the ProAcs.

With the Oppo BDP-83SE feeding the Leben CS600 driving the Harbeth P3ESRs and listening to Live at Newport 1960 (CD, Omega OCD 3025), a recording of Gerry Mulligan's pianoless big band playing at the Newport Jazz Festival, the sound was simply wonderful. I was thinking, It doesn't get much better than this.

Switching over to the ProAc Response D Twos, there was immediately a sense of greater frequency extension and detail, and a taller, wider soundstage, but also a feeling that the sound had gone to the fat farm and came back thinner through the middle. I then substituted the Luxman DU-50 for the Oppo BDP-83SE. The Luxman had even more resolution—things like babbling voices in the crowd noise were more clearly rendered. There was more weight in the bass and midrange, and the sound was smoother all around. The center image on lead sax was a little better delineated.

There was no question in my mind that I was hearing more of the music with the Luxman, and with a character I think would bear up better over the long term. The question is whether there is $4000 more worth of music.

I'm a bit reluctant to state a general proposition, but based on this particular listening session and these components, it seems that the Harbeth P3ESR is perhaps the more forgiving speaker, and the ProAc Response D Two is a more revealing or even picky speaker. I liked the ProAcs a lot more when using the $5000 Luxman DU-50 than the $899 Oppo BDP-83SE (as I liked the ProAcs more with the Leben CS600 than with the Luxman or ATC solid-state amps). For whatever that's worth, and your mileage may vary.

Summing Up
I end where I began. Combined with a high-quality source, Leben's CS600 integrated amplifier and ProAc's Response D Two loudspeakers are a magically synergistic combination—a marriage made in heaven. And on their own, too, each is well worth your audition.

US distributor: Modern Audio
PO Box 334
Stevenson, MD 21153
(410) 486-5975