Spica Angelus loudspeaker Sam Tellig 1990 part 2

Sam Tellig wrote again about the Angelus in April 1990 (Vol.13 No.4):

My friend Ben has the right idea.

He's stopped hanging around with audiophiles.

The problem, according to Ben, is all those opinions. Views on this equipment, that equipment—often vehemently held. It can all get a little...well, suffocating.

I know what you mean, Ben.

Take my Spica Angelus speakers. (No, don't take them. I'm keeping them.)

When the august J. Gordon Holt heard I was using Angelus speakers, his reaction was, how could I stand listening to anything that so deviates from neutrality?


I grant you, the tweeter can get a little peaky. But I've found a cure—OCOS speaker cable, from Sumiko. Otherwise, the Angelus is one of the most neutral speakers I know. It is notably free from that most irritating coloration of all—cabinet coloration, which usually manifests itself as a boomy, boxy quality on male voices.

I took criticism from Larry.

When LA visited my listening room and heard my Angeli, he noted a) that I was having problems with stability of imaging, and b) that the Spicas didn't have all that much bass.

Actually, I should be grateful. The speakers were too close to some record cabinets, and this messed up the imaging. The solution was to move the speakers further out into the room—actually about 1/3 the way out into the room, and well away from the cabinets. Miraculously, the speakers now throw the soundstage all the way to the back wall and beyond.

But the bass—well, Lorenzo Archibaldo, I am just as happy there isn't all that much. Every bass-rich speaker I've heard has been so problematic that I would sooner not bother. Bass-rich usually becomes bass-overripe.

The Gindian—a shrink who reviews for another stereo rag—also has his opinion of the Angelus.

"I would say you are an audiophile in transition."

Meaning I should bite the bullet and buy speakers like his set of Infinity IRS Betas. The Gindian doesn't think I'm really serious about audiophilia. And he's right.

One thing's obvious about the Angeli—these are incredibly fussy speakers to place. It's not just a matter of getting them more or less at the right place in a room. You have to get them right by a matter of inches—in order to get the amazing holographic effect and extraordinarily precise imaging. Worth the sweat, though.

In my case, I set up the speakers on the short wall of my listening room, and then moved them further and further out, until they are about a third of the way out in the room. This brings my listening position to within 3' of my back wall—a little awkward, perhaps, but worth it for the sound. My thanks to Mario, the speaker-moving maven. (What's the Italian for "maven"?)

You see the difficulty with these speakers? They are extraordinarily critical—of source material, electronics, room placement, cables and interconnects. It takes a dedicated dealer and a dedicated listener (and undoubtedly a dedicated room) to get these speakers sounding their best.

These speakers can probably best be heard at a dealer's in a locale like Alabama, Arkansas, or Maine—you know, someplace where people would rather work to make these speakers sound good than throw a lot of money into their hi-fi in order to impress their friends and build their egos...someplace like metropolitan New York, where Infinity IRS Betas, say, are big.

The other day, at Definitive Hi-Fi, I greeted the proprietor, Rudi Kothe.

"Hi, Rudolfo. How's the pair of Angeluses sounding?"

"Uh," groaned Rudi.

"Not as good as the WATTs/Puppies in the back room, heh? Or the Wilson WAMM?"

(inaudible grunt)

The problem was that the Angeluses—new to the store at the time—hadn't been set up with the same meticulous care as the Wilson Audio equipment in the back. Position these speakers at the wrong place in the room, use crummy cable, feed them a signal from a mediocre CD player or turntable, and you'll get mediocre sound. Treat them like a pair of Wilson WATTs and be surprised at what you get.

Lars got on Rudi's case about the Angeli—the speaker positioning in particular. (Lars fancies himself an expert on that.) Sure enough, Lars was right (he occasionally is). The speakers snapped suddenly to life—soundstaging, focus, dynamics, everything.

Yustifiably yubilant, Lars yabbered, "When you get the speakers positioned at the right spot in the room, they disappear. And the two speakers work with one another to give you greater dynamics."—Sam Tellig