Chario Premium 1000 loudspeaker

In my reviewing career, except for fleeting listening sessions at the occasional audio show, I've had little contact with products from the Italian loudspeaker maker Chario. When asked if I'd be interested in reviewing an affordable bookshelf speaker from them, I did some research and discovered that Chario is distributed in the US by Koetsu USA. Well, with that kind of pedigree—I'm a loyal owner of two Koetsu Urushi cartridges—I thought I'd better give the Premium 1000 ($1015/pair) a careful listen. A few months later, I was tucking in to a pair of review samples.

Chario currently markets 18 two-channel loudspeakers ranging in price from $750 to nearly $32,000/pair. The 1000 is the first model in their Premium line of two-way speakers designed using Chario's principle of "frequency shifting." They theorize that the combination of a long-throw woofer with a radiating diameter of less than 7" (180mm) and a crossover point more than an octave lower than what's most often found in other two-way designs should result in a small speaker with very good energy linearity and dispersion.

The Premium 1000's 1" (27mm) soft-dome tweeter is derived from the tweeters used in Chario's more expensive Constellation series. Under the dome membrane is a rigid hemispherical pad whose primary purpose is to equally distribute the air pressure behind the diaphragm, thus minimizing acoustic resonances. The tweeter's aluminum front plate is designed to rapidly disperse heat. The tweeter is crossed over at 1450Hz to a 5" (130mm) woofer with a cone formed from what Chario calls "stochastic cellulose fibers." This driver has an extra magnet to lower its Q and increase its acceleration capability. It is vented with a port mounted on the cabinet's base; four rubber feet raise the enclosure about 3/4" above the stand, to allow the port to "breathe."

Chario offers matching stands costing $435/pair. They look stunning, and match your choice of real-wood veneer: Mahogany, Cherry, Black, or Dark Walnut. However, I listened to the Premium 1000s using my own Celestion Si stands, which I've loaded with sand and lead shot. Chario recommends positioning the Premium 1000s toed in toward the listener as compared with the speaker positions I more typically use: with the speakers' front baffles facing straight ahead. I enjoyed listening with the speakers in both configurations, each of which produced a different sort of soundstage: the toed-in positions increased the depth; the straight-ahead positions increased the width. This will be a matter of personal taste. I preferred listening to the Premium 1000s with their grilles removed, which I felt provided a bit more transient detail with no changes in timbre, but the difference was minor.

The Chario Premium 1000 had an effortless, uncolored, bloomy quality in the lower midrange that I've heard in the past only from much larger loudspeakers. Erik Whitacre's Lux Aurumique, from Cantus' While You Are Alive (CD, Cantus CTS-1208), features delicate low-level articulation of this male choir's lower register; through the Chario, the voices flowed in a silky, enveloping manner that brought out every subtle low-level dynamic nuance of this talented ensemble's performance. The speaker's realism in this frequency range also complemented Robert Silverman's reading of the Allegro moderato of Rachmaninoff's Piano Sonata 1 (CD, Stereophile STPH019-2). His Hamburg Steinway's textures sounded rich, warm, and delicate, and the Chario conveyed a considerable amount of low-level ambience, with long decays in the subtler passages.

Chario Loudspeakers
US distributor: Koetsu USA
NA-5 Miramonte Garden Hills
Guaynabo, PR 00966
(787) 689-7239