Joel happened to have a sneak peak preview of the big system review we listened to recently and posed an interesting challenge. As you know we are big fans of locally produced stuff and as it happens Roy Witelson of Sonor Audio has been playing, almost by accident, on a set of speakers.
And here they are…
Of course, I HAD to listen to them! And so, it was arranged.
Listening was done in Sonor’s reference room and of course it’s not a critical review given that the room dynamics are quite possibly some of the best I’ve heard – studio quality stuff. A completely dead room in other words, which allows sound waves to do their thing around your ears.
Winding me up by putting me in the room in the dark wasn’t playing fair. Of the three sets of speakers in the room, guessing which set was playing was beyond my skills – and at the end of the day my imaging reference, which I use as my basis, was off. I had vocals with which I was unfamiliar sitting in front of me, which I adjudged to be the excessive toe-in on the smallest set of speakers. It wasn’t. That’s recordings for you.
We’ll get to the smaller speakers at some stage in the future, but when the lights went on and these 10.2s were revealed, there can be no denying their presence. They are HUGE. And they just look intimidating – a Terminator of the speaker world with baffles, and ports and drivers everywhere you look.
What we have is one 1-inch tweeter with two 5-inch mids and 2 x 10-inch woofers. There are twin-firing forward bass reflex ports for the woofer sub assemblies, and single ported vents for the mids at the rear. All housed in a cabinet that stands taller than I do. Custom cast baffle mouldings and a speaker construction that, well, shall we say, is rigid enough to the point where concrete columns might be embarrassed completes the somewhat over the top “look at me!” looks.
From the front to the back there isn’t a soft edge in sight. One might say this is a hallmark of Sonor manufacture, but quite rightly – I could care less what the thing looks like once I am listening – all is forgiven. Ordinarily.
The speakers suffer from the same thing that all big speakers suffer from. They need a bigger room and being stupidly easy to drive with just 100 per channel being sufficient, you can over pressurise matters easily. Run them at normal listening levels (and as Joel pointed out) you might well be forgiven for thinking that you’re listening to an accurate set of bookshelf monitors. With all the presence that comes with deep bottom end and sheer quantity of sound waves from the physical size of these brutes.
Do not be fooled however. Brute is a strong word – and refers only to the imposing presence that these speakers command (demand?). The subtlety that they can present is quite amazing to hear and as gentle as the music demands them to be is what you get. If you want a slam however, it’s there in spades.
Initial impressions are of a speaker that is refined, poised and delicate. It’s almost as if they know they can hurt you and before they figure out your safe word they lead you into the music, gently holding your hand. Once we’re friends however, the gloves can really come off and as you listen you start to appreciate more and more of what’s being presented. These are speakers that can pull a recording apart simply because they have such control over delivery of what’s coming in. Whatever crossover is in there, it’s good. And as much as I hate the oscilloscope thing, it would be interesting to see how the 10.2s ‘flatten the curve’.
The hallmark though of any great speaker is when you stop focusing on what the speaker can do and transition into listening to the music that it is capable of presenting. In this, the 10.2s excel. It doesn’t take long and in all honesty the temptation to turn the lights off again was strong. I loved the pace of these speakers, I loved the presence and the way I got the sense of music left hanging in the air to the point where you want to reach out and touch it. I loved the way that the truly low end of things is handled because I felt it, and on my reference tracks there is enough there to convince me that the 10.2s are the real deal.
They may be giants and Sonor has a reputation for building giant slayers. I find myself at a bit of a loss for words as to whom it is that the 10.2 are going out to kill, but at the pricing point of around R150k (R140k if you ask AV News nicely for an introduction) and without having a pair in my own system, my first impressions are that there is going to be some blood spilled in the streets … and it will not be that of the 10.2s.