Loudspeakers/Sonor Audio Claro 6.2
Joel gets to grips with some of his local favorites
Enclosure type Ported
Drive units 2x 6-inch woofers, 38 mm ring radiator tweeter
Impedance 6 ohms
Sensitivity 89 dB
Frequency response 40 Hz — 22 kHz
Power handling 180 watts
Dimensions 1 230 x 210 x 440 mm (HxWxD)
Weight 47 kg each
These loudspeakers are agile, play lower than expected and deliver a mesmerising soundstage with loads of detail. Add to this superlative build quality and — to my eyes — great looks, and you have speakers that deliver on all fronts. In the South African context they represent an audio bargain.
PRICE R52 160
SUPPLIED BY Sonor Audio
I’m going to start this review with an admission.
I have owned Sonor Audio speakers for around 20 years, and in this time several models have passed through my audio system. In fact, my current speakers are the predecessors to the very models on review here.
Does this make me a little biased towards the brand?
Quite possibly it does, and if anyone reading this feels that this review isn’t balanced or fair because of any perceived bias, you’re free to stop reading right here. However, if you do decide to read on, you will find out why I have been loyal to Sonor Audio for more than two decades.
One of the main reasons I like Sonor speakers is because their factory is about a 25 minute drive from my house. Being so close it’s not too unusual to see me at the factory, watching how the speakers are assembled or saying hello to the people who turn slabs of wood and veneer into loudspeaker cabinets that are as good, if not better, than most of the best, highly regarded brands out in the audio world.
I can also walk up a flight of stairs and pop my head around a corner and see exactly where every crossover coil is custom wound (in-house) to the exact specification for its intended purpose, or look at the boxes of capacitors custom made to Sonor Audio’s specification. There is even a separate room where the Tractrix horns for the 6.2s — and indeed all the speakers in the Sonor range — are made.
For a small company, Sonor Audio does a whole lot of design and manufacturing in-house.
Probably the main reason I like Sonor speakers, though, is because I can chat to Roy Witelson, the man who for around 30 years has been the brains behind Sonor Audio. Sonor Audio is in fact (and I stand to be corrected here), the oldest loudspeaker manufacturer in the country.
Let’s now move on to the speakers themselves.
Visually there is little to differentiate my older pair to the latest version. You get the same impeccable build quality, nice bi-wire binding posts and adjustable spikes that you can get to from above. This makes levelling the speakers a breeze.
If you pop off the grilles you would note that the tweeter horn looks a little different. The entire front baffle is in fact new and the Tractrix tweeter moulding placed the driver at the acoustic centre of the dual D-appolito woofers. As before, the drivers hail from Scan Speak. Also new is the crossover, and here a lot of work has been done to ensure that the speakers are as time coherent as possible.
On first listening to my review pair of Claro 6.2s, I noted that the speakers seemed to play low frequencies with a little more authority than my speakers. This was a little odd, as according to the specifications, the port tuning hadn’t changed.
After chatting to Roy about this, he explained that the new tweeter horn design — coupled to the crossover changes made to the latest iteration of the 6.2s — had tidied up midrange response. These changes had opened up bass response and improved pace. It is, I suppose, somewhat of an audio anomaly that improvements in one area manifest in others.
To these ears anyway, the 6.2s seem to play lower that their 40 Hz specification suggests they should (As an aside, rough in-room response measurements showed response lower than 40 Hz). Of far more importance than how low the speakers play is the quality of their bass extension. Here the speakers have a flat response that lets one hear every note in the lower registers.
You do get a lot of competitors that sound at first like they have more bass than the 6.2s, but in my experience, these speakers have one-note bass. They play that note extremely well and louder than all the others. Unfortunately, they do make bass players sound like they only ever have one string on their instruments. I’ll take the 6.2s with their neutral and natural bass extension, thanks. So low and clean did the speakers play that practically all who heard them looked for the subwoofer in my listening room… I don’t have one.
Audiophiles often talk about Pace, Rhythm and Timing, or PRaT. To these I would add stereo focus, staging and definition, naturalness and neutrality. If a loudspeaker has all of these, it has (in my opinion anyway) achieved the holy grail of delivering superb sound. These points, once again in my opinion, are the domain of a speaker’s midrange response.
Sure, bass and treble are vitally important, but not as important as mids.
I have a simple test that proves the above and anyone is welcome to ask me about it.
But back to the Claro 6.2s and I can say with conviction that the speakers tick all the boxes I’ve mentioned. Pace is there and snare drum strikes, for example, sound real and visceral. If my feet are any guide as they tap along to the music, rhythm and timing are there, too. While my older 6.2s were better than many other speakers in their category in the imaging and staging stakes, the new models are better. This is attributed to the design changes mentioned earlier.
When properly set up you get a soundstage that is wide, deep and high — if that is how the music was recorded — or intimate and focussed between the speakers. What you get is clean and clear definition of artists and instruments. Again, these attributes are delivered with neutrality that doesn’t shine a spotlight on one band over another.
Playing a vital supporting role to the midrange performance of the speakers is their high frequency performance. Tops are crisp and clean and once again offer subtle improvements over my older models. Texture is slightly enhanced and overall definition is improved. Due to the directionality of the Tractrix tweeter horn, the listening sweet spot can be a little narrow. This is perhaps one of the few, albeit small, downsides of the latest design.
In summary (and unsurprisingly!) I liked the speakers and I do feel that they are amongst the best audio bargains around. They will play anything — and I threw everything from female jazz to classical and reggae to rock at them. They are reasonably easy to set up and don’t actually need lots of power to drive them. However, as they are revealing speakers, any flaws downstream will be highlighted. They deserve to be paired with superb ancillaries.