En­core ENC-5 Book­shelf Speak­ers

NOVO - - PRODUCT REVIEW - Mal­colm J. Gomes

Over the past few decades, we have seen some truly splen­did con­sumer elec­tron­ics prod­ucts come out of Ja­pan. Sadly, ex­cept for a few ex­cep­tions, this did not in­clude great high-end loud­speak­ers. This is why most au­dio­philes who were par­tial to front end elec­tron­ics that are made in Ja­pan, usu­ally turn to North Amer­ica or Europe for their loud­speaker re­quire­ments.

One of the rea­sons for this could be that most Ja­panese prod­ucts are mass-pro­duced on assem­bly lines, which is very an­tithe­sis of the way su­pe­rior loud­speak­ers are made. It is a fact that most true high­end loud­speak­ers are care­fully and metic­u­lously hand­crafted one pair at a time by skilled hands and like fine mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, they are in­di­vid­u­ally tuned and voiced to op­ti­mize their per­for­mance.

Of late, I have found a few loud­speak- ers com­ing out of Ja­pan, which have been cre­ated the way the bet­ter trans­duc­ers in North Amer­ica and Europe have been for the past half-cen­tury. One of the more prom­i­nent ef­forts has been from Sony, who in­tro­duced the ES SS-M9ED and then fol­lowed it up with the well re­viewed SS-AR1.

de­sign | fea­tures

The En­core ENC-5, which is the sub­ject of this re­view, be­longs to the same ilk as the SS-AR1, in that it is metic­u­lously de­signed, hand as­sem­bled and in­di­vid­u­ally tuned like a fine acous­tic in­stru­ment. The En­core is made by Com­bak Cor­po­ra­tion of Ja­pan and it is their sec­ond foray into the world of high-end loud­speak­ers. Their first at­tempt was the ‘Bravo’, which, like the En­core is also a book­shelf speak­ers with am­bi­tions of ri­val­ing not just other high-end book­shelf speak­ers but also some floor stand­ing mod­els.

Wynn Wong of Wynn Audio dropped by with the re­view pair of the En­core and very gra­ciously helped me un­pack the speak­ers and set them up. My first im­pres­sions of the En­core, out of the box, were not ex­actly over­whelm­ing. The En­core is a pe­tite, well fin­ished boxy cab­i­net that mea­sures 217mm x 300mm x 217mm and weighs in at 12.32 ki­los (around 16 ki­los with the pack­ag­ing). I could not fault the pack­ag­ing, which is very well thought out and should sur­vive even the most bru­tal han­dling dur­ing ship­ment.

The En­core looks to be a sin­gle driver unit de­sign un­til you go through the lit­er­a­ture which re­veals that it is ac­tu­ally a coax­ial de­sign con­sist­ing of a 176mm fiber­glass midrange at the cen­ter of which is mounted a coax­ial alu­minum dome 24mm tweeter. The de­sign goal was to cre­ate a one-point source drive that has a dis­per-

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