Top Notch Record­ings Used to Eval­u­ate the Carmel 2

NOVO - - PRODUCT REVIEW -

Art Pep­per Meets the Rhythm Sec­tion [XRCD Ja­pan] MA on SA [MA Record­ings] AfroCu­bism [NoneSuch] Diana Krall – All for You [Justin Time] Miles Davis – The Orig­i­nal Mono Record­ings [Columbia] The Bea­tles – Love [Capi­tol] Bar­tok Con­certo for Or­ches­tra – Reiner [Liv­ing Stereo SACD] Beethoven – The Late Sonatas – Igor Le­vit [Sony Clas­si­cal] There is a clar­ity and three di­men­sion­al­ity to the mu­sic that ap­proaches the sound of live mu­sic. In par­tic­u­lar, you ex­pe­ri­ence a dy­namic range and speed of at­tack rarely ap­proached with con­ven­tional HiFi. Sadly, when the record­ings are sub­par (as they of­ten are) you can hear that too. Com­pres­sions, ar­ti­fi­cial boosts to the pres­ence re­gion, early dig­i­tal nas­ties, poor mi­cro­phone place­ment and street noises, all come through with re­mark­able clar­ity, mak­ing such record­ings very un­com­fort­able to lis­ten to.

Con­versely, when the record­ing engi­neers re­ally know what they are do­ing the sound is in­com­pa­ra­ble, very life­like and ex­tremely en­joy­able, even thrilling. Your body senses it. Ev­ery­thing makes sense. You can hear ev­ery in­stru­ment clearly even in a com­plex mix like a Brahms Sym­phony or a large jazz or­ches­tra. We have all heard splen­did clar­ity at au­dio shows or at a good HiFi store where the ma­te­rial is of­ten a small jazz combo or a four or five piece pop group. Imag­ine when that clar­ity ex­tends to large choirs, full or­ches­tra, a church or­gan, or any­thing you throw at it, as long as the record­ing was made with care and at­ten­tion.

Now these speak­ers reach down deep, but not to subter­ranean depths. You’ll want the big­ger speak­ers in the YG range for that. But ex­cept in elec­tronic mu­sic, you will rarely find sig­nif­i­cant mu­si­cal con­tent be­low the 32 Hz mark that YG claim for the Carmel 2. I tried Bach’s Pas­sacaglia and Fugue to see how well the Carmel would fare on deep or­gan notes, and I could not have wanted more. The whole room was en­er­gized. The midrange is im­pec­ca­ble, and the high fre­quency range is the most ex­tended and nat­u­ral I have ever heard, iden­ti­cal in fact to the Carmel’s big­ger broth­ers.

Be­sides the ex­treme low bass, what other lim­i­ta­tions do these speak­ers have? The only thing I can put my fin­ger on is max­i­mum deci­bel level. There are are a lot of speak­ers that can hand­ily out­per­form the Carmel 2 on this mea­sure, in­clud­ing some in the three to four thou­sand dol­lar range. So how does this speaker com­pare to other high end speak­ers? Most sim­i­larly priced mod­els will be larger and ca­pa­ble of ei­ther greater low end ex­ten­sion or high sound pres­sures or likely both. Some will boast three or more driv­ers as op­posed to the two driver setup used here, and the woofer will be of a larger di­am­e­ter. So quan­tity of sound may very well be higher else­where. But qual­ity? I have not found this de­gree of ac­cu­racy of tonal colour else­where, such three di­men­sional imag­ing, such speed of re­sponse or such true to life dy­nam­ics, within the vol­ume and fre­quency range the Carmel 2 cov­ers. You may be won­der­ing if all this ac­cu­racy means a cold or clin­i­cal pre­sen­ta­tion. I did not find any ev­i­dence of that. Hu­man voices gain in re­al­ism and in­ti­macy, strings have a very nat­u­ral colour and deep bass is pitch ac­cu­rate and full. The best sin­gle word de­scrip­tion I can give the Carmel 2 is mu­si­cal.

You should also con­sider how well this speaker would fit into your lis­ten­ing room and how well it would pair up with your am­pli­fier. As a sealed box, it’s not as fussy about the dis­tance from the rear and side walls as a lot of larger rear ported speak­ers, but it’s not the eas­i­est speaker to drive. Its ef­fi­ciency is around 87dB (mod­er­ate) and it needs an amp that can pump a good deal of cur­rent into a low im­ped­ance load. It may be a bet­ter match for a solid state amp than for most tube amps. The ModWright amp I used for this re­view puts out 150 wpc into 8 ohms and 200 wpc into 4 ohms, but oc­ca­sion­ally the amp’s pro­tec­tion cir­cuits cut in when I re­ally turned up the wick in large scale sym­phonic works be­cause of the high tem­per­a­tures mea­sured at the heat sinks. So that’s an in­di­ca­tion the Carmel can be quite de­mand­ing. You should try be­fore you buy, or be pre­pared to up­grade your present amp if nec­es­sary.

The Carmel 2 is equally at home in all types of mu­sic, even hard rock, but it isn’t an im­pres­sive sound­ing an­i­mal. It just gets out of the way of the mu­sic, gets your feet tap­ping and nails you to the sofa. I’m a be­liever. Happy lis­ten­ing!

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