Omni polar speakers is not a new concept and takes on many, sometimes completely surprising, shapes. In the HIGH Fidelity OnLine we had the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with dipole constructions from Acuhorn, as well as truly omni polar (a dipole can be treated as an omni polar source only in the bass range, above a few dozens Hertz it becomes a source with an octal characteristic; but for the sake of clarity I will refer to it as to an omni polar concept, as it is closer to the Duevel than to classic speakers) project of the German company Duevel, the Bella Luna. The solutions allowing to use the listening room in the process of sound shaping are – as I mentioned – quite diverse, but one thing is connecting them: they are expensive in application, and speakers using them are usually very costly. So when the distributor of Duevel, the Katowice based company RCM, told me, that they have speakers of that company at their disposition, that not only look great (what can be verified on a photograph), sound super (this I want to verify) but are also incredibly cheap (the price list confirms). So the Planets reached me.
A horse is a horse, as Planets are Planets, but you have to see them with your own eyes to: first of all – to wonder how small, at least in comparison to other speakers of that company they are; secondly – to see if such a contraption will be accepted in our house. Those are no run of the mill speakers, they look unusual and require house agreement to be placed at home. This can be aided by many available colors – from silver (as the tested unit), through red, green, blue and black. At an extra 400zł we can order a natural maple veneer. But there will always be visible the “planets”, that the speaker got its name from, I mean those metal balls, having the purpose to disperse the sound. And with the dispersion, or better said with me being fixed on the true omni polar character of the speakers, my initial confusion and lack of conviction, if I like those speakers or not, is related. Not reading the manual (a capital offense, common in the editors circles), not remembering my not so long ago happened mistake while placing the Acuhorns (see the test), I placed the Planets as I saw fit, with the small ball facing forward. As those are omni polar speakers it should not matter, how I place them, right? Wrong. At least for this design it is not true. As the speakers are placed in one plane, and not on top of each other, like in the other Duevel, or the not mentioned yet, but playing in my “desktop” system Italian speakers Luxuraudio Colibry, “omni polarity” is limited in a way. If I would have read the manual, or visited the manufacturers website I would know that you should place the speakers sideways... On one hand the method I use while testing, I mean get acquainted with the product, price, history, etc., AFTER the test, gives me freedom of shaping my opinion based only by the sound and make, then sometimes, in case of less common solutions, it can put an element of uncertainty to the test.
So the speakers placed wrongly by me showed all their assets, but were not able to fully draw the vocals – this was always a bit foggy and laid back, as well as instruments coming from the middle of the stage. We will come back to the vocals later, as something else tells us to have a closer look at those small things. When in the test of the Celestion F28 (test this month) I wrote that those just go crazy playing, I have put them in the same row as the Duevel in my mind, among speakers that just play MUSIC, without brushing clean every detail, dusting it off thoroughly, that do not examine everything twice, like it happened on a vast amount of discs of Sara K., where we have so many sounds, but so little music. However it is worth to point to a disc, where it was possible to combine those things, it is the disc Hell Or High Water that was also reviewed by us. I hope you know what I am talking about – a nice shell and no life, like... OK, let's leave that aside. The Duevel praise life by themselves, praise the specific way of spending free time, as is the listening to music from discs (or radio, while speaking of it).
The first impression while starting the critical listening session was regarding the bass – I was thinking that there is too little of it. But repositioning the speakers to their proper position and getting used to their vivid way of sounding alleviated those concerns quickly. True – those are no speakers to go very low on the bass. A significantly large enclosure and bass reflex (two ports) venting down to the floor, using the floor as a mechanical feedback, would suggest a thick sound. The bass is not bloated, but rather resilient and quick. Its resolution is maybe not overwhelming, but those speakers do not cost a fortune, and it is not about that here, I think. Maybe I am just nitpicking.
The treble and midrange are very expressive, but never overwhelming, nor metallic or sharp. We could even say that although the upper midrange is fresh and clear, the upper treble is softened and a little rounded, so that all, even worse recordings sound a bit sweet and silky. And the timbre and dynamics, here really outstanding, are only a part of the story. And although I did not start with that, to not to suggest, that anything is being done artificial here, everything is being combined into one by the space. Due to the unconventional construction the Planets sound in an almost identical way regardless of our position. Usually the tonal balance is best, if we sit in the hot-spot, “gold” point, where the emissions from all speakers are optimized. Here it is different – regardless of the fact if we sit in front, to the side, if we stand or sit, the tonal balance is very similar. The stage depth is best when we sit on top of triangle, but besides this – almost a constant. This is an incredible impression, when walking around our home, even listening to the radio, we always hear the same voice, the treble doesn't disappear, the bass does not start to rumble.
And in the best position we will hear the room walls being disassembled and only the instrument remains. That was the case with the acoustic guitar from Walking in The Sun Barb Jungr (LINN Records, AKD 283, SACD/HDCD), that was shown as by much more expensive speakers. When in the song “Who do You Love?” the guitar is heard, then its metal strings literally hang somewhere to the side, behind the speakers. It was the same with the Hammond organ. With one word – the impression of three dimensionality among instruments was dominating. I had the feeling, that the speakers are almost completely replaced by the room. There is a catch: instruments are shown in a way that is rare even in very expensive speakers, transported to our room (that is how you hear it), but you cannot hear the acoustics, in which they were recorded, it is replaced with the acoustics of our room. Maybe even not the acoustics, but our rooms response to the timbre of the separate instruments. For a while it sounded strange, as it suddenly did not matter where the recording was done, because the acoustical playing of Jungr and the electronic sounds from J.M.Jarre from the disc Téo&Téa (Aero Productions/Warner 997664, CCD http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copy_Control +DVD) were perfectly placed in space, but the same space – our room. We get used to it in some time. And good, as we probably dream of such “transfer” of space.
The tonal balance is set on the midrange, what predestines them to play with amplifiers not emphasizing the upper midrange. They sound superb with tubes, because in spite of low sensitivity (85dB) they are very spontaneous and impulsive. I also liked how they did sound with the Primare I21, I am preparing for a test in the next issue. The mentioned vocals are very real in their presence, when listened to from the right spot, however they are not that saturated as with good speakers with classic enclosures. And this is actually the only thing that can be blamed on those speakers. They will not be a “tool”, as they will not inform about the acoustics present at time of the recording, but will place the instruments directly in our room. One could also wish a bit more bass, but probably there cannot anything for free. And one more thing – the wire terminals are placed on the bottom pf the enclosure, what improves the design, but also hinders connection of the speaker cables. So it is recommended to acquire not too stiff cables with banana plugs. I used Hotline Red Spiral and it was very good. You can also try a setting when the speakers are still pointing to us with their sides, but a bit bent to the middle – it improved focusing.
The speakers Planets of the German company Duevel are small two-way speakers of the bass-reflex type, that were designed to maximize the dispersion of the sound waves coming from the drivers. To achieve this the drivers were put flat on top of the enclosure, and above them two metal spheres (those are hollow) were placed, mounted on special supports. The plastic tweeter dome, placed in a quite long tube, received the smaller sphere, and the coated paper woofer with 150mm diameter – the larger one, which is also placed higher. On the bottom of the enclosure two small bass reflex ports are placed and a single wire terminal. The speakers cannot be unscrewed, as they are mounted using a sticky substance, but I managed to see their markings and so it seems both are coming from the “pro” world, and are used in professional systems. The artificial veneer and the enclosure make is nice, but the spheres are not perfect – you can see the place where the halves are mounted together, also the supports do not really fit the whole. However the price of the speaker is low enough that we should not complain. If such details would be addressed, the final price would probably rise significantly, and we would complain that they take care of such minor things.
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