These must be one of the more controversial loudspeakers from a small British manufacturer to come along in recent years. Alacrity Audio’s claims for this small standmount loudspeaker are nothing if not bold!
Take a look at this technical specification ;
Power Handling: 200 W (110 RMS)
Sensitivity: 88 dB
Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms.
W x H x D: 205 x 415 x 250 mm
Weight: 10kg per cabinet
Frequency Response: sub-sonic to 20,000 Hz +/-3dB
Crossover Frequency: 2.25 khz
Connections: 4mm Gold
Bass Port: Front Reflex
Drivers: LF 17cm Bass Mid / HF 20mm Soft Dome
Optional Extras: Flight Case
Recommended Stand Height: 50 – 60 cm
…. Power handling, sensitivity, crossover point, bass loading, dimensions … blah de blah … frequency response 20KHz down to sub-sonic with +/- 3dB limits … impedance, driver size, connections ….
Whoa! …. Hang on …. you what? — subsonic frequency response? Have the laws of physics been rescinded or written anew for this speaker? Interesting indeed.
They aren’t a budget-priced speaker, but at £2,000 a pair they compete with many including ProAc. I’m not sure the fit & finish is up to ProAc standards, but it is perfectly fine.
No grilles are provided, so proud parents whose little darlings may have cone- and dome-prodding fingers had better be careful!
Well, I’m no techie. I just listen.
The Alacrity website says the remarkable frequency response specification is achieved by ‘acoustic induction’. But doesn’t appear to say what that actually means.
Google was no help – but as I say, I’m no techie, so I think I’ll just leave it at that and get on to the listening ….
Location, location, location. Important not only for selling houses, but for getting the best out of loudspeakers as well. And really quite critical with the Caterthuns, as close to rear wall siting is essential for them. Tonal balance is dramatically thinned and bass weight and power are disastrously diminished if they aren’t close to the wall. 30cm is the very most I would recommend, and closer is much better.
I have to say that this was a right pain in the fundament for me – my listening room is organised for my MBL floorstanders, and they like to be well out in the room. Consequently, there are all manner of open shelves behind them; these don’t interfere sonically but do get in the way physically! After much re-arranging I managed to edge the Caterthuns ever-closer to the rear wall, and the tonal balance improved hugely as I did so. Yup, if they were mine, I’d have them flush up against the rear wall, even if imaging does suffer a little as a result.
Well, I just have to address the bass thing first, don’t I.
Yes, the bass is deep, controlled and impressive – very much so considering the size of the speaker enclosure.
But subsonic? No. Well, I don’t have measuring equipment, but it certainly doesn’t sound that way.
OK, then – how about merely world beating? Err, no. My much bigger (and much more expensive) MBLs go deeper and louder. I’ve heard many floorstanding loudspeakers that do so, actually – but not many standmounters, I have to say. Umm — probably none at all, if you discount such things as the bigger ATCs or PMCs which just need a small platform to stand on.
I think that what we have here is exceptional bass performance for the size of the cabinet. And that is a mighty fine thing to have. And I guess the claims of sub-sonics got my attention! But not really; I first heard the Caterthun’s at one of last year’s UK hifi Shows. I just wandered into the next room, saw yet another pair of small speakers and nearly wandered straight out again. But at that point the music started and I did a genuine double-take, and then looked around for the subwoofer. Which was nowhere to be seen, as there wasn’t one. At this point I had a quick further listen, a brief chat with the designer, handed over my Hifi Pig business card and said I would be most interested in doing a review!
But there’s more to music than just great bass from a small enclosure. So how did the Caterthuns do the rest of the range?
Very enjoyably, and in quite a distinctive fashion ….
A Quick Comparison
I think there’s a bit of treble emphasis, a touch of forwardness, which adds an edge to dynamics to make the Caterthuns sound faster, and give a more precise sounding focus to imaging. This can sound great with many genres of music, and would be appreciated and enjoyed by many listeners. It’s interesting to compare the Caterthuns with the similar -sized and -priced Proac Response D2. What a different presentation! The Proac is more neutral, I think, and may well be the better choice for classical and acoustic music in general, if a tonally accurate portrayal of the music is a high priority for you. The Proacs don’t thrust the music at you in the energetic way that the Caterthuns do, and may well sound a bit bland in comparison. And the Proacs don’t go as deep or as controlled in the bass, and their dynamic envelope sounds more limited – the Caterthuns do ‘explosive’ very well!
Nothing is perfect, of course, both types of presentation are valid and enjoyable in their way, you just have to choose the balance of virtues and vices that best suit your own preferences.
More from the hifi checklist …..
So yes, imaging is very fine, even a bit accentuated in terms of focus and pinpoint placement of sounds. Front to back depth is not bad, but as the speaker is moved nearer to the rear wall (essential for getting decent tonal balance) the soundstage depth tends to flatten out a little. It’s still good considering the close-to-wall placement, but fans of holographic imaging may well choose to look elsewhere.
Dynamics really are very good, both in terms of speed/shock-factor and room-filling ability. They are very dynamic sounding speakers, probably aided and abetted by the slightly forward balance already commented on.
In my medium sized room (12 by 20 feet) they did prefer the 50-ish wpc of my Yaqin valve amp to the 17wpc available from the Viva 300p, but to be honest the lower power amp was just fine for most music – if you want to play dubstep at 115dB you’ll need more than a flea-powered amp, but you probably knew that already!
Oh, and you can buy a very nice carry-box / crate for them for an extra £200.
The Caterthuns are something of a ‘marmite’ component, I suspect. For those unfamiliar with that particular British food paste, it has a very distinctive and strong taste – you either love it or loathe it!
A bit forward, slightly etched, very dynamic and stonkingly good bass for the enclosure size.
I really enjoyed my time with them – but they are a little fussy with regards to placement and against the wall is pretty much mandatory. They give a full-on sound, probably not the best things to kick back and chill-out to at the end of a hard day. But if you want an exciting and upfront musical or cinematic experience, with a small-ish standmount loudspeaker which won’t have you immediately reaching for the subwoofer catalogue, then the Alacrity Caterthuns are well worth seeking out!
Review system: MBL 116F speakers, Viva 300p (power amp mode), Restek Consens pre-amp, Yaqin MC-100B integrated amp, McCormack UDP-1 silver disc spinner. Audio technica OFC speakers cables, RFC Pluto interconnect cables.