The finish I received was in black Ash, with a gunmetal toned aluminium grill design to the front baffle which conceals both the tweeter and the recessed mid/bass driver.
The main driver is loaded into a tuned chamber and aperture which improves dispersion and integration. The drivers themselves are high quality Scanspeak units.
The reflex port arrangement is also novel wherein the port is built as part of the cabinet and includes anti-standing wave devices.
I initially rigged the Solos up with an old Inca Tech Oberon amplifier, a good old trusty solid state amp from Colin Wonfor. After about 200 hours of burning in time I began to listen to a mixture of music to gauge a feel of what these heavy little boxes were all about before exploring things a little further.
The top end is incredibly airy and clean sounding with an unmistakeable first class presentation with pop, dance music and crisp cymbal work, projecting elements with excellent timing and precision.
The midrange is clean also and with a brightish amp I thought “these could run into problems”. Bass is extremely tight with no overhang or boom at all, detailed and fast.
Listening to some complex string work the intricacy and detail the Solos extract is nothing short of incredible for its price point in the upper frequencies, but I missed the fuller nature of instruments and lower-end roll off seemed a little steep which limited decay somewhat. I wondered if it was due to the tighter punchier nature of the Oberon after playing around with speaker positioning for half an hour or so.
I plugged the Emille in and fired her up listening to some more string based acoustic material again. Yes! Much better! Detail retrieval was still excellent and the cleaner airier top end of the speakers prevailed.
Midrange now took on a more natural rather than clean and neutral presentation with the valves injecting that magic that they do into vocals and instrument undertones which to my surprise matched the Solos perfectly. I was convinced that they would be a speaker which would bias strongly towards solid state amplification! How wrong I was and how glad I was that their character shifted from clean to more natural as the midrange did become too sharp at increased volumes (not to discount a warmer solid state amp of course) but with what I had to hand on the day solid-state wise it proved that the Solos like that added bit of flavour offered by the valve amp.
Bass now also became more natural and less of that steep slope which I interpreted to be their stated characteristic was true now, a gentler and softer roll off at the lower end was clearly audible yet it retained some good punch with faster more beat driven music.
Listening to a variety of beat driven music really showed that the little Solos have great rhythm and timing capabilities, although with comparisons to larger floor standing speakers and larger stand mounts they don’t have the SPL’s, or go as low, but just listening to the Solos on their own I never felt that I was lacking anything. Using the Oberon gave a tightness to the bottom end which rocked the symmetry and exposed their capabilities, but with the valves they seemed more coherent, bouncy and enjoyable and the mids or top no longer outshone or ripped the balance of the presentation.
I recently listened to some Art Stiletto Monitors here on the same rig and they did lean more towards a mid/treble enthusiasm and I felt that they just couldn’t reproduce quite the coherence or impact that the Solos have.
Another note in the Solos honour is their holographic nature. After just a slight toeing in dispersion was at its peak in my room and they did convey a very good three dimensional and holographic soundstage with more manufactured Electronica which is good test for a speakers ability in this department. Although artifacts were a little softer than the best, their solidly controlled edges of details in the forefront of the soundstage was the real draw in, pin pointing artifacts wonderfully strongly.
Dynamics for the same music were also very strong throughout the frequency range, there were even times where I felt and heard a bass note flare out and suck back in again which I’ve generally only heard with larger speakers. The Solos have a way of drawing you into the full music spectrum without even being able to reproduce those lowest of notes. I attest this is due to their cabinet design and driver implementation, with the bandwidth they offer. I really couldn’t hear any attenuated portions or a sense of over filtered areas due to their unique design, which I can imagine some may expect from understanding their construction. I personally think that they are very cleverly done and admit I didn’t expect the level of coherence and quality that I heard from them.
I also played a whole heap of music from Spotify, 320kbps MP3 and the top end was still great and didn’t over expose any nasties in poorer recordings at this level. I would imagine that anybody buying a set of speakers bordering on £2k wouldn’t be throwing nasty recordings at them so the lower quality Spotify is what I consider as a fair test for lesser recordings and they coped admirably.
In conclusion I can firmly state that once a bit of fiddling with positioning is done (which I think is largely related to the width of the room more than the depth due to the speakers’ wide dispersion) to attain a strong centre stage and that holographic nature which I mentioned, the Solos will really sing.
Be careful not to partner them with amplification that is too clean or bright and punchy, it will spoil the broth in my experience and to look at them they immediately say, powerful solid state to me with their modern and clean styling. But do not let their appearance fool you, get some good valve watts up them and their own characteristics of excellent clarity, timing and punchy presentation will really give a most enjoyable performance. If you’re a bit of a bass monster the Solos don’t have the room pulsating character and lack the lower octave reproduction, though the addition of a subwoofer would solve this.
The clarity in the top end is standout, so airy and clean without edginess and absolutely up there in its price bracket at retrieving everything the recording has to offer.
The Ophidian Solos are absolutely rhythmic, fun and bouncy and can also do delicate and engrossing, immersive and musical. I for one was extremely surprised by this new kid on the block.
Build Quality – 8.0/10
Sound Quality – 8.0/10
Value For Money – 8.0/10
Overall – 8.0/10
Recommended for their coherence wonderfully detailed top end and ability to explore many genres very well.
Author – Danny Worth