A month or so ago we published a review of the RDacoustic Evolution speaker, a back loaded, single driver horn loudspeaker. Here we have the latest model from the Czech company in the form of the €8790 Euphoria.
The Euphoria is an interesting looking speaker as it combines an eight inch full range driver with a fifteen inch ported woofer. The woofer has a knob for both sensitivity and bass so you can tailor it to your room and your preferences and whilst this Beymer unit is crossed over (obviously), the full range driver is run fully open. Essentially this is a two box design with the cabinets for each driver being separate.
Physically the speakers stand 93cm in height with a width of 51 cm and a depth of 48cm with each weighing a substantial 45Kg. You can get the Euphoria in a choice of four woods (Oak, Ash, cherry and American Nut) and a choice of colours of artificial leather that goes round the top and sides of the speakers. The front and back of the speakers is made from a rounded off 40mm piece of wood, whilst the body of the speaker is made of Ultra-HDF. Instead of using spikes the Euphorias use wooden spheres which I thought was pretty cool. Round back there’s a very well finished round brass plate with two pairs of binding posts and knobs for controlling sensitivity (pure, balance and defined) and bass (+1, +2 and +3 dB) which after much messing about I found I preferred Pure and Plus 3dB – folk who know me and read my reviews know I like to feel bass). Overall the look of the speakers isn’t going to suit everyone, but personally I really loved the unusual design, though Edvard Munch’s The Scream did get mentioned by a couple of visitors, but no one is going to question how well put together these speakers are.
The technical design is of course unusual too and in my notes I have written “has the world gone mad” but thinking about it this design it’s actually pretty sensible and potentially gives you the benefit of a single driver loudspeaker and all the speed and openness that the best implementations afford, along with the bass oomph you just don’t get with even large single driver loudspeakers like the aforementioned Evolution speaker from RDacoustics.
As soon as I plumbed these speakers into the system and started playing music I knew that I was going to enjoy them a great deal; I just sat back and listened to Hawkwind’s Hall Of The Mountain Grill (great record by the way) without really taking much notice, but the immediate thing that hits home when compared to the Evolution speakers is that they don’t have the sheer sense of scale of their bigger brother, but what they lack in scale they more than make up for by having more of that all important, for me, bottom end. The speakers pass our Smoke On The Water (Made In Japan) test with aplomb in the bass department but they just don’t have the same level of detail and micro-detail in the mids and tops as the bigger RD Acoustic speakers. Bass guitar is growly and tangible which is how this should sound.
Playing Doug MacLeod’s My In Laws Are Outlaws at low volume there is a really nice intimate feeling with the bass bouncing along nicely and guitar having a good sense of the recording space and microphone position. Soundstaging at these low volumes is “small scale realistic” by which I mean they’ve not got the scale that the best (and usually bigger) speakers can produce, but everything is there in the right places – sort of as if you are looking down on the performance a little. Guitar tone is properly metallic and vocals project nicely forward in the mix/stage.
On the opening lines (it’s an arpeggiated synth line) on Fat Freddy’s Drop’s Big BW there is a sense that the synth is coming from FAR beyond the speakers boundaries before it then pans left…eerie and a real sit up and take notice moment. Really, that one sound appeared to be three feet to the right and three feet forward of the three dimensional sound space, which is, I know, contrary to what I said earlier about these being small scale realistic. On first listen I got the feeling that these speakers lacked scale, but the more I listen to them the more I’m of the mind that they do scale really well, despite their relatively squat nature…it’s just a different kind of presentation. Jerry that used to review for Hifi Pig used to talk a lot about where in the concert hall he felt he was sat when listening to speakers and with these you get the sense you are sat right at the front centre of the dress circle.
As with the Volya Bouquet speakers we had in previously there is a feeling of the music being presented in a sphere before you…it’s not as dramatic as with the Volyas and you are looking down on it a tad, but it is there and that’s a good thing.
Sound effects on the very dubby Fat Freddy’s Drop album just fly about with these speakers as they should. It’s not a monitor type sound in any way and there isn’t the analytical quality you get with monitors, but it is very enjoyable, musical and whilst not having the organic, natural feel of the bigger horns, or our Avantgarde Duo XDs, they feel more rounded overall than the Evolutions…or perhaps just more to my taste in that they do bass, but then I do like a lot of front ported designs.
John Martyn’s Solid Air shows these speakers are a versatile performer in that the mids and tops have good detail and resolution, but bass is also nice tight and tuneful. The mix is laid out before me and there is that three dimensional feel too, though I’m not suggesting that these speakers disappear by any stretch. Guitar sounds very much like a guitar with good amounts of information coming through and the contrabass likewise with the twang of the strings and movement on the fret-board coming through well.
These are a nicely balanced speaker that I think will appeal to many with a wide taste in music. They do rock, they do jazz, they do techno and in many ways they do remind me of the hORNS Mummy loudspeakers that we lived with for a couple of years before getting the Duo XDs, though being taller the Mummys’ cast a “more in the stalls” image. For those of you looking for a good allrounder these certainly deserve your attention, though there are of course compromises. Time and time again I forgot I was supposed to be writing a review of them and just enjoyed listening to the music…again a good sign. One of the criticisms of single driver speakers in the main is that they are fabulous with simple, uncomplicated music but tend to lose the plot when things get more complicated and hectic. Yes, these speakers are at their best with pretty “simple” tunes like Solid Air, but they don’t get hugely flustered when you pop on a bit of Motorhead either.
Natalie Merchant’s Lady Bird sounds absolutely wonderful and has me in tears. And this is important! Music and the equipment we play it on is there to connect us emotionally with the music, be that making us want to dance, cry, sing or laugh and these speakers do just that. Sometimes it is not the most resolving or expensive bit of kit that connects us though and that is the case here. Nick Drake’s Northern Sky has me utterly connected with the music. Yes there is some colouration and yes there is not the resolving power of some speakers we’ve recently had the pleasure of using, but there is something I love about these. I am a fan of good single driver loudspeakers, I love their speed and their point source nature, but often find that I am disappointed in their bass performance and the volumes I can get them to and this is a deal killer. What RD Acoustics have managed to pull off is a speaker that has many of the qualities of a good widebander, combined with the oomph of a big bass driver, and the bass is nicely integrated too. Purists may think this is heresy, but here it works pretty well.
The Euphoria speakers take up where the bigger and more expensive Evolution speakers left off and, in my opinion do a better all round job of getting you closer to the music in a more complete sense, ie they go lower. They don’t have the resolving power or scale of their bigger brothers and in that sense they are actually more compromised, but they are great fun.
Fit and finish is impeccable and my only criticism in this regard is that they are not a little taller, which would bring the wide-band driver to ear height, which in turn would, again in my opinion, improve the sense of scale these speakers have.
Was it not that I own the Avantgarde Duos these would certainly be on my short list. I thoroughly enjoyed them and despite not being as resolving as their bigger brothers they still represent a good loudspeaker if only for the fact that they are more versatile and cope well with everything you throw at them.
AT A GLANCE
Build Quality: Very good indeed, though some will find the aesthetics of the speakers challenging
Sound Quality: Not as accurate in the mids and tops as some single driver speakers I’ve enjoyed, but the lower octaves being present make these a good compromise. Having the full range driver below ear level creates a stereo image that is from the dress circle rather than the stalls. At their best with relatively simple music but cope well with other stuff where other wideband designs struggle
Value For Money: These aren’t an impulse buy and you need to hear them before buying as they are not cheap
Pros: Many of the attributes of a good full range driver system but with more bass and can cope with more complex material. Very engaging!
Cons: Can get a little flustered at really high volume with difficult material. Not as tonally correct in the mids and tops as some other full range loudspeakers