The Clarity System from MasterSounds is an all in one loudspeaker and amplifier package costing £4,495. Paul Messenger takes a listen for Hifi Pig.

This CLARITY system, created by DJ-specialist MasterSound, is a complete ‘plug’n’play’ package that comprises a pair of CUBE 6 satellite speakers, plus a solitary SUB 8 passive subwoofer, a PM 160 stereo power amplifier and all the necessary connecting cables (unambiguously terminated in Neutrik SpeakON connectors). The three speakers have a textured black finish, while the amplifier has quite delightful casework in a Corian finish.

Priced at £4,495, it has actually been designed and built by ProAudio manufacturer called TPI. Although that name means nothing to me (any more than MasterSound does for that matter), this Leicester-based company does appear to be a well respected and resourced ProAudio operation with a solid reputation and particularly well known for their rotary DJ mixers.

DESIGN AND BUILD

Each satellite is equipped with a single 6-inch coaxial Morel drive unit and has a decent-size, cube-shaped enclosure. (I well recall querying such a shape many years ago, whereupon it was explained that the essentially unpromising shape was actually modified by the driver’s cone.) The said driver is ported via slots on both sides that are tuned to around 85Hz, which is significantly higher than most speakers.

The subwoofer is noticeably heavily built and has just one somewhat larger 8-inch driver, but this drive unit has two voice coils, and is completely hidden within the box. Its enclosure is roughly twice the volume of the satellites, and it’s also port-loaded, tuned to a rather lower (but still quite high!) 53Hz. The combined impedance stays above 6ohms through most of the audio band, just dipping down to around 4ohms at high frequencies (around 10kHz).

The power amplifier is a conventional enough dual-mono design with linear topology and exclusive TPI circuitry. It’s rated at 320W output, but whether such a value is a ‘total power’ or a ‘per channel’ figure is unfortunately not revealed. (I’d suggest that 320W output is probably a total output, though that’s purely a guess.)

SOUND QUALITY

Lacking a DJ-style desk, I placed the cuboid-shaped satellite speakers on top of 600mm stands, sited about 1m out from a wall behind, and around 2m from side walls. I thought that the included and properly terminated cables were a particular benefit, taking the speaker system well away from the tweaky end of things by avoiding any options.

Having measured the satellite speakers alone, some additional bass was added by close-to-wall siting, albeit somewhat handicapped by the significant depth of the speakers. The net result was rather ‘three-humped’ appearance, with a peak at around 700Hz-1kHz and a rather too obvious presence dip at 3-4kHz, but the system sounded good for all that.

I reckoned that the subwoofer was somewhat optional in my room (despite the fact that the room is quite large by domestic standards). Indeed, I actually preferred the sound without the subwoofer, which did add some extension to the bottom end, but at some cost in terms of overall bass evenness.

That said, the difference between the two was quite small, so choosing between them seemed essentially optional. Indeed, the relatively high port tuning frequencies would seem well suited to DJ-type program material, where dance tracks need (or at any rate benefit from) a healthy and substantial bass ‘thump’.

The system – with or without the subwoofer (preferably without) – sounds rather good, thanks in no small part I suspect to the excellent power amplification, which reproduced the top end in particular with unexpected delicacy and transparency. One consequence of a significant (c10dB) presence ‘dip’ is that this favours playing the system at high levels, as speech in particular sounds very ‘kind’ at normal levels.

I’d have liked the option to mess around with alternative components, but it wasn’t possible due to a lack of adapters. This might have been a good thing from a philosophic perspective, as it avoids any form of ‘tweakery’, but it does also make it somewhat awkward. I was, for example, unable to assess the sensitivity of the speakers, as I couldn’t plug them into my normal (calibrated) amplification.

The opportunity to meet up with someone from the DJ side of things was itself very stimulating. MasterSound’s Ryan has much going for himself, and he in turn seemed rather impressed that (by some coincidence) I’d got tickets to see his friends The Chemical Brothers at the O2 that weekend!

CONCLUSION

Used with or without the supplied subwoofer, thanks in no small part to the excellent power amplifier that’s part of the package, this is a fine sounding system. It also has cables with fixed Neutrik SpeakON connectors that sound very decent and helpfully avoid any tendency to substitute alternatives, which is particularly useful. Despite some measured unevenness, sound quality is very good indeed, albeit better played at substantial levels.

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality:  Neat build and presentation; Like the included cables with Neutrik SpeakON plugs/sockets.

Sound Quality: Despite the balance anomalies, which favour high-level replay, the sound quality and stereo imaging is very good indeed.

Value for Money:  Difficult to establish, as there’s nothing to compare it to…It seems pretty good value, but it’s a shame the subwoofer isn’t optional.

Pros: High-class power amplifier underpins good quality sound, with or without subwoofer.

Cons: Some balance unevenness means that this system is best played loud!

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Messenger

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