August 2, 2009

Proac Response Tri Tower.

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contributed to.

Proac Response Tri Tower. The slim and lanky profile permits better WAF(wife acceptance factor).

This is a speaker in which it's design brief probably means form first, but sound is almost if not equally as important. In today's expensive real estate environment, where spouses and kids thread places in the home, with every family member trying to elbow just that bit more room for each other's activities, audiophile compromises sometime takes precedence, for the sake domestic harmony. No wonder then space saving and sexy products like the plasma/LCD and lately LED screens have been top family entertainment equipment choice. Couple that flat screen to a set of equally sexy lifestyle designed speakers and an AVR receiver and you have the basic recipe for today's home entertainment system. Problem is, most of today's sexy lifestyle designed speakers also tend to have very un sexy voices, if strict audiophile standards are to be met!
Tri Towers, top-down view. Note the transparent cone on the top driver.

Here comes the Proac Response Tri Towers to fill that market niche. A pair of very slim and lanky towers, almost 4 feet tall, designed to complement the sexy flat screen look, and blend seamlessly in to the room/lounge decor, yet still sound sexy enough to satisfy the lust of a typically domesticated audiophile!

For the speaker to look slim and lanky, big woofers are out of the design brief. Instead, Proac opted to use 3 pcs of 4 1/2 inch aluminium bass drivers to do the equivalent work of a typical 8 inch driver. The remaining 2 drivers are a Vifa sourced tweeter and a transparent cone material mid driver, also measuring 4 1/2 inch, sitting a top the previously mentioned tweeter, probably lifted off the Proac Response 1SC. With a total array of 5 drivers per tower, the concept is not un similar to the line array concept, much used in the pro concert speaker set ups.

From another angle! Rated sensitivity is 90db @ 4 ohms. It goes very loud cleanly too.

All 5 view able sides of the speaker is lined with book matched veneer(the review sample featured cherry wood). There's a flared port at the bottom of the speaker box, supported by a X- designed plinth, with spikes at the four corners, which keeps the whole speaker tower very steady when set up. These slim, lanky Tri Towers are very heavy for their size, at 23kgs each! A knuckle rap test indicates very thick panels were used with much bracing enforcements inside the box.

The design looks very attractive indeed, but does it pass the muster where it matters most to the audiophile whom has to compromise on his speaker choice for the sake of keeping the domestic harmony? How much sound quality does he have to compromise?

The generic looking bi-wire able speaker terminals. Note the van den Hul CS122 cable used.

With the Tri Towers, I initially put the speakers where my Audio Physic normally sounds best, but ended up moving the speakers much more in to the room(I felt a little space for the speakers to breath will result in better sound). Finally settling for 48 inches from the speaker back wall and 20 inches from the side wall, in my 10ft x 12ft room, bass response was still a tad strong. I totally underestimated the performance of the dinky 4 1/2 inch bass drivers!. I also ended up moving the speaker cables to connect to the highs of the bi-wire able speaker terminals. That way the bass response is much more even in the room. I also found my regular speaker cable, the Straight Wire Maestro, is far too bloomy in the lower mids to complement the Proac. Instead I used a pair of silver coated vdH CS122, which seems to match this speaker better. All further comments in regards to the sound of the Tri Tower are based on these final set up and ancillary used.

First up, the Tri Towers presented a huge sound stage and imaging that is nearly life sized in my room. The speaker's ability to totally disappear in to the room sonically, is amongst the best I've experienced in my audio cave. This must surely be the result of the slim baffles, I think. The density of the images, especially rendering of vocals, must be highly commended. The speakers also presented string instruments like violin and piano, portraying their full richness of harmonic decay.

The nicely extended highs are vibrant and airy, yet never sibilant. The mids are rich, full and seemingly have that classic British lower mid bump signature in overall frequency response. That's why the bloomy nature of the Straight Wire Maestro speaker cables, which suited the more neutral Audio Physic Spark so much, is a little over whelming when used with the Proac. Where else the previously thought to be leaner sounding vdH CS122, seems so balanced when used here.

The bass response is strong, as I mentioned earlier, I under estimated those dinky 4 1/2 inch drivers. Whilst Proac specs claimed frequency response of down to 35hz, I think it's probably quoted at -3db or so. The Tri Towers just doesn't seem to go that deep(at least in the context of my room, that is). However, bass quality it delivers is very good for a floor ported design. Bass notes never sound one notey, the notes are always clearly audible. Over the period of 2 weeks or so in my audio cave, only 2 or 3 tracks, manages to up set the almost impeccable bass response. The killer percussion track no.15 on the Musik Wie Von Einiem Anderen Stern, or what most people call it "Manger CD" for short, is one short example. The big drums in the percussion ensemble does indeed sound a little hollow and somewhat insubstantial, comparing with speakers of more normal design. On the flip side though, the equally big Chinese drums on track no.5, tittled Three Plays Of Plum Blossom, in Koo Shuen's Melody All Over The Land, sounded very realistic, just as how my regular Audio Physic would present it to be. It's quite a paradox, the bass quality element of these Tri Towers.

Twin Towers! I like the way it matches the Pass Aleph 0 mono blocks.

In the area of transparency, the Proac Response Tri Tower, ever worthy member of the Response series, is very slightly more resolute, in the areas of low level details. However, the overall slightly coloured(I would prefer to call it harmonically rich) signature sound of the Response series, that endured so many fans over the years(Did you know the Proac Response D25 is the most cloned speaker in the world, ever?), is retained. I can now say that I am a fan too!

Priced at RM$16K, you can have your hifi cake and not just eat it, but almost finish it too. The speaker's audiophile integrity is still very much intact, and you can have your family bliss too, all the while enjoying your music, not to mention movies too(Did I tell you that the Tri Towers truly glorifies movie soundtracks too?, making them great for AV duties as well). Needless to say, I am impressed.

Proac Speakers are sold by CMY Audio & Visual, tel:03-21439206.

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