|Sunfire XT Series Cinema Ribbon CRM-2/CRM-2C|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Bookshelf/Monitor Loudspeakers|
|Written by Ken Taraszka, MD|
|Wednesday, 01 August 2007|
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Music and Movies
For some two-channel listening, I chose Neil Young Live at Massey Hall 1971 (Reprise/WEA). “Tell Me Why” had a full sound to Neil’s acoustic guitar and a great timber to his voice that was true to life. “Old Man” showed me just why I fell in love with Neil’s music the first time I saw him play acoustically. Many can play with a band on stage and win your emotions, but to do it solo with only an acoustic guitar and still be able to tug at the audience’s heartstrings takes something more; this system clearly showed everything Neil had to give. “A Man Needs a Maid” was wonderful. The piano flittered about the soundstage, starting with great subtlety and ramping up in intensity as the song progressed. The subtle reinforcement of the deeper notes the Sunfire True Subwoofer Super Juniors added to the piano was welcome and blended in well and Neil’s vocals were rich and warm. While playing “The Needle and The Damage Done,” the plucking of the strings during Neil’s explanation of how the song came about was fabulous. Each note was reproduced with delicacy and distinction. Again, the subs filled in the deeper notes with ease.
Having just bought a 24 KT+ Gold compact disc of Deep Purple’s Who Do We Think We Are (Audio Fidelity), I had to fire it up on the Sunfire Cinema Ribbons. This classic album is riddled with Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar, solid bass, drums, organs and keyboards. The opening track “Woman From Tokyo” gave a clear and detailed reproduction of all these elements. The impact of the bass drum was a little soft, so I turned the subs up slightly over what I had calibrated them to and it came back into line. From the moment I first played them and through weeks of burn-in, these speakers always created a wide soundstage and were never harsh, except at the highest of volumes. Everything was present and well-separated. I turned them up pretty loud, and they gave me the forward nature that rock needs. Believe me, these speakers have no problem playing loud, even well above 100 dB and nearing 110 dBs in my rather large room. In my lesser powered bedroom system, the Sunfire Cinema Ribbon CRM-2s easily output greater than 100 dBs. Okay, the Cinema Ribbons did become compressed and get edgy at these volumes, but they can output it if you so desire. I did find on rock and roll that the set-up had a somewhat thin sound in my larger room, but when I moved these speakers to my bedroom system, all of the weaknesses I found in this isolated system disappeared, leading me to believe the room was the biggest problem in this set-up, no surprise given the odd shape and size of the room. “Place in Line” is a little mellower and more blusey song from this album, and it was simply wonderful from the Cinema Ribbon CRM-2s. Ian Gillian’s voice can get kind of high, but the vocals were smooth and never biting. The depth of the bass from the drums was excellent, while the cymbals remained clear. Blackmore’s guitar solo was lively, even at extremely high volumes.
Moving onto something a little less aggressive, I switched to the Buena Vista Social Club on DVD-Audio (Nonesuch). The opening song “Chan Chan” is full of fine and detailed strings, thumping bass lines, horns and lively vocals. The Sunfire Cinema Ribbon CRM-2s and Super Junior Plus subs easily handled all these elements and filled the room with their richness. The attack of the strings was fast and well-placed. Surround effects blended perfectly. “El Cuarto de Tula” has tom-toms running through the song and they flew around the room with a rich texture. Horns were brassy but not bright. During the chorus, each singer’s voice could easily be appreciated. The title track really came to life on this system. The keyboards were so lively that it was though they were played in my room, while the deep bass lines came through with power and authority. The strings in the background drifted in and out of the room and the maracas were subtle but ever present.
My audio listening clearly proved these speakers can put out volume and easily handle huge dynamics, so for some fun, I put on one of my favorite films, Run Lola Run (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment), a German feature with a trance soundtrack full of deep bass and bizarre tastes of sound that come from everywhere. Throughout the film, the guttural nature of the German language was perfectly displayed. The constant bass line throughout the film was palpable. I tried this film with both the CRM-2C and a free-standing CRM-2 as a center channel. I preferred the CRM-2 as it had a more open sound. The gunshot at the start of Chapter 11 could be played loud enough to be lifelike, and the shell hitting the ground was realistic in timber and placement. When Lola entered the casino, the bass was pounding and the huge dynamics were easily handled. The clicking of chips was lifelike. I seriously ramped up the volume for this scene, and when the roulette wheel was spun, the ball circled me with perfect positioning and some of the smoothest transitions I’ve ever heard.
While using my Denon receiver in the second system, I demoed these speakers. I cued up the Blu-ray disc of Nine Inch Nails’ Beside You In Time (Nothing), a live concert video that shows NIN in an older state but none the worse for wear. The keyboard during “Hurt” was clear; even Trent’s missed keys were accurately reproduced and the synthesizer effects smoothly transitioned around the room. Even in this receiver-based system, the Sunfire Cinema Ribbon XT speakers were capable of being played at ear-splitting levels. Moving forward to “Head Like a Hole,” I was easily able to generate 105+ dB levels. While the lone Super Junior subwoofer did fall a little short at this volume in this set-up, I am sure the second would have brought it back up to spec. “Terrible Lie” showed the XT’s ability to handle wide swings in dynamics with ease and gave a lively presentation to the song. The subtle elements throughout smoothly passed around the room.