|Vanatoo Transparent One Powered Monitors Review|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Bookshelf/Monitor Loudspeakers|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Thursday, 04 April 2013|
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Let’s look at some of the proprietary design elements. First, Vanatoo touts the bass quality of these relatively small speakers as a major selling point. They use something called ClearBass Technology™ in which a 5 1/4” woofer enabled with patented XBL™ technology, is enhanced by a custom passive radiator and coupled with a silk 1” dome tweeter. Lastly, there is custom DSP (Digital Signal Processing) used, which according to Vanatoo, matches the built-in amplifier to the drivers, for a flat frequency response. The way the Transparent One handles incoming data is quite interesting, and see my interview with the design team at the conclusion of the review for an in-depth overview.
Set Up and Listening
I used the Transparent One in several ways. First with a Windows 7 laptop running Jriver 18 and plugged into the Vanatoo’s USB input via an Audioquest Forest USB cable. All music was in lossless FLAC format. I used the supplied AC cable and speaker cable, with the speakers on Atacama 24" stands. The speakers are set up in a master/slave configuration, so running one cable from your source into the master, and one speaker cable to the slave is all you need.
The master speaker also lets you decide which unit will be designated Left and Right channel, and there are treble, bass, and volume controls. There is also an AC receptacle for what I gather is charging portable device or a source component. Lastly, there is a subwoofer out. I did not have occasion to use it. That is because after cueing up some familiar source material on the laptop it became clear this was a speaker with superb bass output, definition, and grip.
I can honestly say that no other speaker of this size has performed at this level in my home in the bass department. Geez, bass guitar on rock recordings was just in the pocket, and filled up the room without strain. I ended up with bass control around the 1 O’Clock position, and the treble control very close to that, with variations depending on the source material. The quantity and quality of the bass did not in anyway smear the midrange or treble. As a matter of fact the midrange was open, with no overhang, and the treble was clear and smooth.
I then decided to move the Transparent One to a tabletop, with a Squeezebox Classic on a wireless network as a source. I connected the Squeezebox via TosLink to the speakers, and streamed tunes from my entire collection stored on hard drives connected to a Mac Mini at the other end of the house. I found this set up to be very fun to use, and it sounded terrific. I had to adjust the bass and treble controls just a tad to accommodate the new setup, but not much.
The first album I streamed was an underlooked collaboration between Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale, The Road To Escondido. This 2006 release features great tunes, stellar guitar playing, and very tasteful rock-based arrangements. I was a bit taken aback by how big the speakers sounded in this configuration. From the next room it literally sounded like I had floorstanders installed.