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Energy CF-50 Floorstanding Loudspeakers Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers
Written by Todd Whitesel   
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Article Index
Energy CF-50 Floorstanding Loudspeakers Review 
Listening Session

Listening

A few days after letting the speakers break in (Energy recommends 100 hours), I was ready for active listening. Expecting a blast of turbo-charged treble, the CF-50s instead produced balanced, clean and detailed sound without noticeable coloration or a hint of exaggerated frequencies. Energy's aim for flat-on axis frequency response seemed right on to me. While most speakers invariably tend toward highs or lows, the Energy's seemed composed and committed to the bigger picture.

FrontIt always seems to happen when I'm reviewing speakers that unexpected moments have the greatest impact. With the CF-50s it came from FM Rock Radio and Journey's “Send Her My Love.” My old Sansui T-60 tuner lit up with five bars as it locked onto my local classic rock station. I heard the tell-tale hi-hat cymbal beat that brings the song in and I slowly turned up the volume as the song gets progressively intense. I saw this version of Journey, live in 1983, and the sound coming from the CF-50s was eerily close to that live performance. The music had the energy (no pun intended), depth and drive of that gig.

For an actual live performance I went to the recent Eagle Rock release Live At Knebworth, a double-disc set from the 1990 show that brought Tears For Fears, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, Status Quo, Robert Plant, Genesis, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Elton John, Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd together to raise money for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Charity and the Brit School for Performing Arts. With that loaded roster, the performance that knocked me out was Tears For Fears' take on “Badman's Song.” This soulful rendering brings R&B, Latin percussion and rock and roll into a fevered 11-minute celebration. Knowing the band battled high winds and rain as they blew the top off, the impact is even greater. Dynamic and bold presentation via the CF-50s.

Moving to vinyl, I grabbed a couple LPs: 1982's The John Lennon Collection and Crosby, Stills & Nash Demos, a Rhino Records collection of previously unreleased demos from 1968-71. The Lennon Collection is a greatest hits comp of the former Beatles' solo works. The original recordings are flawed sonically, with a haze and murkiness that led to later remastering. Still, songs such as “Mind Games” and “Love” are musical gems that can't be denied. The CF-50s exposed the sonic deficiencies yet did an excellent job of imaging and painting a coherent picture.

Demos, by contrast, is a set of nakedly pure recordings, often showcasing the song's writer as he works through the unfinished landscape of the tune. The bare-bones version of David Crosby's “Deja Vu,” with its crystalline guitar lines and Crosby's earthy vocals sounded in-room live. Arpeggios and harmonics rang and decayed with startling realism. At the end, Crosby scats the vocal line, finding the harmony where words haven't yet been found, and his voice resonates with breath and personality. Again, the CF-50's imaging and life-like presentation captivated me.

Final Thoughts

The CF-50s carry the legendary Energy name in convincing fashion. I've heard few components that I would describe as neutral and fewer speakers. For $800/pair, the CF-50s offer dynamic yet controlled sound that doesn't grate on the ear or the wallet. For the price and performance they're easily recommended.


System Setup

  • Grant Fidelity A-348 integrated tube amplifier
  • Emotiva ERC-1 CD player
  • Opera Consonance LP 6.1 turntable w/T988 tonearm
  • Dynavector DV-20X phono cartridge
  • Energy CF-50 loudspeakers
  • Sansui T-60 AM/FM Stereo Tuner
  • Parasound Zphono phono preamplifier
  • Better Cables Premium Anniversary Edition Speaker Cables (3 meter/bananas)  
  • Better Cables Silver Serpent Anniversary Edition Interconnects (1 meter pair)
  • RS Audio Cables Kevlar Starchord Power Cable (6 ft)





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