I've always liked geography and enjoy learning about the associations certain countries have with certain people, products and pastimes. Switzerland is known for its banks and timepieces. France has grapes: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, among many. Germany has Beethoven, Porsche and BMW. Canada has hockey, forests, tundra... and loudspeakers. It wasn't always so.
It would take the cooperative efforts of several other audio firms and the Canadian National Research Council (NRC) to bring it and fellow concerns such as Energy, Mirage, Paradigm and PBS into the high-end mainstream. In 1977, the Canadian National Research Council (NRC) announced it would be hosting a study to determine the measurable parameters people associate with good-sounding speakers. The study ran to 1986, and several Canadian loudspeaker manufacturers, including Energy, participated. According to Energy, “flat frequency response, wide dispersion and low distortion consistently scored high during listening trials.”
The history of Energy speakers goes back to 1973, but the company's defining moment came nearly a decade later, in 1982, when Energy introduced the two-way Pro 22 loudspeaker. This component aimed for the clearly defined ideals of the NRC study and was the result of Energy's “quest to build a perfect speaker.” The Pro 22 struck a sonic nerve and was soon serving as reference for the NRC and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A long production run followed before the Pro 22 evolved into the Connoisseur 22 and the Reference Connoisseur 22.
In 2008, the Connoisseur Series received an overhaul. Energy's proprietary Convergent Source Module (CSM) were added to every Connoisseur product. The CSM places the tweeter and midrange or woofer together in a single unit, a design to improve dispersion and cancel driver interference. As well, Energy employed its Ribbed Elliptical Surrounds on the woofers. According to Energy, “This technology allows the drivers to perform with lower distortion and greater output, compared to the traditional half-roll surrounds that most competitors offer. Additional benefits include increased excursion and larger piston area, allowing for greater efficiency.” These very notable improvements have carried over to every Connoisseur currently offered, including Energy's CF-50s.
The CF-50s ($400 each) are the middle-class floor-standing loudspeakers of Energy's Connoisseur Series. The Connoisseur line includes three floor-standers, three bookshelf speakers, two center channel speakers, two subwoofers and a rear surround. They are offered in pairs or bundled in home theater packages and sold directly on Energy's website, www.energy-speakers.com. Energy's parent company, Klipsch Group, informed me that Magnolia Home Theater – Best Buy's own high-end store – will be carrying the Connoisseurs this May.
The CF-50s are mid-size, 2.5-way bass-reflex loudspeakers, standing a shade over 38 inches high and sitting on 1-inch feet coupled with thin foam padding. They are a skinny 7.1 inches wide and 14.6 inches deep. Three 5.5-inch woofers with ribbed elliptical surround and tapered crossovers are employed in a linear vertical array, along with a 1-inch hyperbolic aluminum dome tweeter. A front-firing port sits beneath the lower woofer for bass extension. Above the port are two independent woofers, topped by Energy's CSM, where the upper woofer and tweeter are “joined” to work essentially as a single driver.
Crossover occurs at 2kHz and 1.2kHz. Frequency response is fairly wide, from 39Hz to 20kHz and the CF-50s have an in-room efficiency of 96dB and are recommended for use with amplifiers ranging from 20 to 250 watts. Pairs of gold-plated 5-way binding posts enable bi-wiring or bi-amping. A black ash finish, removable floating grilles and high-gloss black baffle give the speakers a stylish and sophisticated look, but judging from Energy's website and its Gonzo graphics and images, the target market is 20-somethings looking for power and high-amped fun.