|Energy Connoisseur C5 Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Monday, 01 July 2002|
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I started my listening tests with the reasonably-priced Myryad CD player and integrated amplifier, but ultimately became “less reasonable” by hooking up my reference $3,200 Krell 300iL integrated amp to the system. My first impression was that these speakers produce a great deal of bass energy for such a small cabinet. I successfully moved the speakers farther away from the rear wall to smooth out low-end sound created by the powerful Krell and the C5s.
The C5s did very well with Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair” from her album No More Drama (MCA). Blige’s voice was silky smooth, with no sign of annoying sibilance that can frequently be heard on other speakers that are designed more for size than for sound. The bass with the C5s was surprisingly powerful and deeper than expected on this cut. The C5s produced a solid soundstage image, albeit a smaller one than the $2,400 per pair Final 0.3 hybrid electrostatics that I have become accustomed to lately. The fifth track on the album, “PMS,” features Blige singing with simple instrumental supporting tracks. I paid close attention to the guitars, which feature Lenny Kravitz’s handiwork. While Blige’s voice imaged solidly, the lower chords on the guitar seemed somewhat less resolved.
I continued with Sheryl Crow and her new album, c’mon, c’mon (A&M). The “Soak Up The Sun” track was familiar to me from recent radio play and a few spins on the B&Ws. Crow’s voice was instantly recognizable and emotionally engaging. The vocals and guitar work were vibrant and detailed throughout the midrange. The C5s consistently performed well with the difficult-to-reproduce female vocals, giving them body and clarity without the harshness normally associated with affordably-priced speakers.
Having had good luck with the C5s on more intimate recordings, I next listened to Eric Clapton’s Unplugged (Warner Brothers). His rendition of “Before You Accuse Me” again demonstrated the C5s' midrange neutrality and ability to portray smaller to mid-sized soundstages with conviction and believability. Toe tapping was irresistible.
Lastly, I auditioned Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington’s Together Again For The First Time (Mobile Fidelity). I began with one of my favorites, “Duke’s Place,” which has horns that sounded spectacularly smooth and full, with plenty of detail. The high end of the C5s was wide open, with an ever-so-slightly laid-back character.
Aesthetically, those who prefer a traditional look should keep the grilles on the C5s. I personally found the C5s to be visually appealing, whether the grilles were on or off. A friend commented that they looked kind of “funky," but this is just a matter of personal taste. I have few aesthetic criticisms of the review sample. From the front, I'd like to see less of the slight gaps at the base between the legs. From the rear, I would also to see the back panel a bit more flush with the cabinet walls, and the “Energy” label moved down to the binding post region, so as not to distract from the beautiful maple finish.
The C5s are certainly more mellow and laid-back than the B&W CM4s, despite having a little less control in the lower registers. Placement is critical with the C5s in order to get an even low end, considering their prolific output of bass. For home theater applications, this could be of little or no concern. However, if you invest in Energy Connoisseur C5s, you will surely be listening to music. They are that good.
The new Connoisseur C5s have no business being only $750 speakers. If you are shopping for more expensive speakers, I urge you to audition these first, because they could easily be priced at twice their cost. I know the C5s will rock home theaters and new formats like DVD-Audio and SACD, which need strong bass response and clear vocal articulation.
Energy did a fine job of bringing much of the high-end technology from its more expensive speakers down into reasonably-priced and attractive new speakers. The C5s are the right size, they look sexy and they sound silk-smooth with a lightly laid-back character. The bar has been raised.