|Canton Ergo 5.0 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Monday, 01 March 2004|
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While it’s a fairly new name to the North American market, Canton has been producing high-end speakers in Germany since 1972, reportedly capturing an impressive 25 percent of the German market with its wide variety of speaker offerings. This review features the Canton Ergo RC-A’s at $5,000 per pair used as front main loudspeakers, Ergo CM502 center channel speaker at $800, and the Ergo 302s at $1,400 per pair for rear surrounds. The Ergo line being reviewed is more traditional then Canton’s more contemporary Karat line and is a step up from the LE and Movie series loudspeakers. Both lines share many of theme drivers and other components and the build quality is the same. I was asked by Canton to review this system without a separate subwoofer, using the powered woofers in the RC-A towers to handle the low end.
Canton is a fairly large speaker company, with considerable research and development resources. I met with Canton’s development manager, Frank Gobl, who explained Canton’s extensive use of CAD for development in both mechanical and electronic design of the speaker. Canton performs extensive simulations of cabinets, driver components and crossovers, allowing the design team to experiment with numerous design options. Canton manufactures its own drivers, utilizing a variety of materials from paper to aluminum manganese. Gobl pointed out that Canton went into such detail in designing their current line of drivers that similar sizes and material composition may differ radically in their geometry and utilize variable material thicknesses to make similar-appearing drivers perform differently, in order to best suit their intended purposes. The manufacturing of the speakers and nearly all components is also done in-house in a large, modern facility. Each of the one million-plus speakers Canton manufactures each year are hand-inspected before shipping. Each crossover network must perform within 0.4dB of the reference specification and the speaker assembly must test within 1dB.
The RC-A is the largest and most expensive speaker in the Ergo line and is the only speaker in the line to feature an internal amplifier. The three-way system features two active, powered nine-inch polypropylene woofers above a front-firing port, a one-inch aluminum manganese tweeter and, at the top of the baffle, a seven-inch aluminum midrange. The baffle is covered with a felt-like sound-absorbing material that is normally hidden by a black perforated metal grille. The RC-A measures 45.3 inches tall, 10.2 inches wide and 13.7 inches deep. The 72-pound cabinet is available in a variety of wood veneer finishes. The review samples were finished in black ash.
The back panel features a detachable power cord connection, one single-ended input, a power switch and a pair of large, sturdy binding posts on the bottom section. Halfway up the back panel is a cut-out for the amplifier module. Above the heat sink fins are two knobs and a toggle switch. The knobs on the amplifier module are for the “RC,” room correction circuit, and the toggle switch controls the power-on mode for the amplifier, either manual or auto. The RC circuit allows for +3.0 dB and - 4.5dB correction below 1,000Hz and –3.0dB to + 1.5dB above 10 kHz.
This technology, as explained by Gobl, consists of a filter in the crossover that compensates for the speakers’ low-frequency roll-off, extending response up to one octave, minimizing subsonic energy and unnecessary driver excursion.
The SC technology 250-watt amplifier and nine-inch drivers help the RC-A reach down to the rock bottom low end of 18Hz. While I was initially skeptical of this claim, the RC-As substantiated it in my listening tests. While the RC-As are capable of sound reproduction below 20Hz, their displacement control prevents the woofers from attempting to produce signals below their range, reducing unwanted harmonic distortion while working in conjunction with the “SC” circuit to provide smooth response down to the lower limits.
The CM502 and 302 speakers are relatively simple in comparison to the RC-As. The CM502 center channel speaker measures 20 inches wide, nine inches high and 11.3 inches deep, with a perforated metal grille covering two five-inch aluminum drivers, which flank a one-inch aluminum manganese tweeter. The rear panel features a port immediately above the single pair of binding posts. The 302 is a solid, fairly large “bookshelf” speaker, measuring 15.7 inches high, 12.1 inches deep and eight-and-three-quarters-inches wide, weighing just under 20 pounds. The driver complement on this bass reflex speaker is a one-inch aluminum manganese tweeter above an eight-inch aluminum driver. The 302 is rear-ported and sports two pairs of binding posts that allow for bi-wiring if so desired. All of the cabinets appear to be solidly manufactured.
I connected all the speakers in a single-wire mode (as opposed to a bi-wire connection). I then connected the LFE output of my processor into the back of the RC-As and finally plugged the RC-As into the power supply. The RC-As were eventually positioned closer together than normal for my theater setup, the inside edges were just over 67 inches apart. I positioned the speakers firing straight ahead with no toe-in, approximately three feet from the front wall. The CM502 was positioned under my projection screen, angled up slightly, and the 302s were flanking and slightly behind my listening position.