|Piega 5.1 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Sunday, 01 September 2002|
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Music and Movies
I began my listening initially with just a single pair of S4s, powered by my Krell 300iL. I soon found that the bass just wasn’t strong enough for my tastes and installed the P Sub 1. The subwoofer was easily adjusted to match the S4s. I was immediately impressed by the Piega's ability to sonically disappear, creating more music than audio. The small baffle design is not new and has been utilized before by more tweaky, less lifestyle-oriented manufacturers like Vandersteen and Von Schweikert. The width of the Piega’s baffle barely extends beyond the width of the driver itself, minimizing reflections. I began with Enya’s Watermark album (Warner Bros.). The signature track “Orinoco Flow” demonstrated the Piega’s ability to step aside and expose the music. The soundstage was very solid and continuous throughout the horizontal plane.
I moved on to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Tin Pan Alley” off of his tasty album In the Beginning (Sony/Columbia). His voice did not exhibit any signs of chestiness as I have heard it do on other speakers in the Piega’s class. In fact, Vaughn's voice had a great deal of weight and heft to it, which added to the emotional appeal of the speakers. The spectacular guitar work was not wasted on these Piegas, with their ability to accurately resolve such extreme details. The S4s with the P Sub 1 are a full-range system that sound just on the laid back side of neutral. I found myself feeling a bit farther back from the action than I’d like.
Having experienced hearing Pink Floyd live in a large stadium venue back in the day, I fired up “Another Brick In The Wall” from The Wall (Columbia) to find out if the Piegas would place me closer to the stage than my seats (does anyone have that scalper’s number?) and deliver a large amount of coherent musical energy at realistic high concert volumes. The answer was yes, but not quite as close to the “front row” as I would have liked. Despite this, I ultimately got sucked into the record and listened to it from that track to the album’s conclusion.
When I pulled Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (Telarc) the Piegas were definitely in their element. The orchestra was portrayed with detail and accuracy, placing me seemingly more than halfway back in the concert hall. The violins were crystal clear and easily discernable in the overall orchestral mix, the horns were detailed and showed no signs of annoying sibilance as you might expect to hear on a $1,750 pair of speakers. This particular recording also does a great job in capturing live cannon fire; the Piega system had no problems with either the detail or clarity to convincingly reproduce the cannons. Throughout my listening, I found the small drivers to be able to quickly and accurately respond as needed. I was not able to get them to bottom out despite my evil attempts at neighbor-offending volumes.
Moving to 5.1 listening, I allowed the second pair of S4s and the S4C to break in for a couple of days then got to work. I first listened to Lyle Lovett’s Joshua Judges Ruth (DTS), which definitely has the down-home country theme to it. While listening to the Piegas as part of a 5.1 system, my reservations about not being close enough to the action vanished. With Piegas all around, I felt as though I was in the middle of a 360-degree sphere of good sound. The S4s in the four corners of my room provided seamless sound and smooth pans. The S4C proved to be a solid sonic match for the towers. I ran it as a “small speaker,” crossed over at 80 Hz, which allowed it to blend well with the P Sub 1. The Piegas continued to remain accurate and detailed. Their monopole design also allowed certain discrete sonic cues not possible with my electrostatics. As with my prior two-channel listening, the Piega cabinets sonically disappeared and did not interrupt the soundscape.
The next piece of 5.1 music was Toy Matinee’s self-titled DVD-Audio (DTS). I was immediately grabbed by the Piegas abilities on the first track, “Last Plane Out.” The bass line was reproduced with detail and weight while remaining warm and non-analytical. I felt as though I was listening to the band performing right in the middle of my listening room.
Despite the utilization of small drivers, I did not encounter any dynamic range restriction problems, a credit to the mysterious engineering within the S4’s cabinets. I moved over to movie viewing and began with the highly touted “Training Day” (Warner Home Video). I moved around my listening room and found the S4C to do a fine job reproducing the voices of Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke with consistency from a variety of seating positions. This action-packed film often had crowd scenes in which the characters were surrounded by a large number of people and sounds. The Piegas were extremely detailed and had no problems reproducing the needed sonic cues in all the channels, putting the listener in the middle of the action. The Piegas also held up well when it came to action scenes -- gun blasts came across with a great deal of realism.
I then moved to "U-571," a movie with a bass track that would work out the subwoofer (Universal Studios Home Video). The movie takes place in a submarine with lots of low-frequency ambient noise. As I suspected from my music listening, tight bass wouldn’t be a problem with the sub engaged. I then cued up a scene with numerous depth charges that would work the dynamic range of the system. The depth charges shook my listening room convincingly, without muddying up the higher frequency details. The use of 10-inch drivers, rather than larger 12- or 15-inch drivers, allows the subwoofer to maintain speed and detail to easily blend in with the main speakers. The 10-inch drivers did not move the room the way my Sunfire Signature Subwoofer can. However, unless your room is extremely large, the Piega should get the job done and matches the look of the other Piega speakers.