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Ambiance Acoustics Super Cubes Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 February 2011
Article Index
Ambiance Acoustics Super Cubes Review
Listening and Conclusion


My first impressions of the Super Cubes were that these drivers delivered a lot more musical weight and strength than I expected. The rear-ported design of the speakers make the Super Cubes behave as if they employed a pair of 8-inch drivers, and the bass and midrange react accordingly. The bottom end and middle frequencies are presented in bold and persuasive colors.  With some recordings, though, I found the bass actually too heavy in the mix. This was typically due to overly compressed mixes rather than arrangements with bass emphasis. I listened happily- sans EQ- to low-end thumpers such as Burning Spear's Hail H.I.M.,and Funkadelic's delirious rump-shaker One Nation Under A Groove, and never was compelled to smooth out the bottom end. Fortunately, if/when you need to, the EQC-1 can compensate with its Subsonic Filter, which rolls off the low end 24dB/octave at 60Hz. I found the nine-driver array endlessly fascinating, and often put my ear to the various sides of the Super Cubes to “hear” what each speaker was doing. Moving around the room as such hammered home how important it was to be in the sweet spot with the Cubes. Off-axis, the sound quickly thinned and lost dimensionality – much in the way the Cubes sound without the equalizer. But put your butt down in the zone and your ears reap the benefits with a surprisingly focused sound image. Even with the sound emerging from four different planes, there wasn't smearing or unpleasant delay in what I heard.

Supercube front

Good recordings really shine with the Super Cubes. Yes' 2004 release, Magnification, is notable for the orchestration provided by soundtrack composer Larry Groupe, largely replacing the keyboard textures of prior lineups. The album is a melange of musical textures and melodies, highlighted by Groupe's arrangements and the artistry of the band members. I was taken by the suave and brooding strings announcing the beginning of  “Give Love Each Day.” The sound is close and detailed yet I felt like I could reach into the air and grab the notes with my hands. That studio hall ambiance and sense of intimacy made for a great experience. The Super Cubes, however, do not suffer poor recordings. Listening to the Allman Brothers Band Live At American University was an almost painful exercise. The music and band are fine, but the recording is so tinny that it's almost like listening through a two-cans-and-a-string play telephone. Dynamics are smeared, smashed and crushed; sonorities are tempered and tamed.

By contrast, on another Allman recording, Seven Turns, the results were completely opposite. I caught myself doing an about-face as it became difficult to distinguish the tracks from a live, in-studio session. Open, rich and radiant acoustics flowed forth as the band members coalesced into a single musical entity. This is the sense of exhilaration one gets from “being there” - like a rush of wind carrying guitar notes and harmonies through the air and dancing around the ears. You not only hear the music but “feel” it. Re-creating that experience of a live performance is what the Super Cubes do very well. In the late 1970s, guitar-slinger Ronnie Montrose's self-named band broke up, after which he formed Gamma. The group's second album, Gamma 2, is a forgotten hard-rock release. If you like Bad Company and your songs served up with a heady dose of expertly crafted riffs, check out Gamma. Vocalist Davey Pattison sounds like a cross between Paul Rodgers and James Dewar. The spacey blues crawl of “Voyager” is worth the price of admission. Background winds swirl around Pattison's voice and Montrose's otherworldly lines, while the Super Cubes deliver all the punch and fire.

Finer top-end details are not the Super Cube's forte. Listening to tunes from The Beach Boys Sunflower album, I noticed some of the knottiest arrangements lacked impact and the clarity of detail from subtle dynamics that can bloom only with a speaker whose design accommodates such demands, but again that's an error of omission – Salvi's compromise.

Final Thoughts

Lively and life-like - from the get-go the Super Cubes go a long way to putting you concert, stage-center for a private performance of your favorite recordings. The Super Cubes are not for the music generalist or casual listener, but if your tastes run toward rock and/or you want the experience of a live performance, these are worthy of serious consideration. Placement is paramount – for the Super Cubes and listener – but find the sweet spot and you'll be rewarded with engaging sound from this unusual and fun speaker system.

System Setup

Ambiance Acoustics Super Cubes
Yamaha R-S700 Receiver
Emotiva Audio ERC-1 CD Player
Pro-Ject RPM 5.1 turntable
Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 moving coil phono cartridge
Parasound Zphono Preamplifier
RS Audio Cables Kevlar Starchord Power Cable
RS Audio Cables Illume Silver Interconnects
RS Audio Cables Illume Silver Loudspeaker Cables

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