As alluded to earlier, the sonics of the Classic 30 present a highly persuasive and immensely authoritative sonic picture. Two-way compact aficionados and Audio Physic followers will immediately cock their heads in appreciation of the cleanly wrought images and the speed and formidable dynamics that are brought to bear in the all important midrange—a region where intelligently engineered three-way designs truly thrive.
The Classic 30 is a speaker that doesn’t need to be babied. It produces clean dynamic contrasts and astonishingly high-output levels without upending its carefully sculpted voicing. It descends convincingly, at times thrillingly, into the low thirty cycle range, as advertised. It’s impressive both in definition and pitch expression, but also in all-out extension—an attribute that further adds credibility and foundation and proportion to a very realistic soundstage. And it’s not mere trifling low bass, either; the Classic 30’s low-end response is vigorous, with the kind of impact that not only brings an orchestra to life but also supports the manic 16th-note triplets of Lars Ulrich’s explosive drumming from Metallica’s eponymous “Black Album.” Its bass response has personality—the dark saturnine weight during the “Landscape lento” movement of Vaughan Williams’ Antartica [Naxos] or the firm, upbeat rhythmic bounce of Holly Cole’s “I Can See Clearly” from Temptation [Alert].
Timbre is colorfully rendered, from the oboe that introduces Judy Collins’ cover of “Send In The Clowns” to Jennifer Warnes’ backing vocals during “Lights of Lousianne.” And low-level resolution? The Classic 30 clings to vocal harmonies like flypaper. Its transient response was exemplary during Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water”—a virtual clinic on how to reproduce the percussive rattle and resonances of heavy flat-pick slashing across the strings of an acoustic guitar. Additionally the Classic 30 reproduces scale quite truthfully, neither overly miniaturizing an orchestra nor shrinking a closely miked vocal.
Imaging, a traditional Audio Physic strength, is a precisely targeted affair. And inter-driver coherence is very good, although at times I felt that the Classic 30 framed midrange images with a precision that was almost too exact. One of the reference torture tracks that I’ve listened to for years is the cut “1B” from Appalachian Journey with cellist Yo Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, and fiddle player Mark O’Connor. The fiery interplay of these gifted musicians makes for something akin to bluegrass/chamber music to my ears. Three soaring and diving melodic lines seem to tear off in different directions, dovetail, and then spin away again. In some situations these images can smear easily, obscuring bass extension and pitch control. However, if you can get a lot of loudspeaker beneath this track—and the Classic 30 certainly qualifies—some surprising things begin to happen. Foremost is the retrieval of bass foundation as laid down by Meyer’s aggressive bowing—deep shudders of bass resonances that fill the soundstage and are certain to deliver a satisfying seat massage. No less important are the midrange dynamics and speed issuing from these bowed strings instruments. Any sense of compression instantly robs this incendiary track of image localization, and its momentum and intensity.
Solo piano, my touchstone instrument, is reproduced in its entirety. That is, not as a spinet or an upright or a console or even a baby grand, but as a true concert grand—nine glossy black feet of steel, wood, and literally tons of string tension. The final section of The Lark is replete with Evgeny Kissin’s vertiginous swirling arpeggio flourishes that arrive in dynamic, immersive waves. The Classic 30’s new tweeter with its quick, open personality really shone in this atmosphere. It’s a truly excellent driver that remained smooth and composed in the company of such high-intensity material, but was equally sensitive to the soft touch of the pianist during gentle pianissimos. On the concluding movement of Pictures at an Exhibition, the Classic 30 permits “The Great Gate of Kiev” to swing wide open. The bottom octave weight of the concert grand piano is explosive and awe-inspiring in its impact. If the Classic 30’s bottom octave begins to sound a bit woolen and port-“lively” beneath this onslaught, it’s plainly forgivable given the many other ways it’s capturing this massive performance. A last word about the Classic 30’s impressive bass performance—as I listened the Taiko drums and soothing Tibetan bowls during “Silence” from the Hans Zimmer score to The Thin Red Line, I felt the Classic 30 struck a fair balance between the immersiveness and bloom of the ported system and the textural detail and control of sealed enclosures. I tend to find myself more often in the sealed camp but the Classic 30 was persuasive in its handling of deep-bass excursions.
Vocals, a strong suit of every Audio Physic design I’ve encountered were reproduced with the immediacy and focus I’ve come to expect.
While the Classic 30’s general tonal balance is neutral, there’s also a sonic mix of light and dark. On top, there is a cooler lift in the treble and a fractional dip in the presence range that enhances the air and articulation in a vocalist’s delivery. “A little more head tone” were among the notes I made as I listened to Mary Stallings’ vocal during “Sunday Kind of Love.” In that same vein there was just a bit more articulation in the upper octaves than what I’d consider natural in the recorded-live performance of cellist Martin Zeller’s Bach Cello Suite [MA Recordings].
The Classic 30 eloquently speaks to me on many levels, as a product capable of the intimacy, transparency, and coherence of a fine two-way compact, and as a multiway with an uncommon exuberance and range that doesn’t slight the wide dynamics and deep bass challenges of big music, from metal to Mahler. I probably don’t need to add that these attributes are often mutually exclusive in most loudspeakers. Not in the Classic 30, however. In fact, and though it’s too early to tell, Audio Physic may well have a genuine classic on its hands.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Three-way, bass-reflex floorstanding loudspeaker
Drivers: One 1.2" dome tweeter, two 6" midranges, two 7" woofers
Frequency response: 31Hz–30kHz
Impedance: 4 ohms
Dimensions: 41.5" x 6.7" x 16.2"
Weight: 59 lbs.