Fans of American muscle cars understand that when it comes to pavement- pounding and nose-bleeding power, there’s no substitute for cubic inches. That sentiment also applies to loudspeakers. Like pistons under the hood, a multiple array of transducers more often than not means higher performance—greater output, deeper extension, and more explosive dynamics.
Ask Canadian manufacturer Energy Loudspeakers, and it will gladly point you in the direction of its $2800 Veritas V2.3i, a thirdgeneration member of a respected loudspeaker family that began in 1992 with the Veritas V2.8, which became an instant audiophile fave. Not a mere two-way or even three-way, this 40" tall bass-reflex design sports four drivers in a “tapered four-way configuration.” In auto-speak, that spells “horsepower,” plain and simple.
The V2.3i has superior dynamics and lowlevel resolution, plus striking bass impact and extension. While its midrange is slightly recessed, reducing presence, the speaker’s overall refinement and excitement smooth over any bumps in the neutrality highway. The Veritas’ performance will surprise listeners used to twoor two-and-a-half-way designs. One listen to its four drivers effortlessly punching virtual holes in the plaster while keeping time with the cannon- shot kick drum on a song like AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” [Back In Black, Epic], and you know you’re not in “twoway land” anymore.
The Veritas combines full-range bravado with an uncanny ability to establish a rhythmic groove. The Police’s “Murder By Numbers” [Synchronicity, A&M] perfectly demonstrated these strengths, with the Veritas vividly tracking the full dynamic range—micro-delicacies, hair-trigger transients, and macho aggressiveness— of Stewart Copeland’s drums. The V2.3i’s low frequencies brimmed with a detail and low-level resolution (those tiny volume differences from beat to beat) that put many speakers in its price range to shame. On Jennifer Warnes’ “Way Down Deep” [The Hunter, Private], the Veritas allowed me to follow the trampoline- like decay of percussionist Paulinho da Costa’s talking drums and conga well past the point I could with other speakers. However, the gusto with which the Veritas reproduces bass also reveals its bass-reflex technology. Depending on the frequency and volume, I could hear the port reinforcing the sound a little too clearly. At times this only amounted to a subliminal thickening; on other occasions, I detected a hint of localization and a slowing of pace.
Some credit for the Vertias’ sophisticated dynamics must be given to its midrange dome, the prime mover in serving up the speaker’s terrific micro- and macro-dynamic gradations. For example, the acoustic guitar and mandolin flat-picking of prog/bluegrass band Nickel Creek [This Side, Sugar Hill] had a meticulous, ringing attack and sustained harmonics through the V2.3i. And whether it was the concert grand of Evgeny Kissin or Strad of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, sustained notes hovered closer to the edge of silence. The V2.3i even hung on to the last strains of Joni Mitchell’s distinctive vibrato and Carole King’s laidback piano on James Taylor’s familiar pop track “Long Ago And Far Away” [The Best of James Taylor, Warner Bros.]. Like the Revel Performa F30, this Veritas lets bass harmonics from a piano’s soundboard go on seemingly indefinitely, filling the room with ripples of energy that are not merely heard but felt.
The V2.3i lays a rich tonal foundation under the music and has especially good extension at both frequency extremes. Still, its behavior is somewhat paradoxical—outgoing and warm in the lower octaves, a little introverted and reserved in the midrange, with a hint of dryness in the treble. While its reproduction of the mid- and upper-bass (the bass viol, trombone, and tympani range) of an orchestra verged on the intimidating, the smoothness and serenity of its midrange in thunderous film soundtracks such as the battle sequence from Gladiator [Decca] seemed at odds with the low-frequency pyrotechnics. Similarly, on the Bruch Kol Nidrei [Channel Classics], Pieter Wispelwey’s cello was dark and sweet in its middle ranges (as it should be), but thickened as it plumbed the bottom octave.
As music swells in complexity or builds to a crescendo, the Veritas grow a bit loose and ill-defined. While subtle, this is a consistently unmistakable trait. So is a dip in the mids that lends a relaxed, laidback character to vocals, while traces of over-articulation creep into the treble. This combination increases initial vocal immediacy, but also reduces weight and body. It also reveals transient details like the crackle and snap of a snare head, but not as much of the drum underneath. This, in turn, creates an extended sense of depth yet also makes soloists seem less rooted to the stage. On my reference system, a minimalist song like “Murder by Numbers” [Synchronicity] exposes Sting’s vocal in a manner that underlines every dramatic nuance. By contrast, the Veritas cushioned his rasp to a degree that wasn’t accurate.
The V2.3i makes a compelling statement, though ruler-flat tonal accuracy is not its strongest asset. But in delivering a relaxed, full-bodied musicality that makes a direct gut-level connection with the listener, the Veritas is difficult to dismiss.