The S7 is not forgiving. It won’t “fix” recordings with these problems by covering them up with a touch of warmth. What the S7 will do is be musically and accurately revealing without adding the kind of subtle coloration that exacerbates problems in a recording and contributes to listening fatigue in the process.
This pays off with all musical styles, but if you happen to be a fan of Baroque music, and particularly of Telemann and Vivaldi—or any music with dominant upper strings, brass, woodwinds, or soprano voice—you are going to find its mix of accurate timbre and detail to be exceptionally appealing. You can also hear the subtle differences between really good modern digital recordings more clearly, although I generally find overall recording quality to matter more than the number of bits or sampling frequency.
The only other comment I can make before I turn to the deep bass is that this is all achieved with an exceptionally flat response. There is no forgiving drop in the area around 3kHz, or any effort to add warmth. I do have to admit that far too many recordings today go for apparent detail with close miking, and there is something to be said for tuning the speaker to make it more musically convincing with such recordings. The problem with any such changes to flat response, however, is that they affect great recordings negatively and that any fixed attempt to color a speaker to make it more musical can interact so much with the listening position, room, and other factors that it can tip the balance towards softening the wrong things too much.
An accurate speaker can present some problems with colored recordings, but a colored speaker does not solve them. I’ve heard some adjustable and defeatable forms of electronic compensation offer much better solutions—like those in the new Legacy Wavelet—but I’d choose the accuracy of the S7 every time.
And this brings me to the deep bass. The S7s do not go down to the absolute floor of the bass, although they do go far deeper at musically natural volumes in the real world than most speakers. (Magico had to have some reasons for its far more expensive Q7s.) They do go far deeper, however, than may be apparent if you are used to speakers that lack their bass transient response. They have remarkably tight and natural deep bass with far more bass detail than many competing speakers even in this general price range.
One problem for some audiophiles, however, is that if they are looking for room-shaking bass, or used to less tight and well-defined bass, they may not realize how much really low bass performance they are actually getting. One very good test of the S7’s ability to provide both detail and real-world deep bass power is Band One (“Fanfare for the Common Man”) of the Eiji Oue, Minnesota Orchestra recording of Copland 100 [Reference Recordings], which has superb bass drum and brass passages in which transient response and definition are critical.
The second test is the ability to really make the organ into both a subtle and immensely powerful deep-bass instrument. This was clear in listening to the Jean Guilou’s recording of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition [Dorian], especially on Bands Two, Thirteen, and Fourteen. Far too many other speakers—even expensive ones—do not reproduce the organ as well as they do other instruments. The end result is that a vast library of organ music, dating back to the days when it dominated liturgical music and popular listening, tends to be ignored. I doubt the S7 alone can produce an organ renaissance (pun intended), but it does reveal the complexity and subtlety of the instrument and not just its power and deep-bass energy.
The S7’s accuracy in transient speed and overall detail not only makes the deep bass more musically realistic; it also significantly reduces room excitation and the masking of detail in the upper bass and midrange. These advantages of superior bass performance come through clearly on high-quality cello and bass viol recordings. Try the opening passages of the Kuijken Kwartet recording of the Mozart Requiem [Challenge Classics], and track one of Ray Brown and Laurindo Almeida’s Moonlight Serenade [Jeton]. In fact, virtually any really good cello or jazz recording that emphasizes the bass will do just as well.
The S7 is a true reference-quality speaker with outstanding musical performance in every parameter, and provided me with one of the most enjoyable listening experiences I’ve had. It is a must if you are able to afford speakers in its price range, and worth auditioning for the learning experience even if it is far outside your price range—at least for the moment.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Three-way, sealed-enclosure
Driver complement: 3 x 10" woofers, 6" midrange, 1" tweeter
Impedance: 4 ohms
Frequency response: 20Hz–50KHz
Recommended power: 50–1000 Watts
Dimensions: 25" x 56" x 20"
Weight: 300 lbs. each
Price: $58,000 (MCast), $64,000 (MCoat)
3170 Corporate Place
Hayward, CA 94545