Verity Audio Finn Loudspeaker (TAS 201)

Equipment report
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Verity Audio Finn
Verity Audio Finn Loudspeaker (TAS 201)

The Verity Audio Finn sets a mood. With its shimmering, pearl-white lacquer finish setting off a series of gentle angles and seamless non-parallel cabinet surfaces, this a speaker that could grace the home of the innovative architect Frank Gehry or modernist-designer Philippe Starck. There are no visible screws to blemish the effect and even the thin speaker grilles adhere to the felt-covered baffle via magnets rather than accident-prone pushpins. If you look at it head-on, the narrow front baffle disguises the true depth of the Finn; viewed from the side, the cabinet deepens as it descends to its heavily-spiked base. This is a speaker that doesn’t have a bad angle.

At just a hair under 40” tall the Verity Audio Finn is a relatively small floorstander constructed of 1” MDF throughout—cabinet and bracing. It’s a three-way with bass-reflex loading, utilizing all new drivers sourced from SB Acoustics. The rear-firing 6” woofer is loaded in a ported Bessel-tuned (linear-phase) cabinet that crosses over to the 5” midrange at 150Hz in a first-order slope, while the mid climbs to 4kHz before passing the baton to the tweeter via a third-order (18dB-per-octave) crossover. À la Verity tradition, this wide-running midrange was purpose-designed to encompass the entire presence range, the region roughly between 1–4kHz, where the human ear is most sensitive. Normally this band is shared between tweeter and midrange transducers. Verity acknowledges that the tinier wavelengths being produced by the 5” mid might reveal some directionality, but it prefers the purity of this configuration and argues that less reflected energy off the sidewalls equates to a more room-friendly speaker.

Unlike Verity’s larger modular Rienzi and Parsifal models, the Finn has a one-piece enclosure. So while the Rienzi gives you the option of rotating the woofer section for forward- or rear-firing, the Finn’s woofer/port aims rearward only. Verity Audio, no stranger to the complications implicit in bass and room interactions, supplies foam port-plugs with the Finn, which effectively turn the enclosure into a quasi-acoustic suspension cabinet. Verity rates the Finn at –3dB at 35Hz without the foam plugs and –3dB at 47Hz with plugs. The port plugs are useful, particularly if you are committed to a single listening position and are faced with the eternal problem of how to quell a bass hump due to room gain and don’t want to move the speaker from an otherwise ideal position.

It doesn’t take long to understand what the Finn values most. It has the fleet-footed sonic sensibility of a smaller speaker at heart—most notably a two-way compact monitor, which it audibly resembles. Like a mini-monitor, it exhibits terrific low-level detail, micro-dynamics, and transient attack—the calling cards of the finest two-ways—with the added bonus of a righteous amount of deep mid-30Hz bass. Its mid and treble drivers also have nearly one-voice coherence, coming tantalizingly close to the point-source ideal. Since it’s not loaded down with big drivers, the Finn has a lighter, leaner overall sound—its balance characterized by snap and speed. You sense that there is no lag time between the signal hitting the voice coil and the reaction of the diaphragm. For example, there’s the “right now” excitement and urgency of the Atlanta Brass Ensemble blaring a full-bore Fanfare for the Common Man. Through the Finn, it’s a liveliness bordering on the electric. And the Finn is equally at home with a neo-bluegrass band like Nickel Creek—from the distinctive tightly-strung delicacy of Chris Thiele’s mandolin to the reflections that trampoline off the soundboard of a Martin dreadnought. The Finn mulls over every inflection with a gossamer-like delicacy, from the vibrato of a solo violin to a string bend on a blues guitar, to a singer parting her lips before releasing the first note into an old tube Neumann microphone. It has an affection for micro-detail, like the octave strings on a 12-string guitar or the characteristic drone of the mountain dulcimer.

Vocals are also a critical strength of the Finn. On a song like Jennifer Warnes’ “Bird On A Wire” or “If It Be Your Will” from Famous Blue Raincoat [Shout], I was impressed by the articulation and stability with which the Finn reproduced Warnes’ vocal and its skill at conveying a finely delineated image of the vocalist in three-dimensional space. And it really brings to bear these considerable charms during a classic jazz performance like Ray Brown’s “Take the A Train” from Soular Energy [Groove Note], from the air of the cymbals to the speed of the drum kit, the glint of the upper register of the piano, and the full-bodied bloom and texture of the acoustic bass. This genre of music represents the “wheelhouse” of the Finn—smaller-scale acoustic music in definable spaces is where it’s most comfortable and sounds fully realized. It can play “big,” but grandiose music is more the province of Verity’s larger offerings. The Finn’s strengths are of a more intimate variety. For me the Finn performs its best at naturalistic levels rather than levels that will cause citywide brownouts.

The Finn produces a broad soundstage with more than respectable depth and dimension. Thanks to the profile of its narrow baffle, hard-panned information tends to be perceived beyond the enclosure’s outer edges. Ultimately the sheer scale of images and acoustic space is miniaturized somewhat—not on a par with taller alpha-floorstanders like the big Wilsons or Magicos, or even a more comparably priced offerings like the Sonus faber Liuto and Revel Performa F52.

However, special kudos to a quiet cabinet. In fact, from the upper bass up this enclosure doesn’t seem to impart a definable signature. Rather than conveying the sense that music is somehow clinging to it like dust to a Swiffer, the Finn seems to be the last place in the room from which the music might be emanating. This trick is exemplified by a track like “Racing in the Streets” from Darkness on the Edge of Town [CBS], where Springsteen’s voice, tenderly accompanied by Roy Bittan’s piano, emerges like a phantom from the silence in the deep center of the soundstage. For awhile, there’s no speaker, no system whatsoever in the room. These were the moments I savored with the Finn.

Tonally the Finn isn’t quite anvil-flat-neutral across the octaves. Though it’s not always plain to hear, the Finn does tip the scales somewhat in the lower/mid treble lending familiar recordings an element of brilliance. Yet in spite of this treble sparkle there is a sense that the Finn is just a tad polite in the upper mids. Not recessed especially, but just laid-back enough to convey a slightly elevated perception of soundstage depth. Cello, a forceful and darkly resonant instrument, perhaps best exemplifies this issue. The Finn, in my view, overly smooths the often aggressive attack of the bow, missing some of the cello’s radiating energy and the transient grit from the rosin as the cellist digs into the lower octave strings, as Pieter Wispelwey does on Kol Nidre [Channel Classics].

I also noted an uneven quality to bass response that—depending on source material—I was never entirely able to wrestle into submission. In this region where midbass and upper bass fuse, it sounded as if the woofer-to-mid transition was less than seamless, occasionally over-rich and at other times lean and dynamically restricted. Wispelwey’s cello was not as chesty and shaded and reverberant as it might have been. Similarly, there was a slight attenuation of chest resonances on male vocals like Tom Waits’ “Take It With Me” from Mule Variations [Anti]. Properly reproduced, there should be a bit of seismic shudder in the room as Waits sings the title line at the end of each verse but the Finn backs this lower middle-range detail off slightly. A nine-foot concert grand piano provides another good example. During Evgeny Kissin’s performance of the Bach Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C, the soundboard radiation normally adds a fullness and thicker texture to the sound, even to the extent that in small ways it softly masks other details. In this instance I felt the Finn couldn’t quite relay the full energy coming off the soundboard; the resultant sound was lighter, adding to the perception of speed but also lacking a degree of spaciousness and envelopment. Note, too, that whenever discussing colorations in the bass octaves results will often differ somewhat depending on the room setup—a good reason to be in tight with your dealer when you request a home audition.

The Finn-ish Line

Most audiophiles learn early on that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. With very few exceptions, loudspeakers are specialists to one degree or another. In that spirit, the Verity Audio Finn makes its case with some irresistible charms of its own. True, greater attention must be paid to room setup to extract its full potential. But it’s time well spent with a speaker that offers a great many musical rewards.

SPECS & PRICING

Verity Audio Finn Loudspeaker
Type: Three-way vented box
Drivers: 1” soft dome tweeter, 5” fiber/pulp cone mid, 6” fiber/pulp cone woofer
Frequency Response: 35Hz–40kHz
Sensitivity: 91dB
Impedance: 8 ohm
Dimensions: 39.5” x 10” x 13.50”
Weight: 55 lbs. each
Price: $5995/pr.

VERITY AUDIO
1005, Avenue Saint-Jean Baptiste, Suite 150
Quebec, QC G2E 5L1
Canada
(418) 682-9940
verityaudio.com

U.S. Agent: Tempo Sales & Marketing
Waltham, Massachusetts
(617) 314-9296
jquick@verityaudio.com

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