I can say without any hesitation that the new C225-100s, in this shorter, deeper enclosure, perform exceptionally well and bring a degree of power and punch to the game that the original G1 could not muster. Bass from the Spirit is, to my ear, significantly improved, both in quality and quantity, over that of the original G1, and is one of the two most significant advances the Spirits offer over its predecessor.
What I’m saying is that the Spirits go deep, and do so with authority. While the spec sheet lists 29Hz as the low-frequency extreme, in my room, which is nearly 4000 cubic feet, they had no issues realistically recreating organ, doublebass, and bass guitar information down into the low 20s, using a wide variety of electronics, and at any volume. While not the benchmark in bass performance, they do offer up low end with remarkable transient speed, impressively powerful weight, and clear, articulate pitch definition. While I had never felt that the G1’s were particularly lacking in this area, they pale completely in comparison, as they simply do not exhibit the exceptional degree of control and definition that the Spirit now brings to the game.
During the opening of “Nihavent” from Joël Grare’s Paris-Istanbul-Shanghai [Alpha], Grare’s drums and Emek Evci’s doublebass are nearly perfectly portrayed in both textural density and dynamic agility, and are rendered with undeniable accuracy of pitch. Skin tone and string snaps are extremely well depicted, and are superbly accurately rendered. The correctness of and expressive manner in which they reproduce the fundamental sound of drums, with their seeming unswerving ability to capture the texture and tone of the skin itself, was quite extraordinary.
Let’s talk about slam! You bass freaks out there are going to love this speaker. As with any full-range speaker, solid bass performance is ultimately dependent on the room’s size, its resultant nodes, and proper speaker placement therein. But once they are optimally set up in a room large enough to accommodate them, the Spirits have no problem generating substantive impact when called upon. While they maintain good clarity, detail, and focus, they do not provide the last word in dynamic scaling and attack. Yet this newfound bass aplomb was starkly apparent with cuts as varied as Janis Ian’s “Tattoo,” from Breaking Silence [QRP/Analogue Productions], London Grammar’s “Hey Now” from If You Wait [Metal & Dust], and “Seeya,” from deadmau5 While (1<2) [Astralwerks].
Likewise, the performance of the newly redesigned C125-75s lower midrange is also exceptional, taking the Spirit to new heights over the G1. Midrange and upper midrange, on up into roughly the treble in the mid-4kHz area, through the provenance of the D50 and into the lower dominion of the D26 drivers, is remarkably open and more transparent, more so than I’ve noted from many other dynamic loudspeakers in this price range, disarmingly so. In fact, in this area the Spirit’s performance approaches and is reminiscent of that of planars or electrostatics.
Pianos were laid bare, and the essence of hammered strings has never been significantly more obviously recreated in my room. Listen to The Piano Music of Federico Mompou [Hyperion] with Stephen Hough at the piano for a taste of the vividness I am trying to describe. Even the short piano solo some 3:15 into Supertramp’s “School” from Crime of the Century [Mobile Fidelity UHQR], soared on the Spirit. Over time, this attribute became only more enchanting. No matter what I listened to, the authentic sense of timbre was a constant.
Any speaker I have heard with even the slightest excess of energy from the upper bass through the lower mids always sounds sluggish and slow by comparison. None of that here. Try as I might (and believe me, I really tried), I could detect not even the faintest hint of overhang, resonance, or driver distress of any kind through this range, no matter how hard I pushed the Spirits, and boy, can you push them! More on that attribute soon.
Full of life, rich in detail and harmonic bloom, instrument fundamentals from piano, violin, guitar, human voice, etc. are rendered wholly realistically, with excellent texture and lifelike dimension, simulating a near “living” quality, even with recordings I consider mediocre. The Spirits afford some of the smoothest, most fluent, and expressive midrange performance in their class.
Uppermost frequencies are well focused and detailed while remaining smooth and free of any notable etched sterility. While the Spirits deliver a comparatively open and spacious top end, they tend to be a bit soft in this department compared to the best available. In all my time with them, using a variety of linestages (the Audionet PRE G2, the Pass Labs XP20, the Dynamic Sounds Associates Pre I, the Constellation Inspiration linestage, and the tube ModWright SL 100), amplifiers (Audionet MAX monoblocks, Pass Labs XA160.8 monoblocks, Constellation Inspiration, Channel Islands Audio D500 MkII Class D monoblocks, and Channel Islands Audio VMB1 monoblocks), and cable looms (Stealth, Audience, MasterBuilt, Furutech), they never exhibited that final degree of effortlessness, air, and shimmer available from the best beryllium tweeters used by Magico and Von Schweikert Audio, or the new BilletDome from YG Acoustics. In fact, while the Spirits best my reference Von Schweikert Audio VR-55 Aktives in some areas such as upper bass transient impact, they were no match for the delicacy, detail, and sparkle the VSA’s could produce in the uppermost registers.
Listening to the beguiling chimes from the opening of “Singing Winds, Crying Beasts” on the new Santana Abraxas reissue [Mobile Fidelity UD1S], or “Mercy Street,” from Peter Gabriel’s So [Classic Records], left me wanting for some of the detail, specificity, and ethereal air those recordings afford. Listening to ride cymbals with jazz or blues combos, or triangles with classical recordings, you are treated to clear and uncongested detail, with vivid attack and nice ambient decay, recording permitting. But those final touches you get from the very best beryllium and some planar designs, that sense of graceful effortlessness, of unfettered extension, and the perception of the air around the instruments that allows them to regenerate the final measure of trailing ambiance and decay were wanting. My mind wondered back to that bothersome-looking perforated grille, and I kept thinking that perhaps that was somehow impeding the D26’s extension and dispersion.