Sugg. Retail: $1000 pr (CAN),
Size: 36″H x 7.75″W x 15.5″D
Manufacturer: Audio Products International Corp., 3641 McNicholl
Ontario, M1X 1G5
(416) 321-1800 FAX 321-1500
(Reprinted from the Winter/Spring 2004 Audio Ideas Guide)
After a lot of, ahem, energy expended on the Veritas line, API’s Energy division has focused on its middle-of-the- line, value-oriented range of speakers. The Connoisseur group of speakers has been carefully redesigned for full stereo and home theatre use.
The C5 is a slim tower with outrigger spiked feet to support its slim profile, with a very handsome silver front baffle containing 3 custom designed and integrated drivers and a flared port at bottom. “The silver front baffle is also the woofer’s basket section, and integral part of the speaker enclosure and the speaker system. Comprised of Energy’s proprietary Spherex®, the baffle is computer designed to enhance dispersion and strengthen the cabinet structure.” The C5 is a 3-way design, with an integrated midrange and tweeter. Interestingly enough, the Energy engineers have gone beyond the tweeter/midrange “teardrop” modules in the flagship Veritas line to completely integrate the C Series baffles and drivers. The tweeter is complex in its construction and includes a chamber enclosed behind it to reduce the driver’s resonant frequency; “This allows…a low cross-over point as opposed to the industry standard of 3,500-4,000Hz. The results are wide and constant dispersion of midrange and treble frequencies, a critical element in achieving the Energy design goals”, according to the Connoisseur brochure. Crossover points are around 2 kHz to the tweeter, with a 550 Hz upper cutoff to the woofer.
I recently spent an hour or two with Energy chief designer John Tchilinguirian exploring their computer design capabilities (which are considerable and currently being updated yet again), inspected their new anechoic chamber (a clone of that at the NRC), and saw the connection of all acoustic output from the chamber to the computers of the key speaker designers. Measurements are automated so that a whole set can be programmed and done quickly with great accuracy. Of course, there are also similar in-house programs for driver, crossover, and cabinet design, with a special section working on breakthroughs in subwoofer development. I can see why API’s president, Howard Heiber, decided to stand his ground against Sunfire’s Bob Carver with respect to the patents on small subwoofers, and won. This Canadian company has a lot invested in this area of research.
I find the C Series designs quite modern and striking in their look, and I like them with grilles off. Probably unique in this price range, these are attached to to the baffle magnetically. At bottom rear, single high quality 5-way posts are provided, and available laminate finishes are Canadian Maple and Black Ash vinyl. Overall, this series of speakers presents an unusually satisfyingly finished and integrated design process, especially for its price category.
This is proven in the measurements as well as in the appearance. Looking at the frequency response, we see at top the Summed Axial Response (SAR) derived from the axial (0, 15, 30 and 45 degrees) Pink Noise Sweep (PNS) curves below. Overall response is very flat, +/-1 dB on axis from below 50 Hz to almost 20 kHz, with a gradual attenuation as one moves off axis. Even in the SAR curve, response is very linear, +/-2 dB over most of the range, indicating also the superb dispersion.
Looking back below, we can see that over a 30 degree window, response is very smooth, that at 60 degrees rolling off sensibly to minimize unwanted wall reflections. At the bass end at left, response is pretty much flat at 50 Hz, - 3 dB at 40 Hz, and about -7 dB at 30, with appreciable response at 20 Hz, down about 12 dB. How many $1000 speakers have you heard with this kind of bass reach?
The impedance curves are generally smooth, with a high of 20 ohms at crossover to the tweeter, and the expected mild humps in the bass for this ported design; the lowest value, at just over 100 Hz, is 7 ohms in this nominal 8-ohm design. Electrical phase, below, is quite smooth, varying 30 degrees or less in the + or - sectors through crossover. The C5 should be an easy load to drive for any amplifier, its 93-dB in-room (2 speakers) sensitivity ensuring excellent dynamic capability; this, combined with its excellent frequency response, means that it will match well with good tube amplifiers, as well as making the most of modest solid state watts.
In listening, the overall smoothness of this design could immediately be heard, along with an effortlessness and freedom from coloration atypical of $1000 speakers. As with the Paradigm Signatures, the little extra upper octave energy could be perceived as a kind of sweetness that increased detail and ambient energy in strings and brass particularly, while also making acoustic guitars and percussion sound very alive.
The C5s image very well, too, though perhaps without the more holographic capability of their more expensive siblings or the new flagship models from Paradigm and PSB; But it is almost scary how close these full range speakers come to just about the best Canada has to offer.
Power handling is not an issue, either, with excellent deep bass even when they’re driven hard, and the extra sensitivity pays off in outright dynamic range. If the new Connoisseur series embodies any compromises, they are almost completely offset by the innovative technology employed in their engineering and manufacture. You may be astounded at what goes for a grand these days after you’ve spent some time with a pair of C5s.