aurum cantus leisure 2sv mkii(what hi fi 2014.4)

aurum cantus leisure 2sv mkii(what hi fi 2014.4)
 WHAT HI-FI?
SOUND AND VISION
BOOKSHELF SPEAKERS
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R14900!
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Amazing portable players
APRIL 2014 R28 www.whathifi.com
OTHER COUNTRIES R24-56 excl tax 1
| 14004
9 117718181439
?.AINTS, TIPS AND D ADVICE. THE SPECS. THE FACTS.
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ADVERTISING FEATURE
SOUTHWEST EASTBEST ....—.
When | was asked to test and critique a high-quality loudspeaker from Chinese
origin | have to be honest, | wasn't quite sure what to expect. During the past 3
decades | have listened to, sold, installed and even repaired loudspeakers from
varying origins and even though | know perfectly well that quality loudspeakers are
manufactured in lots of different countries all over the world, somehow China isn't
exactly the first one that comes to mind.
In fact to most ‘Made In China’ conjures up images
of low-cost motor vehicles with funny names, poorly
lip-synced martial arts movies - that can be found in
the comedy section at your local video store - and
cheap electronic equipment with horribly-translated,
hilariously funny instruction manuals.
It was against this backdrop that | approached the
listening test — armed with more than just a little bias |
didn't have much hope for this ‘unknown entity from
the Far East’. | mean really, the ‘Leisure 2’ - sounds
more like a weatherproof outdoor speaker...
But as | opened the pristinely sealed box and
slipped the first glossy speaker out of its protective
material sleeve, | realized straight away that | was
in for a surprise. There was nothing funny or low-
cost about this product. Solidly built, immaculately
finished, the wood veneer perfectly matched,
sturdy gold binding posts - | had been wrong in
my assumption, very wrong, this was serious stuff.
Almost immediately my negative bias gave way
to curious excitement and | decided to familiarize
myself with the Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SV MkII.
In theory
The Leisure 2 SV Mkil is a compact or bookshelf-
type loudspeaker that forms the base model of the
Leisure range, which also offers a matching centre
and surround speakers. The speaker is about as
deep as it is high and while it looks small from the
front actually has quite a large footprint. The 2-way
rear-ported design is pretty standard featuring a 5,2"
carbon and polypropylene composite mid/bass driver
coupled to a high output aluminium ribbon tweeter.
As mentioned, the SV МКИ 5 а sturdy affair and it
is clear that Aurum Cantus has structural integrity
and an acoustically inert cabinet high on their list of
design priorities. The fit and finish is as good as it gets
and the piano lacquered finish on my demo pair really
deserves special mention!
Inside the cabinet no corners are cut either. All the
crossover components are carefully selected and
adhere to or exceed military industrial standards.
Claimed frequency response is 60Hz to 40KHz and
the crossover frequency is around the 2700 Hz
mark. The recommended power requirement for the
Leisure SV Mklls is between 50 and 100 watt and at
87 dB the sensitivity rating leans towards the lower
end of the scale.
In practice
Once | had acquainted myself with the Aurum
Cantus Leisure 2 (as well as the rest of the very
impressive product lineup) it was time to put them to
the test. In the initial setup the required power was
supplied by the Audiolab 8200A integrated amplifier
with 2 x 60-watt on tap while the very capable
Audiolab 8200 CDQ compact disc player had the
honour of spinning the discs. Since loudspeakers with
ribbon tweeters have a more focused (narrow) high-
frequency dispersion characteristic | spent a little
longer than normal positioning the Leisure 2s - | often
still make use of a test disc for this purpose and even
though the tests are not conclusive they do go a long
way in getting the basic setup right.
Given the higher-than-normal expectation levels
| decided to not waste any time and kicked-off the
session with one of my favourite recordings; Katie
Melua's rendition of Love Me Tender from the album
Secret Symphony. Even though it is not a very
complex or technically challenging piece of music it
is beautifully recorded and, if reproduced properly,
portrays a real sense of intimacy and presence - and
it contains a few testing bass notes as well. The
Leisure 2s passed the test with flying colours on both
accounts: Katie was ‘in the room’ and the bass was
Z & P HIGH END AUDIO Importer and distributor of: Aurum Cantus Loudspeakers | Dussun Pre/Power/Integrated Ampli fiers | SoundRight Audiocable
reproduced with authority and poise.
A few similar tracks followed; Chris Rea's Burning
Feet from the album Dancing Down the Stony Road
and Mark Knopfler's The Ragpicker's Dream from the
similarly named album also have the ability to really
draw you into the recording. And once again the
Leisure 2s didn't disappoint. The virtual soundstage
was re-created with an almost eerie sense of
realism confirming what | am convinced is probably
these speakers's biggest asset - their ability to
communicate. It's like they reel you in, sit you down
and force you to listen.
| turned my attention to the heavier stuff - in
order to determine how the Leisure 2s coped
with more complex recordings. Ideally what you
are looking for is ‘coherency’. The quest is for
the music to remain coherent, all the different
instruments individually distinguishable even at
high volume levels and not to become a sibilant,
strident mess. This is particularly challenging for
smaller loudspeakers as the smaller/fewer drivers
have to reproduce a very wide array of frequencies
often at higher than ‘normal’ volume levels. Two
textbook test tracks can be found on the progressive
rock band King Crimson's album 'B'Boom: Live In
Argentina. The epic 7-minute songs B'Boom and
THRAK take you on a masterfully intoxicating
journey through beautiful soft melodic passages,
as well as atonic, dissonant sections building up to
a deafening, cacophonic, mind-altering climax that
pins you to your seat. Depending on the execution
it's the kind of track that either has you running
from the room or leaves you utterly mesmerized -
wanting more.
Initially | was a little underwhelmed and was
almost ready to console myself to the fact that
perhaps ‘loud and large’ just wasn't the Leisure's
strongest point when | noticed that | had pushed my
trusted Audiolab 8200A well passed the 2 o'clock
mark and that it was clearly teetering on the edge
of its ability - caused in part by the speakers's low
87 dB sensitivity rating no-doubt. | replaced the
8200A with the equally brilliant yet more powerful
Dussun T6 integrated amplifier and the reward was
almost instantaneous. There was an improved sense
of scale and rhythm and the increase in headroom
smoothed the nasty edges. The Leisure 2s had their
mojo back and it was clear that they preferred the
control of the larger amplifier - especially when the
going got tough.
In summary
| have used the Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SV Mklls
quite a few times following the original listening
test and have grown very fond of this little-known
Chinese loudspeaker brand. Sure, there are little tell-
tale signs indicating that they don't churn them out
in large volumes and some of the trimmings such as
the loudspeaker grills and even the reflex port are a
little rudimentary - not as slick as some of the bigger
players in the industry that have access to custom
injection moulding - but that doesn't matter. They're
beautifully crafted and make beautiful music. | love
listening to them, | love looking at them. It's an honest
product (if that makes any sense) that, as far as | am
concerned, represents excellent value for money.
They do require (and deserve) good partnering
equipment and like almost all ribbon-equipped
transducers have a smallish sweet-spot. Other than
that they are hard to fault and can comfortably hold
their own against the competition.
Very comfortably in fact
ADVERTISING FEATURE
TECH SPECS
Type
Sensitivity (dB/W/m)
Impedance
Max Power Handling
Biwirable
Dimensions (hwd)
Weight
Bookshelf
87
8 ohms
100W
No
31.5 x 18.8 x 31cm
8.5kg
Xindak Amplifiers, Cd Players, Dacs, Power Conditioners Loudspeakers | Contact Zack on 083 341 4126 or visit our website: www.zandphighendaudio.yolasite.com
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