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The Clearwave Symphonia 72R was tested without my usual Paradigm subwoofer since the specifications promised deep bass. Front end source components included the Wyred4Sound DAC-2 and new Music Server which also arrived for review as well as my standard Audio Space CDP 8A doing duty on CD playback. Preamplification was handled by the AudioSpace Reference 2S as well as the DAC-2 direct into the Bel Canto 200.4. Single runs of Audio Art speaker cables were used. Front end cables were combinations of Audio Art and/or Signal Cable Silver Reference. Time to choose some music to see whether the speaker would impress and satisfy. Both CD and hi-rez Flac files were trotted out.

• "Gaucho" from the 24/96 download Gaucho: Steely Dan [Geffen MCA088112 055-2] is a nice piece from the 1981 Grammy award-winning album which has received the 24/96 remaster treatment by original recording engineer Elliot Scheiner. It’s a warm rich Pop recording with visceral vocals and good kick, a big dense soundfield and no trace of sterility.
• "Lacrymosa: Sinfonia da Requiem from Britten’s Orchestra: Michael Stern/Kansas City Orchestra [Reference Recordings RR-120] is a CD version of a 24-bit recording by Reference Recording’s legendary Professor Johnson with detail, texture, dynamics and soundstage galore. This cut plays with amazing dynamic range and the opening is just the ticket to jolt you wide awake from the lethargy of compressed dynamic fare.
• "Blessing in Disguise" from Blessing in Disguise: Annie Haslam/Renaissance [One Way Records OW31450] is an amazing vocal effort from Annie Haslam as the original band Renaissance split in two. Wall-to-wall airy soundstaging, floating male backup vocals and an expressive lead make compelling reasons to listen for enjoyment as well as reference.
• "Prelude" from the 24/96 download Single Voice Polyphony - JS Bach: Gavriel Lipkind [Gavriel Lipkind S01] sports a single cello in a reverberant space. This is about nuance and control. Mr. Lipkind brings an engaging emotional presentation where instrument, player and venue intertwine to captivate the listener with surprising freshness. The higher resolution only serves to enhance the picture.
• "La Cupis: Concert N°5" from Rameau Pieces de de Clavecin en Concerts: Ensemble Baroque Nouveau [Reference Recordings RR-118] is another 24-bit master transferred to CD by Reference Recording’s Keith Johnson. Rich hall acoustic, attacks of the harpsichord and warm detailed orchestral interplay highlight the individual instruments of the orchestra for all the complexity and dynamic nuance that were available to the Baroque period.

• "What Goes around Comes Around" from Future Sex/Lovesounds: Justin Timberlake [Jive 82876-88062-2 ] is a catchy Pop song from Mr. Timberlake in a slick studio production that has quick hard edges, deep bass and a decent level of density and complexity in the overdubbed vocals.
• "Tauiqto Militar" from Sera una Noche: La Segunda [M.A Recordings M062A] was recorded at 176.4 kHz with a single point microphone. Mr. Garfinkle captured an astonishing level of dynamic exuberance from the group and vocalists in a cavernous venue. This cut has speed, attack, subtlety, warmth and soundstaging which are uncompressed and alive.

Music at the ready the system was fired up. The RAAL would dictate the tempo. Could Mr. Kunz’s mid/woofers keep up? The speaker required lengthy break-in so patience was required. Initially the presentation was all RAAL with huge volumes of air and space but the Accuton contribution was absent. As time went on the woofers appeared on the scene and the character of the Symphonia evolved. First signs of life in the Accuton range was some good kick in the bass depths accompanied by a bit of confusion and reticence in the rest of its spectrum that took considerable time to disappear. The slowest portion of the spectrum to fill in was the midrange and lower midrange. That gradually gained responsiveness and output until tweeter and woofers finally acted with a cohesive voice. The driver blend at this stage was quite good especially in the overlap range where the two managed to sound remarkably similar in character. The quality of transition rivaled the relatively seamless blend of my own Apogee ribbons, a remarkable feat considering the potentially disparate sonic natures of RAAL and Accuton.

The upper range occupied by the RAAL sounded extended but not specifically sweet unless dictated by the source material. It also lent a little bit of incisive bite to the presentation but was not overpowering. More extended break-in progressively reduced its character to make the driver transition less apparent. The ribbon in fact became surprisingly mild mannered, contributing to an overall flavor that was quite neutral, wide in response and not subject to spotlighting.

Bass showed relatively unobtrusive cabinet contribution and controlled driver excursion which easily met the published limit of 38 cycles +/- 2.5dB, displaying heft into the upper 20s. This was achieved without a ‘polite’ level proviso. The speaker could pump bass at quite loud levels with solid punch. While it did not go quite as low as the Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer, it was deep enough to satisfy those whose tastes encompass modern music and big orchestral bass swings, falling merely short of Jurassic Park infrasonics.

The midbass character of the speaker was the most critical to integrate and required attention to detail to get right. On rare occasion it displayed a minor discontinuity in character, losing a bit of dynamic conviction and differentiation of notes. If the material was higher in tonal contrast, this was not evident. Material which was weighted in this area without the support of the RAAL’s quick leading edge showed the inconsistency. Careful toe-in and vertical rake angle minimized the anomaly and properly optimized this portion of the spectrum integrated relatively seamlessly into the speaker’s bandwidth.