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It became a model everyone studio wanted and which ruled as a quasi gold standard until today. It’s not because it’s a very linear or special-sounding box. That’s not their forté. Being omnipresent is. A sound engineer could visit any studio for the first time and define its sonics because an NS-10 would be present. I heard those speakers many times in many places. A few times I even engineered opera and theater spectacles around them to know them to be pretty puny affairs at least by audiophile standards. But they had one trait I found impressive. They created a completely different world in front of the engineer, they were coherent enough to forget the studio environment and concentrate on the music. That their frequency response is so uneven, that they make no bass etc – well, the NS-10 is regarded as one of the reasons why the quality of music mastering in the 80s fell  off so dramatically. A second reason was a later trend which required that tracks be mastered to sound good on mediocre sources like car stereos, ghetto blasters, kitchen radios and such. The rather lousy hifi systems of the end users imposed this new (sub)standard on the big recording studios.

To reiterate, the Terra II Pro was designed for close-up listening. Put on a CD with big recorded space and move your chair toward the speaker (I used Eva Cassidy’s Imagine). At a certain distance something ‘clicks’ in your head and you have found the spot. That’s usually about 1.5 meters from the speakers. This can probably be adjusted just a bit with the company’s stands whereby the baffle slope can be altered; and by changing the inter-speaker distance. The manual goes into this.

With the sloping baffle we know that mechanical time alignment was intentional. That’s why the target distance is vital. Only one distance gives the intended optimum result. We can change the baffle angle and listening seat distance but that’s only moving within a small margin of error. In the optimal window the Terra II Pro’s drivers sound as one. We see two plus a bass-reflex part but we cannot hear the latter and individual instrument do not arise from any specific driver. These are highly coherent speakers.

This becomes relevant when we sit closer than usual where even with expensive speakers the sound often falls apart into individual drivers. That’s why with those one tends to prefer to sit farther away. To heighten the illusion of being there at which the EBTB is adept, we should also adjust the tweeter level. For that there’s a knob on the back plate, operation of which is pure joy as the level of craftsmanship is fantastic. The knob clicks slightly as it does in pro or medical gear and exhibits just the right resistance plus is reliable and repeatable. From time to time I simply wanted to turn it for its own sake but naturally it’s best to leave it alone once you’ve found the proper setting. I can assure you that the sound won’t be as good in any other setting.

What that depends on is how far we sit, at what angle the speakers sit and what the ancillary electronics and cables are. I preferred the neutral ‘0’ setting but know that other reviewers ended up elsewhere (look at the first 6moons review here). It’s worthwhile repeating that only in one specific setting will the tonal balance be right. Regardless of recording or electronics, only in that one setting will everything fall into place.

I tried that with the Kings of Leon disc Only By The Night. This is a rather difficult recording to reproduce because there are warm saturated guitars and powerful drums, electronics and most of all the quite high-pitched voice of the singer. This album showed most clearly how although I sometimes thought to cut the treble a tad, doing so would have destroyed the coherence of the sound. June Christy’s Something Cool confirmed this from the other direction. Here the treble seemed slightly withdrawn but altering the setting by just one click resulted in too sloppy a sound.