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After meeting at Janusz’ place and attempting to drive the Accordos with 18 watts of top-class single-ended valve amps, I had to believe that the distributor based his description solely on Serblin’s marketing propaganda, not any personal experience – that he in fact had never listened to them yet. Because with low-power amplifiers no matter their quality, the Accordos sounded unequivocally and irrevocably tragic. We tried every possible position. The pair had been playing for several days before the meeting and been set up in the very same place. Things went downhill from there. After the meeting Janusz admitted to getting more and more fed up with them. In a large room well away from the front wall where the Guarneris and Electas had sounded simply awesome, the Accordos behaved like a broken radio. For some time we thought we had accidentally disconnected the mid/woofer, so bright and shrill was the sound. There were about eight of us. Everyone left the meeting displeased and confused. These speakers were designed by a man who had many times in the past proven to be truly gifted, who knows a lot about monitors and who favors them above all other designs. And now his most recent design turned out to be ‘junk’? We did not even discuss specifically what we had heard. There simply was nothing meaningful to talk about.

Careful diagnosis based on certain assumptions suggested that∙either something was wrong with the speaker positioning in the room; the amps were poorly matched; or the speakers were damaged. I was honestly close to sending them back with a thanks but no. As I have said many times before, High Fidelity’s policy is to promote a positive message. I review over longer auditions products which are good and which I like (preferably both). I don’t have time for anything else. The Accordos were a hair’s breadth from getting the boot.

Yet here you are reading my review. Something must have worked out. After many long attempts in my system, it turned out that the speakers require very careful and deliberate placement, very definite toe-in, a short distance from both the front wall and listener and—this is most important because it discredits all claims that the Accordos are ideal with tubes —a very powerful amplifier preferably a little on the warm side.

When it comes to placement, the Italian speakers should end up no farther from the listener than about 2 meters. What happens beyond that distance is that tangibility drops off dramatically as does our connection to the musical events before us. I think that the Accordos can however be spaced as wide as the distance from the listener or wider. Very important is toe-in. In the manual a drawing shows the speakers’ axes directed at the listener’s ears. The model logo seems to suggest something similar (Serblin has created separate logos for the Ktêmas and Accordos). But there is also a note that "if you prefer to lower the tweeter's intensity you can change the direction of the front baffle so as to create the point of intersection away from the listener." After many experiments with speaker distance and toe-in I can say that if we want to get the right tonal balance and control the quite strong treble, the point of intersection in front of the listener is not optional but mandatory.

The Accordo with power at its speaker terminals. I was able to account for all these things only at my house. Each one proved equally important. If I had to point at something fundamental, it would be the choice of amplifier. As I said before, the Accordos sounded shrill and inconsistent with anything that didn’t put out a true 80-100 watts and preferably more. The amplifier has to be capable of stably doubling its output while halving the load impedance down to 2Ω. Otherwise we end up with ‘rubbish’. Well positioned, toed-in and properly driven, Franco Serblin’s speakers offer what their designer most have had in mind when writing in the manual "…perhaps it is no longer enough when music reproduction is credible and realistic. Through the performer the music must [now] connect the soul of the listener with transcendent reality.” Accordingly the speakers are not particularly faithful and their tonal balance is not even. Their design precludes any serious bass as well as part of the lower midrange. A portion of the upper midrange is modeled to understate that and emphasize this. Franco Serblin’s Accordos seem to realize their designer’s vision without much regard for so-called measurement fidelity.

Again, the speakers did not have strong bass but sounded good at around 100Hz. This meant I did not get very large spatial images and the overall volume was not that high. It is therefore important not to sit too far away nor to place these speakers too far from the front wall. This clearly distinguished the Accordos from the Electa Amator which by comparison literally sounded like large floorstanders even if slightly colored at the bottom and a little contoured. The midrange of the speaker under review was not warm or saturated. Here it differed again from the ultra-smooth and rather warm Guarneri Homage.