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Cheaper can be loads more fun. First, you revel in what so much less money can buy and just can't wait to tell your friends about it. Second, you get to pat yourself on the back for being smart enough to save all that money. Makes you feel good. Believe me. Expensive speakers can be good but because they had better be, there's no magic. Inexpensive is sometimes better than it has any right to be and that's when things become fun. That's also where Gallo's A'Diva Ti speakers come in: giddy and guilt-free fun.

Now don't be fooled into overestimating the gulf between affordable and expensive speakers. Have you ever noticed that when high-end reviewers settle back down to earth just long enough to review something affordable, they often can't help but go ga-ga as though they'd just made some epic discovery? The fact is, affordable gear can be really good - and it's getting better all the time. Indeed, it heartens any writer when he stumbles upon something that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and is easily recommended. This is no revelation on my part. I've known it for a long time. Still, I was really bowled over by the Gallo A'Diva Ti/TR1 loudspeaker system. Actually, giddy may be a more accurate description. And giddy is good. My friend could use some giddy!

Why giddy? Because the new Gallos are not merely good, they are very good. And not only are they very good, they are plain different and evidence some truly out-of-the-box thinking. They also easily overcame certain preconceived notions on my part.

First off, the A'Divas don't overwhelm the room. I've had some large and excellent (not to mention expensive) speakers. Their common theme? No matter how good the sound, I eventually want my room back. Do you dream of a dedicated room where size won't matter? It will matter. Eventually. Even in a dedicated room, there's a certain freedom you experience when you don't have to stare down a pair of huge monoliths.

Of course it's the sound that matters. Those humongoliths are worth it because they sound so darn good. Right? Mebbe. It depends. How much do they cost and how good are they, really? If you could trade them for something a tiny fraction of their cost while retaining the lion's share of performance... would that appeal to you? Nope? Maybe I should ask your wife.

Prejudice is opinion without judgment...
The most unexpected aspect of the A.Diva Tis' performance was their treble performance. They are the most highly extended single-driver speakers I've heard. By far. Gallo claims true 22kHz response. I have no reason to believe otherwise. However, I did expect a much more directional speaker than what I experienced. 22kHz treble from a 3-inch driver must become incredibly directional to require a very small sweet spot, right? Not really. This was one of my preconceived notions. I expected good treble extension in the two-channel room from my listening chair. What I did not expect was just how well the speakers covered the larger family room in either two-channel or full 5.1 mode. I seldom sit in what would be the sweet spot in that room, preferring the end of the sofa that places me more in line with the right front speaker. From that seat, I enjoyed concert video after concert video, often completely forgetting about the system I was supposed to be evaluating in favor of just getting into the music.

The A'Divas' midrange performance is really good as you would expect from a high-tech 3-inch driver. Clean, highly detailed and articulate, particularly for this class of speaker. On the subject of this new Ti driver, I'm told that it was developed as an affordable high-end satellite for both music and movie lovers. It's voiced after Gallo's Reference 3 to have similar sonic attributes so they can be utilized as complementary surround speakers. Anthony shared that primary considerations were a lack of boxy colorations, maximum coherence and the ability to sound as big and full as his current S2 technology would allow in the smallest enclosure possible.

S2? Not knowing what that referred to, I fired off a letter to Mr. Gallo and within moments had my answer: "In a nutshell, S2 is a patented polyolefin flake fill material that controls the woofers' Q at resonance. When you put a woofer in a very small enclosure, resonant frequency and Q usually go up. The S2 flakes flatten the Q (like a shock absorber dampens the spring effect of the air) and since the flakes weigh more than the air they replace and provide for a large surface area, they indirectly couple to the cone at low frequencies, allowing a mass-loading effect to take place. This improves the low frequency response without compromising the higher frequencies. The filler mass does not couple to the cone at higher frequencies. S2 is also much more effective at blocking internal reflections from emerging through the back of the woofer cone than other natural and synthetic fibers. The only disadvantage? Any driver to be used in conjunction with this technology must be designed specifically for S2. Thiele-Small parameters do not completely apply here."

Ask a simple question, huh? Surprisingly, a single A'Diva Ti did a very good job as center channel speaker in my multichannel room. (I'll withhold superlatives until I hear Gallo's new Reference Center based on his Reference 3.) Not only was it articulate enough to do the job but a genuine dynamic surprise by being difficult to overdrive despite some spirited listening levels (another preconception went out the window). My suspicion is that it'll start to compress before it distorts but I can't say that at my usual volumes, I was aware of either.

After transparency and clarity, the spheres' next most salient characteristic would have to be that they sound so big. Be it in two-channel or multichannel use, the tiny Gallos completely disappear into a soundstage that is second to none in terms of height, width and depth. In the areas of soundstage layering and pinpoint placement of instruments, they don't exactly perform miracles or threaten the state of the art but they leave absolutely no room for complaints - and this little caveat is greatly overshadowed by what they do so right. In the multi-channel room, this becomes even less of an issue while their strengths grew ever more important by casting a soundfield that enveloped this listener. In that regard, the tiny Gallos are both intoxicating and enthralling. Speaking of system matching, rear channel duties in the multi-channel room were relegated to the even less expensive Gallo Titanium Micros, a near-perfect sonic match. For multi-channel systems, Gallo sure gives you a lot of excellent options.

Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival DVD sounded superb - shockingly good as a matter of fact. As small as the Gallos are,
they really enjoy the breathing room afforded by the larger venue that is my family room. The A'Diva serving center channel duties actually caused a degree of cognitive dissonance. It was hard to believe that such a tiny speaker was responsible for so much good sound. From screaming electric guitars to muted Fender Rhodes, from Vince Gill's twang to Robert Cray's smooth warmth, the A'Divas traced the diverse sonic flavors well. Clarity was excellent, with the various picking methods of the numerous guitarists all sharply revealed as completely different transient signatures. The TR1 more than held up its part of the deal with some excellently reproduced drums and bass guitars. Naturally, I wanted to hear just how well it could reproduce movie mayhem.