Be it plucked double basses resonating through a large venue as per Paganini's "Moto Perpetuo" from Sony's Rostropovich - Return to Russia [Sony Classical SK 45836] or pounding bass drums from AC/DC's remaster of the 1992 release AC/DC Live [EPIC E2K 80215], the Bolero was completely satisfying.

The Dynaudio T330D Esotar tweeter has a stellar reputation and many call it the finest tweeter extant. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have an extended cohabitation with another excellent little speaker that is known for making good use of it: The Merlin VSM Millennium.

For my money though, the Bolero utilizes the driver better. It could be the way the tweeter is implemented; it could be that the tweeter is just better balanced in the warmer, more robust and extended Bolero - but I found that the Esotar sounded more relaxed in the Bolero. It was almost as if the Esotar was trying too hard to make a case for itself in the Merlin while the Bolero allowed it to forget its own hype and just sing. The Bolero's treble is extended and very detailed, yet unfailingly composed and musical. And it retains that composure at what I consider loud levels, too. It takes on no edge or prominence. Like the energizer bunny, it just keeps on going.

And when this stellar treble balance is combined with an unusually dynamic bass, I found that the Boleros could be cranked loud without any sign of distress. And that's a good thing because if the Bolero is going to be criticized in any area, it'll be for its civility.

If you have an overdamped room, I'll tell you right now that the Boleros probably won't be for you. Check out the La Folia or Sonata III instead. If you own tubes or any other components that in any way exhibit a stereotypically warm and romantic presentation through the upper mids, the Boleros probably won't gel for you unless you also happen to have a reciprocally live room or source. Try another Silverline model. Ditto if you're looking for lean and mean.

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Of course I'm assuming and generalizing here. But what I'm trying to get across is that the Boleros exhibit a completely civilized character that will either require a live room or a system synergy that tilts slightly forward if you demand real bite in the midrange. On the other hand, if you are tired of forward and aggressive speakers, the Boleros are certainly for you.

In my room, I initially thought I'd like a bit more of that upper-midrange aggressiveness with hard rock. On various forms of classical and Jazz, I never found anything missing. But -- and I stress, initially -- sometimes I thought that the speakers were a bit too civilized for the rowdy stuff. However, it didn't take me long at all to acclimate to what the Boleros do so well. Angus Young's guitars on the aforementioned AC/DC Live were penetrating, driven and exciting while never becoming ear-piercing or overly aggressive no matter the volume level. And as I said earlier, these speakers will go loud and do so with aplomb.

Not surprisingly for a speaker with such a relaxed character, prepare for a soundstage that falls behind the Boleros. If you are looking for a presentation that leaps forth from the speakers, try something else. But if you prefer one that starts at the speakers and falls back melting the room's rear walls, try the Boleros. On classical music, they provided a superior and realistic view on the orchestra. I was impressed both by the depth of the soundstage and the scale on Carl Orff's Carmina Burana [RCA Red Seal 09026-61673-2]. The choral passages sounded huge yet the soloists were presented with pin-point accuracy on a properly and remotely located stage. Eva Cassidy's Live At Blues Alley [Blix Street G2-10046] was also extraordinarily well served, conjuring up a deep and dark stage with plenty of space between the musicians and me to allow easy access to the bar.

Brooks Williams' Little Lion [Signature Sounds SIG 1255] is a wonderfully recorded CD featuring nothing but top-notch acoustic guitar throughout. Nothing dramatic about this CD unless you count the superbly executed guitar work with the attendant sharply delineated microdynamics. The Boleros produced a rendition that was absolutely riveting. String tone was round, full and real. The Boleros produced steely string transients perfectly married to full-bodied wooden guitar resonance; it just doesn't get much more real than this. Images are recorded large and that's how the Boleros hung them in mid-air. But, again, the relaxed perspective gave the performers just the right amount of breathing room. I wasn't up close and personal, I was in the audience where I belonged. And I was happy to be there because while the guitars were most certainly not in my lap, their color, nuance and microdynamic dexterity remained beautifully conveyed.

And that's really what the Boleros are all about. To that end, they may even be somewhat paradoxical. While very clean, uncolored and transparent, they are also realistically and musically detailed. You won't get the feeling that you're missing anything when you sit between a pair of 'em. But you won't feel as though you are up on stage either. Nor will they shout at you trying to make supernaturally electrifying that which is supposed to be seductive and alluring.

Ah, there I said it: Seductive. That's probably the best word I could use to sum up the Silverline Boleros - seductive. The only thing remotely flashy about the speaker is the superb finish. They won't awe you with pyrotechnics or glitz. But they may just seduce you with soft-spoken eloquence.

While they certainly please and on occasion surprise with muscle and power unexpected of a speaker of such a laid-back demeanor, they will more likely capture and hold your attention with an almost transcendental communication of everything about the music that's important to the soul.

Sibling Rivalry
Having recently reviewed the Bolero's less expensive Sonata Series III sibling, I suppose a few words of comparison are in order. Of the two, the Bolero would have to be termed the more refined speaker. It has a slightly smoother and more naturally relaxed treble that rarely draws attention to itself. In terms of bass performance, the two were very similar though at times I found myself wondering if the Sonata III could truly match the Bolero for sheer slam. It might, but I'd have to hear the Sonata III again to be sure. Throughout the upper bass and lower mids, I find the Bolero slightly leaner and neater than the Sonatas. Once optimally set up, both speakers sound clean and fast with no congestion to speak of but I discovered that locating the optimum position within the room was a little easier with the Boleros. While completely suitable for larger rooms, I think the Boleros may work even better than the Sonata IIIs in smaller spaces.

What really set the two speakers apart were their respective takes on the upper midrange. Without a doubt, those whose musical priority lie with electronic music and Rock & Roll would probably be a mite happier with the Sonata IIIs. They just have that penchant for getting down and dirty while the Bolero remains a touch more stoic. Those favoring Jazz and Classical may prefer the Bolero for its added refined smoothness and extra focus. It also drops the soundstage further behind the speaker, a natural with Classical in particular.

As compared to other Silverline speakers that I've heard, the Bolero would seem to be designed and destined for a different kind of listener. Those likely to appreciate the Boleros will find other highly touted speakers distinctly 'hi-fi', clinical or sterile. Music lovers looking to hear past their systems and loudspeakers and into the soul of the music will appreciate the Boleros' understated charms and unobstructed view. Those willing to forego a dramatic short-term audition in favor of a meaningful long term relationship with an easy-listening and fatigue-free speaker will likely covet the Bolero.

Complementing the Bolero's basic personality are other traits that make them exceedingly easy to live with. For one, there is their relative efficiency. Silverline's recommendation for a minimum of 15 watts is a good one although I derived terrific pleasure from the 6wpc Art Audio Symphony II in my smaller room. The mild-mannered midrange is beautifully melded to the deceptively detailed and extended treble on one end and a wonderfully balanced and articulate bass on the other. Even the speaker's understated size belied a big open sound with both large-scale orchestral music and hard driving Rock.

In a lot of ways, there are the Silverline Bolero loudspeakers and then there's everything else. And once you've had your fill of everything else, seek out a pair of Boleros and relocate your sound room to somewhere permanently south where the climate is mellow and the nights are long.
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