Compared to my Elipson Planet L, the Italians behaved completely opposite. The Elipson usually get lost in my dedicated room due to the high ceiling and greater listening distance and are not able to produce really convincing results. Their very small port and coaxial radiation on the other hand make them very efficient in my living room. The Deep Breath Duetto wanted more space all around to give their best. On the first floor, they were quite surprising. On the ground floor they were more ordinary, albeit still very decent. Regardless of room, the soundstage remained more structured and deep than over my Elipson Planet L which are not particularly poor in that regard. With the Care Orchestra samples, particularly classical music was most attractive.
For instance, on Gustav Mahler's Sixth with Currentzis' Music Æterna and despite a few technical recording artifacts, the Deep Breath Duetto delivered a very satisfying three-dimensional perspective. For their compact size, that was very earnest performance. But they really lacked extension at the very top end despite the theoretical capabilities of the ScanSpeak tweeter to fall short of a first-class rating. On the flip side, this shading contributed to very easy and comfortable listening that should be of interest to those who are accustomed to very lengthy sessions free of fatigue. In some ways, the reproduction of the 'tragic' symphony conformed to what one can realistically expect from a monitor where the Deep Breath Duetto did not force themselves beyond natural limits in favour of more coherence and perhaps also to preserve their remarkable soundstaging.
On Vivaldi's late Violin Concertos played by Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra, the linearity and sweet treble of my Italian loaners was the perfect match and again the scale of the musical panorama rather impressive. Furthermore, Carmignola's Baroque violin and the harpsichord had quite genuine timbres which could have been an issue or challenge with such affordable drivers. I would not say that the Deep Breath Duettos delivered the best-ever performance I've had with a member of its monitor tribe and a nice pair of Sonus faber Guarneri would have undoubtedly given more charming tones and midrange saturation. [In 2012, those were €22'000/pr with stands – Ed.] What the Duetto achieved was more of an unusual compromise between linearity and tonal saturation; not shabby for being priced under €4'000. The bass was quite hazy for my personal taste especially when the port was close to the wall but on the plus side, it didn't overwhelm the lower midrange and thus preserved linearity, overall coherence and transparency. Transients were rather soft and tuned for comfort over vividness. The Deep Breath tended to highlight melodic lines with excellent articulation if certainly also doing so in a more laid-back manner.
Switching to music with electronic contributions arrived me at Lee Ritenour's A twist of rit which showed dynamic limits but at the same time, a spaciousness and resolution that could become quite addictive. Here they behaved like good studio monitors but without the typical dryness or hyper resolution of certain professional tools. Electric guitar was well articulated and saturated but never harsh. The quality of midrange information was surprisingly good and the association of Lumin M1 with the Deep Breath Duetto worked amazingly well. Bass was on the lean side but I didn't feel any critical lack on this particular Jazz/Rock recording.
Perhaps the Care Orchestra speakers added a little something of their own as does happen with many other Italian audio products to make them play more beautiful than perfectly honest? Regardless of how one looks at this, it was quite impossible to make the Deep Breath Duetto sound bad regardless of gear or music selections across my time with them. Were they completely neutral then? Perhaps not but they provided a quite continuous enjoyment if your expectations are more focused on contemplation than immersion. In relation to beauty, it's impossible not to add a few words about the human voice, particularly female vocals.
For instance, Rachelle Ferrell's albums were a real delight. On the famous demonstration of what can be achieved on extended vocal bandwidth. i.e. "I can explain" from her Individuality – can I be me album, Rachelle never turned aggressive even at high SPL. That finally convinced me that the Italian voicing was not as neutral as I might have thought from listening to instrumental music.
Ferrell's voice was a bit warmer than usual with some nice mellowness in the top octaves to avoid the ear pain that usually comes easy with her recordings. I had quite the same sensation with Bradley Cooper's voice on the soundtrack to A star is born. It was slightly warmer but not exaggerated and his nasal voice acquired a higher degree of humanity. Let's call this fine tuning where a slight loss of detail was compensated for by a wide soundstage and surrounding live ambiance.
Conclusion. The Deep Breath Duetto Edition are certainly not inexpensive at first glance. But what they deliver is greater than appearances. Their strengths are very holographic soundstaging and an interesting compromise between linearity and musicality. Of course they are many worthwhile competitors in this price range but the Deep Breath Duetto will easily step into the same arena to be counted. They are an interesting proposal for those who look for superb imaging and seductive tonality.
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