Monitors obviously fly fewer bass-capturing sails than towers even when those are as gracefully dimensioned as Quadral's. I'm quite sure that your ears will dominate expectations of your eyes when you audition the 85. At least my ears did when I spun up tracks like "Turbulence" [Ctrl Alt Delete by Free the Robots] or "Am I" [Black Sun by Kode9 & the Spaceape]. This was all about macro dynamics. The Chromium shoveled heavy bass loads against my couch with such vigor and under high SPL that even fans of über monitors would nod heads in satisfied acknowledgement. They even aced the low beat of "Am I" which kicks in every two bars and stands for about a second. Reach didn't just do these happy dimensions proud. I'd honestly have no gripes were this box twice as broad, 1.5 x deeper, 20cm taller and priced at 5'000/pr. So what if its bass felt just a tick more forward than textbook neutral? This simply didn't seem about size or price but how Sascha Reckert tuned it most deliberately. Unlike my colleague Elmar Salmutter, wherever it's a matter of too much or too little, I'd rather err on the side of a bit slimmer. With headphones I prefer the opposite. Perfect tonality is simply what we fancy most.
Excellent bass timing meanwhile—its textural integration with the remainder of the bandwidth—is an aspect most listeners value the same. Here Quadral sidestepped all criticism. I only had praise for how grippy their box differentiated the bass-drum hits beneath dense guitar walls and vocals on "Not in Rivers but in Drops" [In the Absence of Truth by Isis]. This discipline is only mastered after some burn-in. Sadly Inklang's Ayers Four had made onward tracks to no longer be on hand for a direct A/B. I'd loved its bass chops. Hindsight suspects that the Quadral might reach a bit lower whilst the Inklang danced a tick more. On raw resolving power, that comparison should favor the 85. The Four seemed tuned more for impact than control monitor-esque truth. Only with ethereal cymbal tickles on Øystein Sevåg's "Hanging Gardens" from his Bridge album did I hear a small gap to ambitious high-end solutions. I expect that the quSENSE ribbons of Quadral's premium Aurum range would close it with still higher pixel count. Just so the 85 ribbon impressed with precise focus and high contrast. It cleanly captured the barely audible cymbal flash on the fifth vocal bar of "Not in River but Drops" in the right channel. The same held for the background 16th ticks of the synth hi-hat on "Final Program" from the Clock DVA. Where the Chromium Style roams on price, its ribbon really impressed. If you need to air out your pink bits with substantially more lucidity, you'll need diamond tweeters in a speaker like B&W's 805 D4.
No fairaudio review would be complete without conditional 'buts'. Where I call out the treble quality as absolutely brilliant in this price class, I could find a nit with its quantity relative to pure neutrality. Vis-à-vis the midband, the highs exhibited some extra freshness, albeit without any attendant hardness or hiss. This small dosage develops across break-in. Whisper fans could notice that midnight sessions could have the treble attenuate a bit sooner as they turn the volume ever more counter-clockwise. That's a very subtle even nerdy observation but why you love reading us. Under matter of taste would I group the very subtly rising frequency extremes and their resultant crispness. I also suspect that still longer play where I amassed ~150 hours would further grow the bass. Routinely designers opt against flat-lined tonal balance even with far dearer speakers. That includes my Wilson SabrinaX which get a tad restrained in the extremes. Especially with hifi kit drifting into five figures, we get regular reader email complaining about the HighEnd's ever richer luxury positioning. Must it get this costly? Quadral's Chromium Style 85 is one of my very best examples to the contrary. Bona fide high-end performance can be more within reach today than was true just a few years ago!
Changing focus from quantity to quality, this Quadral gets gold stars for soundstaging and midrange purity. Many owners of far costlier speakers will be shocked by how few (if any!) omissions the 85 incurs. Add mature bass reach, what relative to size becomes astonishing macro-dynamic range and SPL steadfastness plus high resolution which only misses the faintest of treble vapors. No worries, aspirated, airy yet long-term happy highs are all givens. Anything less just wouldn't do in what for this price class really marks very high purity. Should you be on the hunt for a value-packed high-endy speaker, today's Quadral becomes one of my strongest audition candidates; if not my new favorite up to €5K!
Psych profile for Quadral's Chromium Style 85…
♦ superlative soundstaging relative to both sorting and image mass.
♦ very pure yet pleasant and lucid mids with fantastic vocal focus.
♦ macrodynamic and bass reach which well exceed what's typical for this size.
♦ airy quick highs which resist getting trying even after long sessions when ancillaries are up to snuff so high resolving power for the money. More remains possible only in absolute terms.
♦ aspirated microdynamics with very clean sustain. Only somewhere between the upper mids and lower treble might one wish for just a bit more attack.
♦ impeccable build quality except for the terminals which didn't turn easily. Relative to industrial design, I could do without Quadral's signature 'ears' on the driver baskets but overall proportions struck me as expertly set.
Concept: 2.5-way bass reflex
Dimensions and weight: 100 x 21.3 x 34.4cm HxWxD, 24kg/ea.
Sensitivity: 89 dB/W/m
Nominal impedance: 4Ω
Trim: high-gloss black or white
Warranty: 5 years