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There’s nothing to be done about that. No electronics will change it. Yet when we sit in the center, even low volume levels produce a very well balanced sound without dryness This is a direct result of steep 50dB/octave crossover slopes. I well remember the character of Joseph Audio speakers which also used steep filters. The effect was similar. This way of sharply cutting the response each driver handles conveys certain advantages—the most obvious one being absolute coherence—but also brings inherent limitations. But then I assume that music lovers/audiophiles (for me only this combination makes sense) know what they want from an audio system and pursue their ideas consciously.

This was the first time when I did not hear much of any character in these ceramic drivers. In this I must agree with Polish Isophon distributor Roger Adamek who told me so after the loudspeakers reached him. The usual character isn’t bad. Each material has a trademark sound. This can of course be downplayed with other addresses but the pros and cons are embedded in any given transducer diaphragm material. That’s why a ceramic speaker for me has certain assets and equally important drawbacks. The assets are absolute speed and minimal distortion, with warmth resulting as a derivative of low distortion rather than warmth per se. Drawbacks are an intrinsic form of sounding slightly closed in.

In these review units and the best Avalon I know, the assets have been maximized and the liabilities hidden but both remain important. To begin with, the Berlina RC7 acts like one single transducer. Perhaps somewhere in the upper midrange you can detect a hint that the midrange driver is a separate entity but for five drive units this is a splendid result. The sound is full and incredibly rich in timbre, shade, nuance and detail. But it’s not a case of hyper detail. One simply perceives a complete picture without lack, with fullness, coherence and holography.

An important element of this sound is how the treble is presented. The Isophon seems rather warm. Even though this warmth is natural—-i.e. a function of refusing to add anything—it will be perceived as warmth. And it’s precisely in the treble where we can appreciate this difference. There’s a lot of information about cymbals, percussion, trumpets and air. Everything has fantastic weight and the air as it were is not stratospherically thin. Attacks aren’t accentuated yet superior to those from most loudspeakers based on paper or polypropylene membranes. This quality is closest to what we know from metal diaphragms. This isn’t surprising since both ceramics and metals (especially aluminum) can be formed into very rigid and light structures. Of course differences remain but these are fewer between these two solutions than between them and paper and polypropylene driver. Whilst generalizations always invite errors, this is how I generally perceive this matter.

Again, the sound is very coherent. That’s the dominant impression to which everything else becomes secondary. It makes it hard at first to conceptualise the sound into different frequency bands. I will return to the complete spectrum later and start talking about the midrange and bass. The latter is strong and full. We could even say very very full. It’s one reason why the Berlina will work better in large to very large spaces. However even in my medium-sized room with a medium-close setup they performed very nobly. While the jumper regulating the amount of bass was set to -1.5dB and the point of gravity still shifted towards the lower midrange, it remained a very coherent presentation. Even so I think the Isophon will breathe better in a larger open space.