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The character of the bass points at very good drivers just like the treble. Bass textures were dense and the double basses from Jim Hall’s Live!, Antonio Forcione & Charlie Haden’s Heartplay and Ann Richards’ Ann, Man!, although recorded at different times and in different ways, all properly portrayed the size of the instrument. While in real life it actually sounds drier—the corpus of the instrument is not as audible but rather some kind of mélange between resonant cavity, strings and venue—-the Isophon showed the recording techniques just as they are, hence that I listened to a recording rather than live event.

At the same time I was surprised by how accurate these loudspeakers could be; how well they showed what electronics were in front of them, how each disc was engineered and recorded. This was a vivid incredibly deep sound with vast space dominated by the positive aspects. The latter was not a function of the speakers imposing their own character but rather of there hiding rather more in them thar black grooves and silver pits and lands than we could have imagined. The role of a good system is simply to extract all of that.

After returning to my computer with some splendid Chinese jasmine tea my son had bought, I reread the above to be surprised by how few concrete music samples I'd listed. It wasn’t the first time this happened of course. Like a few other devices before them, these aren’t loudspeakers to be broken down and analysed. They’re too holistic, coherent and smooth for that. There are no harsh incidents on which to build a polarized analysis of yes and no, pro and con. While not perfect, the Berlinas' value resides in the fact that they fulfil the core criteria of high-quality transducers with ease. They communicate and extricate themselves from between us and the music.

That’s again why my commentary thus far contains so few mentions of actual discs even though the list was no shorter than in other reviews. I can only explain this to myself by stressing that when listening to the Isophon we do not focus on details but rather try to adapt to a new perspective of the presentation. This is different than with most other speakers. Only after some time did I realize just what they reminded me of. They sounded similar to speakers standing in a well-damped treated room. The presentation of the soundstage around me and behind the loudspeakers was very attractive. I heard what was recorded rather than the room. I do not really know how this happened since my room is not damped to actively participate in the creation of sounds but here this was not as audible. Its influence could be noticed in the bass, which was stronger and should fare better in larger spaces but beyond that I could not hear that the Isophons were playing in a room.

These are exceptionally quick, analytical, saturated and spacious designs which are simultaneously slightly warm, sweet and possessed of agile strong bass. This presentation is not universal however and will have its supporters and detractors. That’s because not all music performed in my room as expected. Plus, these are not easy to drive. The Isophon needs a strong high-current and fast amplifier culled from the very cream of the crop. My beautiful Tenor Audio 175S was fine but I think the Soulution 710 amplifier would have worked better still. I also liked  a lot how the Berlina performed with the version 2010 Trigon electronics during our show in Warsaw last year. Clearly the Berlina needs power and refinement but not warmth.

Still, not all my discs were satisfying. They weren’t bad mind you but Jazz and Classical were so good that each departure thereof became really noticeable. Now I am talking mostly electronica not as a genre but specific club remixes from Depeche Mode’s single Fragile/Hole To Feed which got a bit too heavy and closed in. They could have used more ‘madness’ as other high-quality loudspeakers contribute. In this case the coherence and ‘self-control’ of the Isophon (I refer to their slight energetic/dynamic damping) did not work in their favor. With Jarré and Vollenweider meanwhile where rhythms are less accented and innately smoother and less edgy, they sounded much better. Image focus was exceptionally precise without cutting performers out from their surroundings but leaving them in the same overall fluid. Projection of voices especially female ones was above average , i.e. with clear large shapes.