- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 25 August 2008
I tested the P-39Fs using a McIntosh MCD201 SACD player, McIntosh MT10 turntable with Clearaudio MC cartridge, VPI HR-X turntable with Sumiko Blackbird cartridge, and McIntosh MC1201 power amplifiers. Cables were Slinkylinks and Nordost.
These speakers have a terrific ability to render detail. Such is the case with classical guitar such as Guitar Music of Chile (Naxos 8.570341). They are right on the money in terms of soundstaging too, as it was easy to sense the placement of the guitarist just to the left of center. Hand selection of matched drivers to go into each pair goes a long way to achieving this effect, along with the way the horns focus their sound projection, rather than the more diffuse projection of a conventional driver.
John Mellencamp's voice sounded very natural in his recent release Life Death Love and Freedom (8-88072-30822-0). There was no chestiness or excessive sibilance. He has aged gracefully over the decades that I have listened to his music, and the P-39Fs don't add or detract from it.
There has always been a criticism of horn speakers having a sound like it is coming from a megaphone, as if you are cupping your hands around your mouth when you sing, or around the bell of a trumpet when it is played, but I did not get that feeling at all with the P-39F speakers. If anything, there is an increased ability to localize instruments and voices across the front, perhaps because the sound is focused by the horns as I mentioned above. But, the horns did not impart a sound of their own.
Piano is always a good test for speakers, such as this EMI Classics (5-0999-5-00281-22) recording of Leif Ove Andsnes playing Mozart Piano Concertos 17 and 20. Besides just hearing a note or a chord, the you are there sense requires the sound of the felt hammers striking the wires, and that came through very clearly. However, again, what really caught my attention was the placement across the soundstage.
Now to the deep bass. The Palladium P-39F has three 9" woofers in each enclosure, so I was expecting, and did experience the deep bass in such recordings as Baroque Music for Brass and Organ (Telarc SACD-60614). The bass was not only deep, but very tight, and that is because it is easier to keep smaller drivers under control than larger ones. On the other hand, it then requires the use of more drivers if they are to be smaller in diameter, and that is why each P-39F has three of them. The bass didn't sound boomy or chesty at all, even at high volume.
My wife, Susan, and I listened to the P-39Fs many an evening, and she mentioned that they really make you want to listen to the music instead of read a newspaper.