- Written by Greg Zakrzewski
- Published on 11 May 2009
First impressions: Despite the rating of 96db efficiency with "2 speakers in a typical room" when I level set the speakers I found the Energy speakers were within a db of my Kefs which are listed at 91db (2.83V/1M). The CF70's are still pretty efficient so they can be driven well by almost any amp you may have but not quite as loud as I had expected. The first thing that stood out for me across various tracks was the treble being a little harsh for my tastes. I called the wife in for a direct A/B comparison versus our older Kef Q series speakers. Congested and with an ear infection she still noticed the difference on one of her favorite Sarah McLaughlin tracks – Vox. Unprompted and in a blind test (she could not tell which speakers were being played as I rapidly switched back and forth from the A to B channel on the receiver) she had used the same word I had already noted for myself - she said the sound was "tinny".
While not a big fan of the pseudo-science of speaker break-in, especially with for an aluminum dome tweeter, the manual provided with the CF-70's recommends 100 hours of play to do just that. So I did. Time passes….
With the speakers now well and truly broken in through daily use and several unattended auditions (leave them playing and shut the door) I gave them another listen using the same material.
Yes - Owner of a lonely heart
I've always used this track as a test track and right from the initial amp click and feedback hum in the first half second of the song I know it pretty well. So a good track for me for comparison having used it on dozens of sets of speakers over the years.
I had initially found the soundstage surprisingly good, better in truth than I had expected vs the Kefs and this stayed true after "break in". The CF70's are the power rocker of the new Connoisseur line and they certainly have the power to do that. In comparison I found the mid range a little lacking on the upper end. Male and especially female vocals reaching towards the high end thinned and flattened out. But that might have been more due to the contrast with the bright treble.
Miles Davis - Kind of blue
Another long term favorite. I prefer the older recording before they cleaned it all up and (re)processed it to near death. In fact the slight crackle of the source tape is a good test in and of itself and adds to the listening experience.
The clarinet on Freddie Freeloader was a little harsher compared to my Kefs, and the high hat brush on "So What" changed tone completely, again seeming a little too prominent for my taste. The attack on each piano note on Freddie was great and a pleasure to listen to.
Pink Floyd – Money
One of my favorite rock tunes for sound stage and imaging. Ahhhh the 70's when stereo mixing was an engineer's playground and the future of quadraphonic sound gleamed bright on the horizon…
Initially I had found the soundstage compressed on the CF70's but after break in I no longer noticed as significant a difference. The soundstage on the CF70's was still somewhat smaller but very few speakers in this price range can do better. The cash register and change being dispensed were quite prominent and the dynamic range was good. The intro of the bass guitar was right up front and (actually slightly to the right) of center where it should be both in localization and balance indicating good imaging.
Brass in Berlin – Pachabel's Cannon
Having been compelled to play Pachabel's Cannon endlessly in our school band when I was younger the song still resonates - not always pleasantly - but resonates nonetheless. In the case of the "Brass in Berlin" recording there is something to be said about the simple clarity of five piece brass ensemble. Keys being pressed, valves closing, breath being taken, all the sounds come through.
The Tuba during Pachabel's Cannon got a little strident (if that's even possible for a tuba??) and lost a bit of it's edge. The ability to bring chills to my spine and a tear to the eye with the clarity and depth of sound were still there though and the French Horn was crisp and clear.
Being the largest of the new Connoisseur line bass response was fine for regular music listening but for true home theatre (or pipe organ) "impact" you'd definitely want to add a sub. Bass was tight and nicely controlled but rolled off more rapidly towards the lower bound than I had expected and a rated -3db point of 34Hz would indicate despite a few different room placements. The bass was very well integrated with the lower midrange which is not surprising since with the bass to mid crossover at 650hz the two woofers are serving a good portion of the lower mid range anyway.