Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Written by Jim Clements
- Published on 01 February 2010
This GLE speaker system needed a moderate break-in period before reaching its peak performance capability. Out of the box, the speakers had a slightly wooden sound. So after about a week and a half of normal use, I started my serious auditioning with the Pixar movie "Up". This touching, bittersweet animated movie has a very passionate score by Michael Giacchino. The GLE's ability to reproduce all the delicacy of this score was the aspect of the GLE's technical performance that I enjoyed the most while screening this film. There was also a certain transparency in the reproduction of voices, especially Carl Fredrickson's (Ed Asner) voice.
The sub produced satisfying bass weight within the audible range, down to about 25 Hz. The bass response was more than adequate and even respectable in the house lift-off scene. Across the upper registers, the sound was subjectively low in distortion and very flat.
Almost all of Canton's speakers have a "hard" look about them with their contemporary styling: their cabinets are sharp-edged, their veneers are glossy, their grilles and drivers are metal. But don't be fooled by all this as their sound was full and rich. To this point, I felt a sense of cognitive dissonance with the GLE's. Their sound was so rich that I often felt like someone was pouring maple syrup on my head while listening to the GLE system. But the GLE's weren't just syrupy sweet, they were also pleasantly articulate. It is quite a feat for speakers to embody both of these qualities!
From the very beginning, I sensed that these speakers had a solid music pedigree. I think it really adds to a good movie when there is a well done musical score which is being accurately reproduced. Take "Angels and Demons", for example. The music on this film sounded really great through the GLE speaker system, particularly the sound of all the different drums throughout the movie. They were full sounding and impactful, preserving much of the dynamics and harmonics of real drum sounds.
Also on "Angels and Demons", there was excellent presence in the sound of the flames in the fire scene. There was a great, tactile realism with the chopper sound in the film's penultimate scene. The bass was clean and satisfying throughout.
As mentioned above, this sub has its limitations. It didn't enjoy being pushed on a movie like "The Day the Earth Stood Still". If I owned this GLE speaker system, I'd personally go ahead and get two of these subs (or one of Canton's larger, more powerful models). Truth be told, though, I'm only a part-time bass freak and I was perfectly happy with this system's bass capabilities at least 98% of the time, even with just the one AS 105 SC sub. A lot of that was due to the bass being clean and nearly pitch-perfect.
These speakers continued to deliver solid reproduction movie after movie, even on lighter fare like "Management". The acoustic guitar throughout this movie sounded great over the GLE's. "Feel Like Makin' Love" plays during the parachute scene and it sounded awesome! It was all good, right down to the sound of the BB gun just after the 'chute scene.
I had to see "Jeff Beck: Performing This Week - Live at Ronnie Scott's" on Blu-Ray to really appreciate his talent and his hybrid playing technique. And he is being supported by a stellar backing band on this disc. I would recommend this disc as demo material for any fan of amplified guitar music. The GLE speakers sorted out the complex passages on this disc very well. They also preserved a lot of the natural timbre of instruments. These are obviously well-engineered speakers with wide, flat frequency response and excellent dynamics. The bass was extremely tuneful as in the amazing bass solo by Tal Wilkenfeld on "Cause We Ended as Lovers". Vinnie Colaiuta's brush work was extremely vibrant.
Imogen Heap's "yodels" were thoroughly seductive on "Blanket". Later, the sound took on a fiery intensity with an amazingly realistic soundstage across the front speakers. I can really appreciate Beck's work when I see him playing with Eric Clapton.
The 1999 CD release of Hilary Hahn's "Beethoven Violin Concerto and Bernstein Serenade" is one of my all-time favorite orchestral works. Halfway through the first movement, I decided to turn off the Audessy EQ on the Integra DTR 50.1 receiver. This setting adjustment opened up the sound and leveled off the bass response. I left the EQ off for the remainder of my time with the GLE system.,/
The GLE's placed me at about the 20th row in the audience. I also felt that the orchestra was physically higher than my seated position which further supported the realism of the performance. The speed of these speakers really impressed me on this disc while the sub helped delineate the boundaries of the performance space. I could hear the natural harmonics in Ms. Hahn's instrument. Once more, I felt that the GLE's had a subjectively very clean, low-distortion sound. These speakers are indeed very musical.
Next up was the MFSL Gold CD of Carlos Santanna's classic "Abraxas". I used DPL II Music on this disc. I have listened to this CD hundreds of times over the years, but with the GLE system's fresh and clean sound, I felt like I was enjoying all these songs for the very first time. The leading edges of transients were exceptionally clean with amazingly well-integrated bass. The localization of the instruments was rock solid as well. All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable performance.
Since I was finishing up my review of the GLE's just after Thanksgiving, I also tried them with Diana Krall's Christmas Album, also on CD. The GLE's revealed the less than stellar mastering of this CD. But I enjoyed listening to Diana sing nevertheless.