Product Review - Silverline Audio Panatella Floorstanding Speakers - August, 1997

J.E. Johnson, Jr.


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Silverline Audio Panatella Speakers; Floorstanding; Two-way design; Two 4 1/2" polypropylene mid/woofers; One 1 1/4" cloth dome tweeter; Vented box design; Two 2" flared ports on rear; Two pairs of five-way speaker binding posts; No grille cloths; Frequency response 35 Hz - 22 kHz 3 dB; Crossover frequency 2 kHz; Sensitivity 92 dB/w/m; Nominal impedance 8 Ohms; Size 38"H x 6 1/2"W x 9"D; Weight 34 pounds each; Walnut veneer: $2,000/pair (also available in maple or rosewood); Silverline Audio Technology, Inc., 1170 Burnett Avenue, Suite A, Willowick Business Park, Concord, California 94520; Phone 510-825-3682; Fax 510-256-4577; E-Mail [email protected].

I first met Alan Yun, the founder of Silverline Audio, at the Hi-Fi show in San Francisco, May, 1997. I had not heard of his company before, but I was immediately impressed with the sound coming from the modest appearing floorstanders in the room. Alan just emigrated from Hong Kong, where he manufactured his speakers under the name "The Classics One" for the past four years. After relocating in California in 1996, Alan released several models under his new company name, including the Panatella which we review here.

We received our pair of Panatellas in Walnut veneer. They are also available in a very nice, very light colored maple, which would go well with some of the living room decors I have seen lately. The speakers are very slim, but quite heavy. The veneer woodworking finish is of fine quality, and is on all sides. One dynaudio tweeter is arranged at the top, and two Seas mid/woofers are mounted underneath, all drivers flush with the front panel of the enclosure. There is no grille cloth . . . a bit unusual. All grilles will absorb at least a little bit of the sound passing through, so this is a nice idea as long as you don't have small children. The back has two pairs of binding posts for bi-wiring or bi-amping, and the ports. The base has a platform, larger than the main enclosure footprint, for stability. Spikes come with the speakers, but can be removed.

I connected the Panatellas to our reference system consisting of McCormack CD transport/DAC, Balanced Audio VK-5i preamplifier, and LLano SA-3 Monoblock Power Amplifiers. Cables were AudioQuest and Nordost Flatline. CDs included just about all types of music, but I focussed on classical, movie music scores, and vocals.

The sonic characteristics of the Panatellas are moderate bass, forward mid-range, and laid-back highs. There is a slight chestiness to vocals, but not objectionable. This is substantiated by the results of the frequency (room) response, as shown below. Vocals were quite natural other than this. The bass is tight and clean, which is characteristic of slim floorstanders with small mid/bass drivers. Classical music and movie scores were full bodied, without mushiness. Absolutely no harshness could be heard, even at relatively high SPL. I am sure this is partly due to the background character of the high frequencies with these speakers. If you have a CD player with some raspy edges, this is the type of speaker you should consider. An all tube setup, on the other hand, might be somewhat soft.

Frequency Response (Room Response), left channel only, 1 meter, on-axis, no grille, volume set to 80 dB at 1 kHz :

20 Hz - 64.0 dB
25 Hz - 64.9 dB
31.5 Hz - 72.7 dB
40 Hz - 76.9 dB
50 Hz - 73.5 dB
63 Hz - 78.1 dB
80 Hz - 82.7 dB
100 Hz - 93.1 dB
125 Hz - 83.9 dB
160 Hz - 84.6 dB
200 Hz - 74.4 dB
500 Hz - 87.4 dB
800 Hz - 85.8 dB
1 kHz - 79.0 dB
2.5 kHz - 79.5 dB
5 kHz - 79.6 dB
8 kHz - 83.1 dB
10 kHz - 84.0 dB
12.5 kHz - 85.4 dB
15 kHz - 83.2 dB
18 kHz - 81.0 dB

Frequency Response (Room Response), left channel only, 13 feet, on-axis, no grille, volume set to 80 dB at 1 kHz :

20 Hz - 68.2 dB
25 Hz - 72.9 dB
31.5 Hz - 80.0 dB
40 Hz - 68.1 dB
50 Hz - 62.8 dB
63 Hz - 74.5 dB
80 Hz - 88.9 dB
100 Hz - 89.9 dB
125 Hz - 90.5 dB
160 Hz - 76.9 dB
200 Hz - 88.2 dB
500 Hz - 78.0 dB
800 Hz - 86.5 dB
1 kHz - 80.5 dB
2.5 kHz - 80.5 dB
5 kHz - 73.0 dB
8 kHz - 76.3 dB
10 kHz - 79.0 dB
12.5 kHz - 80.5 dB
15 kHz - 76.2 dB
18 kHz - 74.0 dB

These speakers will play very loud, without breakup, for their size. They would make very fine home theater speakers, but the center channel speaker would have to be chosen from another brand, since Silverline does not have one (yet). Their good sensitivity and 8 Ohm impedance will allow just about any amplifier to drive them. Usable bass extends to 31.5 Hz. Silverline Audio is just getting started in the United States, so you might have trouble finding a pair to audition in the US, but if you can, it will be worth the trip. Alan Yun is very proud of his designs, and I can see (and hear) why.

J.E. Johnson, Jr.

Copyright 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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