Floor-standing Speakers

Gallo Classico CL-4 Loudspeakers

ARTICLE INDEX

The Gallo Classico CL-4 Loudspeakers Set-Up and In Use

I set up the CL-4s in my room at the same position as the Reference 3.5s, toed in toward the listening position. The speakers were powered by my Emotiva XPA-1 monoblocks with Wireworld Eclipse speaker cable. As usual, I broke them in for a few weeks with casual home theater listening before I did any critical music listening in stereo mode. One of the first happy conclusions I came to with the CL-4s is that they are very forgiving with room positioning, much more so than the Reference 3.5s. I think this is because of the large, side firing woofers on the 3.5s. They took careful positioning and lots of experimentation for the speakers to live up to their potential in the bass. The 4 small forward firing woofers on the CL-4s worked well immediately, and did not seem to suffer much when the speaker was moved around. The speakers definitely preferred toe in toward the listener to deliver the best imaging and soundstaging.

It was clear from the first listening session that the Classico definitely has the Gallo sound. Since I've fairly recently reviewed the Strada/TR-3 subwoofer set and the flagship Reference 3.5s, I'll do most of my comparison to them. In terms of presentation of timbre, the CL-4s are very similar to the other two speakers. They all offer a very neutral sound with an exceptionally clear midrange and detailed treble. The piezo tweeter is very clear, smooth and fast, but is not kind to bad recordings. You'll know if you have a bad recording with any of these speakers. Differences between the speakers make themselves known in the areas of imaging and soundstaging and bass reproduction (surprise, surprise). Maybe due to the flat front of the cabinet, the imaging of the CL-4s was not quite as sharp as the other two speakers, and the soundstage was not quite as wide. On most pop recordings, I heard little or no difference. With high quality audiophile recordings, like the 24 bit 96 KHz Classic Records recording of John Lee Hooker "Mr. Lucky, Telarc's "Dedicated to Diz" or Yo-Yo Ma's Appalachian Waltz, a slight loss of image focus and soundstage width was apparent. Mind you, this was a very small effect. In the area of bass reproduction, all three speakers had a very different character. The Reference 3.5 offers the best bass, with extension all the way to 20 Hz, exceptional integration with the rest of the tonal range and great power and agility. This is as it should be, since the 3.5 is double the price of the other two speakers. Comparing the Strada/TR-3 to the CL-4, the Strada offered more power and extension at the expense of room integration. No matter where I put the TR-3 or how I configured its settings, there was always a clue that the bass was coming from a separate subwoofer. The CL-4 offered excellent room integration immediately. As I said before, the CL-4 offered the easiest room integration of any of the Gallo speakers. I didn't have to mess with them at all to get well-integrated bass with seamless integration with the rest of the audio band. The limitation was in bass impact and extension. In terms of impact, I was actually surprised at the speed and agility of the bass provided by the CL-4. They only fell down when asked to produce lots of loud bass. The bass still came out, but it lost a bit of impact and clarity.

So, I guess the bottom line question is, which one is best. The trivial answer to that is the 3.5, as it should be. The choice between the CL-4 and the Strada/TR-3 is less clear. The price is very similar. The Strada offers better imaging and soundstaging, more bass extension and power. The CL-4 gets really close in terms of imaging and soundstaging, has better (and significantly easier) bass integration, and has "normal" styling that should be more acceptable to the majority of buyers. Which one is best will come down to what characteristics are important to you. The fact that the choice is that hard shows that the CL-4 definitely achieves what Gallo set out to do: deliver the performance Gallo is known for in a more conservatively styled package.