Floor-standing Speakers

Waterfall Audio, Iguasçu Evo Floor-Standing Speakers

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

After setting up the speakers and letting them break in, I sat down for my first initial impressions. Keep in mind I had several prejudices going into this review. One, I've never been a big fan of soft dome tweeters for home use. Two, I tend to prefer monitors with a subwoofer over tower speakers. In my experience soft dome tweeters always sound sweet on female vocals and string instruments, but lack sheen and air with cymbals and brass. With those biases and with the passive radiator with no weights attached, I sat down and played a movie. I had just received the Apollo 13 Blu-Ray and rather than listen to music I felt inclined to watch one of my favorite movies yet again.

Hooked up to a Naim Supernait and letting the Naim provide both the power and DAC I sat down for a night of movie watching in stereo. I find watching dialog heavy movies in stereo to be a good test of spatial depth for speakers. Most good speakers will image a nice center image, most will present on-screen voices several feet in front of the screen. Usually the speakers will sound 1 foot or less behind the front of the speakers. In my case the speakers were 4 feet in front of my plasma TV. The Waterfall speakers had so much depth that at times it felt like the voices and other on screen events were happening inside my TV! I took a note stating "can't wait to hear music with this much depth resolution!" The other aspect that really impressed was the absolute clarity and pin point imaging of the speaker....with a very wide sweet spot. I've owned many speakers with super precise imaging (my own B&W 805s come to mind) but usually they require you to place your head in a vice. Move so much as 4 inches in either direction and the center image is destroyed. Not so with the Waterfall speakers, the sweet spot was feet wide, very similar to the JBL and Genelec studio monitors I use professionally.

Another great aspect of the Iguascu speakers was their bass delivery. During the launch sequence of the Saturn V booster, the bass of the five F1 engines never overwhelmed the speakers. They handle excess bass very gracefully. Definition was always tight, snappy and with good extension. Not as deep as a good sub but I never felt the need to add a subwoofer. The score to the film was rendered with superb detail, timing and space. The tweeter was superbly detailed though it sounded a bit dry compared to a metal dome. Or so I thought. In later listening with my Myryad integrated amp and Benchmark DAC, the tweeter really came into its own. The Naim SuperNait turns out to have a rather dry treble. With my own electronics the tweeter was as good if not better than the aluminum B&W tweeter in my 805s or the titanium tweeter in my JBL pro monitors. This is the best fabric tweeter I have ever heard and left we wanting for nothing.

Once I switched to music my initial impressions of the Iguascu were multiplied three fold. As good as the speakers were with a movie they were simply stunning with music. They are so inherently natural sounding. Neutral without being lean, highly detailed, articulate, fast and with superb timing. I've heard enough Hi-Fi speakers in my life that the truly good ones are instantly recognizable. Many "good" speakers require some time to become acclimated with, they exhibit many good or great characteristics but somehow don't end up sounding whole. Not so with great speakers. They are from the start natural sounding. The oddity is that this "right" sound is actually a lack of character. Many speakers sound very warm or detailed in the presence region with tradeoffs in the bass or treble. Or they are very bright (without being harsh), or have great bass definition. Yet they almost always focus on one aspect to generate a sonic signature. What really impresses about the Iguascu is that lack of a signature. They're much like good professional monitors. Neutral, honest, and with good macro and micro dynamics. They impress without jumping out at you. They are just a pleasure to listen to.

Feed the Iguascu's good power, a great source, your favorite recordings, and be prepared to sit down for a late night of listening pleasure. They are that good. Whether listening to heavily processed rock and pop albums, or hip hop albums, what the speakers are fed is what they give. It's a mixed bag with recordings of mainstream and electronic music. The quality of the recordings varying wildly. The Waterfall speakers won't polish a flawed recording.

Switching from countless music albums such as La Roux, Massive Attack or Hifana that are studio albums I heard exquisite details in all good, bad and ok recordings. The Iguascus instantly rendering electronic reverb as being artificial and allowing also allowing me to distinguish real room reverb. They're not so revealing as to completely make poor recordings unlistenable. Poor recordings lack sparkle and substance but are still listenable.

I switched to some older classic Jazz and Rock albums. Beatles 1 was stunning through the Iguascu's. I could clearly hear the cabinet resonances of the guitar amps in Day Tripper. More amazing was being able to hear the subtle changes in tonality as McCartney or Lennon would move closer to or further away from the vocal mics. This is detail and spatial resolution I've only heard in speakers costing twice as much. My own B&W 805s speakers couldn't match that level of spatial detail, yet alone my JBL studio monitors.

Switching to Dave Brubeck and the iconic Take Five, well let's just say I had to pick up my jaw from the floor. Especially after doing A/B comparisons with my own speakers. On a side note, the fidelity of late 50s and early 60s recordings never cease to amaze me. My own speakers simply presented the sound of a saxophone, a very faithful sound. The Iguascus raised the bar by placing a saxophone in front of me. I could hear the flapping noise of the valves, the shimmer of the cymbals and the air/space they were recorded in. Simply stunning. Again, this level of resolution and musical presentation is seldom achieved.