- Written by Chris Groppi
- Published on 16 September 2013
The Gallo Strada 2 Speakers and TR-3D Subwoofers In Use
My initial impression of the Strada 2 system was how similar it sounded to my Reference 3.5s. You might expect this, as the speakers use almost identical components, but it's certainly worth checking. The soundstage remained as impressively wide and deep as with the 3.5s, but was considerably taller. This is almost certainly due to the tall stands the speakers are mounted on. While undeniably impressive, I found the soundstage to be a bit too tall, bordering on unnatural. With well-recorded material, the soundstage reached up towards the ceiling of the room. Many people will probably like this, but I would prefer the stands to be a bit lower, maybe 3"-6". As with the 3.5s, the speed, clarity and accuracy of timbre were excellent, certainly for any speaker near their respective price points. Probably due to the lack of a normal cabinet, the speed and agility of the Strada 2s compete with electrostatic speakers with none of their inherent drawbacks. All this leads to a spectacular ability to extract detail from recordings. Listening to the Strada 2s is an experience almost like listening to very high quality headphones when it comes to detail. They are superior to every other sub-$10k speaker I have heard in this respect (excepting the Reference 3.5 of course). If anything, the detail extracted by the Strada 2 might have been even better than the 3.5s. Maybe because of their tall stands they were able to get higher frequencies up above the coffee table in my living room, leading to maybe a hair better detail extraction. Maybe I'm making this up, because direct back-to-back comparisons were not easily possible.
As with the earlier speakers, the largest difference was in the bass. Now, the Strada 2 and TR-3Ds win in the power department. Particularly when used for home theater duty, the new subwoofers produce excellent power and control at high volume. They reach every bit as low as the 3.5s to my ears (which probably can't hear the difference between 18 Hz and 20 Hz anyway). The stereo bass has helped a lot in getting better integration with the Strada 2s, as it certainly did in the power department. Still, the 3.5s are still a bit more seamless in their integration. With the 3.5s, my Emotiva XPA-1s still drive the woofers along with the midrange and tweeters, but are assisted by the Reference SA driving the second voice coil of the driver. With the Strada 2 and TR-3D system, the bass and mid/treble are completely separate. There was still just a hint of the bass being a separate entity, while the Reference 3.5s make me forget completely about the issue.
So, down to brass tacks. Which one is better? For me, I still prefer my Reference 3.5s with the Reference SA amp. However, that most definitely does not mean the 3.5s are better full stop. For some applications, I could imagine the clear choice being the Strada 2s. Do you have (or just like better) lower power amplifiers? If so, the fact that the Reference 3.5s ask the main amp to drive the woofers is NOT a good thing. Go with the Strada 2s. Does the super tall soundstage float your boat? If so, the soundstage of the Strada 2s is about as tall as you'll find anywhere in any speaker. Need the setup flexibility of being able to put the mid-tweeter in a different location from the bass? Want speakers that are less visually imposing? Again, the Strada 2 system would be the winner. In my case, I prefer the lower soundstage, and have He-Man 500W monoblocks for amplifiers. As usual, the answer to the simple question "which is better" is not so simple. I do guarantee you can't go wrong either way, which makes the question irrelevant. Just get the ones you like better and know you didn't really give up a thing.
One thing to keep in mind is that Gallo recently informed me that the Reference 3.5 is being discontinued. When the current stock of 3.5s is gone, that's it. It is likely the case that the Strada 2 with TR-3D is so close to the 3.5 in performance that having both models available is redundant. There may be a future replacement for the 3.5, but that hasn't been settled yet.