Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Canton Chrono 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System

ARTICLE INDEX

 

Cosmetically, the major difference between the Chrono and its higher-end siblings is in the use of cabinet materials. The Chronos use low-resonance MDF, finished in either silver lacquer or simulated wood veneer. Removing the front grilles reveals a high-gloss polished lacquer finish, which I thought made the speakers look aesthetically much more elegant than a simple black box.

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The floor-standing 509s come with a shock-absorbing isolation base. The rear of the 509s includes a flared port near the bottom of the enclosure, and gold-plated bi-wire/bi-amp binding posts. The center-channel 505 has dual ports, and surround-channel 502s a single port. Both the center and surround speakers sport a single set of binding posts.

The Sound

I set up the Chronos with the 509s bi-wired, and the crossover on the Integra DTR 7.8 receiver set to 80 Hz on all five channels. First off was a mix of two-channel CD and 5.1 hi-rez music, followed by movies in both regular DD/DTS, and DD+/Dolby TrueHD codecs.

I took two general impressions away from my extended listening sessions with the Cantons. First, the Chronos were capable of creating a large soundstage, with surprisingly good imaging for speakers in their price range. The second impression, the proverbial other side of the coin, was adequate but not superior detail.

"King of Pain", from The Police’s greatest hits collection on SACD, Every Breath You Take, places Sting’s vocals in all five channels. The Cantons disappeared, leaving Sting’s voice hanging in space. But the recording of the lead vocal has subtle little details, like husky breath sounds and pronunciation quirks, that were just beyond the Chrono’s ability to resolve.  Old stand-bys, like "New Kid in Town" from the Eagles’ Hotel California (DVD-Audio), confirmed my initial impressions. Glen Frey’s lead vocal and the seemingly endless layers of guitars were all solidly anchored on the soundstage, but I couldn’t quite make out the delicate sound of picks strumming on guitars. This is not a knock on the Chronos, merely an observation that at that price point there are trade-offs involved.

Movie soundtracks sounded great on the Cantons. No Country for Old Men is a really bizarre film. The almost complete lack of musical accompaniment seemed to magnify background sounds, like wind blowing through the scrub brush, or the soft padding of socked feet on carpet. The Chronos were up to the task of re-creating the sudden, random acts of violence that were almost a constant presence.

I found that the Cantons seemed to open up as the volume increased. The 509 floor-standers are rated at 88.3 dB sensitivity; the 505 center channel speaker at 87.5 dB, and the 502 surrounds at 86.5 dB. So the Chronos should be mated with an amplifier or receiver with ample power reserves to get the most out of them.

Low frequency effects were subtle but noticeable. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of mid-bass energy the AS 525 SC was generating in both film and music. I did not expect, and did not perceive, a significant amount of low bass impact from the modest-sized sub. If I were purchasing the Chronos for myself, I would probably opt for a subwoofer that had a little more authority in the bottom end.