Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Written by Jim Clements
- Published on 01 February 2010
This system is based on the GLE 470 floor standing speakers. The 2-1/2-way front-ported 470's include dual 7" aluminum cone main drivers. The woofer crosses over at 300 Hz and the woofer/mid driver operates up to 3,200 Hz. The 470's tweeters are 1" silk domes with "Transmission Front Plates" which look akin to shallow horns.
The center speaker is the GLE 455 CM speaker. This sealed–cabinet speaker has dual 6.3" aluminum cone main drivers. Like the 470, the 455 CM is a 2-1/2 way design. (The 2-1/2 way design is a somewhat unusual design choice for a center speaker, but is consistent with the other models in the GLE speaker line.) The 455 CM's main drivers cross over at 400 Hz and 3,000 Hz. I do like that the speaker is sealed and not rear-ported. This gives the installer a little more flexibility in placement options. This speaker has the same 1" silk dome tweeter found in the other GLE models.
The surrounds are a pair of GLE 420 bookshelf speakers. These medium-sized speakers are rear-ported and have a single 6.3" aluminum cone main driver which crosses over at 3,200 Hz. Interestingly, the Audessy MultEQ system in the Integra DTR 50.1 receiver automatically set the high pass crossover for these speakers at 55 Hz which was a lower crossover than it chose for the main speakers.
The sub in this system was the 200-watt 10-inch powered model AS 105 SC. The driver is a front-firing aluminum cone which is mounted in a medium-sized cabinet. There is a generous port which also exhausts out of the front of the cabinet. With the port on the front of the baffle, the installer may place this sub in a cabinet or shadow box. This sub has multiple connection possibilities, including line level inputs and speaker level inputs/outputs. It has a master power toggle, a volume control, a 55Hz – 200Hz continuously variable crossover control, a continuously variable phase angle adjustment from 0° – 180°, and an on/auto on selector with two sensitivity ranges for the auto on function. The sub also has a selectable contour control which can be used to select "Normal" or "Narrow" room compensation. The Narrow setting is for small rooms. I kept it on "Normal".
The GLE series of speakers embodies some interesting technical, design and manufacturing details. The aluminum cone main drivers have glass bead-reinforced polycarbonate baskets. These drivers feature a concave dust cap which promotes improved linearity and better dispersion characteristics. The driver surrounds are injected rubber and the motor assemblies are specially ventilated to increase power handling.
The silk dome tweeters have horn-like "Transmission Front Plates" which help increase their output by 3db over previous models. This is a significant improvement in sensitivity. These front plates also promote a more homogeneous dispersion of sound waves. The tweeters have a very narrow gap between the coil and magnet. The coils are centered for each individual tweeter using a series of set screws during manufacturing. The narrow gap further improves the tweeters' efficiency which means that smaller magnets and less steel are necessary in the build. Finally, the narrow gap means fewer windings in the voice coil which reduces the impedance of the coil.
All five main speakers have a single pair of heavy duty five-way binding posts. The crossovers are mounted on separate blocks to minimize vibration effects. The second-order filters also employ fewer components because the Canton designers apparently feel that this design approach reduces the possibility of the crossover introducing deleterious effects to the sound. Canton also outfits each speaker with a high pass filter for the woofers. The consequential reduction in distortion allows a lower cut-off frequency for the woofers.
Like most Canton speakers, the GLE series of speakers have a very contemporary look. The cabinets are available in seven finishes: Beech, Black Ash, Cherry, Silver Matte, Walnut, Mocha White and White. My review samples were Black Ash. The cabinets were very rigid, with substantial internal bracing. The front baffles have a slight curvature which promotes stronger response in the crossover region. There is also chamfering at the cabinet edges which improves dispersion characteristics: the speakers are optimized for flat response at an angle between 15° – 30° degrees off axis, so toe-in is not typically necessary. I liked the GLE's perforated metal grills. They mount very securely (no buzzes or rattles), you can see the drivers through them and the Canton engineers even optimized the diameter and spacing of the perforations to limit the grilles' impact on the sound!
I want to stress that I really did enjoy the speakers' overall visual aesthetic. The GLE 470's and the AS 105 SC subwoofer are all supported by cylindrical, silver feet and looked almost stately in their appearance. Also, the logos on each speaker sparkled in the light like gemstones.