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Onix Strata Mini Floor-Standing Speakers with Built-In Powered Subwoofers

Part II

December, 2006

John E. Johnson, Jr.

 

The Sound

I listened to a lot of CDs and SACDs with these speakers, but here are the highlights.

 

This new SACD from Telarc (SACD-60648) is actually an old recording that was done in SoundStream 50 kHz digital by Telarc back in the 1980s. This was the way they recorded music for release on CDs.

I have used the CD version for years in my reviews. It is one of my favorite recordings of all time.

There is no compression at all, so it tests equipment, particularly amplifiers and subwoofers, to their limits.

This is the first time I have been able to listen to the recording with the full 50 kHz sampling. The CD version had to be down-sampled to 44.1 kHz, so there were unavoidable artifacts.

It was thrilling to finally hear all the detail that the original recording had. SACD is capable of a higher frequency response, but at least everything in the original SoundStream recording was now there.

The planar tweeter and midrange drivers in the Strata Minis delivered incredible nuances, and the powered subwoofers reproduced the thunder of the huge bass drum that is used in the music.

Wow! I was not simply impressed. I was thrilled!

 

I know, I know, this is my namesake, and it is embarrassing to mention it, but the recording is really good. It's Naxos 8.550776.

What I listened for, and got, was the attack of the strings being plucked. The rosin on the strings as the musician slid fingers along them was clearly audible too.

This is the sort of thing you get when listening to planar drivers.

 

Another favorite recording of mine is this one by Mary-Chapin Carpenter.

Besides being a pleasure to listen to over and over again, her husky voice is a test for the possibility of a speaker being "chesty" in sound quality, meaning too much in the lower mids.

However, there was none of that with the Onix Strata Minis.

In this case, the sound I was listening for was coming from the mid/woofer.

 

This is a great disc in CD form, but as an SACD, it is something else.

A combination of electronic music and percussion, it tests all areas of a speaker's capabilities.

There is an astonishing amount of detail that has to be rendered, and the Strata Minis did the job, thanks to those planar tweeters and midrange drivers.

The bass was tight as well, and the percussion was natural in tonality.

Really, just an amazing set of speakers.

The Strata Minis need plenty of power, just as most other planar speakers do. I would suggest at least 100 watts per channel. You could play them with low powered amplifiers, but just not really loud. If I were going to put these into a home theater system, I would use an SSP and one of the 200 watt per channel multi-channel power amplifiers that are out there.

Click Here to Go to Part III.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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