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Product Review
 

Facet Audio Labs Banshee Floor-standing Speakers

Part I

April, 2007

Adrian Wittenberg

 

Specifications

 

● Design: Two-way Ported

● Drivers: One 1" Titanium
   Dome Tweeter, Two 6.5"
   Mid/Bass

● MFR: 45 Hz - 20 kHz 2.8
   dB

● Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms

● Sensitivity: 89 dB

● Suggested Amplifier Power:
   50 - 200 Watts

● Bi-wireable Binding Posts

● Dimensions: 41.8" H x 10.8"
   W x 12.2" D

● Weight: 98 Pounds/Each

● MSRP: $4,995/Pair USA

 

    Facet Audio Labs

Introduction

Facet Audio Labs is a new company in the speaker industry, but designer and co-owner Michael Henry has been building and designing speakers for thirty five years now

The company is located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and one can start to experience their products as Michael and company begin to make appearances at audiophile shows nationwide.

I asked Michael what his ideas about the industry were, and he happily told me that loudspeaker design is both science and art form. Facet Labs' first contribution to the loudspeaker market is the Banshee two-way design loudspeaker, reviewed here.

Having now experienced this product first hand, I would like to say that Facet Audio Labs is going to make a nice big splash into the industry. At $4,995/pair, they are not inexpensive, but take a look at the photo. Gorgeous they are, and as you will see below, what a sound!

On the Outside

After getting the Banshees unpacked and set up, I got my first glimpse of their build quality and appearance. They are basically a rectangular shape that is tapered near the top which gives them a sleeker look, visible in the picture.

The speakers rest on a black finished base that has inserts for floor spikes. The cabinet stands close to four feet tall, and has very clean edges and lines. Getting right up close reveals the precision in the cabinetry and I could see that the finish was seamless, with the edges being even and laser sharp.

There are three finishes on the Banshees to choose from. The veneer is affixed to the speaker using high quality construction methods, and it makes the speakers look as if they are chiseled from solid wood. The model supplied for review featured natural Bubinga wood, and this finish was a spectacle in itself. It has a warm buttery glow with mixed shades of gold and cream that are banded horizontally along the speaker. As you move around the speaker its look changes as you see light hitting the wood from different angles. This is a very exquisite effect as it highlights the various shades of the finish.

Bubinga should complement many different decors, and it stands out as having an almost exotic look that I think would work very well in high fashion decors. The Banshees are also available in an antique cherry which has natural and deep warmth to it, and an ebony finish that appears as a pure satin black from a distance, but from closeup, looks like a subtly shaded black mixed with the brown and grey of the wood grains. I was fortunate enough to see all of the finishes in person and I can say that all are very attractive. Facet Audio Labs also includes a black cloth speaker grille that snaps into place on the front of the speaker.

Design and Features

The Banshee loudspeaker features a two-way design arranged in a tweeter-woofer-woofer configuration. The mid/bass drivers are 6-1/2" woofers that utilize alloy metal cast frames, kapton formers, and rubber surrounds. The cone material in these drivers uses a special layered technique that sandwiches a layer of foam, characterized with a high stiffness-to-mass ratio, between two layers of finely woven glass tissues. The proprietary name for this cone technology from Focal-JL labs is "VV" which is derived from the words Verre-Verre, French for glass-glass.

The end goal here is to try to get a low mass, highly rigid driver that also has good dampening properties that comes from the sandwiched layer of foam. The tweeter is an inverted titanium dome model with a coated foam surround. Inverted dome structures are said to pass some of the mechanical energies created between the dome and the voice coil back into the dome structure which would then get converted into sound rather than dissipate as heat in the suspension unit. Both the tweeter and mid/bass drivers are magnetically shielded, so it wouldn't be a problem placing them next to a CRT display. However, as you will see later in this review, these speakers perform better placed wide apart, rather than next to your TV.

This tweeter-woofer-woofer configuration is different than the MTM layout one often sees in driver layouts these days. Designer Michael Henry described choosing this layout for two reasons. For one, he described that placing the woofers closer together helps to reduce the interaction between ceiling and floor reflections which would affect the sonic presentation. Secondly, the tweeter in this layout is placed so that it will be approximately ear level when a listener is sitting on a typical couch.

The cabinet is constructed from 1" thick MDF and is internally braced. Because of this, the cabinet is ninety eight pounds heavy and is built like a tank. Knocking on the side of the cabinet produces a solid thud, rather than hollow boom, which means that the cabinet is not producing large audible internal resonances. This can be in part attributed to both the heavy duty cabinet construction and the layered damping material that lines the cabinet walls.

On top of the MDF lies the wood laminate layer which is attached flawlessly. The end result of the construction on this cabinet makes the Banshees once again look and feel like they are sculpted from solid wood. There are other notable features that we would expect to see in a speaker in this price range such as high quality binding posts which allow bi-wiring, silver plated internal wiring, and every connection being hand soldered and tested.

One final design implementation on the speaker that is special is the rather large port near the bottom of the speaker. The port itself measures 4" in diameter and is 6 " long, and there is a foam gasket sitting behind the port. Using a larger port diameter like this reduces the air velocity coming out of the port when compared with a narrower port. Facet Audio Labs says this does a couple things for their design. For starters, this is said to provide a more linear response from the port as power levels increase. Next, it reduces any port chuffing sounds and loud organ type resonances at lower frequencies. When all is said and done, the design goal here is to get better bass response at higher power levels even when using 6 1/2" drivers and all of that while maintaining the blend of the bass tone with the tones from the rest of the frequency bands.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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