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Facet Audio Labs Banshee Floor-standing Speakers

Part II

April, 2007

Adrian Wittenberg

 

Setup and Listening

My first order of business with the Banshees was getting the placement right. Of course, with any new speaker, I was pretty eager to just get them plugged in and give them a quick test drive. Maximizing their potential in my living room was paramount though, and it took playing around with their positioning to get that.

At first, I had them placed fairly close together at about eight feet apart. While the tone was great, the imaging wasn't defined. Per Michael's suggestion, I placed them farther apart near the edges of the room, about a foot and a half away from the walls. This ended up being around twelve feet apart and about seven feet away from the listening position. They were toed in slightly towards the listening position. It was in this configuration that the imaging cleared right up and the soundstage began to take definition.

Overall, the Banshees easily deliver transparent, airy sound, with instruments easily identified on the soundstage. The speakers feel like they disappear into the room, and what you are left with is the warm textured sound that fills the listening space.

Without a doubt the Banshee loudspeaker performs much better in larger living rooms, as the driver layout is not intended for nearfield environments. In the right living room, these sound stellar with balanced tone and precise definition and imaging.

I spent a lot of time listening to various styles of music with the Banshees. What I liked best about the performance was the clarity and resolution in the midrange, through the treble frequencies. This ended up giving the sound texture, warmth, and precision. I very much liked the way the human voice sounded and it became my favorite material to audition on the speakers.

Here are some specific listening notes.

Miles Davis, ESP, Columbia/Legacy Records. Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams round out this all star cast of jazz legends on an album that is filled with musical excellence both in technical performance and soulful delivery. Here the sound is balanced and each instrument is separated from the next. Miles Davis' horn cooks on the soundstage with a tone that isn't harsh or cutting but rather warm, smooth, and projected with authority. Ron Carter's bass work and Herbie Hancock's piano work combine to form a sound that is melodic, colorful, and articulated precisely. The speakers are handling the transient response very well here, and the bass and piano lines can be followed with ease. The sound is warm and full of texture. Tony Williams' cymbal work has excellent resolution, and to my great satisfaction doesn't sound harsh. It was appropriately bright but not overly bright or tinny. On a track that featured brush work, the sound was airy and smooth, and the sound seemed to dissipate right in front of me. This was very pleasing to the senses.

Augustana, All the Stars and Boulevards, Epic Records. If I would have first heard this record on the radio, I would have easily passed it up as just another modern rock band with a nasally sounding front runner. Fortunately, the first time I heard this band's offering was on the Banshees in the form of a free video download of their track titled "Boston" from the Xbox Live Marketplace. Here, the sound is very natural and the singers voice has depth, texture, and surprisingly doesn't sound nasally or chesty. In fact, the sound is very airy, and all the instruments sound delicate and refined, which is something I didn't expect to find from a garage band album such as this. The snare drums have a nice sound with a textured snap, and the guitars drive the music with a warm lively tone. Also, the Banshees are creating a very well defined soundstage here, with the ability to point out instruments in their location. (The performance on the speakers made this album sound so good that I bought the CD from the record store.)

Weather Report, Heavy Weather, Columbia/Legacy Records. Probably the best reason to explore this jazz fusion record would be to listen to the bass work of the late great Jaco Pastorius. His style is very diverse and exciting. Here, the speakers are playing the bass work with precision and with a quick transient response. The bass is delivered with authority, and the lines are exciting as they have full body and texture, and the room is filled with sound. The bass extension is good here, but it's clear that it could also be substantiated with a subwoofer to go deeper (as with just about every speaker out there). The percussion instruments sound great, with deep and rich conga drums that have plenty of bite with the slaps of the instrument. The multilayered sounds are giving great depth to the soundstage and all the instruments sound natural but also full of life.

Sarah Mclaughlin, Afterglow, Arista Records. I've already mentioned that I really favor the vocal performances that the Banshees deliver, and this record is a great example. Sarah's voice does not have sibilance here; rather the tone is smooth, richly textured, and has high resolution. In addition to the vocal performances, the guitars sound real, as if they are actually in my living room.

Conclusions

I enjoyed my experiences with the Banshee loudspeakers very much. They work well in larger listening spaces, and they provide high resolution (great detail) as well as clear soundstage placement. If you are on that quest to get the ideal loudspeaker for your home, you owe it to yourself to look Facet Audio Labs up and put the Banshees on your short list to audition. They are as beautiful to the eyes as to the ears.


- Adrian Wittenberg -

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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