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Product Review - IQ T100 Loudspeaker System - March, 1996

By Daniel Long

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IQ10 Speakers

The IQ T100 Loudspeaker System: Driver Complement: 4 x 4 1/2" (woofer/midrange), 1 1/4" (tweeter); Power Handling : > 100 W rms (as supplied in brochure): Sensitivity 88 dB/w/m; Frequency Response (no limits given) 28Hz - 26 kHz; Crossover points 500 Hz / 2.8 kHz; Nominal impedance 4 Ohms; Weight 46.2 pounds each; Size (mm) 920(H) x 200(W) x 270(D); Price S$4,743 (US$ 3,271 approx. at S$1.45 to US$1.00); Dealer (Singapore) : Margil Hi-Fi Pte Ltd, 1 Coleman Street, #B1-27, The Adelphi, Singapore 179803, Tel : 65-339-7955 (For inquiries, contact owner Anthony Margil), Fax : 65-339-3492.

Intelligent Quality (IQ)
The IQ company in Germany, founded in 1974 (under the Dynamic Pearl brandname, up until 1986) by Wolfgang Kisseler, makes loudspeakers that wish to be known not only for Quality, which they take to mean good finish, material and sound, but also Intelligence, which, in an analogy, is descriptive of a person, in all its complexities; i.e., instead of using numbers, the word Intelligence says it all. And so it is with IQ loudspeakers. Not described merely by measurements, but by it's "Intelligence".

As far as I know (which isn't all that much, given the relative lack of exposure IQ's been given in this part of the world and the USA as well, till now of course), the German company makes two lines of loudspeakers: the System T and the System W. The T100 is number three of a four line system. The System W is a line of 3 powered tower subwoofers.

Physical Quality
The T100 is a 3-way 5 speaker system (see photo with reflection of rear in a mirror). High frequencies are handled by a 1 1/4" woven dome tweeter with a 48 ounce magnet. Mid-range is a pair of front firing 4 1/2" drivers (made from HDA or "High Definition Aerogel") flanking the tweeter. A similar pair of 4 1/2" bass drivers are found on the rear of the cabinet, together with 3 four-position level controls which enable a listener to tailor the high, mid-range and low frequencies of the loudspeaker. The computer designed crossover networks consists of film capacitors and air-core inductors which are point-to-point wire soldered.

The drivers are individually loaded by their own chambers within what IQ calls a SoftSandwich cabinet; this is actually a single layer of soft fibre embedded in an MDF sandwich, which reduces cabinet resonance as well as minimizing internal standing waves. A knuckle rap on the top, sides and front baffle produces virtually nothing but just a dull thud if you rap hard enough!

HALT!!
Audiophiles with children old enough to walk and poke, but not nearly old enough to keep their fingers off fragile tweeters? Stop right here.

NO grilles are provided. They aren't in the box, and they aren't an option. Apparently, these speakers are voiced naked and they must be used as such. The tweeters are about 27 1/2" off the floor (speakers fitted with the included spikes), and, so you'll have an idea, my 17-month daughter can easily drive one tiny finger right into one. And I wouldn't blame her. At that age, everything calls out to her!

My solution (not to worry, Tony; your tweeters are safe)? I used a couple of old (but clean) T-shirts to cover the speakers when I wasn't around (or more accurately, when the little one was). A simple matter it was, then, to just turn on the electronics (as described in the Titan review in Jan 1996), and strip off the Tee's when I wanted to listen to them.

Intelligence
First listens were misleading. After about 30 minutes (I like the song) of the Eagles' Hotel California (Hell Freezes Over, Geffen GED-24725), I turned to my other half and asked her (women do have better hearing) what she thought of the T100's. "They are very sharp". What that meant was: they were very forward! Cymbals and vocals (Don Henley) stood right in front of everything else. Actually, everything else was fine. The very luxurious bass was rendered as accurately as I've heard it. Air was there, as well, the tweeters doing justice to the myriad of percussion instruments on The All Star Percussion Ensemble (Golden String, GS CD 005).

The sound stage was very wide (narrow front baffles did it) and fairly deep, though not as deep as my regular Mirages. And the lower mid-range had snap and pace, certainly snappier and pacier than the 1090i's. But that forwardness in the upper midrange/lower treble was difficult to ignore.

I put on more music. Holst's Suite #1 in E-Flat (Reference Recordings RR-39CD), then Aaron Neville's Louisiana 1927 (Warm Your Heart, A&M 75021 5354 2), then Stanley Clarke's East River Drive CD (Epic, EK 47489). And others. And it got better and better. I logged about 2 hours a day weekdays and up to 6 hours on weekends. I also used them for movies. And after about 2 weeks (which makes about 45 hours), it finally got to the point where the forwardness wasn't a problem anymore, unless it was an exceptionally spitty recording. On the majority of the large number of CD's and LP's I played back on the T100's, what I found so inviting on them in that first session was clearly evident.

And while it was fine with most music, I found it a little too easy-going on explosive recordings like the above mentioned Holst. On the other hand, Hotel California was very, very enjoyable, especially between tracks when the audience showed their appreciation of the Eagles' brand-new arrangement of the track. On this, the T100's threw a very vivid sound stage that was believable and at the same time, incredibly wide!

Low frequencies were given a treatment that was almost gentle in its presentation. No drone, all tightness, the twin woofers giving music a solid foundation that was conspicuous only in it's absence; when I bi-amped the T100's, I could simply turn off the bass amplifier, leaving the tweeter and midrange's playing. And though there wasn't a drastic reduction in stage depth or width when I did this, turning the bass amplifier back on brought back that you-are-there sound stage.

On certain music and on some movies, I felt the T100s were just a wee bit polite. Definitely not speakers for the uninhibited rock fan. The frequency level controls affected presentation only slightly (as they should). I found it most natural with the mid-range controls at minimum and the low and high frequencies up 1 notch. In your own room, experiment.

Frequency response results (both speakers on):
Hz/dB 20/60 25/61 31.5/64 40/69 50/73 63/73 80/83 100/79 125/77 160/73 200/68
Hz/dB 250/74 315/71 400/74 500/73 630/75 800/74 1k/74 1.25k/74 1.6k/74 2k/74
Hz/dB 2.5k/77 3.15k/77 4k/78 5k/78 6.3k/78 8k/75 10k/69 12.5k/68 16k/64 20k/63


Summary

At a price of S$4,743, the IQ T100's are expensive, but then again, a well-made cabinet that's both visually appealing (the review pair came in perfectly-finished walnut; very nice) and functional (terrific sound), doesn't come cheap. The polite nature of the speakers may not suit rock/metal fans, but if your cup of tea is a cup of tea, and not soft drinks, I think you're going to enjoy them.

Daniel Long
Singapore


Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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