Infinity Classia C336 Speaker System
Where ideas are concerned,” the late George Carlin said, “America can be counted on to do one of two things: take a good idea and run it completely into the ground or take a bad idea and run it completely into the ground.” Many loudspeaker manufacturers tend to follow one of these two trains of thought, with results that range from staid to disheartening. But there is a third path, the one that Infinity Systems follows, and it will take more than a sentence to summarize, period, enter, tab.
As a Harman International company, Infinity starts with research into the mysteries of acoustics, which it conducts in its own world-class facilities. On the basis of this primary knowledge, it develops both technical and marketing goals. Ideas then form around those goals. Finally, the company takes those ideas and runs with them—not into the ground, but for as long as they make sense, until the goals change, or until the process produces better ideas.
The Infinity Classia is a mid-priced speaker line based on a few prominent ideas. These include a proprietary driver material—which every driver in this system uses—and an angular shape that has both acoustic and aesthetic ramifications. Since Infinity has included these things in its previous generations of products, they represent a train of thought. This makes my life as a critic more interesting, and it may even produce a better product for your dollar.
CMMD, R.A.B.O.S., and More
The Classia models under review here include the C336 tower, CC225 center, C255ES surround, and PSW310W subwoofer. Not reviewed here is the C205 bookshelf speaker, which matches the center’s driver sizes.
The C336 is more than 4 feet tall. It is a three-way design with a trio of 6.5-inch woofers, a 4-inch midrange, and a 1-inch tweeter. The CC225 is a horizontal center with two smaller 5.25-inch woofers that flank the same tweeter. The tweeter is pushed up toward the top of the enclosure, as opposed to sitting in the center where it ordinarily would be. The C255ES surround is a dual two-way design with the same drivers as the center, which are angled to the left and right. A switch beneath one of its two grilles selects bipole, dipole, or monopole operation. The driver pairs can operate in phase with each other, out of phase, or you may shut down one side altogether. In addition, the C255ES is capable of functioning as two independent loudspeakers from one enclosure. This versatile arrangement lets you vary the dispersion pattern—and the soundfield along with it—to suit your room and tastes.
All three speakers have 0.75-inch medium-density fiberboard (MDF) enclosures that replace the conventional rectangular-solid shape with a distinctive angular form. Infinity also places additional MDF plates around the drivers to reinforce the baffle. The curved end pieces are made of six to seven layers of plywood laminate with a wood-veneer outer skin. The black version is covered with seven layers of high-gloss polyurethane base coat, plus a polyester topcoat to provide a shiny, scratch-resistant finish. The cherry version uses six layers of polyurethane with a satin finish.
The tower curves at the top, the center at the left and right sides, the surround on the top, bottom, left, and right sides, and the sub at the top front edge. This curved and tapered form first appeared in Infinity’s bleeding-edge Cascade line. However, the Cascade features a flat-diaphragm driver that Infinity doesn’t use here—instead, the Classia relies on familiar cones and domes.
Those cones and domes are made of a material you won’t find in speakers from other brands—at least not precisely in this form. It’s an aluminum core that’s coated with a ceramic compound using an anodizing process. Infinity calls these drivers Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragms (CMMD). This produces low mass and high rigidity, which results in a diaphragm that’s stiff and light. Like all driver diaphragms, it has breakup modes. But its unique composition shifts the breakup outside the operating frequency range, into areas where it causes less harm.