Sonics Amerigo Speaker System Page 2

If the review sample is typical of what the company will manufacture in America, the cabinet quality will be at least as good as what Gerhard’s previous company got from the Danish Hornslet factory, which is about as good as speaker cabinetry gets. Of course, if you hide your speakers behind a scrim or use them in a darkened, dedicated home theater environment, some of your money will be wasted.

The driver compliment consists of a custom-built 7-inch long-throw SEAS woofer. It features a ceramic-coated light metal cone and magnesium basket in a rear-ported cabinet. It also has a 4.5-inch midrange driver that’s similar in construction to the woofer. There’s also a 0.75-inch aluminum-magnesium dome, ferrofluid-cooled, ring-radiator tweeter that features an unusually large textile surround that’s said to improve both damping and output. Both the midrange and the tweeter are enclosed within a subcabinet inside the main unit. The tweeter’s offset placement allows tweeter out or tweeter in flexibility. Tweeter out delivers a wider soundstage, while tweeter in is useful if you need to place the speakers close to sidewalls. Efficiency is moderate at a claimed 87 decibels, but with a nominal impedance of 7 ohms, the Amerigo should be a relatively easy load to drive.

The modestly sized A-Center is a classic midrange/tweeter/midrange (MTM) arrangement. It uses the same tweeter as the Amerigo, flanked by a pair of 4.5-inch ceramic-coated metal-cone midrange drivers fitted with bullet-shaped phase plugs in a rear-ported cabinet. The compact Anima surround features a single woofer and the same tweeter mounted vertically on a gently sloping baffle, also in a rear-ported cabinet.

Sonics didn’t supply a subwoofer. At review time, the A400W that’s currently in development wasn’t ready. A Sonics spokesperson was confident that I wouldn’t need a sub given the Amerigo’s prodigious bass output. That claim surprised me given the listed low-frequency spec of –6 dB at 35 hertz.

High-Performance Sound for Sure
We currently live in a plastic speaker world, where more than a few hundred dollars for anything that produces sound is expensive in the opinions of the computer geeks who have taken over the mainstream media’s consumer electronics journalism. If it attaches to a computer, they’re qualified to review it, whether or not they know anything about images, video, or sound.

At $5,500 per pair, the compugeeks would consider the Amerigos to be scandalously priced. Even in Home Theater, a magazine dedicated to high performance, they are expensive. But from an audiophile perspective, they are bargain priced for how they look, how they’re built and finished, and especially for how they sound—at least when driven by high-quality separates. If you’ve never heard a truly high-performance loudspeaker system, nothing I say will convince you of their worth until you experience such a system.

The Lexicon RV-8 is a fine-sounding A/V receiver, yet driven by it, the Amerigo system merely hinted at what was possible. When I replaced it with an Integra DHC-9.9 surround processor and a Parasound A51 five-channel amplifier, the system revealed its true potential. Compared with some of Gerhard’s more Eurocentric designs, the Amerigo produces fuller, more robust, and more generous low frequencies, perhaps sacrificing a touch of bass-attack detail in the successful quest for greater richness. The Lexicon left a slightly hollow, metallic aftertaste and produced less than the full weight, particularly in the lower midrange. You can’t skimp on amplifier quality and expect to get all that this system can provide.

Bass response was beefy, prodigious, exceedingly tuneful (pitch perfect), and well controlled. In my room, with room-gain taken into account, the Amerigos extended down into what sounded like the truly deep bass region, with a visceral impact that made me jump during the sound effects intended to elicit that response.

Aside from some organ pedals and perhaps a Sensurround earthquake, I didn’t feel I missed much of anything in terms of extension and explosiveness. This is partly because when there’s not supposed to be any bass, you won’t hear any. The speaker doesn’t let you know it’s coming until it’s there and it disappears just as quickly. When you hear a speaker that responds in the low frequencies and delivers palpable dynamic range without a hint of compression in the subterranean region—and can do so with ease even when you crank it up—you’ll begin to understand what the extra cash and good design get you. Those ultra-long-throw foamy surround fart boxes just can’t produce this level of low-frequency tonal and textural sophistication, no matter what the specs say. Of course, if you only plan to use the bottom octaves for explosions and footfalls made by mechanical robots, it might not really matter.

Sonics by Joachim Gerhard/Immedia
(510) 559 2050