For a PC-oriented speaker system, the FH007 is a decidedly odd-looking—but undeniably striking—assemblage. Even without a subwoofer, each channel consists of two separate modules: a clear acrylic oval horn with a mid/high cone driver set in back; and a bass sphere, also acrylic, whose larger cone driver resides up front. Both drivers are very large by PC standards—and with stereo, there are four of them. To even consider this system mandates either a very large desk or a willingness to sacrifice a serious swath of desktop real estate.
And I haven’t even mentioned the amp yet—a sizable silver cube with heat sinks protruding aft. It churns out sixteen watts to each of the four drivers, making this a true bi-amped system. (The FH008 subwoofer, discussed below, has its own internal amplifier.) In theory, the amp can be placed anywhere, but in practice its front-panel volume control relegates it, too, to the desktop. Large though they may be, the FH007’s quad drivers completely disappear when the music starts. The Altec is quite good in this area, but the Ferguson-Hill is something else entirely. There is literally no sense of a speaker being present. Not only that; the soundstage scale can be grand when the music demands it—a feat no other speaker here can match. Imaging within the soundstage is equally wondrous for a PC speaker, with instruments and vocals precisely positioned and perfectly focused.
There is yet another area in which the FH outshines everything else in this survey: its bass performance. The FH008 subwoofer is ostensibly optional, but the system is bass shy without it. Clad in a dazzling glossy white lacquer, this sub is one hefty dude, clearly built with rigidity in mind. In another audiophile touch, the sub’s back panel includes not only a continuously variable level-adjustment but a crossover-frequency control that offers settings anywhere between 50Hz to 150Hz.
The FH system’s bass excels in several dimensions. First, the 008 integrates beautifully with the 007s. Perhaps this is due to the latter’s ability to go lower than most satellites, which in turn consigns the subwoofer to less directional frequencies. Whatever the reason, there is no telling where the satellites end and the sub begins. The 008 not only rounds out the low frequencies, it adds welcome punch to the already expressive dynamics, and contributes to a surging sense of rhythm. Without question, the FH system includes the best subwoofer of this survey—one that I suspect would fare well in non-PC applications.
With its remarkable bass and soundstaging prowess, why didn’t the FH system score even higher on the sonic scale? The reason is that its high frequencies roll off too soon. On both versions of “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me,” Thompson’s voice is muffled, as are the usually prominent percussive accents on Gauthier’s “Falling out of Love.” However, other details—those that dwell at lower frequencies—are exemplary.
The FH system’s reduced high-frequency extension lends it a warm, sweet sound that is very easy to listen to. The rolled highs do mean that there is never a sense of air, but the FH’s way with rhythm and dynamics makes it musically engaging, nonetheless. At nearly $1600, the FH007/008 combination is by far the most expensive system in this survey. But it is the one that exhibits high-end traits that I never expected to find in a PC speaker.