Finally, let me say a bit about the speaker’s ability to produce an unexpectedly big, spacious sound. When you first see the 31"-tall CL-3s, it is perhaps inevitable to worry that they might image, oh, at about knee level (which would obviously not be good). But this isn’t the case at all. Instead, I found that the speaker produced wide, deep, spacious images that were centered about a foot-and-a-half above the tops of the speaker enclosures. I frankly have no idea how Gallo pulled this off, but I suspect two design choices may have helped. First, the CL-3 positions its CDT tweeter at the top of its driver array, whereas most other Gallo designs place the CDT tweeter in the center of a classic MTM (midrange-tweeter-midrange) array. Second, the front baffle of the CL-3 is deliberately sloped backward to a noticeable extent, so that the tweeter’s output is angled upward. I suspect that positioning the tweeter as the uppermost driver in the array and giving it a bit of upward tilt helps with perceived image height.
In any event, the CL-3 sounds like a much larger speaker than it actually is, and it offers highs that are at once smooth and yet very finely focused, detailed, and extended. Where some tweeters seem to shout, “I’ve got definition to burn,” the Gallo CDT 3 tweeter manages to sound relaxed without ever sacrificing critical details or sounding recessed and soft. On the contrary, the CDT 3 does a great job of capturing high-frequency overtones, textural details, and subtle reverberant cues that help define the size and acoustics of recording spaces. Horizontal dispersion, as advertised, is extremely broad, so that it is not uncommon to experience soundstages whose width extends well beyond the outer edges of the loudspeakers.
A good example can be drawn from the middle movement of Robert Paterson’s Freya’s Tears from Paterson’s The Book of Goddesses [American Modern Recording], which is performed by the Clockwise duet featuring violinist Marc Uys and harpist Jacqueline Kerrod. The recording is rich in delicate, fleeting treble transient sounds, textural details, and ambient cues, and—through the Classicos—yields a sound where the voices of the harp and violin seem to hover in the air, replete with lush, evanescent beauty. In particular, I was enthralled to hear the Gallos vividly reproduce subtle performance details, such as the delicate, airy sound of Uys’ deft bowing. The only minor caveat I would note is that, because the tweeter’s treble dispersion pattern is so broad, you’ll want to be careful about positioning the speakers directly beside or behind nearby objects that could cause unwanted reflections. Most of the time, however, the Gallo tweeter helps foster greater levels of listener involvement.
Put all these factors together and it becomes clear that Gallo’s Classico CL-3 is one of the most capable and appealing loudspeakers in its price class, though it is not without stiff competition from models such the GoldenEar Triton 3, the Magnepan 1.7, and the MartinLogan Electromotion ESL (three excellent performers in this class). I had a pair of Magnepan’s 1.7s on hand for comparison purposes and found the Maggies enjoyed a narrow edge in top-to-bottom cohesiveness and overall image scale. The Classicos, however, offered equally taut but more powerful and deeply extended bass, equivalent levels of resolution, a somewhat greater sense of midrange fluidity, and more explosive dynamics. Significantly, the Gallos are somewhat easier to drive than the Maggies, though both speakers may require top-shelf (or at least near-top-shelf) amplification and source components to give of their best.
I would encourage anyone shopping for loudspeakers in the near $2k/pair class to give the Classico CL-3 very careful consideration. The only hard part, really, will be figuring out how Gallo is able to pull such a big, expansive, and refined sound from such small, unassuming loudspeakers.
Type: Two-way, three-driver floorstanding loudspeakers with “modified transmission line” enclosure loading
Drivers: Two 5.2" mid/bass drivers with woven carbonfiber diaphragms, one CDT 3 (cylindrical diaphragm transducer) tweeter
Frequency response: 32Hz–22kHz +/-3dB in-room
In-room sensitivity: 88dB
Nominal impedance: 4 ohms
Recommended amplifier power: 20–200W
Dimensions: 7" x 31" x 12.5"
Weight: 27.7 lbs. each
Price: $2395 per pair
Anthony Gallo Acoustics
20841 Prairie Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311