Listening to Missy Elliott’s Under Construction CD [Warner], I was intrigued to hear her introduction. Once again, the Magnepans offer a much bigger soundstage, but the Torres gave her voice more focus and revealed the walls of the studio in which she was speaking more clearly than I had ever heard before. Big speakers tend to offer larger-thanlife instruments. The Torres didn’t. Did it really not matter where I sat while listening to the Torres? Well, I wouldn’t go that far. That’s manufacturer’s hype, which you always have to discount. Still, the speakers unquestionably threw out a larger sweet spot than many loudspeakers I’ve heard.
When it came to a black background and dynamics, the Torres also split the difference. To call their background jetblack would be an exaggeration, but the noise-floor of these speakers was very low. Notes didn’t so much emerge from a black space as hover in the air. The Torres were also not as explosively dynamic as box speakers, but had more drive than planars or electrostats. Part of this was probably due to the relatively small size (and speed) of the drivers, but I’d bet that it was also a result of the fact that they don’t fire directly at the listener.
The Torres are not as well suited for massive orchestral works like Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 as some other speakers. Dynamically, they don’t seem to expand endlessly like the Magnepans, which can almost literally have you jumping out of your seat with bass drum whacks. In playing Missy Elliott, I cut back the volume for fear that the rap music might blow out the drivers. Maybe part of this was that I was using the Torres in a large room. I was also, it must be said, delivering a ton of current into the speakers via the Classé Omega monoblocks, which, according to Classé, will drive almost a dead short. Most owners of the Torres will likely not be using such powerful amplifiers, and they’re not necessary because the speaker is fairly sensitive. The fact that the powered subwoofer is handling low frequencies helps.
The Vecchio sub is downward-firing, which tends to allow a more even distribution of sound through the room. Using the sub is not an option with these loudspeakers. In my view, it is essential. Nevertheless, though the Vecchio is fairly powerful and tight in the bass, it is somewhat lean in the midbass compared to a traditional enclosed speaker. If you’re a headbanger or a bass freak, the Torres are not for you. Rather, I was immediately and most favorably impressed by the refinement of the Torres. These speakers don’t wallop you over the head; they are, as one would expect from an Italian production, seductive.
The drivers blend very well together, though some care must be taken to integrate the subwoofer. The discontinuities that sometimes rear their ugly heads with multi-driver speakers were banished by the Torres. The treble was never strident or shrill, and the midrange possessed a beautiful, translucent quality. The sound was about as good as it gets when it comes to a seamless presentation. This came home to me most clearly on two recordings of chamber works—the Leopold String Trio’s recording of Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor [Hyperion] and members of the Chicago Symphony playing Mozart’s Quintet on Erato. On the former work, the piano isn’t just accompanying the other instruments; it’s also the authoritative driving force from the very first chord. The Torre reproduced it with real heft and weight. On the latter, Dale Clevenger’s French horn—one of the most glorious sounds ever produced—came across burnished and full. The notes were given their full, lingering value as they trailed off, rather than sounding smeared or abruptly terminated. The Torres excelled at capturing the nuances of each note, its timbre and decay, in a manner that was deeply moving. The palette of tonal colors it rendered would be hard to surpass. Were they sumptuous? No. Elegant? Absolutely.
Picking loudspeakers is about as personal a choice as an audiophile can make. They probably contribute more to the sound than any other component. The Torres are not for everyone—but then what loudspeakers are? My own suspicion is that the top-of-the-line, larger and, of course, more expensive 5000 series Cita Ideale, which is only made by custom order, would have mated to my room even better than the Torres. If you have a really big room like mine, the Torres might be a question mark. But as it was, I was most impressed by their sophistication and ease of presentation. I defy anyone not to be drawn into the music the instant they hear the smooth and luminous sound of the Torres. For anyone with a medium-sized room and a hankering for the planar sound without the hassles of requiring a lot of amplifier power, the Campanile Torre 3005 is a must-hear. TAS