Take one look at those bass boxes, each with its pair of 12” drivers and the old volume monster starts to wriggle at the back of your mind. Read the specs and experience their considerable mass and you start mentally rubbing your hands in glee – mentally because it doesn’t do to be seen contemplating the extreme physical abuse of expensive equipment in front of its owner. And yes, the Logos speakers will go loud. In fact, they’ll go VERY loud if you really want them to. But their bass doesn’t really do the gut-churning, trouser-flapping thing. That’s not what it’s about. Instead of rampaging around your listening room it stays firmly in the plane of the music, within the acoustic space, there when it needs to be, loud when it needs to be, LOUD when it needs to be – but otherwise, it’s remarkably unobtrusive, noticeable more for the planted stability it brings to images and the sense of physical acoustic boundaries, than the sort of rumbling, impromptu eruptions so beloved of AV demonstrators. But fear not, reach for This One’s For Blanton or Mina Agossi’s riotous take on ‘Slap That Bass’ and you’ll quickly appreciate the tactile qualities, speed, texture and agility of this bottom end – the way it moves along, setting the pace, clearly defined in pitch and progress. The rapid fingering of a Ray Brown or Eric Jacot, so often smudged or blurred by even the best hi-fi systems, is quick, clear and articulate, full of shape and energy, the work they put on notes, the rhythmic accents and subtle pushes, the way they stretch the tail of this note or chop that one.
Part of the clue lies in the sub settings themselves. Clear of boundary reinforcement, you’ll find that unlike most sub-woofers, which you seem to be constantly turning down, these run at much higher levels and deliver a cleaner signal that integrates more readily and far more meaningfully. Hence my insistence that the Logos set-up be considered a three-way design: It’s not a physical or conceptual thing – more a question of the way it sounds and the balance of virtues and issues it brings to the problem.
Of course, all that clean, uncluttered and coherent bass, matched so seamlessly to the mid and treble, would be useless without the amps to drive it and the source to deliver detail (and make sense of it); which is exactly where the Goldmund system scores. Because each and every link in the chain shares the same concerns and design criteria, there’s a balance of abilities that’s mutually reinforcing – the complete opposite of the mix and match, compensatory approach adopted by so many listeners when it comes to “system matching”. Coherence is the watchword here: conceptual, technological but above all, musical. Really successful musical reproduction relies first and foremost on presenting the performance as a piece, cut from one cloth and it’s here that the Goldmund excels. The binding element here is that sheer speed of response across the system’s bandwidth and the impressive dynamic range that results. This set-up could never be described as warm or cuddly and those who bask in the cozy glow of traditional tube amps will blanch at its self-effacing clarity and unashamed precision. This is the epitome of the ultra transparency, almost hyper reality that many listeners have come to associate with high-end performance. This is one system for whose performance you will never have to explain or apologize to the uninitiated. Its qualities are starkly, almost smack you in the face apparent – never more so than with a live recording; whether it’s the funky, up-beat groove (and incidental noise) on the opening of Art Pepper’s Besame Mucho, or the immediacy and presence, the sudden dynamics and “right there” feel of Jackson Browne’s solo acoustic recordings.
The clarity isn’t just about detail either; it’s about musical purpose too. Comparing the differences between CD and SACD versions of the same recording, the superiority of the high definition format is obvious, be it the Pixies’ Doolittle and the texture and tactile quality of the bass, the way the system sorts out and layers the dense mix, adding clarity and focus without dismantling the driving rhythms and edgy feel, or Reiner’s reading of the New World, the SACD adding transparency, acoustic space, separation and dynamic range. Difference between performances are just as apparent, so that comparing Piatigorsky and Starker in the Dvorak Cello has rarely created a more dramatic contrast, while ushering Queyras into the equation underlines both his lack of power and lyrical sweep in the opening movement, but his poise and total mastery of the second.