Heco are a company with a history dating back to 1949. Post war Germany needed many things and it’s easy to forget that amongst them were loudspeakers and so the brand was born to meet that demand. They were successful for many decades making large, efficient models, although the company did run into some difficulties through the 80s and 90s and from what I can gather, had been treading water up until four years ago when they were acquired by Magnat, another wellestablished German company who are themselves owned by the large American Audiovox Corporation. The Magnat product manager is a devotee of vintage audio and a big fan of EMT turntables, Klangfilm drivers, as well as those made by companies like Telefunken, Saba and Graetz. He shares these interests with Guy Sergeant, manufacturer of the Pure Sound amplifiers, and now UK importer of the Heco brand. Saba drivers in particular have become something of a cult amongst a certain breed of German audiophile over recent years and their “green cones” are highly coveted. When utilised in an open baffle, resonant cabinet configuration they have a particularly beguiling way with the mid-band, or so I am told.
With the considerable resources of Magnat behind them Heco researched the cone materials used in these drivers and has incorporated them into the new range of Heco speakers. They use Kraft paper cones, incorporating long-fibre pulp from exclusively Nordic sources and mixing this with 10% wool for damping purposes. These are in turn built into very smartly finished cast-alloy chassis.
The Celan 500 is a two and a half–way design, the upper 170mm driver reproducing bass and mid, the lower (same-sized but mechanically different) unit for handling lowfrequencies. Between these is fitted a fairly conventional soft-dome tweeter, utilising the increasingly common nano-particle technique to enhance mechanical stability and delay dome break-up. Have a look around the back of the cabinet and you will see two large reflex ports made of cast metal rather than the usual cardboard tube or plastic moulding you might expect to find on a speaker of such moderate cost. The cabinet is a smart asymmetric design; made of selected MDF, and the review pair came in a very nice dark silver metallic finish that, along with the cabinet shape, detracts from their bulk once you are sitting in front of them. Efficiency is good at 91dB and the whole speaker exudes an air of quality that makes its price even more surprising. Rear terminals are impressively chunky WBT-types, with an extra pair of connections offering a 2dB treble boost, should you feel the need for it, which I did. They also come with a set of rounded spikes and floor protectors and another set of rubber tipped versions. I much preferred the former on my wooden floor.
Those large port throats suggested to me that this speaker might not like being located too close to a rear wall. They almost seem to suggest that this design might be about squeezing as much bass from the cabinet as possible. But I was wrong about that, a fact that became very obvious as soon as I settled back for some music. I started with the Hecos hooked up to their putative “partner” the Pure Sound A30 amplifier, a combination that first persuaded Guy Sergeant to import them. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I could barely believe the sound that flowed through the room. Far from being heavily bass-biased, here was a presentation of such impeccable tonal balance that I could not help but be impressed. At first the sound seemed a little soft and it is true that the tweeter is not overtly detailed or particularly extended, but it is very accomplished nevertheless. That might seem like damning with faint praise, but when I think of all the otherwise good designs that I have heard, hopelessly compromised by their raucous, poorly behaved tweeters, you start to realise just how cleverly this unit has been incorporated into the overall design.
When I later switched over to the Creek Destiny amplifier I found that the high frequency performance did became more articulate and eloquent, but the strength of the Pure Sound with the Celan 500 is its tremendous top to bottom integration and natural presentation, which the Creek never managed so convincingly. With the A30 you get the impression that the music is all coming from the same place with no sense of reconstructed high fidelity artifice getting in the way. In many ways it is one of the least “hi-fi” presentations you will hear. The soundstage is not characterised by instrumental separation, finely etched detail or a sense of left and right channels meeting somewhere in the middle. There is a wholesome coherence to the way the music is presented, almost like one great mono mix and I mean this is the most positive sense.