In the treble region, Peachtree has continued with the admirable smoothness of the midrange. I would, however, say that the Design 5 tilts the treble balance down a bit in level, with the result that the Design 5 sounds warm rather than bright. That makes the Design 5 a good choice for those who don’t want to be distracted by digital artifacts and grunge, something that is all too common in these post-CD days. This slightly rolled-off treble sound also matches well with the bass balance I’ve described, and is artfully integrated with the upper midrange so that you don’t really notice the treble; it is just “there” as it is in real music.
At the same time, these design choices mean that the Design 5 doesn’t sound overtly transparent or revealing. At times you have the feeling that sound detail is being left on the table. If you aren’t a rabid audiophile you might not notice this consciously, though intuitively you sense that there is—figuratively speaking—a very, very thin layer of “gauze” between you and the sound.
The other deviation from full-on awesomeness is in the soundstaging of the Design 5. Like many small speakers, the Design 5 does a credible job of spreading images between the speakers, And like many other small speakers, the sense of vertical space is somewhat constricted. If you are interested in these speakers, be sure to hear them on appropriately tall stands.
Overall I have to say the Design 5 simply sounds balanced. It isn’t the most exciting or dynamic speaker in the price range, but then again that exciting quality sometimes indicates colorations that seem dramatic at first, but fatiguing later on. As I said, there is no free lunch.
On “Realizando” from Grupo Fantasma’s El Existential [Nat Geo Music], the individual band members are rendered quite clearly, with good separation. The overall presentation is light, but with good pace.
On Gillian Welch’s “Scarlet Town” from The Harrow and The Harvest [Acony], the sound is pleasingly warm, again with both Gillian and Dave Rawlings standing out. Center fill is very good, but the performers seem to play through a window opening at the height of the speakers. The Design 5 gives track an ample measure of detail, yet doesn’t sound strident or strained, something all too easy to have happen on this music.
On the Civil Wars’ “20 Years” from their disc Barton Hollow [Sensibility], the instruments sound smooth, but overall the acoustic sounds slightly closed down. You simply don’t have the sense of the music being played in a spacious acoustic to the degree that you do with some other speakers. You get a similar feeling on Robert McIntee’s “Like Thunder”, which is in more of a rock style, from his Preserving The Error [McEntoons].
Eliza Gilkyson’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” from Roses at the End of Time [Red House] shows off the bass definition of the Design 5 quite nicely. Eliza’s Takamine dreadnought also comes across with warmth and delicacy.
Peachtree’s Design 5 delivers clear, even midrange without stridency or bloat. While not the most dramatic speaker, its lack of foibles lets you focus on the music. It should fit comfortably in most rooms, and integrates visually and sonically with the Peachtree iNova.
Peachtree Design 5 stand-mount/desktop speaker
Type: Two-way, bass reflex compact monitor
Driver Complement: 5” woofer and 1” tweeter
Frequency Response: 50Hz – 20kHz
Sensitivity: 85 dB (1 W input at 1 meter)
Impedance: 6 ohms
Dimensions: 11h x 7.1w x 10.4d
Weight: 15.8 lb.
Warranty: 5 year, parts and labor
Price: $999/pair (Note: If you buy the iNova and Design 5s together, Peachtree will give you a $300 discount on the Design 5s, bringing the total system price to $2499).