Revolutionary Looks and Sound
October 1st, 2009 -- by Chris Martens
Home Theater/Multichannel Audio
TV / Displays
Consider this system if: you want a visually compact surround speaker system that in every practical way behaves like a much larger system—in terms of producing a big, dynamically expressive, full-bodied sound. Consider this system, too, if you’re drawn to the sound of high-end surround systems with five-figure price tags, but need or want to stay at a lower (just slightly sub-$7k) price point. Most importantly, choose this system for the sheer quality of its sound, which is smooth and neutral yet richly detailed and deeply involving.
Look further if: you can’t make peace with Gallo’s industrial design motifs; some will embrace the look (and obviously high build quality) of the Reference Strada system, while others will find it a bit too futuristic for their tastes. Also, be aware that while the system can be driven satisfactorily by pretty modest electronics, it really needs (and we think deserves) very high quality (and fairly high-powered) amplification in order to give of its best.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced surround speaker systems)
- Transparency and Focus: 10
- Imaging and Soundstaging: 10
- Tonal Balance: 9
- Dynamics: 9
- Bass Extension: 9
- Bass Pitch Definition: 10
- Bass Dynamics: 9
- Value: 10
I’ve discussed at least some of the key features of the Reference Strada system above, but let me provide a brief bullet-point summary, below:
Reference Strada highlights:
- Solid die-cast aluminum chassis are extremely sturdy.
- Spun stainless steel, semi-spherical mid-bass driver housings are exceptionally rigid and help foster effortless imaging and 3D soundstaging.
- Stradas are offered in two-tone black/stainless steel or all matte black finishes.
- High-quality carbon fiber diaphragm-equipped mid-bass drivers presented in a D’Appolito-type array with Gallo’s CDT3 tweeter. The mid-bass drivers are allowed to operate full range, and thus require no crossover components.
- CDT 3 is a third-generation design that sounds more open and transparent than ever before. As in previous Gallo designs, the CDT-type tweeter offers remarkably broad, 180-degree horizontal dispersion.
- Interestingly, the CDT 3 driver surface is made out of a semi-cylindrically-shaped sheet of a piezoelectric material called Kynar that not only expands and contracts when driven by an audio signal, but that—take note—also allows the tweeter to serve as its own crossover network.
- No external crossover components are needed or used in the Reference Strada.
- Enclosures are loaded with Gallo’s proprietary S2 damping materials, which have the effect of making the speakers’ compact cabinets perform as if they were larger than, in fact, they really are.
- Gallo’s OPT systems is said to give the Reference Stradas a significant more open, transparent, and high-impact sound than previous Reference-series designs.
- Reference Strada promises in-room frequency response of 45Hz – 20kHz +/- 3db if speakers are placed within 1 foot of an adjacent wall surface (but offers somewhat less bass extension if pulled further out into the room).
- Gallo offers both tabletop and floor stands, plus available wall-mount brackets, for the Reference Strada system. The metal stands are extremely well made and highly recommended.
- Uses the same 10-inch, long-throw, ceramic-enhanced aluminum woofer that will be used in Gallo’s upcoming Reference 3.5 floorstanding loudspeaker.
- Uses the same beefy, all-metal cylindrical woofer enclosure pioneered in Gallo’s earlier TR-1 subwoofers.
- 300-watt high-current Class A/B amplifier.
- Extensive bass filter and EQ controls.
- Offered in matte black or platinum gray finishes.
- Promises solid output down to 22Hz.
The Reference Strada system offers a beautifully balanced combination of four qualities that, in my experience, don’t always mesh as harmoniously as they do here. The four qualities are openness/transparency, high resolution/definition, expressive (and at times explosive) dynamics, and smooth/neutrally balanced voicing. Let’s take a closer look at each of these qualities in turn.