The Z-92 and Z-62 speakers take big steps forward from the original Z-models in several key areas. First, their new midrange drivers give middle frequencies the same fast, transparent, wide-open sound that made BG Radia’s planar ribbon tweeter famous. This means that transient sounds—drumsticks striking cymbals, guitar picks passing over strings, etc.—burst into life with compelling, realistic immediacy.
Second, the speed and resolution gap I previously heard between the woofer and tweeter in the original Z-models has now mostly been bridged. This is partly because the new midrange panel fills that gap, but also because the Z-92/Z-62 woofers, which have significantly improved motors, have also gotten better, delivering a more refined, nuanced sound. The result is a speaker where driver voices blend more smoothly than before—with better integration than in many other hybrid speakers I’ve heard.
While the Z-92/Z-62 speakers sound somewhat bright straight out of the carton, they smooth out nicely after about 50 hours of playing time. Once broken in, they exhibit generally neutral tonal balance, though with faint, occasional hints of upper midrange/lower treble emphasis—characteristics some listeners think enhances clarity, but that tug at your ears to disrupt 3D imaging just a bit.
But the best part of these speakers, by far, is their midrange, which is smooth, evenly balanced, and full of detail and nuance. Bass is rich and very well weighted, but perhaps just a bit under-damped so that low notes—the deep throb and growl of a vigorously plucked acoustic bass, for example—exhibit more bloom than is, strictly speaking, realistic. This partly has to do with the bass performance of the Z-92/Z-62 speakers themselves, but also with the sound of the 210i sub. The 210i goes low and is powerful, but for its price, I wish it delivered a more taut and defined sound (which BG Radia’s flagship BGX-4850 in-wall sub does, by the way).
Dynamic prowess is a major strength of the entire BG Radia system—one that differentiates it from many others in its class. There’s an old adage that says you can get sonic subtlety or robust dynamics in a speaker system, but probably not both at once. But with this BG Radia rig, you can. The Z-92/Z-62/210i combo sails happily through large-scale sound effects and musical crescendos at volume levels that would make many systems beg for mercy—a quality that I and that many guest listeners found thoroughly thrilling.
An important hint: The Z-92/Z-62 system sounds very good without any EQ at all, but if you want to hear this system taken to the next level, try using it with electronics that feature the Audyssey MultEQ room/speaker equalization system; the synergy is breathtaking. Because the Z-92/Z-62 speakers are quite good to begin with, the changes you’ll hear might at first seem small, but their overall effect is not. With Audyssey EQ in play, the speakers’ slight upper midrange forwardness goes away and the bass tightens up and becomes better defined—all without losing any transparency or dynamic clout. The net result is that this already very good speaker system becomes even better, with smoother sound overall and surround imaging that’s more pefectly seamless.
One film whose soundtrack shows off a plethora of the system’s strengths is Clint Eastwood’s brilliant Letters from Iwo Jima (see Jon Valin’s “Best Film’s of the New Millenium” for a capsule review of this movie). Few films offer more striking contrasts between heartbreakingly quiet, soul-searching moments and gargantuan battle scenes—a spectrum the BG Radia system handles with authority and poise. In the conversation where Saigo argues with Shimizu that the Emperor is better served by soldiers who live to fight rather than by those who commit suicide, for example, the BGs let you hear and feel the desperate, persuasive edge in Saigo’s voice. Yet in larger scale scenes, such as the one where a machine gun emplacement takes a direct hit, the system can reproduce shock waves so violent that they smack listeners in the chest, pinning them to their seats.