Despite the decades of planning, experimentation, modification and polishing, the end product is a very simple speaker. That’s no criticism, it’s fact, and it’s one of the reasons this speaker is as impressive as it is.
Apart from the oak cabinet we have a drive cone, internal wiring to the binding posts, damping within the cabinet and… oh, that’s it! That is the entire lists of components in this speaker. This means there is a much simpler and more direct signal path and I can tell you now, this has a profound effect on the sonic characteristics of the Sibelius SG. They have even stuck the binding posts a bit higher to shorten the internal cable length.
I have never been particularly blown away by single driver speakers at their proposed price tags if I’m honest. I’ve found that they can be potentially a bit thinner, ‘shouty’ and sometimes lacking inexcusably in at least one area in the frequency spectrum when compared to what else is available for similar money. Coherency and imagery are often strong points though, and I was pretty keen to get hold of a single driver in my own environment to have a play, with an open mind of course!
Before I talk in more detail about the SQ I want to make it clear that the room makes a real difference, a massive open room will not be best suited to these speakers, I know it’s a bit of a given, but it needs to be clear.
Right, down to it then!
The best thing I can begin by saying is that these are special, I have done my best to really drag this review process out, just like I did with the Albedo silver cables and thankfully they have been living in my system together very happily for a couple of months now. The amplification used for the majority of this review has been from CAAS with their reference Elysian mono-blocks which are being reviewed very shortly.
It’s entirely my place to say that the Sibelius don’t really impart their own signature, nothing is coloured, smeared or exaggerated, and the sound is as honest as you could want. This is arguably the highest compliment you can pay a speaker, but to realise this is actually a huge positive, you have to have the electronics that are up to the job.
One thing that is absolutely vital, even more so than usual, is that the amplifiers really need to be good. They recommend high quality SET’s but agree that top solid states are also a good pairing. The Sibelius SG is SO transparent, considerably more so than the Audioplan Kontrast, a similarly priced two way loudspeaker that I really loved. Seriously though, no component is safe when these are your instrument of choice! This transparency is down to a combination of the fact there is so few components in the speaker to affect the signal and it’s also a true testament to the quality of these custom tuned drivers!
With the transparency comes the quality that impresses me the most with these and that’s the detail in the mid-range; every subtlety is brilliantly conveyed and with tremendous finesse. I had thought that potentially a single cone handling all frequencies would mean a reduction in detail and maybe a little bit messy when things get complicated but this couldn’t be further from it. Less busy tracks such as three piece jazz and more acoustic genres are truly the musical showpiece for the SG’s, the wonderful timbre and detailing bring the emotion and realism into play and it forces you to appreciate how talented these really are.
As well as the transparency and superbly honest detail Pearl acoustics have a loudspeaker that is massively capable of dealing with large and sudden dynamic shifts which means they sound tremendously open and unrestrained, something that makes instrumentals and music with a strong vocal presence really shine. The entire mid-range is wonderfully open and completely exposed with no veil of any kind. The presentation impresses too, which is not uncommon for a single drive unit loudspeaker but still a big pro nonetheless. Imagery is precise and well dispersed with a rather straight forward positioning process, don’t put them too close to walls and don’t sit too close to them. I like a slight toe in, and it really isn’t any more complicated than that! It is really all thanks to the front porting and the fact there is only the one driver to please!
Being a single drive speaker, and not a huge one at that, the bass was never going to be a ground shaking experience. The mid bass is actually very good though, it’s tight and has real depth to it and thankfully, there can be legitimate impact when it’s called upon too. Whether it’s a lightning quick slam or a natural decaying cello, if the amplifiers are up to it, so are these.
My only gripe with the bass is that we don’t have a really deep sub bass presence which I think can help generate the ambience and atmospheric perception that is important to genres like classical and jazz. I do notice it, but it’s something I quickly got used to and in reality, bass reproduction is pretty darn good!
If the Sibelius are well positioned and in a suitable room, they will handle a truly remarkable array of genres with superb results; Sonny and I had a long evening listening session and we were throwing everything from drum demonstrations to big orchestral all the way over to 90’s Hip-Hop even delving into some drum and bass! Now I’m not for a second saying that the Sibelius is as capable and at home with ‘Dub’ as it is with jazz but it was a properly great listen regardless, bass isn’t the limiting factor you may expect it to be. Both of us were almost in disbelief as to just how versatile the speaker is! I still can’t believe it’s just the one cone… It also quashed that myth that super transparent devices can ruin poor recordings, I don’t think so, a capable driver can sound good with any given source!
The top end of the SG follows on beautifully from the mid-range. Sometimes there is a coherency problem with multi drive unit speakers (especially when multiple technologies of drive units are used) but obviously that is no problem here! The transition is truly seamless and it just adds to the realism of the sound, and even though you will take it for granted while listening there is a sure fire way to get your ears to notice it… I swapped in the Audiofilia AF-S4 and straight away, there just wasn’t the perfect harmony throughout the audio spectrum, and to be honest I just thought, why have they opted for two drivers?!
With the Pearl acoustics we continue the trait of great detail and really lovely imagery in the treble, there is a surprising amount of sparkle too considering the single cone. Most importantly though, there is never a slip in control, no screeching distortion or ‘shouty’ bursts, even when you push it. It’s composed yet vibrant and energetic when needed thanks to the superb dynamics that are a defining characteristic of this speaker. Does it match a ribbon or beryllium tweeter for speed and extension? No, but it is superbly natural and wonderfully easy to listen to for long periods.
The Pearlacoustic Sibelius SG’s are superb examples of how a speaker is really a musical instrument, simple as that. Binding ports, cabinet and a top quality cone are the only things here; does it get any purer than that?! The music is forced to do the talking as nothing is added to the sound and other than a slight roll off at the very bottom and very top, nothing is taken away.
Transparency, detail, and dynamics are the three stand-out areas of the Sibelius and that really does sum them up. They are truly brilliant across a grossly unexpected variety of genres and I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed my time with them.
If you are a mainly going to listen to heavy metal or something like dance music, there are better speakers for the job, of course there are, but I’m someone that listens to a range of genres and I can hand on heart say that in this price range they have overtaken the Audioplan Kontrast V as my favourite and these would be my speaker of choice. I certainly didn’t think I would be saying that when this all began! Consequently these are our first floor standers to make it to the Inearspace Pride of Place!
Thanks to Harley and Summer for getting these over to us for review! It’s been a pleasure!