Presenting a pair of floorstanding speakers replete in a sumptuous wood finish, Paul Rigby reviews the high-end Poison 8 speakers
I could…I could make an illusion to the name of these Serbian, 4-way speakers and the fact that they arrived in wooden coffins (well crates, but as good as) but I won’t. Instead, I’ll skip to their emergence and their inherent beauty. The walnut and leather finish is…just…beautiful. It really is. You could grab a chair, coffee and choccie biccie, sit in front of these things, no music, just the speakers and just stare for a few hours.
The images here bear no relation to the effect they have in real life. Floorstanding, yes, but not too high (1,102mm), pretty darned thin when viewed head on (153mm), they roam backwards quite a way (390mm) and they look good enough to eat. All that wood makes them heavy, though at 30kg a pop. So watch your hernia.
Many of you will just despair at the above. Not another thin speaker, eh? Well, as others have done when utilising this inherently lifestyle-oriented design option, a larger bass bin has been inserted into the side area (Beyma, in this case, with a bass port underneath). It’s a 203mm bass unit. Front on, all you get to see is the Fountek midrange driver and ribbon tweeter. Inside is a Mundorf-based crossover and on the rear is a tweeter. You’ll also find a 3D switch to enhance sound dispersion plus the WBT terminals.
Speaker outriggers stop the thing falling over.
In terms of positioning, I would move the Poison 8 pairing away from the wall to give them room to manoeuvre and I wouldn’t point the tweeters at the ear. They can beam a little at you in that position. I would point the speakers down the room and then toe them in gradually until you find that sweet spot of midrange detail without any intrusive edge. The Poison 8s are not the most neutral speakers I’ve ever heard in my life. They’re not overly bright but they like to push the upper mids as far as possible to accentuate this part of the spectrum.
I began the review by playing an original vinyl cut of Richie Havens’ Something Else Again on Verve and the track, From the Prison. This is quite a sparse track featuring Havens’ textured voice but passionate acoustic guitar playing with often aggressive strumming effects. Anyone who has seen the classic, original Woodstock film will have seen Havens at the beginning of the actual concert.
The Poison 8s structured the soundstage in an intriguing manner. The mids have an intriguing, slightly deep-set effect that pushes the Havens’ vocal backwards along the stereo image, giving the soundstage depth but also immersing the vocal in a bubble of atmospheric yet relatively subtle vocal reverb. This gave the ‘man in the studio’ feel to the track. His voice had a slight upper midrange hardening but nothing too problematic. The Poison 8s seemed to push the upper mids hard to extract as much information from this area as possible.
The acoustic guitar was positioned slightly forward of the vocal. It offered plenty of detail. Part of the guitar rendition includes the regulation Havens aggressive strum and the Poison 8 speakers successfully delivered that harsh bite when Havens almost leant into the strum itself, adding power to the effect. Other parts of the song had individual strings, slowly and firmly plucked, adding a real bounce to the string effect. The Poison 8s were able to respond well to the thump effect of the string.
The Poison 8s seemed determined to present bass to the ear even when there was little to offer. In this case, that meant focusing on Havens’ foot stomping on the ground. There it was, present and correct, adding a weird sort of tonal balance to the mix.
I then moved to Jazz from Queen and Dead on Time, a high octane track. This track is a rather lively master with slightly harsh upper mid frequencies and, because the Poison 8 speakers accentuate this area a tad, the effect was highlighted.
Bass was strong here, with powerful sub bass and a firm lower frequency foundation. That bass never swamped the soundstage, though. It was present but never dominated to any great extent.
I returned to the Havens track but, this time, flicked the 3D switch on the rear of the speakers. This effect widened the dispersion of the speaker’s frequencies. It reminded me of those extra EQ options you often find on headphone amplifiers. It’s useful if you’re not sitting still. If you’re working around the room, on the move, then this option is useful because you never really lose the sweet spot – mainly because the sweet spot is never really there with 3D switch on. For serious listening, though, I turned this feature off. It’s not for audiophile listening, it’s a gimmick.
I then brought in my McIntosh CD player and played Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence. That slight midrange hardening remained here but was never a great issue while the space around the soundstage gave the music a grand and epic feel. The pushing of the mids did reveal a host of information from subtle synth runs to minor percussive effects. There was plenty of information available for the ear to focus upon. Bass, meanwhile, was forceful, massy and weighty in its approach giving the track an impressive forward momentum.
Delivering music with a midrange edge, the Poison 8 speakers offer a honed series of upper frequencies. They also look the part and do a good job of trying to be demur while delivering a punch. They deliver music to the ears on a pedestal or – more aptly – a big stage. You really feel that you’re in the audience for quite a show. To that end, the speakers present you with a real sense of grandeur.
AURIS AUDIO POISON 8 SPEAKERS Price: £8,561 Tel: 01334 570 666 Website www.eliteaudiouk.com
GOOD: aesthetics, bass response, detail, broad soundstage
BAD: slight midrange stridency
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