The way the loudspeaker shows you the inner harmonies within the music is instructive too. As with timbre, pitch information is also exquisitely resolved; the music is just that little bit more fully-formed because the harmonies reveal themselves so limpidly. The F702 isn’t about bombarding the listener with impressive but ultimately meaningless detail either, everything in the music has its place and part to play — the F702s show you why, and throw in the quality of the musicianship for good measure. Coherence is critical here, and the top-to-bottom integration of the drivers is well sorted; there is no cause for concern about any disconnect or disjointedness between the frequency ranges. The detail is meaningless without context, and in this case, the context is the timing: unless the detail is delivered coherently, in a way which immediately locks it into place within the music, then it would be better if it weren’t there at all.
The speakers were in my system during the 50th-anniversary commemorations of the moon landings, so I dug out my copy of Brian Eno’s Apollo [Virgin] and had my little private celebration. Ambient music is sometimes a tricky reviewer’s tool, all that vagueness being a wee bit unhelpful, so I wasn’t expecting to get much by way of insight into the speakers; I was planning to wallow in Eno’s lush and evocative textures. However, the Fynes lit up the beautiful harmonic structures within those shimmering soundscapes, the bass and mid-bass tunefulness being a particular source of surprise and delight. Also, ‘Deep blue day’ has some compelling but understated work by the rhythm guitars; the Fynes found it and made sense of it where lesser speakers blend it in.
Time and again, they rewarded me with new insights into familiar music. Dhafer Youssef treads a line between jazz and world music and ‘Miel et ciendres’ from Divine Shadows [Jazzland] is an example where I usually wish the jazzman had come to the fore. The piece starts subtly, building and raising the energy to a critical point, then gently fades back from whence it came. I usually find myself slightly disappointed, because it starts to fade just at the point where the likes of EST would have stepped up a gear and taken us on a rollicking ride. This time, though, the trajectory of the piece felt so natural there was no sense of anti-climax at all. Graham Fitkin’s Kaplan [Black Box] is a dive into electronic music and initially feels somewhat different to much of his complex, rhythm-driven work. At 15 minutes long, ‘K1’ pays off in the last climactic few minutes, but the build has often felt a little diffuse and formless. Not through the F702s, though, which brought out the inner rhythmic structure and rendered the whole thing compelling and propulsive. Now all the subtle rhythmic changes fit so well and made much more sense of the whole recording.
Pulling out my copy of the Tord Gustavsen Trio’s first album, The Ground [ECM], I found ‘Tears Transforming’ is full of his trademark subtlety, but through the F702s the degree of interplay, the way thematic and rhythmic fragments passed between the musicians, was shown in ways I’d either totally forgotten or, more likely, never consciously appreciated before. Energy and detail on a micro- and a macro-scale is very much the F702’s forté (and piano), from small inflexions and gestures to large scale grandiosity, or merely pinning you in your seat (thanks, Return to Forever). All is achieved with considerable aplomb - you perceive the results, but don’t notice the work.
That goes, too, for large scale orchestral works, for which Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances surely measures up. In this case, Vasily Petrenko’s account, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic [AVIE], and in particular the ‘Non allegro’ first movement. The scale and weight of the musical forces in play was never in doubt, nor the size of the acoustic space offered by Liverpool’s iconic Philharmonic Hall. However, despite that, there was a clear dance-like quality to many sections, particularly in the way the upper strings tripped along over the solid brass, percussion, and woodwind underpinnings. By contrast, Brahms’ German Requiem and the London Symphony Orchestra under Previn [LSO Live], felt almost intimate; the orchestra and choir occupied their own definite spaces, but spaces somehow smaller than I’d expected. Having reflected on this, I’ve concluded that the sense of intimacy was more about the ambience; in a live performance there is that sense of shared space, even in a large hall, and here it was possible to feel oneself closer to the event.