What that midrange-primacy does with something like ‘Marietta’ is make you wish you spoke Spanish, makes you want to reach for a Cohiba Exquisitos (and I don’t smoke anymore) and mix up a Cuba Libra with seven-year-old Havana Club (and I don’t drink anymore... than the average rugby club after a big win), then you want to reach for any of those other records made by octogenarian Cubans in the 1990s. In short, that mid-forward-and-first sound of the Australe EZ makes music fun again (which sounds like it should be written on a hat). It’s just so damn enjoyable to listen to music played through the Australe EZ, you want to hear more of it, and that’s always a sure sign of musical goodness.
As is the next big acid test: each recording sounds different and has its optimum level with the Australe EZ. This is how it should be; music recorded in one studio should not sound like music recorded in another, and yet too many systems blur those lines and make everything sound a bit ‘samey’. There simply isn’t the resolution to hear the difference from engineer to engineer, or from studio to studio... but there is here. Also, the difference between a few dB listening levels is not a big one in the case of most loudspeakers, but here every piece of music has its own distinct ‘right’ level. That is a sign of deep resolution.
The Australe EZ sings from the midband on out, and the bass and treble need to give that midband a good underpinning. And they do. OK, so they don’t do ‘big boy dynamics’ in the way a much larger speaker will, but instead they deliver subtle woven texture to the bass (in particular) that makes the speaker so entertaining on most styles of music. The big hitters do better with heavy opera and large orchestral pieces – if you are expecting audiophile Mahler played at thunderstorm levels, you’ll be mistaken, and likewise, if your music is predominantly different versions of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, there are more satisfying loudspeakers available. But for the rest of us – including those who want a spot of Mahler, just not the full catastrophe all the time – will find the Australe EZ’s bass beguiling.
What the Australe EZ does so well is be generous with music. It doesn’t tailor your tastes to suit its performance parameters, primarily because it’s so free of those performance parameters. Instead, it’s like sharing your music with someone infinitely passionate in all things musical. You two are on a musical journey of discovery, and it will be entertaining.
As to the back-firing tweeter, it works very well, but perhaps not in the way you might expect. It seems to expand the soundstage (which you would expect), but does it from the bass on up (which you wouldn’t). It makes the soundstage seem that bit fuller and richer, and more dimensional (of course) but it also makes the sound project into the room more... not in an aggressive way, but just as you want the Australe EZ to sound. It’s easy to check – put a piece of thick piece of card over the rear tweeter and hear the difference. It’s not subtle.
A modern loudspeaker needs to be good when the sound is good and when it is bad because a lot of modern recordings leave a lot to be desired. The Australe EZ does this exceptionally well, coping with the compression of modern music as well as it does with the open dynamics of outstanding recordings. It doesn’t make compressed recordings any easier on the ear; Metallica’s Death Magnetic[Vertigo] really hasn’t got any nicer over the intervening decade, and the Australe EZ doesn’t hide the pain, but it makes it slightly less aggressively thin. However, well recorded music – such as Buddy Guy’s Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues[Silvertone] – is performed with sparkle and energy, just like it did the first time I heard it 27 years ago.