Vienna Acoustics The Music floorstanding loudspeaker

A modern masterpiece revisited

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Vienna Acoustics The Music

Caveats? Vienna quotes a sensitivity of 91dB for The Music, which combined with a 4 Ohm load, a -3dB point as low as 22Hz, and the lack of leading edge exaggeration from the drivers means that you’ll be looking for a powerful partnering amp. A couple of hundred solid-state watts – or a very good 100 plus watts from a tube amp – should be considered a working minimum. I used big VTL amps (Siegfried monos or the S400) that worked brilliantly – and indicate just how far you can take this speaker – but at the other end of the price scale I suspect quantity is more important than absolute quality. You’ll also need a reasonably-sized room: maybe not as big as you’d think given the speaker’s size and bandwidth, but the more space you can give them the better. On a practical level, unweight the spikes when adjusting them and lock them in place when you have. It will stop them binding over time. Beyond that, if you aren’t getting stellar performance from these speakers, and a performance that puts your music and the musicians making it right there in front of you, then look at the set up and the driving system... because that’s what The Music should do – and it should do it just about anywhere.

What The Music’s adjustments allow you to achieve is the best possible balance of bandwidth and overall integration from the combination of this speaker and your room. Now add in the common driver material used across the bass and midrange characterized by its rich, natural tonality and the total absence of edge or glare, its careful matching to the beautifully balanced silk dome tweeter, and the air, harmonics, and temporal precision delivered by the super-tweeter and you have a performance that is at once big and powerful, engaging, and rewarding. It’s quite a show: It’s also one that’s able to run and run. This is a speaker that positively rewards long-term listening – another key indicator of its quality. Often, listening fatigue is laid at the door of gross aberrations: intrusive coloration, hardness, or some form of edginess. The Music banishes all those, with its even, natural tonality. But it is this speaker’s coherence that helps lift it above the norm. All that effort you expended on optimising the in-room bass response and system integration results in a soundstage that has scale and volume, that’s populated by clearly placed, naturally proportioned and dimensioned images. That natural perspective is matched by dynamic and harmonic coherence that tracks musical energy across the entire bandwidth. In short, everything in the recording has a place and it’s easy to hear both what each musician is doing and exactly when they’re doing it. That might seem like the obvious goal for any loudspeaker, but it’s remarkable how many miss that target – and how hard your brain has to work in making up the shortfall…

Play the Karajan/Price Carmen, and Carmen’s advance on Don José has never been so stately – or laden with such latent threat. The off-stage location of the string quartet mirroring the structure of the main score in the Barbirolli/Sinfonia Tallis Fantasia makes perfect sense, sonically and musically, while Pete Thomas’s drum patterns on Elvis Costello’s ‘Little Triggers’ [This Year’s Model, MoFi LP] have an almost physical weight, power, and impact. There’s scale and purpose in the performance, but also subtlety and delicacy too. The Wilson Sasha 2 has set the standard for acoustic and dynamic coherence – a standard that The Music matches but to which it adds bandwidth at both ends of the range. Few speakers in my experience match the instrumental texture delivered by The Music – and all of those are considerably more expensive. It’s a quality that brings immediacy and recognisable character to performances, fleshing out string bass where so many systems make it sound thick and thuddy, bringing the proper, breathy feel to saxophone or woodwind.

‘Feel’ might be a strange word to describe music, but it is a vital aspect of live performance, of being in the presence of real instruments – and of reproducing that impression. Working at its best and fed from a serious source, The Music has an uncanny ability to put performers in the room, to mimic the sense of musical energy coming off of instruments and a stage. It’s to do with their bandwidth, the innate accuracy of their harmonic structures, their dimensionality, and their overall coherence. But lest you think that this only applies to classical or acoustic jazz, The Music will put the performers in your room, whoever they are. Just play Nirvana Unplugged [DGC]: if you ever wondered why Kurt Cobain captured the hearts and minds of a generation, The Music will tell you.

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