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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 3
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soliloquy

6.3 loudspeakers

as reviewed by Francisco Duran, Carol Clark, Dave Clark, and Victor Chavira

 

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(this review ran in the 2001 Issue 13 of audioMUSINGS)

 

 

 

FRANCISCO DURAN'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
ProAc Response 2 with Osiris 24" stands.

ELECTRONICS
Monarchy SM-70 (ran as monoblocks), Antique Sound Labs MG-SPM25DT monoblocks, Canary CA-301Mk-II amplifier, and Reference Line Preeminence lA passive and Canary CA-601Mk-II preamplifiers.

SOURCE
NAD T531 and Antique Electronic Supply CD-1 (temporary) CD players, and a Taddeo Digital Antidote Two.

CABLES
Superconductor+ and FX interconnects, a double run of JPS Ultraconductor speaker cables, and Monarchy and various DIY AC cords.

ACCESSORIES
Balanced Power Technologies BPT 4SE, Brick Wall Series Mode Surge Suppressor, Audio Prisim Quiet Lines and Noise Sniffer, Vibrapods, Black Diamond Racing Boards and cones, Final Labs Daruma-3II Isolation Bearings, various ferrite rings, Target rack, Yamaha KX-380 cassette deck, custom made wooden cable lifters by Mr. Clark senior, and all the NOS tubes I can afford!

 

one.jpg (6551 bytes)The Soliloquy 6.3 floor-standing loudspeakers came to us after their 5.0 stand-mounted monitors made quite a splash. I'll say one thing for Soliloquy's line of speakers: they're extremely well built. From the beautiful finish to the heavy cabinets (and I mean heavy-they weigh in at over 100 pounds!) to the mounting of all hardware, the build quality is flawless. This goes a long way if you intend to live with a speaker for a while. With two 6.5-inch woofers and a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, the 6.3s have a sensitivity of 90dB. Due to room restrictions, I pretty much have to set up all speakers in the same place. I do have some forward, rear, and lateral space to play with, but it's not a ballroom in here. The 6.3s were placed 3 1/2 feet from the rear wall and 2 feet from the right wall. The left side of my room is open, and this is where I ran into a little bit of trouble. The 6.3s need a larger room than mine to perform their best, at least in the bass. The 6.3s are capable of some real bass output. When I played the Clear and Present Danger and Emerald Forest soundtracks, I got full, deep, hit-you-in-the-chest bass. There was texture and a nice tone to bass instruments, whether acoustic or electric. The third Stereophile Test Disc helped me get an indication of the 6.3s' bass output. The 6.3s had pretty good output at 25 cycles and very strong output at 31. I use Echo Buster Bass Traps to tighten up the lower registers in my room, and they did help give more definition to the low notes. Nevertheless, I found that the bass of the 6.3s leaned more to the full and robust than to the tight and defined.

It was my Pharoah Sanders disc, Save Our Children, that really showcased what the 6.3s could do. With a whirling array of sitars, saxophones, and congas in space, I was transported to a place somewhere inside the album cover. The sound was very spacious and three-dimensional, with a very deep soundstage. Stravinsky's Firebird on Reference Recordings also had a similar effect. The orchestra was spread across my room. On an Archiv Production CD of J.S. Bach Concertos, all the instruments were firmly in place on the stage. For the fun of it I played the Star Wars Episode One Soundtrack, and on track 15 the voices were way back and the speakers all but disappeared. The tone and timbre of the voice was very natural. The vocals and choruses on my Best of War disc were distinct yet whole, with no colorations or glare. The midrange and and lower treble areas sound smooth yet detailed. Instruments have natural timbre. What really brought the sound of the 6.3s to light was switching back to my ProAc Response Twos for a quick A/B. My speakers are clear and clean and emphasize the presence area. They have a slight "glowish" coloration in the upper mids and treble, along with a little brightness. Let's just say that it's hard to listen to a bad recording with my speakers. This was not true of the 6.3s. On the soundtrack From Dust Till Dawn, Jimmie Vaughn's guitar and vocals on "Dengue Woman Blues" have a slight zing to them through the ProAcs. This track definitely sounded smoother and rounder on the 6.3s, and it didn't have that "glowish" coloration. There was no loss of detail despite the smoothness. When I put on Taj Mahal's An Evening of Acoustic Music, a live recording, the 6.3s rendered the vocals with texture and detail.

The Soliloquy 6.3 loudspeakers can bring a lot of music into your home. They have a neutral and detailed midrange and a smooth top end. Their bass performance is very robust. A solid state amp will probably work best. The 6.3s also need a big room. Don't expect to shoehorn them into a corner and not hear them complain. Treat them right, though, and you will be rewarded with a full spectrum of music. Francisco Duran

 

 

 

DAVE and CAROL CLARK'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Reimer Tetons.

ELECTRONICS
Clayton Audio M70 monoblock amplifiers. E.A.R. 834P phono stage. Blue Circle BC3 preamp w/Amperex BB tubes, and BCG3.1 power supply.
Taddeo Digital Antidote Two.

SOURCES
EAD T1000 transport and EVS Millenium 1B DAC with Audient Technologies’ Tactic and Audit, JPS or Nordost Moonglo digital cable. Assemblege D2D-1 upsampler. Linn Axiss turntable with K9 cartridge and Basik Plus arm.

CABLES
JPS, Nordost Blue Heaven and SPM interconnectsJPS NC, Nordost SPM, or Hovland Nine Line bi-wired speaker cables. Sahuaro, Blue Circle, Custom House, and Clayton Audio AC cables.

ACCESSORIES
Homebrewed ac conditioner for sources and the Coherent Systems Electraclear EAU-1 parallel conditioner. Dedicated 15 amp ac circuit for sources and 20 amp ac circuit for amplifiers. Mondo racks, BDR cones and board, DH cones, Vibrapods, various hard woods, etc. And a bottle of Rancho Sisquoc Merlot.

 

two.jpg (6646 bytes)I cut the funniest cartoon out of the paper the other day, a Drabble strip that showed the father sitting on the couch watching television. In the background, you could see that the phone was ringing. Pretty soon, the mother walks by and asks him if he's going to answer the phone. His response is "I don't want to talk to anyone who doesn't know that I'm watching wrestling." Well folks, that could be me! I devote five hours a week to watching the World Wrestling Federation, so drawing comparisons between wrestling and my everyday life has become second nature. With that in mind, let me draw a few comparisons between my Reimer speakers and the Soliloquy 6.3s.

My favorite wrestler is Chris Jericho, a.k.a.. Y2J. He is well muscled, light on his feet, and has incredible agility. He is an absolute joy to watch. I could fill the rest of this article trying to tell you how great I think he looks. There are several wrestlers I would just as soon not watch. One in particular is called The Big Show. He is over seven feet tall and weighs more than five hundred pounds. He doesn't move about the ring, he lumbers. He has muscles, but they lack definition. He does not have the finesse or agility of Y2J. When The Big Show comes on the screen, I feel like changing the channel. My Riemer Tetons are a lot like Y2J: quick, agile, with well-toned muscles. Listening to music through them is a joy. The Soliloquy 6.3s, on the other hand, were a lot like The Big Show: lumbering and lacking in definition. They lacked speed, agility, and finesse.

Ordinarily I am attracted to bass. Most of the music I enjoy is bass-heavy. The Tetons produce just the right amount, and the bass they produce is pleasing to listen to. The Soliloquys, on the other hand, produce loud, thumping bass. The first song I listened to through the 6.3s, a piece by The Experiment, was not a bass-heavy song, but the thumping was definitely noticeable. I tried different types of music, and the result was the same. A review of mine would not be complete without listening to some Nine Inch Nails I have been listening a lot to their latest CD, The Fragile. This CD is a bit beefier in the bass than The Experiment, and with the 6.3s it was overpowering. Finally, I reverted to one of my favorite Dead Can Dance songs, "Don't Fade Away," which features Brendan Perry accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. With this track, which has no bass, I was able to listen to the overall performance of the speakers. The soundstage was quite adequate, with good width and depth. Imaging was nice as well. However, the moment I put on music that had bass, the fatigue set in again.

For a while, I really enjoyed these speakers. I sat with my eyes closed and pretended I was in a dance club. In the final analysis, though, these are not speakers I would want to own. A dance club is a nice place to visit, but most of us would not want a dance club in the living room. Of course, it did occur to me that system matching might be an issue. Maybe my amps were too powerful. Maybe the speakers would sound better with a different preamp. Or maybe there was an issue with the room. Perhaps these speakers would like a larger room, or more room treatment. In any case, my current setup would not allow for any changes. This does tie back circuitously to wrestling. Watching The Big Show wrestle for the first time is a novelty. He is so large, you find yourself drawn to him. On the other hand, once you have watched Chris Jericho wrestle, there's no turning back.

I once watched a wrestling match between Y2J and The Big Show. Y2J launched himself at Big Show repeatedly, seeming without effect. It was like watching a child play with a doll, but guess who won the match? Y2J. Why? Because when all was said and done, he had the quickness and skill required to wear the big man down. There are plenty of wrestling fans who love to watch The Big Show. For them, his sheer size is more than a novelty. There are probably people who would love the boomy bass offered by the Soliloquy 6.3s. Give me Y2J any day, er, I mean the Reimer Tetons. Carol Clark

 

three.jpg (8484 bytes)The Soliloquy 6.3 loudspeakers may just be your ticket, or they may not. It depends on what you are after. I am not sure what I should or should not say about them. I have met and talked to the Soliloquy people at several C.E.S. shows, and they are great people. I like them, and I wanted to like their speakers, but try as I might, I couldn't warm up to the sound of the 6.3s. Designed by Phil Jones, from the long-gone company Platinum Loudspeakers, the 6.3s will offer you the most bass you can get from two small woofers in a smallish floor-standing cabinet.

They will rattle the room with deep and powerful bass, with all the slam and dynamics you could possibly want, perhaps without the force and grace of our Reimer Tetons, but we are comparing two very different sets of bass drivers-two 6.5-inch woofers in a ported cabinet versus four 8.75-inch woofers in dual isobaric chambers. The 6.3s give the Tetons a run for their money bass-wise, but that is their greatest fault. The 6.3s suffer from the upper bass through the upper midrange. They just don't have it, or if they do, it is being obscured by all that bass energy. The 6.3s have no presence, no clarity, no musical essence to draw you in. The presence area is just too shelved down in the mix to make it possible to hear what is in the music. Vocals and any other instruments in these frequency bands are sorely missing in sparkle and energy. It is like walking into a very dimly lit room and trying to see where the furniture is. With the 6.3s, I know where the music should be, but it is hard to find. A system incompatibility? Perhaps. This is why it is aM's policy to use multiple reviewers. This approach is not only beneficial to the reader, but to the manufacturer as well. If I have the wrong gear, or am an idiot in setting up speakers, Soliloquy is screwed. The former may be true, but not the latter. I placed the 6.3s as far into the room and away from the side walls as possible, and faced them every which way I could with respect to the listener. I changed cable, from the JPS Superconductor 2 interconnects and NC speaker cables to the Nordost SPM cables. Even with leaner cables, the speakers didn't open up enough to make me want to listen to music.

Admittedly, it is fun to drag out CDs that shake the floorboards, but that gets old quickly. Plus, even bass-heavy discs became fatiguing. There was just too much bottom end! The treble is relatively fine, with a nice, sweet finish, but I prefer more information at the highest registers. Nice tweeter, I just wish I could hear more of it. The 6.3s will also play very loudly, and do so with dynamics and slam that belie their size. And they are beautiful to look at, as well as being very well made. However, while they exude a build quality not common among speakers costing twice as much, these are not the speakers for me. Are they works in progress? I certainly hope so, as I have never been so disappointed with a pair of speakers. I hope some day they return with a different crossover, one that allows the music to come through. Too much to ask for? I sincerely hope not. Are they the speakers for you? Only you can decide. Dave Clark

 

 

VICTOR CHAVIRA'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Magneplanar 1.6.

ELECTRONICS
Sonic Frontiers Anthem 1 amplifier and SCE Harmonic Recovery System.

SOURCE
Audio Electronics CD1 player.

CABLES
Nordost Quattro Fil or Blue Heaven interconnects and  speaker cable.

 

four.jpg (6893 bytes)The Soliloquy 6.3s are the second pair of Soliloquy speakers I've had the opportunity to review this year. At the time of my audition they were the top models in the line, but the 6.5s, which debuted at C.E.S., are the current flagships. The 6.3 is a two-and-a-half-way system. The lower 6.5-inch poly fiber driver rolls off above 100 Hz, while the 1.125-inch silk dome tweeter takes over above 2.7 kHz. Each handsome, well-braced, maple cabinet features Soliloquy's unique metal rear panel, which contains the large flared port, the crossover, and the binding posts. With 90dB efficiency on tap, I had to trim the output of my CD player to avoid applying too much digital attenuation.

When making my initial observations of any product, I play discs that I am familiar with, such as Afro-Cuban music and Latin jazz. This is music with fat-bottomed bass, beats in clave (1-2, 1-2-3), aching vocals, and the high melodic brilliance of a flute or trumpet. It was while listening to this music that I noticed a rise in bass energy centered around the fourth (E) and third (A) strings of acoustic bass. Certain notes on these strings would peak, disturbing the musical flow and momentum. I moved the speakers out as far as my Blue Heaven speaker cables would allow, about five feet from the front wall. This smoothed out the sound, but did not remedy the resonant spike. My home is a typically lively post-war, raised-floor, suburban ranch house, and one end of the listening/family room is open to the dining area and kitchen. These factors no doubt contributed to the 6.3s' overly generous bass, in spite of my best efforts.

For the remainder of my listening I played chamber music, folk, and guitar CDs. For example, John Williams Plays Barrios is a superb cross section of the music of South American guitar genius Agustin Barrios. The Soliloquys rendered classical guitar with warmth, true timbre, and proper proportion. The same can be said of Sharon Isbin's disc, Dreams of a World, Folk-Inspired Music for Guitar. The 6.3s correctly contrasted Isbin's lighter touch and tone to Williams' darker-hued playing. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, as played by the Boston Baroque on Telarc, was fun to listen to on the 6.3s, which projected a vast sound from this period instrument ensemble. Harpsichord was plucky and delicate, while the gut string violins sang with voices altogether different from their modern sisters. The 6.3s may not match what I value in audio, but it was not hard to find them enjoyable. There were times when I removed my reviewer's lenses, played a Jennifer Lopez CD, and basked in the delights of their corpulent bottom end. They sure can make you shake your booty. Victor Chavira

 

MANUFACTURER'S RESPONSE:

aM's policy of evaluating a product in multiple rooms has once again paid off. In this instance, the succinct demonstration of how room interactions affect a loudspeaker's performance. This led to unfortunate but honest observations of a loudspeaker crippled by its environs. Our Soliloquy model 6.3 is indeed capable of very surprising bass output down into the mid 20s. Its dual 6.5" woofers and modest size fail to advertise this capability and concomitant room requirements as loudly as a more conventional 10" or 12" woofer design would. Hence without the assistance of a good dealer, an understandable oversight is easily made. Namely, that the small-woofer'd 6.3 does require both a rather large room and still enjoy the ability to be positioned within such a space to its best advantage. In all fairness to the reviewers, at the annual CES show in Las Vegas, we have to contend with the very same challenge. As we introduce loudspeaker models with increasingly formidable full-range performance, the mid-sized rooms in the Alexis Park hotel cause more and more compromised results. The only recourse is to move into a different venue altogether or refrain from demonstrating one's top models. Moral of the story: Loudspeaker performance is intrinsically tied to the room they're placed into. Customers would do well to remember to not purchase more bass than their rooms can successfully support.

We've found—and state so on our website—that in smaller to mid-size rooms, the combination of our Model 5.0 with our S-10 subwoofer generally gives better results than the Model 6.3. By separating the hi/mid and bass reproduction into three cabinets, the end user enjoys greater flexibility of placement to avoid room resonances and control the relative level of bass output in accordance with room gain. It's apparent that in the spaces of Victor Chavez and the Clark's, the Model 6.3 ended up being "too much speaker for the room". Francisco obtained by far the best results but still suspected, as do we, that his room seemed not large enough to really let the speakers strut their stuff unhampered.

Of course we would have preferred a more glowing report based on one of your reviewers possessing a truly simpatico space wherein to unleash the Model 6.3's true potential. Nonetheless, this review teaches the importance of proper room/speaker choice. To prevent potential Soliloquy customers from making similar mistakes, we rely heavily on the expertise of our dealers. In most cases, they will either allow the customer to try out a particular pair in their home over a weekend, or deliver a pair for a short-term dealer-assisted demonstration.

Those aM readers interested in another review of our 6.3s should log onto our website and read Marc Mickelson's write-up in SoundStage!. While it doesn't invalidate aM's findings whatsoever—the 6.3 speakers will become bass-heavy and unbalanced when compromised by too small a room—it describes what this design can accomplish when installed in the appropriately sized environment: Perform as competitively and enjoyable as our Model 5.0 previously reviewed in these pages.

Sincerely,
Bernie Byers
President

 

 

 

6.3 loudspeakers
Retail $2999.95

Soliloquy High Fidelity Loudspeaker Co.
TEL 919. 876. 7554
web address: www.solspeak.com

 

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