Original review in
Finnish Aug 1999
Published in English Oct 31, 2002
Photos by PenAudio
It’s often thought that high-end is
if not something special, then at least expensive. Here we have an
example of speakers which are high-end to the bone except for their
PenAudio uses coaxial 2-way-drivers
manufactured by SEAS. Midrange is played by a 14-cm polypropylene
cone and the upper frequency is taken care of by a 2.5 cm fabric
tweeter. The frequency range’s –3 dB’s point is at about 55
Hz; the range, measured from the speaker’s axis is steady between
100 Hz – 4 kHz; 4 – 8 kHz is a few dB’s alteration, but only
measured from the on axis. This utility has been designed to
compensate the coaxial driver’s direction features at the usual
listening spot. When the speaker is placed to a 60-degree listening
triangle and directed a bit outwards from the listening spot (so
that it’s sides are visible) the range will be steady all around
PenAudio has tried to achieve a
"natural replay", neutral tone without coloration. In its
prototype phase the 7.6 cx was being developed in co-operation with
professional musicians, expertizing in the instruments of classical
music. This phase took for about a year, several versions of the
speaker were introduced. This review is although based on the
original version of the 7.6 cx.
The black-polished speaker gives the
impression of an overall finished product. Myself I’ve had the
pleasure to try these little speakers with two completely different
sets of equipment, three times – twice when the sound of some
hugely more expensive speakers was still fresh in my memory, and now
for the last time with speakers from the same price group that’ve
won tests in local audio journal.
The designer have done a great job: I
perceived, a beautiful, highly detailed sound with an overall
balance just slightly brighter than the neutral.
Transparency was very good –
presence of the instruments is imminent.
Resolution - was relatively
good. At the same time the speaker is missing the overall
forgiveness -- some call it "musicality", that is
associated with so many almost-high-end equipment.
Soundstage is large and wide,
but requires correct placing. The instruments were well focused on
Treble as I found it, was
slightly bright, and maybe a little bit narrow-toned to the best I
Midrange was neutral, brisk
and sharp, perhaps slightly edgy with some female vocals. The
transients, such as an attack of a piano hammer, was played quite
accurrately without notable coloration.
Bass was dryish, sharp and
colorful; the lowest bass dies out below 50-55 Hz.
Dynamics was slightly
constrined, however quite acceptable for a speaker of this
A decent subwoofer will provide
imediate help for the constraint of dynamics. I hooked a
Velodyne HGS-10 with the crossover at 55 Hz nd found that the
subwoofer integrated excellently to the system.
The chorus played admirably well;
vocals were clear, maybe a little nasal- I found symptoms of
slight sibilance; piano and quitar both sound natural, the brass
played well - not too openly, though – and the large orchestra was
both resolute and airy. Percussion sounds brisk and a little
colored. The pans were light and airy, though more color wouldn’t
be a nuisance.
Few words about positioning: Correct
positioning of the equipment is very important for the overall
performance and it’s a good idea to think it out carefully to get
the best out of the potential of your listening space. Reflections
from the surfaces might stress out the frequency range, so it’s a
good idea to place the speaker further along the wall –
symmetrically, keeping a distance from the walls aside. In order to
get the best possible soundstage, place the speakers so that the
distance (tweeter to tweeter) will be over 2.5- 3 meters, turned
outwards so that the inner sides of the speakers are visible to the
I enjoyed this speaker already the
first time I tested it with the Gamut amplifier. I was only more
impressed with the TacT.
It's overall sound was well in
balance, richly detailed, with a very good soundstaging capability.
For an improvement I missed slightly more delicate treble and less
PenAudio did the job alone quite well
as an all-region speaker with acoustic music. Heavy duty bass freaks
must take getting a subwoofer into consideration.
If I’d be starting my
hifi-hobby at the moment (as I did 20 years ago, financially broke
as students always are) I wouldn’t hesitate to choose this
Briefly: PenAudio is not typical hifi
– it’s high-end and absolutely the ’biggest bang for the buck’
for a long time.
Listening Conditions and Associated
- Equipment A Listening room over 40
- Comparison speakers Avalon Eidolon
- Amplifier Gamut D-200
- Frontal amplifier Audio Research
- Player Audio Research CD-2
- Equipment B Listening room approx.
30 m2, lightly acousted
- Comparison speakers Hales Design
- Amplifier TacT Millennium Mk 2
- Player Wadia 860
- Speaker cords Cardas
- Type: 2-way bass reflex
- Drivers: coaxial (SEAS), 14 cm
mid/bass cone, 25 mm textile dome tweeter
- Frequency range: 40 Hz-20 kHz in
- Sensitivity: 86 dB, 1W, 1m
- Crossover frequency: 2500 Hz
- Impedance: 8 ohms, min 6.8 ohms
- Power recommendations: 40-200
- Measurements: 31 cm (height), 16
cm (width), 24.5 cm (depth)
- Weight: 6.2 kg