AOM Logo July 2000 auditions the Sat Five monitor and S10 subwoofer from Soliloquy High Fidelity Loudspeaker Company

David Aspinall's Editor recently reviewed the Soliloquy 5.3 floorstanding loudspeaker in these cyberpages. His judgement of their merit aptly sums up my reaction to the Soliloquy Sat Five monitors: "as clean as a whistle". I am also inclined to the potentially ambiguous praise implied by the word "clinical". For me, the negative connotations of such a description come naturally from a lifelong habit of listening to my favourite music through the oddly welcoming warmth (also known as sonic murk) of vinyl playback. The Soliloquy Sat Five, our immediate subject, is an ultra-convenient (for my 14x11 listening room) compact monitor system, which, for this review, I have had supplemented by the Soliloquy S10 Subwoofer. Soliloquy's engineers claim a break-in period of about 100 hours for their speakers. Which estimate seemed just about exact to these ears. The sound, which prior to the warm-up had been excessively bright from a listening distance of 9-10 feet (I prefer nearfield listening), perceptibly fell into a natural balance as the warming up period closed. I was particularly gratified that the increased midrange warmth offset the truthful, and at times fatiguing, highs. This was particularly pleasant experience for this confirmed enemy of overlit orchestral recordings (even in the analogue era I preferred the sound of my budget Turnabouts to DG and sometimes even London). Soliloquy also claims that the sound will continue to improve up till 500 hours. This too, I'm pleased to report, has been my experience.

Now that the system has had approximately 300 hours of (exclusively CD) playing time I can state unequivocally that the sonic truth of these speakers, whether handling solo voice, choral, orchestral or any other category of "serious" music with which I have reasonable acquaintance, is exemplary in its fidelity to its source (The associated components sharing the duties were comprised exclusively from Talk Electronics, a new British company with, from the sounds so far, a bright future. Full reviews forthcoming).

Soliloquy Sat Five Monitor The Soliloquy monitors accomplish their wonders without making a revolution in your living space. And since I listen in my living room, and am married, that may mean more to me than to some out there. A 5.25" rigid midrange/bass driver (polyfiber cone) paired with a 1.125" double chamber, silk dome tweeter sit in a compact cabinet. Each small speaker feels solid as a rock and sits on (optional) heavy custom stand (spiked base). With this system I could easily sit the Soliloquy monitors right behind my speakers (ancient floor variety) with almost no loss of floor space. Alternatively, the Sat Fives would satisfy on a dormitory bookshelf or as superb rear speakers in a fine home cinema setup.

Listening, for instance, to the famous Dorati/Mercury performance of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies (coupled with a memorable Enesco #1), I was aware for the first time on CD of the husky burr of the LSO cello section in that most quintessentially romantic Fifth Rhapsody. In that work's climax, the first violins rise to an ecstatic restatement of the principal theme which I had never heard reproduced with such sweetness before (I knew I was going to like these speakers the afternoon I replayed this performance about six times in a row!).

Soliloquy S10 Subwoofer

Testing with another lifetime favourite, the superbly natural soundtrack of How the West Was Won (Turner-Rhino), I was aware of little timbral improvement in the general sound, but there was a new depth and impact in the bass response. The massed brass still occasionally distort (this seems inherent in the original tapes), but the spatial exactness of the imaging was definitely improved significantly (integration of the S10 sub's bass response with the speed of the monitors was quick and satisfying). [So many are not - Ed]

Contrast the dramatic improvement in the recent re-recording of Alex North's The Agony and the Ecstasy (Jerry Goldsmith conducting for Varese), which performance I have heard reproduced with almost painful treble response on lesser speakers, and with little sense of space. On the Soliloquys the brass, though still overbright, fit naturally into the full spectrum of orchestral texture and frequency response. In addition, the bottomless organ adds a weight that makes for a memorable listening experience where before I merely put up with the sound to hear the marvelous music. In this regard, the S10 Subwoofer matched well to the monitors, rarely giving away its solo and somewhat lonely existence. And the thwacks of the LA Philharmonic's bass drummer in Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky (Telarc )as relayed by the S10 give proof of another lease buster in the fold.

An additional grace of the Soliloquys is the beautiful cabinetry, which adds ease to their living area integration, even without grille. That Soliloquy can generate such musical sounds from such a small enclosure as the Sat Five is testament to the creative minds down in Raleigh. The high end (and mid end) has many manufacturers producing fine mini monitors at the Soliloquy's price point, yet the refined tone and superb workmanship should help nudge fence-sitters in the direction of the Sat Fives. The S10, too. As such, an audition of both pieces is strongly suggested. I would add mine to other voices and announce both pieces real bargains of the high end.

Soliloquy Sat Five Monitor
Size: 12"H x 6 1/2"W x 6"D Sugg. Retail: $749 pr (CAN)
Frequency Response: 55 Hz to 18 kHz
Sensitivity: 88 dB
Finish: Curly Maple, Cherry, and Rosewood. Grille: Acoustically transparent double-knit.
Recommended Amplifiers: 8 to 150 watts RMS

Soliloquy S10 Subwoofer
Size: 20"H x 12"W x 18"D Sugg. Retail: $1895 (CAN)
Driver: 10" Aluminum cone, dual, 50mm voice coils die cast magnesium baskets. Proprietary vented magnets.
L-Port System: Allows the S10 to be configured with either a front or rear fire port.
Finish: Curly Maple, Cherry, Rosewood, and Black Oak. Grille: Acoustically transparent double-knit.
Amplifier: Discrete Darlington circuits provide high current while remaining stable to nearly a 2-ohm load. Filters include: a second order active crossover with Linkwitz-Riley networks; second order subsonic; continuously variable low pass; and, a high pass for satellite outputs. Total harmonic distortion is less than 0.01%, with a signal-to-noise ratio greater than 100dB. Features include both high-level and low-level inputs, off/on auto modes, high level and line level out, crossover frequency control, phase switching and speaker connections. 125 watts/8 ohms LP Cutoff, 18 dB/octave, infinitely variable, 40-180Hz Class AB

Distributor: Audiopathic (American Sound)
9108 Yonge St., Richmond Hill, Ont. L4C 6Z9
(905) 886-7810 FAX 886-6920


Source of review sample: Canadian distributor loan

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