Back in 2012 I reviewed the Fritz Carbon 7 two-way stand mounted speakers. Prior to that, I hadn’t had much experience with small speakers in general and none in my system. During the review period, I was very pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of these relatively small speakers. As I recall, the sound was surprisingly large and clear, with good bass performance for their size.
I was recently contacted by owner/designer John 'Fritz' Heiler with news that he had a new top of the line speaker, the Carrera 7 BE. Given the surprisingly good time I spent with the Carbon 7, I told him I would be eager to review his new offering. In short order, a large box was delivered with the two expertly packed speakers. I mentioned to Heiler that I didn’t have a pair of proper speaker stands on which to set them up. Soon after, a box containing a pair of Pangea speaker stands arrived from Audio Advisor. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the sturdiness and overall quality of these stands.
Heiler has taken a somewhat different approach in building and marketing his speakers. The company is dedicated to producing very affordable, high-quality speakers. The relatively low prices are not achieved by cutting corners or using cheap parts. On the contrary, Fritz uses the highest quality parts in his designs. The drivers are sourced from companies such as Vifa/ScanSpeak, Morel, Seas & Peerless. These manufactures also provide drivers to many of the finest speaker manufacturers. The Carrera 7 BEs feature a 7 inch ScanSpeak Revelator paper cone bass midrange drivers and Transducer Labs Beryllium tweeters.
As with all Fritz speakers, the Carerra 7BE’s crossovers are hand built first order units made with premium parts that are matched to less than 1% tolerances. Further, they are built with no caps or resistors in the circuit. According to Heiler, this cross over design presents an easy load to the amplifier, resulting in a clearer sound with better imaging. While the speakers were able to handle my GamuT D-200i with ease, you do not need a huge amp to be able to drive these speakers to realistic sound levels.
All cabinets are made from furniture grade woods, with custom finishes available upon request. Measuring only 16”X9”X12” and weighing in at thirty pounds each, it’s apparent that they are very well built with excellent fit and finish.
The primary reason that Fritz Speakers is able to offer loudspeakers of this quality at such low prices is because they are sold factory direct. Consumers are able to realize substantial savings due to the lack of dealer and distributer markups.
Once the stands were put together, the rest of the set-up was a snap. I placed the speakers the same location as my floor standers, slightly toed-in. Once this was accomplished, I sat down to give them a preliminary listen. I had a little apprehension about the Beryllium tweeters because in some instances, they were known to be somewhat bright and hard sounding. My fears were unfounded however as further listening proved.
Right out of the box, the Carrera 7 BEs exhibited all of the qualities that I remembered from the Carbon 7s, but definitely better. Given a fairly short burn in period the speakers opened up and began to really shine. Overall, the sound could be described as very well balanced from top to bottom. With a -3db point in the bass, I never felt that the bass was seriously lacking. Of course, I was well aware that these speakers weren’t going to do the bottom octave; you wouldn’t expect a speaker of this size to do that but, the roll off was very gentle and didn’t inhibit the ability of speakers to make a very musical presentation.
I threw a variety of music at the speakers and I was never disappointed with their performance. The GRP All Star Big Band (GRP Records, GRD-9672) is a full scale big band with a large brass section. This dynamic and loud recording was handled easily. The brasses were metallic with very good leading-edge transients. Best of all, the treble never hardened even at fairly high volumes. The exceptional clarity of the Carreras facilitates a very dimensional sound stage. Instruments are well placed within the stage but are never etched or unnatural.
Cassandra Wilson’s Traveling Miles (Blue Note 7243 8 5412325). This 1999 recording is a good example of well recorded female voice. Her smoky voice seemed to be right in the room with me. The rich timbres of the guitars and the piano weren’t diminished in the least. Again, the bass was well controlled for as far as it went. I have heard this recording on the much larger and far more expensive stand mounded Alta Audio FRM 2s, which go down to 25Hz.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Copland’s Symphony No. 3 conducted by Eduardo Mata (EMI CDC 7 47606 2). Copland's large scale symphony was handled very well by the Carreras. The width and depth of the sound stage was presented quite well with the various sections of the symphony well defined. Again, the tonal weight of the instruments was convincing.
Thelonious Monk (Riverside Profiles, Riverside RCD30070-2). This is a very good recording of Monk’s most iconic music. The Carreras were up to the task of presenting all of the fine elements of this well recorded music. Monk’s piano came across with total realism. The shimmer and decay of the notes along with the instrumental weight were particularly engaging.
There are any number of fine small monitor speakers on the market today. That said, the Fritz Carrera 7 BEs are a definite standout. Given their size, price ($3500/pair) and sonic abilities, and the fact that you can arrange for a in home audition, they have to be considered a true bargain. Given their overall musicality, these are speakers that I could easily live with. If you are looking for a small monitor that performs well above its size and price, do yourself a favour and arrange to audition these speakers in your own system.
Further information: Fritz Speakers