I came across Canada’s Serene Audio quite by chance during a random surf session. I was looking for great photos of cool equipment for use in our ’Audiophilia Eye Candy’ series. I stumbled upon Serene’s lovely website. A site that is must viewing for many high end manufacturers. Simple, effective and with a beautiful aesthetic. Much like the company’s speakers.
Serene Audio’s designer Siavash Rezaei is fairly new to the audio scene but no less passionate than venerable audiophiles. He has a vision for the company and is very specific in manufacturing quality kit for reasonable prices. Right now, Serene produces speakers, both passive and active for home theatre and, my speaker of choice, for computer solutions.
I had my pick of the Serene stable and chose the ‘Pebble’. The Pebble is an active speaker purposely designed for nearfield listening situations. They fit perfectly on my desk, spaced five feet apart and angled in about ten degrees. They were not unlike the CEntrance MasterClass 2504 loudspeakers that were part of the ‘Audiophile Desktop’ I reviewed recently in that they offer a quality, compact desktop solution. The CEntrance package comes with the superb DACmini PX which ameliorates much of the digital nonsense foisted on us by standard computer files. Adding a quality DAC will help the Pebbles shine at their best. They are good enough to remind the listener for the need to feed them nicely.
I chose to play the speakers in the upstairs office for a good week before serious listening began. As always, a good break in made a big difference - constriction gone, bass arrived, clarity of midrange. I listened primarily in an office/desktop environment in the near field. Here, the speakers offered a direct, honest sound and adapted themselves to all sorts of styles. The size will not allow stadium sounds, but they excelled on rock, jazz and even large scale classical, such as Mahler symphonies and Beethoven masses. The sound was refined and articulate.
Rezaei sent me some excellent information regarding specifications and topology:
Power: 30 W
Voltages: 100 - 240V
Frequency Response: 70 Hz - 20 kHz ±3 dB
Drive unit: 3″ Full Range, long throw, super light and fast, thick die-cast basket
Harmonic Distortion: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th order (200Hz - 20kHz) less than 1%
Dimensions (one speaker): 6.5″ H x 5.0″ W x 6″ D
Net weight: 7 lb
Amplifier: It uses an efficient, and very low distortion class D amplifier with analog volume control.
Driver: The driver uses a long throw (long linear range) under-hung motor structure which is made possible by the the most gigantic neodymium magnet (you’ll ever see in a driver of this size), creating a strong and even magnetic flux across a long gap. I truly believe this driver is really the most amazing small full-range driver you’ll ever come across. It is fair to say this current line of products wouldn’t have happened without it. The very generous use of rare earth magnet and thick die-cast frame makes them very expensive too; however, I feel that it provides real value for people who care about the sound quality from their computers.
Filter: Speakers use a minimalistic BSC filter that is fine tuned to achieve a neutral tonal balance. We use only high quality components in out filters.
Efficiency: The question of efficiency makes more sense in the context of passive speakers. However, I can say that the drivers themselves aren’t the most efficient which is a trade off I took willingly, because I felt the advantages outweigh the small drop in efficiency, also because these days there is no shortage of high quality and powerful amplifiers.
Enclosure: Enclosures are bass reflex and they are tuned to a lower frequency than what is common practice in “BestBuy type” speakers of this size. They are tuned more like studio monitors or audiophile speakers. This is done to prevent them from producing boomy and unrealistic bass, and to give them better power handling.
From the information provided, you can imagine how well made these speakers are and the care that went into the design. All cables are provided and are of good quality. Bananas, too.
One of my favorite repeated listening sessions was in the company of Richard Goode and his splendid Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Hearing all the subtleties the speakers provided was a constant joy, especially in the near field. That said, these little Pebbles could Bam Bam themselves into a small to medium room with little or no deleterious effect. However, once the speakers were spaced farther apart, some of the detail was lost. But adding them to a small surround basement system that will not upset the neighbors or the significant other is a no brainier.
We have been very lucky with ‘computer’ audiophile products sent for review. Joey Roth, CEntrance and HRT have all offered Audiophilia Star quality products. Our luck continues with Serene Audio. If you are looking for a plug and play computer solution, you cannot go wrong with these small Canadian beauties. Audiophiles can up the ante by adding a quality DAC. Many good ones are now cheap as chips. Highly recommended.
[It is with great pleasure that we award The Audiophilia Star Component Award to the Serene Audio Pebble Active Loudspeakers. Congratulations! - Ed]
The Serene Audio Pebble Active Loudspeaker
Source: Manufacturer Loan