Sound in the Round
I think the easiest thing to say about the little A’Diva Ti speakers is that I was unprepared for them. I suppose I am used to thinking that all that is excellent in audiophile-land ought to be gilded and priced accordingly. Which is why these speakers are something of a shock. They’re cheap (comparatively speaking), where a pair of them would set you back ~$900, when purchased with their elegant swan-necked stands. And they’re good. Single driver point-source, with time and phase coherency thrown in for good measure. They’ve got excellent extension in the treble, but they’re by no means rolled off nor bright. They’re tiny, so real bass is entirely out of the question, but who was expecting it? Imaging is laser-like. Speed is breathtaking. Soundstage is everything I want and more. These little buggers are great.
I bought these guys on a whim. Typically, this tends to work out for me, but I’ve been thinking about getting a pair of them to try for some time now. As I’ve mentioned, I’m looking to redo my home theater setup and wanted to try something a little different. Like going to a 9.2 system from my current 5.1 rig. With the new Dolby spec allowing me to add four more channels up front (wide and high), I figured I’d need something pretty inconspicuous to get me past the fashion police. But I also wanted it to be at least on par with the outgoing speakers — a set of Totem Model 1 Signature speakers. More on that in a second.
First, let me tell you that the speakers themselves don’t really come with much. Just an o-ring to sit on, to keep them from rolling around. If that’s not gonna cut it, you’ll need to spring for the stands. There are three: table, wall and floor. I have the wall and floor, but they’re all pretty similar — it’s a socket joint screwed into the speaker and the stand. Positioning is locked in with a wrench.
The binding posts are made for bare wire, but you can see from the pictures that there’s plenty of room even for the big fat spades that Blue Jeans uses on their cables. Unfortunately, there’s no room for bananas. Bare wire would allow you to thread the cable into and through the stands, too, which might be a nice way to keep the cabling tidy.
The speakers themselves are tiny. 4″ and less than 2lbs. They’re the size of softballs. The temptation to pitch one might be overwhelming. Just sayin’. They’re solid-feeling, weighty in the hand, and while the matte-paint versions might fit into your decor, let me recommend the stainless versions as the finish will probably survive a bit longer.
Sound & Fury
Now, let me say this up front, lest the Totem police come knocking. The Model 1 Signature beats the snot out of the Gallos in the bass. Stone, cold, dead knock-out. The A’Diva Ti goes to about 90Hz (if it’s lucky) when sitting on stands while the Model 1 Signature is pretty pucnhy down into the low 50Hz region. That’s a big difference.
But where the Gallos, at less than half the price, excel is … well … just about everywhere else.
- They image better, which, given their single-driver form factor, isn’t surprising.
- The Gallos have a cleaner treble, with more detail, but still are a bit sweet.
- The mids lean on the warm side, but that’s a Totem thing, too — the Gallos sit a bit closer to neutral by contrast.
- Perhaps its a point-source, phase/time coherency thing, but the Gallos are more involving.
- It’s a bit hard to tell, but I think the Totems are bit more even off-axis, but that’s hard to say.
- The Totems are certainly traditional-looking bookshelf speakers, and the Gallos are anything but. But they’re also able to be inconspicuous, and once the music starts, they vanish anyway, so perhaps the “lifestyle” styling won’t be too off-putting.
The Gallos sound way bigger than they are. It’s weird. I have them standing next to a pair of monster Totem Shaman speakers and I tend to do a double-take until I realize that it’s the Gallos that are playing. Spooky. In a good way.
Well, the speakers are definitely staying. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them, however. They’re certainly better than “just satellites”, so I’m now wondering if I couldn’t use them as mains in that system. Maybe throw a Reference Strada into the mix for a center channel. That system doesn’t really “do music” all that much, though we use the heck out of it for movies and such. Maybe a pair of subwoofers, run to 120Hz or so, should fill in the bass nicely. Maybe? I’m torn.
Anyway, none of that has anything to do with the marvelous A’Diva Ti. Any speaker that makes you wonder if it’s “too good” for what you wanted to use it for is a pleasant surprise.
Score one for Gallo!