About Me (Werner Smith)
Life-long sound lover.
Most of my experience has been with car sound.
I have heard some of the "best" that money can buy (B&W 800 series).
Have burst an ear drum earlier in life, as a result I shy away from very high treble at all cost.
I am a sound enthusiast (read amateur), not an expert.
Bentley Acoustics FR-100
Bentley Acoustics FC-150
Bentley Acoustics FS-150
Jamo Sub 250
Previous setup (as frame of reference)
Jamo S606 (set of 5 speakers)
Jamo Sub 250
Bentley Acoustics FC-150 (Centre speaker):
This is the speaker that grabbed by initial interest. I was not in the market for new speakers at all, very satisfied with what I had to be honest. I mostly made use of my surround sound, which relies heavily on the centre speaker as the main vocal source (movies/series/gaming). In my then current setup (Jamo), the centre speaker was my weakest link. So the size and the amount of drivers in the FC-150 demanded my interest. My initial plan was to take the plunge and just buy the centre speaker alone, to see what type of difference it would make. I was comfortable to take the financial risk if it did not work out, I mean, I have never even heard of Bentley Acoustics.
On to the sound: There is a notable difference in the mid/low range if compared to my previous setup. This speaker makes you forget that there is a speaker playing, meaning, everything sounds natural and does not detract your attention from what you are watching. Most centre speakers I have been exposed to before sound very high pitched and tinny.
This particular speaker did come with a big issue though, space.. It does not fit in my current cabinet, and obstructs the bottom of my TV if placed on top of the cabinet. It would be ideal to wall mount the TV on the wall to allow this speaker enough space to live, this is not an option for me at the moment. But hey, it sounds good, so who cares :)
Bentley Acoustics FS-150 (Floor standing speakers):
So, as stated above, the centre was my first priority. Then I got to see the FS-150's, and more importantly, I got to hear them. There was no turning back, I had to have a pair, whether I needed it or not was completely irrelevant at this stage. Vaughan gave me a demo at his place, and you have no choice but to be seriously impressed. They did sound "better" at his place than in my home, but I am not delusional, he has perfect environment for them. They are currently sitting in a ±4x3m lounge (1 curtain, 2 x clear wall), that opens up into an open-plan area. The floorstanders are playing to the short sides of the room, which has caused a slight echo/surround effect. But that is my problem, nothing to do with the speakers. As mentioned, my preference would have been to listen to anything in a surround sound mode, or in an all channel stereo setup. It gave the sound more life, more is better right? I never really understood why audiophiles are always banging on about a stereo only setup, why would you want to listen to two speakers if you have 5 at your disposal? My eyes have now been opened, with these, stereo is all you need, stereo is all you want, stereo, on good speakers sound amazing. I have come to realise that the amount of speakers playing is completely irrelevant, it’s how they play and how they make you feel. These have real gravitas. Room filled with full, rich and detailed sound, at low or high volume. I often find myself closing my eyes and REALLY enjoying the music again, attentively listening to what was created. Before owning these speakers, that is something I would have hardly ever done. I now hear details in the sound that I have never paid any attention to, placebo effect at play? Possibly, but the fact that I believe it is all that matters.
I must confess, I did push these speakers over the edge once, just to see what they could do. I am a bass hungry listener and cranked open the bass on the AV receiver (even had a "double bass" option switched on), on a hectic song, at high volume. I have a long way to go to call myself experienced with sound setup, what to push and what not to push with the receiver settings. It is only reasonable to expect that anything in life has limits, regardless of price and quality. I would however recommend a standalone sub, depending on what type of listener you are. I am allergic to sound that is too bright, so my setup is always on the bassy side of life.
Bentley Acoustics FR-100 (Bookshelf speakers):
In all honestly, I am still in the honeymoon phase with the floorstanding speakers (~3 weeks now). It has been on rare occasion that I have switched the sound over to all channel stereo or surround sound. These speakers certainly look the part, possibly three times the size of what I had before. Vaughan demoed these at his place, with only them playing in a stereo setup, hard to believe that such sound could come from these bookshelf speakers. In my current setup and time spent, I have not really explored the full potential of these speakers, but knowing that I have them in my back pocket, is more than enough to make me satisfied.
Conclusion and verdict:
Before listening to these speakers, my love for just sitting and listening to music dwindled. My old Jamo setup wasn't bad, enough to impress mates when they came over. The FS-150's have rekindled my love for music (at my wife's despair). I can now sit there, drink in one hand, vape in the other, and just enjoy what they artist has created., and by artist, I am referring to both the musician and Vaughan. If you only have enough money for a couple of speakers and not the whole set, the FS-150's are the ones you want. Heck, you NEED them in your life. They WILL impress you, they WILL make you happy.
I firmly believe that my current setup has even more potential than what I currently use it at (cables, settings, placement and source material). For the moment I am more than satisfied with the performance, and will tweak and test when need be.
I stepped into this whole exercise without the real want or need for a new speaker setup, but a visit to Vaughan quickly generated that need. And I am happy it did. A South African product you can be proud to own. I wish Vaughan all the best, and may Bentley Acoustics become a home-grown empire!
Build quality: 9/10
Sound (highs): 10/10
Sound (mids): 10/10
Sound (lows): 10/10
Value for money: 10/10
Used for the review and disclaimers:
– Music source used: Apple music streaming (via Apple TV)
– My cables are marginally better than twinflex (if at all), a sin, I know. On my to-do list...
– There are a couple of things that I would have wanted differently, but they are not significant enough to make me second guess my purchase. I would have liked the inner grille to be colour coded, and the rear air vents to be black.
NOTE : We enjoy our customer feedback so the following changes had been made:
Inner grille - Now colour coded black
Rear port - Now colour coded Black