After this post: https://www.avforums.co.za/index.php/topic,79715.0.html where I demo’d the Bentley FS110’s, Yamaha NS-F500’s & then the Paradigm Monitor 7’s there have been some further developments I feel worth sharing!
Again, please bear with me – I’m no professional reviewer with a lexicon of terms to use!
I was contacted by both Rudi & Vaughan, both concerned over my review of the Bentley 110’s. As it turned out the demo pair I looked at are a “version 1”, which were a 2 way. These have been replaced with a version 2, and are now a 3-way floorstander.
Vaughan invited me to visit & listen to the new 110’s, as well as the 120’s. In my discussions with Rudi he indicated that he felt certain that the 120’s would be right up my alley, so I made an arrangement to visit Vaughan earlier this week. As it would be, my impetuous nature took over & I called him on Monday morning & by 11h00 I was in his demo room!
The new 110’s are a vast improvement on the ones I had heard, much clearer & more well defined bass, mids still as good, and some of the shrillness tamed from the top – probably also helped by the more refined bass.
We then went to the cinema room, where I listened to a set of the FR100 bookshelf speakers in direct comparison to a set of R10k Monitor Audio bookshelf speakers. The FR100 was hands down superior! They went much lower than the MA’s, yet the bass did not get flabby & uncontrolled. There was a marked difference between them, in the Bentley’s favour! I now understand why @BiZKiT raves about these!
Then on to the FS120’s.
WOW. Clear highs, clean & sharp, great mids – forward like the 110’s, but supported by even deeper & tighter bass from below. I was sold within the first 5 minutes! Vaughan then offered to let me take his demo set home with me to see how they worked in my room. I of course declined the generous offer.
In a flash we had wrapped them up & they were in my car!
I was then treated to a tour of the production facility, with Vaughan explaining the trials & tribulations they’ve been through, and how they are constantly refining the process & materials as they learn.
This is real hand-made, hand crafted Made in South Africa stuff. We should be proud to have entrepreneurs, experts & manufacturing facilities like this in our country. It certainly gave me a new perspective & appreciation for the time, effort & energy expended in designing, creation & bringing to market of the Bentley brand. This is not for sissy’s, even less so in our small niche market.
Home they came, I lugged them up the stairs (at 20kg’s each and being rather bulky, they were a challenge to get up a 700mm wide staircase closed in on both sides with brick walls!) & set them up.
My playlist over the next few days has comprised the following (All through my Yamaha A-S501 Integrated):
LP’s (Rega P3 with RB250 tonearm with fdlsys mods):
Chris Stapleton – The Traveller – Side 1.
Jeremy Loops – Trading Change – Entire LP.
Robert Cray Band – Strong Persuader – Entire LP.
Dire Straits – Love Over Gold – Entire LP.
Marillion – Script for a Jester’s Tear – Entire LP.
Barbra Streisand - Memories - Entire LP.
CD’s (Rotel RCD965BX):
Tine Thing Helseth – Trumpet Concertos (Haydn, Hummel, Neruda & Albinoni) – Entire CD.
Louis Cobos – Opera Magna – Entire CD.
Eric Clapton – Unplugged – Entire CD.
Halie Loren – They Oughta Write a Song – Entire CD.
ALAC from NAS to Laptop to Korg DS-DAC-100m:
Jennifer Warne – Way Down.
Beethoven – Triple Concerto (all 3 movements) (Karajan & Berlin Philharmonic).
Beethoven – Egmont Overture (Karajan & Berlin Philharmonic).
Rammstein – Ohne Dich, Du Hast, Wo Bist Du, Links 2-3-4.
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – I’d Rather go Blind, Chocolate Goodness, If I Tell You I Love You.
Alac via Airplay from Desktop PC to Yamaha WXAD-10:
FFDP – Wrong Side of Heaven, House of the Rising Sun.
Disturbed – Sound of Silence.
Dmitri Shostakovich – Jazz Suite No. 2 – Waltz 2 (Jansons & Philadelphia Orchestra).
Jean Michelle Jarre – Oxygene Part 4, Zoolokologie.
Jeremiah Johnson Band – Summertime, Here we go Again.
Cassette - BASF CRo2 (Yamaha KX-260):
Fischer Z – Red Skies Over Paradise.
Setup was amp on Pure Direct, so no loudness or tone controls involved, & sub disconnected at the amp – my Boston A26 Bookshelf speakers have been supplemented with a B & W sub, (I don’t know if by simply connecting the sub the amp cuts lower frequencies even if the sub is switched off, so I disconnected at the amp)
My room is not an easy one – A frame roof with exposed beams about 3m at top & 1,5m brick wall on one side, the other side has a low wall (750mm high) & is open to downstairs under the sloping roof. Tiled floors. Some soft furnishings (rug & couch) & then my 2 desks with PC’s plus a few bookshelves with books, clocks, LP’s, ornaments & junk etc. Challenging, which is why I was grateful Vaughan let me bring the 120’s home to try.
Spent some time setting them up, getting position & toe-in as close to my liking as possible, and then started some serious listening. I skived off work for the rest of the day & spent a solid 6 hours in front of them.
First impressions were of great detail & separation – in the Triple Concerto the solo instruments were crystal clear & easy to place, piano was well defined & not ear shattering. They mids do have a tendency to get a bit muddled on large scale orchestral pieces when played at high volume, but turn the volume down a touch & they present the fullness & size of the sound in a really pleasing manner. I noticed the same tendency on the Louis Cobos Opera Magna CD, the dynamic range is such that when listening at elevated volumes it can become very loud when the full orchestra & choir enter, but again, at more sane volume levels they performed admirably.
Rock, Metal, Blues, male or female vocal, these 120’s shine. The bass is so well defined, fast & tight, even when played really loud. Over the next while I played a large selection of music & genres, and kept going back to listen some more. When not actively listening they were playing in the background, either BBC3 or LM Radio.
What also impressed me is how well they cope with lower volumes – I don’t listen at insane volume levels all the time, and often have conversations whilst music is playing, so I was pleased to hear the same rounded bass & overall pleasant sound, even at more normal levels. Taking the amp out of pure direct and adding a touch of the “Loudness” control (amp has variable loudness control) created an even more pleasant & enjoyable experience.
At moderate to loud volume these speakers seem to just disappear – the soundstage & imaging is such that the music seems to exist, with no pin point position as to where it emanates from, as if one were in a concert hall. I’m battling to articulate this, the sound, although directional, is all encompassing, if that makes sense? Hope it does, my prose & terminology is failing me here.
Sadly my dedicated listening time was cut short on Tuesday afternoon due to a medical emergency in the family, so I only got to actively listen again late Wednesday afternoon, and then not at elevated volume either, which was actually a good thing, as instead of trying to demo them I listened as I would most of the time, at background or at moderate volume. Even at these lower levels the speaker’s attributes shone – tight well defined bass, pleasing mids & a well-rounded top end with no shrieking or shrillness. I listened until just after 23h00, some whilst doing work & some with my daughter.
I had already let Vaughan know earlier in the afternoon that I am “sold” & would like to purchase a pair. He has very kindly arranged me a demo pair at R8k which is within my budgetary constraints & fits in slightly under the Paradigms I considered bringing home on demo last week. Needless to say the Paradigm’s have not made it through the door after listening to the 120’s on Monday at Vaughan!
To end – a quick, but important note to thank Rudi & Vaughan for their input & assistance, and also for the passion for the product so clearly evident in Vaughan. It really is great to spend time with someone so committed & convicted to their products. Thank you!