When Phil Jones, the man behind Phil Jones’ Bass and AAD, decides he wants to put a pair of speakers together, you can prepare yourself for speakers with small drivers that are going to be pushed to very limits of their low-frequency response. Phil Jones claims to be a man of having grown up with the thought that bass can only come from large speakers. That stereotype however, was tossed aside when he started to tinker with cabinet designs and small driver sizes with an almost crazy obsession. It is from this obsession that we bring to you his Silver Reference 7 tower speakers, from his Silver Reference series.
OUT OF THE BOX
This is what you call ‘tower’ speakers, because of their slender yet very tough boned cabinet soars to the skies like Donald Trump had something to do with it. They are remarkably heavy for their size, but mass is always a good thing in floorstanders, especially when you see only four little drivers staring at you from the metallic finished front baffle. The speakers terminate their height with a curvy top plate that sure perpetuates the bulkiness of the glossy veneer finished cabinet. The back contains little bass reflex ports above the bi-wirable binding posts, the finish of all these components kept as classy and refined as the cabinet and drivers themselves.
After disarming the grills from the front baffle, the drivers that looked back at us were namely three proprietary 5” Kevlar/Carbon Fibre drivers with a Helical Conductive Tweeter or HCT on the very top. Unlike standard dome tweeters, the HCT has a flat horn-loaded diaphragm to reduce harshness and improve the off-axis response. The tweeter, as AAD claims, can go all the way up to 40kHz without a dip or a rise in the frequency response, something that’s extremely hard to pull off.
As for the honeycomb bass drivers, they are split over different crossover points to give them their own share of the mids to the lows, while the three little bass ports on the back expel the cabinet’s role in the acoustics. The reason for using small drivers or rather 5” drivers to reproduce bass rather than larger drivers is primarily for their quickness. The reason why they aren’t used in other speakers is because the bass produced by smaller speakers doesn’t project as far as that of a large driver. However, if you were to put several small speakers in an array, the total surface area of all the little speakers is equivalent to that of a large driver, with quickness that can only come from the magnets and voice coils of small drivers. You get much better control, heat dissipation and massive motor force to control a small 5” cone. The crossovers you apply break the frequency bands down into specifics; letting each driver work at its optimum in the concentrated frequency range it is given. As for the cabinet, it has been braced and dampened at very specific resonance points to minimise internal resonance and colouration.
Judging by the amount Phil Jones concentrates on bass response, we were really getting ourselves ready for a low-frequency heavy performance. However, don’t think for one moment that he’s forgotten about the highs.
As we’d received a very broken in pair of Silver 7s, we could dive right into the testing without wasting a moment. We had ourselves a bass-rich collection along with CDs that contained frequencies more in the mid and upper range. Starting with Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’, we had a neat balance of the entire range. The Silver 7’s really know how to grab your attention from the point you hit ‘Play’. We were on the track “Can’t Let Her Get Away” , and couldn’t help swaying to the beats, especially the tightness of the kick drum and bass. And all this was happening while we shifted the speakers in different tow-in positions to get the imaging right. Finally when we did, Jackson was drop dead in the centre during the verses, spreading to the side walls and even the back of the room during the chorus.
With Alanis Morissette’s ‘Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie’, the mix of the entire album had the bass and drum beats, a little isolated from one another with her voice at the very top, covering the mid-range along its way up, was so very transparent. With the lights turned off and the track on “One”, we could hear each separate band of the crossover, the lowest end timed precisely to the kick bass and kick drum; the lower-mid-range taking most of the kick drum and the snare; the mid-range a little tucked in but still very much a part of the mix, while the highs spread across the top like butter on hot toast. The sweetspot, although a little narrow, was a very beautiful place to sit in, almost like taking a dip right at the centre of two waterfalls crashing on both sides of you.
The mid-range got its real energy from orchestral music such as Chesis and Cutler’s ‘Music Of Claude Debussy’, that was filled to the brim with mids and breathy highs thanks to the harp, the flute and the viola. The mid-range shone above the lows because there weren’t that much of an lower end in this album, illustrating the precision with which the crossover did its work. The same was true for something more aggressive like Venetian Snares’ ‘My Downfall’, which was again a lot richer in the mid-range with the percussions and the strings relying heavily on it for their timbre. At the same time, however, the bass notes, which were so very small but programmed with extreme speed and precision, were rendered with the exact same speed and control. The 5” drivers really stayed true to the control they exuded over the lower range, especially the really deep bass notes ranging from 100Hz all the way down to 30Hz. You just cannot get that from a subwoofer housing a 10” driver or even towers with 8” woofers.
WHAT SAY AV?
Besides the time it takes trying to find the sweetspot of the Silver 7’s (which could also be because of the size of our room as we really needed to spread these guys out a lot further than our standard distance), everything Phil Jones has said about these speakers is true. Using little drivers for low frequency response may just be the greatest thing that’s happened to bass, especially with cabinet engineering and exquisite crossover technology to boot. The Reference 7s had the added advantage of displaying clear highs and strong mids, but what bolstered its overall worth was its narrow but impressive soundstage. It is worth the money you spend on them, and judging by their build quality, they’ll be in your living rooms for a long time to come.
A pair of AAD’s ‘Silver Reference 7’ towers are as spectacular as the Twin Towers, and with their build, it would take a lot more than two airplanes to bring them down. Their USP is their tight, quick and rigid bass response and a well spread and rich upper range, something you don’t find very much in this price range.
Drivers 3 x 5” Kevlar/Carbon Fiber Drivers / Helical Conductive Tweeter
Frequency Response 30Hz-40kHz
Impedance 4 ohms
Dimensions (H x W x D) 48.2” x 7.6” x 14.2”
TRIED AND TESTED
Venetian Snares ‘My Downfall’
With speakers that boast of bass response, this CD is the epitome of checking every angle of bass response. From the speed the drivers that render the deepest of bass, to the power with which they deliver that right amount of bass, and it can’t ever be too much or too little as the pounding strings and percussions will throw the entire mix out of balance otherwise.
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