Part of a larger consumer electronics consortium, Heco is one Germany's most established speaker brands and is primarily known for producing good value-for- money products. A significant force in its home market, it has been a number of years since Heco made an appearance on the UK scene.

The new UK distributor's main stock-in-trade is sourcing and selling good value valve amps from China, which actually seem a good match for the relatively classy Hecos imported by Puresound. The Celan 500 loudspeakers are just one step down from Heco's top Statement models and make up one of four Celan stereo pairs.

The 500 is a substantial floorstander, with a relatively complex hexagonal plan enclosure - the latter to disperse internal reflections and de-focus standing waves. Our samples came in a high-gloss painted silver finish - a popular option in Germany and well matched to the brightwork trim around the drivers and ports.

However, the alternative three varieties of real wood veneer (beech, cherry, rosewood) are likely to have greater UK appeal. The appearance is further enhanced by a chunky black MDF plinth which, for some reason, makes no attempt to increase the stability footprint, though it does hold the rather blunt spikes securely.

This is a two-and-a-half-way design, with a bass/mid driver mounted above and a bass-only driver mounted below the tweeter. Although both drivers share the same 165mm chassis, unlike most two-and-a-half-ways, each diaphragm is optimised to its particular task - a light paper/wool cone for the bass/mid and a hardened paper (reinforced by an oversize carbon-fibre dust cover) for the bass. The 25mm tweeter has a 'nano particle' coating.

Both cone drivers are loaded by separate shiny flared rear ports and five terminals are fitted, accommodating both bi-wiring and optional +2dB treble boost. The importer has supplied wire links in place of brass strips.

Sound Quality

While this good size floorstander is best kept well clear of walls, it still has a tendency to thump rather too heavily in the bass region when playing music with a suitably wide bandwidth. One might well consider experimenting with port-blocking bungs, even though no such suggestion is made in the instruction manual.

Although the overall balance is attractively open, achieving a decent standard of basic neutrality with fine imaging and coherence, there's a good impression of scale and some dynamic integrity. But there's also some mid-forwardness here and this tends to emphasise a degree of boxy coloration, which is partly down to the speakers.

On the end of our solid-state system the Hecos' did sound a little hard and congested and this tended to be exaggerated by their forwardness. The distributor, being primarily a valve amp specialist, suggested we should try the thermionic alternative.

This we did, checking with both my restored Leak Stereo 20 and the Unison P70. As a consequence, the superior delicacy, sweetness and transparency of the valve amplifiers through the midrange did suit the speakers better. However, for all their midband strengths, valve amplifiers tend to be a little loose at the bass end of things and this reacted less well with the already heavy bass character.