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The Chrono SL580 was fed primarily from a system comprising a Naim NAC552 preamp and NAP500 power amplifier, driven from a CDS3/555PS CD player, a Magnum Dynalab MD106T FM tuner and a Linn/Rega/Soundsmith vinyl record player.
Clearly best kept well clear of walls, the measurements indicate that the sound might suffer from some excess warmth and richness, but it didn't seem to be the case subjectively.
There is ample punch and thump when the program content requires it, but it is invariably clean and free from unwanted enclosure colorations. Even male voices seem impressively free from chestiness or thickening.
However, the Chrono SL580 does seem a little lacking in weight, scale and sheer authority. Since there's always the option to trade off sensitivity for absolute bass extension and since the sensitivity here is unusually high, one might query whether it might have been better to have accepted somewhat lower sensitivity in the interests of increasing the bass extension.
One might also point out that brands sometimes deliberately opt for high sensitivity, as the 'louder' speaker often sounds more impressive when demonstrated under showroom conditions.
Bass end notwithstanding, the overall character here, though essentially neutral and attractively open, is also a tad 'shiny' and tends to focus the attention firmly and consistently on the upper midband. Some try and attribute a 'shiny' character to the use of metal diaphragms, but this is by no means proven and seems more likely to be merely a myth.
In fact, the more likely cause here is the minor unevenness seen in the measurements, especially in the relatively strong presence region (1-4kHz). Rather, metal diaphragms seem to give a clean sound with a notably low 'noise' floor, though fine details like instrumental textures sometimes seem suppressed.
The strong presence band does tend to be the most obvious feature here. It means that voices in general and speech, in particular, sound very clear and articulate, even when the speakers are playing very quietly and that is a worthwhile plus.
However, the down side is that things can often become a bit edgy, uncomfortable and even aggressive when the volume is turned up. While that explicit clarity at low listening levels is often welcome, this is not the sweetest speaker around and the presence dominance can become uncomfortable and somewhat fatiguing after a time.
The drive units and the tweeter are set somewhat below seated ear height, so the stereo image is rather lacking in both height and room-filling 'airiness'. On the other hand, image focus and lateral positioning is exceptionally precise, though again the focus element seems to be concentrated on the midband and presence.
Consequently there is a slight tendency to 'spotlight' features at the front of the soundstage, whereas low frequency and depth positional information seems rather more vague. Good enclosure control and high quality drive unit design help provide a very wide dynamic range with a notably low 'noise floor'.
Dynamic expression and transient 'bite' is less impressive, as the midrange tends to lead the way here and the bass seems to follow in its wake. There's no denying the engineering competence of this Chrono SL580 DC.
Value for money might not be dramatically high, but it still seems respectable enough and pretty much par for the course for a premium brand with premium presentation and proprietary high-class engineering.
The Chrono SL580 DC delivers an exceptionally clean overall sound, though the lack of genuine bass authority remains a pity. The tonal balance might well be a little too upfront for some tastes and although it can certainly be driven hard and loud with confidence, this is a speaker that's happiest when operating at relatively modest volumes.
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