Hello PAP team. Here my first impressions of the Duet15 Prelude speakers.
High level summary:
1) The Duet speakers are incredibly precise in rendering recordings, without being nervy or overly high pitched.
2) As highly efficient speakers they run well on any equipment and are more balanced on low volumes. These speakers also raise the bar for low cost equipment.
3) The bass is very impressive and never rumbling.
4) Overall they are very musical and work well for classical music. As many have noted their spatial reproduction is as good as is central focus on those voices or instruments that are actually located there. You will learn a lot about how your recording was engineered. Stereo CDs will have a come back, you will hear them like never before. I do not play vinyl and never looked back.
5) Their overall tone is warm and very balanced, I leave all my tonal dials on neutral and it sounds best.
6) I was shocked when comparing them to my existing speakers, it was not even close.
7) These work for pop and rock as well as for classical music. Singers voices come forward as I never heard before.
8) Assembly was easy and uncomplicated. Questions were promptly answered by Ze’ev or Cynthia.
These speakers were the most expensive I ever bought. But I always owned well manufactured speakers, if more on the budget or mail order level. These were the first that I compared carefully with my existing ones. I also went to listen to Klipsch Scala speakers to test whether the investment in high end speakers is worth it. I read and listened to many reports about the latest speakers to filter out quality from marketing. Steve Guttenberg is my man.
My equipment is simple: Yamaha A-1060 CD/SACD player or macbook with a $100 Schiit DAC to Yamaha R-S500 stereo amp. I play a lot of CDs, DVD-A or SACD records and now a lot of Qobuz high-res streamed files. I love old re-mastered recordings that were recored in the 60s and 70s. They were often very well engineered and I have heard them a million times. Most of them sound as good as anything today. I also like multi-track surround sound recordings for their immersive quality. The Duet speakers are the first that I own that create this special surround feeling again, even from stereo sources.
These speakers are for people who like to listen to music, really any kind of music. Once you get used to them the technology should disappear and the artistic intent of the record should speak for itself. To me that is what these speakers will do for most listeners. One benefit of the Duets over the larger versions, which I have not listened to so far, is that they don’t require a change to the room design, even though they are larger than any speaker I have owned by being wider than usual and quite tall.
A 15″ sub woofer makes a huge difference even for classical sources because it sounds more relaxed at lower pitches. Additional subwoofers are not needed to create a fuller impression or a stronger rock’n roll power. The Voxative drivers convince in transporting voices and entire orchestras clearly and fully. It is amazing that this full sound is produced by essentially a flat board without a box. The Duets look deceivingly simple and produce a counter intuitive range of sound. You just don’t expect such a warm rendering from an open baffle speaker. Breaking them in (I played Christmas elevator music for 8 days on them in a closed room) is not just recommended but required, the sound after 200 hours of low level play is as expected: clean and clear.
One of the most appealing qualities to me is that orchestras, solo instruments, organs and voices have a natural sound, effortless and unaltered. The speakers are made for acoustical recordings. But I can also make out acoustical qualities of the spaces and microphones like I have never experienced before. The sound is transparent, without overemphasizing high frequencies or tweeters. Even old CDs suddenly have a bass quality because the speaker and amp don’t have to lift the lower frequencies.
Who would I recommend these speakers to? This is a hard question because we all have such different tastes, and many reviews of equipment is overly technical. I am sure there are other speakers that satisfy your taste. I would say that these speakers create an incredibly comfortable sound and invite you to try your old sources. They will also show you qualities you have not heard before. And I haven’t regretted spending some extra money because when I sit and listen carefully they transport sound I haven’t experienced in my home before. What can be more rewarding.