Epos ES14N Loudspeaker Page 2

The variable-thickness polypropylene bass/mid driver, meanwhile, is impregnated with mica, terminated in a soft rubber surround, and driven via a two-layer 36mm voice-coil within a ferrite, rather than rare-earth type, magnet assembly. The pole-piece features a protruding metal phase plug that also serves to improve the unit's heatsinking. The partnering 28mm alloy dome tweeter is stiffened with a ceramic layer, has a fabric surround, and is protected by an oval-shaped perforated metal grill, the latter also factoring into the ES14N's elaborate sound tuning.

sqnote Punk Rockers
Performance, rather than nostalgia, was at the forefront of my mind when partnering this new Epos loudspeaker with NAD's C 658 DAC/preamp and EISA Award-winning C 298 [HFN Oct '21] Purifi-based power amplifier. Driven by this NAD combo, the ES14N showed itself to be a very capable performer, swiftly building up a dense and relatively expansive soundstage. There's the merest hint of extra warmth, but the overall balance is essentially 'flat'. Tonally, that is, not in terms of musical engagement!

It's a sound effortlessly compatible with the fat, analogue synths on 'Within' from the 10th Anniversary Edition of Daft Punk's Random Access Memories [Columbia 19658773731; 88kHz/24-bit].

There's not too much changed with the mastering of this disco-infused electropop classic from the now defunct French duo, but then again: who's complaining? 'Instant Crush' was as engrossing as ever via the ES14N, with the nostalgic artificial-sounding voice of Julian Casablancas slightly emphasised ahead of the guitar solo driving in the background. Equally pleasing was the portion of massive midbass thump powering 'Lose Yourself to Dance', featuring Pharrell Williams, or the latter part of 'Touch', giving substance to these tracks without blurring their delicate side. Yes, Random Access Memories has become a bit of an audiophile cliché, but revisiting it on these reimagined Epos speakers was certainly worth doing.

Clean And Coherent
It's also one of those albums that just gets better when played loudly, and the ES14N is hugely satisfying when you turn up the volume as the lack of cabinet colouration keeps things clean. Lamomali [3ème Bureau 3345692; 96kHz/24-bit], from French pop superstar M, is another such set, its opening track 'Manitoumani' laying on vocals and string instruments atop a deep, bassy beat, yet even at near-apocalyptic SPLs the ES14N held its own. Coherence remained excellent at all times; it's music you're listening to, not discrete instruments clincally portrayed and alienating you from the performance. There's certainly no suggestion of distortion to mire the experience, either.


Rear shot of the walnut-finished cabinet reveals the flared port which is perforated to reject higher frequency resonance modes. Cable connection is via a single set of 4mm sockets for bananas only

The ES14N's mellow midrange performance, together with a defined, clear low extension, was a boon when listening to Halo from Finish metal outfit Amorphis [AF0027DP; 48kHz/24-bit], especially during the anthemic 'On The Dark Waters'. The band dips deep into Finish mythology and folklore, distinguishing themselves from other Nordic troupes with the use of contrasting vocals styles throughout their epic songs – full-on death metal growls next to a higher- pitched melodic style. The switches from one to another, combined with rapid tempo changes and a double bass drum going wild, were handled very deftly by the Epos speaker.

Going With The Flow
Amazingly, all this crooning is done by one man, Tomi Joutsen, shifting gears in a way few singers could follow. The ES14N made it an exciting, dramatic listen, well-suited to a Friday evening after a busy week at work. It's a bit of a paradox that a genre heavily reliant on distortion pedals sounds the best on a loudspeaker that is very distortion-free and 'quiet' – which is very much what the ES14N is about. Metalheads and fans of overdriven guitars will love it, I wager.

Switching to a powerful Hegel H590 integrated amplifier [HFN Oct '18], there was added control and spaciousness to be heard with Rhiannon Giddens' They're Calling Me Home [Nonesuch 075597915709; 96kHz/ 24-bit]. But considering the step up in terms of outlay compared to the NAD pre/power system, the differences were a tad less pronounced than I'd expected, suggesting the ES14N, although not the easiest to drive, is not the most difficult either. Nonetheless, there was betterment in terms of imaging, meaning Giddens' folksy collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi flowed elegantly, its beautiful intermingling of melodies easy to discern.

Time Well Spent
Next to the powerful singing of Giddens, a lot of attention during recording was clearly given to the various stringed instruments Turrisi takes to hand. Textures and detail abound, nimbly recreated via the Epos speakers, resulting in them blending into an authentic and engaging experience. So, as romantic as returning to the '80s might seem, the ES14N proves the future has a lot to offer. Maybe not a flying DeLorean, but certainly better designed loudspeakers.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Where many marketing-driven nostalgia projects underwhelm sonically, the reasonably priced ES14Ns are exceptional speakers, designed with experience and care. The design might suggest 'vintage', but the second coming of this classic performs on a level many 'modern' loudspeakers don't reach. If you prefer your music delivered without embellishment but with real engagement, you'll love owning a pair of these.

Epos Loudspeakers
Essen, Germany
Supplied by: Kog Audio, Coventry, UK
024 7722 0650