Falcon Acoustics R.A.M Studio 30 Loudspeaker Page 2

So it doesn't serve up a thumping, in-your-face, head-banging sound. Indeed, it isn't particularly noteworthy on first acquaintance, and certainly won't have you gasping in awe at its power and punch. Yet despite this, it turns out to be a most pleasing speaker to sit in front of over a long period of time – and the more you listen, the better it gets.

One of the Studio 30's trump cards is its tonal balance – smooth, clean, delicate, even and couth. Whatever you care to play, even at high volumes, it remains a model of good manners, never cajoling, irritating or aggravating. Yet neither is it so reserved as to diminish what's going on inside a recording. David Sylvian's beautiful 'Orpheus' [Secrets Of The Beehive; Virgin Japan VJD-32005] showed this to great effect. The high production values of this pop-art set grace the basic cleanliness of the sound that comes from the high quality drivers and inert cabinet. Sylvian's voice was surprisingly natural sounding, as was the acoustic guitar work and Ryuichi Sakamoto's soft piano accompaniment. Violins sounded wiry and tactile, and the flugelhorn as pure as you could wish. Without sounding precocious or showy, this speaker got right to the heart of the musical matter.

The Studio 30 also projects images of instruments and performers with conviction. We're not quite in electrostatic panel territory here, but it still has the ability to operate comfortably beyond its own boundaries. Given the right programme material, this speaker can dissolve into the room and project the recorded acoustic in a way that's surprising at this price.

Kraftwerk's 'Spacelab' [The Man Machine; Mute CDSTUMM 306] illustrated this quality vividly. Though you might think that the band's late '70s output would be all about rhythm, this adventurous production has a wide, panoramic 'soundscape' with synthesiser lines that pan hard from far left to far right, and vice versa, and all were revealed by the Studio 30's engaging and propulsive nature.


Great Big Groove
There's certainly an underlying energy – gusto even – to the way this speaker goes about making music, and the result is that everything it handles is infused with a sense of unerring purpose and fun. The High Llamas' 'Birdies Sing' [Hawaii; Alpaca Park 483903 2] showed this in spades. It's a slice of modern, cleanly recorded indie pop and though it's also fairly compressed, there's still a lot to enjoy with the right speaker.

Here I heard this floorstander in its element, providing a solid, driving rhythm that hammered along courtesy of the tuneful bass guitar work, and some satisfyingly peppy rhythm guitar playing that syncopated beautifully with the layered vocal overdubs.

The result was a great big groove that kept my feet tapping, even as the recording became progressively more dense before reaching its dynamic peak. How the Studio 30 achieved this was interesting in itself, because it didn't rely on physical power to crash and bash its way through the music. Instead, the speaker revealed a more nimble and rhythmic side to its abilities that proved highly tactile and grippy.

In fact its large cabinet pretty much never made its presence known. With little overhang to bass notes, this speaker proved very well composed yet at no time sounded controlled to the point where the music's excitement was squashed. Cueing up Herbie Hancock's 'Riot' [Speak Like A Child; Blue Note UCCU-5666], I could tell that the bass port has been very well implemented. It delivers a relatively light but snappy bottom end, which made Ron Carter's bouncy bass work a pleasure to behold. There was a sinewy, slightly lean feel that really caught the delicacy of the playing, as Hancock's beautifully rhythmic piano danced around above it.

Dynamic Accents
The Studio 30's clean and detailed midband integrates very well with both its bass and treble drivers, and the overall impression is one of a light, spry and open-sounding loudspeaker that's very good at telling you what's in the recording, as well as tracking its natural dynamic accents. It always sounds lithe and responsive yet, equally, it never seems to be vying for the listener's attention.

There may well be those who will criticise this speaker for this, as if it has a lack of character. In reality it's the very model of good manners and never reveals how hard it might really be trying. Hear it for yourself, but before dismissing it as bland, be sure to give it time. You may well end up loving it for its understated musical insight.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
It's not unusual to hear speakers as well rounded as the Falcon Acoustics R.A.M. Studio 30 at or near this price point. It does nothing brilliantly, yet its overall scores across the board are high indeed. Perversely, because this doesn't make dramatic headlines, many may overlook this mid-priced floorstander when they really should not. A fascinating combination of traditional and modern, it's all the better for it.

Falcon Acoustics Ltd
Supplied by: Karma-AV Ltd, York
01865 358001