There are just two terminals on the back of the box and these hook up to a minimal crossover with first and second-order slopes built with hard-wired components using high voltage polypropylene caps and air-core inductors. Sensitivity is quoted at a fairly average 88dB so most decent amplifiers will drive them, Neat usually uses Naim in its show dems and is not renowned for raw power.
For this assessment, plenty of power was available in the first instance. The latest addition to the armoury chez Kennedy is a Moor Amps Angel 6, 150 Watt beast with the nimbleness of a triode with dynamics that can startle. It proved an excellent match for the Orkestras, allowing them to shine from the first note, albeit shine isn’t quite the mot juste. Orkestra is a reasonably dark-hued loudspeaker that puts musical communication ahead of stark detail. And yet there is plenty of detail to enjoy if that’s what you want, it’s just not thrust front and centre but an integral part of the musical flow. That is the mot juste. The Orkestras are all about musical fluency. It is all but impossible not to be swept up in the song or the composition when they are in action. Little else seems to matter.
In more objective terms the mid and treble are a little recessed compared to the PMC and Bowers & Wilkins speakers I generally use, and the bass is less hard-edged and more relaxed. If you are looking for an etched image and low-end slam, there are plenty of speakers out there that can deliver it. These Neats manage to provide lots of fine detail with a sense of timing that is engaging yet devoid of hard leading edges found in many other speakers that also time well. It’s a very appealing combination altogether.
It’s only real limitation seems to be a tendency for the sound to stick to the cabinets, especially concerning the areas on either side of the stereo pair, ribbons are not renowned for their wide dispersion, which is what you hear with the Orkestras. There is a good depth of sound between the speakers and plenty of space for the various instruments to perform and be heard but not the sense of boundary-breaking air behind them. There is always some kind of trade-off, and this is the only one I noticed, that said it did nothing to get in the way of appreciating the finer details of everything played. An example here is the nuances of Susumu Yokota’s electronica on ‘Gekkoh’ (Sakura, Leaf) where different layers of sound slowly fade in and out of the mix creating a shifting acoustic tapestry that is very easy to enjoy.
I found that the Orkestras required a fair amount of space behind them, half a metre to the wall from one back corner, with their axis pointing straight at the listening position. This provided maximum definition without introducing any glare. That ribbon tweeter is smooth, and the key no doubts to the tonal character of this speaker. One of my preferred tracks for imaging is Radiohead’s ‘Decks Dark’ (A Moon Shaped Pool, XL) where the sounds are manipulated in such a way as to carve out distinct shapes in the air with some amp/speaker combos. This didn’t happen here. Instead, it was the tune and the song that engaged and that proved far more enduring than psychoacoustic ‘visuals’, by the end of the track I was hooked, stuck to the chair eager for whatever came next.
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