With The Planets in old jazz barDale Davies ▼ | October 19, 2007
Should you just read the specification, you wouldn't be impressed. The Planets are 260 mm wide, 156 mm deep, and 830 mm tall. They require at least 10 watts of power at impedance of 4 Ohm, and sensitivity is 85 dB. But they are special because they are omni-directional. And that doesn't make them just better than other loudspeakers; they are in category of their own.
Among the audiophiles and wanna-be audiophiles there's constant discussion what is natural sound. In those debates, sometimes as fierce as religious wars, one thing is easy to overlook. The adverb "natural" has nothing to do with impedance, sensitivity, middle or bass, spatial distribution or 500-dollar cable. If you want to hear and feel natural sound you should listen to philharmonic orchestra. As a guitarist who pretends to play flamenco I'm very aware of tone, shade, dynamics and all those subtle details that sometimes resist to any description. There are endless combinations of loudness and silence, attack and tranquillisation, stress and meditation... All of that when put together makes the true meaning of a music piece and all that subtle variations need to be heard if we are to understand the intent of a performer.
And that is where classic loudspeakers fail. The cheap and plastic models don't deserve to be mentioned. The expensive ones can give you good sound picture, with good sound and spatial definitions. But, you know, there are usually two speakers in the room and there are usually more than two instruments involved.
Urban Fidelity's turned to Markus Duevel to design The Planets. The idea of omni-directional loudspeakers is some 20 years old, but Mr. Duevel mastered that principle as no one before. The Planets are two-way speakers. The standard tweeters must be pointed in the right direction because of the sole nature of high frequencies, but the spheres of The Planets send sound in every direction. And I mean it literally: You can hear the same sound picture in the front and in the back. If you can't believe I'll understand, it has to be heard to believe.
The Woofer completes the tweeters with strong and well-defined low frequencies, but they're not annoying or heavy on ears. The bass is just strong and fast. The Planet sends low frequencies to the floor, not to front or back, and that simple but brilliant idea creates the bass that doesn't need a subwoofer.
Due to perfect compatibility with tweeters the picture of midrange is (for the first time in my life) totally relaxing. Those frequencies are very delicate and easy to amplify too much, but The Planets makes them the natural part of the sound, not something that stands out and needs to be equalized. And when talking about equalizer, God forbid any complicated sound control. You'd be amazed how The Planet, due partly to sensitivity, sounds with relatively cheap amplifier and CD player.
It is hard to write about Urban Fidelity's speakers without superlatives because the sam superior sound is present in every part of the room. So, what would be the shortest and clearest description? The Planets are relaxing loudspeakers.
There's no need to tune your system to different CDs or kind of music. There's no need for tweaking the middles. You don't have to guess where the hell is French horn, where are the trumpets and did triangle played or not. The symphonic orchestra will sound like orchestra, and not like one hundred musician squeezed on two square foot. Rock is fast, strong and full of energy. The voice of Brian Johnson is natural part of AC/DC sound, not cat's scream. While listening to The Planet you can easily fell in love with genres that you wouldn't dream of.
Maybe the most impressive experience was listening to old jazz while Lady's voice is crying, and fragrance of cigars and Single Malt Scotch wraps around the speakers and fills the room with emotions and memories... I really enjoyed that old jazz bar in the basement with all my heart. I will play that CD again... ■