May 28, 2008
I picked up a pair of Rosewood AV123 Strata Mini speakers at the end of last year because they were having a special and the price was too good to pass up. After reading spectacular reviews and lots of good things, I've been wanting to get these speakers for about a year, possibly a little longer. I replaced my Castle Avon speakers with these hybrids, and the first thing Luna said after hooking them up was that the sound was so much clearer and she could understand what people were saying a lot better.
The Minis have a ribbon tweeter, planar magnetic mid-range, and a rear woofer. They're rear ported. Specifications list them as going down to around 27Hz, which probably means the usable low point is around 40Hz. I have to place them close to the wall anyway, so there's a lot of bass reinforcement&emdash;kind of sloppy and boomy as the bedroom isn't well treated.
They're certainly better than the Castle Avons, but not as good as the Onix Reference 3 speakers. The planar magnetic mid-range doesn't seem much quicker or cleaner than the Ref 3 mid-range, although I suspect there is less boxy sound if you turn up the volume; the Ref 3's will start sounding boxy if you turn them up. The ribbon tweeter is excellent though. And very sensitive to placement because moving up and down or side-to-side the tweeter response falls off quickly. I am not using the front spikes so that the front plane is perpendicular to the floor and the tweeters aim at my head. I'm sitting slightly off-axis, as the high frequency response rises a bit more than it should when on-axis.
Overall, I'm very pleased with the Strata Minis in my second setup, and really like their sound. I've been waiting on this review until after I could get some better gear to drive them. I'm now using a Parasound Halo P3 pre-amp and Halo A23 amp, along with my prototype DAC. The DAC and amp made a huge difference. Unfortunately I feel as though the P3 adds a little bit of veil across the entire spectrum. Things sound much better if I connect the DAC directly to the A23, but then there's no volume control. Since this is my second system, I can live with the pre-amp.