Eryk S Concept Superioro

[Superioro]

Speakers or modern art?

Product name: Superioro
Manufacturer: Eryk S Concept
Cost: $1,490.00. (Currency conversion)
(YMMV)

Reviewer: Mike Cox - TNT UK
Reviewed: December, 2013

The Eryk S Concept Superioro speakers have some unusual design features and it is refreshing to see a manufacturer trying something different. The cabinets are a plywood construction with a lacquered finish on the front, available in a choice of colours, so nothing unusual so far. The difference is to be found on the sides where you will see a modern art graphic. You can select from a range of graphics available on the website or you can use your own design. The driver line up is unusual, a single full range item sourced from Japan and tiny by modern standards at just 11.5cm with the moving area 7cm in diameter. The cabinets are small at just 11.5cm wide by 27.5cm high and deep. On the rear panel there is a bass reflex port and a switch that selects between normal and dynamic, during my listening I left the switch in the normal position as the sound was to my ears more balanced. In the dynamic position the sound was brighter and perhaps more "dynamic" but not to my taste.

Some years ago I was seduced by the sound of the single, full range driver in the form of the Lowther DX4 in a Beauhorn Virtuoso cabinet and driven by a 300B single ended valve amplifier. I still have the amplifier but the Beauhorns have been sold as they did not meet the domestic acceptance criteria, and I have to admit they were ugly boxes. I loved the midrange quality, but there was little deep bass, though what there was had speed and timing like no other speaker I have heard since. When the offer to review the Superioro speakers came along I was excited to try them with my unloved 300B amplifier and see if the Superioro could give me that midrange I so missed.

When the Superioro first arrived I was keen to give them a go and the first problem to solve was some suitable stands. As the driver is so small the width of the cabinets is narrower than usual and so my regular Atacama stands are too wide. I have tried to find some stands that would match but so far no luck, but I wanted to see what they could do in my regular environment so I pressed the Atacama stands into use.

[Superioro in room]

As you can see from the picture the Superioro are like David next to Goliath alongside my regular Amphion Krypton Mk1 speakers, the mismatched stands do not help either. In order to get them working quickly I connected the Superioros on the end of my regular amplifier chain of the Emotiva XPR-2 and Music First Audio mk1, a huge mismatch on a power level at 500W per channel. When the music started I had to go and check I had actually connected the Superioro and it was not the Krypton's playing! I spent a few minutes skipping through various albums and artists to get a sense of what the Superioros are capable of. I even ventured as far as some AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. With the right source material it was obvious the Superioros are very capable and perhaps the amplifier was not the best match.

I changed the power amplifier to my rebuilt Leak ST50 still with the MFA transformer preamp fed from my La Voce DAC and MAC mini. This was a better match with that lovely valve amplifier warmth showing through. I did try the 300B amplifier but as it has been unloved for so long it needs a service and possibly some new valves so I stuck with the Leak ST50. The Superioro are like most single full range driver speakers I have heard and they excel with the right material. The Led Zepplin and Queen albums are not really suited to the Superioro as the speakers are too revealing of the recording quality and electronic processing/mixing where as Diana Krall is a perfect match. The vocal tone and wonderful piano playing is portrayed so realistically you can almost see Diana sitting at the piano in front of you. Despite the diminutive size the Superioros are easily able to deliver the scale of recording with a bass that is simply startling for the size. Back in February this year I visited Andy Norman, another of the TNT-Audio team and listened to the Acuhorn Giovane 85, another single full range driver design and in comparison they are like chalk and cheese. The bigger driver of the Acuhorn just does not give you the bass weight or timing of the Superioros.

On occasion, when I am not in the mood for firing up the vinyl system, I use Spotify Premium to play some of the music I only have on vinyl. This evening I sampled some Dave Brubeck Quartet starting with Take Five and then Unsquare Dance. The tenor sax of Paul Desmond showed wonderful tone and that breathy quality you get with the saxophone. The bass of Eugene Wright is superbly timed, with good texture if perhaps a little loose low down but then the driver is only 7cm in diameter and you cannot expect miracles. With the Unsquare Dance Joe Morello is tapping away on the edge of the drums (I think) first out of the right then left speaker, very typical of early stereo recordings, it all sounded just right with the superioros, through my regular Amphion speakers it seems slow.

As I hinted earlier the Superioros need the right source material to show their best, they are ruthlessly revealing of any recording deficiencies and do not cope well with heavily processed material. I love Led Zeppelin and "Whole Lotta Love" but the recording quality is not the best and through the Superioros the sound is harsh and gritty. Now with something better like Alison Krauss & Union Station with Paper Airplane and the talents of the Superioros shine through. The vocal tone is rich and I can hear details that are just not as obvious with my regular speakers.

[Superioro in room]

Next up was some vinyl, Alison Krauss + Union Station on the New Favourite album, a superbly recorded set of tracks. The sound stage is well presented with the vocals well focused, set dead centre and slightly behind the plane of the speakers with the rest of the musicians spread out either side and further back from Alison on vocals. Through my regular speakers the presentation is more forward and not so deep. Yet again the Superioro surprise the listener with the bass from such a small driver. The next record on the Systemdek II with Wand arm and Denon DL103 was the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab special edition pressing of Santanta with Abraxas. This album, despite the first rate credentials, I have never been fond of. It does not grab my attention and make me want to listen. The superioros worked their magic, the extra detail really helps, the timbals played by Jose Areas on Singing Winds, Crying Beasts sparkled, making the experience much more enjoyable.

Conclusions

For the size and when used with the right system these are amazing speakers giving the listener 90% of the performance of a seriously expensive Lowther based horn design. There are limitations, like all full range drivers the source quality is critical and they do not cope well with over processed and compressed popular music. The balance of bass to mid range is excellent and the timing of the bass is spot on though if you push too hard it does get a bit loose. I am being very picky here, and if I had not heard the bass from my regular speakers I would not know much deep, controlled bass adds to the sound. The difference is offset by the rhythm and timing that the Superioros bring to the table. It is easy in hindsight to know what is the correct decision when choosing equipment and for me if I could wind the clock back and pick my speakers again I would pick the Superioros in preference to the Kryptons sticking with the Leak ST50 power amp and MFA preamp. I know this sounds a strange and retrograde step, but the financial saving is significant and the space saved would really help with domestic acceptability! As well as the sound the looks are to my eyes fantastic. All they need are a decent pair of matching stands (due in 2014) and for those moments when you crave deep bass, a seriously good sub woofer.

© Copyright 2013 Mike Cox - mike@tnt-audio.com - www.tnt-audio.com