"My, arent those cute "my wife stated as I muscled the 92-pound Coincident Super Eclipses out of their styrofoam-lined shipping boxes. Cute? CUTE? Puppies are cute. Baby girls are cute. Audio toys are handsome. Or awesome. Never cute. Perhaps cute is her way of saying "Those things dont ugly-up my living room." Ill have to agree with that, as the Super Eclipses look more like a piece of interesting furniture than do most loudspeakers.
Each Super Eclipse consists of a pair of 5" magnesium-cone midrange drivers surrounding a 1" titanium-dome tweeter in a typical MTM configuration. Two 8" treated-paper woofers are mounted on the side of the cabinet, and the speakers are furnished in a mirror-image pair. The floorstanding enclosure is 42" high by 8" wide by 16" deep, which for the non-tape-measure-wielding souls among us means medium height, quite narrow, and relatively deep. The exterior of the cabinet is beautifully finished in a dark red cherrywood veneer. The drivers are bare-butt naked, as no grilles are supplied. However, the effect is really quite pleasant. The medium-gray coating of the midrange cones is visually distinctive, and is further enhanced with a bright copper-colored phase plug sticking out from the voice coil. The tweeter is protected with a very sturdy perforated metal plate, so prying fingers are no cause for concern.
The internally separated bass enclosure is ported out the rear of the cabinet, just above the gold-plated binding posts. Although bi-wiring capability is available, the review pair was equipped for single-wiring only. Incidentally, the binding posts employed are some of the best Ive ever had the pleasure to use. A large knurled knob allows ample tightening using only your fingers, but for the obsessed, the Hulk-like construction would probably tolerate a cheater-bar and sledgehammer. Additional points of merit include drivers matched to a minimum .2dB tolerance, and a near-full-range frequency response of 28Hz to 35kHz. Finally, the sensitivity rating of 92dB at 1 watt and the stable impedance that doesnt dip below 10 ohms make even SET amps suitable for use.
The Super Eclipse is an upgraded version of the regular Eclipse, differing only in the use of magnesium-coned midrange drivers instead of polypropylene. Further, the drivers used in the Super Eclipse are identical to those used in Coincidents flagship product, the $6995 Millennium. Israel Blume is the brains behind this beauty, and after the exchange of numerous e-mails, it's pretty easy to gather that the Super Eclipse is one of his greatest pride 'n' joys. Blume started his audio life working in a retail audio salon at the tender young age of 18. After earning a masters degree in science, he went on to get a law degree, but he never lost touch with his real passion -- audio. He created Coincident Speaker Technology in 1994 to develop loudspeakers without the limitations and problems that he personally found in what the market had to offer. Today, Coincident offers seven loudspeaker models, and has recently introduced a speaker cable. Blume offered to send a sample of the cable for comment, but at that point the review process was too far along to introduce another variable.
With most loudspeakers, the proper term would be setup. The Super Eclipses, however, require more than the usual care if you want to hear everything theyre capable of. The side-firing woofers introduce a whole new dimension to the setup workout. Woofers facing towards each other, or facing the walls and away from each other? About the only absolute I can offer is that it depends entirely on the room.
As a case in point, my listening room changed during the review period. My wife and I found the perfect new-old house, complete with a 17' x 25' room that was quickly dedicated to audio-only use. The old listening/living room was very long and somewhat narrow, and the Super Eclipses were set up on the long wall (woofers firing out) for the first month of listening. Some fine-tuning of the original rough placement provided a very nice frequency balance and pleasing soundstage performance.
In the new room, however, the long wall just wouldnt gel. Moving the speakers closer together turned the bass notes into big squishy marshmallows. Moving them further apart helped restore the tune and definition down low, but killed the depth of the soundstage. Finally, audio-bud Vic visited and arrived with the solution: speakers on the short wall, woofers firing in, and placement well away from the back wall -- like 11 feet from the back wall. This provided a weighty and lively bass presentation, yet without the gooey thump-thump that had occurred on the long wall. Better yet was the soundstage -- wide and deep. Way deep. I had tried the short wall initially, but had placed the speakers at a more normal distance of four to six feet from the back wall. I just couldnt make it work that way.
OK, enough! What do they sound like?
Out of the box, the overall sound character was somewhat thin, and there was some added sibilance. The bass, however, was quite deep, powerful and nicely defined. Blume indicated that the speakers shipped to me had about 50 hours of time on them, so I fired off an e-mail to see if the sibilance was a matter of break-in or not. His response indicated that sibilance was not a problem voiced to him by other owners, so it was likely a matter of break-in or ancillary equipment. Being a true audiophile made me discount the ancillary equipment bit, so I focused on the break-in. With regular listening stops along the way, the thinness completely disappeared at about the 200-hour mark. The sibilance, while still there to a minor degree, showed up on only a few recordings. "Dont shoot the messenger," Blume offered in support, and the more I listened, the more I discovered that the Super Eclipses were just that -- a messenger, and one that does a remarkable job of presenting you with all of the message.
Satisfied that the performance had leveled out, I started with some critical listening. "One Clear Moment" from Little Feats Let it Roll [Warner Bothers 25750-2] gave instant recognition to the Super Eclipses cornucopia of qualities: dynamic and fast, excellent rhythm and pace, and upper frequencies that are extended yet quite natural. I am not a fan of speakers that are treble-tilted to smite the casual listener with gobs of hyped-up detail, and thus impress on first listen (and disappoint a few weeks later). I want to hear everything thats there, but no more. The Super Eclipses strike a very nice balance in their ability to resolve even the most intricate details, but without shouting about it. Revealing? Yes. Flashy? No.
Next up was Sades "Please Find Me Someone To Love" from Best of Sade [Epic/Sony EK66686]. I put this on to get a grasp of the midrange qualities, but my attention was immediately drawn to something else. For the first time that Ive listened to this recording, Sade was actually proportioned like a normal-sized human being (her image, OK?). Prior to this, her voice stretched from speaker to speaker. Beautiful music and a beautiful voice, but the humongous image always detracted from the presentation. The Super Eclipses revealed this problem to be elsewhere than the recording, and on all subsequent listening, image size and proportions were well defined and believable.
Back to the midrange. Electrostatic-like? Well, maybe not quite. Conversely, youd never guess the sound was emanating from cones in a box. The Super Eclipses did an excellent job with Euday Bowmans "12th Street Rag" from American Piano Classics [Telarc CD-80112]. The piano is probably the hardest recorded instrument to reproduce with all the harmonic information, overtones, and natural decay intact. Too many loudspeakers just cant get it right. Although I was still quite aware I was listening to a recording, the Super Eclipses stepped right up to the plate with a presentation that elevated the illusion to new heights.
On to James Taylors "Gaia" from Hourglass [Columbia/Sony CK-67912]. Towards the end of the song, there are some bass drum whacks that delve into pant-leg-flappin territory. I was amazed at the weight and power the Super Eclipses could produce out of four 8" woofers. I never heard any protest from them either, no matter what I threw at em at any sane volume level. Just as impressive were the speed and articulation in this area. As long as the placement was right, there was no overhang, bloat, or muddiness. Id have to label the bass reproduction of the Super Eclipses as full-bodied rather than lean, but as thats to my personal liking, I consider it a positive attribute.
The 20-watt Cary SETs provided ample power for most all music types at normal listening levels. Yes, with some bass-rich music at very loud levels, it was apparent that the amps were stressing. But take my rather large room into context, and the fact that I do (at times) listen at rather high levels. If the 20-watters were a great match, however, the 50-watt Cary SETs were an awesome match. I simply could not push the tunes to the point of audible amplifier stress, at least before stressing my ears with the sheer volume level. I spent a lot of time listening to this combination, as the music just sailed through without ever a hint of inadequate power.
Just for kicks, I hooked up the push-pull Cary SLM-200s (100 watts) to see what would happen. My greatest fear was that the Super Eclipses were voiced with SET amps and that a push-pull amp would reveal all sorts of ugly things I didnt want to hear. Im pleased to report that the Super Eclipses sounded magnificent with these amps as well. Yes, the bloom, space, and harmonic texture that fills the listening room with SET amps was drastically reduced, but at no time did the speakers get ugly or whisper nasty things to my ears. The Super Eclipses let me know that I was listening to push-pull, but again, they were only fulfilling their mission as an accurate messenger. The SLM-200s offered better control and more extension in the bass, but other than that, the SET amps were the ticket to audio joy in my system.
Super Eclipse or Alón V?
My Alón Vs are priced almost identically to the Super Eclipses. Unfortunately, its difficult to provide an apples-to-apples comparison. The Alóns dont work well with 20 watts, and are on the margin with 50 watts, at least for the volumes at which I normally listen. Using the CAD-805C amplifiers, and keeping volume levels within appropriate limits, the Alóns come through as decidedly more laid-back in comparison, and tend to be kinder to less-than-perfect recordings. They create an expansive soundstage in the new room, but dont define image outlines nearly as well as the Coincidents. The Super Eclipses go lower in the bass and bring through more detail throughout the frequency spectrum, but without slapping you in the face with it. Both speakers are hard to fault in the areas of frequency balance, driver integration, and an overall natural presentation of the music. The Alóns can sound good in a smaller room, and can be placed closer to the walls than I was able to manage with the Super Eclipses. But they also need more power, and unlike the Coincidents, they are not good candidates for partnering with low-powered SET amps.
So which is better? Sorry, but there is no universal truth to be found here. Hopefully I have provided enough of a description for you to decide if the Super Eclipses are a possible candidate for your music system. The rest, as always, depends on your room, ancillary equipment, and system goals.
The Super Eclipses simply draw me into the music, and have greatly enhanced my personal listening experience. They work fabulously with low-powered SET amps, but dont get all rude and obnoxious without them. They produce a big sound out of a small and cute (I mean handsome) cabinet that fits nicely in most any decor. They are the most highly resolving speakers to ever grace my room, yet arent ruthless about it. They present the music as an organic, living entity and add just one more plank to the bridge between live and reproduced sound. Yes, they require a lot of effort to set up properly and need plenty of room to show their stuff. But once that magical spot is found, audio nirvana is at hand. As Blume so eloquently offered on the subject, "Persevere, and you will be rewarded by sonic delights not previously experienced." A bold statement, but one with which I must agree.
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