Quick-n-dirty review of Athena's new James Bond-esque WS100 speaker

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by LanceJ, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Listened to these last night at Best Buy for about 30 minutes and formed a basic but informative opinion of them.

    They were part of a demo system consisting of a Yamaha receiver (about $600--can't remember model #) and a new Toshiba dvd player connected via digital input. 10" subwoofer was an Athena also. System was set up in an open & carpeted space so fortunately this avoided the problems you get when they are stuck in those semi-enclosed metal shelf display areas.

    I only listened to the front two in straight stereo, along with the sub (rears were identical but unfortunately they were connected to the receiver's "B" output, so couldn't listen to my Dark Side Of The Moon DTS-CD* [​IMG] ). Bass/treble were bypassed. Crossover was set at 80Hz. Listening material was Stereolab's Dots and Loops which I think is a very good recording and features lots of special imaging effects.

    I thought they sounded very good. Imaging was very precise. Voices sounded full and smooth. High frequencies, as usual for the other Athenas I've heard, were a little bright but nothing irritating. Despite their slim profile they never sounded thin or lacked anything obvious. From what I can tell they aren't designed for full-range use, despite the use of eight 3"(?) midbass drivers because even though the volume wasn't that high (usually around -12dB on the Yamaha's volume display) they were all pulsing in & out pretty fiercely (the grilles are removable).

    EDIT: BB's WS100 page says this about the driver complement: "Three 3-1/2" injection-molded polypropylene woofers and 5 passive radiators.....". So ignore what I said above.

    Techie note: only the two midbass drivers on top of/directly below the tweeter seem to handle the midrange frequencies; all the others handled the lower bass notes. This makes sure imaging ability isn't compromised. To discover this required some ear-to-speaker action combined with being down on all fours for a few seconds--I'm sure I looked like an escaped mental patient doing this! Oh well, whatever it takes in the pursuit of Audio Truth. [​IMG]

    Aesthetics note: when I saw all four of these slim, brushed aluminum/black columns arranged in their surround configuration, along with the matching (smaller) center channel, I immediately thought of how slick and cool this looked--very clean and functional. You almost don't notice them until you look right at them. IMO these would be excellent speakers for a couple with opposing viewpoints on HT speakers because they look good & nearly disappear into a room's decor AND they sound good too.

    Another nice product from our northern neighbors. [​IMG]

    * just for kicks I did listen to "Time", the track with all the clocks (real ones that were recorded across the street from Pink Floyd's studio). While half were missing, despite that when they were ticking and when their chimes finally went off, the Athenas reproduced them very realistically and cleanly, even at high levels (the young guy helping me who had turned up the volume had never heard this album & didn't know what was coming!).
     
  2. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    Nick So
    [​IMG] WHAT?! had never heard of the DSOTM DTS-CD, or had never heard of DSOTM altogether? how young was this kid? im 19, and ive heard DSOTM countless times [​IMG]

    anyways, nice to hear they sound good... it would be dissapointing to see Athena put out a product based mainly on asthetics rather than sound quality. looks like they've acheived both in this speaker
     
  3. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    He didn't seem to know who Pink Floyd was, period. He seemed about 18-19 years. Man, he made me feel old! :b

    I was a little disappointed about the price after reading about the 3 active/5 passive woofer system (i.e. power handling wouldn't be as high as with having all active woofers), but usually specialty products like these will always cost more. But as I mentioned in my review, they still got plenty loud even in that totally open demo area.

    These would look really nice paired up with one of the thin silver digital-amp receivers that are available nowadays. [​IMG]
     
  4. Derek H

    Derek H Agent

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    Thanks for the review. Are these speakers made in Canada or China? I know Athena is a Canadian company,
     
  5. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I didn't hear the entire album until I was 26!
     
  6. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Never got a chance to look regarding these particular models, but have noticed other Athenas are made in China. [​IMG]
     
  7. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Wow what took you so long?

    Or could it be like what happened to me with the Beatles: I had heard their hit songs so many times and heard about THEM so much, that until just a few years ago I had completely avoided buying any of their albums. But now i own Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, their 1 comp album (good music but this overcompressed/overly-bright CD sounds nasty) and a couple months ago bought Abbey Road. You know what? They're pretty good! Though I almost always skip over the "radio-friendly" songs.

    Now i'm trying to buy more Jefferson Airplane albums-such cool psychedelic rock. [​IMG]
     
  8. billybob_jcv

    billybob_jcv Stunt Coordinator

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    Beatles: Also try Charlie's (and my) favorite - the White Album [​IMG]

    Back to Athena - I would really like to hear the new P6000 sub, but I can't find it anywhere yet.

    I listened to the WS60 at BB, and they sounded very thin to me. Granted this was in the horrible BB demo set-up, but to be honest I have yet to hear a "slim profile" speaker system that I liked - they just don't seem to do it for me.
     
  9. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Personally I also prefer "normal" box speakers myself. That means something with at least a 6.5" woofer. They always sound better to me than any small satellite-type speaker, no matter who makes them.

    I think in the case of the WS100s those five passive radiators + a (relatively) large enclosure prevent it from sounding thin. I didn't listen to the WS60 that was being used as a center so I can't comment on that one.

    Right now I'm keeping an eye on local resale shops for a large bookshelf speaker to use as a full-range center for my surround music/HT system. I'm using a smallish 6.5" Infinity bookshelf right now but want something with more bass capability. A few months ago I had to pass up a beautiful pair of 30 year old but fully-functional Acoustic Research AR2ax speakers for only $40/pair because I was in between paychecks. I was soooooo p.o.ed!! I wish I could find a pair of old-skool Infinitys like these--you just know bunches of these are sitting in their owners' attics becasue they think no one wants such "clunky old fashioned things". I DO, I DO, I DO! [​IMG]
     
  10. billybob_jcv

    billybob_jcv Stunt Coordinator

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    Showing my age...

    I remember those Infinitys quite well! The late 70s was the beginning of my audio interest and I listened to the Qa at the local dealer many times.

    The one thing I would be careful of with buying old speakers is the woofer surrounds. I know the foam on my old 12" 3-way boxes (nothing special) from that vintage had completely disintegrated by the late 90s. I thought about replacing the drivers, but in the end I tossed 'em. I now wish I had kept the enclosures to try to turn them into some diy subs just for fun.

    Memories... [​IMG]
     
  11. AaronMP

    AaronMP Auditioning

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    I also listened to those Athena's @ Best Buy and I too was impressed. The one negative thing I did notice about them was that, while they sounded great with the small Athena sub, they didn't blend well with the 15" KLH sub that was also hooked to the amp- even after adjusting X-overs and sub volume. Mind you, this was just an in store impression and very well could have been the fault of the amp, sub, or sub location. If you want a larger sub, make sure it will blend with these speakers.

    On the subject of "old-skool INFINITY's", I have a pair of mid-80's RS10's, but like billybob said, the surrounds are dust. Enclosures still look nice- replacement drivers are $47 each direct from INFINTY. Don't know if they are worth anything to ya, but if interested, send me a pm or e-mail.
     

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