Clearwave Audio 5R’s and an Anti-Mode 2.0
Thought I should give these little monitors some well-deserved praise now that I’ve lived with them for around a year.
They replaced as an interim speaker, a very fine pair of GR-Research Super V’s. Speakers that have auditioned in my room since then have been the Acoustic Zen Crescendo’s, Gradient Evolutions and before that, MBL 121, Dynaudio C1’s Tyler Acoustic D2’s, LS6 line arrays, and like so many of us, can’t seem to settle. Most have been special in some way, a few not so.
Having a passion for performance audio for nearly 50 years, I somehow converted my wife of 10 years to the appreciation of fine sound. Our goal now is to find and purchase a full range speaker for which we have yet to come to a decision about. We attend audio shows endlessly looking for a speaker for long term ownership. The pitfall there of course is how to know when you’re hearing greatness in a hotel room.
During the last year I discovered that perhaps the real reason rooms in audio shows sound bad, even the big rooms, but smaller rooms suffer more it seems is the room interaction with the speaker. And not just the bass but often the entire range gets affected. You sort of have to listen past the room. There were 2 rooms I where I really appreciated the balance and I noted that they were running the Dspeaker anti-mode 2.0 as its preamp and DSP engine. So the 5R’s in our room have had the benefit of this device coupled with our 4 subwoofers. I have to add this important bit of information as I trying to put into perspective this review of the 5R’s as both a monitor and part of a full range speaker because that’s how we listen to them.
The 5R’s by themselves are amazingly competent. They don’t dig down into the lower registers but perform bass well. But blended well with subwoofers these speakers are amazing because of the quality of drivers, xovers and cabinets. The Raal tweeters are very forgiving, never fatiguing (not in their DNA) and provide a smooth seamless response to the Scanspeak midrange driver. It’s simply a competent speaker, nothing groundbreaking here. If there is any criticism, some might prefer a little more bite, or leading edge at the higher frequencies. The Raals aren’t razor sharp in that regard, they go about their business in a gentle, detailed kind of way. Don’t get me wrong here; Neil Young’s harmonica still has bite, just not in a wincing (for lack of better adjective) kind of way. I was one who didn’t mind so much, and impolite sound if it was true to the source. Perhaps I’ve softened in this regard.
We cannot detect any coloration with these speakers. Vocals sound natural, not pushed forward but not recessed either. Tube amps seem to push the vocals a little forward and add a bit of depth. I felt they play best with my BMC S1, a very stout 200wpc. I’m no reviewer but I’ve critically listened to many products over the years, and now just trying to convey what I, my wife and others have shared about these wonderful monitors. They can play very large with a soundstage that goes wall to wall albeit with the help of those subs. One weekend I was listening to my system, enjoying it immensely, playing different music, tracks and I thought that I might need to turn the subs up a little bit. So I got off the couch to do so and discovered the subs were turned off! That says a lot about the 5R’s.
Correcting the room via treatment, DSP, speaker placement, bells, whatever, we found paramount to great sound. Having multiples of subs, even cheap subs, (we use the built-in sub inside the Def Tech 8060’s for 2 channel and a pair of Atom SW260 subs the 5R’s sit on). Not every speaker benefited from the Anti-Mode. The Acoustic Zen’s seem to have gotten robbed from its inherent warmth. Maybe more time “tweaking” was needed.
My wife wants bigger speakers. I know, I know.. She loved the line arrays and the Gradients as well. We will keep looking but for now, enjoy the 5R’s and if replaced, they go to the bedroom. These won’t go for sale.
Our room has dedicated circuits and much attention has been paid to AC such as receptacles, power cords, isolation transformer (BPT 3.5) and outboard power supplies. Sources include a CAP's server with an Sotm card, iFi USB straight to Anti-Mode. A Oppo BDP105 and a VPI Scoutmaster TT. A BMC S1 provides amplification.