Review: Verity Audio Parsifal Encore Speaker
PARSIFAL ENCORE by VERITY AUDIO
This is my first Audiogon review about a great product that deserves to be ranked with the very best in my humble opinion. I may be against fashion here as the speakers have always been the major investment in any sound system I ever owned, to the point where the rest of my components are sometimes and usually " not in the same league" as my speakers, as I could not afford it. Nevertheless, this is a personal choice of mine, as I still believe speakers make the most dramatic improvement in the audio chain.
First, listening biases: We all have them.
I tend to search for the emotion and energy in all reproduced music and vocals. Whether it's the London symphony playing to huge dynamics, Ella Fitzgerald crying out her pain, or Shania Twain getting me to believe that yes, country rock is real music after all, there's no mistaking that " I'm involved into this" feeling of a great musical passage. I don't search for earthshaking depth, or stealth high frequencies. Just a nice overall balance, but especially truth in the midband, and especially vocals. This means that Willie Nelson should sound grave and nasal, and not sound like a copy of himself.
Unpacking the Crown Jewels
Verity does have a way of letting you know that you have invested in something special. The speakers come in two very sturdy, no, make two indestructible ATA flight approved road cases. You will need a friend to help you unpack everything. The inside of the case is all form-fitting high-density foam. Wow, such attention to details. Most importantly, one breaks up a sweat lifting these beautiful speakers. Not because they are very heavy, but because one gets very nervous about dropping them or damaging them. I figured for every nick one makes on these decreases their potential resale price by $ 200.00. I am exaggerating, but not much.
A 3-in-1 speaker system to set up.
Setting up is relatively easy. Screw-on the steel pins at the four corners underneath ( I suggest you put some metal disk underneath if you have wooden floors you care about, remember these babies are heavy).Once the woofer module is on it's legs, gently deposit the granite plate on top - sorbothane disks act as a buffer between the plate and speakers- then place the monitor on top of the granite plate. Removing the Verity logo will uncover the threaded holes where the special Verity-designed binding posts should be used. Connect the monitor to the woofer below and voilà! You have just assembled what I consider 3 different speakers!
It's a world-class monitor. It's a back-firing-woofer speaker. It's a front-firing-woofer speaker, all in one.
Before I get to my "3-in-1" discovery, a quick note about my listening room, meaning my everyday living room. All wooden floors, a few drapes, wide-open space, and not too many sound-absorbing surfaces worth talking about. This means my room is "alive" and could be called ricochet-city the way sound bounces off everything. It's actually pretty ordinary, and I'm trying not to use the word "bad" here.
Sound: First impressions for a lasting relationship.
First thing I noticed was the incredible sweetness and refinement of the midrange. Whatever vocals you play through these, there is this organic truth to the timbre and accuracy of it all. Second thing I noticed was a remarkably deep and tight low end. The Parsifals are rated to go as low as 25hz. Even with my bad listening room, I could tell I had the equivalent of a musical subwoofer built-in the speakers. But not from the boom-boom school of music. Low bass comes in a controlled manner, and quite discreet. I could go on and on about it's sound, but there is one last thing that must be said. The overall balance is just about perfect, plus the fact that sound emerging from the Parsifal do so in a seamless fashion.
About the 3 speakers in one issue
This was the fun part to me. Because of the flexibility of having a front OR back firing woofer, I used the following 3 combinations in two months rotations for each, or whenever the music or the recording demanded it.
Back-firing woofer set-up:
In my room at least, the feeling was clear energy and crystal-clear holographic sound with a solid, tight low end. Soundstage evenly spread-out, reaching far beyond the speaker boundaries left and right, and especially front and back. I understand this is the preferred set-up for most Parsifal owners. For Jazz, contemporary, acoustic ( James Taylor's IF, is just wonderful ) this is as good as I ever heard.
Front-firing woofer set-up:
A more romantic sound, softens bright-sounding cd's, yet the details are all there. Many of my early 80's cd's benefited from using the front-firing combination.
Using the monitors only:
Few people realise that the Parsifal Encore contains a world class monitor, the Parsifal monitor ! I just connected these for some extra fun and let them do their soundstaging magic. The extreme low end is gone, but other juicy frequencies get full spotlight. Might as well use the flexibility if you own this speaker. So there you have it, 3 speakers in one.
The Parsifal are expensive for the common mortal, but they will sing with modestly priced equipment. In all honesty, finding flaws here is a hard task.
Wrapping it up.
I won't go on about how these speakers do this and that audiophile trick. It's the big picture that counts here. Quite frankly, these glorious speakers are nothing short of a true technological work of art. They have a relatively small footprint, yet they sound better than twice-the-size Wilsons. You don't need the latest house-costing amps to produce beautiful music, and the Parsifals are both forgiving yet revealing of your sources, if this makes any sense. They are surely pricey, but I got great sound with amps as modest as a McCormack DNA 125, a budget amp that most people would not think of pairing with these . However, hook them up to the best you can afford and you will be rewarded. All in all, pricey, but still a steal for the pleasure given in return.
Amps used with this speaker with good results are noted below.
Sonic Frontiers Power 2
McCormack DNA 125
Sim Audio I-5
Cary 572 monoblocks