Loudspeakers are fairly basic when you get right to it; a couple of drivers, some wood, a few bits of foil and metal and you're there. Now, how much can what I just described cost? A couple of bucks, maybe even $100? So how can a manufacturer charge upwards of $20,000 for a pair of loudspeakers consisting of essentially the same ingredients? It begs the question, how much loudspeaker does one really need?
Now, I know what I've just said is a bit of an oversimplification and understand that there is a lot that goes into a modern loudspeaker that in many instances does warrant a higher price tag. That being said, Boston Acoustics has said "To hell with all of that" and has designed a speaker that harkens back to the days of yore when loudspeakers weren't crafted out of carbon fiber and Bald Eagle heads but of otherworldly materials like wood and screws.
Introducing the CS 226 floorstanding speaker from Boston Acoustics. It is...a traditional floor standing speaker in the classical sense, which is exactly what the CS in its name stands for: Classic Series. The CS 226 retails for $229.99 apiece and is a two-way design featuring a single one-inch soft dome tweeter mated to two six and a half inch graphite/polymer woofers. It comes in two finishes, black or cherry, both of which are of the vinyl variety, and features no fancy curves or flowing design language of any kind. The CS 226 is a box measuring in at 38 inches tall by eight and a quarter inches wide by 10 inches deep.
The CS 226 has a reported frequency response of 46Hz-25kHz and is easy enough to drive with its 89dB efficiency rating into its benign eight-Ohm load. About the only "advanced" thing about the CS 226's design is that it is video shielded, which is something old school, classic, loudspeakers were not. And you know what else? I actually kind of like it.
I'm not going to suggest that the CS 226 is some sort of giant killer because it's not, but it is refreshing if I'm honest. It's a few bits of wood, some glue, a couple of drivers and boom - there you have it, a speaker. And like any speaker the CS 226 plays music and it plays it with a sort of vintage flair too. No it doesn't sound all dusty, wobbly or vague but you get the sense listening to it that it's not trying that hard to impress you. I know some will look at the CS 226 as an entry-level speaker but I think there's more to it than that. There's purity here, a sort of maturity that a lot of newer designs lack, a sense of self that isn't constantly trying to be one thing or another. It just is. The treble isn't extremely airy or extended but it isn't brittle or harsh; it's smooth with enough detail to get its point across and get on with the show. The midrange is slightly colored by the cabinet, but it doesn't sound chesty - it just sounds a bit old fashioned, which works for the CS 226. There's a simplicity to the CS 226's sound, not overly detailed or etched, but with a touch of warmth that so long as you don't crank the volume will suit most casual listeners just fine.
Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on the next page