Canton Ergo Speaker System Reviewed

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When asked to review these Canton Ergo speakers, I didn't do any advance research. I simply said, "Sure, that would be great," and forgot about it until the pallet arrived. And I do mean pallet. More often than not, my gear arrives by way of FedEx or UPS. Deliveries to my house are so common, the neighbors probably suspect I'm a compulsive catalog shopper.

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• Explore subwoofer pairing options for the Canton Ergo.

When the unmarked semi-tractor trailer slowly backed into my driveway, I knew I was in for something different. While the Canton payload was being hydraulically lowered onto my driveway, I realized why FedEx and UPS were not involved. If asked to lug around this array of boxes, the local deliverymen would have come for me with fire and pitchforks, keeping the speakers for themselves. Luckily, I survived the delivery and lived to tell the tale. It's a good thing too, because these Ergo speakers are worth talking about.

Founded by a trio of German audio enthusiasts, Canton has been building quality speakers since 1973 and is Germany's largest manufacturer and best-selling brand of loudspeakers. The company operates under one very straightforward mission statement: "to produce the best loudspeaker." While that goal sounds simple enough, the perfect loudspeaker, like the perfect wave, probably doesn't exist. After all, it's about the journey, right? Not the destination. That being said, this Canton Ergo ensemble created such a fine quality of sound, it makes me think that if we're still "on the journey," then the off-ramp must be just ahead.

Unique Features
Having recently reviewed a few speakers that sported trendy, silver lacquer finish, the Canton Ergos were a breath of fresh air. The beautiful Ergo line boasts old school craftsmanship, fashioned with gorgeous wood cabinets complete with black perforated metal grilles. My review samples had a handsome cherry veneer, but other finishes such as beech and ash are also available. After listening to them, I was reminded of the film Crazy People, in which Dudley Moore's team of loony marketers comes up with a new catchphrase for Volvo automobiles: "They're boxy, but they're good." The Canton Ergos are just that, though cabinet edges have been rounded ever so slightly. Overall, high marks in the looks department.

One of the things that make the 1002 DC towers sound as luscious as they do is Canton's exclusive "Displacement Control" (DC) technology. In essence, DC is made up of a high-pass filter which prevents the bass driver from attempting to reproduce sounds which fall below the audible frequency range. Such attempts are fruitless and only result in higher levels of distortion. Put more simply, DC technology forces the drivers to focus on the stuff your ear can actually hear and forget the stuff it can't. The end result is low distortion and linear, accurate bass reproduction at very low frequencies.

Taking a page from Canton's flagship Karat Reference 2 system, the Ergo line features newly upgraded crossover components for improved sound quality. The Ergo crossovers now contain ICW polypropylene capacitors, which allegedly reduce memory effects and produce finer detail with improved transient response. After reading some of Canton's internal design documentation and listening to the Ergos, it is evident that their engineers pride themselves on a system approach to loudspeaker construction. Each component must work together for perfect sound. The crossover network and its DC design is not an afterthought, but rather an integral part of the Ergo sound.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
Canton takes great care in packing these lovely speakers. Each sits between snug-fitting Styrofoam cushions and loose parts such as carpet spikes are carefully taped down to prevent movement during shipment. The owner's manuals leave a bit to be desired: slightly vague when it comes to setup recommendations and some translation seems poor.

Each of the Ergo speakers features gold-plated, bi-wire/bi-amp connections, providing a snug fit for banana plugs. The carpet spikes are attractive metal and they simply screw into the bottom of the mains and AS-2 SC subwoofer. Overall, I was very impressed with the apparent quality of construction. It also says a lot that many visitors to my theater during the evaluation period said, "Wow, who makes those?" The AS-2 SC subwoofer is really the only speaker where "setup" comes into play. I would like to have seen some additional information and suggestions regarding crossover frequency, particularly when the AS-2 SC is mated with other Ergo speakers such as the 1002 towers I had in for review. In the end, I set the sub's crossover at its highest setting (150Hz) and let my Atlantic Technology P2000 preamp/processor perform the signal surgery. I ended up settling on an 80Hz crossover around the room, though the towers could probably easily handle 60Hz.

Read more about the performance of the Ergo on Page 2.

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