I began with a little jazz, cuing up K.D. Lang's "Skylark" from the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Soundtrack, (1997 Warner Brothers). The opening orchestration floated effortlessly from the ES-700 Towers while Lang's vocals had a lighter, airier presence than I remember in earlier auditions of this track. When the entire ensemble joined in, I found the upright acoustic bass, which at times can be boomy, to be tight and well focused within the soundstage. Truly a well imaged performance by the speakers.
Next, I switched to the Bluesy "Old Love" from Eric Clapton's Journeyman album, (1989 Reprise Records). Clapton's edgy midrange guitar playing has been at the cornerstone of his signature sound. At higher listening volumes, I find it to be a bit harsh after a few minutes of listening. With the Episode ES-700 Towers, the edge was still there but never fatiguing to the ear. The raspy quality to his voice was present but not overly so, nor was it overly warm or bloated in the midrange.
Jazz and blues are great genres of music, but how do the ES-700 Towers rock? Few bands have the raw energy that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have. The opening track of Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik, (1991 Warner Brothers), "The Power of Equality" provides a four minute audio obstacle course for judging a speaker's response. Flea's constantly moving bass lines were clean and distinct without sounding muddy. Chad Smith's heavy-handed playing style on drums was clean, from the crisp attack on the cymbals to the palpable hit of the kick drum. Each percussive attack was handled expertly by the speaker's quick response.
• At a suggested retail price of $1,500, the ES-700 Towers are a great value, easily performing like speakers at a higher price point.
• The high gloss black finish and curved edge profiles provide an attractive look.
• Five way gold plated binding posts provide options for a variety of different cables and connectors, as well as the ability to bi-amp and bi-wire.
• Even though the high gloss black finish is very attractive, it may not fit into every décor.
• While the low end response is very tight and rated down to 35Hz, I much preferred the sound of these speakers when mated with Episode's C5 Series 300-Watt 12-inch subwoofer, the C5-SUB12.
Competition and Comparison
The ES-700 Towers fall into a price category with no lack of competition. The Klipsch RF-63 comes in at $1,998 and adds an additional six and one half inch driver. Definitive Technology's BP-8020ST utilizes two slightly smaller three and one half inch drivers and a self-powered eight-inch subwoofer for just under $1,200. Other comparisons can be found on Home Theater Review's Floorstanding Speaker Review page.
When I was asked to review these speakers I had no idea who Episode was. After reading about the company I was excited about getting them into my listening room for review. Bottom line, these speakers are great values for the money and service a wide range of musical tastes well. They image well enough to handle jazz vocals and acoustic music, but can still rock even at higher listening volumes. The bass is tight and well controlled and I find the midrange and upper frequencies smooth and realistic. I know that anyone looking in this price range has a lot of options to choose from, but I encourage you to contact Episode for the name of a local A/V professional who can give you an audition. These speakers sound fantastic and could demand much more than their $1,500 retail price.
• Read more floorstanding speaker reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Search for an amp to drive the ES-700 speakers in our Amp Review section.
• Find audiophile-grade source components in our Source Component Review section.