I love these plays on titles. As you remember from our last episode, I mean two issues back, I was invited on a press junket to Northridge, California, for the unveiling of the new Cascade line of speakers for the Infinity brand of Harman International. You can read that story on our website. So, it was back to review the future of this technology. Soon after that trip, it was off to CEDIA in early September for the home theater show, where we again stopped by the Harman booth for the official introduction of the Infinity Cascade line.
At the press tour of the factory, I was so taken aback by the new advancement in driver technology that I quickly requested review samples. We got the exclusive introduction in our Oct/Nov 2005 issue, and I wanted to be the first to review these babies. I was back in Southern California in mid-October on another business trip and had not yet received my samples. I had been calling Harman and bugging them, but as any new intro goes, delays were causing me pain. I was anxious to get them in this issue, and time was about up. After more than two weeks of whining, the last day of my trip would be the payoff.
I received a call, and instead of having them ship samples to either LA or Montana, I suggested a visit to the factory demo room, just minutes from my office in the San Fernando Valley. I arrived early and was escorted into one of the same rooms I had visited just a month or so earlier. I had the entire morning on Friday to bring in my materials and have at it. It was the exact setup I was interested in: The new floor-standing Model Nines, the center Model Three C, side channels of the same Model Nines and two of the Model Fifteen-powered subs, sitting just to the outside of the front mains, away from each corner. The room was about 20 ft. x 28 ft. and looked like a real home theater living room. I was sitting about 8 or 10 feet back between the mains, about 10 feet apart.
The new dual elliptical voice coils and the flat panel CMMD• Diaphragm (ceramic metal matrix) wasn't just some gimmick, but a true advancement. This is the same exclusive material used in their tweeter cones. The advantage of this new driver technology not only increases surface area of the driver surface, but also the increased surface area of the voice coils allows them to dissipate heat more efficiently, reducing thermal compression and increasing dynamic range. This MRS mid/bass flat driver eliminates smear in the sound caused by information arriving to the listener at different times due to cone distortions. The Nines consist of a one-inch CMMD tweeter and two of the new 7 inch x 3 3/8 inch magnetically shielded mid/bass flat elements, in a sleek column.
Read more about the performance of the Infinity Cascade on Page 2.
I came to listen to music and I did just that. Using the Lexicon
MC12 processor, DVD, and LX7 amplifier, I knew I was in for a great
morning. Set in the two-channel stereo mode, I dug into my shopping bag
of demos and was off and running. Now remember, I have been doing this
way too long, so my music might seem a little strange to a younger
reader. First up was Sade's Diamond Life. Vocals were defined,
localized, and real. Each of the first three cuts was open and
detailed...not bad for a 20-year-old recording. When sitting in the
sweet spot, the image was dead-on, but as I moved off center, the image
lost some of its location. Bass was tight and musical. Sade's voice
seemed high and centered.
Let's switch gears. I jumped to Keith Richards's Main Offenders from
1992. Cut four, "Words of Wonder"--it's an old favorite for testing the
bass quality of speakers. Good dynamics; rich, musical bass; and
strange vocals, but that's Keith. I noticed the vocals remained
centered and localized. Next is the little known Jeni Fleming Acoustic
Trio. Run out and buy anything from her. I used "Amazing Grace" from
The Trinity Tour. Another killer is "Mr. Bojangles" from Things I Meant
to Say, as well as "Over the Rainbow." The position of this trio was
made more "visible" by these speakers than by most I have heard. The
detailed sound of fingers moving on the guitar strings along the neck
was incredible. Closing my eyes, I could almost smell the smoke in a
small club. Other selections, like "Satin Doll" from The Three (East
Wind records,1978), blew away the other listeners. Joe Sample, Ray
Brown, Shelly Manne...enough said. Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You
Love Me" from Luck of the Draw, would wrap the music test. Infinity has
accomplished much, and this will be another milestone in the highly
recognized history of Infinity speakers.
It was time to get the theater cranked up. What better demo today
than Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith? Once it started
playing, the room quickly filled and the show began. Most speakers seem
to handle some materials better than others, but Cascade did it all.
The theater experience was seamless. Before I knew it, we darn near
watched the whole movie. The THX capability of the Cascade system was
strong on everything, including the kitchen sink as it flew around the
With the family of Cascade, featuring Models Three V and Fives,
bookshelf/wall mount, Model Seven floor standing and Model Nines floor
standing, plus the Model Three C centers and the Model Fifteen
subwoofer, this line-up will take a prominent position among the
competition. For more detail, see "To Infinity and Beyond" in the
Oct/Nov 2005 issue at www.hdtvetc.com (past issues available on Flipbook).