Opera Audio Consonance Eric-Linear
Outside of audio, my other favorite pastime is to visit racetracks around the Midwest and watch 650 horsepower “landrockets” go around in circles at over 200mph. But before you begin to think I’m a crazy for watching cars make continuous left turns, I must tell you that most people are surprised to find out that automobile racing is the world’s number one spectator sport! Last spring I made the trek down I-65 from Chicago to Indianapolis to witness the world’s greatest racing spectacle, the Indianapolis 500. One of last year’s exciting highlights was witnessing rookie (and all-around hottie - Ed.) Danica Patrick almost win the race.
Now you’re probably saying at this point what does auto racing have to do with audio? The answer is … absolutely nothing. But since I like to use analogies (particularly sports analogies), when I first received the Opera Audio’s Consonance Eric Jr.’s for review I immediately thought of Danica: a great product in an extremely small package.
Opera Audio has been around for many years and they are known for producing wonderful products at competitive prices. They have been available in the U.S. via the extremely nice and knowledgeable Stephen Monte of NAT Distribution. Last year, fellow Stereotimer Dave Thomas wrote highly of the Consonance a120 hybrid integrated amp and since I spent some time with this unit as well and can attest to the company’s merits, I was eager to hear if they could accomplish the same level of performance/value with their loudspeakers. So I contacted Stephen and waited for the speakers to arrive.
Meet Mr. Big Stuff
Spoiled by the normal delivery personnel’s early deliveries, I was a little disappointed when at 06:00 p.m. Fedex was no where to be seen. When the package finally did arrive I could not resist sarcastically asking why it would take two individuals to deliver one box that weighs a mere twenty-six pounds. Refusing to wait for their response because it was extremely late, I wasted no time taking them out the box. After unpacking the little dynamic duos, my immediate reaction was that at 7 inches wide, 9 inches deep and 11 inches tall, I would probably have to say something conciliatory because how could anything worthwhile come out of a box this small? Eager to find out if I had in my possession a diamond in the ruff or a lump of coal, I placed them on 24-inch stands, two feet from the back wall, four feet from the side walls, and about six feet apart and voila! Setting up the Eric Jr.’s was just that easy.
Restricted Air Space
The Eric Jr.’s are a two-way ported design incorporating Opera Audio’s own proprietary half inch tweeter and a four inch woofer. The port faces the front which will you allow you to move them closer to the back wall if space is an issue. On numerous occasions I’ve witnessed smaller loudspeakers coupled against the back wall to produce a more exaggerated bass response negating the benefits of the midrange and above. I’m happy to report with the Eric Jr.’s that is not necessary and they sound better if they are given more room to breathe. There are two sets of binding post on the back that will take spades or banana plugs. There is also a well machined aluminum panel on the front that covers the mounting plates on both drivers that I felt created a very smooth and attractive finish. After I connected them to the Consonance a120 hybrid integrated, I sat about four feet away, listened to a couple of discs and was impressed with the wonderful sound coming from these loudspeakers, which retail for only $799.00! So the next day I phoned Stephen to inform him of their arrival and how I enjoyed the sound fresh out of the box.
Break Out Complete
After a brief period of feeding the drivers a continuous electronic signal, one of the first discs that I reached for was Trin-i-tee 5:7. This is a gospel trio that if comparisons were necessary they would be considered the gospel equivalent of the secular group En Vogue. They have a very captivating style and feature lyrics that emphasize their devotion to Jesus Christ and Christianity. The opening selection and one of my favorites, "I Won’t Turn Back" is performed acapella. A good way to find out if someone is able to sing is to just give them the mic and hopefully sit back and enjoy. Listening to these young ladies harmonize through the Eric Jr.’s was a real treat. The sound stage expanded beyond the sides and in front of the loudspeakers with very good height and depth. One of the major attributes of a well-designed loudspeaker is to produce a stage that doesn’t seem to emanate from one speaker or the other but to create an expansive body of music. Many small loudspeakers accomplish this goal but sometimes sound lean in their presentation. With the Eric Jr.’s Chanelle, Angel, and Terri, collectively produced a rich, powerful voice that resonated effortlessly through the room. Compared to other speakers that I’ve heard that are similar in size to the Eric Jr.’s, they delivered a much fuller and balanced sound from top to bottom. While the Eric Jr.’s did a good job of creating a large soundstage, they also excel at allowing small musical nuances to become clearly audible. Overall, the Eric Jr.’s did a good job of allowing Trin-i-tee 5:7 to sing with grace and emotion and certainly passed the all important midrange test.
Using the same disc, the next song, ‘God’s Grace’ again caught my attention. This song has an R&B style to it with a little extra emphasis on the low end for those who like to feel the music as well as hear it. Surprisingly, the quality of the bass response was more than I was expecting considering that the woofer is only 4 inches. I easily thought the bass was coming from a bigger cabinet with at least a six inch woofer. The bass response with the Eric Jr.’s is not only tight and tuneful but in the right environment will go as deep as 40 HZ and will have you wondering if there is an extra side firing woofer since you are presented with so much output. Combined with the strong traits of imaging, midrange presence, and bass performance it was time to test the Eric Jr.’s capabilities in the highs.
Biased towards artists from the Chicagoland area, I grabbed guitarist A. Ray Fuller’s The Weeper. He might not be a household name but he’s been on the music scene for over thirty years and has played with a stellar list of musicians before this debut project as a bandleader. This is a great disc if you are a fan of smooth jazz. Besides Ray Fuller on guitar, the other stellar performer is Kevin Ricard on percussion. One of my favorite tracks on this disc “If you really Love me” is filled with plenty of chimes, bells and triangles. What I was expecting in terms of sound quality was completely different from what was presented. I figured since these little monitors retailed for less than a grand, I assumed that the highs would be delivered with plenty of distortion and lack of clarity. Boy was I wrong. There was plenty of snap and detail. I was prepared for an overly bright type of sound or just the opposite - suppressed or rolled off highs. But instead the Eric Jr.’s clearly allowed the highs to come through with an ear-pleasing sparkle. Now I can’t go out on a limb and say they have the resolution of the Scan-Speak Ring Radiator tweeter but I can say that in the highs they are a very good performer in their price range.
The last disc that I reached for is Paul Horn’s, Something Blue, to check for musicality. Sometimes high-end equipment can be brutally honest to the point that you don’t want to listen to music. Listening to “Mr. Bond,” an original recording that is eight minutes long produced a very memorable musical experience and considering again that the price was only $799.00 made these a steal. There weren’t any signs that the Eric Jr.’s would be overwhelmed by complex material and the tonal balance was fairly neutral. Normally speakers in this price range only give you a glimpse of the high-end but the Eric Jr.’s provided a wide-open window.
You probably expected this review to be relatively short given the physical size of the speakers, but the old saying that “good things come in small packages” rings true for these speakers. If you have a small room but would like a loudspeaker that images well, has plenty of detail, and delivers a wonderful musical presentation then you should consider the Eric Jr.’s. These speakers will amaze you with how well they sound and will have you wondering how they were able to produce so much quality bass from such a small box. While they worked well with other sources for amplification when partnered with the Consonance a-120 hybrid integrated amplifier there was a special synergy, as you might imagine, and the combination provided a wonderful listening experience.
Although the verdict is still out on Danica, and I hope she is more successful this year, the results are already in on the Consonance Eric Jr.’s. They are definitely contenders in the bookshelf arena and I’m glad that I didn’t judge this speaker by its size. As a matter of fact I enjoyed them so much that I decided to purchase them. Happy New Year!
Craig “Craigy G” Fitzpatrick
NRSG (None Resonance Surround Geometry)
CBCS (Controled Breakup Cone Structure)
CR (Cooper Ring)
VS (Ventilating Structure)
AMS (Asymmetric Motor System)
FS (Flat Spider)
ADPC (Air Dried Paper Cone)
DB (Dynamic Balance)
FF (Ferro Fluid)
TD (Textile Dome)
18mm MDF/Wood Veneer 18mm
Dimensions: 11 1/4 " x 7" x 8 ¾” (HWD)