I understand that the big Brodmann loudspeakers that were playing when we were in the room (in the picture above) retail at around £36k. Gulp. I don't know much about the Belles electronics as this is my first encounter, but there are favourable comments on other blogs and forums. Last time I encountered these speakers was at the Manchester Show in 2013 where I found them to be a mixed bag.
So how did it sound? Well, proving that musical choice can be very important to some systems, this was a perfect case in point. In my Bristol Sound and Vision Show report back in February, I noted that the rooms with the best sounding systems tended to be those where they would allow you to select or play your own music - a real sign of confidence. In this room, even the vendor selected music tripped up this system. We went in and heard some very gentle female vocals and piano and it sounded inviting, reasonably detailed, expressive and very much inoffensive without being bland, if that makes sense. Second track was more female vocals but more folk oriented. Same effect from a sound point of view.
We were just about to leave the room when on came Blues Company's "Dark Day", a perennial system testing track of mine and others. This track is very much based (no pun intended) on a tuneful and deep bass line which determines both the mood and the pace of the song. Its very well recorded and with the right system has a massively spacious openness and excellent imaging. Couple this with the blues vibe and brilliantly clear, sparkly but not harsh, complex cymbals and you have a great track as both a piece of emotional music and a system test.
Well we didn't get very far into this track, maybe 30 seconds or so, to discover just how badly this system was handling the bass. Muffled in the extreme, notes blurred and slurred into each other, the tune was lost, there was no impact. The cymbals were there but muted and soft, and when the deep reverberating electronic bass drum came in it was lacking in depth and somewhat apologetic about its presence. This all in a very spacious room with the speakers well away from any boundaries. Deeply disappointing I'm afraid.