Speakers from South Africa have appeared on the radar screens for only a few of us. Yet, they are worthwhile considering, as the Sonor Audio Claro 6.2 demonstrates. These speakers surprised us. The Claro’s give you a huge sound stage for an affordable price. Consider this a hot tip.
We are familiar with speakers from the USA, amplifiers from New Zealand and electronics from Sweden.
However, an entire continent is unknown to many high-end fans: Africa is terra incognita and is for most of us a blank spot on the map. This included us as well – until the moment we met the transducers from Sonor Audio. The company is based in Gauteng, South Africa, and has recently been represented on the German market. Sonor Audio was founded in 1989, headed by Roy Witelson.
His current team of twelve are mainly responsible for the fine finish of the boxes. We were pleasantly surprised by the craftsmanship of the Sonor Audio speakers with their fine wood finish, pleasing to both the eye and touch.
The model Claro 6.2 delighted our listening room with its stately appearance at a relatively manageable price. The German agent’s asking price is 4950 Euros for this large floor standing cabinet, which is after all 123 cm high and weighs 45 kilos a piece. Fortunately, this industry is not about an ideal weight to price ratio but about tonal values. To this end, the South Africans have taken a sparring partner on board. Sonor does not build its own drivers but rather employs Scan-Speak transducers.
The fact that Sonor does not build their own drivers does not diminish their standing, especially since Sonor Audio really chooses the finest from the catalogue of the Danes – such as the superb ring radiator from the Discovery series. Roy Witelson uses two 6-inch drivers, according to D’Appolito’s rules, again from the Discovery series. The woofer cones are made of coated fiber-glass. The crossover frequency is around 2.7 kilohertz. Sonor Audio adds distinctive value through the use of a reinforcing baffle, the curves of which lend it a lightweight aesthetic.
In addition, the tweeter is loaded by a waveguide modelled after a Tractrix curve. The construction boasts a further three apertures below the driver compliment, these being three ports in a vertical array for bass reflex tuning. Everything seems thoughtfully and lovingly implemented. Without a doubt: This is how high-end craftsmanship should look.
For us, there is a new star in the high-end sky. The most important requirement has to be right – the sound.
Deutsche Grammophon recently released a very taxing track for loudspeakers, to be exact, Stravinsky’s masterpiece “Le sacre du printemps” as a HiRes download. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The recording is at 24-bit and 96- kilohertz.
This is live a recording in the new but already legendary Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. The acoustics there is a dream, the stereo playback no less so. The German sound engineer Rainer Maillard achieved a marvel. The bad news: we have experienced many speakers that have been sunken by this recording.
For me, The greatest possible acoustic subtlety and a sizable punch in the low tones must be introduced simultaneously. The Claro 6.2 manages this brilliantly – and with integrity. Some demonstration model speakers would have produced the ultra-low sounds of the kettle drum with the colouring of an over-fat bass. Not so with the Sonor Audio – the sound was well-contoured, gnarly, and highly defined. While in turn, other demonstration model speakers may have exaggerated the soundscape into a cinematic render rather than portray the subtleties of a concert hall. The Sonor Audio remained strictly true to reality and nonetheless reproduced the most subtle reflections of the acoustics of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Initially, we had just intended to listen to the critical parts of this luxurious recording. But the reproduction captivated us to such a degree that we found ourselves enjoying the entire Sacre.
Exceptional sound art: from the composer to the conductor, the sound engineer, and finally the loudspeaker. After the final chord, the verdict of all the participants in the listening room was: “This is a speaker you have to have, that you want to have.” As a contemporary disc, we chose the new album by Courtney Barnett, “Tell me how you really feel.” Consciously contentious: A small girl’s voice on a massive rock mix.
The woofer cones have to bear the brunt. The Claro 6.2 intoned this music with great accuracy as well. Everything was spot on, from the deep bass to the already present holographic picture of the singing voice.
It not only had structure but the absolute ability to draw you in. In addition to the above, we found something that only a very few speakers can do: natural, self-evident musicality.