“The A’Diva speakers are a treat for the ears. I love listening to them and identifying sounds I had not heard before.”
The Silver Hedgehog
TV’s used to be a big black ugly box in the corner of the room, now they are statement pieces that sit centre stage in our living rooms. In the quest to make TV’s flatter than a pancake on shrove Tuesday, certain sacrifices need to be made – the most obvious being sound quality. TV manufacturers have tried to sort this out by implementing clever software and by bouncing sound off the wall or surface the TV is sitting on. For the most part this works, but then you can still get muddy sound and muffled speech, oh and loud adverts anyone?
So how do you get a better sound experience? The answer to this conundrum is to invest in either a sound bar or a home theatre set up. That is exactly what The Silver Hedgehog has done. Having installed a mid range Yamaha AV receiver, the search was on to find high quality speakers that would compliment both the system being used and the space the speakers would sit in.
I had two specific criteria:
1 -Speakers have to be high quality (not entry level)
As the speakers are to be used primarily for home theatre, they need to be able to handle a range of frequencies. Low frequencies such as the rumble of an movie explosion usually happen at a frequency range of about 50hz, whilst speech is usually in the realm of 80 -255hz depending on how high pitched the person’s voice is. The speakers should also be capable of producing the subtle sounds found in a film score, such as more percussive sounds. For this the speakers have to be able to hit around 6 – 20khz.
Speakers that are capable of hitting this range of sound frequencies are known as full range and usually come at a premium.
2- Speakers have to look amazing – think classy New York apartment as a style reference.
The space that the speakers will be used in is relatively small and wall mounting is not possible. As the speakers will be a focal point in the room they have to look like a design statement.
My requirements rule out large floor standing speakers, bookshelf speakers are also out due to space limitations (although there are some cool looking bookshelf speakers out there). That leaves so-called Sub Sat systems as the only possibility.
Sub Sat systems typically have small ‘Satellite’ Speakers (that are dotted around the space). These provide the high end frequencies and work with a supporting subwoofer that handles the low end frequencies.
The only problem with sub sat systems are that there are very few that cover full range frequencies and even less that actually look cool. The other problem with sub sat systems I have encountered is the sub. Often manufacturers chase numbers and include a powerful sub with inferior satellites, the sub then dominates the soundscape. Ideal if you want a rave in your living room, hideous if you want a refined movie experience.
My search narrowed down two products that fit my criteria:.
- Focal Dome Flax
- Anthony Gallo range.
I discovered that while the speakers offer a broadly similar sound specification they implement it in wildly different ways. Focal opts for a micro satellite speaker that has the traditional set up of a small woofer and a tiny tweeter supported by an integrated crossover. The Gallo’s utilise a single flat driver, no tweeter and no crossover.
I was very much on the fence of what speaker to opt for. The reviews on both products are outstanding. One comment did catch my eye – it detailed how good the Gallo customer service had been – something I hadn’t read about Focal. This was enough to prompt me to reach out to Gallo for a chat and the resulting conversation swung my decision. More on that later.
Who are Gallo Acoustics?
In the 1980’s a chap by the name of Anthony Gallo came to the realization that box design of speakers hindered the acoustic properties of the speaker itself. By the late 1990’s Anthony Gallo was manufacturing spherical speakers with proprietary diaphragm designs that had taken the audio world by storm. Glowing reviews, fantastic products and industry credibility ensued.
In a crowded market place the 2016 the European distributor of Anthony Gallo (NWX Group) saw an opportunity to grow the brand and purchased the whole company from Anthony Gallo.
Re-positioned simply as Gallo Acoustics, the group continued to manufacture the speakers to Anthony’s exacting specification and honed in on the professional install market. As a result speakers can be found installed in everything from universities though to the lobby in BBC television centre. Not only that, Gallo speakers can be manufactured in ANY colour!
Work on new products has continued at pace with the company launching both a new subwoofer and an outdoor speaker range in 2021 .
Gallo also stands by their products. They offer a 5 year guarantee on speakers as standard and 2 years on their subwoofer products.
Earlier I mentioned that I reached out to Gallo Acoustics, I did this by filing in an online chat form on their website. They then arranged for a phone call to see what they could offer. Stephen then called me and we had a lengthy conversation on what I was looking for. This included a detailed discussion on the environment I was going to use the speakers in and what device would be driving them. Gallo offers several speakers in their range from small ‘Micro’ speakers to audiophile reference quality ‘Stadia’ range. What Stephen was trying to ascertain is what products in their range would suit my intended use. This was no sales pitch, it was someone who was genuinely passionate about their products wanting to provide the best advice for a potential customer. Not only did Stephen provide advice on what products in the range I should be looking at but also suggested a technical set up I should use with crossovers etc. I found this approach really refreshing and it was great to talk with someone who lived and breathed their product. After this conversation I did a bit more research and decided on 5 x Gallo A’Diva speakers and 1 x Profile Sub. I called Stephen back and placed an order, and the very next day I was the proud owner of a set of Gallo speakers! I found out later that the Stephen I had been speaking to was actually the manager of product operations at Gallo Acoustics. There are not many companies you can get to talk with senior managers when making a simple enquiry. This impressed me even more!
Gallo A’Diva and Profile subwoofer initial impressions.
My order arrived in 2 boxes. 1 contained the 5 A’Diva satellites and 1 contained the Profile sub.
Opening the A’Diva box first I was presented with the joyous sight of several packets of Gallo Bears. Officially branded actual Haribo. This made me smile that even a sweet packet had excellent attention to detail.
Then I turned my attention to the speakers. Each was packaged individually in a small square box. The packaging struck me as being very ‘Apple-esque.’ A white box with a simple illustration of an A’Diva speaker on it. Opening the box I found the speaker looking straight at me like some sort of Sci-Fi robot eye. It was surrounded by thick foam padding. This really did look like a quality speaker.
Taking the speaker out of its box the feeling of quality continued, each A’Diva sphere is made with a steel case and weighs about 1.6 KG. I chose ‘Brushed Steel’ finish to suit our decor and they really do look and feel very smart indeed. Turning the sphere round uncovered 2 gold plated speaker binding posts designed in such a way that either bare wire or small banana plugs can be used. I am using 2.5 mm speaker wire and this fits comfortably into each speaker. I found them to be the easiest speakers I have had to connect. Being a perfect sphere I was worried that they would roll off the shelf, I needn’t worry as Gallo supplies each speaker with a small ring that it would sit on. It works perfectly.
Once all 5 A’Diva spheres had been installed I turned my attention to the Profile Sub. Opening the packaging I discovered that the sub was packaged slightly differently to the A’Diva’s, instead of a foam protective layer Gallo have opted for polystyrene packing (like the type found in any electrical item).
In the box I also discovered a pair of white gloves. Why didn’t I open this first? It would have been nice to use the gloves to set up the A’Divas! In contrast to the Steel spheres the Profile sub is a traditional wooden rectangular cabinet with front facing Subwoofer supplied in two colours only – white or black. On first impression you could accuse Gallo of not paying the same attention to styling and quality as the speaker range. However this notion was quickly dispelled. The Profile sub was provided with two acoustic covers, 1 grey and 1 black. The Sub has been designed to work on the floor under furniture, or on the wall and is provided with feet for this purpose. Gallo have also acoustically shielded the rear of the sub, so when installed on the wall it doesn’t vibrate the wall when providing its low frequency sounds – clever thinking !. The Sub’s input connections are on the rear and they supply a L shaped adapter that is the correct depth to the feet, meaning the cables can sit neatly behind the sub while it is wall mounted. To mount the Profile sub on the wall it’s just a simple case of installing the supplied bar onto the wall and slotting the sub onto it and tightening up a single grub screw, It’s as simple to install as the other speakers in the Gallo range. My only grumble is that the mains wire is a touch on the short side so I had to be creative in the use of an extension cable. For something that may be wall mounted away from sockets this is a little oversight!
So first impressions are that these speakers are a well designed, well manufactured quality product, would they sound as good as they look? time to find out…
Using A’Diva and Profile Sub.
Most new speakers need to be run in for several hours before they work at their best and the Gallo’s are no exception. During my initial conversation with Stephen at Gallo, it was mentioned that the A’Diva speakers need approximately 30 hours to run in. This is because the A’Diva speakers also feature a proprietary flat speaker cone as well as a secret weapon in audio – patented S2 fill technology. Essentially each speaker has a special filling that becomes statically charged with use. This then absorbs some of the frequencies generated by the speaker, enhancing low frequencies. This is how a small 5 inch speaker can sound like something much larger.
As I am using a home theatre Yamaha AVR, the subwoofer instructions were to set the subwoofer crossover at maximum and turn the volume to 12 o’clock and the AVR would handle subwoofer form there. The Profile sub has one other switch to set – Phase, this allows an adjustment to be made for where the Sub is placed in the room, i.e in front or behind the listening position. This makes the Profile sub one of the most versatile subwoofers I have used.
With everything set up the last thing to do was to run the Yamaha auto configuration and sure enough it set the A’Diva crossovers at 100Hz.
For my initial listen I used my regular test disc, Blu-ray edition of Mission Impossible Fall Out, This has an amazing Atmos soundtrack and would uncover any shortfall in the speakers. What struck me first about these speakers is that they sound really clear, a touch bright. By this I mean that they did not provide much low end detail but speech was incredibly sharp and the various instruments providing the background soundtrack could be heard pinging across each speaker. It also didn’t matter what position you are in the room, the soundstage was wide (not that this would pose an issue anyway, as the speakers are spheres they are easy to turn and position as needed) Then I realised that the Profile sub was not drawing undue attention to itself. It had seamlessly integrated with the A’Diva’s assisting the speakers with the low end oomph.
I then listened to some music tracks via Tidal running of an Apple TV 4k. Playing ‘Prince – When Doves Cry’ Atmos mix shows off the musical talents of these speakers. One of the benefits of not having a separate tweeter means that no internal crossover is needed. This means that the speakers can react blisteringly fast to the changes in sound and tempo and it shows. Prince’s voice was the clearest I have ever heard, the Atmos mix is a challenging track. It throws sounds and instruments across all the speaker channels, front back left right. The A’Divas coped with this extremely well. I was able to hear a cymbal (playing in the back of the track) move around the room. If this is what they sound like fresh out the box I couldn’t wait to hear them when properly run in.
Over the next few weeks I treat the speakers to TV shows, a couple of movies and a fair amount of music. All played at a low level to protect the speakers, and the neighbours!
After all of this playing I started to notice that the rear two speakers started to produce more surround noises. For example I would hear doors opening behind us in Star Trek Discovery, or the rustle of leaves in an outdoor scene. I had also started to notice the Profile sub kicking in more and sometimes being too obvious. I took this as an indication that all the speakers had run in and decided to re-run the Yamaha calibration.
As expected the volume of the sub was adjusted a lot lower than it had previously been set and the other change was that the Yamaha had detected the frequency of the A’Diva crossover was 80hz a change form it’s previous value of 100hz. With the recalibration completed I decided to treat the speakers to some piano music.
One of the challenge sounds for any speaker to reproduce is that of a piano. When a piano is played you hear the initial plonk of the key press, a sound that has a lot of depth, and then you should be able to identify the resulting vibrations of the strings. Many large floor standing and bookshelf speakers simply cannot reproduce this sound convincingly. Much to my surprise I could pick up this fluctuation in sound produced accurately by the little A’Divas. It was like being stood next to a piano, and that is quite an achievement.
My previous speaker set up included a dedicated centre speaker. Stephen had assured me that the A’diva was more than capable or being used as a centre speaker and he was not wrong. The speakers seem to have come alive when playing a movie. Listening back to the Mission Impossible disc, the dialogue is clear but has a slightly deeper / rounder note to and the Profile sub is providing the muscular bass and simultaneously lending small support to the satellites when needed. The film’s score sounds amazing, a real treat for the ears. In the title sequence (scored by the fabulous Lorne Balfe) the famous Mission Impossible music plays and is mixed with background sounds such as a helicopter flying over and gunshots, the speakers simply show off. When needed the A’Diva speakers blend into the background while the sub takes over for sounds like explosions and they then fire back into life. It’s a real audio assault and treat for the ears!
One niggle I did discover has to do with the Profile Sub. The sub can be switched to auto or permanently on. When set to auto the sub will be in standby and then switch to on when it detects a signal. I have found it frequently takes 5-10 seconds to detect this and kick into life and on more than one occasion I have had to remove the cover and switch it to the on position manually. This is something I have not experienced with other Subs. Update: Since writing this Gallo have ben in touch to suggest changing the sub volume level to 11’oclock and tweaking the Yamaha settings so that the LFE signal is stronger, This has worked and now the sub powers on more or less straight away! 🙂
The service provided by Gallo Acoustics has been top notch so far. The A’Diva speakers are a treat for the ears. I love listening to them and identifying sounds I had not heard before using other speakers. When watching TV they provide a consistent sound. No turning it up or down every 5 mins. They also do not provide audio fatigue and great to listen to. Music has a level of sonic detail that simply has to be heard. For me though movies are the star of the show. The A’Divas envelop you with the movie score whilst the centre speaker provides dialogue that pops right in front of you. If you are looking for simply great speakers that ooze style then look no further than the Gallo A’Divas.
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