|Hawthorne Silver Iris 15″ in the forground, Magnepan SMGa behind|
The Silver Iris speakers are 2 way concentric speakers, with high efficiency of 96dBl / watt. They are produced by Emminence, one of the worlds largest professional speaker manufacturers after specifications by Hawthorne Audio. The Hawthornes (they are a man and whife team) make the crossover. They promise wide bandwidth audiophile sound quality. I aquired a pair of Hawthornes 15 inch standard elements a few weeks ago. I mounted them on test baffles, and have spent some time breaking them in. It is now time for noting how their sound changed over these weeks against my reference speakers. The Magnepan SMGa models, modded with new crossovers and full ribbon tweeters. Both speakers were alternately powered by the Audioromy FU13´s and Fred Nachbaur 13EM7´s Both are Single Ended Triode amplifiers. But provide 30W and 1,2 W respectively.
I mounted the speaker on some old (and too thin) plywood I had lying around. A couple of shelf brackets and it was finished. The biggest job was actually drilling holes and mounting the speaker. with eight screws.
Ok, so how does it sound?
When I fired them up the first time I was seriously disappointed They sounded like someone singing with a nose clip inside a card board box. The speakers seemed seriously stiff. There was an annoying treble, no bass at all and the nasal cardboard mids. Another thing we discovered was exactly how loud they were. With the 30W amp normal 60-70dBl sound levels were attained after about 10 degrees turn on the the volume potmeter.
Anyway, we let it play in the background in the evenings for a week and the first thing that happened was that the cardboard box sound disappeared after 3 days. The mids sounded more natural, but the treble was still annoyingly prominent. from 3-7 days we heard the bass gradually appearing, first as dull thumps of weak sound and finally with delicacy to present the timbre of deep piano notes and bass string instruments. In the second week we are hearing the bass gradually strengthening and the higher mids are still prominent, while the lower mids are weak. The treble is still very active and contribute to fatigue. But at this stage the speakers are interesting to listen to. They are starting to show the slightly veiled nature of the magnepans and they are definitely going lower with good sound reproduction.
Today the Hawthorne Silver Iris is an interesting alternative to the Magnepan SMGa´s. They have very different qualities. The Hawthorne´s are dynamic with a reasonable bass, strong high mid and treble. The sound stage is not as laser precise and forward as the Magnepans. They work best at lower volumes up to 80dBl.
But I still turn to the Magnepans for long untiring listening with sound levels from 70dBl upward. They have a beautifully balanced sound with great mids and treble which becomes more apparent as volume goes up.
I´ll post again when new things have happened the the Silver Iris 15″s.