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Credo S100 Loudspeaker

A Philosophy For Good Sound

 

 September 2005

Nice Meeting You … Oh, and You too
Credo Loudspeakers from Phonar Akustik of Germany, made their U.S. debut earlier this year at the 2005 T.H.E. Show in what I felt to be “one of the best sounding rooms” in my show report. In a system that featured Thor Audio electronics and a SOTA Millennium turntable, the sound was extremely detailed, lively, and natural. Add to that the fact that the Credos are beautifully finished and a relative bargain at around $7K and you can understand why I began pestering Joe DePhillips of Discovery Cable (the importer of the Credo loudspeakers) to send me a pair for review.

But my first meeting with Joe was an auspicious one to say the least. Now Joe is a big man (in a handsome husky way of course) with a full beard and mustache. Unfortunately, that description also fit another gentleman in the room and as I was focusing on noting what was in the room I failed to notice the differences in these men. So when I later walked in for must have been the fifth time that day, I wasn’t really paying attention when motioned for the first big guy with a full beard and mustache I saw and said, “Hey, let me get a picture of you over by these great looking speakers.” The man I spoke to gave me that confused look that you get from the family pet when you change his food from Kennel Ration to Alpo and said, “Well, okay.” Then suddenly from another part of the room boomed another voice that said, “What are you taking his picture for? Those are my speakers!” That was Joe DePhillips.

Now bear in mind that in my real job I’m a diversity manager for a large corporation. This means that it’s my job to see people as individuals and not just members of a group. So imagine my embarrassment when Joe said, “I guess all us fat white guys must look alike to you.” To say that I was embarrassed would be an understatement as my usually cool façade melted and I turned beet red. Thankfully, Joe let me off the hook and laughed it off and graciously took some time to give me an in-depth demonstration of the Credo S100 Loudspeaker. He was doing me a favor in more way than he knew.

Sexy?
Tall, sleek, sexy, and nicely built. That was the description of Misty, the female escort who was advertised on the cover of one of the seemingly millions of adult entertainment flyers being handed out to passerby by those rather grubby looking guys of questionable origin, you know like Packer fans. But it is also a great way to describe the looks of the Credos. The Credos stands about 43” tall and have stylish-looking curved side panels made of MDF. The front baffle is flat and houses custom made Scanspeak drivers. Scanspeak is a neighbor of Phonar Akustik and makes all of Credos drivers. The rear panel holds three ports and two sets of high-quality, gold-plated binding posts so the speakers can be bi-wired or bi-amped or you can use a single run of cables by using the supplied jumper wires. What’s more, the binding posts are mounted to a large aluminum plate to prevent even the largest of today’s monstrous speaker cables from pulling them out. Each speaker sits on a black MDF base that is sloped back causing the speakers to rest at a five-degree angle, which helps radiate more realistic soundstage height and depth. Heavy-duty spikes help create a rigid coupling to the floor. Finally, the cabinet is finished in a beautiful rootwood veneer. This is a flat-out gorgeous speaker that will make most interior designers drool.

Internally, the S100 is heavily braced and uses the top third of its cabinet to house the tweeter and midrange drivers and a port helps reduce cabinet resonance. The bottom two-thirds of the cabinet act as a bass module that gently slopes at 630 Hz and goes down to a very respectable 28 Hz. The Credo uses the finest high-quality parts and its crossover design gives each driver its own filter, which reduces capacitive and inductive crosstalk. The latest and greatest test equipment is used to measure the performance of each speaker. Also, the testing is done in a specially designed room that ensures that only the sound from the speaker is heard and measured. This speaker a thoughtfully designed and engineered in the tradition of German speaker builders.

A Nice Discovery
Along with the Credos, DePhillips also sent some Discovery Cable Essential speaker cables and Essence interconnect for me to try as well. I had been using the very nice Argento Serenity cables and interconnect (review coming) for a couple of months and was not in a hurry to take them out of the system. But I remembered that the Discovery cables were being used in that room in Vegas and this gave me a chance to hear the same cable/loudspeaker combo that had so impressed me then.

During a brief comparison with the Argentos, I really could not hear a tremendous amount of difference. Both cables were a step up in class from the other cables that I had on hand and both were nice companions for the Credos. The Essence interconnects were particularly good at retrieving detail from my vinyl setup and increased the stage depth even over the Argentos. Unfortunately, fellow ST staffer Mike Wright is also a longtime fan of the Discovery cables and once he borrowed them, I didn’t see them again until it was time to send them back to Joe.

Listening
I began my listening sessions using the same discs that I had initially heard on the Credos in Las Vegas. The one characteristic that struck me about the sound of these speakers was the holographic presence that they give vocals. “Miss Celie’s Blues” from Molly Johnson’s wonderful disc, Another Day [Narada], shows off Johnson’s sultry blues vocal range and puts her sometimes-lilting, sometimes-husky voice squarely in my room. Another example is Kurt Elling singing “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” from his Live In Chicago [Blue Note] disc. Elling’s voice effortlessly swings from pinpoint sweetness to barrel-chested power and both extremes are wonderfully rendered by the Credos.

Dynamics are another hallmark of this loudspeaker. With my vinyl rig (which consists of “The Source” turntable, Alphason arm, and Benz-Micro Ace cartridge) in operation I played Bill Meyers’ wonderful, yet hard to find, Images [Spindletop]. This brilliant 1986 jazz recording is wonderfully engineered and performed. The very first track, “AM/PM”, is actually two tracks that act as one. “AM” begins with an old fashioned alarm clock going off and signaling the start of a busy day. The rattling of the hammer against the alarm clock bell is startling when first heard. This song acts as the soundtrack for a typical workday morning. The music is fast-paced and backed by a dynamic horn section and strong percussions. Then “PM” comes on like a cool evening breeze that sets the tone for a romantic and pleasure-filled night. The Credo conveys the atmosphere of these two tracks to near perfection. One track paints you a mental picture of a busy day and the other a sultry night.

I compared the Credo to my reference Talon Audio Peregrine Xs and not since I heard the excellent Escalante design Pinyon monitors have my Talons been made to sound this sluggish. The Credo is fast and detailed and eminently musical, though it didn’t quite equal the size and scale of the soundstage that the Talons create. But then again, the Talons have been felt to overstate harmonic realism when it comes to replicating an accurate stage. In fact, one friend who visited felt the Credo to sound more natural. In other words, you’ll have to judge for yourself what sounds real to you.

The Credo’s bass is surprisingly deep and tuneful. Deep bass sounds as though it were produced from an instrument and not like deep bass energy. New-Age harpist, Andreas Vollenweider is simply the most talented musician I’ve ever heard, live or recorded. He is capable of getting notes out of his amplified harp that can only be described as subterranean. One of his more recent works, Cosmopoly [Sony Classical], begins with a brief classical intro, which ushers in the thunderous rhythms of the instrumental second track, “Stella.” This track has brought many a high-end speaker to its knees even at moderate volume levels and caused some lesser driver designs to make that odd “farting” sound when they are incapable of some bass demands. But the Credos reproduce deep bass and still let it maintain its musical nature.

Conclusion
At around $7k, the Credo has a lot of competition out there but it distinguishes itself well with strikingly good looks, exceptional music reproduction, and ample bass delivery. These speakers have the ability to disappear in a room both visually and aurally. They are well worth the effort to seek out and audition for yourself. Highly recommended!

Dave Thomas

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Specifications
Construction: 2-1/2 ways bass reflex speaker
Frequency range: 28 - 30.000 Hz
Efficiency: 88dB
Power: 200 / 300 Watts
Tweeter: D2905/97 Revelator from Scan Speak
Deep- / Midrange: 15W8530 Revelator from Scan Speak
Woofer: 18W/8530 Revelator from Scan Speak
Crossover: 12 dB/Octave
Dimensions: 1090cm x 240cm x 332cm (HxWxD)
Cabinet: MDF / HDF Cabinet including five struttings
Finish: Rootwood Veneer
Weight: 35Kg

Address:
Credo
US Distributor
Discovery Cable
P.O. Box 7
Stuart, FL 34995
Telephone: 772-219-7979
Fax: 772-219-2668
Email: info@discoverycable.com
Website: www.discoverycable.com

Phonar Akustik GmbH
Industriestr. 8-10
24963 Tarp (Germany)
Fon: +49 (0) 46 38 – 8 92 40
Fax: +49 (0) 46 38 – 9 54
Email: info@phonar.de
Website: www.phonar.de
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credo S100 Loudspeaker