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Credo EV Reference 900 speakers Review

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On more than a few occasions I have been asked to name my favorite actors and while my preference for certain thespians over others doesn’t manage to raise eyebrows, sparking discussion, my opinion surely does. I like the roles actors play to be memorable and for the actors themselves to be not so much. Case in point is one of my favorite films of 2000, Almost Famous, and the roles Philip Seymour Hoffman and Terry Chen played: Lester Bangs, editor of Creem Magazine, for Hoffman and Ben Fong-Torres of Rolling Stone Magazine for Chen.

Within a minute of their appearances on screen, they were so into character that I only saw and heard them as Bangs and Fong-Torres. And that’s how I like to experience HiFi gear. I want for it to be memorable for the right reasons and not be the elephant in the room, constantly reminding me that it’s there. Sure, it takes a few weeks for the novelty, the newness of it all, to wear off, and then I get down to some serious listening.

We are living in special times, so when a distributor goes above and beyond, I have to duly note. John McGurk of Audioshield Distribution drove the pair of Credo EV Reference 900 speakers from New Jersey to me here in Ohio, unpacking them and setting them up for me. Not to be outdone, the plan is for him to collect the speakers following the above process in reverse J.

Visually, the speakers are unassuming, easy on the eyes. They belie their physical dimensions.

The well thought out isolation pods easily attached to the speakers at set-up and are designed to disperse and dissipate energy transferred as heat from the speaker to the extending polyurethane pucks at each corner. Looks and dimensions can be deceiving. There is far more to this pair than meets the eye.  Standing a mere 35.5” (90 cm) high, just over 7” (18 cm) wide, and almost 9” (22 cm) deep without the isolation stands attached, the EV Reference 900s were economical concerning the floor and air space taken but filled my spacious room with sound, from side to side and top to bottom.

And, at 33 lbs (15 kg) net, absent of packaging, while hefty, the Credo EV Reference can be moved and positioned rather easily. Unique to these speakers is their rough, seemingly hewn textured finish, which grew on me.

There are as many ways to skin a cat as there are to attach cables to a speaker. Credo’s binding post configuration is no exception and I like that its owners can have it as they wish whether it be single wiring with jumpers with an optional extra 2dB increase or bi-wiring without jumpers and the optional extra 2dB.

Here at the homestead, there is no waiting for source material of which to make use. My digital library numbers upwards from 20,000 tracks and, as for vinyl, comfortably 2,000-plus albums. I decided to take a more ordered approach to put the Credo EV Reference 900s through their paces. Rather than throw just anything at them I decided to spend two weeks of solid listening moving from one genre to the next:

  • Female vocals
  • Male Vocals
  • Madrigals and Choir
  • Chamber Music: soloists, quartets and a quintet (Schubert’s The Trout)
  • Symphonic Music
  • Jazz from Alice to ZawinulJ
  • Pop/Rock

There were days of vinyl and digital, but never were the two mixed in the midst of a listening session. I played music I knew intimately. These were selections that allowed me to focus on their reproduction. All I wanted to listen for is just how the speakers managed to convey the expected and, in that rare moment, the unexpected.

There was no straining with these speakers. In a word, they were effortless, never managing to have me tire from listening to them. I was amazed at how they can sound so big given their physical dimensions.

I’m a sceptic. My readers know that, so when playing all of my music I wanted to get the speakers’ true measure by playing some bass-heavy recordings. The EVO Reference 900s rated frequency response is 37 Hz – 20 kHz, +/- 3 dB. Now that’s something, and impressive as that may be on paper, I had to hear for myself and make use of my trusty SVS SB-4000 subwoofer to make comparisons. The speakers on their own did as promised and got down with their bad selves. The inclusion of the sub-woofer was a plus but not a necessity; then again it didn’t hurt to have the extra oomph.

Color me shocked as to how these relatively diminutive floor-standers with their no-nonsense appearance could consistently sound this good across so many music genres.

The term soundstage gets tossed around a fair bit, and I fear that it is a conflation of two terms: Auditory Image and Spatial Impression. If one were to plot the two on Cartesian graph paper, the former would reside upon the x-axis and the latter upon the z-axis, the province of the set of imaginary numbers in terms of Cartesian coordinates.

The Credo EV Reference 900 scores high marks on both counts ­— on both its lateral imaging, a full stereo effect, and its sense of depth, a richness of perspective where layers of sound can be properly distinguished.

Some will say that speakers have a certain sound, a particular characteristic differentiating them from others. I’m a firm believer in that being a design flaw. A properly thought-out, well-constructed pair of speakers should never dictate how one listens to and appreciates music.

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