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Even so the B6 had teeth in the positive sense. Making up for the missing bottom octave was overall quickness and steep attack readiness. Relative to price and size of the box the B6 seemed highly competitive and on par with the nuLine 32. Perhaps it was somewhat more shy than the recently tested Elac AM150 with the latter’s gentle upper bass bulge but for that arguably also more honest and realistic.
This same track reconfirmed the usefulness of the slightly soft treble voicing. The brutal crash and ride cymbals retained distinction and articulation without giving up the general in-yer-face attitude but it was more fun now to hear how differentiated relatively ‘stupid’ crash cymbals can sound when they’re rendered cleanly and stripped of hashy sibilance.
During the calmer passages the dimensional qualities of spaciousness, visibility and realistic sizing came to the fore. Once again I keyed into the plainly beautiful and natural guitars. Many budget compacts in my experience tend to a kind of nasality or shifted weighting. Here the B6 seemed quite a poster child for monitor-esque honesty.
It can be surprising what kind of musical round trips given review subjects can prompt. I really didn’t anticipate being led to hard sounds on this assignment but those in particular were so much fun as to ask for more. Enter Shellac’s "Paco" from Excellent Italian Greyhound. This classic bass/guitar/drum instrumental is truly mean-spirited despite its relatively down-tempo vibe. It’s plain how bandleader and guitarist Steve Albini is just about to blow his top in vehement anger and that attitude clearly transfers to his mates. "Paco" lives on loud/quiet contrasts, the typically gloomy but dry and anything but pleasant guitar timbre and lightly reverb-enhanced precisely clattering percussion.
This asked for more steam and a few upticks on the volume control. The B6 proved game for quite the turn. No wallflower this. Guitar and percussive attacks retained control and remained precisely localized. This properly set up Shellac’s trademark atmosphere of controlled fury – minus of course the air displacement down low. That was expected but Nubert’s AW-441 subwoofer quickly added affordable muscle and extension for a superb pairing.
This left the classics. First up was J.S. Bach with his 5th Brandenburg Concerto in D-major under Yehudi Menuhin leading the Bath Festival orchestra. Pleasantries first. I was surprised by the clean soundstage sorting. Without undue thickness the stage was nicely broad and the orchestral forces believably feathered out and properly assigned in space. Visibility of depth layering was obviously limited compared to the pricier spread but welcome at this level.
I was less pleased by how compared to the strings there was lack of presence with the harpsichord which particularly with these concertos is often treated as soloist. I routinely felt it was puttering around somewhere yonder. That’s also a function of recording perspective and microphone placement of course and an alternate copy with the Slovak Chamber Orchestra under Bodhan Warchal indeed showed more incisiveness. Regardless, the deliberately genteel treble of the B6 shows up with instruments like the harpsichord which live off intense harmonics.