In a 13 x 18-foot room, driven by the Boulder 866 (200 wpc, class-A), taking advantage of a tiny bit of room gain, you won’t find yourself itching for a subwoofer. And the fun doesn’t stop there. The Studio Two’s deliver a high level of musical performance on numerous levels – and they do it for a very reasonable $3,995/pair.
As TONE nears the end of its second decade of publishing, we’ve had the chance to talk to many of you. Via email, social media, the phone, and in-person at shows – all over the world. Much like any other aspect of consumer goods, there is always a fair share of excitement and interest for the mega products that nearly no one can afford. What many of you have told us is that your sweet spot is a system in the $10k – $20k range. The amount of interaction we receive when reviewing components in this area is always the highest.
The most difficult reviews to write are the products I enjoy the most, for components I would buy myself. I don’t want to shortchange the manufacturer and not be enthusiastic enough (trying to be cool about it all…), and I don’t want to slight those of you reading, lest you think I’m being too much of a fanboy for the product in question. So, I’ll try and curb my enthusiasm.
Yeah, I love em
That being said, the Studio Two’s are speakers I would happily write the check for. They do everything I love in a speaker. The tonal balance is ever so slightly warmer, more engaging, just a bit saturated. Much of this is due to overall crossover voicing and the use of a silk dome tweeter. These tweeters rarely deliver those last few molecules of resolution, but they are never harsh or fatiguing. If that sounds like fun to you, read on.
Just as a quick comparison, the Focal Kanta no.1s with their Beryllium tweeters sound a little more forward, and the Gershman’s a little more relaxed. Which do you prefer? It all comes down to your choice of amplification, cables, and overall system tuning. Gershman claims a sensitivity of 87db/1-watt, but the Studio Twos prove incredibly easy to drive, even with my vintage PrimaLuna ProLogue One, which only delivers about 30 watts per channel, or the Pass INT-25, which produces about 25 watts per channel. (solid-state, Class A) With the Cardas Clear cables generally in use, the PrimaLuna combination proves very romantic but not slow or dull.
The Pass, Boulder, and Luxman amplifiers all on hand were Goldilocks (i.e., not too big, not too small). The Gershman speakers are more than resolving enough to easily discern differences in components, cables, and room setup. It goes without saying that in the context of our main reference system, these speakers deliver performance well beyond what is typically associated with a $4,000 pair of speakers yet still offer incredible results in the context of similarly priced components. The good news here is that if you live in a small-ish room and/or don’t need to play music at terribly high levels, you could make some pretty major equipment upgrades and not long for a different pair of speakers – that’s value.
Set up and such
These 27-pound two-ways are not only easy to carry around, but they are also effortless to set up in a small, medium, or large room. While most of their evaluation was spent in the 13 x 18-foot room, they did spend enough time in the larger 16 x 25-foot room on the long wall. Even in a fairly large room, these speakers still deliver plenty of low-frequency oomph, yet their excellent imaging performance is even more exciting if you can get them more than a few feet away from the side walls. Again, it boils down to choices – image size versus room gain or a bit of low-frequency reinforcement
I apologize for repeating myself if you are a regular reader, but I always find the purity of a well-executed two-way speaker an absolute joy to listen to. Fewer things in the signal path make for a level of tonal purity when listening to acoustic instruments and vocals that is tough to match in multiple driver systems, especially at this price point. Queuing up several vocal tracks from KD Lang, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash, and others instantly show the amount of texture revealed. It also shows off how well these speakers reproduce musical scale.
To make another common comparison, going from the Studio Twos to a pair of Magnepan 1.7s, the Magnepans offer up a slightly more expansive sound overall, but everything sounds enormous. The brilliance of the Gershman speakers is their ability to expand and contract with the music presented, which is as it should be. Flutes sound small, and saxophones sound big. And dynamically involving. These speakers also do a particularly great job with drums and percussion, again helping these modest-sized speakers feel like they could be floorstanders if you had your eyes closed.
The key to maximum performance here is finding the sweet spot in your room that is the perfect balance between maximizing lower bass extension and minimizing upper bass bloat or heaviness. These are easy speakers to just “throw in the room” and get pretty good sound. Again, the dispersion characteristics of the soft dome tweeters excel at this. But an hour or two spent optimizing placement will give you more than one “ah-ha” moment.
Finally, like with all smaller, stand mount speakers, the key to the last bit of performance is getting stands that are as massive as possible. Remember to use a little bit of something sticky to get the best coupling between speaker and stand – don’t short-change these wonderful speakers with shabby stands.
Lots more listening
We’ve spent a lot of time listening to the Studio Twos, with a vast range of music. Nothing is off-limits, even at levels slightly beyond reasonable and prudent. At a certain point, that 8-inch woofer can only travel so far, but again, these are at the top of their class in this respect too. Those that have a steady diet of full-scale orchestral music, EDM, or heavy arena rock, may want to move up to one of Gershman’s larger speakers or consider a pair of subwoofers. Most of you will be just fine. As mentioned earlier, Gershman has done a fantastic job of balancing musical detail, lifelike tonality, and a complete lack of fatigue to create a speaker that you will never tire of.
Once you achieve optimum placement, you will bask in a large soundfield. The images created by Studio Twos go well beyond the speaker boundaries in large and small rooms. Listening to music with lush studio production will surprise you and keep you riveted to the listening chair. Familiar records with multi-layered vocals and overdubs are tons of fun – even going back to some early Beatles was a kick. Whatever your favorites happen to be, the Studio Twos will deliver the goods.
Finally, these speakers are well executed from a fit and finish standpoint. Around the back are a high-quality pair of binding posts, and a pair of modest grilles are included. The Studio Two’s come in basic, gloss black – but again, finished to a high level of gloss, with no orange peel or surface imperfections.
Good as every individual aspect of the Gershman Studio Two speakers are, the most impressive thing about them is that they deliver such a high level of overall balance. No part of the musical performance has been compromised for another. Often times at this price point, just because of the nature of what parts and manufacturing cost – some speakers will have incredible imaging or dynamics, with bass response sacrificed. Or the other way around. Gershman has balanced everything so well, it makes for an enjoyable speaker that can play everything effortlessly.
At the risk of being too enthusiastic, the Studio Two is highly recommended and deserving of one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2021. When we all get back to traveling to hifi shows, the Gershman room always has great sound going on. It’s even better when you bring a pair back to your room.
Digital Source dCS Vivaldi One, T+A 2500
Analog Source VAC Renaissance Phono, AVID Volvere SP/SME 309/Kiseki Purple Heart
Cable Cardas Clear
Original article: The Gershman Acoustics Studio Two Speakers
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