Perreaux Audiant SR35 Floorstanding Loudspeaker REVIEW

Perreaux Audiant SR35 Floorstanding Loudspeaker REVIEW
$3995
5 Stars

Perreaux’s long-awaited venture into loudspeaker territory proves the company’s science is sound. But do science and magic go together? Affirmative, says Gary Steel.

audiant-sr35-oblique-pair-rimuTHERE’S A BELIEF amongst skeptics that high-end hi-fi is full of charlatans and snake-oil salesmen. I don’t believe that for a minute, but it’s certainly true that, as in all strands of contemporary life, there are several highly contrasting approaches to the creation of hi-fi gear. It’s science versus magic, or if you like, science versus religion, or belief.
It’s interesting that Perreaux HQ is Dunedin, towards the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand, and just a stone’s throw from an Aucklander’s perspective from Christchurch, the home of dedicated loudspeaker manufacturer Theophany. [In fact, geography hounds, it’s a fairly substantial 361 kilometres, and four hours and 24 minutes of driving time, according to confidential sources]. Theophany makes fine loudspeakers, and Ash Kramer likes them enough to own a pair. I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that Theophany is in any way fraudulent, or that the thinking behind them is in any way suspect, or that the requisite amount of solid research and engineering skill hasn’t gone into their products, but owner Garth Murray is a magic man first and foremost – a chap who believes that God tells him how to make his speakers better. In contrast, Perreaux, led by Martin van Rooyen, has its focus squarely on engineering innovation, which puts the company on the side of science. Ultimately, they both have superb but very different products, and it would be interesting to sit them both down for a lengthy debate on the philosophy of sound.
Regardless, thorough research and testing and no signs of snake oil – that’s always been Perreaux’s focus, ever since it started out in the Hawkes Bay in the 1970s as a producer of amplification for live music, then poured its (scientific) heart and soul into Class A, MOSFET-based stereo amplifiers for the high-end hi-fi market. No one who was around in the 1980s will ever forget the pride NZ took in the fact that this small, specialist Kiwi company was making it internationally – and especially States-wise – with its super-heavy, super-resilient and super-powerful amps with their distinctive finned heat-sinks.
audiant-80i-amplifier-sr35-loudspeakers-frontPerreaux, like any audio company, has changed a lot over the years, and its recent amplifier iterations have – in line with average smaller living spaces and the desire to save power and live more efficiently – slimmed down their gear considerably. For power hogs, they produce the Prisma series, but much of their recent marketing push has gone into the comparatively slimline Audiant range, which includes the 80i integrated amp, the DP32 USB DAC preamp, and the 100p power amp.
It makes sense, therefore, that Perreaux’s first-ever loudspeaker would name itself as part of the Audiant range.

Features & Construction
The first thing to note is that the SR35s look lovely. They really do. But it’s worth going back a step, first. I’m often disappointed at the way gear is boxed, and with it’s “first look” presentation. Perreaux have got that just about right. It’s easy to figure out how to get them out of the box, and easy to set them up. There’s no glossy manual, but that’s okay. I don’t need hyperbole, I need simple set-up instructions, and that’s what you get on the installation sheet that comes with them. No badly-translated-from-Chinese gobble-de-gook for Perreaux.

The Audiant S35's distinctive feet.
The Audiant S35’s distinctive feet.
As you can see, they are very thin speakers (but deep), and not particularly tall: even with their spikes on, when sitting on an average couch, depending on the length of your upper body, you’ll find that your ears will be a similar height to the tweeter, or the upper driver, or more likely, somewhere in between. And that’s just about right. The thin form factor could be a problem in a household with out-of-control children or out-of-control dogs because, even with the spikes to hold them firmly to the ground, they’re fairly easy to tip over. I know, because in my crowded lounge, I had to fitfully lunge to save one from falling when my oversized ass didn’t have the brains to know its own dimensions. Having said that, most column loudspeakers are vulnerable in bull-in-a-china shop situations, and my advice is simply to be bloody careful.
Those spikes: interestingly, they screw into a kind of buffed aluminium brace (or feet) that is a design feature of the SR35s. Those spikes then sit in eight spike ‘shoes’, which prevent the carpet from getting ugly holes, and possibly even adds further isolation.
The speakers come with terminal jumpers, so plugging your cable in the back is a smooth and swift operation.
Birds-eye view of the SR35 and Steel's ancient carpet.
Birds-eye view of the SR35 and Steel’s ancient carpet.
The quality and look of the cabinetry, binding posts, etc, is all spiffing, but the thing that really knocked my socks off was the loudspeaker baffle. Rather than just gouging holes in the cabinet for the two drivers and the tweeter, there’s an extremely pleasing and rigid grille that I like very, very much. According to Perreaux, it’s a 12mm thick “machined aluminium baffle” which “provides excellent mechanical stability that ensures accurate driver placement and controls unwanted resonances.” Works for me. “The result is a sound that is extremely dynamic with crystalline clarity and detail.”
Additionally, the tweeter is to the right on the left speaker and to the left on the right speaker – in other words, it’s not placed centrally on the column. Perreaux’s blurb said that the configuration (two drivers, and in between the tweeter to the left or right) corrects “lobe tilting inherent in conventional mid-tweeter configurations, controls vertical sound dispersion – greatly reducing ceiling and floor reflections, providing a sound that is accurate and engaging.”
You can't hear it, but this speaker is sounding damn good!
You can’t hear it, but this speaker is sounding damn good!
As for the speakers themselves, the tweeter is a 22m “high definition Sonomex dome” that the blurb says “allows a smooth and extended frequency response, while the wide surround combines the low frequency response of a 1-inch dome with the high frequency dispersion of a ¾ dome.” Then there’s the two 5-inch woofers, which have a “lightweight copper-clad aluminium wire voice coil that allows low distortion and excellent transient response, while the coated paper cone gives an extended frequency response with a controlled roll off.”
Then there’s the stuff you can’t see, like the low-loss air core inductors and the audiophile-grade polypropylene capacitors, gifting the speakers low distortion, a clean signal path, vivid sound and “a high level of detail and purity”.

Sound Quality
I was expecting to have to run them in, but within minutes of firing them up, I was sitting back like Cleopatra luxuriating in a sweetly scented bath while sexy slaves peeled me grapes and popped them in my mouth. Yes, they sounded that good.

That lovely, distinctive front baffle.
That lovely, distinctive front baffle.
Most of the time, I had them running on power from a Perreaux Audiant 80i integrated, and the source was my Yamaha CD-S2000. Occasionally, I switched to a Vincent SV-237 integrated amplifier and matching CD-S7DAC CD player (reviews for those coming up soon). The Vincent gear proved not to be a terribly good match for the SR35s, proving the need for symbiosis in matching components. It wasn’t that the SV-237 sounded poorly through the SR35s, just that there was a distinct sibilance apparent on some selections, as if all the treble was compressed into a narrow bandwidth; something I wouldn’t have expected from gear with a tube stage.
The SR35s have clearly been designed as a perfect match for Audiant amps, because the two really sing together. I do have a slight predilection for the 80i, one of the most impressive integrated amps I’ve come across, but it needs to be emphasised that the speaker will sound splendid with many different amps and source components – as always, it’s a matter of trying out the various candidates.
I tried loads of different music selections on the SR35s, and found that just about anything I flung at them revealed hitherto unknown facets of the tracks. I get tired of hi-fi reviewers going on endlessly about hearing more and more detail in tracks, as if detail was the holy grail, and that nothing else mattered, but nevertheless, it’s always amazing when you listen to an old favourite, only to hear it in a new way because of the gear you’re playing it on.
And another close-up showing Steel's risible 1950s green wall.  Sorry about that.
And another close-up showing Steel’s risible 1950s green wall. Sorry about that.
Here’s a particularly piquant example. One of my favourite songs is from Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini’s 2008 album Me And Armini. I could write a thesis about this song, it’s so multi-dimensional, and there are so many aspects to it. At heart it’s a simple acoustically oriented piece on which her voice is so honey sweet that it just captures your heart, but as it goes on it gets a bit darker, there’s a second section with a long bass groove and various ambient sound effects, and she also places discrete nature sounds in the mix. Some instrumentation is up-close, and others are far away. Oddly for a track called ‘Birds’, I had never noticed the bird sounds in this song before, even on my forensically inclined Martin Logans, and the SR35s made Torrini’s voice sound the sweetest I’ve ever heard it.
Because I’m perverse like that, I plonked on one of Neil Young’s least well-liked albums, the early 1980s Re-ac-tor. I love the song ‘Opera Star’ with it’s chook-clucking and it’s line, “You were born to rock/You’ll never be an opera star”, but it’s a fairly thin recording, symptomatic of that period of recording technology. Now here’s the thing: the SR35s accurately portrayed that thinness, but when the cymbals splashed it sounded like a drum kit in the room, and the guitars really sounded flinty and textured. On ‘T-Bone’ (beautifully moronic lyric: “Got mashed potatoes/Ain’t got no t-bone”), the percussion again sounded terrific, dynamic. Even on this rough and ready record of guitar extrusions, I can hear delicious layers that would be absent on most speakers.
Local band Dimmer’s 2001 masterpiece I Believe You Are A Star has always sounded good, and its dubby bass, looped drums and up-close-and-intimate recording is rendered convincingly by the SR35s. Again, the sheer wallop factor and dynamism and detail that you can almost smell and taste make listening to a track like ‘Evolution’ a transformative experience.
Frank Zappa’s Grand Wazoo (1972) is the best rock/big band fusion I’ve ever heard, and drummer Aynsley Dunbar is a mad octopus on his kit. audiant-sr35-front-rimuWhile the SR35s enable the perfect reveal of the complex mesh of horns, keyboards and guitars, there’s something going on here that I’ve only ever heard on very expensive speakers. It’s something about the timing, and the tuning, and their perfect, dynamic crispness; and something about the way they can capture not just musical sounds with near-forensic ability, but emphasise the musicality of a multiple part harmony, for instance.
Perhaps the single most striking thing about the ability of the SR35s, however, is their 3D effect. I’ve only ever heard such a convincingly wide soundstage on electrostatic speakers before, and it was a revelation to shut my eyes and to literally be immersed in the sound. Brendan Perry’s Ark was probably the most widescreen recording of 2011, and ‘The Bogus Man’ is particularly striking, with its deep, resonant vocals, synths buzzing from speaker to speaker (and hovering somewhere behind the speakers); and the SR35s capture it all. Sure, I’ve heard cone drivers that disperse sound convincingly around a room before, but often that comes at the expense of definition, making everything sound rather amorphous. The Perreaux speakers, on the other hand, sacrifice none of that, always remaining present, taut, absolutely in the moment.
Just for fun, I played my favourite version of Wagner’s ‘Mild Und Leise’ (Tristan And Isolde), sung by Kirsten Flagstad in the 1940s. Loads of surface noise, and her incredible vocal sounds like it’s rupturing the microphone. Despite the denigrated signal and the distortion, the essence was still there, where some hi-fi systems would render it utterly unlistenable.
Weinberger’s ‘Polka And Fugue’ is a real hi-fi torturer, a circus-like number that builds to an incredible climax, and can show off both the positive points and limitations of a system. The Perreaux components sounded like they were made expressly for this, and had no trouble at all dealing with these uncompressed, unrestrained acoustic explosions.
I’m also auditioning the latest iteration of Oppo’s celebrated BDP105 universal player, so I had to take the opportunity to play the DVD-Audio 24/96 hi-res stereo version of King Crimson’s legendary 1969 In The Court Of The Crimson King. Even the remastered CD of this album sounds incredible, because it’s the first time the original multi-tracks have been used, and Stephen Wilson’s mix really makes it come alive. The SR35 captured the extra detail with poise and perfect control, dealing expertly with the transitions from acoustic guitar plucking and fluty bits to the surging Mellotron crescendos. And once again, they were superlative at handling those incredible drums.
audiant-sr35-floorstanding-loudspeaker-finishes-710px
Lastly, I’ll talk about International Observer’s Seen, a 2002 album of melodic electronic dub that still stands as one of the finest-sounding recordings made in this country. The project of Tom Bailey (the British multi-instrumentalist behind the Thompson Twins), Seen uses a lot of very deep-sounding snaky modulated bass lines that I just didn’t think the SR35s were going to be able to deal with. This proved not to be the case, and the bass in all its glory sounded as huge and impressive as I’ve heard it sounding on speakers with much larger drivers.
The point I’m making here isn’t that the SR35s are mega-bass speakers. In fact, if I bought a pair I would add a subwoofer, because I like a lot of electronic music that uses the kind of bass-quaking sounds that they’re simply not capable of. The thing is, though, for most “normal” music tastes (rock through jazz and classical, say) the SR35s’ bass response will be sufficient, and in fact, as many a hi-fi fan will attest, it’s not really about how low you go (because the quality, and our ability to hear it well, drops off) but how tight and well defined the bass is – and the more low-end bass you have, the less you’ll hear the delectable mid-bass tones.
Having said that, the SR35s aren’t for everyone. The installation notes recommend placing them around 250mm from the rear wall, which is pretty damn close. That’s great in a way, because they’re not taking up precious floor space and can blend in with the furniture, but if you do decide you want them further out in the room, you’ll lose a lot of the bass, because the port on the back relies on the wall to reinforce those sonic wallops. Having noted this, it’s also true of any ported standmount speaker, and a good deal of other smaller floorstanders, so it’s not a flaw, but simply a matter of taste and requirements.
Conclusion
At $3995, the SR35s are not only a bargain, they’re a steal. Given the Perreaux signage, I knew they’d be quality speakers, but I’ve heard speakers worth 10 times as much that don’t sound half as good. Admittedly, those were much bigger, more powerful speakers, but the refinement, and the sheer attention to detail has resulted in truly revelatory speakers. As owner Martin van Rooyen notes in this Q&A, the SR35s are sophisticated speakers geared towards sophisticated music – if you want to listen to Motorhead, buy a set of Cerwin Vegas. Which doesn’t mean that rock music sounds terrible on the SR35s. During an audition of a pair of $250,000 Wilson Audio speakers a few years back, some wag insisted on playing an AC/DC track, and it sounded pretty good, rampant compression and all. And the rock music I played through the SR35s sounded perfectly acceptable, too. To reinforce the point, it’s worth pointing out once again: these are accurate speakers that will give out what you put in, so you’ll hear any weaknesses in the recording, although those weaknesses won’t ruin your enjoyment of the music.
But getting back to where we started: by putting science, and the principles of sound engineering first, Perreaux has ended up making something that’s simply magic. It has given life to sound. GARY STEEL

www.perreaux.com

* Read Witchdoctor’s interview with Perreaux’s Martin van Rooyen here.

31 Comments

  1. Pingback: Q&A: Perreaux’s Martin van Rooyen

  2. I have heard this combination and much like Cambridge Audio reviews I have read on this site I can only surmise Witchdoctor collectively has a filthy-and very expensive class A drug habit. Or more likely you are in bed with the importer/manufacturer. The amp/pre amp is worth a listen but the speakers are really nothing special, and for the money very disappointing…fs get it together guys you are losing whatever street cred you have.

  3. Dear Sixpackback,
    Sadly, like most online commenters, you’re happy to dish out a few damning lines, while hiding under the cloak of anonymity.
    Please note: unlike you, I’m proud to put my name the above review. And unlike you, I spent weeks intensively listening to the SR35s, in my own time, and with nothing to gain from doing so except the experience of hearing music through them. Then I took the trouble to write around 2000 words describing the speakers, and the experience I had with them.
    I have no affiliation to Perreaux, and wrote this review with no financial benefit whatsoever.
    So, Witchdoctor is “losing whatever street creed [we] have”?
    Try coming clean, tell us who you are, and then put the effort into explaining what it was you didn’t like about the speaker/amp, and then I might start taking you seriously.
    Best, Gary

  4. I actually really quite liked the SR35’s. But for reasons which Perreaux probably would not like ( and I am a big Perreaux fan, owning about 6 boxes with their name on them ).

    Why? They reminded me a lot of the Focal Chorus 716. As a big fan of the French loudspeakers, this was quite pleasing to me.

    I do have to ask however – would you pair the SR35’s with a front end of, say, the $20K class? I ask this as I pair the DP32 with speakers which require a pretty top notch front end, and the DP32 does not disappoint, specially when taking into account its rather modest cost ( comparatively ). The Audiant 80i could happily be on the front of some significantly expensive loudspeakers and not be letting the side down. I do question if the SR35’s are capable of this kind of scalability.

  5. Phone number will be emailed to you Gary.

    Just like you I have an opinion. The comments stand.

    As a consumer it becomes tiring to experience reviews that have little relationship to reality. What hifi are undoubtedly the leaders of delusionary reviews happy to talk up British and European equipment that is sometimes very ordinary indeed. My observation [to repeat myself] is that Witchdoctor places undue weight on both NZ manufactured equipment, and their favourite importer/s in a similar manner to What hifi’s preferences. Bias is the word.

  6. Hello,

    Please allow me to re-enforce interview comments.

    Importantly, our genuine depth of gratitude to my very good friend, GB. We would not have been able to achieve what we did without his incredible patience and guidance. For your info, GB has 30 years in the loudspeaker test and development business. Has his own custom written computer based design software and made extensive use of our test equipment. The design has also benefited from our considerable in-house engineering skills. Our Engineering Manager, Clinton Jensen has been at Perreaux for 11 years already. He has one of the sharpest minds in the game “period” and never makes compromises.

    We have also received some high level technical guidance, directly from SEAS Norway. SEAS supply some of the most prestigious brands in the business.

    Very hard work. During the development, we revisited the design over and over and over again. There were times when I just wanted to scream, as evidence of how utterly frustrated we all felt as we went around and around in circles trying to attain ever more challenging goals.

    Once again, my sincere thanks to all who gave unselfishly towards this project. Excellent loudspeaker design is an excersise in diplomacy…change one aspect and something else changes along with it, and so on and so forth in never ending circles. I urge you to audition the SR35 for yourself. You may be quite surprised.

    Not that anyone needs reminding but we Kiwis have a well earnt reputation for taking on really big challenges and winning.

    As Sir Ed was known to say…we knocked the bastard off!

    Kind regards Martin van Rooyen

  7. Geoff, in what ways do the SR35s remind you of the Focal Chorus 716? You mean purely in terms of sound? Looking at the design, configuration and stats, they would appear to be very different speakers.
    I’m not qualified to answer your question about scalability, but I think Perreaux’s own notes give an indication, in the sense that they reckon the SR35s are perfectly matched with the Audiant 80i. But just as you could make a claim that the 80i pitches well above its price point (and I would), like I say in my review, what I heard coming out of the SR35s was better in so many ways than some renowned speakers/brands I’ve heard four or five times the price.

  8. Sixpackback, I appreciate that you emailed me your name and number, but why not brave enough to reveal your name here? Here’s the thing: I put my name on the review, and if I make one mistake I can be pilloried for it. But you come along without a name and make a few generalisations about a product with no attempt to articulate what it is that you find so reprehensible about said product.
    Have you really listened to these speakers, and the Audiant 80i amp? As I stated, I played loads of music over a period of close to three weeks, and my assessment is as above.
    I won’t comment about What Hi Fi, but Witchdoctor is vastly different. If you’ll notice, our mission statement is that we’re honest in our reviews, and if we don’t like something, we’ll state that, regardless of the wishes of manufacturers, brands, importers or distributors.
    When we say positive things about gear it’s because that’s really what we think, and we take our assessments seriously.
    You’re entitled to your opinion, but to be honest, it’s offensive to have accusations of bias levelled at Witchdoctor when we’re doing all this for people like you, for the love of hi-fi, not $.
    The facts are these: We usually chase down gear/brands that have a good rep, or have a product that has been well reviewed in other territories. That gear and those brands are, more often than not, high quality.
    We’re on friendly terms with those local manufacturers or importers that are friendly to us: that is, those who are happy to have their gear reviewed. There are always going to be a few who couldn’t care less. Similarly, we’re not particularly interested in reviewing the latest Transonic mini-system or Soniq TV panel. Poor quality isn’t our thing.
    But I reiterate, we’re friendly but not subservient to the companies we deal with. Local bias? We’re certainly proud when a local manufacturer does good, and we’re ecstatic when a company like Perreaux has enough respect for its NZ customers not to do a Fonterra and charge NZers more than their export markets. But we don’t talk up inferior products when we find them.
    Frankly, your perception of bias is simply wrong-headed, and you should really get over it.

  9. Hi Gary.

    Sonically only. Quite a good midrange and top end, specially at the respective price points, but the lower two octaves not quite having the authority that I am used to. I am in your camp with regard to the preference that what bass there is should be done properly, at the expense of absolute bass output or extension. I just would like to have seen a little more extension. I have heard ( admittedly, far more expensive )standmounts which excel in both bass extension and quality over the SR35s.

    And I take a little offence at your Fonterra analogy. If you take a closer look at the domestic prices vrs the export prices, and take into account the quality of the product, the domestic consumer gets a very fair deal. You may also like to note that Fonterra would quite happily not supply the domestic market at all because there is more profit to be made offshore.

    Yes, I am passionate about this… But then I produce and sell around 500 tonnes of dairy solid product per year. I have good reason to be passionate!.

    As far as Andrews rant – I guess he cant understand that everyone has a personal preference to which they should be entitled to hold without people attacking it….

  10. Geoff – With respect, I wonder if the SR35s you heard were fully ‘run-in’? “Quite a good mid-range and top end”? Oh my! Well, we can agree to disagree on that one. I think the bass extension is largely down to personal preference. The SR35s bass did an amazing job with the kind of low-end wallop you get on well recorded classical music, but less so with electronic or rock. Again, it’s personal preference: Martin writes that if you want to listen to heavy metal, buy a Cerwin Vega. In my quest for the best sound, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need something like the SR35s at one end of the house, and a Cerwin Vega or JBL system at the other; with access to a pair of electrostatics as well! Yeah, I LIKE some metal, and other heavy rock, but listen to heaps of acoustic music, too, so it’s hard to find a system (probably impossible) that fully serves each musical genre.
    This is outside Witchdoctor’s remit, but everything I’ve read or heard about Fonterra is that they use normal “world pricing” principles; hence the price of milk and other dairy products being so expensive here. You’re in disagreement with that? In any case, we’ll find ourselves at loggerheads on this subject, because, in my opinion, the dairy industry is wrong in all sorts of ways: bad for health, responsible for the unnecessary exploitation and deaths of millions of animals. Not to mention the environmental impact of intensive farming. Go organic, and go vegan, I say!

  11. Congratulations Martin, You and the team have come up with a beautifully crafted solution. Having auditioned numerous loudspeakers and configurations with GB during the late 90’s to 2003, I can attest to his dedication and absolute authority when it comes to first principles loudspeaker design and testing. I wish you every success with this model and look forward to seeing further accolades recognising Perreaux’s earned position internationally.

  12. Gary, I think that maybe you took my “quite good midrange” comment slightly the wrong way – and I probably worded it not as well as I should have.

    The top end and midrange is excellent. I was understating things more than I should have. The bass performance is still a little weaker than I would like.

    The room I heard them in was a large open plan modern room, probably the main part was 8×10 with the kitchen a further 4×5 and also open into a lower level living area of probably 6×8. So a very large air volume. This may be why we have differing views.

    The great thing is that agreeing to disagree is fine.

    As far as your comments about Fonterra and the dairy industry in general… Probably not the place for me to respond, because there is quite some debate which will never settle on this matter. One thing I do agree with you on is that we have to look after the environment. I would suggest that if you saw the data we have been gathering on my home farm you might be quite impressed with the lack of leaching of nutrients from the place. Unfortunately there are a lot of farmers who do not see that as wasted money going down the drain and damaging the environment. Nutrients need to stay in the root zone. That is the only place they can be of any value to the farmer, and the only place that they are not likely to leach.

  13. P.S. Gary, please don’t take my comments as being negative about the SR35’s or Perreaux. I am a huge fan of Perreaux and have spent quite a bit of time on the phone or communicating via email with Clinton ( to be fair, dating back to the DP32 ) and I want to see them grow the range.

    And please don’t think that I consider good bass to be what CV do ( I have never heard them do anything particularly well ). JBL do make some speakers with astoundingly good sonic qualities, albeit at quite high prices!.

  14. No hard feelings, Geoff. Nothing wrong with a bit of robust discussion. It’s when it gets personal – as on the comments section of just about every YouTube clip for some reason! – that I draw the line.
    We’re both fans of Perreaux… we can agree on that!

  15. @ Gary Steel. I can leave my log on details for personal banking if you like dude but that is unlikely to change the laughable moniker Witchdoctor has adopted as “New Zealand’s technology authority”

    Start marking down your paying advertisers and mates down to realistic levels instead of talking everything up.

    I have heard the speakers and the amp/pre amp, I listened to them for an afternoon with both the owner who was considering sending them back, and a hifi nut who must have heard every single pair of speakers in the country. We were in agreeance that anything approaching bass or rock n roll gave them a spanking-in a bad way. What was there sounded nice enough, and the owner went away ready to purchase a sub woofer….we all liked the amp and pre amp, and it would have to be better than the Cambridge gear I own which keeps failing with regular monotony-4 cd players and counting.

  16. Andrew, Well thanks for finally owning up to your opinions, and telling us how you got to hear the SR35s. But you know… how disrespectful you are. I go to all that trouble to explain how Witchdoctor works, and you write it off with a sarcastic potshot at a line under a logo. I get the feeling you’re bitter about something and want to blame us for your problems. You bought some Cambridge gear, and have had a run of bad luck with it? Well, that’s unfortunate, but we can’t replicate your poor experience with that brand. We’ve always found Cambridge products to be exactly as consensus has it: nicely priced quality hi-fi. I reiterate: we’re a bunch of guys who do a hi-fi site because we love hi-fi. We put an immense amount of work into this endeavour, and get just enough in ad revenue to keep it going. Effectively, we’re paying to provide you with a free service, so you can come on here and bitch about us. If you’re that convinced that we’re merely mere puppets to promote the products of our advertisers, well… the metaphorical door is over there, and best of luck.

  17. I have no doubt that the SR35’s are probably great speakers and for 3,995 NZ dollars they seem worth it. But I live in the USA where these sell for $4995 USD or around 5900 NZ dollars! That is a good chunk of change. The problem is that there is a lot of competition here and a lot of great speakers being offered in the $5000 price range. If the SR35’s were sold for the same price in the USA as they are in NZ they would only go for $3400 (+tax?) and then I think they would be very competitive. At $5000 though the choice becomes much more difficult. Especially because many of us will have to buy them before we hear them.
    I suppose for people that already own Perreaux amps the speakers do give them synergy which is sometimes very hard to come by. So that is worth something. Also, I understand that transport is expensive to the USA and the $5000 cost does include all shipping, taxes, and duty fees. Plus, I think we get a discount if we buy the SR35’s with one of their amps.
    What is the tax rate and final cost for these in NZ?

  18. Oh man I don’t know where to start here.

    First – I really rate the CA gear. I’ve heard mutterings over the years re. reliability but only re. a certain series of entry level CD players and that’s definitely no more than I’ve heard re. heaps of other brands – no manufacturer makes product that’s 100% reliable. Sonically and from a value for money perspective, the company’s gear is on the money and it’s not just us or What Hi Fi who think so. The 851A and 851C for example are bloody great and I had them for months, listened for many, many hours to make that call.

    Second – this theory that we’re in the pockets of our advertisers. Not even going to dignify that one with a comment.

    Third – please feel free to show me who else is doing much for consumer tech (especially hi-fi) in NZ? The mags are all gone. It’s us and AudioEnz, and we reckon we do a pretty good job all up given that this isn’t a business for us, it’s something we do for fun. If you think those ads pay our bills, well you’re very much mistaken. I for one love hi-fi and that’s why I keep writing about it.

    Fourth – Andrew, as Gaz put it, don’t let the door hit you in the butt mate. There are loads of other tech sources out there. No one says you have to read what we write.

  19. Hi Tom, Thanks for your comments. Of course we in NZ have the same problem with pricing in reverse… once shipping costs and tax is taken into account, the prices can be really prohibitive, especially because, being a small country, hot hi-fi items are only imported in small numbers.
    You mentioned that it was hard to get to audition the SR35s. I’m not familiar with the retail situation in the States, but not allowing auditions would be a rather dire (and silly) situation. Ideally, you’d even try them out in your own home. Maybe Perreaux in NZ could direct you to a retailer in your area that will make sure you’re taken care of?
    I can only really reiterate what I said in my review: that the SR35s bat way above their pricing, which means that even with the taxes and shipping to the US, I believe they would stand their ground proudly!

  20. Hi guys. Garth from Theophany. Thanks for the great review Gary. I want to defend firstly Gary and Ash. I have always found them to be fair and focused on finding and printing truth as they see it. The fact is though we all have different opinions. I will say this though Gary while I am a believer we spend huge amounts on R&D and would only go in a direction of a dream after it has proven itself, something that also takes a lot of work. We may have a different goal as far as sound goes to Perreaux but speakers do generally reflect what the developer is trying to achieve. This seems to be very polarizing to fans and critics and people takes sides very quickly but we do it a certain way so we can stand behind our product with confidence because it achieves what we wanted it to. Of course we well always be seeing how we can improve it.

    I want to also congratulate Marty and Clinton. I have only had a very brief listen but I respect these men and what they have achieved in the industry. They have fought the hard yards and are still here and have produced a very good product. I am keen to learn as much as I can and respect the advice they got which is something I always am on the hunt for. I always listen and evaluate the critics comments and try to grow because of them as I am sure Marty does.

    Ultimately we both survive because of export as NZ is so small so let’s hope the dollar comes down soon. I certainly hope that there continues to be room for both of us in the industry.

    Great review Gary and well done Marty and team, you have done a great job.

    Cheers Garth

  21. Suggesting I leave Witchdoctor is clear indication the argument is either being last, or contains a kernel of truth-however uncomfortable that might be for Ash and Gary. Disappointing response guys!

    Having heard the arguments I am even more convinced that bias exists at Witchdoctor. I mention that my CA CD player has been replaced four times-an epic failure unprecedented in my 50 years, and one that I have not heard of, or seen in any other person, appliance or machine; an event that makes the Warehouse looks like Harrods in comparison to CA, and the response is to leap immediately to CA’s defence. When I mention the failures to anyone I meet in the real world I’m met with incredulous gaping mouths. If that is not a clear indication of bias, I don’t know what is!?

    Bias is not helping the many consumers who read this well set out and interesting site. And it is the worst possible response to manufacturers like Perreaux and Theophany. Both need critical judgement of their equipment if they are to continuously improve and create world class product. Marking product as 5 star that is not matched by reality hurts manufacturers in the mid to long term.

  22. Actually Andrew, I think it’s a “clear indication” that this has gone beyond tiresome.

  23. The reality is that 99% of products out there from all the reputable usual suspects are pretty damn good, given their price levels.
    I have never heard of a Cambridge product failing as you have mentioned it. Obviously it must happen because it happened to you, but your experience is not representative of the experiences of the vast majority.
    It is almost impossible to find a product that warrants a bad review these days. Do you think manufacturers or distributors would release or put forward a product for review that was crap?
    Ash and Gary et al., as with most of us in the hifi industry do this out of passion for cool products and good sound. If you really think there are behind the scenes reach arounds going on, you have a distorted view of the world.

  24. I forgot to mention, these days system synergy is the most important factor by far. All the best products in the world can still make a crap system if they don’t have a synergy with each other, or the end users preferences.

  25. Neil, the fact that dealers are unaware of CA failures does not mean that they are not happening with regular monotony. Many kiwis are to shy/quiet to complain about anything; most are more likely to dump the product and buy another, or put up with badly functioning equipment.
    Poor CA quality is a stark reality for me and should factor when you consider selling their equipment to your customers. I know if I was in your position Neil I would be thinking long and hard about selling treasured customers equipment that has an ominous question mark over it.

    As for Ash and Gary’s “reach arounds”: I’m not sure if some reviews contain cognitive bias or something less than total honesty…..some of the reviews come across with heavy preference to NZ manufacturers, and the larger importers and their representative gear; the reviews seem to favour the equipment provider over the NZ consumer who will be using Witchdoctor as a frontline reference to influence buying decisions.

  26. The idea that just because we’re shy Kiwis and don’t like complaining… that we would not seek a fix for faulty equipment that costs thousands of dollars… just doesn’t make sense. I don’t know anyone who would just lie back and take a faulty piece of equipment.
    In regards to your ongoing contention that somehow Witchdoctor is biased towards NZ manufacturers and the “larger importers”, there’s no way to defend charges like that, so I suggest we agree to disagree, and close this increasingly pointless correspondence.

  27. In all the years I have been retailing Cambridge gear I would honestly say that the failure rate we have had on it would be less than one percent, and almost all of those issues were with a rotary encoder on a receiver which were rectified in quick time.
    You sending a ‘warning’ letter to every retailer of CA gear is pretty poor form. What are you hoping to achieve by it?
    Also the idea that kiwis are a shy bunch and won’t complain if something is wrong is ridiculous. If some one has a problem with anything they have bought they won’t just throw it out and chalk it up to experience. That is a crazy suggestion and so far from the reality of what actually happens. As far as we are concerned there is definitely no ‘ominous question mark’ over any of the gear we sell. If there was we wouldn’t sell it.

    I have had gear reviewed by the Witchdoctor guys, I am certainly not one of the larger importers by any means. I only put things forward that I am pretty confident will get a good review. I never give any direction as to how the review should be written. The product is there to stand on it’s own merits. Honestly if you don’t like it, don’t read it.

  28. @Neil.Others in the industry do not share your experience or enthusiasm for CA. Dealers have come back to me claiming that they have voiced concerns before about CA, and they have thanked me for sticking my neck out.
    As for returning equipment: no question that there is a relationship between time since purchase, and original purchase price. With CA being comparatively cheap you are less likely to see returns, particularly in the case of the 651 CD players where it still went, but had developed a flaw in operation. And yes the country is full of sheep without the balls to speak up! I’m speaking up and look at the meltdown!
    As for sending the letter: I was hoping to inform dealers of my experience so that they can better serve their customers. I said that in the letter….you can read?

  29. Okay, I’m going to ask nicely: this is a comments section of a review of the Perreaux SR35 loudspeakers, so please, any other subjects (like Cambridge Audio, etc, etc) please take it to the Witchdoctor forums. Thank you.

  30. If I am not mistaken it looks like the same tweeter that Spender uses in most of their speakers? I’m still thinking about buying a pair along with the Audiant 80i integrated amp.

  31. Pingback: Perreaux Audiant SR58 Loudspeaker PREVIEW

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