Deep Breath EVO speakers from Care Orchestra [English]
Bookshelf 2-way bass-reflex Speakers Review
edited by Stavros D. Gatsopoulos
I have to admit, Ι had never heard of Care Orchestra speakers before May ’21. However, I did have the bright idea to request a pair for review and evaluation and the Italian company obliged. The speaker was promptly sent to my reviewing salon at the center of Athens. Extreme attention given to every detail of the packaging and its flawless appearance, made my first ever date with the sent model, the Deep Breath EVO, very promising. This two-way bookshelf speaker model was released in 2021 and it’s the newest design of the company.
When Care Orchestra was founded in Italy, the company’s mission was twofold: to design and produce high quality products from an acoustic point of view and to empower the local market by keeping all of the production in their home country. Indeed, Italy is well-known for delivering world-class high-end speakers such as Sonus Faber and the later developed Σ Acoustics. Additionally, the available option to customize the speakers according to customer specifications leads to one of a kind looking models. In spite of a basic production with “typical” characteristics such as black or white lacquering, the company can offer a complete customization of the finishes with marble, leather, plus various other colors and fabrics. Not bad at all.
The company’s aim is to provide a high class, high fidelity product (not only with a high level connotation), but also aesthetically pleasing as well by combining aesthetics, acoustic and manufacturing excellence and high quality components. Also, in terms of technical choices, the company has incorporated special features like, for example, accurate connection of the filter components via custom-made supports without pre-moulded bases or exclusively using audio cables with certain characteristics of resistance and capacity for the internal connections.
In terms of the speaker construction, in addition to the technical choices concerning volume, thickness, mass, ducts, etc., Care Orchestra has opted to make the cabinet, without any visible junction elements, so, any applied panels, screws etc. are not immediately visible beneath the smooth lacquering. The marble finished products under review here at our hiendnews e-magazine, are carved from solid blocks, precisely to avoid joints.
As a result of the above, Care Orchestra like to consider themselves as a ‘tailor-made’ business. They work with architects to provide clients with a solution that is integrated into their furnishings and interiors. Also, they collaborate with luxury multinationals (names can’t be mentioned due to a confidentiality agreement) to create customized audio solutions made to measure, with very fine and high-quality materials.
“I would like to take this opportunity to send you a magazine in which an article has been published on a realization we did together with Andrea Castrignano in Via Durini in Milan. You will see in the article our loudspeakers in a finish designed and used for the furnishings (the supreme in RAL finish like the walls and fabrics like the sofas, the Wave pink in a colour similar to the marble of the table. You can find some custom designed and made-to-measure products (sounding bedside table), we have made the outdoor sounding vases and in the rest of the flat we have inserted our invisible in-wall speakers for wire broadcasting. We typically carry out similar projects by working with architects and studying solutions together to meet the customer’s needs.” – Ola Onadipe
The Deep Breath Evo speakers are 2-way bookshelf ones, bass reflex tuned speakers with an internal volume of 15 litres. Nominal impedance is 4 ohms, frequency range (+/- 3 dB) 48 – 41,000 Hz, sensitivity of 91.5 dB (1m, 2.83 V). The internal volume is designed to avoid reflections. The transducers are housed in custom-made holes that allow for a laser-cut leather layer to cover them. The second-order crossover network uses very fast, high-precision Jantzen high-end components and silver Van den Hul internal wiring.
The standard price is €2,250 including VAT for the pair, in a matte finish of your choice. We received the reviewed model in matte black. As mentioned above, glossy finishes, leather inserts, fabrics and exotic woods are also available on request.
The Review System
The systems I used for this review consisted of my famous mid-priced Jadis integrated Orchestra reference model (equipped with Gold Lion KT88 tubes or EL34-B by Tungsol in some cases), a Pathos Classic One Mk3 integrated and Conrad-Johnson power amplifiers (solid-state of mid 2000s fully recapped this year) combined with VTL 5.5 preamplification. All equipment connected with Cardas, custom-made silver ones and Nordost cables. The power cords were Oyaide Tunami Cables and Kubala-Sosna ones. For digital source, I used a special design RT-Audio Orpheus HiRes DAC and also a new Pro-Ject EVO low/mid-priced turntable with Ortofon Black 2M set up for the analog playback. Care Orchestra’s Deep Breath EVO also mated very,very well with a great custom-made low-watt (<30 watts) class A/B amplifier of a friend’s audio ‘kitchen’ driven (or better passing the digital source signals) via a passive attenuator.
I tried setting the Deep Breath pair close to the rear wall, but soon I realized that the speakers required a distance of at least 60 cm from room’s corners, so I moved them out for nearfield listening. By moving them so, I was able to get the lower midrange and upper bass to sound well integrated with the critical mid-range, better imaging [of course] and all the freq. spectrum clearer than I would have expected. So I ended up with the front of the cabinets about a meter and a half from the wall behind the speakers and about three meters from the listening chair. They worked best with just a little toe-in and their tweeters ‘inside’. No need to bi-wire, they carry only one pair of very high quality binding posts.
Summer mornings and nights full of blues, rock and classical music (especially piano or violin concertos) passed with no-stress levels during that burn-in period of time. Let’s start with a few of the questions that we all have about two-way small speakers. For example, I love the sound of ProAc Response DB1 ones and also the fantastic but older Acapella Audio Arts Fidelio d’Appolito design. As good and famous they are for their big and pin-point soundstage that draws you into the musical venue -and they are incredibly good- though, they can’t play quite as loud as a big floorstander neither leave you speechless with the deepest of bass note clarity at higher sound pressure levels. The Deep Breath EVO can’t do tricks better than others but excels in the flow, a musical flow that let each note breath, connect with the next very likely as in real-life events and express unforced harmonics content. That’s a rare talent! This design had egoism and dislike sounding big and furious by default – this is the amplifier’s job here. Purity and neutrality comes in mind, so maybe a tube amplifier that pushes things further and draws sonic pictures with a golden/warm touch is a very nice idea. So, in came the Jadis and VTL pre & Conrad-Johnson power amplification (solid-state one). Even the great hybrid Pathos Classic One mk3 mated very well and performed flawlessly for the price point.
Relevant detail is naturally presented with no exaggeration of forced musical artifacts or highlighted upper mids. Identifying the style and sonic signature of individual artists is a snap due to a pin-point view of the finest details (aka finger movements or strings details if well recorded). Ever been confused to distinguish the tone of different electric guitar brands (such as Fender or Gibson) in a snap when listening to tracks by the ‘rock legends’, despite having learned the instrument or recorded electric guitars in the past? Goodbye confusion! Its deeply annoying for me when hi-fi gear slurs and blurs notes. Not such qualities with this two-way Italian speaker as even buried-in-the-mix, mumbling (backing) vocalists and guitar tracks are easily distinguishable.
Care Orchestra’s Deep Breath EVO reproduced violins with admirable purity/neutrality and the piano without adding any identified blur on upper or lower notes. I despair when these things aren’t done right, as listening boredom quickly sets in or AC-noise related problems enter the door of your salon. It should be mentioned though that with some well-known integrated amplifiers of the 1k-3k euros price range, I experienced a slight ‘thinning’ of the imaging picture of the cello or violins, guitars and pianos. In such a scenario, you are not getting the right dose of the organic richness or the live-stage real-size musicians ‘ghosts’ in front of you, even if you are digging on vinyl to get it right. So, better get the tubes or a classy solid-state here, or be ready to blame a bad chemistry between ‘yin and yang’.
Although I find some other speakers to be slightly more ‘meat and bones’ in rendering the performance, this one does fairly well with the tension without a hint of aggressiveness, and provides subtle dynamic shadings and nuances of every well recorded note. Track “Lenny” of Texas blues virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan (written for his wife) proved of particular interest to my ear. String picking, studio hall ‘air’ and creamy harmonics of the (various) tube guitar gear that SRV preferred to mess with, painted here more of a ‘precise’ picture than a ‘live wall of sound’ interpretation. With the help of Jadis integrateds and a mid-ranged Pro-Ject analog setup, I managed to get both a nice and deep soundstage plus the big-picture imagery. Job done.
Upper highs, midrange and lows are artfully ‘connected’. Via the Deep Breath EVO, high frequencies tend to be on a very analytical but buttery-smooth tonal spectrum, reminding us of all the legendary, great Italian made examples. This effect seems likely to be partly due to the sonic signature of this bookshelf. But those who find the fast-as-a-shark high-frequency transients of many ribbons sitting at the top of a speaker design as unnatural, should have no worries here.
Moving on to the all-important midrange, there is resolution and transparency in spades. For example, a Paganini 24 Caprices interpretation by James Ehnes in a studio recording -in my opinion also one of the best versions of the Paganini Caprices ever recorded- had all the details and air around each note accurately reproduced with this pair. Just like a masterclass performance would. Furthermore, the harmonic overtones are beautifully rendered, resulting in vibrations reverberating free from any upper-etch or harsh frequency. Their performance was equivalent to the ribbon tweeters of ProAc’s current line and pricier floor-standing Repsonse series. Finally for the bass lovers, there is a clear bass line to be heard in every well-known recording without any identifiable reflex port coloration or mid-bass thickness. Plain and simple, clean as a whistle.
The Deep Breath EVO two-way bookshelf cannot be classified as a ‘music lover’s do-it-all’ speaker but screams out “audiophile first grade character”. It is not aimed to fill the gap between lower fidelity and higher end products and, during our review, it also became clear that this model is very selective about its partnering amplification. Integrated very well with my lush sounding, push-pull tube amplifier & mid/upper-class solid-state ones then scored very high in the sound quality scale. There is a lot of competition at this price-point of 2k-such speakers as ProAcs from UK, Triangles from France and a ton of other offers, but this Italian pair displayed the rare talents of having upper-tier flow & detail expression with no hint of stress. Absence of any colorations should also be noted here. Listening to Deep Breath EVO at the end of the day made me hopeful for the future of high-end audio; perhaps in the not-so-distant future, a highly satisfying listening experience might not necessarily entail the decade-long cliché of ‘breaking the bank’.