Reviewing The Gallo Acoustics World:
Gallo Acoustics Strada 2, A’Diva & A’ Diva SE & TR-3D speaker system
Different strokes for different folks
This time I chose a slightly different approach to the idea of sound and music reproduction at home. You see, usually, I put first and foremost the absolute sound fidelity and demand everything to adhere to this goal, since I believe every component is a tool that helps me achieve that fidelity, no matter what.
As a result of that belief, I normally don’t care much about the looks and finishes of the components, the tidiness of the set-up or if my spouse loves or hates the looks of some components in my system or their existence in general in the house. To tell you the truth, even though she IS extremely tolerant about the stuff I bring home (and that IS one of the many reasons why I adore her, and no she doesn’t read my reviews), I had, to feel good that I do not shove down my family’s throat my choices (since tools are usually functional but not beautiful things, I am an engineer so ALL tools look good to me if they function properly), I eventually set up my system in a separate studio room that is in a separate apartment. This way I have absolute freedom about my choices, especially in the aesthetics department, plus I can listen to levels that if I were at home I would definitely bother (see: annoy) the members of my family. For the neighbors I don’t care (no, seriously, I have sound proofed the place when it was getting built).
So, again, this time I had to change course a bit since the designs of Gallo Acoustics are first and foremost loudspeakers that are meant to be put in our living environments without compromises in the looks department. And they do manage to achieve that goal, easily I must admit. But my experience tells me that usually if there is too much attention to be paid in one department then another (if you want to keep price at sensible levels) suffers. So what is going on with the Gallo Acoustics solutions, do they compromise their sound or have they found a way to change the laws of the market and, in some way, physics also?
In order to do that this time, not only I gave them a proper listen in my studio, that has acoustics that reveal, ruthlessly I must admit, the character of every speaker I test, but I tried (it’s easy, they are so small and light, except the sub but that is manageable too) them in my living room as music and home theater speakers (2.1 and 5.1 combinations), in my office as PC speakers (2.0 and 2.1 combinations), and finally in my son’s room and my kitchen as a parts of small, local, sound systems (2.0, if you include the sub the speaker system is not really SMALL any more).
Looks and finish? Beyond any criticism!
The idea that Gallo Acoustics had in the first place, that is to make their speakers as little globes, was and still is a brilliant one. They are small, they are beautifully finished and they truly disappear in the room you place them in in a few moments, depending on their finish (white, black or stainless steel, the last one a little more expensive) since even the bigger A’Diva (the biggest of the single globes that is) is small enough to achieve such a task. Even the way (compared always with the Micro and A’Diva models) bigger and more complex as a shape Strada 2 is small enough (37cm tall and around 14cm wide) to blend easily almost everywhere you put it. And the fit and finish, ah, they are above or at least equal to anything you can put them against at their price level and way above that. Even the matt black and “snow” white (as they call it) finish, the basic options I mean, are pretty much as good as it gets. As far as the stainless steel finish, if you can squeeze the extra dough it is really worth it, it looks so gooood!
That is for the small globes Micro, Micro SE, A’Dive and A’Diva SE. The bigger (double the globes plus a ribbon tweeter per speaker) Strada 2 looks even more amazing, more techno (but still beautiful, in my eyes at least) with its stainless steel and black aluminum combination finish. Put them on the elegantly designed and very high built quality but optional table stands code named Side 2 and you have something that looks gorgeous and sounds pretty damn good too. But I get ahead of the review. Let’s stay with the description of the speakers and the technology behind them.
All of the small globes (a globe by the way it is supposed to be the best, sound wise, shape out there) contain one small cone based drive (3” for the Micro, Micro SE, A’Diva and A’Diva SE and 4” for the flat cone drivers of the Strada 2) that covers the full audio spectrum without any crossovers. The cone material in the case of the Micro and A’Diva is Mica Polypropylene compound and in the case of the Micro SE and A’Diva SE is Aluminium Honeycomb Sandwich. The cone material in the case of the Strada 2 is Carbon Fibre, optimized to work without a crossover with the Patented CDT3 (Cylindrical Diaphragm Transducer) sporting 180° horizontal dispersion from 6kHz to above 20kHz tweeter. So the Micro, Micro SE, A’Diva and A’Diva SE are all single drive, full range speakers, and the Strada 2 is a two way, three driver combination still without a crossover, but with drivers time aligned, physically.
Now, being full range and in a small enclosure the first four of them (Micro, Micro SE, A’ Diva and A’Diva SE) are able to create pin point imaging with ease. But also being full range and so small in diameter means that in order to create a full range sound (with bass that reaches in the 30s and 40s) they need the assistance of a subwoofer, the TR-D3 in this case. This is especially true with the Micro and Micro SE which on their own can reach down to 120Hz (or 100Hz if you mount them on a wall with their dedicated stands or floor stands). In the case of the A’Diva and A’Diva SE the bigger globe extends the frequency response down to 88Hz (or 76Hz with wall and room stands placement), where the Strada 2, with the double cone drivers, goes down to 68Hz if close to a wall boundary. The little Micro and Micro SE are 4” in diameter and the A’Diva versions 5” in diameter.
The connectors in both the A’Diva and the Micro are small and accept easily small spades (the safest and best quality connection) but also they can accept thin bare wire. They can be set on the supplied silicon rings, smart, simple and elegant (as long you use thin wire to connect them so that the weight of the wire does not pull them in such a way that they move from their place), on their optional wall mount stands or on their, again optional, floorstands. There is also a very interesting option for the small spheres, a special optional in-ceiling mount for those that have false ceilings. For the Strada 2, Gallo Acoustics offer table, wall and floor optional stands.
The sub TR-D3 looks interesting too. It contains a 10” long-throw ceramic anodised aluminum cone driver, driven by a powerful 300 Watt Class-D digital amplifier. It offers multiple adjustments (cross frequency, in/out phase, level, bass equalization options (0, +3dB, +6dB 25 Hz center frequency) to match easier the room acoustics, passive high pass filter for the satellites, high/low power signal inputs, active cross bypass for use in home theater systems and auto/manual power on/off. Its cylindrical body is made out of stainless steel, with four elastic/vibration absorbent feet. Fit and finish are very, very good and the frequency response that covers extends from 18Hz to 180Hz (upper variable). This is the only model that is offered right now, even though on their web page there is also another smaller subwoofer.
Good looks, good sound?
So, the critical question is how they sound, I mean they got the looks nailed down, but they are speakers after all, aren’t they? Let’s start with the Micro and A’Diva. Well, as I thought (after reading their specs) the Micro need the sub (if they are going to be used in a stereo system) to perform well, since their output in the low frequency department is not adequate. But if you combine them with the sub, or any other smaller sub for that matter, they sound competitive enough in the sound department vs. any other small speaker in their price class. They do sound somewhat annoying to my ears because I am used to pretty much full range frequency balance, and these do suffer in both the high and the low frequency department, but so do most of the speakers out there with a price below 1000 euros, and these are way below that mark. Yes, I am that spoiled. And yes, they do have less sparkling treble than any other “normal” two way speaker but their single speaker, full range, sound makes up for it in wholesomeness and flow of the music. The A’Divas on the other hand do sound more full range, more wholesome, more acceptable to my ears, and that is with a price increase of only 130 euros per speaker (base finish color offer). These can stand alone as PC speakers, or speakers for small rooms, especially when they are put against a wall. Add to these any good enough sub (or the TR-D3 if you can afford it, it’s not that expensive for the quality of the sound they offer is really good, but it has a price of 750 euros) and you have a “good” sounding 2.1 system that delivers very powerful dynamics with very few flaws in other areas.
So pretty much well done Gallo in the basic model offerings. What about the SE models with their more sophisticated drivers? Do they offer something that is really needed? Well, when they are well run in (after 200-300 hours of music playing at least) they do get my vote on the sound quality department (directly compared with the basic models). That comes with a price increase (for the Micro SE) of 55 euros per piece or 35 euros per piece for the A’Diva SE model. With these really small gaps in price and with the small but well worth it performance increase, that is mainly more balanced sound over the whole spectrum, better detail and sharper dynamics, I believe if you are going to buy the Gallo speakers, you should go with the SE option, it is well worth it, and in my opinion make the cheaper offerings almost obsolete (sorry Gallo). But on the other hand you can combine in a 5.1 system three A’Divas SEs with two Micros and you get 95% of the sound you would get with all five A’Divas. Or you could combine three Micro SEs with two Micros and still get good sound, or you can…, well, you get the picture. It seems that they have an answer/solution for everyone, these guys!.
Now the Strada 2. How do I say that? Hmm, I guess there is no other way around it. With their huge price increase over the other models, three to five times more expensive actually, at 990 euros/piece including VAT, Greek VAT that is (+24% for those who don’t know), they offer also a huge sound improvement and to tell you the truth a way more impressive, gorgeous presence (way better looks that is…) than their less expensive cousins. Yes, the combination of the patented tweeter with the two full range carbon fiber full range crossoverless drivers really shine in almost all departments, even if judged by a hard core audiophile as myself. Combine them with the TR-D3 sub (which by the way offers taut, extended, very dynamic and fast, full bodied sound or have I already mentioned that) and you get a very attractive package that delivers detailed, smooth, balanced spectrally, really high quality sound with looks that can blend in, and they do, easily in a home environment. And it can work wonders in 5.1 multichannel audio as well (or in high expectations home theaters with a full complement of Strada 2s all round, or three Stada 2s in front and two A’Divas at the rear, or… you get the picture as well!). Yes they do need a bit more work from the user to pick the best adjustment in order to blend them in with the sub, but when you hit the target you have to be careful so that you don’t exaggerate in the loudness department, just because the distortion levels and the uncompressed dynamics this combination can deliver can fool your brain into believing you are getting!
So, there you have it. You have limited budget, you have more money, it doesn’t matter, Gallo Acoustics probably have the, close to “perfect”, solution for you. You want a decent sounding home theater system with great looks (if you can spot it!), a high end home theater system, a small local sound system that will “disappear” in the room, a very good PC speaker system (especially with the Strada 2 the results are amazing) or all of the above, Gallo Acoustics speakers are very close to the perfect answer to your prayers. Very, very nice. And cheap for the most part too. So go check them out!
by Thanasis Moraitis
Distribution / Auditioning in Greece: