Sunny Cable Technology H3W15S “Special Edition” Loudspeaker
Master of the Elements
                                       

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The sound was good, promising indeed, but nothing like I had heard from the Majestics at Clement’s. Remember the patience and time issue raised earlier? Like nearly all high-strung cutting edge designs, the Sunny SE is no different. I allowed myself to ignore them for a good long while (that is to the degree one can ignore two 6ft tall, 600lb speakers in one’s living room). Days turned into weeks and the weeks into months as the casual listening accumulated nearly three hundred hours of use. Finally, I set aside an afternoon to sample the fruit born from the previous two months. In went Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature [Giant Records]. I queued up track 2, “What a Shame About Me.” Things had progressed nicely indeed. Transient snap, top to bottom dynamic range and a transparency I had never before experienced. I still felt the balance was a bit too tilted up and the bottom end a bit detached from the above frequencies. I should note that my Behold CPU preamp employs a highly sophisticated, incredibly flexible room correction program. Even after much adjustment to the target curve, I did not feel I was getting all I could. My room has a very steep upward bump from 3000Hz, up through 5000Hz and flattening out around 7000Hz. A discussion with Clement concluded the toe in might have been too aggressive and perhaps my Danish mid-century chaise lounge was a bit low in profile for the ideal listening position. After a couple nudges to open up the speakers stance I threw a couple of large pillows on the chaise raising my ear lever a good eight inches.

I would normally downplay such minor actions within the scope of all that goes into getting things locked in with a high-end system. In this instance however, these last two steps managed to summon the audio Gods into action. The results were a large step in the right direction. The imaging, the ease and midrange liquidity, the transparency and the bass, my goodness the bass, surpassed anything and by no small margin, that I had heard before save Clement’s system and maybe the $400,000 Wisdom speaker system I heard a few years ago at CES. Now this was what I had been waiting for!

Yet again, I had found myself being offered both the blue pill and the red pill. Why do I always take the red pill with regards to high end audio? Those initial listening sessions, after burn-in, made me a believer. In the way one feels in the midst of a religious experience, all past concerns are cast behind in the light of the new found truth.

And true it is. The horn, as designed and implemented on the Sunny SE speaker is capable of reproducing the signal with utter clarity, a universal freedom from all the distortions of dynamic drivers; not to mention non-linear cone resonances and break up characteristics along with the compression that even the best dynamic drivers have not fully resolved. With an efficiency of 110db, the horn membrane requires an order of magnitude less power to drive, thus less strain is put upon the amplifier. The net result is an across the board banishment of coloration with no penalty whatsoever usually associated with horn-loaded speakers. I will get more into that in a moment. For now, back to another first in my experience.

On Clement’s Majestics, there is an 18” paper cone driver. On the SE there is a 15” driver. Either way, this design appears to be the bumblebee of speaker configuration. Neither the Sunny nor the bumblebee appears as if they could possibly fly. But when properly set up and carefully toed in to achieve the proper balance, these speakers really take flight. Not only is the bass controlled, pitch perfect, and extremely powerful, the crossover manages to integrate the dynamic driver with the horn in a way I still have a hard time accepting as reality. Compared to the Sunny, my Dynaudio Evidence Master sounded rather congested and colored. This is an area one would normally not criticize the Dynaudio, that is until time is spent with the Sunny.

Getting back to Two Against Nature, the snare drum that whip cracks on the second and fourth beat throughout the song exploded through the mix. For the first time in my experience, a snare drum is presented with nearly 100% of the dynamics and harmonic shaping of the real thing. Thanks to perfect transient alignment with the ensuing harmonics, the immediacy leaves nothing to the imagination.

Track after track yielded surprises from recordings I didn’t think had anything new to offer. I am not talking hidden little details or slight tonal improvements. Nor am I referring to this being a different “cup of tea,” a phrase I have used many times in order to settle with one set of distortions over another. I am referring to a wholesale re-construction of all the elements that should come together, that I thought already had come together in my system defining what I thought possible in home audio.

The Sunny SE has the ability to render the contours of instruments the way they have been captured on a recording. Each recording clearly portrayed a great sense of individuality. Listening to Greg Brown sign “Small Dark Movie” from his excellent album Further In [Hacklebarney] is a much different experience than listening to Aaron Nevell sing “Louisiana” from Warm your Heart [EMI]. Brown’s voice is closely miked and much larger than Aaron’s mid stage image. Sure you can make these observations on much lesser systems, the key here is the lack of the speakers signature imprinted on the music. Just when I thought I had the Sunny SE pegged one way or another, I would play a new disc that again, sounded completely unique. This happened with the soundtrack to Gladiator [Decca]. The sense of space and the organic texture bathed in a warm wash of reverb gave the system yet another facet with which to refract and display the recordings prism of color and dynamics.

If you want to find out what your system has in the tank dynamically, listen to track 3 “The Battle” from Gladiator. You may think the volume is too low at first. Do not, I repeat, do not turn it up. The ensuing crescendo will send your midrange driver right through that Elvis–on-Velvet painting hanging behind you that you are so proud of. As great as the Sunny SEs are, I was able to get them to give up the ghost, but only because I really forced the issue. I cannot imagine any musically relevant way the Sunny will be pushed beyond its comfort level.

The ease these speakers posses should not be confused with the way that term is typically applied to other speakers. It is not ease that is imparted on the signal by the speaker; it is the ease that exists in the recording that is allowed to flow with dynamic effortlessness via an expansion of the dynamic range and unfettered subtle shadings, which lack grain during the grand swings of volume, regardless of how sudden the signal attacks the drivers. The music flies forth without a hint of frequency related nonlinearity or global compression. Once experienced I was wrecked for anything less. Consider yourself warned.

The Sunny SE is also amazing in the way it presents images. For once I am getting precise localization, the correct shape or instrumental contours while capturing the surrounding layers of harmonic bloom and room acoustic. I have had a degree of each before, often to a very convincing level, but not all from the same speaker and in such realistic proportion.

Tons of inner detail is woven into the whole with utter natural precision with out distraction or exaggeration. On Damien Rice’s “Cold Water” from “O” [Vector] someone, perhaps Damien, shifts gently in his seat. The scrunching of leather while heard before has less a sense of being an artifact than being a natural part of a whole reality being represented in real time. I know this is just the kind of minutia that is thrown around in order to sound like I have some golden ears or have no soul with which to pay attention to the music. Yet these kinds of details are so realistically portrayed that they add to the sense of spontaneity and life often missed by speaker with what appears to be real resolution. The sibilance from the lips of Damien goes further to show this off. I have never ever heard such realistic mechanics displayed by the human mouth in a recording. If you are like me, you have been driven to distraction by over hyped, bright sibilance more than one. It is a pleasure to be able to relax into a section of music that is coming that used to create Jaw teeth clenching anxiety.

Space, be it electronically imparted or fresh from the recording venue itself, is so much more distinct and clearly rendered making many recordings sound like high-resolution versions of the same recording played through previous speakers. It is not just the outreaches of the acoustic that are rendered so clearly that is so impressive, though impressive it is, it is the air closest to and surrounding the image that infuses and illuminates the instrument or voice. The net effect is a sense of life and intimacy merely hinted at previously.

These are all incredible accomplishments, each major components of a great speaker. In the end however the speaker must allow for proper harmonic color or tone if that word works for you. Here is where the Sunny SE hits the biggest bull’s-eye. Every instruments tonal signature put forth by the Sunny is utterly convincing. I had no idea how much was being smeared and scrambled by even the great speakers I have heard. Don’t get me wrong; I am not condemning everything else as crap or un-listenable. There are many excellent products out there that strike a wonder full musical balance along with the many I have not had the pleasure hearing. The one sneaking suspicion I have is that if the Sunny is going to be bettered, it will be another horn design that will do it. Remember, I’m the guy who did not like even one horn speaker I have ever heard, and I have heard some very expensive widely acclaimed horn loaded speakers. After hearing the fundamental advantage of horn technology done right, The dynamic driver appears rather clumsy and hamstrung with the burden of fighting an uphill battle against the law of physics, rather than working in physical harmony, as with the horns high sensitivity and low mass diaphragm.

There are a ton of speakers out there. The expansion of offerings in the $50-$60K-price range has been amazing. Even if I started today, it would take years to fully grasp what is out there.

So how can I so passionately and confidently recommend the Sunny Special Edition? It is really simple. I have never heard anything like them! I’m not responding to a different take on one taste of sound over another. After hearing the Sunny, I realized that all these observations add up to a quality (as Clement puts it) that I have never heard or more acutely put, felt from any of the dynamic speakers I have auditioned.

The Sunny Cable Technology H3W15S Special Edition is huge, not all that great looking and will require components of monumental excellence to fully understand what they are capable of. But once accomplished, and if you are anything like me, there will be tears.

                               



Loudspeaker Model: Sunny Special Edition

Description: 3-Way system with bass reflex woofer and horn‐loaded mid and high frequency drivers.
Could be used with any combination of passive internal and active external crossovers.
Frequency Response: 25 to 100,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 95 dB
Power Handling: 450 w program
Impedance: 8 ohm
Midrange Horn: 16.5” (42 cm) and weighing 77 lbs (35 Kg). Original design with innovative material.
Midrange Driver: Compression driver with 4” voice coil, 101.6 mm diaphragm, neodymium magnet, 2” exit.
High Freq. Driver: Horn supertweeter, magnesium diaphragm, alnico magnet.
Woofer: 15” bass reflex design. 4” voice coil. 450 watts power handling capability.
Crossover: Special design using the best commercially available components known for their fast speed and long term reliability. Unique design to balance the speed among drivers. Fully shielded and grounded.
Adjustments: Supertweeter: 4 dB levels in 8 steps.
Midrange: 3 dB levels in 6 steps.
Internal Wiring: Patent pending Time Accurate cable design. Fully shielded and grounded.
Binding Posts: 9 total including one for grounding and two for direct woofer input. Tri-wire and tri-amp connections possible. Unique design using the posts as clips only and not for conducting. Conductors are brought to the outside for direct contact with speaker wire terminals.Binding posts are extra large, widely spaced for ease of connecting; and gold plated for beauty and durability.
Cabinet: Highest quality MDF with thickness ranging from 1” to 3”. 3 piece modular design: mid and
high frequency units secured together as one, woofer unit and base plate as the other two.
Finish: Black piano finish on all six sides.
Dimensions: Overall 70” H x 22.5” W x 26” D. (177 cm H x 57 cm W x 66 cm D)
Weight: Approx. 550 lbs (250 Kg) each.
List Price: US$55,800 a pair.

PMB 238, 21c Orinda Way, Orinda, CA 94563, U.S.A. Tel: (925) 258-3688 Fax: (925) 258-9862 www.SunnyCable.com