HOME THEATER & SOUND -- www.hometheatersound.com



October
2005

Reviewed by
Anthony Di Marco
REVIEWERS' CHOICE 2005


Canton
Vento 807 DC / 802 / 805 CM / AS 800 SC
Home-Theater Speaker System

Features SnapShot!

Description

Model: Vento 807 DC floorstanding speaker
Price: $3500 USD per pair
Dimensions: 39"H x 8.7"W x 12.2"D
Weight: 50.7 pounds each

Model: Vento 805 CM center-channel speaker
Price: $1500 USD
Dimensions: 20.7"W x 8.7"H x 12.2"D
Weight: 29.5 pounds

Model: Vento 802 surround speaker
Price: $2000 USD per pair
Dimensions: 14.2"H x 8.7"W x 12.2"D
Weight: 19.2 pounds each

Model: Vento AS 800 SC subwoofer
Price: $2500 USD
Dimensions: 20.5"H x 15"W x 19.9"D
Weight: 80 pounds

Warranty: Five years parts and labor.

System Price: $9500 USD


Features
  • SC technology for active filtering of subsonic frequencies (Vento AS 800 DC)
  • DC technology for passive filtering of subsonic frequencies (Vento 807 DC)
  • Aluminum-manganese dome tweeter (all but subwoofer)
  • Extreme high-excursion aluminum midrange and woofer drivers with sinusoidal surrounds (all but subwoofer)
  • Curved, monocoque cabinets
  • Graphite-reinforced 12" cellulose woofer (Vento AS 800 DC)
  • CE-certified WBT binding posts
  • Biwire-capable (Vento 807 DC)
  • Video shielding (all but subwoofer)
  • Real wood veneers

Marketing departments like to use exotic terms to define a product’s identity. Interesting terms offer an elevated perception of quality and exclusivity. Sometimes these terms are used to spit-shine mediocrity.

Germany’s Canton Electronics chose Italian names for their latest line of loudspeakers; however, these gorgeous speakers are far from average. Vento is Italian for "wind," and the aerodynamic shapes of Canton’s Vento speakers indeed look as if carved by the wind. They produce a sound so nimble and involving that musical notes seem to float in mid-air. Built using techniques that originated in the manufacturer of pianos, the Ventos are some of the most musical loudspeakers I have had the pleasure of hearing. At a total cost of $9500 USD for a system comprising the 807 DC floorstanding main speakers, 802 surrounds, an 805 CM center speaker, and an AS 800 SC subwoofer, the Ventos’ beautiful sound may ultimately supplant that baby grand as your home’s instrument of choice.

Wow

The Ventos’ build quality is spectacular. Their perfectly constructed and finished cabinets drew rave reviews from my wife and everyone who visited our home. Each speaker is finished in a seamless, fabulously rich-looking cherrywood. The grilles are made of high-quality cloth stretched over frames of solid wood. The Ventos are lovely to look at even from the back. Six layers of specially bonded fiberboard give the speakers their shape and solidity, and the cabinets’ voluptuous curves are claimed to reduce internal standing waves. My only wish is that the grilles covered the entire front baffle, for a more unified appearance.

The Ventos’ drivers use technology developed for Canton’s Karat Reference line. The 7" midrange-woofer cones are made of a highly rigid aluminum. Canton states that a new sinusoidal surround and improved spider allow for more controlled high excursion. Also contributing to the clean output of the Vento 807 DC floorstanding model is Canton’s Displacement Control (DC) technology, which prevents the woofer from trying to reproduce subsonic frequencies that would otherwise cause low-frequency distortion and breakup. The 807 DC is front-ported so as to make placement next to room boundaries more flexible.

The Vento 805 CM center-channel speaker is classified as a "2.5-way" design. Rather than having both midrange-woofers cross over at a single frequency, one of the speaker’s 7" drivers handles frequencies below 500Hz, the other frequencies from 3000Hz down. According to Canton, this configuration reduces the midrange cancellations that cause problems with off-axis frequency response.

The two-way Vento 802 surround speaker uses the same 7" midrange-woofer and tweeter as the 805 CM and 807 DC. Its rear port requires the 802 to be placed away from wall boundaries.

The Ventos’ high frequencies are handled by an updated version of Canton’s venerable ADT-25 tweeter. According to Canton, high-frequency dispersion and efficiency have been improved via a new flared front plate, and a new rubber surround design extends the ADT-25’s upper range to 40kHz.

The binding posts on the 807 DC, 805 CM, and 802 are a few steps up from those used in Canton’s Ergo line. Very-high-quality WBT posts allow for both bananas and bare wire. Per European CE specification, red and black "stoppers" must be removed from the posts before installing banana plugs, and plastic "wings" prevent the use of spade lugs -- although a scored joint between wings and post made it look as if a pair of pliers and a tender touch could remove the wings to accommodate spades. The Ventos come with the same carpet-friendly cones supplied with the Ergos, which provide a very stable stance.

The beautifully proportioned Vento AS 800 SC subwoofer exhibits the same superior build quality as the other Ventos. I especially like the large plinth, which isolates the sub enclosure from the floor (a smaller version of this plinth is used on the 807 DC). The controls -- volume, phase angle, crossover -- have the same high-quality, soft-rubber knobs I liked so much on the Ergo AS2. Speaker-level and line-level connections were of good quality, while the On/Off/Standby switch conveyed reassuring clicks befitting the switchgear in a BMW.

Setup: more wow

Handling each speaker continued to reveal the high levels of craftsmanship and attention to detail in their design and manufacture. The Vento 807 DC is not a large speaker, but it weighs 50.7 pounds. Positioning the pair of them proved to me how deceiving looks can be and how important it is to lift with your legs. And the 80-pound AS 800 SC’s density, in particular, took me off guard.

Apature spade-to-banana adapters allowed me to connect my meaty Analysis Plus L1 spades to each Vento, while a single Analysis Plus Sub Oval interconnect interfaced with the AS 800 DC sub. The Ventos stood in the same positions as my Thiels had: the 807 DCs 24" from the rear wall, their narrow baffles giving them an extra 6" between speakers. The AS 800 DC sub sat next to our sectional sofa and fired across the front of the 807 DCs. The 805 CM center sat atop the TV, on a high-quality wood stand, and the 802 surrounds sat at right angles to the immediate left and right of the listening position.

Canton’s frequency-response specifications are marketing hype. The 807 DC may be capable of outputting 23Hz at -10dB, but this can be deceptive when comparing specifications and when you’re trying to find the appropriate frequency at which to blend in a subwoofer. The 807 DC extended down to 50Hz in my room, which seemed about right for the speaker’s size and driver complement. I dialed in the AS 800 SC at 60Hz for the best balance in my room.

Sound: triple wow

The Ventos’ balance and slightly soft touch took my breath away. The Ventos did not exhibit the slightly harsh top end and lack of lower-midrange weight I’d heard from the Ergos I’d reviewed earlier. The Ventos sounded perfectly balanced right across the frequency range, and what they did with voices was simply stunning.

It’s common to expect speakers in this price range to offer an enveloping surround-sound experience. Foley effects and voices should be precisely placed without sounding artificial or constrained, while sounds should travel across space unimpeded. The Ventos satisfied all of these expectations and added a lot of sophistication to the sound. The harrowing "Missile Lock" scene in The Incredibles (chapter 17) is wonderfully intense, and great home-theater demo material. The Ventos’ agility and lack of coloration ramped up the intensity by making the scene’s air and ambience feel more authentic. Elastic Girl’s desperate pleas sent shivers up my spine as Syndrome’s missiles closed in to ultimately destroy the jet. The ADT-25 tweeters delivered rich harmonic detail that filled even the slightest sound with texture and weight.

I resist calling this quality as "sweet," because sweetness is often likened to an artificial, euphonic quality. The Canton Ventos did not sound artificial, but liberated and effortless, liquid and extended. The quality I heard from Canton’s ADT-25 tweeters and midrange cones was a result of harmonic color and body, and the Ventos’ ability to wring as much timbral information from a recording as possible.

The bass was equally well handled. The 807 DC, 805 CM, and 802 produced very satisfying bass that was supple yet tight, and never too warm. Like the higher frequencies, the Ventos’ bass was not rigid but liquid and effortless, and the dynamics were breathtaking. I was amazed at how solid the bass was as The Incredibles’ Dash Parr retreated from a ball of rumbling flame (chapter 21, "Caves and Rockets") -- only to realize that the subwoofer was not turned on. Switching in the AS 800 SC upped the ante in terms of slam and weight. Although it did not go as deep as some subs I’ve auditioned, the AS 800 SC’s bass was as refined, tight, and transparent as that of its Vento siblings.

At no point did the AS 800 SC complain or lose control. Chapter 1 of Sahara was reproduced with effortless power. The concussion of cannon fire, though not as intense as in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, did an admirable job of torturing the Vento.

"Intersection Scene," from John Williams’ excellent soundtrack for War of the Worlds [CD, Decca 00456802], contains some deep bass and brilliant horn arrangements. The Ventos’ ability to reproduce the dynamic bite of brass without succumbing to edginess made me smile every time. The Ventos’ mastery of dynamic swings reminded me of how much fun Canton’s Ergos had been with classical music -- but the Ventos accomplished this roof-raising without the Ergos’ slight edge.

The Ventos’ most defining characteristic was their handling of voices. The sultry backing vocals on Leonard Cohen’s "Here It Is," from 10 New Songs [CD, Columbia 85953], stood out, filling in the center stage slightly forward of the 807 DCs’ front baffles. The voices were well spaced and layered without being bunched up, and traits of individual voices were easy to pick out.

I took some extra time to hear how much different the two-way Vento 802 surround speaker compared with the three-way Vento 807 DC tower. As expected, the 807 DC’s larger cabinet offered a little more extension in the bass and a hair more weight in the midrange. Dynamics were also arguably less dramatic with the smaller speaker.

Different varieties of wow

I owned a full Canton Ergo system for more than a year, and while its dynamics and speed were captivating, I felt it lacked overall refinement and weight in the midrange and high frequencies. The Ergos could sound bright with less-than-perfect recordings, while their midrange, though clear, was a bit too cool. These combinations periodically led to listening fatigue. Of course, the Ergo system cost about $3000 less than the Vento.

Although they can be overly technical at times, by comparison, my Thiel CS2.4s, MCS1, SS2, and PowerPoints ($14,700) are transparent without being harsh or fatiguing. The Thiels are very special loudspeakers that reveal all of a recording’s warts and shortcomings.

The Ventos succeed by improving on every shortcoming of the Ergos while matching the Thiels’ high-frequency refinement. The Ventos also had a bit of harmonic fullness that highlighted a richer tonality. Comparing the Ventos and Thiels, one could argue that this richness is a coloration. If it is, then it’s an ever-so-slight addition that contributes to the musical experience. The Ventos’ midrange, in particular, was absolutely stunning, pulling me into every lyric. There was neither nasality nor chestiness -- vocals floated weightless in air, with an angelic sheen -- and the Ventos’ imaging matched the Thiels in separation and stability, though the Thiels’ soundstage was deeper.

Each subwoofer had a slightly different personality. The Vento AS 800 SC produced tight bass with excellent impact, while the Thiel SS2’s tight bass extended deeper. In the right room, the Thiel will go about an octave lower than the Canton. The Vento AS 800 SC, however, offered a bit more warmth and musical rightness. The Vento sub easily equaled the Thiel SS2 in bass quality, while the Thiel’s boundary compensation was better at blending with the main speakers. The Vento gained points for its sexy, spouse-friendly looks; the Thiel is a bit angular and stark to be considered sexy.

Both manufacturers offer fantastic build quality and stellar finishes. The Cantons aren’t as heavy as the Thiels, but they also aren’t as large. And the Ventos’ deep, rich, cherry finish easily beat the Thiels’ black baffles in overall aesthetic appeal in our living room.

What more can be said but "Wow"?

The Canton Vento system consistently impressed me throughout the review period. From build quality to sound quality, these are world-class speakers. The many reasons you should consider them are detailed above. In conclusion, suffice it to say that movie soundtracks and music poured from the Ventos in a way that captured my attention and, more important, my heart.

Review System
Speakers - Thiel CS2.4 (mains), MCS1 (center), PowerPoint (surrounds), SS2 (subwoofer)
Amplifier - Linar Model 10 integrated multichannel amplifier
Sources - Denon DVD-2900 DVD player, Audio Mirror D1 DAC
Cables - Analysis Plus, Stereovox
Monitor - Mitsubishi WT-46809 rear-projection widescreen monitor (with Duvetyne modification and full ISF calibration)
Power Conditioners - ExactPower EP15A, SP15A; BPT 10.5; Shunyata Hydra Model-8
 

Manufacturer contact information:

Canton Electronics
504 Malcolm Ave. Ste 400
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: (612) 706-9250
Fax: (612) 706-9255

E-mail: info@cantonusa.com
Website: www.cantonusa.com


PART OF THE SOUNDSTAGE NETWORK -- www.soundstagenetwork.com

All contents copyright Schneider Publishing Inc., all rights reserved.
Any reproduction, without permission, is prohibited.

Home Theater & Sound is part of the SoundStage! Network.
A world of websites and publications for audio, video, music and movie enthusiasts.