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August 2018
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
World Premiere Review!
Grail T5 Loudspeakers
A tale of the Dark Towers.
Review By Paul L. Schumann

 

Grail T5 Loudspeakers Review

 

  Have to admit I think anyone doing a start-up in high-end audio must be slightly off kilter. It’s not like the early 1980s when new high-end companies were springing up like weeds. Still remember vividly when I went to buy my first pair of speakers and listening to early offerings by Thiel and Magnepan. Ended up buying a pair of two-ways from ADS, but that's another story. Wikipedia lists 114 "notable" loudspeaker manufactures. I know there are more out there. So why risk your sanity to go into those shark infested waters? One must have a vision. VJ Grail is such a man. Mr. Grail has been in high-end audio since 1995. Before he branched out on his own, he was designing speakers for someone else. Along the way he figured some things out and struck out on his own. The result is the T5. This loudspeaker incorporates three design principles:

1) Multi Baffle
2) Omni Point
3) Forced Null

 

What do these mean? A multi-baffle design means that each driver is mounted on a surface that is just wide enough so there’s minimum edge diffraction. This reduces some interference in the waveform reaching the listener. To achieve this, the T5 has the tweeter mounted on the narrow side of the speaker facing forward while the two woofers are mounted on the wider sides. The multi-point configuration means that the tweeter and bass drivers are mounted so that their centers are all on the same horizontal plane. By using this configuration, multiple drivers can act as single point source. Finally, a forced-null configuration is where the bass drivers are mounted exactly opposite of each other so their vibrations will cancel each other out and improve the stability of the speakers. I have seen these issues addressed before in other speakers, but not in such a different combination. This is why I was intrigued to give the T5s a listen.

 

Some Assembly Required
When the T5s arrived, I was surprised they came in one box, not two. When I did slide the lid off, there they both were, snugs as bugs in a rug. Once I got them out, I realized I would need to attach the bases. Because the T5s are so tall and narrow, these bases are needed to insure they won't tip over. To attach them, Grail provides four lag bolts for each base. You will need a ratchet wrench and ˝-inch socket to do the job properly. Also provided are carpet spikes, which I delayed installing on until I got the speakers in proper position.

Once I got them hooked up to my system, I stepped back and the opening of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" popped into my head. Yes my friends, the obelisks. The T5s are finished in matte black and the drivers are black with no screen. They're only six-inches wide but 41-inches tall. As speakers go, they call very little attention to themselves. I agree with Mr. Grail that they have a high WAF. So how did they sound?

 

Grail T5 Loudspeakers Review

 

Presented In Cinerama
The first thing I noticed listening to the T5s is how smooth they are. I can attribute this to two things: the soft-dome tweeters and the simple crossovers utilized within the T5 speakers. In his literature, Mr. Grail touts the high-quality tweeter that they use. According to him, this is the same tweeter that is used in the Von Schweikert VR-44s. Also the T5s utilize a point-to-point wired crossovers utilizing metalized polypropylene capacitors. The simpler the crossover, the less parts coming between you and the sound. These two things combined explain the amazing sophistication in the upper frequencies. On Pat Methany's "Orchestrion" [Nonesuch 516668-2], there is a cornucopia of different percussion instruments that he uses. All of these bells and cymbals came through with a sweetness, almost completely lacking an edge. Throughout my listening sessions, this super-low distortion in the higher frequencies was the trademark of the T5s. The only other time I've come across such refinement is the Magnepan ribbon tweeters. Yes, they are that good.

After some more listening, I started to notice a slight coloration in the midrange; like everyone singing had a head cold. I know a lot of pop singers aren't the best at using their soft palate, but I started to wonder. Then I realized that I never added the spiked feet. After a few minutes on my hands and knees, and presto, no more coloration. If you have hardwood floors and are concerned out this, fear not. The spiked feet come with small cups to protect that beautiful finished surface.

 

Grail T5 Loudspeakers Review

 

Upon further listening, the bass and midrange with the T5s were more of a mixed bag. Those super low notes in "Saturn" in Holst's "The Planets" [Decca 417 553-2] are all there in spades. Shirley Manson's vocals on Garbage's "Version 2.0" [MUSH29LP] are full of heartache. There is just a lack of directness, that palpability leading to a suspension of disbelief. The rim shots on "Ants Marching" from the Dave Mathews Band [RCA 07863 6649 2] are there, you just don't feel them in your gut. Overall there is a compression of dynamics that give a more polite presentation of the music. I would attribute this to a design where the bass drivers are firing at 90 degrees to listener. Without that direct waveform, the dynamics are diminished.

When I relayed my observations to Mr. Grail about the dynamics, he agreed and said this was compromise to ensure a smooth frequency response with his configuration. Mr. Grail also shared that many customers add a smallish (usually 10-inch) sub-woofer and that really punches things up a bit. I didn't have a sub in house, so I couldn't put that to the test.

 

Grail T5 Loudspeakers Review

 

It's obvious that Grail designed the T5s with the soundscape in mind; here they don't disappoint. It is as big and deep and wide as any IMAX presentation. When listening to "Also Sprach Zarathustra" [MFSL 1-522] (yes, I had to go there) the CSO was spread out before me in all of its glory. Grail’s T5 loudspeakers are Houdinis when it comes to disappearing. Once again am drawn to making comparisons to 3-series Magnepans in how they vanish. While the Magnepans need room to breathe, I found T5s very forgiving in their placement, which is good for me in my limited-option living room.

 

 

Summing It All Up
So how can I sum up the Grail T5s? They are sophisticated speakers that present the music in a flattering manner. This makes for completely relaxing listening sessions time after time. While they are more polite in their dynamic presentation, they’re also complete champs when it comes to the musical soundscape. If you’re interested in planar loudspeakers but don't have room to let them breathe, Grail’s T5 may be the loudspeakers for you!

 

Tonality

Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)

Mid–bass (80Hz – 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz – 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Type: Two-way bass reflex loudspeaker
Sensitivity: 90dB/W/m
Nominal Impedance: 4 Ohms
Frequency Response: 32 Hz to 20 kHz
Dimensions: 8" x 38.5" x 12" (WxHxD including plinth and spikes)
Weight: 55 lbs. each
Price $2999

 

Company Information
Grail Loudspeakers
Las Vegas, NV

E-mail: Info@GrailLoudspeakers.com 
Website: www.GrailLoudspeakers.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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