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
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
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?
Presented In Cinerama
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.
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.
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