Crescendo Etude 2.10 10” Subwoofer
Crescendo is a relatively new brand to the mobile electronics scene but their speakers and subwoofers have certainly been ‘making noises’ in the MEASQ competition for the past couple of years. The Etude 2.10 10-inch subwoofer is the first Crescendo product we’ve ever reviewed, and enters the fray with some very boastful promises to live up to.
- Thursday 6th January, 2011
Very flexible enclosure options, subtle, clean and accurate sound balance.
Low SPL potential, small binding posts, $399RRP
Hunting for information about Crescendo only reveals that their products enjoy some competition success with a handful of cars in MEASQ here in Australia, as well as a seemingly larger degree of success in Indonesia stretching back as far as 2006. All this is according to the website of their Australian distributor Ozbliss (www.ozbliss.com), where you’ll also find information on their small (but what appears to be quite high quality) range of component speakers. The component speakers also seem to enjoy high regard among a select few MEA forum members.
There’s also reference to the American website www.crescendoaudio.com on the packaging of the products, though this website doesn’t seem to match the same IP of local Crescendo products on the Ozbliss website, and the US products seem to bear no resemblance to the ones available here. They’re likely related at arm’s length. From what I can discern, Crescendo is an Indonesian company that manufactures its products (or has them manufactured) in Asia, though this is not specified anywhere on the Etude 2.10 itself, nor is it stated on its packaging. So far as I knew this was required by law for products sold in Australia.
Anyway, the Etude 2.10 exists as the more expensive of just two subwoofers offered by Crescendo, both of which are 10-inch in diameter. This means that philosophically they must believe that this particular diameter of driver yields superior performance to larger 12-inch models that are more commonly available. Indeed, the written guff on the Etude totes phrases no less boastful than “once you listen to this subwoofer, you will notice that most other subwoofers do not sound natural.” I, of course, was intrigued by this bold statement from such a newcomer to the market. I do like the name Etude, as it befits a subwoofer that has aspirations to grandeur. An ‘etude’ is an instrumental composition that is designed to assist in developing and improving the technical prowess of a classically trained musician.
Unboxing the Etude 2.10 reveals it to be a very understated looking device, but one which appears to adhere to some very good fundamental design and construction traits. Based on a foundation of sturdy cast alloy basket the 2.10 is an all black affair, featuring a single large ferrite magnet structure, a deeply bumped back plate to avoid the coil bobbin bottoming out during high excursions, and a large flat spider. The coil itself looks to be around 2-inches in diameter and is a single 4ohm version (incorrectly stated as DVC 4ohm on its box), and has a modest power handling of up to 200WRMS.
The cone material will be alien to the younger generation amongst you, as it’s made of an ultra exotic material known to well educated types called ‘paper’, and comes from something called a ‘tree’. Yes, I know, it’s a strange material to make speakers from these days, but Crescendo obviously remembers that the very best sounding speakers were almost always based on paper cones in years gone by. Sadly, marketing lead brands have steered away from good old paper in preference to polypropylene for no good reason other than appearance and cost.
So, a bling device the Crescendo Etude2.10 most certainly is not. Which is good, ‘coz the world has enough low quality, low performing plastic rubbish. I dig the fact that Crescendo has loftier goals and that they have a ‘modern looks and trends be damned’ attitude. Good for them.
Well, good for them if the Etude can perform well enough to match its $399RRP, that is. I don’t think casual buyers will see anything special about the Etude 2.10’s construction or design to merit this RRP. Meanwhile, more experienced buyers will be comparing it directly to similarly priced high end subwoofers built in exotic countries from established brands like Focal, Dynaudio and Morel.
There was no technical sheet provided with the Etude 2.10, but the website does provide a near full set of electro-mechanical specifications as well as three very specific enclosure suggestions. The Xmax value was not provided (nor was Inductance), so I was only able to guestimate around 10-12mm of linear excursion using the touchy-feely method, and I wasn’t able to look at the driver’s impedance curve in the chosen enclosures.
Crescendo are adamant that a simple 28-litre (one cubic foot or thereabouts) sealed enclosure is the type and size to opt for. BassBox Pro suggested that this alignment would arrive and a total system ‘Q’ of 0.741 – which looks pretty good to me. What’s more, altering the internal volume by plus or minus a quarter doesn’t shift the response by any meaningful level. What this means is that the Etude 2.10 will slot into just about any pre-fab sealed enclosure between 20 and 35-litres and will still get the job done, so you really don’t need a custom enclosure to get the most out of this driver.
A second ported alignment that is suited to ‘loud music with striking bass’ according to Crescendo, can be built to measure 50-litres with a tuning frequency of 35Hz. Check out the BassBox plots and you’ll see that this offers a far peakier response, and while a lower tuning frequency is certainly possible without port chuffing becoming evident (certainly with modest Xmax like this driver provides) the Fs of 32Hz means that any lower than this is tempting fate. If you’re a Crescendo Etude buyer then you’re after an SQ biased response, so stick with sealed. If you wanted more SPL simply add more drivers, and the 4ohm single voice coil lends itself well to this.
Securing the Etude 2.10 into my standard 28-litre test enclosure was a doddle, but I did note that the push style gold-plated binding posts are a little on the small side, and that their mounting tab was a little on the flimsy side. The uniquely octagonal shaped cast chassis also spreads the mounting holes a tad wider than you will normally comes across. What was nice was the recessed rubber surround that is kept well clear of the mounting holes.
In addition to the wisely provided info on the Ozbliss website they also suggest the Etude 2.10 be used with a 20Hz subsonic filter and a 63Hz low pass filter. 63Hz is quite low but this is normal for a sealed alignment driver, and I’d further suggest a steep filter of 24dB per octave. For a ported alignment, however, maybe consider something closer to 80Hz. Whichever way, the final filter point and slope will need to be chosen to suit the lower capabilities of the front stage speakers. In my case 63Hz at 24dB per octave seemed about right.
The Etude was connected to my daily usage mono amplifier which is a Clarion DPX1851 that makes around 450WRMS at 4ohms when required. With the stated 200WRMS input power limit in mind I crept up on the output side of the Etude 2.10 during my first listening tests.
The first impressions of the Etude 2.10 were skewed by the fact that I’d replaced three higher excursion 10-inch subwoofer and 850WRMS with one low excursion 10-inch affording around a quarter this much power handling. The Etude 2.10 is a more subtle sounding subwoofer than most other you’ll hear in the market, and lacks the fierce thundering pulses capable of higher excursion drivers. It also needed a few hours to run in, and after sounding notably cold on the first few playback sessions did finally round out and become more fulsome after some time. Either that or I grew accustomed to its sonic signature.
The Etude 2.10 is certainly a very controlled and natural sounding subwoofer. In this compact sealed enclosure it also showed remarkable ability to provide depth and weight all the way down to the very lowest notes on synthesizer bass. Bass guitar lines are poppy and true, and it does a great job of discerning each separate instrument in the mix. Reading through the ‘sound characteristics’ of the Etude 2.10 on the Ozbliss website I think it meets all of these claims bar one. During playback I easily exceeded the 200WRMS recommendations of the Etude 2.10 with ease, but ‘loud’ is not a word I’d use to describe this driver. It does, however, reach its output limits in a very controlled manner, and this is no doubt due to a design that doesn’t allow the voice coil to exit the magnetic field surrounding it under maximum excursion, combined with the suitably bumped back plate.
Marketing is a very important aspect to the success of any brand, and Crescendo have entered the market with a branding message aimed squarely towards sound quality biased customers.
As for the claim of making all other subwoofer sound unnatural, the answer is simply no – the Etude is not the ‘magic bullet’ they claim it to be. How could it when it has no notable design advances to speak of? There are a myriad of subwoofers that cost the same or less that will sound equally as good - or maybe even better - to many people’s ears. I’m not so sure the mass market will prefer this subwoofer’s tonal balance, as they’d surely prefer a more aggressive ‘big bass’ sound found from more traditional brands. I also think that Aussie SQ aficionados will still want greater SPL capabilities than just one Etude 2.10 can provide, but at $399RRP owning a brace of them will become a costly proposition.
I think the Etude 2.10 does fulfill its design remit by offering a more demure and subtle sound balance, and if this is the type of sound you are after then it certainly can achieve it for you and do so in a very compact and easy to build enclosure. Indeed, as the basis for a subwoofer system to be used in an MEASQ competition vehicle it should prove very appealing given the nature (and volume level) of judging. The Etude 2.10 is a very good choice for the ultra finicky SQ biased classical and acoustic music listener who has a compact car, modest SPL requirements, and an ample budget.
Fs (free air resonance): 32.9Hz
Vas (equivalent compliance): 37.56-litres
Qts (total driver Q): 0.523
Qes: (Q, electrical): 0.571
Qms (Q, mechanical) 6.175
Re (DC resistance): 3.1ohms
Le (inductance): not stated
Z (nominal impedance): 4ohms
Xmax (one way linear excursion) not stated
Efficiency (1W/1m): 85.55dB
Pe (continuous power handling) 200WRMS
Crescendo is distributed in Australia by:
65 Lahona Ave, Bentleigh East,
Phone: (03) 95703930
Mobile: 0412 67 2228