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Hsu Research CCB-8 Bookshelf Speaker Conclusion

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CCB8_duo_angle6R.jpgThe CCB-8 speakers are the kind of addition to an audio setup that makes you want to re-listen to your music collection to see how it sounds on this new gear. Their holographic imaging is the best I have heard in my own room to date. It is eerie how precisely sounds seem to emanate from specific locations over the soundstage. It is not just center imaging either, which I have heard lots of speakers do well (although few do this as well as the CCB-8s); it is over the entire soundstage which the CCB-8s stretch out as a large swath extending well outside their physical locations. As I type this, I am listening to the CCB-8s in my home theater room. I normally write on my desktop computer, because it is easier to write there, but I wanted to listen to the CCB-8s some more, and it is worth the inconvenience of writing on this laptop to hear their magic on my old albums (by the way, current album: William Orbit’s ‘Hinterland’ under his ‘Strange Cargo’ moniker).

To be sure, the CCB-8s are not without their eccentricities. Their direct axis response is bound to be rather bright. But, I cannot fairly hold this against them since they are intended to be listened to at a 15 degree angle with the speakers toed-in in front of the listener. However, a lot of buyers will likely end up disregarding the positioning instructions in the manual and aim the speakers directly toward the listening position. On direct axis, their hotter response above 10 kHz will cause some sibilance in the ‘S’ sounds in dialogue and lyrics. I am not sure if it is possible to bring down the direct axis treble energy while keeping the same energy off-axis, but if that can be done, I think it could be an overall improvement. However, if it is not possible without lessening their superb imaging, then I would say that is not a worthwhile trade-off.

One change I want to see is thCCB8_horizontal2.jpge use of some bracing on the cabinet. While I did not sense any resonances, I would love to see some window bracing in there, if only for peace of mind. Yes, the sidewalls are thick and sturdy, but even just a little bracing can do a lot to impede any panel resonance. The ‘knock test’ doesn’t provoke any obvious decays or ringing in the CCB-8, but that is hardly a comprehensive test of cabinet resonance.

Something else Hsu would do well to consider is altering is the appearance. One person I showed the CCB-8s said they looked like “owl eyes.” As mentioned before, the yellow cone color is a bit loud. A more conservative cone color would give these speakers a much higher living room acceptance factor. Something else that might help is different cabinet colors. One color scheme I suggested to Dr. Hsu that I think would be cool is a solid maroon cabinet with maroon cone. Seriously, that would look wicked against the black surround and black dustcap. Everyone reading this review needs to take a moment and send Hsu an email imploring them to build a CCB-8 with maroon cone and cabinet. With enough social pressure, they may cave in!

Going back to the CCB-8s positCCB8_hero4.jpgives, I should also mention their imaging off-axis. As discussed before, the inward toe-in of a constant directivity speaker does a good job of holding a stable center image when listened outside of the central listening position. This doesn’t really hold out to extreme angles, but it does work over typical seating areas in front of the speakers, and it makes a phantom center speaker much more viable than it normally would be. Phantom center speakers are when the front left and right speaker simulate the presence of a center speaker, but the problem with that is on conventional designs if you are not sitting equidistant from the left and right speaker, then the soundstage can become heavily weighted toward the speaker you are closer to. With the CCB-8s and their recommended toe-in, traditional center channel content can still sound like it is anchored in space between the speakers, even if the listener is seated off to the side.

Other positive attributes of the CCB-8 is its above-average dynamic range. The large woofer magnet, 2” voice coil, horn-loaded tweeter, and healthy-sized cabinet all add up to give the CCB-8s punch beyond that of typical bookshelf speakers with 5” and 6” woofers. Furthermore, the ability to use the CCB-8s on any of their sides without any audible penalty gives them a bit more placement flexibility than normal bookshelf speakers. Their dual use as a center channel speaker gives you the advantage of a fully matched front stage speaker system. This is in opposition to many speaker product lines where the center speaker has such a different sonic fingerprint than the left and right main speakers due to different driver positionings that they can hardly be considered to be a matching set, at least from a sonic perspective. Moreover, there are no off-axis lobing artifacts in the CCB-8 that are found in almost every other conventional center speaker design. It is also worth mentioning once more that they can be listened to up close as well as far-field. Distance from these speakers does not alter their sound, only their loudness. Large though they are, they can be used as near-field, desktop speakers.

Along with the performance advantages, buyers also get Hsu’s highly-regarded customer service, a 7-year warranty, and Hsu’s swift shipping and good packing 

CCB8_dou_grilles5.jpg 

Final Considerations

To wrap this review up, I enjoyed listening to the CCB-8s and wish I had more time with them. I have heard much, much more expensive speakers that could not image nearly as well, and I do intend to eventually procure a pair of my own as a reference set for their extraordinary imaging abilities. I think those who purchase a pair for stereo listening and take the time to set them up properly will find themselves rewarded with exquisite imaging, good spectral balance, a rich, full soundstage, and sharp, punchy dynamics. A surround sound set would make for an excellent home theater system as well. When considering how well they perform, I think that their cost is modest, and I think a pair will find a permanent place in my home in the near future.

Hsu Research CCB-8 Bookshelf Speakers and Center Speaker Review
MSRP for Hsu CCB-8 Bookshelf Speakers in satin black finish: $699 per pair or $ 369 per single
MSRP for Hsu CCB-8 Bookshelf Speakers in Real Wood Rosenut finish: $859 per pair or $449 per single

Hsu Research
985 N. Shepard Street
Anaheim, CA 92806

www.hsuresearch.com

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarStar
About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

JengaHit posts on May 27, 2021 20:47
-Jim-, post: 1486174, member: 71509
Hi Gents,

I noticed this review is now “Featured” review. I happened by the HSU CCB-8 web page and saw the black cone version for the first time.



That should certainly help with the WAF for most of you. (I didn't even tell mine -OMG- when I bought our Front 3!)
I listen to mine with grills on, so the yellow cones aren't noticeable. And the grills do look nice. I haven't taken measurements re grills on/off, but to my ears subjectively there's no noticeable roll-off of highs or reduction in sound quality. Very satisfied with these speakers, especially the huge and deep soundstage, holographic imaging, and super-wide sweet spot.
-Jim- posts on May 27, 2021 12:44
Hi Gents,

I noticed this review is now “Featured” review. I happened by the HSU CCB-8 web page and saw the black cone version for the first time.



That should certainly help with the WAF for most of you. (I didn't even tell mine -OMG- when I bought our Front 3!)
-Jim- posts on April 17, 2021 15:11
Hi Gents,

As a very satisfied owner of 3 of these HSU CCB-8s for our Atmos HT Room for the past couple of years, I was pleased to see them still in the Top Six $700/pair rankings for 2021. See Audioholics Top Six $700/pair Bookshelf
Danzilla31 posts on November 14, 2019 11:16
shadyJ, post: 1350019, member: 20472
For those who feel that the yellow cone of the CCB-8 gives it a loud appearance, Hsu informs me that they are releasing a version with a black cone, and that should be available sometime in the next few days. Personally, I like the yellow, but hopefully a black cone will gain these speaker wider appeal. It's too good of a speaker to get passed over due to the cone color.
Good to know hey Shady are these good options to be used as a surround speaker I'm going to be looking at options to options to upgrade my surrounds in the next couple months and am narrowing the field
shadyJ posts on November 14, 2019 09:22
For those who feel that the yellow cone of the CCB-8 gives it a loud appearance, Hsu informs me that they are releasing a version with a black cone, and that should be available sometime in the next few days. Personally, I like the yellow, but hopefully a black cone will gain these speaker wider appeal. It's too good of a speaker to get passed over due to the cone color.
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