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Thonet & Vander Hoch Sound Quality Tests and Conclusion

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TandV_hoch_edgeI paired the Thonet & Vander Hoch speakers with the Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC/Preamp in my office and the Oppo DV-970HD DVD player in my home theater. With the Emotiva, I connected it to my computer via USB to access my high quality studio master files and CD quality tracks. In the home theater, I used a number of testing discs. Testing speakers with treble and bass controls isn't the easiest so I took one aspect at a time. The bass response on the Thonet & Vander Hoch speakers is a claimed 50Hz to 20kHz. When listening to test tones, I could hear output down to 50Hz but it wasn't very authoritative. The real bass response didn't kick in until closer to 60 or 70Hz. When playing material with really low bass (like yello's Junior B or Seal's Crazy), the lack of bass was really apparent. There were even some songs where the bass guitar would have a run where the lowest note would be absent. Some type of integrated subwoofer support would definitely be appreciated to remedy this problem.

The cool thing about the Hoch speakers was that the bass never distorted. When I tried playing with the bass control to get additional bass, the speakers didn't try to play lower than they could. The frequency response just rolled off cleanly. This is much preferable, to my mind, than a speaker that doesn't have a high-pass filter in place. Give me no bass before you give me bad bass.

The high end, however, was not as clean. While silk-dome tweeters are a very popular (some would say noble) tweeter choice, the Hoch tweeters distorted and clipped in my tests. Some of the electronica music I use for testing, in particular, was very harsh and distorted. I tended to dial back the treble control when I played that type of music. This helped but is really a stop-gap.

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Rubber pads on the bottom to damp vibrations

If I had to describe the Hoch speakers, I'd call them forward. The music all seemed to hover far in front of the speakers. In nearfield tests because, let's be honest, many people are going to use self-powered speakers at a desk, the Hoch speakers were positively holographic. With little to no toe-in, they presented a 3D image that was stunning. At these lower volumes, the tweeter issue was much less noticeable. In larger venues and from greater distances, the Hoch speakers presented a very wide soundstage and had fantastic off-axis response. They were forgiving of placement, needed little toe-in, and were very enjoyable to listen to.

There seemed to be a definite emphasis on the midrange with the Hoch speakers but that may be partly because of how I had the treble and bass knobs set. They presented a very rich and lush sound particularly with female vocalists. I was really impressed with how engaging artists like Morcheeba were through the Hoch speakers. As much as I was not impressed with the fit and finish of the speakers, I was that much more impressed with how good they sounded. They are a large speaker for a bookshelf but they sound even bigger. I could easily see these as an alternative to a soundbar for someone that wants more sound with a wider soundstage. If you have a soundbar that isn't filling your space, the Hoch speakers may be the perfect solution. Plus, from across the room, they look just fine.

Measurements

I ran a quick 1/2 meter measurement of the Thonet & Vander Hoch speaker. I used my Berhringer ECM8000 mic professionally calibrated by Cross Spectrum Labs in conjunction with True RTA. The way this works is you buy the mic from Cross Spectrum and they provide a correction file for your specific mic that works with your measurement program. Each microphone is calibrated against an ANSI-certified reference microphone to account for any inaccuracies in the particular mic. The measurement was taken on axis at 1/2 meter with 1/24 octave smoothing. I placed 4" panel absorbers to the sides of the mic and speaker to help damp as much of the room as I could. The with/without panel measurements showed a significant difference. I set the volume as loud as I dared and the treble/bass controls to their midpoint.

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1/2 Meter Measurement of the Thonet & Vander Hoch

Taking into account that the room is certainly playing a factor, the dropoff of the bass and what looks to be in line with what I heard. The speakers measured very flat overall with a bit of emphasis in the midrange. As the treble and bass knobs could take some of this emphasis away, the measurements confirmed what I heard.

Conclusion

It's hard to find serious faults with the Thonet & Vander Hoch speakers. For $200, you would expect a lot less than they provide. The aesthetics are good as long as you don't get too close. The performance is admirable and can best most speakers in the same price point. Most notably, they don't try give you too much bass and distort in the process. The Thonet & Vander Hoch speakers will give you all the bass they can until they can't - and then they'll give you none. This is exactly what I like to see in a speaker. Honestly, you'll probably never miss it anyhow. If you decide to use these nearfield, you're going to have an image that you won't believe. I don't think that holographic is too strong of a word for what I experienced. If you are on a budget, or just want to decent second pair of self-powered speakers for another room, the Thonet & Vander Hoch Bookshelves are a great choice.

Thonet & Vander Hoch Self-Powered Bookshelf Speakers

MSRP: $199/pair

TandV_hoch_logo

www.thonet-vander.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 QualityStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
SoundstageStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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