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  1. #1

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    Default Fritz Speakers Carbon 7

    Review: Fritz Speakers Carbon 7 Monitor

    Associated equipment:
    C.E.C. CD-3300 transport
    Benchmark DAC1/PRE preamp
    Parasound HCA-1500A power amp
    Kimber Hero IC’s; Kimber 8TC v.2 speaker cable; Belden 1694A digital cable

    Carbon 7 Specs:
    http://www.fritzspeakers.com/Carbon%207.asp
    Price as tested: $1750/pr (standard drivers/standard finish selected) 30 day return policy


    The setup:
    Speakers were placed 8ft apart, 12ft from the listening position, with a ½” of toe-in. They were placed on Target MR28, 28” stands. The rear corners of the speakers were 16” and 16 ½” from the wall, about 28” from the front baffle. The Carbon 7’s have a rear bass port near the top of the cabinet. Grills are provided, and very well made. They attach magnetically, and the magnets are hidden behind the wood veneer on the front baffle at each corner. All listening was done with the grills off.

    The room is large, approx 14’ x 36’ and the listening area occupies the first 1/3 of the room; so there is a lot of open area behind the listening couch. Sub-floor is concrete slab, and the ceiling is vaulted.

    I listened to a wide variety of music, from classical to metal and practically everything in-between. Some of the things I found noteworthy, in order of discovery:

    1. Bass. Bass is impressive; tuneful and deep. They can (and do) energize my rather large listening room when notes call for it. I suspect they are hitting the 35Hz range at about -6dB level. I didn’t expect bass to be a stand-out characteristic on a monitor speaker, and I certainly didn’t expect them to be able to energize my room.

    2. Ease. The Carbon 7 is laid back, easy-going and extremely delineating. It makes for a sound that you can listen to for hours on end, without fatigue. The treble is smooth, but it doesn’t cheat you out of anything—it just doesn’t let you know it’s there unduly (see integration). Music flows from these speakers with a naturalness that’s hard to describe.

    3. Layering. These speakers produce a wonderful, 3-dimensional layering of sounds. You can easily hear distinct front to back spacing between performers, depending on their position in the soundstage. I have owned no other speaker that could do this to the degree these do. The soundstage is expansive, and easily escapes the confines of the cabinets, providing the source material is up to the task.

    4. Integration. The woofer and tweeter sing as a single unit. It’s seamless, and makes for a very satisfying, balanced, and textured midrange. There’s no beaming, even at high output levels. Woodwind instruments sound incredibly real, having a more realistic push to the upper midrange, and less so from the tweeter. I’ve never heard cymbals sound so brassy and life-like, without calling attention to the driver itself.


    5. Subtle Nuances. The warbling ring of a decaying piano note, the shimmer of a cymbal as it fades, the extension--rather than the premature end--of a given instrument or vocal. Maybe it’s the way this speaker "holds on" to detail in the decay of notes? It’s difficult to describe, but it’s there, it’s real, and it’s cool.

    6. Dynamics. Output was a major concern for me, as the room is large, and I like to “get on the gas” once in awhile, especially when watching concert events where scale is an important part of the experience. It was a concern up until I allowed them to run in for a couple hours, and then preceded to punished them with an assault of hard hitting, bass heavy music. I showed no mercy. Not only could the Carbon 7 provide more than enough scale, it did so without any loss of fidelity, realism, or composure.
    On the other end of the spectrum, they also sound good at very quiet listening levels. It's a great candidate for that ever special late night listening session.

    Cons?:
    I'm not sure if this would be considered a “con,” but these speakers lean to a warm tonal character. “Detail fanatics” may be a little disappointed in their less-than-hyper detailed presentation.

    Mid bass can get a little heavy if placed too close to boundaries, I found 16” (or more) from the rear of the speaker to the wall was sufficient to keep bass response smooth and natural. This should be easily accommodated in practically any room.

    I wasn't going to include this observation, because it's so minor in scope, and I'm not so confident that it isn't source related, but I felt compelled to pass it on anyway—and you can draw your own conclusions. Sometimes I get a sense that the rhythmic pace is a touch slow. It may be due to the laid-back nature of the speaker; but in the grand scheme of things, it's a minor nit pick at best.

    Conclusions:
    I found the Carbon 7’s to open-up after about 40-60hrs of break-in, up until that point, they’ll sound somewhat flat and recessed. Let them air-out a bit before doing any serious listening. If there were some compromises made with the design of this speaker, I’m having difficulty finding them. The Carbon 7’s ability to become a chameleon with practically any genre of music, it’s impressive bass, smooth midrange/treble, sound staging and imaging, and dynamic capabilities make it an excellent all-around performer. More importantly, it sounds elegant and completely integrated, allowing it to melt into your listening environment with ease. This is a speaker for music lovers; analytical, lab coat wearing types need not apply. Not that it lacks detail, it just doesn’t present detail in a conjured, in-your-face manner—it flows detail like a high-end purposeful design should.

    The build quality, substantial heft, and gorgeously executed wood veneer is impeccable. The ease at which the Carbon 7 reproduces sound helps to tame, and lend some body to recordings with excessive treble and a flat soundstage—typical of poorly engineered CD’s. The Fritz Carbon 7 is one of the most satisfying speakers I have owned in 35 years of pursuing this hobby.

    Stephen Rose
    April 2010
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    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  2. #2

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    Nice review and nice looking speakers!
    DKG999
    -----------------------------------------
    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  3. #3

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    Picture legend:

    Pic1: Left speaker on Target MR28 stand
    Pic2: Rear of the speaker
    Pic3: The room from just behind the listening couch
    Pic4: The listening couch in the foreground; showing the other 2 rooms that occupy the entire space
    Pic5: Angle pic from the front foyer

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  4. #4

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    Very interesting--thanks for sharing.
    JC approves....he told me so. (F-1 nut)

  5. #5
    Stronzo
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    Thanks for taking the time to strum up a very detail synopsis of your new speakers, Steve. I'm glad that you're digging on them! Moreover, I'd have to say that I agree with 99% of your observations. They make listening to music more of a pleasure, and less of an exercise.

    BTW, your place looks excellent. They sure seem to fit right on in there!

  6. #6

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    Very nice!!
    Living Room:.................... Zone 2 (Workout Room):
    AVR - Yamaha RX-V757......JBL 4312 Pro Monitors
    Pre - Nak CA-5
    AMP - Adcom 555 (Main)
    Main - Polk RTI8**/RTiA5
    AMP - Adcom 545II (Center)
    Center - Polk CSiA4**
    Sub - Snell Basis 300:p......Zone 3 (Outside)
    CD - Yamaha CDC-555.......Def Tech AW5500
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    BR - LG BD390
    Monster HTS1600 Power Center
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    Ben's IC, Canare 4S11

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  7. #7

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    Nice review it makes me want to get a pair.
    Setup:

    2 Channel: Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grand, Dared SL-2000A , B&K ST-202 , DacMagic
    PC: Vienna Acoustics Haydn Grand, Cambridge Azur 640A v2, Polk MicroPro 3000, Audioquest Dragonfly
    Cables: AQ Diamondback, Sidewinder, Kimber 4tc

  8. #8
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    Excellent write up Steve. Beautiful speakers. I love your home and furnishings.

  9. #9

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    Thanks fellas! Also, thank you Sean for giving me a lead on these.
    Last edited by steveinaz; 04-06-2010 at 07:53 AM.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinaz View Post
    Review: Fritz Speakers Carbon 7 Monitor


    Cons?:
    I'm not sure if this would be considered a “con,” but these speakers lean to a warm tonal character. “Detail fanatics” may be a little disappointed in their less-than-hyper detailed presentation.


    Stephen Rose
    April 2010
    Great review! And I whole-heartedly agree with the above. I've NEVER found that to be a con....I LOVE 'warm'. That by itself could sell these for me!

    Nice pics

    cnh

  11. #11

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    Warmth wasn't a con for me either, it was a requirement...LOL. The Carbon 7's are levels above any speaker I have owned in the last 24 years. My system as a whole sounds much more impressive, as represented by these speakers. I'm glad I made no changes upstream.
    Last edited by steveinaz; 04-06-2010 at 08:30 AM.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  12. #12

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    Very nice Steve.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  13. #13

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    Great write up Steve, move from your Energy, I can see how these would be on the warm, laid back side of things. I think you are probably getting a more accurate representation of the top end compared to what you have been listening to.

    Are there any users out there using these with tube amplifiers? I just wonder if they would be too laid back, especially if you feel they are already on the Parasound / Benchmark combo.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

  14. #14

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    I haven't had soft dome tweeters in many years, I'm really enjoying the smoothness they provide.

    Russ, I may not be using the term laid back correctly---what I mean to say is that the treble is in no way "in your face." They seem only slightly less efficient than my C-9's, requiring just a little more volume knob; even when I was rocking them, I never went past 12 o'clock on the Benchmark.

    Wes will be bringing his Cary amp down when we have the get together this summer.
    Last edited by steveinaz; 04-06-2010 at 10:07 AM.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  15. #15

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    Very nice review Stevie. Also, you have an excellent decor and taste. Make me feel like to hang out in your living room. :)
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.

  16. #16

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    Thanks man, my wife says I'm the gayest straight man she knows. She likes the way I decorate, so she wanted me to do it. Eventually the carpet in the livingroom with probably be replaced with hard wood flooring--but we're still thinking that one through...

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  17. #17

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    Love the corner treatment - whatever that thing is.

    Great write up.
    "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." Bob Seger

  18. #18

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    It's one of those sante fe indian ladder thingies.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  19. #19
    Stronzo
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    Russ, I'm currently using the Carbon 7's on a tube amp from Vista Audio (called the i34), with GREAT results. Granted, I have a small room.. also, the Vista Audio piece is far more "linear" and "refined" than your average affordable tube piece - so all of that helps.

  20. #20

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    Just a follow-up;

    I have probably another 60 or more hours on the Carbon 7's, and they continue to impress. I was listening to Bruce Hornsby the other day, and fell into sonic bliss. Their midrange and upper bass reminds me of early AR monitors such as the AR58 or AR98Lsi. They have a sealed enclosure sort of sound to them. Just a point blank joy to listen to. They have a unique talent for making practically everything sound better. I did the "ugly baby" test the other day, using discs that are down right awful; the 7's did a good job of making them more listenable. Lake's first album (On the run; Time bomb, etc), Nazareth (Hair of the dog--I was using this disc as a beer coaster, so I though it would be a good candidate), and SIN of Audio Sins, the horribly recorded Kansas (Point of Know Return) all sounded much better---still lacking seriously, but better.

    I wailed on them yesterday with some Black Sabbath, "Heaven & Hell" ala Ronnie James Dio-- the disc has never sounded better, in fact I'm sure I had a woody during "Lady Evil."
    Last edited by steveinaz; 04-13-2010 at 02:56 PM.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  21. #21
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    Glad your digging them Steve.

  22. #22

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    Great review, great speakers & a beautiful room! Nothing like listening to a superb pair of monitors. I'll bet you don't miss the old floorstanders at all. Sit back, relax & enjoy!!!
    "2 Channel & 11.2 HT "
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  23. #23

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    BTT for Wes/Bill.

  24. #24

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    Sorry it took a few days to get to this.

    Anyway, these are some fine monitors. I echo everything Steve has said. I just want to emphasize that the bass on these things is impressive all-around: quantity, detail, realness. They are certainly non-fatiguing to listen to. Female vocals sound nice too. While I hadn't listened to them very much on the Parasound, I would say that as long as you have at least that level of gear, the Carbon7's should deliver very nice results.

    Wes
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