Updated: Dec 10, 2019
heco direkt einklang - overview
The loudspeaker market nowadays is thriving with a huge number of speaker manufacturers, and mostly dominated by British speaker brands, making the UK speaker market quite a tough one for overseas manufacturers to get into, let alone become moderately successful. Some of these companies are quite happy being successful purely within their own back yard, and some are content with having a few key territories around the world where demand is good enough for steady growth.
Heco loudspeakers have been around since 1949, but to my mind have never really seen much success in the UK. This of course is in no way a reflection on their designs, but as mentioned above, it's just a case of getting your foot in the door of a very crowded, and very 'British orientated' market place.
The smallest of the Direkt range is the Einklang, which translated means harmony, unison. The Einklangs may be the baby of the range, but still look fairly imposing do to their 382mm wide cabinet, despite being shorter than many floorstanding speakers at 931mm high. A slight champfer at the edges makes them a little easier on the eye. As can be seen in the photo on the left, depth is very shallow at 196mm, and even though the rear 'leg' sticks out adding some depth (385mm in total), it doesn't add as much as initially seems, as the tall thin cabinet leans back a little, swallowing up much of the depth that the leg adds.
Heco's Direkt loudspeaker range is, at the very least, quite different looking from modern loudspeaker design. Their design is reminiscent of the 60s and 70s when loudspeaker cabinets were wider than they were deep - quite the opposite nowadays, as many floorstanding loudspeakers are so deep, and need so much space to work well that they end up in the middle of the room.
Available in satin black or satin white, they sport "racing stripes", reminiscent of racing cars of a bygone era. This stripes are silver with the white cabinet, and dark black with the black cabinet. They help break up the large front face, and give the speaker a unique look.
So what makes these speakers different, other than their appearance?
8" full range driver
The star of the Einklang show is the single high quality 8", full range drive unit. Yes, you heard correct. This pair of loudspeaker only have a single drive unit in each cabinet. This drive unit covers the whole frequency band rather than splitting the signal between multiple drivers, which can attract phase issues, among other negative aspects. This is a tough ask of any drive unit, and certainly brings about it's own set of complications. Firstly, being a full range driver and not having a small high frequency dome, ultimate treble extension is limited. Suffice to say these speakers won't be attracting any local stray dogs, but they do extend high enough to cover the high frequencies that the average likely buyer of such a speaker can hear, covering up to 19.2kHz. I'll leave you to debate whether or not that's sufficient, but in the grand scheme of things, very few instruments travel north of 10kHz, and even fewer above 15kHz. There are many charts online, but this gives you an idea:
As you can see, what we hear is well within most speaker's capabilities, so more importantly, it could be argued that it's how speakers deal with the frequencies that we can hear. So how does it do this, when it looks like a long throw bass driver?
The Einklangs use an inverted dust cap within a tweeter cone that could be described as a trumpet-like in shape - it is this that aids the controlled dispersion of higher frequencies produced by the large cone. It does mean that to hear the full benefit of this arrangement you need to be on pretty close axis with the speaker, as the more you move off axis you start losing the higher frequencies, but the upside of this is that unlike wider dispersion speakers, you won't have problems with high frequency reflection points spoiling what you hear, and this helps them work extremely well in bare or reflective rooms.
One major upside of this is that there is no need for a passive crossover. A crossover is usually a circuit board full of components that split the incoming signal into bass and treble, or bass, treble, and midrange. This is usually the most influential part of any loudspeaker, as it has to balance everything - from frequency crossover points in order to make the best use of the drivers, to the overall impedance of the loudspeaker, among many other things. It's quite easy to get this aspect wrong, and end up with a flawed sounding speaker regardless of how good the rest of the design is.
Producing a very good crossover seems to be an art form, but regardless, a passive crossover is one of the most sound quality degrading parts of any conventional passive loudspeaker. As the Einklangs have no need for this, sound quality is more comparable to that of an active loudspeaker. The only passive components within the Einklangs are for impedance compensation to minimise distortions in the midrange and higher frequencies due to the way the speaker works.
Due to their design, the Einklangs have a less aggressive impedance curve and higher than usual sensitivity. Sensitivity is the measurement of how much output a speaker has for a given input signal, and measures how efficient the speaker is at converting the signal it receives into sound. Most speakers generally tend to be around 85db-90dB sensitivity. The Einklangs are 94dB, which means they're efficient enough to be used with low powered tube amplifiers, and only need 5wpc to produce sufficient output for normal listening. Many conventional speakers recommend a minimum of 10-25wpc due to being more "lossy". There are many Class A/B amplifiers on the market that are pure Class A for the first 5-10 watts, which means that the Einklang is fully capable of making the most of that higher Class A sound quality that some amplifiers are capable of.
One proponent of the higher sensitivity is the dual, downward firing bass reflex ports. These won't be worrying any nearby rear walls, making the Einklangs a little more room friendly, although whether you have a suspended wooden floor or a concrete floor will have a big say in how these speakers work in your room. Concrete walls and floors tend to reflect bass energy back into a room, so a stronger bass could be expected with a concrete floor. A suspended wooden floor tends to absorb rather than reflect, so a slightly lighter, leaner bass could be expected here. There's no substitute for experimenting though, so getting them in your living room is the only way to tell how well they will work. and if they work well, you're in for a treat.
The Direkt Einklangs major strengths lie in natural sounding instruments, and the 'air' around them, thanks to the lack of a passive crossover. Many may have heard just how good the early Dire Straits albums sound at shows where the UK distributor has exhibited them, and was one of the albums I tried when I first auditioned them with a view to taking them on at the little audio company. They almost seem to be made for recordings that shy away from over-processing and try to preserve the natural sound of instruments, producing a wonderfully natural sound that is inoffensive and easy to listen to, thanks to the lack of high frequency nasties that can plague many conventional speakers. But that's not to say they can't handle amplified or electronic instruments though, as material by the likes of Kraftwerk and Nine Inch Nails get the treatment they deserve. The revealing nature of the Einklangs means you'll know all about the over-processing that some albums get, but without sounding a mess like some other passive designs.
As mentioned earlier, the Einklangs sit on three metal legs, on the end of which either the supplied spikes or rubber feet can be added. As there are only three contact points with the floor, they're very easy to set up, as they naturally sit anywhere you put them without wobbling. Adjusting the left and right spikes will get the cabinet sitting laterally flat, and adjusting the rear spike will allow you to tailor the angle of the speaker, to a small degree.
Also mentioned earlier, the high efficiency design means the Einklangs can be used with a wide variety of amplification, even low powered models. There's an abundance of 50wpc amplifiers on the market that may struggle with some speakers in the Einklang's price range, but will have more than enough output for the Einklang's efficient process of turning more of the audio signal into sound. Due to the lack of crossover though, they won't sugar coat anything, so despite compatibility with lower powered amplifiers, ensure the chosen amplifier is a clean sounding one with a low noise floor, otherwise these highly revealing Einklangs will let you know about it!
Thanks for reading!
davidf @the little audio company
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