With all that performance available from the satellites, the subwoofer was called upon to do a big job. It largely stepped up to the mark. We would have liked maybe a little more bass extension, but that probably would have limited its ability to produce the necessary levels to keep up with the satellites. Only at the real extremes were there any suggestions of stress. One other improvement that we wouldn’t have minded would be for the autoswitch- on to work more quickly. It normally took ten or more seconds.

With music it nicely encompassed the bottom end of normal instruments (i.e. not including some subwoofer and pipe organ bass). In particular, it was a pleasure to follow bass guitar on this system, with the upper harmonics produced by the satellites nicely melding with the fundamental and lower harmonics from the subwoofer. The result was a beautifully coherent whole.

The stereo and surround imaging was nigh on perfect, and the ‘sweet spot’ was broad and encompassing, perhaps due to the point-source nature of the satellites. Occasionally there was a broadening of the virtual image of particular sounds, especially musical instruments, making them sound more rounded and three dimensional in a most attractive way. Yet the precision of the sound locations remained excellent, and there was significant depth, and even a sense of height, when called for by the signal.

Because all the bass was farmed off to the subbie, even without any EQ there was virtually no room-induced tonal variation as we sent a pink noise signal on a journey, circumnavigating our listening room.

We did our listening both with the receiver’s EQ on and off to get a sense of both how the speakers worked in a modern system, and what they did with the processing kept to a minimum. In both cases, the quality was excellent, and remarkably similar. They were perhaps a little more forward in the upper midrange in their natural state than after adjustment, but were clean and without any significant coloration.

Just as we were about to put this review to bed, the kindly postman arrived with a long-awaited delivery from Amazon: King Crimson’s album Red on DVD Audio. If you are at all familiar with this, you will know that the fact we didn’t hesitate to have our first listen through this speaker system tells you all you need to know about them.

CONCLUSION

And so we must agree with Cabasse’s claim regarding the sensitivity of its Eole 2 satellite speakers, and report that at last the in-principle possibility has been achieved. You can have a compact system that sounds as good as a fullsized system. Indeed, we’d say that this one comes very close to sounding as good as any full-sized and comparably-priced system.

And that is a real achievement.

VERDICT

Cabasse Eole2 5.1-channel subwoofer/satellite speaker system

Price: $2499

Positive

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Amazing sensitivity from satellites
  • Flexible set-up

Negative

  • Perhaps a bit more power and extension in subwoofer
  • Subwoofer slow to switch on

SATELLITE DRIVERS: 2-way coaxial with 100mm midrange and 29mm tweeter, 4000Hz crossover
SATELLITE FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 170-22,000Hz
SATELLITE IMPEDANCE: 8 ohms
SATELLITE SENSITIVITY: 91dB/W/1m
SATELLITE POWER HANDLING: 70W
SATELLITE DIMENSIONS (whd):130 x 130 x 130mm
WEIGHT: 1.3kg
SUBWOOFER DRIVER: 1 x 210mm
SUBWOOFER FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 35-200Hz
SUBWOOFER POWER OUTPUT: 250W (750W peak)
SUBWOOFER DIMENSIONS (whd): 330 x 330 x 360mm
WEIGHT: 11.5kg
WARRANTY: Five years (two years on electronics)
DISTRIBUTOR: International Dynamics