As well as the high-density composite materials used in the chassis, the F80 has two other features that make for the units superb sound quality. First are the specially designed speakers all of which are contained in their own isolated compartments. The left and right speakers are full-range designs that use powerful neodymium magnets and high-temperature voice-coils coupled with die-cast chassis and magnesium/aluminium alloy cones to deliver immense power and volume while maintaining pin-point accuracy. The sub-woofer, meanwhile, is a special long-throw design that provides a high-level of bass response despite its relatively small size.
The second string in the F80’s bow is the Digital Sound Processor (DSP). Now some amongst you may have hacked at the mentioned of a DSP as visions of the awful sound-ruining digital EQ settings you get on mp3 players spring to mind. Let me assure you, though, this is the last thing the DSP on the F80 does. Rather, it optimises the distribution of the sound signal to best use the compact speaker layout to provide a wider sound stage.
The level to which it affects the sound can be controlled through the menu system with seven ‘width’ options on offer. Stick with the width set to ‘0’ and you still get a very pleasant stereo effect when you’re sitting in the prime position. If you’re too close or listening at lower volume the effect gets a bit lost but cranking up the width setting then compensates for this. We found setting the width to ‘3’ made for a good all round setting if you just want to set and forget.
Other sound adjustment options include a Location setting that lets you choose from ”Table”, ”Shelf”, ”Corner”, ”Floor”, and ”Free”. The difference between each is subtle but noticeable and certainly choosing the ‘right’ setting made for optimal listening. If you’re not sure, picking the ‘Free’ option seemed to suit most situations, though.
Bass level can also be controlled to typical effect, and although there’s no specific treble adjustment, a ‘Tilt’ control is present that see-saws the frequency balance around a central point, reducing the bass while increasing the treble, or vice versa. As per usual we found we didn’t have any desire to keep these controls adjusted and just set them both to ‘0’ for the majority of our listening. Not that they produced bad sound but we were quite happy with the default setup and we’re sure most other listeners would be too.
While I’m touching on the subject of the menu, I have to say it is one of the best menus I’ve ever used. A large part of the ease of use is due to the crystal clear yellow OLED screen. It’s perfectly readable from any angle, up to the point where you physically can’t see it, and the high resolution makes even the fine text used on the menu pin-sharp.