- Review Price: £179.00
Berlin-based manufacturer Teufel offers a wide selection of these space-saving compact systems, including three new models in its entry-level Consono range. The Consono 25 under the spotlight here is the midrange offering, sandwiched between the £139 Consono 15 and the £259 Consono 35. The difference between the three is their size and the drivers inside the satellites – Consono 15’s are 9cm-high cube sats, containing a single bass/midrange driver, while the Consono 35’s 20cm-high satellites feature two midrange drivers and a tweeter.
Consono 25’s sats unsurprisingly fall in between, standing 12.5cm tall and sporting a single midrange driver and a tweeter. It’s aimed at buyers who feel they’ve graduated from the basic sound offered by their TV speakers, but need greater subtlety and clearer high-frequency reproduction than the Consono 15 can provide. This range has all bases covered and demonstrates that your options needn’t be limited just because you’re on a tight budget.
The build quality of the system’s four CS 25 FCR satellites is far from exemplary, but at least they’re a step up from the sort of compact speakers you get with most budget all-in-one systems. They sound a little hollow when given the ‘tap test’, and with the cloth grill removed the tiny tweeter blister and cellulose cone feel like they could easily be damaged by a curious toddler. Each one is also equipped with springclip speakers, which lack the sturdiness of binding posts. But none of this is surprising given the measly £179 price tag. In fact, at this price they have no right feeling as robust as they do.
And thankfully they’ve been styled with a keen eye for today’s AV trends. You can see your face in the gloss black finish that’s bound to look great next to 99 per cent of TVs and Blu-ray players, while their curved sides lend them a touch of panache that you don’t often get from cheap compact speakers. What’s more, they’re wall-mountable using the holes on the back, or you can attach them to the optional table stand (M 50 P).
The CS 25 FCR is a two-way design, which means it uses two drivers (a tweeter and woofer) to reproduce sound with a crossover regulating which frequencies go to each driver. The 80mm midrange driver and 19mm tweeter sit inside a curved baffle, which according to Teufel radiates sound more effectively than other designs.
The centre speaker in this setup is the CS 35 C, the same one used by the step-up Consono 35 system. It’s basically one of the front/rear satellites redesigned for horizontal placement, with identical styling and the same 80mm midrange driver and 19mm tweeter inside. It’s supplied with a cradle that allows you to plonk it on your TV stand, but like the other sats it can be wall-mounted if required.
The final piece of the puzzle is the US 5108/1 SW subwoofer, a lower-specified version of the Consono 35’s US 5110/1 SW, which delivers deeper bass frequencies through its larger driver and greater internal volume.
The sub could play a crucial role in handling low frequencies given the inevitable bass limitations of the small satellites. It’s equipped with a Klippel-optimised long throw 200mm bass driver and a bass reflex opening on the side. It’s powered by a newly developed 100W amplifier and can dip down to a frequency of 38Hz, while an internal limiter protects it from overmodulation and distortion.
The stunning external design includes a sumptuous gloss black front panel that curves slightly on either side. Helpfully, Teufel has fitted a standby button on the front, which means you won’t pull a muscle trying to reach the rear panel, plus the way the button lights up blue or red is a lovely touch.
The rest of the controls are on the back panel, but get it set up correctly and you shouldn’t need to touch them. They include switches to correct the phase and set the automatic activation mode, plus dials for volume and input sensitivity for the auto activation mode. It keeps things simple on the socketry front, sporting just a single cinch input.
The Consono 25 is a bit of a mixed bag performance-wise, delivering a generally fun and engaging sound with certain limitations that might leave you wishing you forked out a little bit more.
Let’s start with the good stuff. We fed the system ”Inception” on Blu-ray and it managed to pull a great deal of detail from the disc and present it in a clear, crisp manner at ‘normal’ listening volumes. Whether it’s relaying the click of a silenced gunshot or ice cubes rattling in a glass, the sound is clear and crisp.
That in turn makes for a dynamic soundstage as the action hots up – when ‘earthquakes’ destroy the building in the opening dream within a dream, the crashing walls and smashing glass sound forceful from all five satellites.
Another of the system’s strengths is the potent bass output, thanks to the superb efforts of the US 5108/1 SW, which makes low frequencies feel tight and punchy. The crossover with the satellites could possibly be a little smoother but there aren’t many systems at this price that include a subwoofer this good.
On the downside, the system doesn’t like being pushed hard. We cranked our Onkyo TX-NR807 receiver up to -2.0dB and it really struggled. When the shops start to explode as Cobb and Ariadne are sitting outside the café, the effects are bright and raspy. Likewise, when Ariadne shatters the mirrors under the bridge, the smash has an overly hard edge that better speakers handle more smoothly.
The evidence continues – as Edith Piaf’s ”Je Ne Regrette Rien” gets louder as the kick approaches, her warbling voice and the strings sound shrill. Dialogue also deteriorates when pushed loud. Cobb’s frenzied cry of “tell us what you know now!” rattles the ear drums.
All of this means that these speakers aren’t a great choice if you’re planning on cranking up the volume on regular occasions, but they are fine for low-level TV or movie viewing.
Although the budget price tag inevitably takes its toll on sound and build quality, the Consono 25 is still worth investigating. Its compact satellites look great, the classy subwoofer punches above its weight and if you keep the volume at a sensible level you can get some good sound quality out of it.
For under £200 that’s a fairly good deal, and if their loud-volume limitations prove a problem then Teufel’s eight-week test listening period means you can send them back, no questions asked. Everyone’s a winner.
Score in detail