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Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1 Review

Pros

  • Crisp, detailed sound
  • Distinctive design
  • Build quality

Cons

  • Lack of potency
  • Sounds nasal in places
  • Expensive

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £795.00
  • Glass-panel speakers
  • Atohm drivers
  • Heatstream technology
  • Available in white or black
  • Table top, stand or wall mounting

Last month we took a look at the Hurricane Evo system from French audio brand Waterfall, a 2.1-channel system with front speakers fashioned from glass. Their distinctive design made them an interesting proposition for style conscious buyers, but their sound quality couldn’t quite justify the hefty asking price.

But now we’re looking at the Hurricane’s little brother, the Serio, which again features a pair of glass-panel satellites (it’s their speciality) but comes at the lower price of £795 – although most people would still find that a big ask for a three-channel system.

Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1

On test is the Serio 2.1 system, which features a pair of Serio speakers and the same HFM (High Force Multimedia) subwoofer that comes with the Hurricane Evo package. The Serio speakers are a lot more compact than Hurricane Evo, making them a discreet, unimposing option for desktop PC or living-room AV use. Each speaker measures 125(w) x 125(h), and with a depth of just 85mm they’re perfect for mounting on the wall, as they won’t stick out much further than your set.

As a ‘designer’ speaker system Serio naturally looks great. The satellites are cute yet classy, with a narrow panel of toughened safety glass running around the edge, which thankfully lacks the frosted squares that slightly cheapened the Hurricane Evo’s look. Both the die-cast aluminium enclosure sticking out of the back and the removable grille are finished in white, but it can also be purchased with black grilles as standard, plus orange and green ‘fashion’ grilles are available as optional extras.

Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1

It may be a style-conscious brand, but Waterfall Audio clearly knows the value of good build quality – the Serio speakers have been carefully constructed from high-quality materials, and handling one reveals remarkable solidity.

There are three mounting options – on-wall, table top and optional stands. The stands will set you back £175 for a pair and come in black, grey or white. For table top mounting, you get a little pair of rubber ball feet, which slide onto the bottom edge of the glass panel, as well as a bracket for wall mounting.

Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1

The HFM subwoofer is a great-looking and robustly built unit, featuring an appealing black finish and a semi circle on top that brings a touch of pizzazz.

Inside each of the Serio speakers is a single 80mm LD 80 Atohm mid/bass drive unit, which covers a frequency range of 180Hz to 20kHz – anything below that is obviously passed over to the HFM sub. Waterfall recommends using an amp output power of 30 to 80W.
Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1
Also incorporated into the speaker is Waterfall’s patented Heatstream technology, which allows the compact drive unit to handle greater power than it otherwise would have. The voice coil is coupled to the aluminium body, which means the compact Atohm driver can dissipate enough heat to handle the high power demands of home cinema soundtracks.

Waterfall

The HFM subwoofer is a fairly compact unit itself, but packs a punch with its three Class D amplifiers, two of which offer 60W for the satellites and the other pumping out 120W through its own 7in bass driver.

Setting up the system is a piece of cake. There are two ways you can do it – if using the system with a desktop PC or another device, you can connect it to the 3.5mm input on the back of the sub, and connect the satellites to its binding posts. But you can also connect the sub and satellites directly to your AV receiver for home cinema use.

Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1

Also on the back of the compact sub are two volume dials labelled Volume and Sub Level, the former is supposed to control volume when used as a self-contained system, the other when connected to your amp.

On the back of the satellites the speaker cables connect to small spring-loaded terminals, which are fairly fiddly to rig up. Two grooves run up towards the top of the speaker, which helps hide the wires when using the stands.

Avatar is our movie of choice for testing the Serio’s mettle, and its epic action scenes sound terrific. There’s an instantly gratifying crispness to the sound, with clear, well-controlled high frequencies. This makes the climactic battle between Jake and Quaritch in his clanking robo-suit sound sparky and dynamic, with real drive behind the punches and smashing tree branches.

Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1

We’re also impressed by the clarity of speech, and the way Serio handles loud sounds like screeching Thanators and gunshots without sounding excessively strained or harsh. It’s not the smoothest or refined set of speakers we’ve tested – with a single full-range driver on board it was never going to hit the sonic heights of proper floorstanders, and at times the sound is a little nasal – but it’s certainly good enough to make your TV hang its head in shame.

The subwoofer also does a stand-up job, reproducing low frequency sounds like explosions with satisfying depth and potency, although as we found when testing the Hurricane Evo system it’s not so great at eking out subtle ambient bass sounds during quieter moments. On the whole though, the Serio system delivers a crisp, feisty sound that inspires excitement, although it’s probably not potent or assured enough to completely justify that price tag.

Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1

We tried out some music and the Serio delivers a decent sound, with plenty of body in the midrange, sparkling high frequencies and deep, agile bass tones.

Verdict

At just under £800, the Serio 2.1 system is aimed at those who crave cutting-edge style no matter the cost, and that’s something it has in spades. The satellites are cute and eye-catching, thanks mainly to the classy glass panel, compact dimensions and white finish. They’re ideal if you hate clutter, and they offer decent sound quality too, much better than most budget one-box 2.1 systems, although it’s worth bearing in mind that you can get much better performance from cheaper speakers – it all comes down to how much you like the thought of having glass speakers adorning your lounge.

Waterfall Audio Serio 2.1

Trusted Score


Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Features 8
  • Value 7
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Design 8

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