The new Walsh 2000s were reviewed by Phil Slepian in Audiogon.
If this review sounds like a rave, that’s because it is, albeit a rave that slowly unfolded over about four months.” he said in his conclusion. The Listening and Conclusion sections, in total, are included below (with highlights added). For the entire review go here.
If you haven’t yet bought into the whole speaker break-in thing, buying a pair of Ohm Walsh speakers will have you drinking the cool-aid by the gallon. When first set up, the speakers had very constricted dynamics, exaggerated sibilance, and sounded a bit thin. That said, right out of the box, these speakers reproduced the timbre of instruments, both human and man-made, with exceptional accuracy and life-like believability. Even after break-in, the accurate timbre of the 2000s stands out as the single biggest improvement over the Vandersteens, in my opinion. Horns, in particular, along with drum kits and guitars (both electric and acoustic) have an uncanny natural quality that comes extremely close to sounding like real instruments playing in real space.
Without a long list, I listened to a variety of CDs and LPs, covering classical, jazz and rock. A few specific examples: The Tutti! Sampler from Reference Recordings, a TDK Jazz Festival sampler (especially a Brad Mehldau Trio piece), Stereophile’s Test CD #2, and rock and pop from artists including David Bowie, Veruca Salt, Stabbing Westward, David Byrne, Norah Jones, Nine Inch Nails, Sade, Sheryl Crow, Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd.
As the weeks progressed, the dynamics slowly opened up, and finally became very good, both in terms of macro-dynamic and micro-dynamic shifts. One particularly attractive attribute of the 2000s is their ability to play very loudly without sounding congested, strained, or collapsing the soundstage. This applies to any music I have thrown at them; classical, jazz or rock.
The Ohms do detail very well, and I was introduced to all kinds of musical nuance on familiar recordings that I had been missing before. Especially noticeable are things like performers inhaling prior to singing or playing wind instruments, peddle and key taps, and leading edge transients. The transients are present but are not exaggerated, so they do not induce headaches. Also present is an extended decay of notes, and it is easy to follow many individual musical lines within a performance. It is unusual in my inexperience for a speaker to present so much detail information without being excessively bright at the same time. The Ohms have that elusive combination of detail and musicality.
Frequency balance is being affected, I think, by my room. There is a mild emphasis on the midrange, which, now that the speakers are properly positioned, is not unpleasant. As some visitors to my home have noted, the high frequencies do seem to be a bit rolled off, but there is no sense of a veil being placed over the sound. There is plenty of extension at both ends of the spectrum. Everything is there, but the treble is at a slightly reduced level. I find this a very positive euphonic characteristic, which allows for long listening sessions free of fatigue. Especially smooth is that upper-midrange/lower-treble zone that I am so sensitive to. Even at very loud levels, there is never any raggedness, etch, grit or metallic sheen in this range (source material allowing, of course). I did briefly try the Ohm Walsh 2000s full range, without the subwoofers. They seem to go fairly deep, perhaps to the low to mid 30Hz-range. However, I cannot expect them to do what the Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofers do so very well, so back in they went.
The soundstage was something of a surprise. The Vandersteen 1Cs would project images into the room, so that vocalists and other performers were within arm’s reach, or even right at the sides of your head. In contrast, the Ohms present a more laid-back soundstage, with everything taking place at and behind the plane of the speakers. This is not necessarily better or worse, just different. That said, when recordings used phase trickory to move sound about the room, the Ohms did this exceedingly well. On a DVD of Bjork performing live with the Icelandic String Octet (played in stereo), some percussion clearly sounded as if it were coming from just to the left of my left elbow! Likewise on Pink Floyd DSOTM, in which the phasey effects floated all over the sides and rear of the room. There is great width, source material permitting, that seemed to extend beyond the side walls, and height that reached the ceiling. I did notice some depth, although I am not very good at identifying this aspect of the soundstage. The speakers do a very good job of disappearing into the soundstage, and can totally disappear on some material.
Many believe that wide-dispersion designs like this cannot project solid images within the soundstage. The Ohms do a pretty good job of this. Vocals are usually dead center, sized right or a little bit larger than life, with little drifting of instruments about the soundstage (another area where more acoustic treatments might help).
Pace, rhythm, attack and timing all seem fine. I would not call the 2000s sluggish or muddy in any way.
These are not heavy speakers with massive cabinets, so when I first listened to them, I thought I was hearing some cabinet resonances. After careful further listening, I feel I am actually hearing the resonance of hollow-bodied instruments, something the Vandersteens did not do.
Although many Ohm owners report that full break in can take up to a year, I am satisfied that the 2000s in my system are most of the way there, and no longer exhibit dramatic changes in sound quality. I admit that further efforts regarding room acoustics, cabling and physical stability are necessary, and will address these issues in the coming months. I feel very confident that, for their $2800/pair price, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a better-sounding speaker that appealed to me more than the Ohm Walsh 2000s. If this review sounds like a rave, that’s because it is, albeit a rave that slowly unfolded over about four months. In fact, based on speakers I have heard over the years, if I were looking to spend up to about $12,000 for a pair of speakers, I would still be looking at the appropriately-sized Ohm Walsh speaker (which top-out at $6500/pair). As my trial period drew to a close, I confidently felt that these are keepers, and will keep me from the urge to upgrade speakers for many years to come.
I want to thank Phil for his kind words and encourage anyone considering speakers at any price to give us a call. I will personally (800-783-1553) discuss with you your needs and the options Ohm can offer you. It is a 15 minute investment that can bring you years of enjoyment.