Penaudio Cenya Loudspeaker
Penaudio Cenya Loudspeaker
Making Music Naturally
When I was presented with the opportunity to review the new Penaudio Cenya, I must admit that my response was similar to the response I had to receiving the new Classe Audio CA-M600 mono amps: a great big yawn. The reason for this was that Penaudio has been making modestly sized, elegantly styled, and highly musical speakers for years and I had already reviewed two of them: the Charisma/Chara system and Serenade. The former was a bookshelf monitor attached to a matching woofer/stand. The latter, is a classic tower design. Now here comes the Cenya, a modestly sized, elegantly styled monitor. So what’s there to be excited about? No, no, no. You’re not getting off that easy. Keep reading.
Penaudio is based in Jyväskylä, Finland and is helmed by one of the most musically thoughtful speaker designers I’ve met, Sami Penttilä. Sami comes from a family of music lovers who have passed on to him the value of remaining true to the natural characteristics of sound and music. This has been a fundamental aspect of every Penaudio speaker I have heard.
About the speaker
The Cenya is a 6 ½” wide x 11” high x 12 ½” deep, two-way, reflex loaded, stand mounted loudspeaker. It weighs a substantial 17 lbs. and has a respectable 40Hz to 25KHz frequency range. It utilizes a ¾” SEAS ferro-fluid cooled, cloth dome tweeter and a 6” SEAS/Excel magnesium cone midrange/bass driver. Incidentally, this is the very same driver found in Penaudio’s new statement speaker, the $30k Sinfonia. The cabinets are made of MDF and have one of the coolest looking finishes in high-end audio. If you can imagine about eighty 1/8” thin sheets of plywood horizontally stacked and compressed and then laser cut to size. These speakers have the look and feel of great Scandinavian furniture. But the spec that jumped off the screen at me was that it is a 4 Ohm design and is 86dB efficient. I immediately thought that the newly released, 300 watt Vitus Audio RI-100 would be an ideal match for it. Was I right? Keep reading, keep reading.
When the Cenya first arrived direct from Finland, I immediately placed them on a pair of 26” high Tyler Acoustics speaker stands and began breaking them in via a 24 hour music-television station through a Soaring Audio SLC-A300 amp. But after only a day it was apparent that these speakers had already been broken in. There was none of the edginess on the upper frequencies that you often get with brand new speakers, especially small speakers. Also, as much as I hate to use this cliché and say that the Cenyas’ bass was, “surprisingly deep for their size,” the bass was in fact, surprisingly deep for their size. So much so that I was reminded of an occasion about twenty or so years ago when I was at a local hi-fi shop called Rosine Audio in Skokie, Illinois. I had just walked into the shop when I heard the cannon blasts from climax of the 1812 Overture. They were coming out of one of the listening rooms where there was a small crowd of people. I knew that for years the featured speakers at Rosine Audio were the Infinity IRS-1s. I presumed that Larry Rosine, the proprietor, was simply doing a demo. But as the crowd began to seep out of the room, I realized that I could not see the IRS-1s or any other speaker large enough to reproduce what I had just heard. Instead, perched upon a pair of sand-filled Target stands were a pair of Pro-Ac Tablettes. I distinctly remember gushing to Larry, “Wow! Those things have surprisingly deep bass for their size.” See, see how that kind of thing gets started? This is what I thought about as I started my listening sessions with the Cenyas.
Getting Into the Music
Anyway, it didn’t take hearing the 1812 Overture to know that the Cenyas had… well, you know. In fact, it only took for me to listen to one track from Michel Jonasz’ two-disc live concert, “La Fabuleuse Histoire de Mister Swing” [WEA 2292-42338-2 II]. After installing the Cenyas into my reference system and connecting them to the Vitus RI-100, I played the second track from the second disc, La Temps Passe. This song is classic ‘90s, loaded with tons of deep bass synthesizer and Monsieur Jonasz’ pop vocal styling. The soundstage rendered on this tune is expansive and gives you a sense of the size of the venue. Synthesizers dominate this song and often drop down to levels only Hobbits and Orcs can hear. But the Cenyas allowed these tones to keep their naturally musical character. In other words, the bass notes sounded like they’re portrayed as a piece of music and not just low-end residue.
A better example of this would be on Rob Wasserman’s Duets [MCA]. Track 2, “The Moon is Made of Gold,” is bassist Wasserman’s duet with the legendary Rickie Lee Jones. This tune requires that any speaker be capable of maintaining the musicality of the upright bass but also of rendering Jones’ uniquely bluesy voice accurately. Man, do the Cenyas get this right, and I mean find every bluesy female vocal disc I have! And in fact the next disc I did come up with was female bassist Meshell Ndegeocello’s Comfort Woman [Maverick]. Once you get past the – self indulgent, consistently mournful, why am I so full of pain – ramblings of this artist, you learn that she is one hell of a composer and musician. Track six,
“Liliquoi Moon” starts off like a ballad with Ndegeocello strumming an acoustic guitar and singing in her softened, yet still bluesy voice. What she’s singing about isn’t often audible but the music is always good and sounds very natural through the Cenyas. The second part of this tune shifts into a hard driving rock riff accented with blistering cymbal crushes and Ndegeocello’s really cool bass line. The Cenya holds it all together and neither becomes bright nor bass heavy.
Look, the fact that the Cenyas are musical sounding speakers from the midrange up, is certainly no surprise to anyone familiar with this exceptional designer and company. But two things are surprising: One, the Cenyas maintains natural musicality over a broader spectrum of music than most other comparably sized monitors I’ve heard, including one of my personal favorites the Escalante Pinyons. And two, at $4,000 the Cenyas are actually significantly less expensive than previous Penaudio models I’ve reviewed. That in itself bodes well for our industry and shows that gorgeous, high quality, high performing speakers can be built at a reasonable price. That, folks is something to be very excited about.
Sami Penttilä and the folks at Penaudio are to be commended once again for producing such a magnificent speaker for the masses. Highly recommended and my Editors Choice! Most Wanted Component for 2011!
Type: 2-way, stand mounted, reflex loaded
Drive units: ¾”(20mm) ferrofluid cooled textile dome tweeter (Seas), 6”(145mm)magnesium coned midrange/bass (Seas Excel) with heavy copper rings above and below pole piece, radial reinforced surround
Frequency range: anechoic response +-3dB 45-28000Hz, in room response 40-25000Hz
Nominal impedance: 4ohms
Recommended amplifier: 50+W
Dimensions (WxHxD): (163x280x315)mm, (6,4×11.2×12,6) inches
Weight: 8kg (17lbs)
Specialities: Jorma Design wiring, Seas custom / excel drivers, WBT 0730.12 (Signature platinum) pole screws, SCR polypropylene capacitors, Graditech air-core inductors, aluminium reflex pipe, custom made finnish birch plywood veneer 22mm / 16mm solid plywood cabinet
Price: $3,995.00 USA
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