With pretty speakers, there's always the worry that the manufacturer put all its effort into the visual aesthetics and little into the performance. It's clear from first listen that the Hurricane Evo isn't just another underperforming lifestyle speaker — it's a serious speaker that can please audio enthusiasts while its great looks charm those who don't care about audio at all.
Voice reproduction sounds impressively neutral and natural, especially when you're hearing female singers. Coarse-sounding singers like Canadian folk-rocker Ron Sexsmith often become unlistenable through low-quality lifestyle speakers, but on the Hurricane Evo, Sexsmith sounded much the way he does through my Genelec recording monitors and through high-end speakers like the Revel Salon2.
I did hear a little bloating on some deeper male voices, probably the result of some of the vocal sound sneaking into the subwoofer due to the somewhat high 100 Hz crossover point. Reducing the crossover point to 80 Hz placed too much strain on the Hurricane Evo's little 4-inch woofer, though, producing frequent bursts of distortion when I played loud action movies. Even at the 100 Hz crossover point, I heard occasional distortion from the Hurricane Evos' woofers during the more violent passages of the Terminator: Salvation Blu-ray Disc.
The sense of space I heard from the Hurricane Evos was dazzling-despite the fact that they were wall-mounted, which usually reduces listener envelopment. When I played my favorite soundstaging test, "Sentenza Del Cuore - Allegro" from the Chesky Records CD The Coryells, the castanets that punctuate the track's acoustic guitar lines sounded as if they were coming from 30 feet behind the speakers.
Part of this envelopment may occur because of the Hurricane Evo's apparent emphasis of certain frequencies in the upper midrange/lower treble neighborhood. For example, the guiro in Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto's "Aganjú" (from Bebel Gilberto) really jumped out in a way I'm not used to hearing. I can't say this tonal trait bothered me, though — and to be frank, I enjoyed it even though I knew the emphasis was artificial. It had only a slight effect on voices (and only on high female voices at that), and I didn't notice it at all on movie soundtracks or instruments like saxophone, guitar, piano, or orchestral strings.
The HighForce 2 worked fine, delivering satisfying levels of clean bass. In fact, it put out more power than I expected from its small woofer and modest internal amp. Even my toughest deep bass tests couldn't push it into audible distortion. My ears tell me that Waterfall Audio got the most from this sub by upping its Q-effectively, getting more output by narrowing its response a bit. That gives the HighForce 2 a little bit of a boomy sound at times, but for my taste, the sub's couch-shaking capability was well worth that little trade-off.
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