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You may not have heard of Ferguson Hill, but it's a British manufacturer of a very small group of obscurely designed speakers. The company's flagship speaker setup -- comprising the FH001 and FH002 -- will set you back £12,000.
Today, we're looking at the desktop version of these 'horn loaded' hi-fi speakers, the FH007 and FH008 sub woofer. Together, these will cost you about £800, but they employ the same £12,000 technology used in the FH001 and FH002.
These translucent acrylic hi-fi horns are engineered and designed for invisible high performance. But are they worth a not-so-invisible price?
Initially unboxing these delicate speakers filled us with an oddly ambivalent feeling: they seemed needlessly fragile, yet strangely alluring. The transparency of the horns lets the large desktop speakers dissolve into the background of even a tightly packed room. But it's nothing but an illusion. You'll still need adequate space to create a decent sound stage, and the horn loaded form factor results in a fairly directional sound.
The result, though, is superb. With the correct positioning, a concert-like sound stage can be created that helps reproduce well-recorded live music in a beautiful way. We set playing a live version of the moving acoustic number My Heart by K's Choice. The husky voice of Sarah Bettens came across with as much warmth and emotion as if she was performing in the room with us. With the guitar strings working with the 100W sub woofer to gently rumble the floor, a true live experience was created.
Next up was the classic Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman duet, Time To Say Goodbye. With powerful male and female vocals, beautiful pizzicato strings and gentle percussion, this recording helped demonstrate how capable the FH007 setup is at reproducing rich, thickly layered performances.
The weighty and well-constructed cube-shaped amplifier contains an integrated amp and crossover network, since no frequency splitting is needed by the speakers themselves. Each speaker eats just 16W of power, but the powerful sound that results is testament to the system's well-engineered circuitry and construction. It's a solid amplifier but the lack of a remote control is a little disappointing.
While vocal, acoustic and orchestral music sounds sublime, metal, dance and pop is less impressive. True, with the sub cranked up the eclectic thrashings of The Dillinger Escape Plan sound powerful. But the four mid and high-range speakers cope less well with the complexities of modern metal. There's also a distinct lack of clarity in the very high end of the audible spectrum. It detracts from the sound of bright crash cymbals, for example, resulting in a muddy blend of high and upper-mid frequencies
It's worth noting that if you've got a cat, you might discover that delicate speakers that cost almost a grand are not practical, especially if your cat walks, jumps and generally acts like an ordinary cat. The only way to truly secure these unique speakers would be to use Blu Tack, which would somewhat detract from the intended elegance. If you find balls of pressure-sensitive blue adhesive aesthetically pleasing, then perhaps this won't be an issue.
And it's true, the price of this system is a drawback for fans of a wide range of musical styles. If you enjoy mixes of metal, folk, dance, classical and acoustic music (we do exist), you may find yourself less than satisfied with your costly purchase.
If you're interested in style, these are without question the speakers for you. Generally, they sound good, and they'll blend into the background of your designer bachelor pad or open plan apartment with ease.
On the other hand, there are speakers out there that offer better performance options for those who like a vast array of musical styles, and we were disappointed with how they handled higher frequencies.
If you're a keen audiophile and want the best sound, regardless of genre, you'd be advised to test these out before putting your money down.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday