French manufacturer Cabasse has been producing the Eole for some years and this is the latest revision. £1,000 buys you a single large box containing five identical satellites, a Santorin subwoofer and, handily, a pair of floorstands and 40m of speaker cable.

The satellites make use of Cabasse’s experience in coaxial drivers and each one mounts a 4in mid/bass driver with a 1.1in soft dome tweeter. To prevent them rolling around, the satellites attach to a magnetic ‘foot’ that can be used as a shelf- or wall-mount, or a different ‘foot’ to attach them to the stand. This is clever and flexible, but has resulted in a fiddly speaker terminal arrangement. You have to jam an umbilical cable from the satellite and the cabling to your amp into the same teeny pair of terminals. Grr.

Action stations

I recently reviewed the Cabasse MT series for HCC and, while I felt it had many virtues, it was perhaps a bit laid back to be a true all-rounder. The Eole 3 is smaller and a lot cheaper, but in many ways proves a more enjoyable set of speakers to live with.

The areas that Cabasse is usually very proficient in are no exception in the Eole 3. The satellites have excellent cohesion between mid/bass and tweeter and avoid sounding like they are ‘beaming’ the sound to a particular sweet spot. The handover from speaker to speaker is seamless and each satellite will go impressively loud without sounding strained.

More importantly, when you do ramp up your AVR while watching something with a bit of vigour – like the charmingly silly Dredd 3D – the Eole 3 sounds fun. It responds to the onscreen demands with real enthusiasm and drive. Bullets zing across the soundstage and while the Eole array retains an impressive sense of control and never tips over into harshness or brightness, it also manages to let go and raise a smile in a way its bigger brothers didn't.

The 200W subwoofer is an impressive piece of equipment, too. The crossover with the satellites is smooth and unobtrusive and it has the speed and agility to match them. The relatively high point of 150Hz means that the upper registers aren’t quite as omni-directional as you might like, so the best results were gained with the sub placed at the front between the left and right speakers. When you do so, even two channel audio – often a bit of an Achilles' heel for sub/sat packages – sounds vibrant.

Overall, this is a well-built, flexible speaker setup, with excellent tonality and fire in its belly – easily worth the £1,000 ticket.


HCC VERDICT

Cabasse Eole 3 5.1
Price:
£1,000 Approx
www.cabasse.com

Highs: Detailed, powerful and entertaining sound; excellent build quality
Lows: Horrible speaker terminals; subwoofer placement needs care

Performance: 5/5
Design: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5