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Mungbean66

Hulgich Audio Serenade Review (KIND OF!)

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This will mostly just be some thoughts on what I've observed and how I've felt these wonderful speakers have performed. I will try and steer away from describing music choices as I listen to most music and I don't feel it will add to this 'review' as so much can change based on the source and amplifier.

 

Although I don't really believe in burn in, I've waited around 300 plus hours to do the review so as to be fair to Nick from Hulgich Audio.

 

The Serenades are a statement piece. Beautiful like a painting, slightly imposing but impressive, they make the room feel like is has a purpose without overpowering the room like a set of floor standers can. They have a high WAF and the finish is top notch; many of our friends (including women) comment on how nice they look. The high gloss white is gorgeous. Nick must be a perfectionist because it has a finish that looks like it would suit a piano. Even the speaker connectors are top notch and look all class. The speakers’ cabinets feel really inert and easily pass the knuckle test. So overall, build quality is what you expect from something made in Australia. 

The matching stands really do make the speakers and are equally well made.  Mine are a gloss black, with an unmistakable style, a beautiful match for these large standmounts. Although you could live without them, I don't think I could, now knowing how well they suit the speakers. Undeniably worth every penny and very stable (child proven).

The speakers were delivered packaged better than anything I have seen to date. They would have survived anything including a drop from great heights. Too give you an idea, it took me 45min to unpack the speakers and stands (frustrating but worth it).

 

In terms of sound: The sound seems to be generated from the ether, almost like if you’re were floating in the inky blackness of space and somehow music just started to flow out of nowhere. Another thing of note is the amount of bass generated by the 6 inch driver. This is a speaker that does actually reach below 40Hz. How Nick does this is anyone’s guess. You can hear kick drums and bass guitars and I've found that a sub for music isn't necessary unless you need depth below 35Hz or love chest thumping bass. Although the mid-range is magical on these speakers the treble is detailed without being too bright but won't be polite if the recording is 'hot' or a singer/instrument is hitting powerful high notes (this is how a speaker should sound...'live'). Live music is awesome, well recorded music is equally fantastic and even poorly recorded music is still listenable. You will hear and understand what makes it so. The Serenades really are a window in the music without feeling that something artificial is helping create the sound.

 

The biggest thing I've found though is what people call tone. Does it sound right? Spendors, Harbeths, some higher end speakers and now the Hulgichs are the only speakers that have done Missy Higgins' voice justice. Having heard her live on multiple occasions, I would always feel disappointed hearing a song of hers on a hi-fi system. For information, the worst audition demonstrating her voice was on a KEF LS50W.  This is not a knock on the KEFs but unless the room was at play, they did not reproduce female vocals well.

Not only are female voices created beautifully with the Serenade but so are their male counterparts, instruments feel equally well developed and honestly just sound 'right'. I have yet to hear something and felt it sounded 'wonky'.

I am also a huge fan of drums and the Serenades do really show what great recorded drumming sounds like. An example is how good the recording at Sound City was like for drums. Tool's Undertow, Rage Against the Machine's self-titled album and Nirvana's Nevermind; all excellent examples of this. Hearing every strike of a drum or the rim and how hard it was struck is something new to me and I quite enjoy it with the Serenades.

On top of this is the fact that every instrument, voice and nuance has its own space and it is easy to track each separately.

With every DAC I've used this remains true, even the NOS based Paradesia 3, Aune X1S, Hifimediy UDA38 and the PDX DAC (level 2). Two of these DACs contain tube outputs if that helps. I found that these speakers are far from coloured and really do give you an insight into what is feeding it. DACs (within this, even tube choices) and amplifiers make huge differences; this was not the case with my previous, rather modest speakers. It was during some testing that I realised that my NOS Paradesia 3 paled in comparison in terms of the 'width and depth' compared to the PDX DAC (this was alleviated somewhat with a tube and op amp change in the Pardesia). On my old speakers (Monitor Audio S6) the DACs sounded quite similar but after changing to the Serenades the gulf widened to the point where, I simply couldn't listen to the Paradesia 3 on my main system.

 

I never really knew what people meant about pressurising a room but now I do. These speakers can easily pressurise my 3.5m x 4m room with ease without losing composure and do this without having to increase the volume to ear splitting levels. One of the best things I've discovered is that like most people my lounge is a shared space so the speakers need to be close to a wall, fortunately these speakers are made to be close to a boundary. 

 

Are there negatives? Of course, all speakers have some. For example, these speakers need power, 80W into 8ohms is just enough but I would say that over 100W is more ideal and after getting a 130W amplifier they just opened up another level. They do take a bit of power to come 'on song' as some people might say, which means that in some instances a preamplifier with gain may be needed. They will need the additional compensation circuit to be able to be driven from tube amplifiers. The stands are expensive but after seeing and using them, I believe they are necessary and the cost is justified. They are just as gorgeous as the speakers and I imagine, probably take as much work if not more to produce.

 

When it comes to music reproduction or when watching a movie, I don't hear any shortcomings and this seems like the end goal for many people, including me. The serenade is a very well rounded speaker that I believe would not be embarrassed being driven by high end amplification and sources.

 

If people would like me to give a detailed breakdown of some of the songs I used to test please just ask and I'll add to the end of this review after I've sat down for another critical listen of a few songs.

 

In case it's of merit I am currently running the following gear (Pic attached):

 

Power Regulation: 700W pure sine wave UPS

Streamer (USB): ALLO USBridge running DietPi

Media player (TOSLINK): PS4 Pro

Source:  HIFIMEDIY UDA38

PRE: Schiit Saga 

POWER: Sansui 707i

 

Cheers,

 

Mung

49949612_385884132184759_8828102807874699264_n.jpg

Edited by Mungbean66

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This will mostly just be some thoughts on what I've observed and how I've felt these wonderful speakers have performed. I will try and steer away from describing music choices as I listen to most music and I don't feel it will add to this 'review' as so much can change based on the source and amplifier.   Although I don't really believe in burn in, I've waited around 300 plus hours to do the review so as to be fair to Nick from Hulgich Audio.

 

The Serenades are a statement piece. Beautiful like a painting, slightly imposing but impressive, they make the room feel like is has a purpose without overpowering the room like a set of floor standers can. They have a high WAF and the finish is top notch; many of our friends (including women) comment on how nice they look. The high gloss white is gorgeous. Nick must be a perfectionist because it has a finish that looks like it would suit a piano. Even the speaker connectors are top notch and look all class. The speakers’ cabinets feel really inert and easily pass the knuckle test. So overall, build quality is what you expect from something made in Australia. 

The matching stands really do make the speakers and are equally well made.  Mine are a gloss black, with an unmistakable style, a beautiful match for these large standmounts. Although you could live without them, I don't think I could, now knowing how well they suit the speakers. Undeniably worth every penny and very stable (child proven).

The speakers were delivered packaged better than anything I have seen to date. They would have survived anything including a drop from great heights. Too give you an idea, it took me 45min to unpack the speakers and stands (frustrating but worth it).

 

In terms of sound: The sound seems to be generated from the ether, almost like if you’re were floating in the inky blackness of space and somehow music just started to flow out of nowhere. Another thing of note is the amount of bass generated by the 6 inch driver. This is a speaker that does actually reach below 40Hz. How Nick does this is anyone’s guess. You can hear kick drums and bass guitars and I've found that a sub for music isn't necessary unless you need depth below 35Hz or love chest thumping bass. Although the mid-range is magical on these speakers the treble is detailed without being too bright but won't be polite if the recording is 'hot' or a singer/instrument is hitting powerful high notes (this is how a speaker should sound...'live'). Live music is awesome, well recorded music is equally fantastic and even poorly recorded music is still listenable. You will hear and understand what makes it so. The Serenades really are a window in the music without feeling that something artificial is helping create the sound.

 

The biggest thing I've found though is what people call tone. Does it sound right? Spendors, Harbeths, some higher end speakers and now the Hulgichs are the only speakers that have done Missy Higgins' voice justice. Having heard her live on multiple occasions, I would always feel disappointed hearing a song of hers on a hi-fi system. For information, the worst audition demonstrating her voice was on a KEF LS50W.  This is not a knock on the KEFs but unless the room was at play, they did not reproduce female vocals well.

Not only are female voices created beautifully with the Serenade but so are their male counterparts, instruments feel equally well developed and honestly just sound 'right'. I have yet to hear something and felt it sounded 'wonky'.

I am also a huge fan of drums and the Serenades do really show what great recorded drumming sounds like. An example is how good the recording at Sound City was like for drums. Tool's Undertow, Rage Against the Machine's self-titled album and Nirvana's Nevermind; all excellent examples of this. Hearing every strike of a drum or the rim and how hard it was struck is something new to me and I quite enjoy it with the Serenades.

On top of this is the fact that every instrument, voice and nuance has its own space and it is easy to track each separately.

With every DAC I've used this remains true, even the NOS based Paradesia 3, Aune X1S, Hifimediy UDA38 and the PDX DAC (level 2). Two of these DACs contain tube outputs if that helps. I found that these speakers are far from coloured and really do give you an insight into what is feeding it. DACs (within this, even tube choices) and amplifiers make huge differences; this was not the case with my previous, rather modest speakers. It was during some testing that I realised that my NOS Paradesia 3 paled in comparison in terms of the 'width and depth' compared to the PDX DAC (this was alleviated somewhat with a tube and op amp change in the Pardesia). On my old speakers (Monitor Audio S6) the DACs sounded quite similar but after changing to the Serenades the gulf widened to the point where, I simply couldn't listen to the Paradesia 3 on my main system.

 

I never really knew what people meant about pressurising a room but now I do. These speakers can easily pressurise my 3.5m x 4m room with ease without losing composure and do this without having to increase the volume to ear splitting levels. One of the best things I've discovered is that like most people my lounge is a shared space so the speakers need to be close to a wall, fortunately these speakers are made to be close to a boundary. 

 

Are there negatives? Of course, all speakers have some. For example, these speakers need power, 80W into 8ohms is just enough but I would say that over 100W is more ideal and after getting a 130W amplifier they just opened up another level. They do take a bit of power to come 'on song' as some people might say, which means that in some instances a preamplifier with gain may be needed. They will need the additional compensation circuit to be able to be driven from tube amplifiers. The stands are expensive but after seeing and using them, I believe they are necessary and the cost is justified. They are just as gorgeous as the speakers and I imagine, probably take as much work if not more to produce.

 

When it comes to music reproduction or when watching a movie, I don't hear any shortcomings and this seems like the end goal for many people, including me. The serenade is a very well rounded speaker that I believe would not be embarrassed being driven by high end amplification and sources.

 

If people would like me to give a detailed breakdown of some of the songs I used to test please just ask and I'll add to the end of this review after I've sat down for another critical listen of a few songs.

 

In case it's of merit I am currently running the following gear (Pic attached):

 

Power Regulation: 700W pure sine wave UPS

Streamer (USB): ALLO USBridge running DietPi

Media player (TOSLINK): PS4 Pro

Source:  HIFIMEDIY UDA38

PRE: Schiit Saga 

POWER: Sansui 707i

 

Cheers,

 

Mung

49949612_385884132184759_8828102807874699264_n.thumb.jpg.9a95f2ca864152083d0bf64de4f812bd.jpg

 

 

Great write up , as a fellow Hulgich owner I feel very privileged to have - as you described an end game speaker! They certainly reward the best source and amplification you can provide, and obviously interconnects and cable.

And plenty of clean power, my Astors sound happy with around 200w - but cope well with my Melody valve amp at 42w driving them with ease

 

And the remarkable thing is all of Nick's speakers in his range sound amazing for their respective price point - his Dukes and Nina Bookshelves at the HiFi show were hard to split on which was better value, the soundstage and imaging were some of the best I've heard!

 

The quality of construction and impeccable finish is a credit to Nick's dedication to achieving as close to perfection.

 

I think once the outside World , and of course the broader Aussie hifi community cottons onto how well they stack up against often much more expensive brands - then Hulgich will become a very successful prestige brand.

 

No affiliation or bias on my side - just credit where it's due !

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, evil c said:

I think once the outside World , and of course the broader Aussie hifi community cottons onto how well they stack up against often much more expensive brands - then Hulgich will become a very successful prestige brand.

 

Hulgich speakers rarely come up in the classifieds. Actually, I don’t believe there have been any besides these Serenades and these  Maestro’s.

 

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Nice review @Mungbean66These Serenades were a serious bargain. I was thinking about buying them as rears to match white Astors. 

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Having lived with the Dukes for several months, I concur that Hulgich does offer “end game” speakers at several price points within the realm of the achievable for most audiophiles. And for those who want more, Nick just might have a surprise in store:).

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4 hours ago, Mike13 said:

Nice review @Mungbean66These Serenades were a serious bargain. I was thinking about buying them as rears to match white Astors. 

Lucky for me you didn't 😉. I actually prefer the way the grill and port are presented on mine. 

 

First time I saw them, I knew I could live with them long term. 

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9 hours ago, Mike13 said:

Nice review @Mungbean66These Serenades were a serious bargain. I was thinking about buying them as rears to match white Astors. 

Elitist !! 

Those Serenades are good enough for many as the front mains! :rolleyes:

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Not surprised with your review. Heard the Maestros at the 2017 show and I can whole heartedly agree with the speakers disappearing and the music coming from nowhere. It really was that impressive.

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@Mungbean66 Nice review and congrats on these fantastic speakers. Hope to hear them sometime.

 

BTW, which is that white TT you have on the rack? Sorry if I missed this in your post.

 

Cheers...

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Hey Anand,

 

It's just a Pioneer PLX500. The internal preamp bypassed which helped quite a bit with sound. I didn't mention the TT as I don't really consider it good enough to critically listen to music on, I will probably need a better cart for that.

 

Cheers

 

 

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