Review of: Energy Connoisseur C-9

Freq Resp: 31-23kHz, +/-3dB; -10dB @ 26Hz
Power handling: 250 watts per channel
Efficiency: 91dB @ 1watt/1mtr

Woofers: 2 x 6.5” Homopolymer w/rubber butyl surround

Mid/Woofer: 1 x 6.5” Homopolymer w/ rubber butyl surround
Tweeter: 1 x 1” chambered aluminum dome

Binding post: 1 set of 5-way
Dimensions: 45” x
7.75” x 18” (HxWxD)
Weight: 62lbs each
Retail: $1300.00/pr

Listening Energy Connoisseur C-9:

Connoisseur C-9As with most speakers, give these a good 30 hrs of run-in before listening critically. Initially they will come off as somewhat dry and dark, give it time and you’ll be rewarded with some seriously smooth music. First of all, I’m still amazed at the bass these narrow column type speakers reproduce; it’s almost like an optical illusion. You see this tall skinny thing reproducing incredible bass, and you know there is a sub hidden—somewhere. The C-9 has 2 bass ports; one in the front near the bottom, and a second port on the back, about 3/4 up. I would imagine the combination of the tuned ports and the 18” depth of the cabinets explains the room energizing bass. And these pups dish-out some serious, tight bass. They plunge 6Hz lower than my previous dual-8” towers. I noticed in the Soundstage review of the C-9, they had to push the speaker much farther than they typically do to get any reading of distortion in the lower bass—impressive, and exactly what I experienced; deep, clean well articulated bass.

I have to take a second to mention the binding post. These are very impressive; they look like WBT binders with a large heavy grade clear plastic knob surrounding the gold plated screw-down. It makes tightening a tool-less proposition, as you can really get some torque on the posts. Very Cool. BTW, the C-9 is not bi-wireable.

Also, quick mention of the grilles; they are magnetized—no posts to break off or wear out, easy on, easy off. The magnets are also damped to eliminate vibration. Again, very cool. I did all of my listening with the grilles in place.

The tweeter is nothing short of magnificent. It does everything right. Not too bright, not too laid back, crystalline and airy without being prominent or etched. The crossover must be very well engineered, as I can’t detect any transition from the mids. There is a very smooth, tonal neutrality about these speakers that almost sounds like a single full-range cone. I kept thinking to myself “these remind me of my AR9Lsi’s in a BIG way.” The easygoing, extremely listenable sound has you running through your CD library as if someone is going to take your system away tomorrow. What’s really sort of a paradox is that although they sound a touch laid-back, they are at the same time quick and articulate, very nice blend.

Comparing these to the V.2 Paradigm Reference Studio 60 ($1600/pr) and 100 ($2300/ pr), the Studio 60 is simply out-classed. It just isn’t capable of the deep, cleanly rendered bass lines, and the C-9 gives nothing away in the midrange/treble. The Studio100 is a more apples to apples comparison. Though the Studio 100 has a touch deeper bass, the C-9’s smoother upper-midrange and linearity in the extreme treble gets the nod. I will say the Studio 100’s mid and lower midrange is impeccable, and the overall tonal balance, top-tobottom, leans ever so slightly in the Paradigm’s corner, for $1000 more, it better.

Comparing to my Athena AS-F2’s ($600/pr), the C-9 is less bright and in-your-face. Treble is sweet, without being over-bearing. The midrange sound-staging is better, probably due to the smaller 6.5” driver, and a touch more neutrality. The AS-F2 has very good bass, but just doesn’t dig quite as deep, with as much ease as the C-9. The big difference was clear when pushing the speakers hard. The Athena’s would tend to unravel a bit at high volume, becoming a little unsorted. The C-9 just kept sounding better and better, the harder it was pushed—almost like it was saying to me “that all you got, punk?”


Again and again while listening to the C-9’s I kept thinking of how much their tonal character reminded me of my early 1980’s AR9Lsi speakers. I even mentioned it to my wife, twice. The entire time I was writing notes for this review, I was looking for the right word….then it finally hit me…“alluring.” The Energy Connoisseur C-9 is alluring. It drags you into the performance and makes you want to listen to every track, just to see how it’s going to interpret the next note.

They “scared” me a little at first. Initially they sounded pretty dark, but after listening for awhile I realized that it wasn’t that the Energy’s were dark, it was that the Athena’s were too bright.

The tonal balance is superb, and they love to be pushed hard. What really amazes me is the ability to energize the room with bass, even at whisper quiet levels. I couldn’t be happier.

This is not a good “showroom speaker.” It needs to be listened to for a longer period of time to be really appreciated. Because of its neutrality, it would probably lose out in A/B comparisons because people tend to pick what stands out the most.

The C-9 really needs some power to reach their potential. I would recommend 200 watts or more. My amp pushes about 215 per channel. They like to be cranked and because of their laid-back nature, most will push them a bit harder than a more forward biased speaker.

You’ve got to give them time to really appreciate the tonal balance and accuracy they bring to the table. Like I said earlier, the C-9 is not a good “demo room” speaker, their magic is sneaky and subtle. Much like the aforementioned AR9Lsi and the NHT 2.9.

Associated Equipment:

  • C.E.C. CD-3300 CD transport AES/EBU digtal output
  • Benchmark DAC1 DAC
  • Musical Fidelity A3CR Preamp
  • Parasound HCA-1500A Power amp
  • Kimber PBJ Interconnects
  • Signal Cable AES/EBU digital cable