The 501 XT’s are the entry level floor stander in the Celan range from German manufacturer, Heco. Wigwam regulars will be aware of this brand, as they have made regular appearances at shows and “bake offs” (events where members get together to compare hifi – and socialise). Over the years they have gained a strong reputation, so I was keen to get my hands on a pair for review.
Build and technical info
A 2.5way floor stander, with bass reflex, standing 1.3m tall in a high quality piano black finish, these are an imposing looking speaker. The build quality is extremely high, fit and finish is superb and they really inspire confidence out of the box. Even the bass ports are cast aluminum and bolted into the cabinet, nothing here moves, nothing gives, they feel “hewn” rather than “built”.
There is also an optional set of inputs on the back to give the treble a 2db lift. This is primarily for movie duty when used as part of a Home cinema set up, but actually became very useful with music.. more of which further on.
- RMS 180 Watt max: 300 Watt
- Impedance: 4 – 8 Ohm
- Frequency Range: 24 – 52,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 91 dB
I got the best results with them positioned across the narrow width of he room, sitting about 2m from them and with them just over 2m apart. They were perhaps 60cm from the rear wall and toe’d in a touch toward my listening position.
I first listened to these with a Valve amp from Ming Da, and this gave the best account of what they are capable of. The fast and lush mid range is what really stands out with these speakers. I have rarely enjoyed Kate Bush’s Ariel album as much as when listening through this combination. The bass is taught and solid, it never lets go, voices project nicely and cleanly into the room and the whole feeling is one of quality.
When exposed the the Chemical Brothers (under the influence), they displayed almost too much control in the bass, although these were brand new out of the box and perhaps after some more time running in the “kraft” cones, made from long fibre pulp and wool, would loosen up a tad more, to give a bit more depth here. Either way, they don’t lack control, and this pays dividends with the majority of listening I do.
I then put my Arcam FMJ amp back into action to see how the Heco’s fared with some fairly bland solid state amplification. I found they really exposed the flatness of the amp, what became clear is that the Heco’s “characteristics” thus far were just as likely to be attributed to the amp. They simply expose what’s behind them. I fouind that connecting the Arcam to the +2db connector on the Treble signal did the trick. They regained the sparkle that was lacking from the amp and I happily listened to them for a couple of weeks.
So on the negative side, perhaps a touch tight in the bass and that they sound a little flat with SS amplification. A Valve amp really does bring out the best in them. I’m not surprised Mr Pure Sound is the man behind bringing them into the country!
On the plus side, at about £1300.00 you are getting a heck of a lot of speaker for your money. What you might find though is that they are so transparent you start thinking about upgrading kit you’d previously been happy with. I strongly recommend and audtion!
Where to buy / listen
Heco speakers are brought in by Guy Sergeant of Pure Sound, contact him via his web site for more details.
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