What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 22 Feb 2006, 1:00pm

Ruark Acoustics Talisman III

Tested at £1500
100100
5

These aren’t the best all-rounders at this level, but they are hugely entertaining

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For

  • An exciting and entertaining performer
  • fluid midrange
  • fast and dynamic
  • good timing
  • excellent build quality

Against

  • Enthusiastic treble won’t please all
  • neither will the old-fashioned looks

Five-star products are typically well rounded, work well in many systems, and please most people most of the time – but not these. The Talisman IIIs are excellent, really musical and capable of casting a spell over many listeners, but unlike most products that gain the full star rating, they have a noticeable weakness – and it's in their treble performance.

Even when fully run-in and biwired – both of which help matters greatly – the Talisman IIIs can still be overly enthusiastic at high frequencies. The treble is bright and forward, but remains on the right side of acceptability for us – just. So make sure you give these speakers a good, long listen before you buy them, and always partner them with a CD player and amplifier that are at least tonally neutral and refined – or even better a touch on the smooth and rich side. Do that, and the Ruarks will shine as brightly as just about anything at this price level.

True entertainers
These are fast, dynamic floorstanders that aim to bring out every last percentage point of entertainment from a piece of music.

The likes of Mahler's Symphony No.10 will stir your soul with a combination of drama and finesse that only the ProAcs can match, while an open, explicit midrange makes the most of Kate Bush's intricate and densely packed Aerial. Stereo imaging – aided by positioning the speakers with a touch of toe-in – securely locks all a track's elements in place.

Add crisp timing and a decently weighty bass performance to the list of plus points, and you'll understand why we just had to give these likeable speakers the full star rating.

Build quality is deeply impressive  – as is usual with Ruark speakers – though some members of the test team just didn't get along with the Talisman IIIs' gold-coloured drive-unit bolts or their old-fashioned appearance. Take a look and decide for yourself.
What can't be denied is that these are fine speakers, albeit with a strong sonic flavour: consider us addicted.

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