Step-pinging up with classical
The classical playlist confirms the positive picture. Everything is right. Listening is a delight, it is total relaxation. From the rich sounds of Brautigam’s fortepiano, the capriciousness of Debussy’s violin sonata with a dangerously close-recorded violin, the empathic baritone Matthias Goerne in the text, to Nathalie Stutzmann’s enduring voice in the Alto Rhapsody, it’s all (listening) pleasure and harmony.
The insight into the music is unparalleled, but nowhere do you get the feeling that you are analyzing the sound with the Steps. Being in the music with your head and with your heart is a perfect ying and yang. Even more so than with pop music or rock music.
With large orchestral music, the overall picture gets a little smaller than what you can achieve with floorstanding speakers. However, the image remains intact. The positioning of instrument groups is correct, the depth of placement and especially the ambiance of the hall is audible. You do get the feeling of listening to speakers more than being in the concert hall, but every detail is audible. The timbre of the horns and brass and the depth in their sound is exemplary in the Mahler recording.
The violence of Prokofiev’s Third Symphony the Steps digest without a glance. Even in the most crowded passages, everything remains audible and nowhere do you get the feeling that the sound is congested. The bass is easily audible, but the sound pressure of the rolls on the timpani and the blistering beats on the cymbals is not palpable.
The limitation of the Step speakers in reproducing this complex music is in the experience. Because of their physical size, the Steps cannot deliver the sound pressure needed to transform the chords, played at full volume by the entire orchestra, into a physically breathtaking and thrilling experience.
The staggering precision in timing and rhythm from the speakers and the rich, deep and harmonious timbre of instruments makes listening to classical music a pleasure, provided the amplifier can deliver the timing and rhythm. What makes the Steps so good is that the transient information is perfectly proportional to the reproduction of rhythm in the music. The speed in reproduction of a keystroke in a piano note exactly matches the speed that is audible as a whole in the reproduction of the music. And that is exceptional in this price range.