Hsu Research CCB-8 Bookshelf Speaker Review

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Ever since Hsu Research announced their new coaxial CCB-8 bookshelf speakers, we had been anxious to get our hands on a pair to see what they could do. The CCB-8 is an audacious new design featuring an 8" woofer utilized as a waveguide for a center-mounted tweeter. Hsu sent us a set, and for the past couple months we've been giving them a workout on a variety of music and movie content, plus a full battery of testing in our labs. To put it mildly, we were impressed by Hsu's latest offering.

To see what they did exactly that left such a good impression, read our full review.

CCB8_duo42R.jpg


Read: Hsu Research CCB-8 Bookshelf Speaker Review
 
A

Alain Singapore

Audioholic Intern
I have been a fan of Tannoy speakers for years. I run a 5.2 setup based on Definition Signature DC6T, DC6LCR and DC6. The magical soundstage allowed by dual concentric speakers is something you cannot live without after you are hooked.

This HSU bookshelf speaker looks like a nice alternative at a much lower price point. The only 8" bookshelf speaker in Tannoy's range is the Definition DC8 which retails for something like $4000 for a pair. It would be really nice to do a side by side comparison.
 
K

Kdawg

Audiophyte
Hi Gene, thanks for the review. I've been in the market for a pair of bookshelf's to use in my new home theater, 13' X 18' (about 11' ceilings). I've been looking at the Goldenear AON 3's or SVS Ultra's. These HSU's also look like a decent alternative. Do you have any specific recommendations on which to go with? I'll plan for a third bookshelf for a matching center channel as well.

P.S. I've enjoyed your youtube channel for a while now, great info.

Thanks!
Kevin
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
"Verisimilitude"?! It's not often I learn a new word.

Showoff. :p

I've been waiting for this review. I've been curious how they measure up to the competetition. Great read.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
They need to make a surround friendly version.
Hsu's HB-1s have a similar spectral balance, so they would be a natural choice for surround speakers if you could not use CCB-8s as surrounds.
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
But damn them are some yeller drivers. I'd be tempted to take a red Sharpie and make bloodshot eyeballs of em.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
I've been looking at the Goldenear AON 3's or SVS Ultra's. These HSU's also look like a decent alternative. Do you have any specific recommendations on which to go with?
On the question of Hsu vs SVS:
(data from Audioholics reviews of these two speakers)

Hsu:
Build Quality-4
Appearance-3
Treble Extension-4
Treble Smoothness-3
Midrange Accuracy-3
Bass Extension-4
Bass Accuracy-5
Imaging-5
Dynamic Range-4
Fit and Finish-4

Performance

Value


SVS:
Build Quality-5
Appearance-5
Treble Extension-5
Treble Smoothness-5
Midrange Accuracy-4
Bass Extension-4
Bass Accuracy-4
Imaging-5
Soundstage-5
Dynamic Range-4

Performance

Value


http://www.audioholics.com/bookshelf-speaker-reviews/svs-ultra-bookshelf-speakers/sound-quality-tests-measurements
 
J

Javan

Audiophyte
Hsu's HB-1s have a similar spectral balance, so they would be a natural choice for surround speakers if you could not use CCB-8s as surrounds.
I have no idea what you're basing the assessment of their "similar spectral balance" on, much less what that even means, but they're a completely different speaker design, so that seems to be a bit of a stretch. Regardless, even if they "sound" exactly the same, its the inherent off-axis performance of a coaxial design is what would make them desirable as surrounds, particularly atmos speakers, which is not a characteristic the HB-1s possess, regardless of how similar their spectral balance. A solid coax bookshelf that can be used as a surround would be ideal for anyone wanting to use the same speaker for every channel. It's a shame that they don't have one, but I'm guessing that could come down the road.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
I have no idea what you're basing the assessment of their "similar spectral balance" on, much less what that even means, but they're a completely different speaker design, so that seems to be a bit of a stretch. Regardless, even if they "sound" exactly the same, its the inherent off-axis performance of a coaxial design is what would make them desirable as surrounds, particularly atmos speakers, which is not a characteristic the HB-1s possess, regardless of how similar their spectral balance. A solid coax bookshelf that can be used as a surround would be ideal for anyone wanting to use the same speaker for every channel. It's a shame that they don't have one, but I'm guessing that could come down the road.
Spectral balance basically means the frequency response, or how the response is weighted toward parts of the frequency spectrum. I have detailed measurements of both speakers, and I have a lot of experience listening with both speakers. They don't sound the same, but they do have similarities in timbre. The HB-1 speakers do not have quite as tightly controlled dispersion as the CCB-8s. For a surround speaker, it might be a better idea to have a wider dispersion speaker anyway, for greater coverage, unless you only have a small listening area. A smaller coax would have a wider dispersion, by the way, unless the crossover was lowered even more, but it is already very low, so to do that Hsu would have to use a more powerful (and thus more expensive) tweeter. The horn geometry might also have to be redesigned for a smaller woofer and lower crossover as well.
 
S

Schrodinger23

Audioholic Intern
Nice review of the Hsu speaker. It seems like an interesting speaker, especially at this price point, to get this level of performance and aesthetics.

On the question of Hsu vs SVS:
(data from Audioholics reviews of these two speakers)

Hsu:
Build Quality-4
Appearance-3
Treble Extension-4
Treble Smoothness-3
Midrange Accuracy-3
Bass Extension-4
Bass Accuracy-5
Imaging-5
Dynamic Range-4
Fit and Finish-4

Performance

Value


SVS:
Build Quality-5
Appearance-5
Treble Extension-5
Treble Smoothness-5
Midrange Accuracy-4
Bass Extension-4
Bass Accuracy-4
Imaging-5
Soundstage-5
Dynamic Range-4

Performance

Value


http://www.audioholics.com/bookshelf-speaker-reviews/svs-ultra-bookshelf-speakers/sound-quality-tests-measurements
There seems to be a problem with consistency because there is no universal formula for determining performance. Clearly performance should be determined from Treble Extension through Dynamic Range on the list. On the HSU if we just average those numbers we get 4, whereas the performance was rated as a 4.5. On the SVS if you average those same numbers you get 4.42 which is basically 4.5 (taking out soundstage that wasn't in common with both). If you leave in soundstage you get 4.5. So the SVS speaker was calculated with just a simple average of the performance attributes, whereas the Hsu speaker review was not.

I'm fine with not using a simple average of the performance attributes to arrive at the performance score, if Gene or others prefer to weight categories differently, but it would be nice if there was consistency across the website so that you can compare one speaker to the next. Otherwise the scores lose much of their meaning.

Now there is a difficulty comparing performance of a $500 to that of a $5000 speaker, because most reviewers are not likely to score treble extension on an absolute scale. Otherwise manufactures for $500 speakers are no longer likely to send their products for review, if they get 2/5 on this and many other performance attributes. Then Audioholics would gradually only being reviewing more and more expensive speakers as time goes one. I think that this is where value can help us figure things out. Here we are trying to determine how this speaker compares to others in their pricerange in performance and aesthetics, where again performance is relative to price. That is a really tough thing to judge, especially if the reviewer doesn't have a lot of reviews under their belts. So they can just try their best. Also the person reading the review needs to take some responsibility. They first will likely look at the score to see if they are interested in reading the review at all. If they are interested then they have to dig in to find the subtleties missed by just looking at the scores. Often in the conclusion reviewers will give some details of how the speaker being reviewed compares to others in the price range, which helps more in understanding how the value number was arrived at.

Also, I think soundstage is a good attribute that should come back in future reviews. It is something that is important and not accounted for in any of the other attributes.
 
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S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
Above the scores for every review, there is this note:
"Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings."

Also consider that the 'performance' and 'value' scores may include weighting of factors that are not in those metrics above them, ie. 'treble extension,' treble smoothness,' etc. In the case of the Hsu speakers, they have other attributes like flexibility, good dispersion control (especially for a center channel speaker), customer service from the manufacturer, among other things. Also, I might be a bit harsher and a bit more critical of some aspects than some other reviewers, and then more lenient in other areas.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Nice review of the Hsu speaker. It seems like an interesting speaker, especially at this price point, to get this level of performance and aesthetics.



There seems to be a problem with consistency because there is no universal formula for determining performance. Clearly performance should be determined from Treble Extension through Dynamic Range on the list. On the HSU if we just average those numbers we get 4, whereas the performance was rated as a 4.5. On the SVS if you average those same numbers you get 4.42 which is basically 4.5 (taking out soundstage that wasn't in common with both). If you leave in soundstage you get 4.5. So the SVS speaker was calculated with just a simple average of the performance attributes, whereas the Hsu speaker review was not.

I'm fine with not using a simple average of the performance attributes to arrive at the performance score, if Gene or others prefer to weight categories differently, but it would be nice if there was consistency across the website so that you can compare one speaker to the next. Otherwise the scores lose much of their meaning.

Now there is a difficulty comparing performance of a $500 to that of a $5000 speaker, because most reviewers are not likely to score treble extension on an absolute scale. Otherwise manufactures for $500 speakers are no longer likely to send their products for review, if they get 2/5 on this and many other performance attributes. Then Audioholics would gradually only being reviewing more and more expensive speakers as time goes one. I think that this is where value can help us figure things out. Here we are trying to determine how this speaker compares to others in their pricerange in performance and aesthetics, where again performance is relative to price. That is a really tough thing to judge, especially if the reviewer doesn't have a lot of reviews under their belts. So they can just try their best. Also the person reading the review needs to take some responsibility. They first will likely look at the score to see if they are interested in reading the review at all. If they are interested then they have to dig in to find the subtleties missed by just looking at the scores. Often in the conclusion reviewers will give some details of how the speaker being reviewed compares to others in the price range, which helps more in understanding how the value number was arrived at.

Also, I think soundstage is a good attribute that should come back in future reviews. It is something that is important and not accounted for in any of the other attributes.
Our scorecard is far from perfect and is an attempt of assigning a subjective opinion of the product based on the reviewers experience. It should NOT be taken as an absolute source or an accurate way to decide between 2 products we've reviewed. This is why its important to read the reviewers commentary and check their objective measurements.
 
0

01svtL

Audiophyte
I'm looking at coax setups for my living room. I am back and forth between 3 of these and the KEF R100/R200C setup. They will be wall-mounted using something like the AM40 Pinpoint Mounts with a shelf of some sort for the center, and I will be using an HSU ULS-15 MK2 as my sub. My mix of listening is probably 80/20 movies/TV to Music, but the music is still just as important to me. I listen to both classic rock and newer heavy metal.

I'm currently auditioning a pair of the new KEF Q150s in my living room, and think they sound great, but dialogue is a little lacking. I'm not sure if the slightly older R100s would be a step up or not. That said, I also am not using a center channel at the moment, so I'm sure getting a 3rd Q150 for a dedicated center, or even going to the Q350 to use as a center would definitely alleviate that issue, as minor as it is (dialogue isn't bad eve in 2.1, it's just that my giant Klipsch RC-7 in my prior 3.1 setup was about as clear as it gets).
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
I would guess that the Hsu speakers have an advantage in dynamic range, but the only problem is, they are too large for the pinpoint mounts, at least for those mount's side-clamping system. You can also screw the speakers into some holes in the mount for a more secure hold, but that necessitates drilling into the speakers. These are the mounts I would be looking at for the Hsu speakers. I have not used those personally, but they do look solid. Avoid Monoprice's mounts, but Monoprice's other products are good.

By the way, here are some mounts which are basically the same as the AM40 Pinpoints but a bit cheaper, and also have slots for a strap in case you want a tighter hold but without drilling into the speaker. You might as well use those if you go with the KEFs.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
"Verisimilitude"?! It's not often I learn a new word.

Showoff. :p
By coincidence, I learned that word in the Audio magazine review of the Duntech Sovereign speaker, written by Bert Whyte.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
For those who feel that the yellow cone of the CCB-8 gives it a loud appearance, Hsu informs me that they are releasing a version with a black cone, and that should be available sometime in the next few days. Personally, I like the yellow, but hopefully a black cone will gain these speaker wider appeal. It's too good of a speaker to get passed over due to the cone color.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
For those who feel that the yellow cone of the CCB-8 gives it a loud appearance, Hsu informs me that they are releasing a version with a black cone, and that should be available sometime in the next few days. Personally, I like the yellow, but hopefully a black cone will gain these speaker wider appeal. It's too good of a speaker to get passed over due to the cone color.
Good to know hey Shady are these good options to be used as a surround speaker I'm going to be looking at options to options to upgrade my surrounds in the next couple months and am narrowing the field
 
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