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The Canton CT-120s are the best speakers I’ve ever heard and I’m kinda sad about it (completely subjective)

Lattiboy

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The title of the post is the conclusion of the review, so if you’re not looking to read a mid-pandemic speaker fanatic wax philosophical about “audiophilia” and maybe realize the pursuit of audio perfection is futile, you can stop here. However, if you too spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about and listening to HiFi, maybe hang in there.

I don’t usually write reviews this quickly. When you first hook up speakers emotions can be high and you can come to dramatic conclusions based on consumerism fueled mania. If you’re expecting something great and it doesn’t live up to your expectations you will describe them as “disappointing” or “dull” or, worst of all, “anemic”. If you aren’t expecting much and they perform well you will say they are “hidden gems” that “fly under the radar” and “punch above their weight”. These are the unwritten rules of all audio discussion. I didn’t make them, I’m just one guy.

I picked these speakers up about 24 hours ago and have listened to them for almost 12 hours. Practically all of my waking time has been spent sitting in my garage-turned-theater, ignoring my wife and friends and responsibilities and dogs (it has been too loud in the garage to ethically allow the dogs in since these were setup)

I suppose if you’re looking for an indication of how strongly I feel about these being the best speakers I’ve ever heard, I took the day off work to listen to these speakers. Literally logged into my ADP app and spent 8 hours of my precious vacation hours. Hours which are normally used for fun vacations and family visits and long weekends and weddings. But we live in absolute dogshit hell, so I don’t get those things anymore and instead burned them to listen to songs I have heard hundreds or thousands of times at very loud volumes. 2020 man, ect, ect, ect

I got these through Facebook Marketplace, which is the best place to get audio equipment as everybody has a Facebook account and rich people are wasteful and impatient. Long story short, somebody had paid to move these 49” tall, 110lb a piece speakers from Chicago to Washington State and then (4 weeks later) decided to have an online garage sale.

The seller had experienced a single, average day in my life and was close to throwing the Cantons in the ocean. 2 no shows, 4 low-ballers, and a slew of “assistants waiting to send a cashiers check upon shipment”. This parade of dipshits allowed me to talk her down about 40% from her asking price because I showed up on time and was pleasant. She also gave me a rug and offered other random things in her garage she was clearly going to throw out. It was a weird trip.

My setup:
1) Denon AVR-X3600H 2) Denon POA 2200 power amp (200W @ 8ohms) 3) XengSheng DAC-01 with Burson V6 Vivid opamps 4) Both a Chromecast Audio and HEOS playing Tidal HiFi and FLAC files streamed off of a Plex server

The room:

A 25’x24’ converted garage with 9’ ceilings. Fully carpeted with theater seats, a 120” projector screen, a bean bag, gym equipment, and wall art. The room eats sound.


I have them about a 12” off the wall. I will now wait for the people that think anything less than 3 feet is a sacrilege….. ok. You’re all here? Great, you’re all weird and wrong and I really want to figure out who started this nonsense and slap them about the head and shoulders. If you want the “floating soundstage” thing go get open baffle speakers and leave the rest of us alone!

After getting home and likely injuring my back and knee unloading these bastard Cantons into my setup, I zeroed out all the Denon DSP and ran it in “pure direct” mode from the DAC. I rarely do this and there’s a reason. The combo of digital sources, barebones DAC, modern AVR in pass through mode, and pro power amp is not the most inviting sound. I’m pretty sure it’s dead-ass accurate which is one of the many things that keeps me from being an “objectivist” audio guy. We ain’t computers and getting bit perfect uncolored sound is only pleasing to spectrographs and perverts.

Even under these worst of circumstances I was very impressed. The highs were too high and the bass didn’t come in like you’d hope until you got to amp-melting SPLs, but the detail and imaging and soundstage were absolutely perfect.

I decided to go ape and listened to Symphony No. 7 conducted by Leonard Bernstein at dangerous levels. I had that weird feeling of “you are destroying your hearing” directly followed by my brain screaming “worth it!”. The final crescendo was a religious experience. I immediately wanted to execute my years-in-planning bloody coup against the government. Pretty good song.

I needed that sweet, sweet DSP.

DSP is kind of contentious. You’ve got your analog purists who think it’s the devil and you’ve got your nerds who think it is the second coming. I fall more towards the nerds here.

Modern DSP when implemented correctly is as close to magic as you’ll get. Before I went to Audyssey XT32 I would spend endless time moving subs and switching crossovers and adjusting EQ. Now I spend about 10 minutes with a dumb little microphone walking in and out do the garage with my phone. When I’m done the bass is as good as the equipment hooked up can produce.

I only correct below 300Hz. The Audyssey app allows you to limit correction. When you get above 300Hz it starts screwing up the sound IMO

I usually supplement my speakers with dual 12” 300W Infinity SUB R12s. Harman blew them out for $150 a while back and I think they’re great. I’ve owned 100lb, 1900W, sealed subs and no doubt they’re superior, but when simply accompanying a component speaker they are absolute overkill and kind of insist on themselves. I want some extra ooomph in the 20-60Hz range, not shake the foundations of my house loose. Anyway, I disconnected the subs and am running the Cantons as full range.



So, finally, I am ready. I’m pretty excited about these things so I take my time scrolling through the ol’ playlist to find just the right track to kick things off. I went with “Motion Picture Soundtrack” by Radiohead. Kid A was the first album that I really absorbed. For a host of personal reasons it is the soundtrack of my late teens and early 20s and is forever burned into my memory. I would conservatively say I’ve heard this song 1000 times.

This track is a MOOD. It’s the sound of a man alone in a room dealing with mortality. Celebrating life but accepting it’s all fleeting. Hopefully we get another shot at things because we inevitably fuck up huge swaths of our lives and waste even more. But sometimes cheap thrills aren’t cheap and some people need them.

The recording is very atmospheric, almost rough in the beginning.. On a good system you hear the creaking of the bench and the organ pedals, the singer breathing, ect. As the song comes to an apocalyptic end, a theramin-ish sound swirls around the background, eventually enveloping everything while Thom Yorke holds an impossibly high note. I think that ending may be my single favorite bit of music, period.

If you’d like to just RUIN your day, watch this video of it being performed at a memorial service. It’s beautiful and devastating
These speakers gave it a depth and feel I’ve simply never heard. It’s cliché to say equipment can make you cry, it can’t. BUT, it can reproduce things that do make you cry in a way that can make you cry more. I call this the Transverse Property of Speaker Tears and will be publishing a paper on it later this month. The Cantons had me transported to September 2000, laying in my dorm room bed with my headphones on wondering what the fuck I’d gotten myself into.

After that heavy shit I wanted something happy and fluffy. And goddamnit Carly Rae Jepsen delivers every time. Her 2nd album EMOTION has my vote for best pop album of the decade. It’s wall-to-wall bangers. All of them extremely well recorded. The opening track “Come Away With Me” sounds how I wish most 80s songs actually did. The opening synths are huge and the Cantons really make ya feel that. The bass goes from tight and quick in the verses to big drawn out BWAAAAAHS in the chorus, and for the first time I felt no need for a sub to feel it.

The final track I’ll talk about is “Peaches” by Delicate Steve. Until a few months ago I’d never heard this song or this artist. I think it’s probably my favorite rock instrumental track in at least 10 years. It’s also a real speaker torture test. Huge, slow bass chords, an awesome, almost stuttering drum pattern, pianos, multiple guitars including a lead using both wah pedal and phaser. It’s just a cool fucking song. It sounds like somebody breaking up and moving out of the city, but they’re not sad about it.

The Cantons again just captured everything perfectly. It’s pointless to go into details here because if you just imagine exactly how these instruments sound they sounded like that. Perfectly balanced, leaving nothing to desire.
So yeah, I could write ten more pages about individual songs (Beck’s “Ramshackle” has a bunch of snapping fingers which I somehow hadn’t noticed in the 20+ years of listening to it!), but I’ll just say I’m done. There isn’t a scenario short of being homeless where I will sell these. Even then, I could conceivably disassemble them and build a tiny house out of the mahogany veneer.

It’s almost sad honestly. I’ve been on this absurd audio grind for over a decade and have dozens of spreadsheets with sales information and rankings and blah blah blah. It’s really my only hobby and I am honestly trying to figure out what to do to fill my free time now. I’m sure there is some seventeen syllable German word for this feeling and somebody will message me with it a few hours after I post this.

I’d tell you to “keep an eye out for these”, but I might as well tell you to keep an eye out for a double-horned unicorn.


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andreasmaaan

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Welcome to Audio Nirvana :cool:

Are you in a position to take some quasi-anechoic measurements?
 

hex168

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I think the dome mid and tweeter may be LPG and if so, very good. Related to Eton, if I recall correctly.
 
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Lattiboy

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Thanks. Would appreciate the more detailed measurements. How are these ones taken? (I assume the raw response(s) are on the left?)

Correct, the left green line is what the crappy little mic included with the receiver hears. It’s actually not too bad for what it is. A lot of people edit the curve with REW readings to create a feedback loop. There’s a huge thread on this over on Audioholics:

https://forums.audioholics.com/foru...-app-users-thread-with-facts-and-tips.118005/
 

andreasmaaan

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Correct, the left green line is what the crappy little mic included with the receiver hears. It’s actually not too bad for what it is. A lot of people edit the curve with REW readings to create a feedback loop. There’s a huge thread on this over on Audioholics:

https://forums.audioholics.com/foru...-app-users-thread-with-facts-and-tips.118005/

Ok, thanks. Actually, what I meant was, how did you take the measurement? Just holding the mic at a single position and playing a sweep? Or noise? Or taking a number of measurements and averaging them? Etc etc...?
 
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Lattiboy

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Ok, thanks. Actually, what I meant was, how did you take the measurement? Just holding the mic at a single position and playing a sweep? Or noise? Or taking a number of measurements and averaging them? Etc etc...?

It’s 8 positions, all within 2ft of a center listening position. I use a tripod. It plays a sweep at each position from all 3 of my speakers (this is a theater setup so there’s a center channel too). This is a sum of the left speaker. The right is similar. When you export you have access to each reading and you can edit the curve on a pc using a program called ratbuddy. It’s very slick and in a lot of ways the most customizable DSP I know of. Also has multi sub support which I think Dirac lacks, but don’t quote me
 
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Lattiboy

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Is that a 4 way design?

Yes, 4-way with a small rear port. The port is really weird as it’s quite small, near the top of the speaker, and hardly moves any air. It’s the weirdest part about these things honestly.

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MZKM

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Maybe next week I’ll pull out the UMC mic and do REW, but here’s the Audyssey results.

View attachment 86499
Good job turning off MRC.
I would also suggest going back and boosting the bass, flat in-room does not sound neutral. Look at Amir’s post on Audysssy for a target curve and go from there.

Odd dip ~6kHz.
Also odd that it didn’t correct the peak ~600Hz.
And maybes it’s the microphone, but the dip >10kHz seems odd for a 4-way design.

EDIT: Didn't see that you limited it to 300Hz. I would try with a good target curve (like I suggest above, and again with MRC off) and see how that compares.
 
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Lattiboy

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I suspect it's a high XO frequency between the upper midrange dome and the tweeter. I'm guessing XOs are at around 200, 1000, and 5000 Hz.

Damn, you’re close!

Technical Data

  • Type: 4-Way Bassreflex, Floor standing
  • Chassis:
    • Woofer: 310 mm
    • Midwoofer: 200 mm
    • Midrange: 37 mm Alu-Magnesuim-Dome
    • Tweeter: 25 mm Alu-Magnesium-Dome
  • Loading (RMS-/Peak.): 200 / 350 Watt
  • Sensitivity: 95,2 dB
  • Frequency range: 18 - 30.000 Hz
  • Crossover points: 250/1100/4600 Hz
  • Impedance: 4 Ohm
 

bunkbail

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Vintage German speakers are the best! I bought a pair of the old MB Quart Two XL floorstanders for $65 some time ago, it has better bass extension and quantity (not surprising vs bookshelves) and far better detail retrieval than my GR Research X-LS Encores.
 
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Lattiboy

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So what other speakers have you owned?

Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 5s, Klispch Belles, JBL L112s, Altec 604Bs, and Infinity Renaissance 80s are probably the most expensive. Hundreds of others over the years.

I probably should have put that in the review as I could totally see somebody else writing a similar review of almost any of the speakers I listed. These Cantons are special even relative to that list.

Crazy thing is they’re 35 years old and still sound this good with no maintenance I’m aware of.
 
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CDMC

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A good speaker is a good speaker, even if made in 1985. Canton has always made good products, I am not surprised you like them.
 
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Lattiboy

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I wonder if this contributes to your enjoyment, assuming it is accurate. I believe that you mentioned several times how loud you were listening.

I don’t think so. I’ve had very sensitive speakers before, including many Klipsch and the Triangle Borea. I also have multiple 2-300wpc amps, so volume has never been a concern for me. I would crank my NHT Classic Fours to absurd levels with NAD bridged mono amps.
 

Dion_Sinewave

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Hey Lattiboy, I had Canton Ergo 92DC as my main speakers for about 16 years! (A 3 way version with what looks like the same magnesium tweeter as yours)

I tried to replace them for so long but absolutely loved their powerful and clear sound (I listen loud too) so much I really had to step up a size/cost class to get better performance.

Congratulations on your purchase! I hope they give you as many happy years as mine did. I still have them as my surround speakers now.
 
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