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Infinity Cascade Model Five Loudspeaker Review

By: Frank Doris

The Infinity Cascade Series models are unique among loudspeakers--they have a completely distinctive, slim and narrow appearance, and they utilize exclusive Maximum Radiating Surface (MRS) flat-panel drivers that incorporate unconventional design attributes. The Cascade Model Five is the smallest model in the line (SRP: $699 each), and can be used as either a bookshelf or on-wall speaker.

Like all Infinity Cascade loudspeakers, the Model Five has a sleek, high-tech look, with a curved and tapered front panel available in a cherry wood or gloss-black finish. The front panel is accented by a silver driver mounting bezel and drivers, and the speaker (30-1/4 inches high by 7-3/4 inches wide by 8-1/2 inches deep when used with the stand, 22-1/2 inches by 5-1/2 inches by 5-1/2 inches when wall-mounted) comes with a removable silver stand that enables the Model Five to be used either freestanding or wall-mounted.

One thing to keep in mind about the Cascade Model Five--whether used as part of a stereo music system, or as the front or surround channels of a multichannel home theater surround sound installation, the speaker must be used with a subwoofer. This is not optional, as the Model Five's low frequency response starts to roll off below 92Hz (-6dB). The speaker mates sonically and visually with the Infinity Cascade Model Fifteen or Model Twelve subwoofer (SRP: $1,499 and $999 respectively), although it can be used with any subwoofer with a compatible crossover range.

The Cascade Model Five features one of Infinity's MRS 7-3/4-inch x 3-3/8-inch rectangular flat-panel drivers, along with a 1-inch tweeter. Both driver diaphragms are made using the company's Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragm material, an aluminum/ceramic sandwich composite material with light weight and high rigidity, for exceptional transient response and clarity. The Model Five has an 8 ohms nominal impedance, 85dB sensitivity and a recommended amplifier power range of 10 to 100 Watts. The speaker has two sets of screw-type binding posts that enable bi-wiring or bi-amping.

The MRS flat-panel drivers used in all Cascade models (except the subwoofers) feature a flat-panel diaphragm, along with long, narrow dual-elliptical voice coils and a Same Plane Surround design that places the diaphragm level with the surround (as opposed to a conventional cone driver with the surround located in front of the cone), a design that is said to provide a back-and-forth movement that more closely approximates the behavior of a perfect pistonic radiator, for superior time alignment of all the frequencies produced by the driver along with other sonic benefits.

Like the other loudspeakers in the Cascade Series, the combination of quick-response MRS driver and rigid, lightweight CMMD material yields a sonic signature that is quick, clean and agile. Transients like the initial pluck of an acoustic guitar string, the strike of a snare drum, triangle or other percussion instrument, or the sound of a harpsichord are exceptionally convincing. The overall impression is one of outstanding clarity and resolution, with virtually no sonic blurring or "smear."

Although the Model Five can deliver satisfying sonic results when wall-mounted, especially in a surround sound home theater configuration, I think it performs at its best in terms of spaciousness and imaging when moved out into the room. Like its bigger siblings, and maybe even more so considering its 92Hz low-frequency rolloff point, the Model Five needs to be carefully integrated with a subwoofer for a smooth, musically credible sonic blend between bass, midrange and treble, and to avoid a sucked-out midrange or unnaturally bloated midbass. The Model Five's almost ruthless resolution also means that it benefits from being paired with high-quality source components and electronics. Its modest driver complement also precludes the speaker from playing at really loud volumes, especially in larger rooms.

It's definitely not a "set it and forget it" speaker, but with proper care and attention to placement and associated equipment, the Infinity Cascade Model Five can be an exemplary performer, especially in a multichannel home theater system.

High Points
• The speaker's striking design is unique, and absolutely stunning.
• The Model Five's slim proportions and modest size make it easy to integrate into a home entertainment system and décor. It can also be wall-mounted.
• The Cascade Model Nine offers excellent sound quality, with superb clarity and resolution.

Low Points
• The speaker's limited frequency response mandates its use with a subwoofer.
• It's not going to play super-loud and it's not the most dynamic speaker around.
• Its unique appearance isn't going to appeal to everyone.

The Infinity Cascade Model Five, like all Cascade models, is a speaker that is unique in appearance and design, incorporating exclusive Infinity Maximum Radiating Surface (MRS) flat panel drivers that enable a slim form factor while delivering exceptional transient response, resolution and clarity. It's not an all-things-to-all people speaker--its limited low frequency response means that it must be used with a subwoofer, and if you want to play Metallica or Lamb of God at brain-rattling volumes, you should look elsewhere. Care must be taken in placement, and it deserves to be used with top-quality associated equipment. That said, the Cascade Model Five's combination of striking, sleek appearance, freestanding or wall-mountable installation flexibility and outstanding sound quality make it an appealing product, especially for people who insist upon elegantly designed home entertainment components that fit into their listening room and home décor.
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