Ferguson Hill FH009 home theatre system
Transparent horn speakers for your telly
Review If you’ve ever considered bolting a hulking great stereo system onto your TV, then make a beeline for Ferguson Hill. Its FH009 could be just thing you're looking for.
Clearly different: Ferguson Hill's FH009 home theatre system
Comprising a pair of the brand’s characteristic transparent acrylic (not glass, in case you were wondering) horn speakers and a large (56 x 17 x 37cm) integrated stereo amp incorporating two 13cm bass drivers, it’s a home theatre system with a difference: the difference being it’s resolutely two-channel with no aspiration to surround sound. But if that’s the marketing card Ferguson Hill want to play…
The main unit is astonishingly substantial. Finished in gloss white (black also available), it sports a back plate so heavy Iron Man might upgrade to it. This is not something you’d want to drop on your toes. Amplification is self-evidently is not lightweight either. Beneath the lid you’ll find more than 40lbs of copper, capacitors and neodymium magnets. Ferguson Hill modestly rates the power output at 64W to the stereo pair and the same again to the bass drivers.
A sub output channel is featured, but no speaker
Connectivity is straightforward. On the rear of the amp you’ll find two Aux stereo inputs, a stereo sub-woofer output and a pair of chunky binding posts. On the front panel is a USB input for MP3 playback plus a 3.5 mini-jack.
The system also ships with an off the shelf credit-card remote control. For such a high-end proposition, this low-rent zapper is a little disappointing. Sonically, I found the FH009 to be a mixed box of tricks. The speakers, which according to designer Tim Hill are a nod to the classic horn speakers of 1930s cinema, use drivers with open backs. The distinctive design helps create a warm, wonderful mid-range with a crisp treble.
The FH009 certainly has slam. I had to ease back the bass to prevent the system sounding overly leaden; the stereo horns need some air to breathe. That said, the woofers don’t reach down deep; there’s only life from 50Hz upwards.
Open back drivers
Using CD as the source, the system images well once the right balance between the bass output and the stereo pair is struck. Rock, pop and jazz, the soundstage is wide and lithe regardless. However, taking a stereo feed from TV and movie fare so obviously meant to be heard in multichannel proves less rewarding.
It’s all about choosing your targets wisely. A stereo mix of the Lady Gaga: The Monster Ball concert Blu-ray certainly gives the FH009 plenty to get its teeth into. The system does a fine job of re-creating crowd ambiance, while moving things along with a thumping mid-range and fleshy, realistic vocals. Action fest Sucker Punch is far less convincing.
Also available in black
Despite the obvious workmanship lavished on this system, some rough edges remain in evidence: from an omnipresent low level hum to a nasty old skool thwump when the system was turned on/off.
Overall, the FH009 is an extremely esoteric entertainment option, an expensive two-channel stereo system being positioned as an alternative to an upmarket soundbar. Ultimately, I suspect the proposition will prove divisive. Ferguson Hill has invented stereo Marmite. ®
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