The question of the right loudspeaker system is often asked, but the answer varies completely from developer to developer. Fishhead Audio also has its own view of things, and that’s a good thing, as the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS shows.
The Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS is a loudspeaker system that deliberately focuses on the mid- and high-frequency range, but by no means leaves out the superior bass reproduction. It is therefore a solution that specifically places the highest value on that area that is most essential for natural reproduction.
Our test will show whether this is only a meaningful promise by the manufacturer or whether it proves to be true in practice. However, since we already had the pleasure of examining the Fishhead Audio Resolution 2.6 FS, we can already say that Fishhead Audio keeps its promises…
A colourful world
A really exciting aspect of hi-fi as a whole is that the saying applies that there is nothing that does not exist. Admittedly, this is a little exaggerated, but in fact the world of hi-fi presents itself as extremely versatile, developers in the most diverse areas pursue the most diverse concepts, some of which even contradict each other, but nevertheless everything somehow leads to the goal.
This phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the field of loudspeaker systems, one of the most “colourful” areas of hi-fi. Not only are there countless manufacturers enriching the market with their solutions, their approach to the development and design of their products could not be more diverse.
What is the right loudspeaker?
Of course, this immense choice begs the question of what is the right loudspeaker, but there is no clear answer.
As always, in a world where nothing is perfect, there is no such thing as the perfect loudspeaker. Every loudspeaker, indeed every concept on which a loudspeaker system is based, has its strengths, but also its weaknesses. From the designer’s point of view, it’s only a question of which priorities to set, which factors seem particularly important to him, and which compromises he is prepared to make.
The question of the right loudspeaker system is as subjective and individual as listening and thus good sound is. There is no such thing as the right loudspeaker, only the one that best suits one’s needs. And so far we are only talking about technical features, the perfect design is a completely different question…
Fishhead Audio from Berlin
We are used to the fact that manufacturers only know one answer to the question of the right loudspeaker system, and that is their own products. However, there are manufacturers who deal with this topic very openly and honestly, and one of them is the young developer Fishhead Audio from Berlin.
In fact, Fishhead Audio is a very small developer forge, because the man behind it is Christoph Winklmeier, a man who has had quite an exciting career.
Born in northern Germany, he has been a Berliner by choice for many years and worked in the development department of one of the largest direct mail order companies in the field of loudspeaker systems. The most conspicuous result of his development work is, as he himself states, more than 60 home THX licences that he has realised for the Berlin company in the course of more than two decades.
So, it can be clearly stated that the man has plenty of experience in the development of loudspeaker systems, especially with regard to what customers really want, because in the end, it’s all about nothing else for a big player in the industry.
In 2016, Christoph Winklmeier decided to venture into self-employment and realise his individual ideas of a loudspeaker system with Fishhead Audio. A step that deserves respect because, as mentioned above, the loudspeaker market is immensely broad, with countless companies, from small developers to the big players in the industry, and the air is actually quite thin, especially for newcomers in this segment.
But Christoph Winklmeier has his very own approach, and that’s exactly what’s refreshing, because on his website you can read first and foremost that he develops loudspeaker systems that are distinguished from the systems of other manufacturers by their distinct strengths. What’s more, he gets right to the point and states that there is no such thing as the perfect loudspeaker.
“A loudspeaker that is supposed to be able to do everything is the biggest compromise to acoustic possibilities and therefore also the biggest compromise to the original reason of hi-fi fun and music listening. A loudspeaker that meets personal preferences will always come closest to this goal.”
Christoph Winklmeier, founder and developer at Fishhead Audio GmbH
Fishhead Audio Resolution 2.6 FS and Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS – One floorstanding, one bookshelf speaker system
The product range of Fishhead Audio is, well, manageable, if you want to put it that way, because it currently comprises exactly two products, a floorstanding speaker system and a bookshelf speaker system.
Instead of getting bogged down in the conception of too many solutions, the developer is clearly concentrating on two essential products that cover a wide range of customers, at least in terms of form factor.
We have already tested the Fishhead Audio Resolution 2.6 FS floorstanding loudspeaker system in detail, in which it proved to be a remarkable solution and was thus given a clear recommendation.
So it remains to test the little sister of the Fishhead Audio Resolution 2.6 FS, this time the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS.
The declared goal: A natural sounding loudspeaker
Christoph Winklmeier’s main goal with the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS was to create a compact, natural-sounding loudspeaker, which, in his opinion, is first and foremost a question of the resolution a loudspeaker system is able to reproduce.
No wonder, then, that he used this as the basis for naming his products. Resolution is what distinguishes Fishhead Audio’s solutions in particular, so the speakers already bear their greatest strength in their name.
Precise reproduction with perfect timing
According to Christoph Winklmeier, the linchpin of a natural performance is one factor in particular: said precision. But this does not only refer to the frequency that has to be reproduced, optimal timing is also required. And these two factors do not necessarily go hand in hand, rather it requires a lot of skill on the part of the developer to bring them into harmony in the truest sense of the word.
Not only must the speakers ensure the most dynamic, accurate reproduction possible over a wide frequency range, it must also be ensured that the signals from the drivers used for this purpose reach the listener at the same time.
For an optimal tuning, several points are relevant: the selection of the right drivers, their optimal tuning to each other and, of course, an enclosure that offers them the best basis to be able to exploit their full potential in the best possible way.
Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS – The compact one
Let’s start with the last feature, the cabinet, and with it the question how the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS presents itself to the user.
Fishhead Audio themselves call the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS a compact alternative to their own floorstanding speaker system Fishhead Audio Resolution 2.6 FS, which is designed to achieve a particularly fine, detailed music reproduction that reproduces all transmission ranges of a piece of music as true to life as possible.
To achieve this, the developer relies on a very solidly designed cabinet made of MDF, which is braced several times on the inside. The weight of 10.3 kg with dimensions of only 220 mm in width, 420 mm in height, and 300 mm in depth, whereby one must actually speak of 340 mm, if one includes the speaker grill at the front and the pole terminals at the rear, underlines the fact that one did not leave it at empty promises in this respect.
With these dimensions, the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS is certainly not the smallest of its kind, but it is still compact enough to fit into almost any living space. This is also true if you think about the optimal placement of the speakers. But more on that in the practical part of this report.
Timelessly elegant design
Especially as a small manufacturer, it is not easy to follow the constantly changing fashion trends, which have long since included the area of loudspeaker systems. A wide range of design variants is not really possible if you want to offer your solutions at the most attractive prices, as Fishhead Audio clearly does with the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS.
So what do you do? Well, Fishhead Audio has found the only correct answer: they have decided on a design that is as timeless and elegant as possible, which on the one hand addresses a wide range of customers and on the other hand will be perceived as modern and appealing for a long time.
In the case of the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS, this means that a white, matt finish was chosen for the side panels, the base and the lid, whereas the baffle and the rear were finished in black, also with a silk matt surface.
The speaker grille is also finished in black and is held in place by magnets. This ensures that there are no unsightly holes on the baffle to spoil the fine appearance, even if the cover is not used on the front.
A question of the right choice…
The Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS is designed as a three-way bass reflex system, and this is, it can be clearly stated, a special feature in its class. So-called bookshelf loudspeaker systems in the price range below the magic limit of € 1,000 per pair – and this is the range we are dealing with here – are usually designed as two-way systems.
However, in order to achieve the solution Christoph Winklmeier was aiming for with the best possible fine dynamics and detail resolution as well as the best possible horizontal and vertical dispersion behaviour, the designer had to rely on a special combination, especially in the mid and high frequency range.
Looking at the baffle, the tweeter stands out as a special feature, as it is a so-called Air Motion Transformer with 26 x 33 mm. This type of driver is characterised by the fact that a large diaphragm area can be realised in a very small space and, in combination with a powerful drive – here realised in the form of a neodymium magnet system – a very detailed, dynamic reproduction is achieved with simultaneous homogeneous radiation into the room.
The midrange driver is located directly below, using a 63 mm diameter chassis with a carbon fibre cone. Here, too, the developer relies on a particularly powerful drive based on a neodymium magnet system, and the chassis is based on a die-cast aluminium basket.
The bass driver of the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS is designed in the same way, but with a 129 mm diameter diaphragm.
While the tweeter and midrange driver form a unit in the baffle via a metal plate, the woofer is set off flush into the baffle. However, all drivers are ultimately mounted quite close to each other in order to prevent differences in running time and thus ultimately colouration of the sound.
The port of the bass reflex system is located at the back of the speaker, in the upper third.
Below this is the connection panel of the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS, whereby it was decided not to use bi-wiring or bi-amping, as the developer explicitly states. Especially in this class – this refers to the size as well as the price – this is not really decisive anyway, much more the question whether the connections are stable and reliable. And that’s exactly what the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS offers in the form of screw terminals that provide a secure hold for bare cables as well as assembled cables with bananas.
Looking at the data sheet, the manufacturer specifies an impedance of 4 ohms and a sensitivity of 86 dB for the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS. The loudspeaker system is designed for a continuous load of 90 watts and peaks of up to 120 watts, whereby amplifiers with an output of 25 watts or more are recommended.
The crossover of the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS intervenes at 350 Hz and 3.8 kHz, respectively, and the frequency response is given as 55 Hz to 21 kHz (-3 dB) and 45 Hz to 30 kHz (-6 dB).
But paper is patient, as the old saying goes, and in fact it is much more relevant how even seemingly impeccable technical features can actually prove themselves in practice.
A question of the right placement…
Many users decide in favour of a so-called bookshelf loudspeaker system because they take this designation all too literally and think that they do not have enough space for a conventional floor-standing loudspeaker system.
In fact, it seems that a bookshelf speaker system should be as carefully considered for optimal placement as a floorstanding speaker system, and that actually placing it on a bookshelf is not the best decision.
This is especially true for solutions that are designed as bass reflex systems, such as the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS. But even apart from that, loudspeaker systems always need some room to move, i.e. sufficient space for optimal development.
In principle, the optimal placement of a bookshelf loudspeaker system would be on suitable stands, but in the end they need just as much space in the room as a floorstanding loudspeaker system.
Just how important the question of the correct set-up really is is shown by the fact that Fishhead Audio dedicates a separate, very extensive section to this on their website, which we would like to explicitly recommend reading here.
As a rough guide, however, it can be said that the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS probably feels most at home on a sideboard and that this is likely to be exactly the right place for many users, also with regard to seamless integration into the living space. What should be considered, however, is the optimal decoupling from the subfloor, and in this regard it would be quite appropriate to invest in appropriate accessories. The market offers various solutions, including very attractively priced versions.
In any case, a symmetrical set-up is crucial, i.e. the distances between the left and right speakers and the listener should be largely identical, the classic stereo triangle. In addition, the developer quite rightly points out that the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS can be placed comparatively close to the wall, despite the bass reflex system working towards the rear. It is even possible to make the reproduction a bit bassier by moving the speakers a bit closer to the wall. In addition, the distance to the wall should be identical for both speakers to guarantee equal conditions. It would not be ideal to place one speaker in a corner and the other almost free-standing.
Ultimately, however, there is only one thing that helps here, and that is a little experimentation. Some people will be surprised how dramatically the sound changes.
And that brings us directly to our practical experiences in the detailed test of the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS.
Before we go into more detail about this, let us first briefly mention the price range in which we are moving here. The pair costs no more than € 899, so we are still quite a way away from the aforementioned magic number of € 1,000, which is often cited as the upper limit of the so-called entry-level class in the broadest sense.
The point is that the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS does not give the impression of being in the entry-level class.
This already starts when unpacking and setting up the loudspeaker system, because the approximately 10 kg mass seems clearly “heavier” than the compact dimensions actually suggest. Solidly constructed, this can only be emphasised once again, and likewise one must point out the impeccable workmanship that the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS exhibits.
“They look really nice…” was what friends said when they visited us during the test and gently stroked the speakers…
It should also be said that the loudspeaker systems fit very, very well into the living environment, no matter in which direction one tends in terms of style.
For our test, we relied on a solution that, due to its compact form and elegant appearance, fits very well as a partner, namely a Cyrus ONE HD Integrated Amplifier, which can conjure up two times 100 watts by means of Hybrid Class D, and presents itself as an extremely fine stereo integrated amplifier. The price is also in a league that fits together well.
…and yet a surprise
Based on our test of the big sister Fishhead Audio Resolution 2.6 FS, we were “forewarned” that there are loudspeaker systems coming from Berlin that are clearly above their class. For whatever reason, fine sound is not as surprising in a floorstanding speaker system as it is in a compact bookshelf speaker system, where it is obviously all too easy to be misled by the dimensions.
So we were even more surprised when the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS actually gave us the same characteristic from the very first note as its big sister did.
Once again, the ability of the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS to reproduce voices in a detailed and full way, with body and nuances, is impressive. This comes across as extremely natural and coherent, with the singers accurately placed in the room and the ensemble clearly structured and arranged. The “little one” from Fishhead Audio is also capable of a credible reproduction of the sound stage.
Of course, this task is not too difficult for the loudspeaker system in typical audiophile recordings, Ane Brun, Diana Krall or Stacey Kent are examples as well as Allan Taylor or Hans Theessink as male counterparts.
Things get much more difficult when voices like Leonard Cohen’s need to shine in the best light, because they need the right nuances in the middle, lower and lowest frequency range. And when Tom Waits sounds as if he were lounging at his piano right in the room and singing his ballads, then the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS really does a lot right.
By the way, it is worthwhile to treat the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS to fine electronics, because it really knows how to use them. A few more watts won’t hurt either, not to play “loud”, but on the contrary to provide a full, rich sound even at comparatively low levels.
We were already amazed with the Fishhead Audio 2.6 FS that a small company like Fishhead Audio can offer such a “grown-up” speaker system at such a reasonable price.
The same goes for the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS, which we have now tested, because here, too, we have to say that it plays far above the price that is being asked for it.
We can only explain this by saying that Christoph Winklmeier benefits from his decades of experience in the development department of one of the largest direct mail order companies in the field of loudspeaker systems and therefore knows exactly how to design loudspeaker systems in such a way that they can be realised at attractive prices without having to accept decisive compromises in terms of sound and workmanship.
Whether to go for the floor-standing or the compact bookshelf speaker system is a question that only you can decide for yourself. It’s clear that the “little one” has a lot in common with its big sister, and the subtlety of the natural sound can be found to the same extent in both. Of course, the Fishhead Audio Resolution 2.6 FS, due to its larger volume and additional bass chassis, can perform much more confidently in the low frequency range, but for smaller rooms, for example, the Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS will not lack anything in this respect, we are sure.
Getting to the point
The Fishhead Audio Resolution 1.6 BS is a compact loudspeaker system with a very appealing design, but above all it does one thing brilliantly: Listening to music becomes a pleasure! Even if, due to the design, it cannot deliver quite the same sovereignty in the bass range as its big sister, the Fishhead Audio Resolution 2.6 FS, in smaller rooms it comes into its own and convinces with features such as clearly defined, crisp bass, nuanced mids and clear, detailed highs. As with the Fishhead Audio 2.6 FS, the same applies to the Fishhead Audio 1.6 FS: you will hardly find “more” speakers in this class at such a reasonable price.
Like the Fishhead Audio 2.6 FS in the class of floorstanding speaker systems, the Fishhead Audio 1.6 BS in the class of bookshelf speaker systems feels committed to audiophile virtues and can boast a natural, detailed performance that is quite remarkable in view of the extremely attractive price.
- Elegant, compact appearance
- Very flexible in terms of placement
- Fits in any living environment
- Fine sound even at low volumes
- very balanced, natural reproduction
- homogeneous dispersion for a wide sweet spot
- very attractive price
- Only one design variant available
- Cyrus ONE HD Integrated Amplifier
- Bluesound NODE 2i
- NUCLEUS+ by Roon
- TIDAL HiFi