Review: Usher BE-10 Speaker

Category: Speakers

My first impression of the BE-10 is that they look unbelievable. Obviously they took some styling cues from the Sonus Faber Amanti line with the slighly backward sloping front baffle and horizontal bands of wood that make up the cabinet. The front baffle is also made of a black piano finish, very shiny and durable. Overall these speakers must rank in my book as one of the nicest looking speakers around. To me they are more attractive than the 802d mainly because they look more traditional and opulent.

Lets first start by comparing the tweeters. The BE-10 tweeters sounded more crisp and "alive". Every guitar pluck of the flamenco muscians were so well defined and amazingly sharp without sounding harsh. The d tweeters to me are more smooth but they lack the quickness of the beryllium tweeters. On more fast paced flamenco tracks, the beryllium tweeters seemed to also respond very quickly, keeping pace without any problems. On guitar passages the beryllium sounded more lifelike to me. Being a guitar player myself, I could see and sense each string pluck. Amazing! The ability of the beryllium tweeter to sound fast and crisp could be due the fact that it is a lighter material than diamond, allowing it to have a faster response time.

Next the mids. Here is where I prefer the 802d fst driver. Though the BE-10 mids sounded very clear and transparent, to me they also sounded sterile and clinical. The fst driver sounded more natural to me. It recreates the human voice in a way that to me more lifelike while not losing any emotion or timbre. Maybe the fst driver colors the sound but I prefer the slightly warm presentation of the B&W. To some people, the absolute transparency of the BE-10 may be hard to pass up. I found them to be a bit fatiguing.

Now for the bass. The BE-10 is driven by a single 11" bass driver. We listened to a variety of tracks with slow extended bass notes and quick snapping bass notes. In this area, the BE-10 sounded better than the 802d. The Be-10 bass was tight, crisp, controlled without sounding boomy. The 802d has the tendency to sound a bit boomy to me. But this could be due to the room treatments.

Finally, overall presentation. The BE-10 casts a very deep soundstage. The sound is actually quite recessed behind the front plane of the speakers. This helps create great dimensionality to the sound but it also has a negative affect. The vocals sounded like the singer was standing further back on the stage than some of the instruments which is not normally how a band sets up. Though the great depth of the soundstage was very easy to fall in love with, at the end of the day I thought it did not sound normal. In this sense, I prefer the slightly forward presentation of the 802d. Vocals are forward while other instruments are furhter back on the stage. The 802d does lack the absolute deep soundstage of the BE-10.

So what is the verdict? Well as with everything in this whacky audiophile world, it is really up to preference. My Dad really likes the BE-10. I think he likes the crispness of the tweeter and transparency of the mids because it makes music sound livelier to his 60+ year old ears which is not as good as it used to be. Right now, I prefer a smoother, slightly warm and sweet sound. For me the 802d is the right choice. Dont get me wrong, the BE-10 is amazing!! I love the way they look. The beryllium technology is something to be considered. Its attributes of clarity, detail, and speed are fantastic. I like them enough to try and convince my dad and brother to split the cost with me so we can buy a pair for an all analog and tube setup we are thinking of building. I think with tubes, the BE-10 could be a fantastic choice.

Side note: Not that it matters but the Usher BE-10 are made in Taiwan. I firmly believe audiophile products coming from Asia have to be reckoned with. In this case, cheaper does not mean not as good. I think in the next decade, Asian audiophile products are really going to put pressure on the North American and European manufacturers.

Associated gear
Amp: Accuphase monoblocks (not sure which ones)
Source: Esoteric universal player
Speaker cables: Nordost Vahalla
IC: no idea
Room size: 16' W x 18' L x 8' H
Room treatments: 5 GIK bass traps (one behind each speaker, one on the side of each speaker and one on the front wall between the speakers)
Pal, nice setup. I have always been interested in hearing the Audio Aero. How do you like it?
I think it is a great Cd with a big sweet sound.
Not so sterile like some other Cd:s.
It is very good in the upper registers but maybe the lows could be a little bit more textured, it has a slight blurriness in the bass.
It has analog inputs so I dont need a pre.
Hey guys, just want to let everyone know we got accolades from the press on the sound of our system at HE 2007! In fact we had one of the least expensive reference systems at the entire show!

I also had a chance to really look closely at a very well respected $60,000.00 reference speaker with a Ceramic midrange driver, two Eton woofers and a Titanium tweeter and I came away with the thought the the BE 20 is the better made product no contest, at less than a third the price!

Our show system for the record was:

Usher BE 10
Nuforce Ref 9Se V2
Nuforce Pre 9
Audio Aero Prestige Drive/DAC
Nova Physics Memory Player, which was unbelievable
Synergistic Tesla Cables
Audience Adapt Response Power Conditioner
Shakti Holograms
Shakti Stones
Acoustic System Resonators

Way to go guys! The Usher revolution in affordable reference speakers is on the march goodbye way overpriced boutique brands.
audiooralce, what do you think of the Tesla cables and the Acoustic System Resonators???
My friend bought a used pair of BE-10 is superb condition. He liked the sound a lot until he heard what a really good speaker does in the low bass...
We toyed with ideas for some time and last weekend we "went for broke". We pulled the crossovers out and replaced all the internal wires with teflon coated 20AWG wires, soldered directly to the drivers. What was inside is not fit for sale at Radio Shack, despite the "Swiss Standard" print, which I would describe more as swiss cheese than a precision swiss chronograph... Someone at Usher was thinking "a wire is a wire"... They should listen to a pair after this "minor" modification!
The next step is to replace the cheap BP and NP caps in the crossover with decent metalized PP caps (due to size) bypassed with metal-film.
This ain't cheap but I'm sure is worth doing. I understand cost-saving, but frankly I did not expect the cheapest caps on Earth in this level of a speaker. This crap belongs in the $500 range and even there I'd consider it garbage.
The speakers can use hot glue on internal corners and you might want to consider loosely stuffed acoustic material in the lower section, to tune the overall response.
I have to warn the aspiring DIYers that this project required some invasive manouvers to pull out the drivers. It's a whole day job if you haven't done that before but you know what you're doing. It can take much longer if you don't have a clue how to approach this. Not for the faint of heart...
I just heard the BE-20 two weeks ago in a store. Compared to the modded BE-10, that BE-20 has a long way to go!
Before doing this work, I'd rate the BE-10 slightly above average at best. They definitely did not justify the high praise in the magazines. Pulling the crossover away from the intense sound pressures inside the cabinet and re-wiring everything with a decent wire ($20 overall cost!) had a tremendous effect on bass control and treble extension. It's a whole new speaker and a much better one now. After all these mods I can easily consider these BE-10+++ world-class speakers.
It's a sad reality that we have to accept $9K speakers as "work in progress"...