Two things strike us when we first listen to the Piega Classic 5.0 speakers: the large scale of the sound, and the clarity of each note.
Piega may not be a household name in the UK, but the Swiss speaker brand – which has specialised in ribbon tweeter designs since 1986 – is worth seeking out, if only for its detailed and articulate sound.
The amount of clear and crisp detail you disvcern in such a large, open soundstage is wonderful.
Subtleties are delivered so cleanly and effortlessly. The textures of the brooding, taut basslines in Massive Attack’s Angel have a grimy depth to them, while the crunchy top layers in Teardrop are beautifully delivered with plenty of space and control. It’s a very even presentation.
Considering their size, the Piegas don’t actually go too deep, but the sound is solid and meaty enough to sink your teeth into. As we carry on listening, we realise it’s the Piegas’ organisation that’s the real highlight here.
The tune 60 Feet Tall by The Dead Weather sounds so controlled, every instrument working cohesively as it charges along.
A lot of that is down to the speedy and nimble ribbon tweeter. It handles the stop and start of notes with stunning accuracy, and it’s detailed too.
The flip side of a ribbon tweeter is the slightly thin, forward character that can come through occasionally, such as with Stevie Nicks’ nasal vocals or the hard-edged guitars in most Marilyn Manson songs. The top end isn’t bright or sharp, just a tad excitable.
To temper this forwardness, you have to be careful with system-matching. Pair the Piega speakers with robust-sounding electronics – such as the Roksan Caspian M2 amplifier (£1900) – that will go hand-in-hand with the punchy rhythm while also bringing some emphasis to richness of sound.
The one area the Piega Classic 5.0s do fall short in is dynamics. Yes, they go loud and fill a room comfortably, but they don’t always fully express a song’s intent.
You can hear that with drum hits in Angel: they’re taut, but could have more positivity, more of a “thwack” – a more tactile, attacking hit than they get. Play the haunting Light of the Seven from the Game of Thrones Series 6 soundtrack, and the Piegas can’t quite convey that superb build-up of suspense fully.
The song’s long, tense build-up is more delicate than menacing, with the piano notes more gentle and contemplative than the Piegas can describe.
The Piegas are too heavy-handed in this case, stomping around like a pantomime villain. The speakers don’t drop as effectively into silence as the might, either, robbing the tune of some of its effect.
You hear this with voices, too. Christine McVie’s voice is laid bare on Songbird, but we could do with hearing more of the dynamic expression in her voice to really engage with the music.
In this price range, the Award-winning Tannoy Revolution XT6F offers a bigger, bassier sound with a really lively, dynamic character. They’re not as clean-sounding as the Piegas though. And as a left-field choice, the petite Neat Iota Alpha (£1350) sounds more expressive, even if lacking the clarity of the Piegas.
Don’t get us wrong: the Piega Classic 5.0s do plenty right. Their agile, refined detail is lovely to hear.
But without that handle on dynamics, without that subtle ebb and flow that’s so crucial to music, the Piegas aren’t as expressive and musical as we want them to be.
Build and compatibility
The Piega Classic 5.0s are medium-sized floorstanders – not too physically imposing, but big enough to fill a room with big, weighty sound.
The build is of a high standard, the speakers feeling solid and looking elegant. The high gloss finish looks superb, polished to an almost mirror-like surface – we don’t tend see such depth in high gloss finishes at this price.
You can get the Classic 5.0s in our review sample’s black, white or a gorgeous Macassar finish – you’ll have to dish out an extra £350 for the latter, but having seen it on the Classic 3.0 standmounters, it may well be worth the extra.
The Classic 5.0 speakers are a 2.5 way design: Piega’s AMT-1 ribbon tweeter, followed by two 13cm drivers. One handles midrange and bass, the second one is dedicated to the low end only.
The speakers come with a sturdy base plate, with spikes that should be screwed in before positioning the floorstanders in your room.
It’s worth taking time setting up these speakers: not having the spikes tightened or level can have a knock-on effect on the tautness of the bass and the speakers’ overall precision. Don’t place them close to a wall, as that saps that wonderfully huge, airy scale of sound.
Give them plenty of space to breathe in the room, and position them straight on – not toed-in towards the listening position – to soften that forward treble.
There’s obvious care taken in constructing these speakers, and if yu give them the attention they require you should get plenty of mileage and enjoyment out of them.
Despite our grumbles about lack of subtle dynamics – the only area in which the Piegas are really exposed – the Classic 5.0s are elegant, richly detailed speakers whose articulate nature shouldn’t be dismissed.