100 Reasons - Hertz Cento Examined


Italian manufacturer Hertz has long been a lucky recipient of breakthrough technologies engineered to make them available at reasonable price points. This fresh pair of 6.5” 2-way coaxial speakers features many of these. A vented bass plate, utilised by the tweeter as a resonance chamber, offers a low resonant frequency avoiding colouration and a smooth transition from woofer to tweeter. A treated pressed paper cone with a V profile for optimal dispersion and tetelon tweeter continue the colour-free theme here. A butyl rubber surround allows the cone to move a comparatively long way helping with punch and bass extension. We were given a pair for review and stuck them in some boxes we had kicking around. I connected the speakers to a Marantz PM6005 amplifier that was fed with signal directly from a Macbook on which I played a hi res (24 bit, 96kHz) source via VLC – Although hi res initially, this would obviously be down sampled by the Mac for delivery through the headphone jack – Not too much sophistication here but I listen this way while I am working, so the sound is something I am used to working with.


I chose a track by Ibrahim Maalouf called “If You Wanna Be A Woman Released in 2013, I only recently discovered this fabulous trumpet player/composer. Very much in the modern jazz genre, his mellow trumpet is used to carry short themes, riffs and licks, which are then repeated by a bigger brass section. Extremely busy drumming underpinned by ardent bass lines, Fender Rhodes piano and electric guitar adds other recurring features on this album (Illusions). This track is fairly typical of his Arabic influence and use of melody. Maalouf grew up in Paris but is of Lebanese descent. This heritage comes through strongly in his music as it is filled with rapid quartertone runs that give it a very Arabian feel. His parents were both musicians and his CV (on Wikipedia anyway) suggests a very artistic background.


Mounted in these enclosures the low-mids and bass seemed a little heavy but then, no science has gone into the enclosure design at all and a hole where tweeters could be mounted is offering port-like qualities. When I shoved some foam into these holes the bass became much calmer. The sound was not unpleasant before but, if the speakers were to be used as part of a system with a subwoofer it may prove difficult to achieve perfect frequency balance/linearity. In a real door card this would not be an issue anyway, but it is good to know that a ported enclosure can turn these sophisticated coaxial speakers into wild bass monsters!


Back to the track, which gives the Cento Pro’s a lot of work to do. Bass guitar and Fender Rhodes join a speedy guitar figure and are soon joined by brass. At 7 seconds there is a pause then the Rhodes takes a solo accompanied by some extremely tight drumming. The snare drum sounds fantastic, and even during rapid rolls every contact of stick on skin is reproduced accurately, as far as I can tell.  Bass guitar also helps things along. There is some fairly natty cymbal work going on that is also easy to pick out and you can clearly hear what is going on with the keyboard player’s left hand. At 1:35 the brass is back with the bass guitar joining them in a three note cyclic riff that counterpoints the percussion and piano until the main theme from the opening bars is played by Ibrahim’s majestic trumpet. Again, the rest of the brass section repeats the figure. Another pause, then it is the bass player’s turn to get funky with the drummer who gives him plenty of beats to spa with. At 2:44 there is a repeat of the brass figure that happens at 1:35 then it is Ibrahim’s turn to take centre stage. The distinctive tonal quality of his playing comes through perfectly on the Cento’s. Themes are played and answered and accented by fills and licks that drive the track to its conclusion leaving any listener breathless! – Check it out with an open mind. I am certain you will be as captivated as I am.


Based on this complex and busy track I have to give these speakers maximum credit. Apart from the previously mentioned anomalies caused by the box, they perform brilliantly for a speaker at this price point (£149.99). Absolutely no need to get sophisticated with measuring equipment, my ears tell me that those looking for highly articulate, punchy sound with good bass extension who enjoy high energy music will love these and even more so when connected to a capable amplifier.