Ferguson Hill is a brand synonymous with its high-end FH001 horn-configuration speakers, a pair of which will set you back an eye-watering £17,000. Well aware that this sort of money is beyond the realms of affordability for most people – particularly in a recession – the firm has now diversified and entered the competitive PC speaker market.
Using the same unique transparent horn and ball configuration as the flagship FH001, the FH007 is a beautiful set of speakers. The use of transparent acrylic means they disappear in even the most minimalist of rooms, only snapping into focus when you actively seek them out. This sort of aesthetic prowess is a world away from the chunky boxes of most PC speakers, though at a cheapest online price of £295 you’ll have to pay for the privilege.
At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking the FH007s are a surround sound set, but in actual fact the two different speaker types are designed to sit side by side, with the horn shaped tweeters delivering upper mid-range and high frequencies whilst the “bass” spheres handle lower notes. Each of the speakers comes with attractive translucent cabling for attachment to the included amplifier, and although the cables are not quite as long as they could be, they are long enough for most PC configurations. Each of the speakers and the amp itself comes protected by its own felt-lined bag, and the whole set is delivered in a single immense but well-padded box.
Ferguson Hill also produces a sub-woofer designed to complement the FH007s, conveniently named the FH008. This self-powered 30cm cubed speaker delivers 100W RMS of power and is decked out in a stylish glossy white paint scheme. Although it’s a long way from being as stylish as the transparent satellites, it still looks far nicer than most sub woofers and doesn’t spoil the aesthetics of the set overall. By hunting around online you can pick up the FH008 for £230, adding up to a total system cost of £525. This takes the cost of the Ferguson Hills beyond that of normal PC speakers and into hi-fi territory, so we evaluated them as such.
Without the sub-woofer, the FH007s deliver incredibly rich vocal, high and mid tones after a few hours of breaking in, but lack any real punch in bassier tracks. The transparent bass spheres are clearly more focussed towards mid-range delivery than the lower frequencies, all but ruling out the set as a complete solution by itself.
With the FH008 added into the mix, however, the Ferguson Hills are transformed into a serious set of speakers by any measure. Despite sporting a combined wattage of a “mere” 162W RMS, the set delivers loudness on a par with the ear-bruising 300W Razer Makos we also recently looked at. This is thanks to the incredible efficiency of horn-based speaker designs, which need only a fraction of the wattage of traditional drivers to throw out an impressively equivalent delivery.
With this increased efficiency comes increased directionality, however, so you must make sure the speakers are correctly positioned to get the best out of them. Angled even slightly away from us they lost much of their character, relegating them back down from truly sublime to ‘just’ excellent.
The speakers particularly excelled when listening to electronica and chill-out genres, with tracks by the likes of Morcheeba and William Orbit taking on a new level of fidelity. Only when auditioning hi-fi setups costing many times as much as the Ferguson Hills were we treated to so many nuances missed by conventional PC solutions. Despite its diminutive size the amp is clearly exceptionally well-engineered, as its crisp and detailed delivery reminded us more of a full-fat Denon than the junk normally residing in a conventional PC setup’s sub woofer.
When listening to heavy rock tracks such as Filter’s One the FH008 really comes into its own, with exceptionally fast and accurate bass delivery that doesn’t compromise on volume when suitably cranked up. Whilst the FH007 segment of the speaker set is arguably less well-suited to this sort of genre, the result still sounds fantastic and is more than a match for even the finest conventional speakers designed for PC use.
Gaming performance is an important aspect for many PC owners so we thought it only fair to test the Ferguson Hills on Crysis Warhead and Need For Speed: Shift. Although the sound quality was as good as ever, the highly directional sound makes them less immersive than a set of surround speakers, or stereo sets with pseudo-surround like Razer’s Makos. Still, they pack a punch where it counts and your neighbours won’t thank you for taking the volume dial much past 50 percent.
All in all the Ferguson Hill FH007 and FH008 combo is a delectable set of speakers. Our only worry is that they are going to find themselves stuck in a gulf between PC users, who probably won’t want to spend the £525 asking price, and audiophiles who will want more connectivity and flexibility than the supplied amp can provide. This is a shame, as the sound quality provided by these speakers more than justifies their cost, and compared to conventional hi-fi sets they deliver terrific value for money. Still, if you have a lust for truly hi-fi quality sound from your PC setup or, heaven forbid, from an iPod or similar, the Ferguson Hills deliver truly sublime performance.
Company: Ferguson Hill
Contact: 020 7284 0969