Dynamic versus Electrostatic Part Deux

I posed this question back in March about the differences that exist between Dynamic versus Electrostatic. At that time I had considered buying, then becoming a Sound Lab Dealer.It has since been excised from the offerings here, so I am compelled, for the purpose of information, to redo the "question" in the form of a review. I hope everyone understands, and no one thinks this is 'clever marketing'.
If you recall, somehow, during the middle of the thread, accusations of shilling came about. Those were flung at me, and or maybe I overreacted. Actually, in my positions, of having been Director of Sales and Marketing for THIEL, then President Emeritus Worldwide Business Development for Von Schweikert, and a devotee of dynamic speakers, with a few notable exceptions, that being the magnificant Quad 63s then the Quad 63US version, plus later the Audiostatic. My core question was, in that original post, what is so great about Sound Lab, that makes their following an almost Stepford Audiophile? HA!
Forgetting the accusations, and ugliness that ensued, I am back from a self imposed moratorium from Audiogon to tell everyone how the Sound Labs sound in my cavernous room(s).
For those of you who may feel compelled to run and buy a pair immediately because of my Svengali-like capabilities, I would ask that you wait an extra 24 hours to buy. Get a grip on yourselves,think about your childrens college fund, your mortgage, and don't let me hypnotize you into doing something dangerous to your financial health. I am officially a Sound Labs Dealer, so please take these comments with a whole bucket of salt. They are my true and actual comments, but you know how salespeople are; especially one's who have written "Eleven Hard Earned Lessons", an anecdotal recitation on how to treat customers the right way in a high end audio store setting. In case you hadn't guessed it that is me. So with those people who have asked me to jump back into the fray in mind, and contribute, I will do so on an limited basis, starting with a preliminary review of the Sound Labs, with the Halcro, as I promised.
"Honey, our coffins are here"
First let me tell you, that when the A-1's arrived, no amount of pictures could prepare me for the physical size of these speakers. My other speakers, had, uh...well 'speaker envy' just being in the same room.(Thank you Woody Allen)
The boxes are wooden crates, that in and of themselves must cost a fortune. If you ignore my warning, and run out and order some, be sure to have two large strong, helpers, with a screw gun at the ready. It took an hour to unpack and set them up.
"Fire in the hole!"
After the hour, like all good audiophiles, I was frothing at the 'ear' to hear them. So on they came, all rear panel settings, set to neutral, (more on that later).
Peter Cincotti, a young 20 year old pianist/vocalist, attending Columbia, was first on the CD Player.
For those who want to know, I have the Halcro 10 Preamp, and the DM38 amp, which is 185wpc into 8 ohms.
My room, as is the outer shelf of Mammoth Cave, (one of the 8 natural wonders of the world) located here in Kentucky, is simply huge by most standards. It is 20x22x20high. It is open, through two casement doors, 6' each into the kitchen opposite the listening room. The there's the loft above the speaker wall. All in all I am looking at about 15,000cubic feet of space, including the kitchen and loft. (Very approximate, but you get the idea).
So the obvious question, with the 50 ohm plus, then dipping to 2 ohms at 20K is a rollercoaster ride of fun for the Halcro.
On the first cut I played, Cincotti's,lover's rendition of the Theme from the "Godfather", I was pretty startled.
The words begin, "No one can buy tomorrow..." my first thoughts were, no, but if you can afford them buy the Sound Lab A-1's. There was an immediate change in the sound that I got, versus, what I was getting. In a nutshell, the Sound Lab speakers have no noticible "driver noise" to draw you away from the sound. Driver noise, crossover colorations, all the things that make us aware that we are listening to loudspeakers, is missing, and, for the better.
Low level resolution, that is the smallest of clues within the music, like pages turning on the Dean Martin Columbia double set while he is singing in front of an old barbershop quartet. Piano stools squeeking, the sound of headphones on the singer on some cuts, its all there.
It's hard to remember, as a hobbyiest, not to become a test record groupie, pulling out Stereophile's test record, et al.
I mentioned earlier that there are rear panel settings. First of all, you set the current, with a bias control. All you do is turn it clockwise until you hear the speaker, slightly 'crackle', and back off. That insures that you are at the optimum current presentation to the speaker, just like setting the bias on your tube amp. There is also a High Frequency knob. That is advised to be set at 2:00 on the dial. That works fine for now. I, like all tweaks turned it up and down. Up made the highs, 'bright' as you would guess, and down below the two oclock setting made it dull, and srunk the stage too. (Low level res was down too much, and the 'air' was gone. The mid range knob, has several +3, 0, -3 and so on. 0 is the 'base' and recommended setting, and I concur even during breakin. Low Frequency, same, plus minus, zero. Leave it alone. (Oh hell, go ahead, play with it, then leave it alone.) That sounds like good advice for puberty too. Then comes the fuse trick that Albert told me about. (All non believers, turn your head and cough, skipping this part as it is unbelieveable even to me, but it happened, so I'll pass it on.) Albert said, replace the fuse, a 1/4 amp, with a quick blow 10 amp, so I did. Wow, the best $1.49 change in the entire galaxy! I'm so goofy I put Michael Dayton-Wright's, Tweak, contact enhancer on the fuse!!) Anybody remember him? That's the back panel stuff I promised.
That was the first day. The second day was agony; the break in process, according to Albert Porter, the person I most admire, along with Duke and Brian, but I have been talking closely to Albert. Where were you Albert, when I was traveling the country trying to teach some rather insistant hard heads, about how to treat customers?? Albert is a good guy, he knows the product, and he's patient; he epitomizes the audiophile's dream. Back to music.The second say they sounded thin and nasty, and I kept yawning thinking I had lost my golden ears. But alas, it was breakinitius. I turned them off and went to bed.
Day Three "God Said, "He's 55, and not much time left for him, give him a break already, let there be music." And so there was...
"Electrostatics don't have dynamic punch, and can't play loud." To that, with the "New" Sound Lab's which offer about 9db more efficiency I can only say bullsh*t, and for those of you with no imagination that word with the asterisk was 'bullshit'.
To think that I am filling this enormous cavern, is to be unbelieveable, even to me, but I am. Admittedly the Halcro, can drive a 'nail' as they say, but it's a terrific combination. I can hear why some will like tubes, but, and follow this because it's important to see a distinction here. The Halcro's are that perfect spring water, that has no taste, or should I say no added taste. I LOVE cold natural spring water. To that extent, I disagree with those who say no taste; to me it tastes like a piece of pure heaven when I want it. Now, does that mean I don't want some Orange Juice, some color sometimes? No!
So there are those who will want color ADDED, but by all means, be careful, pick the right color, because you're going to 'taste' that color in all its glory with the Sound Labs every time you turn them on. Micophone noises, imperfect edits yada yada.... Sterile, no. I have to say that, CLEAN and UNCOLORED, have met their mates, and match. Now, I can 'hear' without having heard it, what the steel outer containment units on the Ultimate, and and would do, if that makes sense. Cleaner yet. But this is purely remarkable.
One thing that bears noting too, is the scaling. My audio system, (shudder) is also my video. So I have a High Def TV there. When Tom Brokaw, or Peter start to speak, their voices aren't five six feet tall. They are properly scaled in size, which, also means, thank God that a live perfomance of Peter Cincottic (no, I am not shilling for him) Live on Bravo, from the Montreal Jazz Festival, sounds lifelike in size.
If you want a fun test, and can access it, play the "Live Bravo" versus the album, and note how much more lifelike the live version is, (no I am ahead of you, even with the picture OFF). The Cincotti Group is in the same room, TOGETHER, and, yes, they have a 'hotter' mic on him, as with a lot of live groups, but its better than the cd, and WAY more fun.
"Honey what does a real zeldgin cymbal sound like".
While playing several albums, I noted time after time the lifelike sound of the highs. The cymbals sound like small gongs, not the tiszszszszs monster. Plus there's the air coming down from them. Wow. No tweeter ever made can do this better, maybe some of the best ribbons, come close, but then there's that damnable crossover in the way. The same wonderful sound comes from the highest notes on the piano, they sparkle, they don't klink.
"In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", by Stacey Kent, was a new experience, with the middle of her voice having a richness that wasn't there before, as it was masked by the noise of, either the crossover or the drivers.
Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderly, on "The Masquerade is Over" is a tour de force in vocal dynamics of a great singer in her prime. Nancy Wilson is trading phrases with Joe Zawinul, (later of Weather Report) and still around.
She sings the lyrics, "I guess I'll have to play Pagliacci, and get myself a clown's disguise" at which time Zawinul, comes out with an operattic flourish, matching the full meaning and dynamic of her words. They never quite did that, that way before, even though this was recorded in 1962, it's all there. WOW!
"A Long Wait for Perfection"
Since Albert Porter tells me that there is a six month break in, I am in audio heaven. Within, what five days, they have become a piece of magic already. There's only one problem that I can see. With something this good, amp, preamp, Speakers, what do I have to compulse over? Maybe photography, hmmm....how many colors are there, and how many can I personally see?
More as they break in, and thanks for reading. If you have any questions, write to me. Wait a while, unfortunately (just kidding) I am going on vacation to see my daughter. Back in two weeks.
Best to all, and it's good to be back, even if on a limited basis.

Good Listening to All, hope you get some feeling of these speakers from this.

Larry R. Staples
Larry great to have you back on..Hope you didn't wack your back moving those monsters..you didn't even try. The absense of noise you spoke about in these speakers is very intriguing to me..That is exactly what I thought and felt when I first heard the speakers I am a dealer for, the Caravelles. The high end was so quiet and black that I felt something must be awry with these speakers..The highs are so quiet and noise free because of cabinet material and construction as well as the seamless series crossover and parts selection. Certainly mutual goals of both designers but implemetation has to be so different. I would really like to hear your system as well as for you to hear mine. They are certainly way different in operating methods and materials as well as physcial stature. Look forward to the audition I haven't heard Sound Labs in several years..Tom
Larry, thanks for the great review of the Sound Labs. With all of your vast experience how do they compare with the Audiostatics, VMPS RMX, and Wisdom Audio's M75's? Thanks!
Fourteen years ago I first came across a Sound Lab speaker and the single most impression was how huge they were. I'm not talking big, I'm talking gargantuan mega colossal. I had never before seen such a large speaker. It seemed so ridiculously large that I busted out in laughter. I was at hifi dealer, who was not a Sound Lab dealer and had taken the speakers in on trade, and I asked him what type of customer actually buys such a product? He chuckled and replied, "Porsche driving urologist".

In the intervening years I've actually had a chance to listen to a Sound Lab (I believe an A1) and to say that I was highly impressed would be an understatement. It's a superb product and from what I've read it's been substantially upgraded since my demo listening. Still, it's hard for me to get past their size. It's still the largest single speaker I've ever seen.
Short answer for an excellent question.
More dynamic than the Audiostatics, and much less directional, due to their design, Smoother than the VMPS in terms of overall presentation, and MUCH more open than the Wisdom's.
Sorry for the brevity,since each one of your questions requires two pages, and again, a WONDERFUL question, not just some dumbheaded challenge of "OH MINE'S better.
I realize that those are all marvelous speakers, and each DO deserve more. I am running to go on vacation.
Maybe when I get back, or if you want to discuss by private email?? in a couple of weeks as I get back into the swing..
Yeah, they are LARGE, hence my "honey the coffins are here" section, yet as I think about it; the more appropriate heading would have been, "honey did we order a drive in theater screen?"
The only thing that keeps me married, is three daughters and six grandchildren, plus that little thing of 36 years.
God love my wife, who just shakes her head.
The reality is; Have you ever thought as a kid; 'well if one is that good, (think candy) how great would 83 million be?'It's almost as if Roger West just said F*** it, if they want an electrostatic that can play REAL bass, it has to be THIS BIG!, and then did it.
So yeah, they are huge. In fairness, they make Martin Logan size speakers with their other models, so least someone think that this is the only choice of Sound Lab, no.
As to the, 'Have they been upgraded?'question, the answer is YES. This is the first of a more efficient pair. These that I have are 9db more efficient, more or less than previous models of the A-1. That is phenomenal, and requires some (I think someone calculated it at) 1/16th the amount of power is needed to drive these versus their predecessors.
I have 185 Watts of Halcro, so you gotta think that's better than the average, good, better, best amps around.
Large, yes, wonderful absolutely.
Hi Larry,

Great description of the Sound Labs, in particular the top end.

With my first pair, I really didn't single out the top end and appreciate how good it was (too busy dancing around the room I guess). Then I went to CES for the first time. That's when it really hit home - I went to room after room displaying speakers up to ten times the price of the Sound Labs, and they didn't have as natural a top end. I remember being somewhat shocked, as I'd expected the Sound Labs to have more competition in the very top octaves. I don't know if their naturalness in the top end is a result of the extremely thin diaphragm, or the wide radiation pattern, or the enormous size of the radiating surface.

I haven't heard the Audiostatics, but your impressions of how the Sound Labs compare to the Wisdom Audio and VMPS offerings is similar to mine - though I have heard the Wisdoms really come to life with the big GamuT S300 amplifier (now sadly discontinued).

By the way, that 9 dB efficiency increase would be comparable to an 8-fold increase in amplifier power; it would take 12 dB to correspond to a 16-fold increase in amplifier power. Still, it does open up Sound Labs as a possibility in many, many more situations than before.
Duke,(I hope)
Thanks, I notice all the spectrum, but am particularly attuned to HF hash, and phasey sound.
The part(next phase of this windy review) I didn't mention was the bass, which is, already the 'cleanest' I have heard, plus it doesn't stop there. It's also deeeeep. That damn Cincotti album, (ever get one you couldn't get out of your head, like humming a tune all day, ad nauseum?) has bass that's overdubbed, since A)none of the studio engineers I've met, and its a TON, since I was in Nashville for four years, have monitors that play anything below about 60 well enough for them to judge, and b) make the assumption that we're still in the 50's and customers don't have any bass at home, and c) they mix for cars too, which is wierd 'cause this ain't P Ditty.
So the bass is great, though on the leading edge I get a slight crackle, the same sound as the bias adjustment. So I must have them a nudge too high? Help me out there. My guess is that since the left speaker only does it, that I need to back that one off.
BTW, My memory tells me that it was Sean who did the math, (I couldn't remember who offered up the 1/16th thing, but my dead brain cell in the medula oblongotta tells me it was him. (I wish Sean could/would come back, with a reinvigorated, more patient look at things,he was encyclopedic in his offerings).
Anyway, these are so complex and good at the same time that it is almost anticlimactic. I use this analogy;
Speakers are so bad that when you hear generic sound, you know its not real, say walking in to a hotel lobby, and you hear a piano, your brain,(mine at least) immediately calculates the sum of the sound, relative to a real piano, and makes the judgement as to whether its real or not. It's funny, when you hear a real piano playing, you don't say, Damn, that's a REAL piano, but when you hear speakers doing it, at least I say, Damn, that sounds like a REAl piano. Probably since it hardly ever sounds real enough when reproduced.
Enough ranting.
Thanks for the email, and let me know about the mini crackle.
Hi Larry,

It sounds to me like you might be getting what we call a "crunch" - on the leading edge of a powerful dynamic transient, the sound breaks up.

My suggestion is to turn the bias up higher on that speaker for a few seconds, so that you get an audible rice crispies/waterfall rush from the panel, and then turn it back down.

Non-engineering explanation: What happens sometimes is the static charge hasn't fully migrated across the diaphragm, so some areas on the diaphragm don't have the field strength necessary to follow a powerful transient that may come along. The result can sound like a phono cartridge mistracking because of too light a tracking force. By turning the bias up a bit higher than normal for a few seconds you can juice up the panels real good, and the problem goes away.

It's also possible that your amplifier is clipping - let's hope it's not that!!

Anyway, shoot me an e-mail if goosing the bias doesn't work.

Best wishes,

zeldgin is spelled Zildjian I'm glad you like your speakers.
I played in a thousand bands, and never, ever memorized that spelling. How's that for dumb.
Zildjian is the world's oldest company owned by the same family. Something like 500 years.
There is a wine company, the name of which escapes me at this moment, which dates back to 1100 A.D. The company still operates under the same name, but I don't know if it is owned by family or not. But, damn, almost a thousand years. That's older than my mother in law.
One other thing that bears mentioning regarging this review.
I had posted that the best sounding speaker I had ever heard was the Von Schweikert VR-11; that answer was a moment in time, excitement based, emotionally charged, and partially an allegiance related response, though still accurate, from the perspective of an "opinion" based standpoint;in other words, it was, a situational moment in time. Aren't all responses that way to a degree, even this one?
The Sound Lab has remarkably better low level resolution, no doubt a more nearly noisless version, (speaking of driver noise) of the VR-11 and or all dynamic speakers.
Now, will the Sound Lab do cannon shots at 125 db with ease, as the VR-11 will? No. But then again, the VR-11, won't give me that wonderful, (gee remember those testosterone enduced love fantasies, from when you were 16 years old?)seductive lilt that was so amazingly present in the voice on the Joanie Sommer's omnipresent on her album of the early sixties. The speakers recreated this sound in such a way as to reawaken a part of the brain, that I thought had gone away. ("Mem..reees, light the corrrrrners of my mind...Misty water colored mem...reeezz, of the way we were.)
Much more music with less of a loudspeaker sound.
Don't mistake this as bashing the VR-11, it is truly wonderful, and many will easily chose it because of "tastes" in music, and "needs" of volumes, and bass slam.
It's a Ferrari, versus a Muscle car. More of one thing, less of another.
84Audio heard them, perhaps he'll chime in.
Even though they have a whopping 6 days of play, and 5 to 6 months are required.
This all makes me wonder what could be done with dynamic speakers that employed, either magnets four million times their current size, or some alien material with youngs modulus factor, that is off the scale. (Strength to weight ratio, in ridiculously simple terms, and application)
All I know is this, for me and my needs and tastes; for my room, using the Halcro I would chose, price notwithstanding, the Sound Lab.Not all the time, and not emperically, but in general. The mere fact that they cost less than one 8th the price has no bearing on this, since, as all hobbyiests I am assuming that any or all of us would gladly mortgage the house, sell the dog, etc. to get whatever we want. HA!
Some might ask, is this the confession, or separation of a former PresidentEmeritus of Von Schweikert? No. This work from Kevin at Von Schweikert is beyond brilliant, and will do wonderful things for many,(who can afford the 150K price tag.) The exciting part is that for those who can afford $16.9K it is a remarkable achievement.
More to come on the review, as they break in more, but for now they are achieving a just below heavenly status. Sort of Quads with dynamics, AND bass extension out the wazzooo.
Thanks for listening,again.
My reviews and comments are always at the service of the music, and not politically inspired. Having played the Alto Sax,(Selmer Mark VI, the best ever made) for forty seven years, only REAL music is the benchmark we use to compare by, and with.
The GamuT Company is out of business, or that model is no longer in production?
Lrsky wrote "redo the "question" in the form of a review".

Doesn't Audiogon have a section for components reviews? Why put a speaker review in the discussion forum?

In light of the title of the thread "Dynamic versus Electrostatic" here is a thought on that subject (if that is the purpose of this thread):
Eliminating this excess and dampening the harsh metal pole piece with a domed felt plug removes perhaps the most major downfall of cone speakers - that cone speaker sound referred to by electrostatic speaker owners

Click on "articles" and "tweaks for your speakers- october 1997" for the article.
Larry -

GamuT discontinued that model; GamuT is still very much in business, though no longer owned by founder/designer Ole Christiansen.
I put this in the same place of my original question, and had seveal people asking me to PLEASE let them know the outcome, given the size of the room, and the ss amplifiers.
Frankly I would be surprised if it allowed dynamics with their known design issues, sounding much more like e'stats. But I will personally try this, and if it works will report it right here. NOT IN THE REVIEW SECTION.
The review section is usually ego gratification of people who just bought something new, that they are infatuated with.
I on the other hand with 23 years of chasing the Holy Grail, think the solution would be much more than just his offering.
But, in answering, I will be completly forthcomming.