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
17 responses Add your response
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for the email, and let me know about the mini crackle.
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.
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.
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.
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.