electrostats vs ribbon drivers

i think the electrostats , in general, come closer to timbral accuracy than any speaker with a ribbon driver.

what do you think ?

in fact i think some full range ribbons are a bit hot in the treble.
I too can agree that some ribbons (not all) are hot in the treble, but that is a generalization.

I've also owned and have heard many different electrostatic speakers from Quad, Acoustat, Audio Static, King Sound, Sound Lab, Infinity, and InnerSound.

There are a lot of different tweeters in both groups and all have different response and dispersion characteristics, so generally I feel it is pointless to make broad generalizations and better to compare specific brands and models.

But I will add that many electrostatics use wide-diaphragm tweeters, which by design, have time smear in the highs due to the diaphragms being physically much wider than the short wave-lengths they are emitting. Most ribbon tweeters are rather narrow and thus do not suffer from this type of distortion.
Mrtennis- On what are you basing your assertion, that ribbons are, "hot?"
He apparently has not listened to a ribbon done right and is is just making a foolish statement that has no global foundation.
Hard to beat electrostatics. Sometimes they can be a bit too rolled off though. I really liked the Aeon i with rear tweeter on. Beautiful speaker
I think you're bored and trying to be controversial. Silly in any type of generalization.
100% disagree shows poster is biased threads not looking for input just searching for validation of posters choice of electrostatics.
Mrtennis, you go to great lengths to further ruin your reputation in this forum....
I have owned several pairs of electrostats and they can also sound very hot up top. I have owned several pairs of Martin Logans before I bought my first ribbon speakers a pair of Magnepan 2.7 and they blew away the Martin Logan's at 4 times the retail price of the 2.7s. I would have not bought the Magnepans but friend was in desperate need of money so I bought them and was pleasantly surprised. I have owned several pairs of Magnepans through out the years but now I have a pair of Speakers built by Rich Murry of True Soundworks that are like Apogee Duetta Signatures but all made from scratch and these are the best Ribbon speakers I have heard. I am not saying the best I am just saying "The Best I Have Heard"
i have ownend two different versions of magnepans and listened to many others at shows . i have heard the analysis speakers at shows and also at the importer's house. i used tubes on the maggies.

i have many ribbons at shows and have found the treble sounded elevated.

i have speakers with ribbon tweeters and again, i found them peaky.

i will admit that it is my ears and my opinion..

others may differ.

i realize in this hobby there is much contention about the sound of stereo systems, so i suspect there will be disagreement with my premise.
Personally I can't say that your impressions are universally true based on my experiences Mr. Tennis. When I think of "hot" in planer/ribbon/electrostatic designs the first one that comes to mind is the original Martin Logan CLS from the mid 80's. Unfortunately I feel much of what I perceived as it being "hot" was the fact that there was so little low frequency information and it just didn't have a balanced presentation. I really didn't like it or the Sequel for that matter and because of those early experiences never though much of Martin Logan although I heard a few budget models years later where this impression wasn't the same.

So far as ribbons, I have listened to numerous Apogee models over the years and NEVER perceived the top to be hot. I would think if they did sound that way it could be a synergy issue with the amp maybe? A pair of Agogee Stages (2K retail at the time) still conjures up some of the best high frequency performance I've ever heard from any speaker at any price point. There was also a Clements speaker, can't remember the model number, that used a ribbon tweeter and it was not at all hot, actually I thought it was quite impressive how the tweeter blended with the dynamic drivers in that design.
Set up properly, Maggies are not necessarily 'hot'.
They actually have a slight rise in the bass end to compensate for the cancelation that occurs from front / back interaction. Listen to the exact edge of the panel and you will hear......nothing. The front / back wave cancel one another.

That being said, one of the big debates of panel users is the resistor which on many models can be inserted in the tweeter circuit. The 1.6s, for example, came with 1 ohm resistors.

I, too, found my 1.6s to be hot when I first set them up. Beamy, too. It was impossible to get a wide stage and not too hot. Opening up the toe would help, but the sweetspot was TINY.

Finally, during lots of reading and listening to others, I was made aware of the fact that OLD panels had the POLE PIECE forward...to the listener. New designs feature the MYLAR side to the listener. To me, flipping the panels to listen to them 'old school' made all the difference. Wider sweet spot and much less hot. No resistor needed.

Also, since the crossover on many Magnepan models is Asymmetric....I have a 12db slope on the low pass and 6db slope on the high pass, the low and high drivers are out of phase. Since the drivers are beside one another, one is slightly leading, the other lagging by the amont of phase difference caused by the crossover. Tweeter IN or OUT makes the difference. That's all I can think of to account for the greater clarity with tweeter 'in'.

EXPERIMENT away freely. This will apply to ALL magnepan models except the 20.1, which is a push / pull driver and has a pole piece on each side.

When in doubt? Ignore the directions. And get rid of that fuse, while you're at it. Too much extra wire and many more connections just muck things up. BE CAREFUL!
"the senses are unreliable. witnesses to an event often present different versions of an event."

"what you hear one day, you may not hear on another."

"there is a myriad of experiemnets in the psycholgy journals, which discuss the unreliability of perception."

"when you trust your senses, the result is probably true and probably false."

"relying on sense perception is invalid because the senses are unreliable."

All the above are copied and pasted from your recent posts on amps sounding the same(any spelling/grammatical errors are yours). You DID state that your view of ribbons, is no more than your opinion though. I've personally owned systems with ribbon tweeters(my 10" 3 Way was the most popular, in the line I built and sold), Acoustat Mod III's, and several Maggie models(what I'm using now). Though I've experienced grain and/or sibilance on occasion; it has always been the driver's reproduction of the sound elsewhere in the system, or of the recording. Not having heard every ribbon, magneto-planar or electrostatic system out there, I cannot comment further.
I owned Innersound electrostats hybrids but gave them up for ribbon hybrids from VMPS because VMPS offered a all around more rounded and thus more usable and enjoyable speaker. Head in a vise speakers get boring after awhile, atleast for me they did.
how many who have auditioned both electrostatic-based and ribbon based designs prefer one or the other ?

by the way, regarding my comment on the treble response of ribbon drivers, especially ribbon tweeters, what i consider bright or peaky, others may not. so it becomes a matter of perception.

i suppose i may be more sensitive to frequencies exceeding 3000 hz than many on these forums, which may be at odds with others.
hi rodman:

the statements you have quoted apply to many topics on this forum. in the future i will not repeat them. thanks for the heads-up.
Mrtennis- Many designs that incorporate ribbons, fail to properly blend the speed/dynamics of the tweeter, with the other system drivers(useually cones). Generally speaking; that makes the ribbon stand out as a separate/more obvious entity, even though the relative output levels may be matched. BTW: have you auditioned the new Maggies(1.7 & 3.7)? Ribbons/Quasi-Ribbons, WELL DONE! Then again- as you mentioned; some are more sensitive to the upper registers than others. It would be interesting to get your views on these new Maggies, especially the full ribbon 3.7, to see if your opinion remains the same. Then too: the more resolving the speaker and it's cabling; the more one will hear problems(brightness/glare/graininess) upstream.
Mr Tennis I can only comment on my soundlab m2's driven by audiovalve challanger 180 monoblocks and feel the result in sound is second to none;I have never heard a ribbon driver but I know the responses you will receive will defend both types to the best of their ability;I would like to hear that driver that Ralph from atmasphere mentions time and again;it must be a very class driver to have caught his ear.
Making broad generalities in audio usually leads to eating large amounts of crow. There are good and bad versions of just about every loudspeaker design. (is that a generality?)
Tubegroover, Regarding CLS from the mid 80's. That speaker was more sensitive to amplifiers than most speakers. Infact it was extremely sensitive to everything in the system. It was hard to find a solid state amplifer that did not sound thin. One the other hand it was easy to find a tube amplifier that would give the speaker a balanced sound. The impedance of the CLS was very low at high frequencies and very high at low frequencies.

The most revealing speaker I have ever owned. I was fortunate enough to have a variety of amplifiers on hand to find the right match. Without that luxury I could see how frustrating it would be.

Regarding high frequencies, I believe the CLS was rolled off. However, the interface could be adjusted to your system and your taste.
Why do you wrongly assume that all ribbons used in loudspeakers are Intentionally set up by designer to have more output over 3k? You said [i suppose i may be more sensitive to frequencies exceeding 3000 hz than many on these forums, which may be at odds with others.] So you have hearing damage above 3k would explain much. Or are you insinuating that your hearing is just better above 3k
than other members who disagree?
hi johnk:

i don't assume and my selection of 3000k was meant to suggest that there might be a peak in the lower treble.

as i said, i have owned magnepans, and heard them many times iin other stereo systems. i have also heard other ribbon tweeters at shows and at the homes of audio club members.

i am only guessing that that's where the elevation in the treble begins. i never said "assume" .

not having measured, its only a conjecture.
Both way cool.
I have both and I like them both since I collect different designs. I'm happy with my ess heils, magnepans, eminent tech's, ohm walsh and acoustats. So there you go a variation of different designs but I don't favor one over the other, except possibly my ess heils since I modified it to my taste.
To my ears, electrostats mylar has that tzzzz sound that colors the speaker, maybe I'm more sensitive to that sound, tried many models of ML. The Apogee Stage is what captivated me to planar.
09-23-11: Kkm
To my ears, electrostats mylar has that tzzzz sound that colors the speaker, maybe I'm more sensitive to that sound, tried many models of ML. The Apogee Stage is what captivated me to planar.
i've heard & read this a number of times - that mylar tzzzz sound. Maybe this is the difference between mylar-backed vs. kapton-backed? Maybe Jason Bloom knew this as well & got in Magneplanar's face way too much to make that point???!!!
Apogee Scintilla is the best speaker I have ever heard.
The only problem was the very low impendance. There seems to be some Greek producer (Omega?)who try to rivive this
legende. The real problem of Apogee was the patent issue
with Magnepan. No way to survive if one is not able to pay the lawyers.

I have the ESS Heil tweeter, and conventional mid and woofer. If I was a "zillionair", I think I would have some modification of this.
@Nandric: You are thinking of Analysis Audio, and their Omega (and other) speakers. No they are not full range ribbon, rather magnetic planar with ribbon tweeters, a la Magnepan; they do look exactly like Apogee, though. I have listened to Amphitryon and the sound was nice and dark - but this was probably to the tube amp driving them. I believe they need better amplification to really shine.
To my ears, electrostats mylar has that tzzzz sound. It sure can why I no longer use electrostatics.
Kkm and Johnk have either one of you hear a soundlab speaker?I know the sizzle sound you are refering to but on the soundlab that is adjustable to where it is heard then backed off;on my m2;s I cannot hear sizzle at all when properly adjusted.
Hi Ack, You are right regarding the looks: exactly like
Apogee. I remember the name 'Omega' but was no sure if this name refers to one of the (speaker) models or to the producer.However there seems to be some Australian guy who produce all the ribbons (low,mid and tweeters) for the Apogee. To complex for an amateur so I give up. But it would be very interesting if the Greek(s) and the Australian would try the revival together.

just to give you a bit of correct history. The only patent issue Magnepan had with Apogee Acoustics was with regard to the Apogee DIVA ribbon tweeter. This was circumvented by backdating the serial numbers on the DIVAs. Apogee did not go out of Business because of Magnepan. I have/had contacts to the inner circles of ex-apogee and the story was the high competition and demand for more commercial speaker systems. The downfall came with the Apogee GRAND. The engineering and production cost were to high and the numbers sold too low. Had nothing to do with Magnepan. The models that Magnepan has/had only employ in some cases an actual ribbon. Just for history purposes i have/had several models from both companies Apogee (Caliper Sig, Scintilla, Stage, DIVA and The Grand) as well as Magnepan 0.5, 1.6 and two pairs of 3.6s.

Hi Florianw, I got this patent story from some of the 4
Magazines for which I had subscription then (30 years ago?). Whatever the cause of the downfall we all regret the fact that Apogee is out of buseness. I can't remember The
Grand however. Would you care to tell us something about? I
myself am not able to imagine something better than Scintilla. BTW I am not sure what you mean with 'Just for history purposes...' I would like to have Scintilla for
one purpose only : listening .

Hello Nandric,

sure, i can give you a bit of an overview: The first model was called the "Fullrange" which is until today the largest model they made which employes only ribbons (or planar magnetic bass / people agree to disagree on this point). The Scintilla came second and was a bit of a Fullrange cut in half but with a unique midrange tweeter system that sat in the same slot. With one large pure aluminum ribbon in the middle and 4 ribbon tweeters around it. Later came other models such as the Caliper and the Duetta (smaller 2 way systems) followed up the new replacement 3 way Apogee DIVA (never reached the Fullrange) in sound tough. Although i only allow myself this remark with respect to other Apogees. Later came some hybrid models and the smallest Apogee called the "Stage". The hybrids such as the Mini Grand and the Studio Grand where hybrids where the bass panel stopped at around 70Hz and a subwoofer was employed. These are generally very good and capable of higher dynamic swings and could be used on lesser powered amps. In the early ninethees Apogee developed a speaker called "The Grand" which is a 4 way fully active ribbon speaker. Tweeter ribbon, midrange ribbon, woofer panel and basically a Krell Master Reference Subwoofer below it. Its about a 1300lbs without the packaging and comes with 4 built in krell mono amps for the subwoofer and (user selectable) woofer or tweeter. The customer has to apply additionally 4 channels of amplification so the system uses a total of 8 mono blocks to fire the speakers. Comes with built in displays and computer systems to adjust the rake, user presets, phase etc.... of all the drivers individually. About 7 pair or so were ever made costing over 85000$ in the early nineties. Extremely rare and to my ears the absolute pinnacle of sound. I had a Scintilla before and have friends who have them. An extremely good speaker and less space consuming then the Fullrange or Grand. Graz in Australia makes the spare parts in very high quality and excellent customer service. He even make a new Scintilla which can be driven by tube amps. :-)
@Nandric: The Australian you are referring to is Graz, see http://www.apogeeacoustics.com - there are dealers around the world you rebuild Apogees with Graz's drivers, so the Apogee marquee lives on very well. There are various postings around the web with pictures of such restorations, and they are really beautiful. A Diva can be had in the US for around $14K
Dear Florianw, First of all I think that you should supstitute 'historical reason' for 'love and empathy'.
In the second place I very much enjoy your story and explanation of all the models made. There are btw more examples of brilliant designers who become too optimistic
with their intentions: Nudell, Joachim (Audiophysic),etc.
What a waste. But it seems to be very difficult to combine
design capability with the commercial one.
Which one is your 'baby' and which one can you recommend as
a 'smart choice'? And of course thanks for your responce.

Dear Ack, Someone with the name Graz should live in Graz
in Austria. This way I would be able to visit him in 10
hours. I thought that one need to order his drivers by him
in Australia and than do all the work himself. Thanks for
the info and site. Glad to see that this 'icon' has still
many admirer.

Regards to both,
Hi Rrog

The fact concerning the ML CLS is that I had the opportunity to listen to it many different times with several different amplifiers at my local brick and morter dealer, oh how I miss those days. In any case I heard these speakers matched up to what I would estimate to be among the best amplification of the day including Threshold SA-1 Class A mono amps, Audio Research D250 servo and M-100 mono amplifiers. Maybe the speakers weren't in a large enough space? Can't say for sure but I never cared for them and they ALWAYS sounded lean. What I DID hear was the potential because at that time I was unaware of any speaker that was more resolving than the CLS, that is until I heard the Apogees. The Sequels just didn't blend the dynamic bass driver with the panel and I felt they were a total failure, not at all engaging to me.
There's an Apogee forum with lots of info, especially in the older archived section.


I own a pair of Calipers that I picked up for a song and "fixed up". There's only so much that can be done though by yourself. A qualified Apogee technician is needed to replace bass ribbons since the process is detailed and difficult and a mess up means a whole new driver needs to be bought.

If you can score any Apogee from someone who lives near you then you should give them a try. I don't think I would trust these being shipped to me though - too fragile. They are 30 years old in general and need some TLC for sure.
Nandric: Hello and thank you for your response. Yes it seems that the best always die too young or go out of business. Which one is my baby? Well, i have 3 babies: One pair of Apogee Grands, one pair of Apogee Calipers and one pair of Apogee Stages. There is also one electrostatic, an Acoustat Spectra 11 which i enjoy.

The smartest choice i believe in the Apogee lineup is a Caliper or a Duetta. All Apogees require very good equipment to make them sing, but they represent, at least to me, the best compromise of size and sound.

Florianw, Thanks for your advice and post. This Apogee Grands is very astonishing speaker to me. I own the ASR Emitter II and The Basis Exclusive phono-pre which are feed with 2 (40 kgr each) transformers + 2 battery packs (40 kgr each). I call them 'the German artillery'. Alas my military vocabulary is limited so no idea how to call the
Grands althought its own name gives some vague idea. I assume that you live in a palace and use them only in the winter insteade of any other heating provisions (for the palace)? What are the other 4 amps and are you listing only to the big orchestra with them while the chamber music you 'do' with, say, the electrostatics? To decide which of the 'babies' to use should be, anyway for me, an big dilemma. I assume that you and your friends vote about the choice? I also assume that you are very happy with this
Graz who does not live in Graz buth somewhere in Australia?

Kind regards,
Nandric: Yes, the Grand is indeed my pride an joy. We used to live in a sort of palace but moved close to Switzerland and out current house does not have a room to do them justice. But thats ok, one day they will get another room. Here is a picture of a set of Grands.


A heater is not necessary because the equipment is more then enough. It is powered by four internal Krell mono amps with external power supplies and a set of four Krell KRS 200 monoblocks (110kg each). The source is a Watec Analog Turntable with an Ortofon MC Rondo. The digital source is a Sphinx Labs Project 32 which feeds into a Monarchy Audio Upsampler and Dip combo which feeds into the new Monarchy Audio NM24 DAC. The preamp is a CAT SL1 MKII that goes into the Grands.

As far as to which baby is best, there is really no competition. Soundwise its the Grand. Then comes my second favoriete which is the Stage. Incedentially the Grand is the largest Apogee ever made and the Stage is the smallest. Third place take the Apogee Calipers followed by the Acoustat Spectra 11. The electrostatic has a very good midrange and high frequency. Very much like the Apogee but lacks dynamics and the edge. The subwoofers in the Spectra 11 are rubbish, but the larger Versions which are none-hybrid like the 1+1, 2+2 and larger are very very good speakers. Sometimes can be found for almost nothing, a true bargain and almost indestructable.

Graz lives in Australia and makes all new parts and also some new models. Definetly interesting to check it out :-)
Dear Florianw, Sorry for my 'nationalistic' inclination but are you European or some American who discovered the French way of life as well as the French scenery? I assume some French villa which need to be accomodated to the 'Grands'. Not sure if the specific French 'Grands' are near the Swiss border but you should be able to order those
from where you are. I am however puzzled with your other
'babies'. Those are not the 'natural kind' so no obligation
to provide for. 'Sentimental', or as you put it in your first post 'hystorical' reasons?

Nandric: I am not quite sure that i can follow you. Please excuse my english, it is not my native language. I am a German who lives in Switzerland. My pair of Grands is in my house as well as all the other speakers. I just use the Grand as my main system. There are only approximately 7 pairs worldwide and none more in France. The last pair which was in Paris were sold to a Gentleman in America.

And no natural babies ;-)
Dear Florianw, We all, I assume, reason from some premises
which are usualy implicit. Only in the USA, I thought, a
common sitzen can live in a palace. In Europe only kings
live in a palace. Even a castle is not (pre) supposed for
the commons. Only recently it become possible in France to
get one. You stated (09-30-11): 'We used to live in...a palace but moved close to Zwitzerland'. So I thought that must be in France in some castle which can accomodate the Grands. With French 'Grands' I meant some of their wines and, even more important, some of their Cognacs. Who will offend Apogee Grands by trinking beer or cheap wine in front of them?
I am not the right person to 'value' your English but as far as I can judge it is in any case very eloquent. I am a Dutchman in the formal sense but original from the Balkans.
The funny thing regarding our exchange is that my German is better than my English.
I am wondering , considering the complexity of the Grands,
how you menage to keep them in optimal condition? Deed you
need the help from mr. Graz and are there some representative of his in Europe?

Kind regards,
Dear Florianw, I forget to mention. In the analog forum I
have three German friends (Dertonarm,Syntax and Thuchan)and
my recommendation is to visit us there. I am sure you will
than exchange your Ortofon Rondo for something better.