ESP Speakers


I am looking for some information on ESP speakers from people who have actually owned them. 

I recently purchased a pair of ESP Bodhran speakers on Ebay and currently am waiting for their delivery.

I have never heard those speakers before but listened, under what I think were suboptimal conditions, to the older version of the ESP Concert Grands (3 woofers). These auditions left me quite puzzled. At times the speakers sounded great, even amazing. At other times they sounded quite awful. My feeling was that there was great potential with these speakers, but as I didn't have the opportunity to fiddle with the conditions under which they were offered, I have decided to look elsewhere.

Then one day I saw on Ebay a used pair of the Bodhran SE at a good price and decided to take the risk and purchase them. I would say that I did it out of curiosity, if not of anything else.    

Now the version of the Bodhran that I bought came out about 10 years after the first CG, and at the time cost more or less the same (16,000$). What I am interested to know is, first, how do the ESP Bodhran SE compare to the older ESP speakers?  I know that some drivers were changed, probably the crossovers, but I have no idea what change was made that justified an increase of 10,000$ from the first version?

Another thing I am curious to know is what people think in general about the brand. Today one can hardly find any information about ESP which is less than 10 years old. It would seem that very few people kept them long from new, and those who did eventually decided to get rid of them at very low prices.
This makes one wonder: has the fashion changed or are there really better offerings today than 10 and 20 years ago that justify such an expensive change? Or perhaps, there was something inherently wrong with the speakers after all?   
 ESP past and present owners, I would appreciate your comments.  
  
taviran
Taviran
Perhaps I can add a little insight on the subject. Back when ESP was still a US based company and attending CES, I heard the Bodhran speakers and was quite taken by their sound. Basically I viewed them as a smaller version of their Concert Grands. After CES I came very close to buying a new pair but at the last minute opted for a pair of Verity Parsifal Encore speakers instead. Pretty sure it was a matter of price. Years later a pair of ESP Concert Grands came up for sale locally and I bought them. This pair had the latest driver upgrades as well as new cloth socks and looked new. I was a little hesitant about the purchase, not because of the sound but because my room is only 14x16 and the Concert Grands is a really large speaker.  The Bodhrans would have been a much better fit.  However it turned out they worked very well in my room, the sound was full, warm and rich.  I liked how they presented the performers as life size. The bass was very good and not boomy. My only complaint was the top end extension could have been better. The Concert Grands has two tweeters, one front and one rear firing and I think, but not 100% that the designer rolls these off around 15,000 hz. I mean it was still very good but I wanted it better so I added a pair of Tannoy supertweeters crossing over around 15,000. These worked well. These speakers are rather bass rich so matching them with the right speaker cable was essential, I used Jena Labs Twin19 speaker cables which was a great match. I kept the Concert Grands for a few years and had no plans on ever selling them but my "End All" speaker the Ascendo System M came up for sale at a price I could actually afford and opted for these instead.  I ended up selling them to a guy in Montreal, it was shameful how cheap these sold for, new  they were around $40,000. Had these not come up for sale I would have kept the ESP Concert Grands.   There is nothing quirky or out of place with ESP speakers whatsoever, both of their models, th Concert Grands and Bodhran are very fine speakers, Iam sure you will like their sound.
My system was and still is Joule Electra Heaven Gate Mono SET amps, 70 wpc, Class A, Joule LA 150 MkIi Preamp, Audiomeca CD, Transrotor Fat Bob Reference turntable.

George
I have the Bodhran SE which I purchased after hearing them at RMAF 2007.  I took delivery in the spring of 2008.  So, I've owned them for over nine years.  
What initially attracted me to investigate these was they had to be tube amp friendly and non ported bass.  The unusual styling was also a plus over the typical monkey box.
IME, the speakers are very picky as far as room setup and connected components.  The speakers must be biwired.  My favorite amp so far is the BAT vk 55 which is heat generating class A triode which the other responder also found the speakers like class A triode power.  Due to my location in the desert southwest, the speakers are my winter system.
I hope to have them setup again in a couple of weeks.  In my room I prefer a live end dead end setup with the speaker end being the live end.  The speakers have side firing tweeters so need a bit of a reverberant field.  
I place them about 25 inches from the front wall to the back of the cabinet which places the leading edge about 42 inches into the room.  The speakers are designed to be parallel to the side walls resulting in a 45 degree toe angle.  I like a bit of toe out, approximately half an inch which gives about a 37 degree toe angle. M
Crap, I bumped the post button.  So anyway, my listening position is about 9 feet away.
I never could really achieve the bass impact I was looking for so my solution turned out to be a pair of Gallo subs.  I'm used to full bass from my summer N802's.  I now have plenty of mid bass Punch and slam with response down to 25 hz.

So, how do they sound?  Like real music, real instruments especially anything acoustic piano, drums, cello, bass fiddle and voices.  I can pretty much play anything I want.  Both of my systems offer a lot of pleasure but the winter system is my favorite.

 I can't think of another speaker on the market today that would serve my needs any better.
I want to thank both George and rhljazz for their replies, this was just what I was looking for: very informative comments from one current and one former owner of ESP. From your answers, I believe I have learned that the ESP speakers are kind of  'midrange' speakers in that George was missing the highs (above 15K) and rhljazz was missing the lows (although granted, the speaker model was not the same) .

I also noticed that both of you have/had the newer models which came out in around 2004 (SI and SE).  I would love to hear also from someone who has or had the original Concert Grands (which came out in the mid 1990th), since that is the speaker I actually auditioned. (I read Art Shapiro of positive-feedback's journey with them but would be interested also to hear from recent owners of those speakers).   
Thanks.       
Hi Guys,
 Well, I have finally received my ESP Bodhran SE speakers and I must say that so far I am not too excited. They sound quite muffled and it seems to me that one back tweeter on one speaker is not working. Any advice about what can be done would be appreciated.  
Here's a list of questions for you:
Did you get the factory supplied spiked footer, and are you using them?  They are pretty much a must.

Do you have the speakers biwired?  This also a must.

What amp are you using?

FYI the extra tweeter fires out the side, not the back.  If one isn't working that is a problem for sure.  Since the speakers are designed to fire at a 45 degree angle into the room the sides of the speakers will be parallel with the room side wall.  Some toe out may help.  I measure a 1/2 inch difference closer to the sidewall at the front of the speaker which reduces the toe in to about 37 degrees.

I should have some contact info if you need a tweeter.

Where are you located?
Hi again. thank you rhljazz for the quick reply. Well, I fixed the tweeter problem. I unscrewed the bottom where the crossover is located and found a white wire disconnected. soldered it back and it's working now. What a relief.  And thank you for the correction: this tweeter is firing at 45 degrees indeed. Now as for the other suggestions, yes I connected it in biwire and screwd the spikes on. I will now try to listen with all drivers working.   
Last update: After some soldering and some tweaking, the sound now is excellent: open, detailed, dynamic, very musical. What a wonderful speaker.    
Just curious, what size is your room?  What type of placement did you end up with?
Glad to hear the driver problem was a simple fix.
Hi guys
First of all, all the best from Austria. With great interest I followed your entries to the E.S.P. Speakers. I bought my first Concert Grand in 1997 from Peter Mecek, a very good friend of Sean McCoughen the designer, who was previously with Beveridge Audio. I was playing with VTL MB 750 tubes and it was fantastic. Warm, durchleutend, just great. Later I exchanged the VTL for ML 33h and behold, the E.S.P. could grow one more time. So the weaker part was not the speaker but the amplifier. After some time, I was able to move in my new listening room which had been acoustically pretreated. The room has a reasonable size, about 80 m2, and there the Concert Grand developed its great dominance. The possibility to install the speakers pretty much in the room, so away from the reflective walls, gave the big loudspeaker its full potential.
In 2004, Peter and Sean came with the larger Sii built in Isobarik technology. A total of 9 high-quality Chasis were installed and right a Höchtöner goes sideways away. Now the Bassfundamet gained in importance and it was clear my room was not really exhausted yet. So I set up a Double Bass Aray with 4 Velodyne DD12s. 2 subs in front and 2 in the back. Incredible but just because of the low notes the spatiality increased significantly, so that one would like to reach for the interpreters. Now in 2018 I am very satisfied and believe I am allowed to hear one of the best speakers. Unfortunately, I could not hear Sean the last few years, to my knowledge, he has now developed a small set and cable. Hope he's in good health, one of the best among the elderly and Peter makes PearAudio and builds the Fletcher drives.

Linn Klimax

Air Forsell AirForceOne reference with TonArt control

Mark Levinson 52 with phono

Mark Levinson 33H

4 Velodyne DD12

E.S.P. Concert Grand Sii

TonArt cable

with Love from Austria
Ravin
Hi Guys. 
Do you have a schematics of the crossovers of the Bodhrans?
After living for a few months with my speakers I came to the conclusion that something was wrong. I just couldn't get them to image properly. So a few days ago I unscrewed the bottoms and after some soldering exposed the two crossovers.
To my dismay, I found out someone was fiddling with these crosses and there were some "anomalies", like changed parts and wrong phase connections. 
Anybody knows where I can get the schematics?
Thanks. 

 

     
Email for Sean, the designer: [email protected]
phone +44 1803 226 173
or
Mike Verretto phone +81 3 6425 9375
Hope that will get you what you need.
Hi Guys,
First, I wanted to thank rhljazz for his help. I should have done it sooner but life took me in other directions lately. 
I was finally able to refurbish the ESP crossovers on my own. While at it, I changed some parts (caps, resistors) to higher quality ones, changed cabling to Belden and soldered everything point-to-point. Overall the sound improved a lot I believe and I would certainly recommend this. Not a very difficult job. 
I experimented with various amps: Luxman m900U, and Jadis JA80. Still, I am not altogether where I want to be.
My room is quite small so I believe this sets a limit to what I can achieve. Compared to other speakers I had previously (Quads, Klipsch), the ESPs are much more neutral, and more balanced, but also very sensitive to many factors (like cables, the quality of the recording, etc). My wife does not like the sound, I must say, so perhaps something is wrong. But right now I don't see myself opting for other speakers. 
Cheers. 
Source: Doge 6 Cd Player/EMT 950
Amps: Luxman m900u/Jadis JA80
Pre: Luxman C900U/Jadis JPL
Cables: MIT/XLO
Music: 90% classical


     
 
    
An update on my adventure with ESP Bodhran SE.
After measuring the impedance of the speakers, something I should have perhaps done long ago, I was surprised to see that it was 4 and not 8 ohms, as the manufacturer states on his website. I changed the Jadis JA80 to 4 ohm, and ...Bingo! Now it sounds like I was expecting from the beginning. The Jadis-ESP now sounds better than the Luxman combo, at least with acoustical music. All and all, I believe I can recommend to people to purchase the ESP speakers, although you should be aware that they need space and VERY careful placement (and probably a crossover overhaul). By the prices they are going for, it's really a steal. 
Cheers.