GMA Europas-first impressions

Well I've got about 60 hours on the Europas now and have had them about a week. They went into my modest system consisting of Nad C370 and 521I and a Sony powered sub. I'm just getting started in Hi Fi again after 20 years. Have previously owned Maggies (mg1's I think they were called), Klipsch horn knockoffs and Stax electrostatic headphones. So I thought I would get some nice clean sounding monitors and good stands and a new sub. Also wanted to investigate the phase/time coherence deal. I expected clear defined sound but was worried about brightness in my rather hard room.
Well I got clear defined sound aplenty and not even a hint of brightness from the Europas. The highs are sweet and delicate and can pull out details of old recordings I hadn't heard before. Today was listening to an old Cream song (yes I said Cream) and I was blown away to hear the articulate presentation of Ginger Baker's cymbal work from the next room. If anything the top end is gaining in open airy texture as time goes on.
I don't want to get into the time/phase coherence debate here but I did finally setup the speakers in an equalateral triangle as the GMA manual suggests. In my rather compromised listening room, this puts the speakers at 30 inches from the back wall. This helped with both the presence of vocals (really quite startling) and the bass response as well.
The bass has excellent definition and it is easy to track the acoustic bass tracking up and down a scale note by note.
I initially started using the sub with the Europas but I am now using them full range. They aren't going terribly low (6 inch drivers) but they are in the room and present on the bottom end. Here again I was playing Dave Brubeck Take Five and the drum solo in the middle of this piece just bounced out and hit the floor right between the amp and CD player. When the sax fell in, the air coming out of that horn was breathy and just plain scary.
So the Europas are clear and defined, delicate and present, but there's more. These babies are in sync with the dynamics of music. No analytical sound or theoretical disertation. The sound is big and room filling (12x22x8) and I believe they could easily handle a larger room than mine. The presentation is wide and deep and the dynamic peaks are surprisingly powerful. With the clarity they posess, the Europas maintain the background performers info all through those "stage front" dynamic peaks. They bring through the drama and emotion of the music. Man, that Brubeck piece just plain knocked me out!
This is a lot to get out of a pair of speakers that go for what 900 bucks a pair? I have Sound Anchors coming and that with more break in time should increase and open up the bottom end.
Thanks to Roy for the great job and to the Agoners that helped me find these great speakers.
Thanks Abbeydog!
A small note- perhaps you mis-typed: we do not recommend an equilateral triangle, but one narrower by ~10-15% in width. Check manual again if ??

Tunes as tools:
"Buddy Guy: Blues Singer" CD (new)
Mostly acoustic blues
Try at near-nightclub playback levels, then softly. Do either late at night when the electricity is good. Doesn't do it for you at one extreme or the other or both? It's not the recording.
Use it to also check for imaging precision/resolution/stability across his large vocal dynamic swings (voice is still slightly compressed/peak limited but mostly you should hear him pull back from the mic when he hits his big notes). No image characteristics should vary to 100+dB spl's, nor as other instruments come and go.
Good low bass. Proper tone balance IMO.
Roy, that's interesting. Thiel recommends an equilateral triangle (as a starting point) and Dunlavy recommended the speakers be wider from each other than from the listener. Would you care to elaborate on your position? I'm not trying to pit one manufacturer against another, but trying to understand the logic and reasoning behind these recommendations.
Great review abbeydog, but you are KILLING me. I just bought a pair of Europas, but the realities of new fatherhood, homeownership, etc. have forced me to wait a while to complete the system. But its more time to research and shop, and supposedly good things come to those who wait.
Once I am done I'll post my impressions, maybe we can compare notes. Please keep me up to date on your impressions as the Europas continue to break in. Thanks, Jb3
I've finally hit the 200 hour mark on my Europas and the changes have been dramatic to say the least. Do not judge these speakers until you have at least 100 hours on them preferably with loud music, all types of music. At first the mids were a bit congested and the microdynamics a bit constrained, but after 100 hours the speakers really opened up with extremely clear and transparent mids. The ability of the speaker to play at low volumes after breakin is unsurpassed in my experience. The treble as stated is very smooth and airy with no hint of hardness or glare whatsoever. Subtle variations in cymbals and brushes are rendered very well. The bass is tight and fast and extends to the upper 40's in my room; I have a rel sub handling the low bass which integrates very well. What's also remarkable is they play very loudly without distortion or boxiness. The speakers are neither lean nor warm, they just sound right. I've listened to many fine speakers in the past 20 years and in my opinion the green mountains including the continuum 0.5 and C2 rank first in transparency, vocals, soundstaging especially depth, low level playing, microdynamic shadings, and most importantly in my opinion they are the most live sounding speakers I've heard. Other fine speakers such as the Merlins and Sonus Fabers sound warm and musical but in my opinion did not transport me to the studio. With the green mountains I actually feel that I'm in the studio or at the live event. When you consider the $900 price tag they are easily one of the best bargains out there. I have a $12,000 system with the green mountains being one of the least expensive components. Obviously they perform much better than their low price would suggest. I have no problem spending much more money on speakers but as I've said, they are the best monitors I've auditioned. I know many people have given these speakers excellent praise and I must concur. Of course these are just my opinions.
Yes, I meant "equal-legged Tee" and that is how I have them set up. Thanks for the tip on the cd Roy. I definitely will check it out. I love the blues.
Tennisjunky, I'm sure your are right about the good things to come in the hours ahead. The Europas have changed quite a bit already. I too feel that they are the best component in my system and will surely be looking at upgrades to my source and amp soon.
Thanks for the input guys.
Roy - how efficient are the Europas? Would they work with an SET amp of few watts: 4, 6, or 8? Thought it might make a nice combination with a Darred SET for a not-too-expensive system.

Thanks, Peter

Good to read your initial impressions on the Europas. These speakers will improve all the way to the 100 hrs. mark & a bit beyond. Be sure to "exercise" them as Roy J. instructs in the user guide - this will help the speaker be more responsive at lower listening levels.

I personally have the C1.5i floor standers. Also excellent! Non-fatiguing on any music, least like hi-fi rather truer to the recorded music than my previous B&Ws. Excellent bass as well. If & when you consider upgrading seriously consider the C1.5i.
For the smaller amplifiers, satisfactory output is possible, but the speakers still need to be broken in with at least a 50W/channel amplifier (8 Ohm rating), which improves the sound at both high volumes and at very soft ones.

The results with a high-quality SET amp of less than ten watts are adequate for listening in a smaller room, or within ten feet, for modest SPL's up to 90dB peak- which is not very loud. But loud enough for most music in a quiet room. Try before you buy, of course, is the best advice, but we do have several dealers who routinely demo on very small amplifiers!

The speakers are rated 88dB for 2.83Volts input at one meter on pink noise, without room gain. In other words- average sensitivity. The key I feel, to useful levels from a small amplifier is that the speaker's drivers be dynamically responsive with little compression of the peaks. Also, when a speaker is not time-coherent, we see that the peak-to-average SPL ratios are reduced- those speakers sound more compressed.

The Equal-legged Tee layout we recommend is a good starting point. It is very doubtful anyone would prefer the cabinets wider apart than that, w/respect to a solid center image.

"Equal-legged Tee": If speakers are 12' apart, then you should be 12' back from the center point of that line connecting them. This results in an included angle of about 53 degrees (60 degrees = equilateral triangle). We believe this is the angle where the ears begin to have their highest acuity, and roughly equal to the angle at which our eyes, looking straight ahead, lose acuity. We have tried this 53 degree separation on many other speakers with success- I don't think this is unique to our products/design philosophy. This explanation is in our manuals.

The few companies that recommend really wideset placement are, I believe, creating more "channel separation", via throwing a larger acoustic shadow on the opposite ear. This is most often recommended by two-spaced-mid designs- in those, of course the sound from the upper mid leaks over the top of the head to the opposite ear, in a different fashion than the mid below ear level leaks under the head. And this difference is quite noticeable with small head movements. Spreading those speakers far apart reduces this effect, but still makes for a one-person speaker.

Tennisjunky, Bombaywalla-
Thanks for your comments! Glad you are enjoying them!

Best regards,
Which REL sub are you using with the Europas? For that matter, what is your system as I am looking at new CD-Amp
upgrades down the road.
Thanks, Scott
Abbeydog my system is on the expensive side. I'm using the Pathos twin towers hybrid amp which puts out 35 watts per channel. It doesn't seem like much power but the Europas play more than loud enough for me. This amp is one of the finest amps I've heard regardless of price. For digital, I'm using an EVS Millenium DAC fed by an EVS modified Pioneer DVD transport and a Monarchy Audio Jitter reducer. I've got the digital equipment and REL storm 3 plugged into a powerplant 300 set at PS2 multiwave. The Europas sit on Osiris stands. For cables I'm using a Zcable Live V4 interconnect, Bogdan pure silver speaker cables unterminated, and Luminous Allegro digital cables which are all excellent products for the money. For power cords TG audio 688 feeding the DAC, ZCable gold lightning feeding the Pathos, Silver Audio powerburst feeding the powerplant, and two Crump DIY cords feeding the transport and jitter reducer.
Roy, thanks again.
Not bad! You can get away from a system like that for tennis?
Thanks, Scott.
Very few speakers...regardless of price...have that 3-d imaging magic...and that special of level of "involvement" that only truly time/phasecorrect speakers seem to do...all in all...I have been very pleased with my purchase...
I've had my Europas since spring so I guess they're getting broken in but certainly haven't keep track of volume/hours logged. I'm using a pure tube setup, NOS stuff with EL34's operating in triode mode. The Europas just get the texture and harmonics so 'right' like a old Martin guitar....if you know what I mean. Kudos to Roy J on designing an exquisite piece of art!

Check out 'Norman Blake and Tony Rice 2' second cut 'Lost Indian' with Doc Watson. Martin and Santa Cruz guitars just 'ringing' the wood!
I've had my Europas a year and love them. I have them mated to a 1978 Onko A7 integrated amp and the sound is heavenly. I've used them with a number of different amps new and old and they always sound great. Phasecorrect is right on about the 3-D magic.
How do the europas do with classical music? instrumental timbre, solo piano, strings? How would you compare them to spendor sp100?