Hales Design Group speakers....how good were they?

I started a threat awhile ago http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?hbest&1125332737&read&3&4&
basically asking people to outline the best home system they've ever heard. A relative (into audio) was most impressed by a friend that once owned Hales Design Group speakers. The setup was unique, with the room being one of the best natural setups he'd heard. This person was from Calgary and used an Ayre K1-X pre with a NAD amp and CAL audio CDP. Needless to say its unusual. But he swears it was best and weirdest setup he'd ever heard. Who spends $8k on a pre and $1k on the amp and source...it drove the owner of a local highend dealer bananas because he himself couldn't build a room that sounded as good, and had no system that could touch it. He had quite the arsenal of speakers at his disposal as well, including Reference 3A, Oskar, Dali, Meadowlark. At any rate I was wondering why I hadn't heard of these speakers before? I realize the company has gone belly up, and they are dated. How would they hold up to current offerings by Reference 3a, Von Schweikert, Gallo Nucleus, Totem etc...
the hales loudspeaker was one of the last truly great 'sealed box' acoustic designs, and compared to the other brands you've listed would certainly be superior in every way. a speaker which favored no audible frequency and no particular music style. a keeper for an audiophile or music lover.
I lusted after a pair of Hales for a long time. I have had a pair of the Hales Rev 3's for a few years now and have no intention of letting them go for years to come. I heard many of the Hales when they were still in business. My only regrets are I could not afford the bigger ones and that I didn't have them sooner. The rev 3' sold new for $2,300 and were considered one of the best speakers for less than $5,000. Check links on audiogon and do some research. If you can find a pair, buy them, you won't be disapointed.
not good enough to keep them in business
the hales design group was bought by an older incarnation of wadia, and went bye bye when they did. the concept of natural or flat audio response in the hi end business is a losing battle. acoustic suspension loudspeakers are the most difficult to properly design and manufacture. they also require more power to drive than ported designs and don't particuarly favor any frequency- which is death in a demo room. being smart or right (and armed with the facts) has never carried much weight in hi end marketing. the road to china and back is now paved with casualties(ie meadowlark, soliloquy). the beat goes on, just not as accurately or as naturally as before.
Jay_doug - What's the problem? Don't you like cymbals and horns that make your ears bleed, and snare drums that sound like tendons snapping? String quartets that will actually strip furniture? I'll bet your woofers don't even have kevlar dustcaps! You need to get with the program quickly... You may already be under surveillance by the hype enforcement authorities you know :)
i guess so...what was i thinking?...its funny, but if hales had charged twice as much for their speakers, they would have been talked about today as one of the best, and would probably still be in the game. no good deed goes unpunished.
The final incarnation of Hales was Jason Scott Distributing, who also represented, among others, Electrocompaniet. I knew the owner fairly well, and when he first told me that he owned Hales, in a most nonchalant way, I thought he was actually BSing me. Turns out, he was completely honest with me. However, unlike Electrocompaniet, he didn't push the Hales brand anywhere, and that was their swan song.

I still think the marque is a fine speaker. The sealed box produced some commendable bass, though one needed to partner the speaker with a more gutsy amplifier. Midrange was also nice. The treble was the achilles heel of the sonics, as it was a bit crisp to my ears. Dropping a different tweeter into the speaker, and upgrading the parts quality of the crossover allows the speaker to compete with most sold for under $10K today.

If I had to rate the speaker, it would get very high marks from me. Since this is often a game of status and psychology, a shrewd buyer could pick himself up a pair of fantastic, though no longer fashionable speakers at a seriously good price.
I have been a Hales fan for a number of years. I owned Concept 3's and currently own Transcendence 5's. Liking these speakers will probably depend on your preference for port or sealed enclosures. Hales have been criticized for not having that much bottom end but it's the tight bass that makes them so appealing to me and this is in large part due to the sealed enclosure. How good were they? It's hard to say without knowing listening preferences. I found the Concept 3's could become a bit bright with the wrong equipment but are very revealing and fast speaker. The Transcendence line is smooth top to bottom with a very solid and tight bottom end if not earth shaking. In my system the Hales need plenty of good clean power to sound their best.

One thing is for sure. With Hales out of business I have seen various models selling for a fraction of their original price. Dollar for dollar on the used market I don't see how you can do much better in terms of sound and build quality. I bought my T-5's for a song (no pun) a couple of years ago and can't imagine getting better sound, per my listening preferences, from any other speaker manufacturer still in business for the same price used. My only real concern is spare drivers and parts (Madisound is a good source). If you ever get a pair have a friend help you un-box them. Most Hales models are HEAVY. Happy listening.
In my speakers shopping experience about 5 years ago, I tried to demo as much as I could in the under $20K tier. I purchased Hales Transcendence 8s at around $10K. It was my opinion at that time that to better the T-8s I would need to spend more than double.
Interesting thread.. I have owned the System 2 Signatures for about 15 years. When he came out with them,the system 2 Signatures were the ones that put Paul Hales on the map.
Harry Pearson gave them a mini rave and Robert Harley used them as his reference for many years.
I drive them with a Rowland model 8 and they truly sing; tremendous ability to portray depth, very smooth and incredible mid-bass definition and pin-point imaging are their strengths. Weakness in the reproduction of high frequencies but only in comparison to today's best tweets; also lacking in the bass department. However, I recently listened to a pair of B&W 802 diamonds, which were more extended in the high freq's but did not really blow away my Hales and in imageing and depth were lagging IMHO.
The Hales replaced electrostatics in my system and I think even today they are pretty competetive with speakers up to $8K.
The best sound I ever experience was from my Hales Rev 3.
The system consisted of the Hales, Perreaux amp and EAD Encore pre-amp processor. The tonal balance was some of the best I have ever heard. I had the impression that I was listening to real music and it was addictively pure.
The way in which I can tell if they are setup correctly, is by listening to music and not hearing the tweeter sticking out. Unfortunately they are highly room sensitive and difficult to setup if you want to maximize there potential. I am still trying to improve them in my new home.
I just picked up a pair of perfect Hales Rev 3's and would love to hear how people have positioned them in smaller to medium sized rooms. Mine are mated with Bryston 4BST amp; Cary SLP-50B Preamp and Arcam Alpha 9 CDP.

This thread would seem to know.

joshconde.....a great system indeed!!!!!! the hales sound great in a small room too. aimed like a nearfield monitor, they will transport you
From 1998 through 2001, I owned both the Hales T-5's and T-8's. They were fantastic sounding speakers. Image density and bass quality was fanatstic! In 1999, Paul Hales made a prototype speaker called the Alexandria. It used a ribbon tweeter. It was by far the most musical loudspeaker I ever heard. Paul was one of the only loudspeaker designers that was able to make loudspeakers that not only sounded good but also measured well on the test bench. Very flat frequency response. IMHO Hales loudspeakers were unmatched in terms of musicality. IMHO Hales offerings sounded much better than most of today's offerings.
Anyone know what Paul Hales is doing now??
He was working for a pro audio company in southern Califiornia for the past several years. However, I heard that he recently left that company. It would be interesting if he ever came back to the high-end audio world. Before Hales went under he was working on horn designs.
Sounds like an opportunity to hire Paul Hales to design a range of speakers and set up manufacturing in China
I own a pair of Hales T-5's with African Mahoghany (or whatever it is). When I upgraded the CD player a couple of years ago a guy from our local high-end store installed it. I put on a Sting CD, cranked to 9.2 mega wattage and the hair on the back of this guys neck looked like a Porcupine. His store sells Revel Salon's among many others. He couldn't believe what he was hearing, so when I told him how much a paid for them he asked if he could use the bathroom.
Back in the Spring of 2000 I was looking for a new set of speakers to replace my Klipsch Km-4 speakers. I was looking for a pair of speakers that were not so "in your face" and bright as the Klipschs and had better imaging and soundstage along with a more neutral sound. I had been reading a lot about B&W speakers and went to a local hifi shop (Buzz Jenson's)to audition a pair. I think I listened to the B&W 802's or 803's, but I was pretty disappointed in the sound of the B&W's. There was something quite not right with the sound of the bass coming from these speakers (I think I called it 'powder puff' bass at the time. It just didn't sound natural, articulate, or very authorative (lacking slam). I also listened to Energy, Athena, and Martin Logans. All did not impress.

I was about to dispair and leave the shop when the salesguy led me into another room that had a pair of Hales Revelation 1s,2s and Revelation 3's. He put some music on the Rev 2's, but I thought that he made a mistake and accidentally pressed the wrong button because I thought that the Rev. 1s (which were behind the Rev. 2s up on a shelf) were playing the music. That is how good the Rev 2s were imaging. I couldn't believe how neutral these speakers sounded and how seamless the music flowed from the Hi end to the bottom end. I decided that the Hales were the speaker for me. I ended up getting a pair of Hales Rev 3s about a year later from the hifi shop for about $1100.00 after Hales was going out of business (the sales guy actually lived across the street from me as it turned out).

Anyways, I have had the Hales Rev 3s for about 5 years now and will never sell them. That is how much I love these speakers. I love what these speakers do at the low end. You don't just hear the music, but you also feel the music. Loads of tight, refined, and extended bass (down to 28Hz) Actually, I would love to pickup a pair of transcendance 5 or 8s and use the Rev 3s as rear speakers for 5.1 music, eventually.

I have listened to quite a few speakers (Sonus Faber, Moniter Audio, B&W, Paradigm, Klipsch, Martin Logan, Mirage, Pro Ac, etc) and not one has made me want to "upgrade".

Is anyone familiar with Avalon or Von Schweikert speakers? How do the Transcendance 8s stack up against say the Avalon Eidelon?

My current system:
Hales Revelation 3
Hales Revelation Center
B&K AVR 505 Receiver
Denon 2800 mkII DVD player
Rega P3 Turntable
Clear Audio Basic Phono Preamp
Transparent Music Wave Plus Speaker Cables


It's really a drag that such a great company went under. What the heck happened?
I didn’t know Paul Hales personally but I’ve been told by a number of people who did that he was quite the asshole. I like his products though and owned the Rev 3 for a short time myself. The problem with the speaker is that the drivers integrated very poorly. Maybe he never studied crossover design in school. It was very easy to hear each of the drivers and the materials they were made from. The midrange driver in particular was incredibly slow sounding. That woofer though was amazing. Bass power, depth and slam were incredible.

An Avalon Eidolon is a lot faster through the midrange but its bass is a joke compared to the Hales Rev 3. The Eidolon isn’t very good at higher spls either. It gets shouty. As for VS speakers, I don’t care for their sound personally. None of them. Ever hear a VR9? If you like your hifi to sound like hifi, the VR9 is for you. The Rev 3 in several ways outperforms the Avalon and the VS and if I had to choose one without consideration for price it’s the one I’d pick. All you have to do is listen without prejudice for price and you will feel the same way.

Thanks for your comments. That is very interesting that the Avalon Eidolon's bass doesn't stack up versus even against the Hales Rev. 3s. If that is the case then what do you actually get for spending $20K? Are they even worth the price tag then? Same with the VS's. What do you mean by 'hifi' sound, btw.

As far as the tweeter is concerned on the Hales, with respect to being able to tell what it is made of, I think that this may do a great deal with speaker placement in the room. Not properly positioned, the tweeter can stand out and it does sound like a metal dome (I think someone on audiogon pointed this out as well).

I know what you are talking about with the midrange being a little slow. I think this may have something to do with the fact that Paul Hales used a 4th order Linkwitz-Riley crossover network for the Hales speakers. Since he was so keen on reproducing a flat frequency response across the audible spectrum, I think the "slowness" in the midrange was the compromise. I can't say that I really notice it anymore and that it wasn't a quality of the speaker that really bothered me that much. The flat frequency response of my Hales Rev. 3's allows me to listen to music at high volumes for hours without listener fatigue. Along with the excellent bass response, that is another quality of the Hales that intrigued me.