Has anybody had experience with the Orions?


Surfing through the net, I found this site of Siegfried Linkwitz (Linkwitz Lab). Yes he is the same Linkwitz famous for the Linkwitz-Riley crossover formulas. I was wondering if anyone has listened, or better yet, owns these speakers, which are Sigfried's best design to date. They appear to embody fascinating concepts in acoustical science. To name a few, dipole radiation, excellent sub-bass response within an open box, and a very slender and elegant cabinet. According to some, they are the closest thing to live music available, regardless of price. I'd appreciate any comments or observations. Thank you.
jmaldonado
Go to the forum on his website. You may find someone in your area willing to invite you over for a listen. A lot of people do that.

I haven't heard them myself. I live close enough to him to make a day outof a trip to visit his office, but the price is out of my range, so I don't want to face the temptation.
I have listened to a pair of Orions. Generally, I've been particularly interested in open baffle spkrs for quite a few years (ever since I listened to "Audio Artistry" spkrs, also designed by Mr Linkwitz) and have frequented the Linkwitz site assiduously.
Following your questions,
they are the closest thing to live music available
I would rather say, they are very close to what is contained in the source material -- what comes out of the phono or the cdp, etc. Having read some of your posts I think you understand the difference. There is an easily perceptible lack of distortion and, an impressive simulation /rendition of dynamics. The dynamics surprised me: the drivers used are quite conventional (OK, selected for their linearity and distortion characteristics, but still off the shelf);
the implementation extremely complex (the xover, 6-8 amplification channels).

Still, the dynamics reminded me of horns -- i.e. far away fm panels.

excellent sub-bass response within an open box
No, they won't go that low. IMO it's a good thing: bass (& sub-bass if necessary) is best implemented independently and separately, away from the main speakers in the listening room.

a very slender and elegant cabinet
There is a good point here: given the sound they produce, the speakers are quite reasonably sized.

Please note that the Orions I heard had the front tweet only. Lately a back tweet has been added.
Cheers
I have heard the speakers in Mr Linkwitz's room and the speakers are excellent. I have owned many speakers in the $10k-$18k range and these (orions) are definately in the top echelon of this group and are priced much less. I believe I would own them if not for the fact that I couldn't then spend gobs of money on trying new electronics and cables. Darn hobby!

These are seriously good speakers and terrific value. I think you would need to spend multiples to get better overall sound ...and you could easily spend multiples and do a lot worse.

I agree very much with the above comment that relative to other/most speakers they do an excellent job of remaining true to the source.
I've built a pair and will be adding the rear tweeter to them in the next 2-3 weeks. I've auditioned numerous other speakers upto 18K—not in my price range, but I did it to find out what 10-20K can get you.

The Orion has the cleanest most detailed bass I've heard. (In my room, it's flat at 20 hz. I reduce the bass usually 4 dB on most jazz and pop recordings, but leave it flat on classical.)

Cleanest, fullest, most transparent midrange I've heard.

Clean, crisp, treble—the best I've heard overall—almost, but not quite as fast as a good ribbon, such as the Piega.

Soundstage, imaging, and transparency throughout the entire audible bandwidth is superlative.

Never thought I'd spend so much on speakers—but these have taught me there's no need to dump megabucks in amplification, cables, and other money pits to get state-of-the-art home audio reproduction.
There is an interesting thread from Lynn Olson on DIYAudio about open baffle speakers that discusses his ideas for a new speaker as well as some of the the other designs out there like the Orion. It's a huge thread but has been intersting reading.

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=100392&perpage=10&highlight=&pagenumber=1
Not as good as Magico's
Thank you all for your interesting answers.

Regalma1, I hope somebody has them here in Mexico as well. I'll look into the forum.

Gregm, you're right. Live music was an overstatement, but being close to the source is my cup of tea. This implies neutrality, and dynamics ability with low distortion. If as you say, they remind you of horns, their dynamics have to be among the best for direct radiation speakers. After all, the cones are practically free to move in response to the coil's magnetic field! As for the bass, again you're right. Their -3 dB cut go down "only" to 30 Hz, which is more or less normal for their size. This is enough for me given my musical taste.

Glide3, you also seem impressed by them, specially for their accuracy. But what about the soundstage (width, depth, height), how good was it?

Ojgalli, adding the rear tweeters apparently it's a BIG improvement. It seems to be much more so than with conventional box speakers having rear tweeters. Could you please report us back when you test them?

Tarsando, could you be more specific? In what areas do you think the Magico's surpass the Orions?

Matt, thanks for the link. I'll read it thoroughly.

Regards,
Tarsando,

Here you go again, comparing apples to citrus type fruit. Not only are these two speakers continents apart in price, have you actually heard both of them?

Oz
Hello Jose:
I,m Carlos from Xalapa (friend with Raul); i don,t know if its of any interest for you but i own the Gradient Revolution which have open dipole bass and very similar in concept to the orions. i hear that Mr. linkwitz really takes his hat off with Jorma Salmi the Gradient designer.
Check out this study link, i think is fascinating:
http://www.gradient.fi/design/stereo/
Feel free to let me know if you want to come to Xalapa and check them out.
BTW: Congratulations on the Essential 3150 pre; i,ve heard it twice at Raul,s place, really state of the art.
Regards, Carlos Villarreal
Actually Jmaldonado you could probably build them for a very modest investment... The drivers are about 1,5k altogether. The xover is very complex for a lame diyer -- but shouldn't be a problem for you.
Mr Linkwitz only charges ~300 for the full technical design & schematics.
I owned various Thiels over the years and often listened to lots of others whenever hit by the upgrade bug. When I found the Orions I was cured. They are the best I have ever heard and the closet to the sound of real music, at least Classical - which is my primary interest. I have added the rear tweeter to mine and that kicked things up a notch, which is really saying something considering the level of the original. They have a very natural, open sound that some hi-fi types may not appreciate at first. Nothing jumps out at you as with many speakers but that is what makes them so satisfying over time. They reproduce music about as realistically as you can in a home environment.

Tim McTeague
Hello Jose
I heard very good things about the Bethoveen designed by Mr. Linkwitz. The special thing about his design is the active Crossover at line level which buffers first and then separates freq. while correcting the drivers function to be finally perfectly flat, this is done by a complicated array of opamps at line level, you can see a functional diagram at his site, extremely interesting.
The part that atracted me the most to this design was the use of one amp per driver directly connected to the speaker terminals, avoiding coils etc. In his triamped system he recommends simple chip amps (Gaincard style) for each driver, I was of course thinking of using tube amps for mids and tweeters but gain discordance was a problem, and I didnt want to tinker with such a complicated and succesfull active Xover desing.
I lived for a while with Lowthers on open baffle on top of Altec 416, Bazzilla style (bought the plans but strayed from the original design) and realized open baffle is not my cup of tea, at least untill a get a bigger room!
I've had an interest in the Orions for some time, but haven't had a chance to hear them yet.

One criticism I've heard is that they (any dipole type) sound "big" all the time...even when the music doesn't call for it. Has anyone noticed this characteristic? How does the sound differ relative to a "conventional" speaker...say a Vandy 3a sig?
Fishboat,

The Orions definitely do not sound big all the time. I listen to a fair amount of solo guitar and lots of string quartets and the aural perspective is always size appropriate. I hated the way full size panel speakers made a guitar sound like it was six feet long. Now, extremely live rooms may mess things up as will placement too close to the back wall.

Tim McTeague
Fishboat:
"One criticism I've heard is that they (any dipole type) sound "big" all the time.."
Gradients are dipole only below 200 hz and i assume Orions are some where around that, being that you get the advantage of less standing waves than with any other boxed speaker (omnidirectional radiation bass enclosure).
Gradients are dipole only below 200 hz and i assume Orions are some where around that
No. The Orions are open baffle from ~2,4kHz to ~40Hz. Now they have a back firing tweet too (the tweet used has its own back chamber).
"No. The Orions are open baffle from ~2,4kHz to ~40Hz. Now they have a back firing tweet too (the tweet used has its own back chamber)."
Upssss!...sorry,thanks for the correction.
Sure. I built a pair over 3 years ago, have had them setup in a pair of rooms, and listened to another pair of Orions elsewhere.

They're as close as you can get to live music with two speakers provided that you can live with the placement constraints (> 4' to the front wall or half the distance to the listener), output limitations through 50Hz (while flat-in room to 30Hz, home theater action movie bass will bottom the woofers if the amps don't clip first. Organ music may also call for sub-woofers (Thor) crossed in at 40-50Hz), and don't have anything too odd going on acoustically with your listening room.
Carlos, thank you so much for the offer. I might take it... ;). The Gradients are also very interesting with their bass radiation configurability and their coincident tweeters. And they only require a single amplifier. You must be very happy with them. Is good to know that somebody is having success in attacking a major problem for high-quality playback at home, namely the room acoustics.

Regards,
I have always tought that dipole speakers have an inherent advantage against conventional designs whose main priority is the supression of back radiation and box resonances "ad extreme". Mr. Linkwitz has observed that a good dipole, under the right conditions, is capable of fooling our ear-brain system into creating the illusion of solid objects in front of us. He says that something seems to just "snap in", at least more so than boxed speakers such as the Magicos.

GREGM: The drivers are about 1,5k altogether. The xover is very complex for a lame diyer -- but shouldn't be a problem for you.
Greg, in the past I had fun making mods to several crossovers, including the ADS C2000. That one was crazy. I believe we counted 43 or so modifications! It was fully op-amp based. Nowadays, there are very good sounding op-amp designs, but a discrete design still is a must for the highest quality. This would mean dedicating many hours of design time, which at this moment I can't afford. Another disadvantage the Orions have is their need for 6-8 channels of amplification. The cost of such pile of amps could easily top the speakers' price themselves.

JSADURNI: I lived for a while with Lowthers on open baffle on top of Altec 416, Bazzilla style (bought the plans but strayed from the original design) and realized open baffle is not my cup of tea, at least untill a get a bigger room!
Jorge, I had a similar experience when I heard the big Magnepans (Timpani's) at Heaven Sound. They were very fast and neutral, but seemed to enlarge everything including the human voice. This is no surprise, as big panel speakers produce planar frontwaves, totally different from the way instruments and humans radiate sound. OTOH remember that the Orions have conventional drivers (of the highest quality though), and that might give them advantages over panel type speakers, at least in small spaces.

FISHBOAT: One criticism I've heard is that they (any dipole type) sound "big" all the time...even when the music doesn't call for it.
Fishboat, I don't know about sounding big, but according to Mr. Linkwitz they are capable of conveying the full range of acoustical spaces, from dry to wet. Can anyone confirm this?

Regards,
Tim, thanks for the review. I have two questions:

1) Are you able to detect by ear any of the 2 (or 3) crossover regions? How well blended are they?
2) Is the crossover adjustable?

Regards,
Jmaldonado,

I don't detect anything out of the ordinary at the crossover points and, no, they are not adjustable.

Tim
according to Mr. Linkwitz they are capable of conveying the full range of acoustical spaces, from dry to wet. Can anyone confirm this?
Yes, the restitution is palpably correct.
In my opinion the Orion’s combine some of the best attributes of the different speaker types;
The startling dynamics of horns, the crystal clean clarity of electrostics, the seamlessness of planers, the beautiful extended highs of a ribbon, and the realness of an omni-polar. Do they exceed the ultimate absolute attribute of each individual speaker type? My answer is no… BUT they absolutely do the best of combining all their strengths that I have heard or owned. Once you hear them and an active system there is no return. Considering the price they are the best speaker bargain in audio IMO. I have not heard the MBL’s or the active TAD’s, but would like to, so cannot comment on how they would compare but they of course are many thousands more…
They show you what a superb EE can do when audio is his passion. His credentials are impeccable as is his baby.
Just finished installing the rear tweeters to my Orions a couple of days ago. At first, I wasn't sure of what difference they make, yet in a short time the most apparent difference is the soundstage, more dimensional, voluminous, with a greater sense of space. I started with the pots on the ASP turned down 1 dB as recommended, then 1.5. The balance seemed better at 1.5. I may still do some futzing with the pot setting, but I suspect the -1.5 dB may be the settling point.

Other observations were, greater presence, more enveloping (wraparound), and a higher soundstage. Without the rear tweeter, it was like “looking” down slightly at the stage. Now the stage is directly straight in front. The clarity and separation of instruments seems better and the center image stronger—imaging in general seems more stable. I've found that I'm setting the volume 3 dB lower with my standard set of audition CDs.

I've not done an A/B comparison. It's not easy to disconnect the rear tweeter without removing it. That would reliably reveal the differences. I've only listened for a few hours, and it may take several more to really fully assess the changes. So far I'm pleased with the upgrade. Nothing has diminished, and there are certainly some notable improvements.
I've not done an A/B comparison. It's not easy to disconnect the rear tweeter without removing it. That would reliably reveal the differences.
Fair enough -- but, does it really matter:)?? Just enjoy, say I.
Have any of you had a chance to compare them to the Avalon Eidolon? Just curious what everyone's experience was.
Seacard -- if you're looking for head-on, real-time, shoot out... I can't help.

OTOH, I've experienced both at close intervals and reminiscing my impressions -- they are quite different, the Orions being at a different reproductive level.
Of course, these were the older Eidolons & Orions w/out back tweet; the amplification was different as you'd expect ; Spkr positioning "agent" was identical (i.e. me, for what it's worth); I'm not implying Avalon makes mediocre spkrs -- quite the contrary, and anyway I like their products (particularly the Eidolon).
Ojgalli, nice comments. I have 2 questions:

1) What is the distance from your rear wall to the Orions?
2) Is there anything between the speakers (audio rack, TV, etc)?

Regards,
Jmaldonado:

1) Mine are 1 meter from the front wall, a bit less than recommended. Without the rear tweeter I don't believe those few inches are critical, with the rear tweeter is may be more so. After several hours of more listening and some octave band pink noise tests, the -1.5 dB ASP setting seems optimal. I am going to try moving the speakers out some to compare and retest. The extra front wall space could prove beneficial. I'm still impressed by the sence of space. It seems to enhance detail/separation of instruments.

2) Yes, there is a large rear projection HDTV between the speakers. The toe-in helps keep the screen reflection down, but a blanket over the screen may be best for critical listening. The room is irregular. Left side wall is about 1.5m, and the right side is open. The left speaker balance is set -1dB to compensate. (Plaster walls/wood studs/w-t-w carpet over wood joist.) Component rack is low and to the left side, the amp is on the floor between the speakers.
Yes... I have the Orion's... and... in a word - "Supreme!"

But, you must be able to live with their somewhat ugly appearance (compared to others with great cabinetry), as well as their multi-channel amplifier demands.

I found those compromises to be secondary to their incredibly "live, life-like" sound.