I have been asked to post a followup describing my system. It doesn't seem to apply, since I am beginning my next quest into audio nirvana and lunacy. Therefore, I am prepared to build an entirely new two channel system around a set of speakers... Wilson Whamm's, Revel, Rockport. I'm beginning the journey for the biggest soundstage and imaging I can get within a human level of cost, say ,$100,000 for speakers, new or used and an equivalent amount for electronics.
I currently have a ML335, ML380S, Dunlavy SCIV's, PS Audio 600 and AudioMeca Mephisto II.
Thanks for your thoughts and experiences.
i've heard the syzygy's at rcrumps place, and with his front end (arguably the best equip made), it just freaked. hard to imagine 2-ch sound getting much better---the syzygy's are out of production, but for $15k or so, they killed near-priced competition.
rockports aren't cheap, but they're a last buy. talk to andy payor, great guy, and chief mfg at rockport.
Hi-I own Rockport Speakers and while they are extremely detailed,there is a warmth and sweetness to their presentation,some may say an over analytical sound --but when you listen to their opposition you realise how much information you are actually missing with other speakers!Beautifully finished,if damn heavy! but one of the best out there--highly recommended.
So you are setting out on the Quest - the search for the ultimate loudspeaker (within monetary constraints, of course). Congratulations! I wish you the very best in your search!
I've never heard of the Rockport "Hyperion". Is this a new model?
You mention Revel and Wilson WAMM along with Rockport. Frankly, the Revels are not in the same league as Rockport or the big Wilsons.
If you place a very high premium on recreating the feel of a live performance, as implied by your emphasis on imaging and soundstaging, I might have something you'd be interested in.
I'm a dealer for Sound Lab full range electrostats. The Sound Labs have a rather unique set of qualities.
Being a full range single-driver loudspeaker, they are inherently time and phase coherent. Their tall, curved panel approximates a line source, which has some rather distinct advantages over point source loudspeakers. You see, sound pressure level falls off with the square of distance from a point source, but linearly with distance from a line source. This sets up a much more uniform sound field in the listening room - in my room as you move from 1 meter to 8 meters back, the sound pressure level only falls off by 4 dB! Also, the timbre is correct throughout the room. This much more closely recreates the sound field of a live event than what you get with conventional speakers. With most speakers, the sound field in the room changes significantly in tonal balance and sound pressure level as you stand up and move around.
For the ultimate in imaging and soundstaging, the Sound Lab Ultimte 1's are the model to look at. These use an extremely rigid tubular metal frame, and are capable of holographic imaging. But, perhaps more important, they recreate an enormous, enveloping feeling of acoustic space because of the uniform soundfield they set up. You can stand up and dance around, even go into the next room, and the tonal balance doesn't change. Of course the imaging is best along the centerline of the room, but the timbre is correct from virtually anywhere.
The Sound Labs are the only truly full-range speaker with single-driver coherence, and they do this with the legendary clarity of electrostatics. They use the thinnest diaphragm in the industry and thus excel at inner harmonic nuance; they get the reverberant field right; they have line-source radiation for a more natural sound field; and they are a dipole for superb bass pitch definition (the notes decay more naturally because significantly less energy is put into the room's standing wave modes).
The down sides are of course high initial cost, and the Sound Labs are a difficult and inefficient load to drive. Fortunately there are many amplifiers available today that can drive them quite well. Also, dollar for dollar a first-rate box speaker is going to play louder and deeper.
For a really no-holds-barred system, you could add the dedicated electrostatic subwoofer panels. This would extend the bass even deeper than the mid-20's the Ultimates already go to, and would increase headroom.
I'm not saying the Sound Lab Ultimates are necessarily the right speaker for you. Many factors go into making that decision. But if your quest takes you into this realm, and especially if realistic soundstaging is a top priority, I wanted to give you enough information so that you could make an informed decision on whether or not it's worth seeking out an audition.
If you don't have a Sound Lab dealer near you, I'd be happy to find a way to provide you with an audition.
Best of luck to you on your quest!
Wow! This is my favorite type of feedback. Passionate, personal and informed. I'm taking it all in.
Bill, If it helps any, I agree with Audiokinesis and have chosen the exact speaker (Soundlab Ultimate Ones) as my reference speaker as well.
Everything he has said about them is true, and in addition, I find that after committing to Soundlab in 1989, my quest for "improving" my speakers has ceased!
I may change other things in the system, but the thought of changing my Ultimate Ones is out of the question.
Hi Bill- I can relate to your quest. A few monthe ago I flew out to Andy Payors at Rockport and spent 2 days listening to the Merak/Sheritan and Antares. At that time he didn't have a set of Hyperions quite finished, so I didn't get to hear them. First off, you'll not meet a nicer guy in audio, Andy is first class. The Merak/Sheritans were phenomenal, but the Antares, which are the model below the Hyperions, were out of this world. Totally seamless, best soundstage I've heard yet ( in spite of Andys less than perfect room), and dynamics of live music. The Esotar tweeters renders beautifully extended highs without any hint of harshness, and the mids/highs are amazingly detailed without being analytical. The 13" woofer goes low, and was very tight and musical. I had taken about 20 CD's with me for demo purposes, things I was very familiar with. The Antares did all the whizz bang stuff without a problem, but the thing that impressed me most was how musical everything sounded, as if the sound was just being laid out in space with an ease that belies reproduced music. Very live-like in presentation. I remember thinking this would be a speaker I could listen to forever and not ever get fatigued. But not warm and rolled off, not in the least, very dynamic, toe tapping so, with amazing detail, but just so EASY to listen to. The build quality is unsurpassed, I've learned shipbuilders make great speaker cabinets. The Antares weigh in at 400lbs per speaker and are completely inert which unequivically contributes to the lack of any coloration. The finish is beautiful. I took my 13 y/o son with me ( I didn't make him listen the whole time, he played with Andy's kids), and we went to NYC on the way home and caught a couple jazz shows. During the Jimmy Heath Quintet's set, my son turned to me and said he thought the band sounded like those speakers we just heard. Think about it. And thats pretty accurate, the Antares breathed life into the music. I can only imagine what the Hyperions sound like. ( Frankly I can't afford to imagine that). Unfortunately, right around the time I auditioned them I happened upon a marital reconfiguration (audio unrelated), and I had to hold off getting them. BUT, they are in my crosshairs now, and if things go as planned, they'll be in my listening room within the next few weeks. I listened to many speakers on this, as you called it, "quest", and the Rockports were my favorites. But importantly, I went into it with the intention of it being a last stop, something I could live with for a looong time, stop the quest and just listen for a few decades. I think I found it. I'd suggest you go out to Rockport and pay Andy a visit and spend a few days listening. With an investment this substantive, you should hear them for yourself. E-mail me if you'd like to talk more about it, I'd be happy to share my experience.
Bill, i just made that same move. i went with the Kharma Exquisite 1D. they arrived last thursday after a 5 month wait. i am simply overwhelmed at the performance and build quality of these speakers.
they are a work of art; 565 pounds with stands, and gorgeous. they mate perfectly with my 12 foot wide room and my 75 watt Tenor 75Wi OTL amplifiers.
i left behind 6 happy years with Levinson/Wilson (#33, #32, WP6). i was looking to step up to the top level and wanted to have the OTL tube magic. what i got has been beyond my high expectations. this speaker nails every audiophile perameter there is. read Jonathan Valins review in Absolute Sound from last Sept.(?) if you want the details. if anything, it is better than he describes. he reviewed the 1B, after that there was a 1C.
i have the first 1Ds that have been built. the 1D is bi-ampable and has cryo'd internal wiring and crossover components.
if you have the room for the Sound Labs they are really great. the Rockports are also as good as they come. but the Exquisites have a certain refinement that i think is unique among the "mega-speakers". with the Kharma it is not about the parts but about the whole....music comes first...the most seamless and coherent top to bottom presentation you can imagine. and any real world amp can easily drive them.
today i had 2 friends over to make sure i wasn't deluding myself about these speakers. they left profundly affected. this is my first post regarding the performance of the Exquisites and maybe with time i'll find a weakness....but so far these are the best speakers i have ever heard.
I've had the pleasure of speaking with Andy already and plan on going to visit next month, when my 20 year old ee student son gets done with the semester. I am intrigued by both what Andy says and his design dynamics. However, I am interested in the Sound Labs as well. Clearly more economic if I really like them.
What I don't want to do is spend year after year longing for what I'll do next rather than simply love what I got. I think this year I need to sort this out and get it done.
Hey Bill - I'm 20, and I'm a EE student too! Mind if I tag along? :) Cheers!
Bill for your last paragraph: hear! hear! I believe that you will have only pleasant surprises and enjoyment. Worth living for!
(Off topic, sorry, but enthused by your approach.)
Bill - I own the Rockport Antares and concur with the comments by "Mes". For me, this was a last purchase. I think you will enjoy your time with Andy, regardless of what you think of the speakers. The Hyperions will be at CES this year. They were there last year, but, as I understand it, in a bad room with an amp that was not broken in at all. This year I believe they will be used with the Tenor OTLs. You might also want to talk to Transparent Audio, as I'm aware that they have heard both the Wilsons and Rockports in their room. Good luck. Feel free to email me as well, if you have questions.
I just got off the phone with Andy. As before, it's great to speak with him. We also spoke of a set of speakers which he last made five years ago which have 7' horns and separate bass units. I am open to all possiblities, those included. It's wonderful to start out finally open to everything. I might even enjoy my business once again. It's been 1 1/2 years since I went to work. I'm thinkin...
Bill- If you get a pair of Rockports you won't want to work. You'll just listen all day long. :)
I want to be clear on my comments on my Kharma Exquisite 1Ds that 2 speakers i mentioned in my comments i have not specifically heard. i have heard other Sound Labs, but not the Ultimate. I have never heard the Rockport. I believe both to be world-class and among choices as the best.
Although i think the Kharma MAY have coherence or integration advantages over the full frequency range.....
.....that is conjecture on my part and not based on my experience. i just wouldn't want to give anyone the wrong feedback on these stellar products. i am under the spell of my Kharmas....what can i say?