Holographic imaging

Hi folks, is the so called holographic imaging with many tube amplifiers an artifact? With solid state one only hears "holographic imaging" if that is in the recording, but with many tube amps you can hear it all the time. So solid state fails in this department? Or are those tube amps not telling the truth?

There's little difference in the imaging of properly functioning SS and tube equipment. Dark Side of the Moon, Radiohead, I Robot are a few "holographic" recordings that fill one end of the room with an image as tall and wide as the room and much deeper. That's done with out of phase signals. If your two-channel, tube system throws images way beyond the speakers with an orchestra playing Mahler, then there's something wrong.

SS does not "fail" at imaging and I don't think that tube amps do either; however, one that throw images that are not in the recording are failing.

Have you got some specific examples?

Hi Chris,
I use Atmas and VTLs at the moment and get holographic imaging only if it is on the software. In my experience both SS as well as tube amps can screw around with phase, which sometimes, not always, can give you the illusion of holography.
"Holographic imaging", or transparency as it is often referred to, is an artifact of a combination of system and room acoustics resulting from speaker placement. Its not due to SS or tubes. Either may or may not image "holographically" depending on other factors.

The main pre-requisite for holographic imaging is that the sound not arrive at your ears primarily from the direction of the speakers alone. Another is that there is good stereo separation between speakers and that signal is relatively clean and not overly polluted with distortions.
Ok, I understand what you guys are saying. I have very limited experience with tube equipment. Recently I've had the change to home audition a CAT Signature Mk III preamplifier, that is as you know a famous tube preamplifier. When listening to the same tracks (especially vocals) I had the impression that with the CAT vocals had a 3D rendering, while my own preamplifier, the Accuphase C-290V (= solid state design) had less of this 3D effect --> I would say more 2D. This phenomenon was also reproducible with other music. Another example: I heard several times a full Jadis equipment with Sonus Faber speakers that also sounded more 3D than the same tracks through my own system. As you know, Jadis is a tube equipment manufacturer...


I think many refer to what you describe as "bloom" and yes, it is more associated with tube gear than SS. I believe it has something to do with the way various harmonics are presented in general with tube gear versus SS.
I don't think he's talkinga about "bloom" Mapman. I'm wondering if he heard those other amps in the same system, with the speakers in the same position. If so, then we've got something to talk about. If not, then he's likely talking about speaker-room interaction more so than amp.

My SS has great transparency, depth and body, but I think that's mostly due to very careful speaker placement, by a pro. Any system, SS or tube, with carefully placed high quality speakers, attention to vibration control, using high quality electronics will present an image with palpable depth and sense of lifelike image. Attributing it to tubes is folly.

BTW, IMHO, tubes should not add bloom and, IME, the best do not (ARC, Lamm, etc.). Bloom is usually a euphonic distortion that you might find in some lower quality tube rigs.

Well, I've got a different take on what 'holographic' imaging is, as opposed to 'soundstage'.

Soundstage, for me anyway, is represented by highth, width, plane of front of the image, and a feeling of some depth behind the plane of the speakers. The size of the soundstage can be maximized to where it appears outside of the speakers and up into the corners of the room. This can be caused by out of phase information inherent in the recording, the sound reflecting off room surfaces, and the type of speakers (bipole, dipole, omni's, etc all of which have different radiation patterns). But none of this is necessarily representative of 'holographic' imaging.

My definition of 'holographic' imaging means the reproduction of a sound (it has to have its origin in the source) which is not only located appropriately in space, it is well defined, and takes on the appearance of a full dimensional tone. The visual parallel would be a cardboard image of a person 50 ft away and a live person 50 feet away. You can tell the difference, unless you have a heavy morning fog, or rain, etc, to obscure the difference.

I think any well put together and set up 2 channel system can do excellent soundstaging which will have good front to back spacing, BUT to make it really 'holographic' you need a system which is highly resolving.

Its the tiny detail lost in most system's that rely on room reinforcement that make a difference. Some speaker types can never get you to 'holographic' (omni's would be a gross example of great soundstagers which are incapable of truly 'holographic' imaging) and some speakers (such as direct cone or horn speakers) which are blessed with high resolution can easily represent the full image. It is the reproduction of the very subtle signal that takes you all the way to holographic imaging.

I think its far less an issue of electronics, given a reasonble level of quality, albeit tubes or ss, than it is in the transparency/resolution qualities of the speaker.

But, FWIW, to my ears, you can't beat highly resolving speakers with cone drivers and tubes if 3D imaging is your goal. There is a lot of things they might not do for you, but holographic imaging won't be one of them.
To clarify, please define, and, if possible, describe what each of you mean by "bloom, transparency and halogrphic".

My understanding of "bloom" is the separation of individual instruments. As in a good Bluegrass recording, one hears a mandolin separately from a guitar and stand-up bass, etc. The instruments do not mesh into one sound, but present themselves on the soundstage as separate entities= "bloom".

Dazzdax with my solid state power-amps I have heard more 3-D than any other so called world's best tube power-amps.
so it is absolutely not true that you will hear more 3-D with tubes amplifiers.
I've also always believed that tubes were more 3-D. But, until a recent discovery of a digital amp (Spectron Musician 3 SE MKII). I'm now a converted old tube lover. Oh well, never say never! Not a tube in the rig anymore. Infact, everytime I introduce a tube somewhere it falls apart. One thing this has taught me. When it comes to audio, just when we think we got it figured out.Wham,bam! From now on I'm keeping an open mind. Wander how many times I've said that before! LOL!

If you read my second to last post here I think you'll see we agree that "holographic imaging", assuming this refers to transparency, is more of a room and acoustics thing and not an artifact of SS versus tube.
To my mind Newbee has given the best description of what is meant by "holographic imaging". What Mapman seems to refer to seems to me to have more to do with good soundstaging and placement of instruments therein. Bloom is something which is easy to hear in a live concert and devilishly difficult to reproduce at home even with the very best rigs. It has to do with the aura which appears around a played tone before it disappears into the next. It has to do with transparency but is not the same thing. It has nothing to do with reverberations of sound bouncing off the walls of a hall. It has nothing to do with a good reproduction of transients. That is again something different, which a transparent system can dissolve to good effect. To my ears it is the lack of bloom which distinguishes even the best systems from the real thing.
Besides, to my mind a well designed amp will give you a good 3D rendering, if all the points Mapman has mentioned are taken care of and it does not matter if it SS, digital amp or tube. To maintain that one technology clobbers the rest is not supported by what I have experienced so far.
Newbee, I think I generally agree with what you're saying but can you please explain the assertion that omni's are not inherently capable of holographic imaging? I have never heard a pure omni design, but I would expect them to be inherently more capable, when set up correctly, than more traditional designs.
By the way, holographic imaging is a somewhat vague term not commonly heard in these audiophile parts.

"Holographic Imaging" is a specific feature on Carver pre-amps that you can switch in and out as desired.

I am very familiar with this effect from living with a Carver pre for many years and through various system incarnations. The resulting sound, on a properly set up system, is much like Newbie describes.

I've found other ways to accomplish the same effect without using the holography feature on the Carver and do not use it at all these days. My system is all SS and no tubes (so far).


Yes, I have an old Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator that was made to do the same trick. It injects some out of phase info into the signals (as I understand it) that is supposed to eliminate interaural cross-talk, i.e., it's designed such that each of your ears hears only one speaker or the other... like wearing headphones, but out into the room.

The resulting "holography" varies with the source material. You will definitely hear sounds and instruments coming from all over, way beyond the speakers. Whether the resulting effect is "accurate" is another question, bit it's definitely compelling with the right source material.
Mapman, The pure Omni's are designed to propagate a signal in a 360 degree circle so when you are listening to them you are hearing a small direct signal (think of a 'point source type speaker' listened to in the near field which excludes most of the reverberant sounds from room surfaces). In addition, you are hearing all of the reverberant sounds arriving at different times depending on the distance they will travel. Great atmospherical potential hear. And one of the reasons that some of the manufacturers claim that they are great with large orchestral music, but few claim that they are great for solo vocals. Actually the direct sound with an Omni is a minor component of the sound field.

Omni'his, well executed, will give a great 'sound stage' effect. It will fill your room and you'll be happy to some degree anywhere in the room. But in the final anyalysis all of the reverberant energy will blur the direct signal and obscure any real holographic imaging.

Think of my analogy to a live person 50 ft away clearly recognized as such compared to a life sized and colored paper cut out. And then in a fog you can't tell one from the other.

To a lesser degree than Omni's, you have the same issues with panels and electrostats. Some of the electrostats and panels (I have both types in the closet) have developed a manner of shaping to signal to enhance the sense of focused imaging, which make the principle sounds real life size (like vocalists in particular) and maintaining a big sound field.

But, as you have probably guessed, the better the sense of focused imaging the more they lose the sense of a huge airy sound stage. I believe, like my panels and electrostats, Ohm's latter designs (after the F models) went from 360 degrees to a speaker which reduced its off axis energy to reduce the amplitude of reberberated energy and enhance the on axis signals. I could be wrong.

That is one of the reasons some folks want speakers which can produce sharp pin point imaging and take great care in setting them up to minimize reverberant energy - then you hear what is in the pits and grooves with out added room effects, at least to the extent that you can, or wish to exclude them. Some folks like near field listening which takes out most reverberant energy, especially when you deaden the 1st reflection points on the sides, the ceiling, the floors, and the wall behind the speakers. Needless to say, but I will, a lot of folks don't like this sound. But it is exactly the circumstances that allow the creation of sonic holography.

I hope this makes a bit of sense to you. But the bottom line is you really have to hear what I'm talking about. It is hard to describe. But, what the hell - here goes.

About 20 years ago I went into a retail shop near Berkley, Ca. They had a small listening room which contained Theil 4a's, powered by Threshold SA2's, driven by a CJ5 pre amp, an Oracle TT and I forget the cartridge. They played Opus 3's "Depth of Image". One cut has a group of guys playing pan flutes and drums (the flutes are a toughy). Anyway in the middle of the cut they flubbed up the flutes and broke into a brief conversation. I kid you not, the talking was so realistic that I felt you could easily walk into the middle of the group and join them. Replicating this experience has occupied me ever sense. I think I'm as close as I can get in my present environment with my current stuff, but I ain't there. Yet! :-)

The thing that makes this subject difficult for many, I think, is that most folks have not heard a really holographic imaging system with appropriate recordings (often very minimally miked recordings) and confuse great soundstaging from holographic imaging. I know I didn't until I heard one.

BTW, if you have any doubt in your mind about what your system is capable of, get a recording from Opus 3. They did a series of 'test' disc's one of which was called "Depth of Image" and another was "Timbre". They were originally on LP's but are now available in a compilation of CD over the internet.

These recordings are compilations of several recordings put out by Opus 3, from solo vocalist, solo instrumental, small bands, small jazz groups, large jazz orchestra, etc. Forgive the fact that they are all Swed's. Each cut will have a description of what you should hear. If you don't hear what the cut sez, you have work to do. It is all there. Some of the cuts are excelent for resolving (or at least identifying problems in your system. For example, a recorder playing in its high registers. You get that right and you have a fine HFR - get it wrong and your ears will bleed. I highly recommend these recordings for set up and equipment evaluation as well.

Hope that helps a bit.
My system has had the most three dimensional image in two configurations. The first was with a VAC Phi 110/110 amp and a Lamm LL2 Deluxe preamp. The second was with a Supratek Cortese preamp and Belles 150A Reference monoblocks.

In both cases, the image was spookily three dimensional, and I have yet to replicate this effect with any other combination of tubes or solid state.

However, I have had system configurations which were (are) more neutral and with less coloration, and that still have a very transparent image. The difference is the image does not have the forward/backward imaging that was so interesting in the two combinations mentioned above.

So, IMO, tubes have everything to do with a three dimensional (holographic) image, but the image may not be accurate.

The "holography" you describe is consistent with speaker configuration parameters that I found worked best with Carver sonic holography. It works better with more directional box designs, particularly when approximating a point source.

It worked best with my Dynaudio and Triangle monitors. It also worked well with Maggies I owned for many years but these were trickier to get set up right for best effect. I could never get it to work well at all with larger B&W floor standers I owned.

It does nothing useful for the Ohms which are pseudo-omni directional as you describe.

These are totally transparent and with well produced recordings, the musicians are located precisely and in various locations within the huge soundstage and with considerable variation in depth of location as well.

I don't understand how the dispersion patterns of omnis is a problem in this regard. Doesn't the principle of triangulation come into play with sound? Doesn't sound reaching your ears from multiple directions inherently make it easier to determine location in 3 dinensions?

3d glasses used to view images in 3-d use this principle to work.

How can sound reaching your ears from 2 speakers produce any information on their own regarding depth?

Also , how does it work that you can locate a guy in a room playing violin say? The sound eminates in a largely omnidirectional manner and reaches your ears more like the way it does with omnis. Its not beaming directly at you alone like most speakers.

I think omnis have a unique type of 3 dimensionality. Holography is probably technically a different thing but similar in effect.

I'm still not sure holography is the same thing as transparency, which can be achieved with a variety of speaker designs as well, but I think the effects and benefits are similar as well.
Here's one of the more interesting accounts of how depth and image in sound reproduction works that I've read.

Sorry, here's the working url:

In a nut shell, point source speakers are replicating what is on the recording, including, if the resolution of your speakers and electronics are up to it, all of the spatial information created by the environment in which the recording was made. It is this subtle spatial information that can create a holographic experience. And that is exactly why I feel that resolution is the key to obtaining holography. And I'm not talking about equipment with an uptilted FR which will appear, initially at least, to the inexperienced, as having a high degree of resolution.

Omni's, electrostats and panels, as well as dynamic speakers with rear firing drivers, are creating their own environmental sounds by bouncing signals off a bunch of surfaces, and all of these reverberant signals are laid over all of the reverberant signals on the recordings. So if you happen to have a recording which was made in a good acoustic and a simple mik'ing system was used, and it had the potential to creat a holographic image, you would never hear that potential realized with Omni's as its own reverberant field would obsure the subtle acoustic information in the recording.

You might ask "If the recording was a 'studio' recording, multi miked, and made in a dead acoustic, wouldn't it sound better with my Omni's? And I would respond "Yes, I believe it would". But you are just putting lipstick on a pig. Sorry, I couldn't resist using that very popular expression. :-)

In fact, probably the majority of recordings are made in studios with dead acoustics, multi-miked, dynamically compressed to be heard over boom boxes, and these are exactly the type of recordings will sound best over Omni's, etc.

You may love your Omni's but IMHO they can't do everything. And holographic imaging is one of the things they don't do. But, until you have actually heard really holographic imaging you won't appreciate the difference.

But then that is just my POV reflective of my personal experience. I'm sure many others will agree with your POV.

BTW, I had one of those Carver's when it first came out. Very interesting affect. The first thing I noticed playing an LP of a live performance with audience applause, was that it made you feel that you were sitting amoungst the customers who were clapping. Very interesting devise, that thin little box, but ultimately more distracting and unpredictible than sonically enhancing. Maybe I didn't have many suitible recordings, I don't really know. The holography demo I referred to, took place only a few years later, and that was both impressive and not distracting. Go figure.FWIW
"Bloom" is a term that can be good or bad, depending on degree. Just as "bass" can be overdone, so can "bloom". I think of bloom as the overtones and air around an instrument or voice. As someone said, it's 3-D rather than a one-dimensional cardboard cutout.

Bloom is generally pleasing and, just as with bass, some systems add too much. Ideally, a great system can extract and present the bloom in a recording without adding more than is really there. It's hard to judge what's right. ARC, Lamm and most other high end tube designs don't add bloom, but I do hear it in some of the lesser tube designs. Some users prefer that sound and it tends to be euphonic.

Mapman, For the fun of it I just visited the site you refererenced. JC! This guy made and sold omni speakers! If he is your bible on the subject .......oh well. As I said, we all go our own way gladly ignorant of anything that doesn't fit our preconcieved notions. Myself included.

One thing I think I would say with confidence is that you won't get holographic imaging if the sonic queues needed are not in the recording even with tubes.

If that's what you're hearing, its encoded in the recording and your system is decoding it and your room acoustics are enabling you to hear it for what it is.

Tubes may add the "bloom" factor which can sound pleasing to many, but it is not the same thing.

This review asserts that the MBL omni design reviewed is, and I'm quoting, "holographic".

I would say the same about Ohms, only placement in the room is less difficult to achieve the results since the sound level is attenuated in the wall facing directions .

Newbie, I'm wondering if the omnis you heard were set up correctly? Which ones were they?

The Carver c-6 pre-amp in my system is SS but provides two separate preamp outputs: one "SS" and one "tube". Each is voiced differently. The "tube" voicing does in fact sound more tube like than the SS and that is the one I tend to use. I find it does add a certain additional harmonic richness to the sound more in line with what I hear and like with better tube systems I hear. I find adding that to the mix with the Ohms does have a positive effect that one might say makes things more holographic, but to me it is a different thing that adds to the mix in a unique way. Together, the end holographic effect is outstanding.

That has lead me of late to strongly consider trying a real tube pre-amp, something like a VTL perhaps.

I think holographic is a vague term that different people will associate with different things to suit their purpose as you point out, which is certainly true.

But I do have to point out that I think that your assertions that omni speakers cannot be holographic due to their nature goes against the reality that one can plainly hear for themselves if interested.

One thing for certain is that tube power amplification and most omni designs do not work well together due to the inherent power demands and difficult loads most omni designs like MBL and Ohm have.

The reality here is that tube lovers need not apply for most omni speaker designs. But that won't stop the omnis from achieving their inherent holographic imaging nature.
Holography in my experience is only present in the best recordings....it is especially present in a live broadcast. It is dependent on speakers,amps, and cabling. Under the best conditions the speakers are transformed into perfect air pumps where the sound is effortless. Like coming out of thin air...everywhere and you are transported to the actual venue. I have experienced this with my Vac Renn Amp. Speaker placement,extremely clean power and a cabling synergy are needed I think to acheive this level but if it's not in the source it won't be produced.
Mapman, if it is true that "holographic imaging" is in fact "bloom", why do I hear this very often with tube amps and not with solid state? Either solid state or tube should be wrong then?

Some seem to think bloom may be one form of holographic imaging that is more associated with tubes, but I think only that not all holographic imaging is bloom. Holographic imaging can occur with or without tubes.

Honestly, I'm not sure exactly what bloom is. I've just heard people refer to it as adding some additional aspect of dimensionality to sound when present. Personally, I am somewhat ambivalent regarding bloom, though I do like the sound of good tube systems when I hear them.

Can you explain what you mean by either solid state or tube should be wrong then? I'm not sure I understand.
Mapman, what I mean is: if one way of reproducing music is different than the other, then either both ways are wrong or one way is the correct way.
Example a solid state amplifier has less bloom with a particular recording while the tube counterpart has plenty of bloom and harmonic richness --> which one speaks the truth?

Chris, you can't answer your question without hearing the original performance, which we seldom have the opportunity to do. This is one reason that attending a lot of classical performances develops a useful reference. This listening experience doesn't give you an ironglad judgement as to what's "right" and what's "artificial", but it does help.

I say that the very best tube and the very best SS are equally accurate. Added bloom or holigraphic effect are not part of the best systems. I'm talking about brands like ARC, BAT, Lamm, Rolwand, Boulder, Ayre, etc. They're very, very close, no matter what the owner of a particular unit may say. None "blows away" the others at this level.

When you hear an amp or pre that immediately strikes you as warm, extra rich, larger than real image, then some euphonic coloration has probably been added, usually on purpose by the designer. These systems attract a lot of followers and can give their owners much satisfaction.

If you don't get to hear a lot of live music, then try to hear a really great system with some of the brands that I mentioned. Take your favorite recording and see how it compares to what you're used to. There's more than one way to develop your references.

Objectively, one would have to go back to the original master tapes to determine the sound of the recording. However, even this could be played on different systems resulting in different sound.

In the end, interpretations of correct sound is found in the ear/brain construct of each individual. Is there really an absolute sound? Perhaps there are many right ways of reproducing music.
I think like DCstep in regards to only what you hear live as being "right".

But even 10 different live performances will sound different, just by performing each in a different venue.

Or you can stay in the same venue and listen from different seats/locations. Each will sound different. Which is "right"? The answer to me is: all of the above are equally "right", but still different.

What you hear on a stereo system, even the best with the best recording to work with, can only approximate though what you would have heard had you listened live, which is where music truly originates
I think the terms holographic, realistic, and three dimensional are varying degrees of the same idea, with holographic being the best. Perhaps I have at last reached the level of being holographic, but it only is occasionally that I could be fooled into believing that the performer is in my room.

I am sure that there are many ingredients in achieving this, such as good room acoustics, phase coherent speakers (a rare characteric), good sources including recordings and pickup, and finally exceptional electronics. Room acoustics takes time and flexibility in a big room. I find that I cannot long endure digital corrections, but YMMV. I have owned several omni-directional speakers, but would merely point to the original Boas speakers as the falicy of this. Yes they spread sound all over the room, but there is no realism to it.

I would love to have a real point source, full-range speaker with 100db efficiency and 20-20k Hz frequency response. Short of that I still use a fairly efficient 92 db, 2 way, and excellent frequency response speaker, the Acapella LaCampanellas. I know they are far short of perfect but have a very simple crossover and are phase coherent.

I have very good sources, with the digital now being the Exemplar Music Server, which is the best digital I have heard yet. My Shindo Labs turntable is also the best I have heard, granted that it and the digital are much improved being on the Halcyonics active isolation bases.

Cabling of all sorts also are invaluable.

But it is electronics that have given me my closest approximation of being holographic. For 30 years I briefly toyed with solid state amps and preamps. Once in a while I found satisfaction with solid state, especially in phono and line stages, but only once in an amp-the 47 Labs first 25 watt amp and then only for a while. Tubes ruled.

Then I reconnected to an old friend from 30 years ago and found he was back into the audio business, making line stages and amps. I tried one of his line stages, the H-Cat P-12. It had better base than any of my tube line stages, the ARC SP-10, an Exemplar parafeed, and the Cat. The Exemplar was its closest rival full-range but did not have the three dimensional sound stage of the H-Cat. A final "production" version proved better yet and I sold the others except the Exemplar. During the next five years, I use the H-Cat with an Exemplar 300B amp, the Reimyo PAT-300, and the Exemplar Statement solid state amp. It shocked me, I must say. I tried it on a money back guarantee. With time its power and ungrained sound convinced me, and of course, it did not go back. Always I had what I thought was the state-of-the-art sound staging, in terms of wide width and layered depth. As better versions of the H-Cat P-12 came along, this all improved, but the now one year old P-12R X7 H-Cat marked an new level of realism that I have never heard here or elsewhere. I thought I had achieve audiophile narvana.

Then five weeks ago I finally got the H-Cat amp. I hoped that this amp would give me the sweetness of the Riemyo midrange and the extension on top and bottom of the Exemplar. Although Roger Paul had assured me that it completed the Doppler control started with the line stage and would shock me with it holographic image. He was right, but it took four weeks for it to reach its present level.

I am sorry that it has taken so long to explain why I think so many things contribute to a holographic image. I think it is very fragile, indeed. I dearly wish I could have people hear what I am hearing rather than trying to verbalize it.

But the long answer to the posting is, yes, electronics are quite important to a holographic imaging. But the best imaging is not to be found with tube gear. Presently my only tubes are in my dac.
Bose has never made a omnidirectional speaker that I am aware of.
Mapman, sorry you are right, but they did and do make speakers that bounce sound everywhere for a non-directional sound or pseudo openness.

I am of the opinion that a really good pair of horn loaded speakers might be the only design out there that might do it all as well or better (though in a larger package) and could lure me off of the Ohms some day.

Good omnis (Bose are not, Ohms are only pseudo-omni techically) and horns (from what I've heard) probably share little in common other than the ability to truly disappear and provide the illusion that the players are right in your room.

The Ohms in particular also have outstanding dynamics though they do require a lot of clean power in comparison to horns.

HAve you heard the Ohms recently?
Mapman, what horns have you heard that are omni-like? I find that very surprising.

DC, I haven't heard any horns recently at all.

But I've heard murmurings that designs like the larger Avantgardes, for example, when properly set up, can totally vanish and present the illusion that the performers are in your room.

I tend to believe that it is true but haven't actually heard it with my own ears.

I can say for a fact that this does happen with the Ohms.

Horns and omnis like MBL or German Physiks and even the Ohms are clearly two ends of the spectrum in regards to design, but I'm thinking they can achieve similar effects in regards to holographic imaging through different means.

Horns would achieve their "life like" tendencies more via exceptional dynamics I would suppose than necessarily via "holography".

I have this vision that the exceptional dynamics of a very good horn system with just even average holography would be a stunning combination. I am not so certain though that any horn design would blaze the trail though in regards to pure "holography". Also, most horn designs that I see that I think might be able to cut it are too large for me to even consider putting into practice in my house.

Horns are one of those areas in audio that I have not experienced to-date very much, but it is an area that I do have a lot of interest in exploring someday in greater detail when the right opportunity presents itself.
Mapman, I owned the Avantgarde Duos and Trios. They do not disappear, in fact, unless you are quite far back from them they do not have integrated sound. Nor are they anywhere near as dynamic as the Altec VOTs with their compression drivers or the Klipschorns. I also had the now discontinued Beauhorns using Lowther drivers. They were dynamic and used a single driver, meaning they were blessedly free of a crossover. They also imaged quite well and mated well with the H-Cat electronics.

I do agree that a quick sound is essential to realism, but it is necessary not sufficient. My LaCampanellas are horns above 700 Hz and have four small and quick drivers below that.

I have once heard the MBLs sound okay and have been interested in their development for at least the last twenty years. They are omni only in the top frequencies and while open sounding are not at all holographic. German Physiks in my opinion are not worth discussing.

It has been many years since I heard Ohms.

I think until you hear the H-Cat line stage and amp, you will not have any idea what I am talking about.
I've never heard MBL or German Physiks. I would expect to hear "holographic" imaging from these if set up properly, though my understanding is this can be hard.

Its interesting how peoples opinions of omni designs vary so widely.

I think it is a combination of these systems perhaps often not being set up properly combined perhaps with people having a hard time getting used to listening to them when there ears are trained to listen using more directional designs.

I know when I first received my Ohm series 3, I missed the sound that was being produced entirely despite having owned original Ohm Walsh 2's for years, along with several other makes and designs including Magnepan, B&W and Dynaudio.

I shook my head and asked myself whats going on, I must be missing something? It sounded like there was a stereo balance problem as well. The left side seemed to be producing more sound than the right, even though everything checked out and the system was properly balanced.

What I was missing was that I was expecting the sound to be emanating largely from the location of the speakers, as had been the case with the older Walsh 2s that sat in the exact location prior.

But in fact , the sound was totally disassociated from the speaker location.

In the L shaped room they were in, the speaker location was skewed completely to the right of center of an approximately 20' long wall, about 5 feet apart (in order to fire into the length of the L shaped room).

But the soundstage was in fact evenly extended from wall to wall despite this. And the individual instruments and recording elements were clearly located within the sound stage from left to right with height from ceiling to floor and considerable variability of depth. Mono recordings emanate actually from the left of the left side speaker, located dead center along the wall but entirely to the left of both speakers.

That is how I've had it set up and listen since. I am not exaggerating this. If that ain't holographic, I don't know what is.

My point is that the sound was so holographically disjointed from what I was expecting that I missed it completely at first. Once I figured it out and tuned in, it has been my live concert hall ever since.

The thing that threw me for a loop is that no speakers I had ever placed in that room similarly before, including the original Walsh 2s ever had this degree of disassociation between speakers and sound.

I used to be able to get it in my old house that had a large rectangular family room with my old Maggies. Could never get it in the new house...until I tried the series 3 Ohms. Now I own two pair.

could you use the H-Cat amp without the pre and still enjoy it?
Mapman, thanks for your further thoughts. That makes more sense to me now.


I'm curious why you sound so down on German Physics? I've heard mostly good things about them but have never heard them. Their use of a specialized coherent source Walsh driver (the DDD) has special appeal for me compared to other omni designs.

Are you just not down with omnis in general, or do you find something particularly lacking with the GErman Physiks?
Mapman, I am down on omnis in general because I have never liked any I have heard. You mention that ohms sound is disassociated with the speakers. That I believe is quite true but not real. The waves impacting on microphones are mainly direct. Taking that signal and springing it around your room doesn't recreate the original recording venue. I want to hear what I would hear were I located where the microphones were or very near-field.

People rave about the Magicos also, but I would never buy them either. I must say that I seem to march to a different drummer than most reviewers so I don't expect to influence anyone but me.

Perrew, an excellent question that I have been unable to evaluate yet. I have one of John Tucker's Exemplar line stages from ten years ago, but really don't think it is worth the trouble to try it, but soon John is going to send me his new top-of-the-line line stage. I was so good with his LSA Statement amp at the RMAF that I am anxious to try it with both amps.

I fully expect that the H-Cat amp will be better with the H-Cat line stage, but I am, I think, open-minded.
"You mention that ohms sound is disassociated with the speakers. That I believe is quite true but not real."

I'm saying it is "holographic" only in accordance with my understanding of the term.

I'd like to hear the sound quality on the holo deck of the Starship Enterprise though.

Reproductions look pretty real there from what I can tell on TV and I bet the sound is equally realistic.

What kind of speaker technology do they use I wonder? To the best of my knowledge, its never been stated.

I'd bet the dispersion pattern is omnidirectional though or wide dispersion at the very least......


You indicate you've heard MBL.

Have you ever heard Ohm or German Physiks?

I understand and appreciate that you do not lean towards the omni sound from ehat you have heard.

Personally I have heard Ohms only and like the wide range, wide/omni dispersion, highly coherent Walsh driver approach in general.

MBL uses multiple drivers in the Radialstrahler designs as I understand it to achieve omnidirectionality within a particular frequency range.

I am not a fan of designs that attempt to integrate many drivers in general, omni or otherwise, because believe it is difficult or near impossible to do well. maybe MBL does it better than most...I don't know.

If you have not heard an Ohm or GP design in particular, try to keep an open mind. I wouldn't equate all onmi designs equally any more than I would any other category of speaker design.
My impression is that my equipment is much more "holographic" than what I hear in live music (jazz, chamber), and live music is much more dynamic than what I can get out of my system.

On the "holography" side I find that good SS (Pass XA30.5 for example) is very good on locating the instruments within the soundstage with depth and stable localization, but that tubes make the individual instruments sound more 3D as a source, the instruments themselves seem more 3D within the soundstage to me with tubes than SS. I don't know which is a more "distorted" signal, but that has been my experience pretty consistently with the same speakers and room placement.
I think that your observation holds good for most of our rigs, at least I made the same observation, when I had the chance to compare the WAVAC phono pre, which is tube with the Boulder 2008 phono pre, which is solid state. The Boulder threw an impressive sound stage with the highest rate of transparency I had ever heard, whereas the WAVAC gave individual instuments and voices a degree of air and bloom which came closer to the real thing than I had ever heard before. Wished one could have both.