Initial GMA Europa impressions and a few questions

I just recieved my Europas today and put them through their paces with a little jazz and female vocals. I bought a dealer's demo pair so they have around 100 hours on them so far. I remember reading that Roy recommends a good 300 hour break in period before they realy come into their own. How did your improve after 100 hours?

My initial impressions are that they sound incredibly natural. My other speakers always sounded bright and harsh on some music. The Europas have tamed probably 95% of this and the other 5% is likely due to other system issues. Do you think there will be a further smoothing out of the harshness as the speakers fully break in?

I am impressed with the bass. For a monitor, the Europas can provide a solid low end punch. I am looking forward to the rest of the break in period and seeing what the Europas can do.
Another question since I don't have an owner's manual yet. I need to call Roy and ask him to mail me one. What is the correct height for the Europa's tweeter in relation to your ear in the listening position? When I first talked to Roy, he rattled off the formula but I forgot.


Well I can't really comment on break in as mine sounded great right out of the box. Re: stand height - Depends on your listening height. From where you are sitting, you want your ears to be just about at the tweeter or an inch or so below the tweeter height.
My Europas became much more resolving from about 100 hours to about 200 hours. The low level detail and slight midrange congestion improved tremendously. Now they are completely grain free and extremely transparent. The Europas will definitely improve up until about 300 hours and in my case they improved a great deal.
Altho' I'm not an Europa owner, I'm a GMA owner. From what I can tell from my own experience is that the most significant improvement will occur until the 100 hrs mark. From the 100 to 300 hrs mark the improvement will be less dramatic i.e. you'll the speaker get more refined. How well you can perceive this will depend on your hearing abilities & your system's abilities to "show" you this. BTW, I'm in that 100-300 hrs period myself.
Atleast in my speaker there is internal cabling from both Audio Magic & Jena Labs. The Audio Magic wire needs 1000 hrs to break-in! *If* memory serves me correctly, Roy told me over the phone that the latest production runs of speakers are now using only Jena Labs as this cable is just as good but needs much less time to break-in.
My user manual informs me that I should exercise the speakers with both soft & loud passages of music to free up the woofer rubber surround. This will help tremendously in the speaker's ability to reproduce music at lower volumes - 65-75 dB SPL at 9 ft (for my situation with these 3-way floor standers). I can personally tell you that playing Bob Marley tracks & other Blues tracks at high volume has indeed helped me enjoy this speaker system at the above mentioned volume levels - I can hear all the details of the music at low volumes. This sort of trait is very typical of electrostatics & ribbon tweeter based systems but I'm thrilled to have it in my dynamic/cone-driver speaker!
As my Europa literature says (2003 edition), they will not break in with quiet playing. I discovered this to be true as I played them at modest listening levels with no significant change.

Break in calls for 200 hours at "moderately loud levels (30 watts)." To me, that's LOUD.

I know that Roy does not hesitate to really crank it as I personally discovered at his factory. We had it up to 106 dB, A weighted, at 2 metres (my measurement). He didn't flinch. The speakers didn't distort. Stunning.

So, according to my interpretation, and considering "30 watts" (a lot), "moderately" might mean: keep it below 95 dB. In other words, LOUD, just not insanely loud. If you want to discuss it with Roy, give him a call.

My experience with Europa's:
1) Since I had established an expectation from my factory experience, my Europa's out of the box sounded bad in comparison--gritty, edgy, "overly analytical."
3) With 200 hours of loud playing, they are dramatically improved, and I am very happy with them. Their coloration is nicely balanced, portraying the level of warmth as found in the recording--in short, neutral.
4) To trace back over their break-in history, I noticed perceptible changes at these loud playing intervals (counting only the really loud playing hours): at very roughly 2-3 hrs., 10 hrs., 30, 60-80, and then around 200-ish. The change from beginning to end was incredible. Only time will tell if they have finally stabilized for the truly long-run.

Low level detail is really remarkable. They play loud very well, too.

To answer your question about further break-in, Tcbannon, I suspect that you will find further change for the better. Keep 'em cranked when you can. That's what makes the difference.

2003 manual.

Distance in feet you are from the front of the speaker/ Stands are this much below ear height

5 ft./5 in.
6 ft./6 in.
7 ft./7 in.
9 ft./ 8 in.
12 ft.+ / 9 in.

If stands are too tall/short, tilt Europas forward/back with 1/4 to 1/2" shim at the rear/front edge.

For listening standing up, Europa's sound best 36-42 in. up off floor.

Anyway, adjust the speaker height for maximum clarity considering all instruments.

[Note: As for myself, during break-in, I didn't want maximum clarity--too harsh. So, I used the wedge technique to angle upward. Worked well. Now, I want maximum clarity.]

Rear wall 24" min. to front of speaker. More is better.

From side wall to outer edge, 18" min. /more is better.

Toe in speakers so that they aim at the shoulders, not into the ear. You should see 1 in. of the enclosures (inner) sides from the listening chair.

Separation. Distance from outer rear corners from one speaker to the other should be equal to the distance from the mid point of this same rear corners line to the listener (make sense?). There are some specialized circumstances where they might be closer (loudness due to center reflection--e.g. TV). Do not separate the speakers more than this distance.

I hope that helps until you get the manual.
Glad your enjoying the product. I have spoken with Roy many times and he claims the Europa is more sensitive to interconnects than speaker wire. I did some experimenting and he's right(isn't he always?) Cables make a huge difference on these speakers. Try a few different ones.
In their fully broken-in state, would you GMA and Europa owners
describe these speakers as being forward sounding, i.e., front row
perspective? I ask because I have heard so many great things about
these speakers, and the Europas are so affordable, but I strongly prefer a
more distant perspective (middle of orchestra or back 20-30 feet in the
jazz club). What do you think?

Also, which stands are you using with the Europas? Are any of you using
adjustable-height stands?
Thanks Montobo. Just the info I needed. I just added a good pair of very solid stands and they made a nice difference. I now need to start refining speaker position.
I find it a tad hard to answer your question. The Europa's play back whatever was recorded as it was recorded. Some recordings seem to be more in your face than others. Some lack bass definition, some don't. Some seem more layed back. I think the speaker does what it's supposed to: That is, it reproduces exactly what is on the recording. Great recording? Great sound. Less than perfect recording? You hear that. Let me add that no recordings I have sound bad on the Europa's........some just better than others. You know the old cliche "Accurate speakers sound terrible on rock music"? Not so with the GMA's. I honestly think it's more a time/phase issue than anything else. I sold retail audio for 10 years. Looking back on all the products I had labeled sounding "Bad", I now can attribute phase problems to all of them. From mass market Japanese amps with high negative feedback loops, to the vast majority of cassette decks with head alignment problems, to the original 44.1K cd players to 95% of multi-way speaker systems. One thing in common: Phase problems. I think phase problems are VERY audable...but also very much misunderunderstood. Keep in mind that Roy designed these speakers to have the LEAST amount of phase shift in the human voice range. Anyone here NOT love the Europa's human voice reproduction? Hope this helps.
Drubin asked:

In their fully broken-in state, would you GMA and Europa owners
describe these speakers as being forward sounding, i.e., front row
perspective? I ask because I have heard so many great things about
these speakers, and the Europas are so affordable, but I strongly prefer a
more distant perspective (middle of orchestra or back 20-30 feet in the
jazz club). What do you think?

Front row or further back? To me, the answer is "either" or maybe "neither," depending on what your question means. It could sound way back or way front. It depends exactly how the music was recorded. So, "either" is the answer.

On the other hand, if you are wondering if the Europa's add a further back bias or a further forward bias, I would say, "neither." They just don't have a sound of their own--very chameleon and adapting--transparent--not visible--seemingly without bias. They sound different depending on the signal that goes through. If you favor a certain effect in playback, you would have to look elsewhere.

Let me give an example--the string quartet playing on FM right now. There's plenty of studio reverb that it gives the effect of being midway back or even further back within a recital hall. So, I get the impression that the sound is more remote. However, I just heard one of the players brush his hand along the instrument. I never would have heard that had I been sitting anywhere except the front row. The microphones were closer than the front row, the reverb doesn't mask that transient, so it's quite apparent to me. The bottom line: that's how it is in the recording.

I guess the Europa sound reminds me of studio monitors. I record in studios. At one of the better studios, in the control room there is a really fine speaker system that is hidden behind wall fabric (probably custom). I record in the other room. Then I come back in to listen. I am not sure exactly what to expect because typically I will hear details that I might not have expected--although they are there! Sort of an exercise in honesty. Europa's have that kind of revealing detail--not unnatural or hyped detail--but refusal to mask over--just natural and honest.

Before I knew anything first hand about the Europa's or GMA, I was able to visit the factory in Colorado Springs (was already visiting Denver). Listening to my Yo Yo Ma recording (played on the Europa's), Roy started to discuss the pizzicato and string performance technique. There were things that I had never noticed before but were evident now. It was more like a live experience. These were excellent observations on Roy's part--incredible ear. Listening to another recording, almost at the same time, we both said "ribbon mics." I've owned and used ribbons for decades. That particular coloration came off clearly with the Europa's. It is a very dark, warm, more remote sound--we've just moved back a bunch of rows. The speakers are transparent/revealing and take on the character of the microphone.

By the way, Roy is a real pro (both musically and audio-wise) and a heck of a nice guy. It was a very genuine and stimulating exerience to witness him demonstrate his speakers. For the record, he insisted on playing many musical styles. Gospel, blues, pop, rock. Never heard Steely Dan sound so....Steely Dan.

So, that's how it happened with me.

Monty and songwriter, thank you very much! Excellent responses.