Not as good as the Talon Khorus
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I've not heard the Montana speakers, but do own the tweeter that they use in their full line, the Scanspeak Reveleator 9900 (the designer told me they use a 4 ohm version). It has a combination of smoothness, speed, and dynamic contrast (both micro and macro), that no other tweeter of any type has, IMO. I also have the Morel MDT-33, and it trades off being barely not as smooth/liquid, for noticeably more dynamic contrast and authority. They're both better than the Dynaudio Esotar IMHO, which was so forceful that it imparted a "steely" character to attack transients, in the test project I'm working on. I've not heard Quads, but have heard ML's and Soundlabs. IMO, if you want to listen at quieter than lifelike levels, esl's are absolutely the way to go. Nothing comes alive at quiet levels like a good esl. If you demand liflike SPL's, a big cone/dome speaker is the way to go. In my experience, ESL panels turn hard and have a plastic coloration, even at moderate levels...where a very good dome tweeter sounds perfect, all the way up to as loud as it can go. Ribbons are very nice also, but trade off some dynamics, for unbelievable speed. And of course, if you have domes/cones several in series parallel, like the Pipedreams (or like one of the projects I'm planning), that can be "otherworldly", IMO. I've not heard the smallest Pipedreams system, but perhaps you should give it a listen...There's not a thing wrong with having the low bass speakers in a separate enclosure, that's how most of the world class speaker systems do it, and it allows the ultimate in low frequency extension, room loading and smoothness.
I am quite familiar with the Montana ES or is it EP Signature (4,500.00 Retail). A friend of mine owns a pair. Carl your remarks concerning the Esotar and Revelator are interesting to me because my speaker, Merlins VSM-SE has the Esotar, and his has the Revelator so I feel quite comfortable in offering my input. Our systems are very similar but our rooms are so different that it is hard to quantify the differences of the speakers. His room is very well damped and mine has a livelier sound. The Merlins without question have greater resolution, dynamics, image focus and wider soundstaging and a flat frequency response. The Montanas are very smooth and provide an upfront presentation of the music as do the Merlins, neither are laid-back. The Esotar provides phenomenal off axis dispersion, which really opens up the soundstage. Transient response is also much quicker than the Revelator is. I really don't feel that steely is necessarily a characteristic of the Esotar so long as the signal it is fed is up to its performance capabilities. In reality it is quite smooth, BUT if the signal is not of the highest level I can believe that it could impart a steely character as could the Revelator or any high-resolution driver for that matter. Another case for good electronics with a high resolution design. With my electronics I have not noticed this and neither has he. Timbres come across very naturally on good recordings, which is the most important criteria for any speaker system to me. I have many very good violin recordings both analog and digital where the air and tone of the instrument can positively make you believe you are listening to a real violin! He loves his Montana's but he is REALLY impressed with the smoothness, resolution and soundstaging of the Merlins. The Montanas tonally are superb speakers which ultimately is the most important characteristic of any system. A different approach and two very different designs. Ultimately I like my Merlins with the Esotar better and if he were forced to pick between them I bet he would admit the same although he is quite satisfied with his set-up as he should be. In the near future he is planning on bringing his speakers to my place and then we will be able to quantify the differences in an identical environmental.
OK, so you feel the Merlins are the very best speakers, that's fine. I told it the way I heard it, and compared the different tweeters in the same environment, same electronics, and those were the differences I heard. I am a fan of Dynaudio, I own the Esotar dome midranges (also for a project I'm working on), and feel that they are vastly superior in their range, to the esotar tweeter, and to all speaker drivers, for that matter. I am in no way biased against Dynaudio (I love them)...I suspect that you are bised in favor of the Merlin, though I don't doubt that it is a fine speaker. I would certainly use them, and be happy, if I owned them. They aren't the world's best speaker, though. I have heard the effect, with violins, that you are referring to, many times. This was both with my meager little Maggies, and also with my Paragon speakers (Dynaudio drivers)...and either with my Krell, or Rogue amps, and in either of my rooms.
I just offered my impressions concerning the Esotar versus the Revelator in two different designs over extended listening. I don't know what two speaker designs you are drawing your conclusions from. The execution of a particular design is every bit as important as the sum of its parts. In another design maybe the Esotar sounded as you described. The Esotar in the Merlins is well excecuted and is the only frame of reference I have. And I certainly would agree that the Merlins are not the world's best speaker it there is such a speaker for everyman. We're still waiting for that one.
I have heard the ML(s),Wilson(s),Whisper and Dunlavy(s). If room size/volume and wide/toed-in placement is possible, the Dunlavy(s) are really worth serious consideration. They also like alot of current to realize the significant potential for low detailed bass. I have heard good things about the Montana(s) and appear to be an exellent value.
Hello, I own a pair of Montana Prototypes that have the same driver compliment as the EPS (1 tweet, two 4" mids, two 8" woofers). They look like giant SP's and weigh about 200lbs each. The cabinet is not the new style 6 sided cabinet. They are wonderful speakers. Sometimes the mid-range can get aggressive but most of them time they just sound like music. I am driving them with a Plinius SA-100Mk.III / ARC LS-22 combo. I traded a pair of Sound Lab A-3 electrostatics. I have never looked back. I have had these for over a year which is a new record. They blow away the ESL's in most respects. I have listened to speakers like Meadowlark Blue Herons and other speakers in the 5k-10K range and always walk away with a smile on my face when I compare the sound to the Monties. I think they would be a hard resale but I doubt anyone would want to sell them. Well I have gobbed off enough here. Buy them !
Thank you, all of you, for your responses. They are helpful. Acuujim: I have carefully listend to the Talon Khorus (in the company president's home -- with a fortune in Jeff Roland electonics). And I hesitate to say this about them . . . but I feel in honesty that I must. I have seldom been so underwhelmed (and disappointed, frankly, because I like their size and look and wanted to love them)by any $10K speaker in my life. The bottom end was tight and completely in control. But the midrange and high end left much to be desired. No sound stage. No dynamics. No detailed low level information. No life. Not music. I'd readily choose even the ReQuest, and especially the Dunlavy V or Wilson WP6 over the Talon. In fact, but for the bass, I'd choose either of the 2 top models of RBH speakers over the Talon and they sell for around $3K and $2K respectively. So, if that is my take on the Khorus, where does that put Montana's speakers? Carl: I would like to hear the Pipedreams and plan to this year at CES. Are you building some like them? Is it possible to build something like their $80K models for around $10K? Tubegroover: I've not heard the Merlins. Nor anything from Coincident, which I have the impression sound somewhat like them (is that true?). Brauser: Do I understand that you prefer the Dunlavy to either the ML, Wilson or Whisper? Can you elaborate? Catman: Have you heard the larger SoundLab speakers, such as the A1 or M1, or the Ultimate? Would you prefer them to your Monties?
Bookner, the midwoofers in the Pipedreams are around $50 a piece, so unless you are talking some radically high cost for cabinet construction (and of course getting world class finishing with veneer is nothing to smirk at either), then yes indeed you can build the Pipedreams top model for under $10,000 (not sure how much you could do the subs and their amps/crossovers for, that would definitely add to the cost, and you wouldn't have the time and efforts put into it, that Nearfield has already...which is what you're paying for buying them retail, besides the "necessary" dealer markup.) My project will be similar to their smallest model, and I'll just use whatever powered subs I have on hand, and run the "satellites" full range, most likely. I'll be using different tweeters, and a different version of the midwoofer, also...besides radically different cabinet construction and bass loading.
for a *do-all* speaker system that requires a large room, but not a large outlay for the speaker system itself, try a pair of vmps larger subs, a good electronic x-over (i think the marchand line-ip is a *steal* at their prices), and a pair of newform research nhb 645's. i currently get great results using meret re's in lieu of the nhb645's, but i should have a pair of these things to replace the merets in a couple months. i think it will be *great*, especially at the price. check out the audio review comments on newform's speakers, as well as their own website... doug
"Catman: Have you heard the larger SoundLab speakers, such as the A1 or M1, or the Ultimate? Would you prefer them to your Monties? By Bookner on 09-10-00" I have not heard the A-1's but I understand they have more bass. The A-3's had too much bass at times for me. I loved the looks and euphoric sound of the A-3's but I really like the Montana's. The Monties I have are prototypes where Paul (PBN) threw a bunch of really nice engineering and parts in the crossover, had incredible cabinets built. He used the revelator tweet but used custom Vifa drivers in the mids and woofers. I am not sure how they compare to the production versions. While talking to him he said that he was trying to come up with a speaker that landed between the SP and the EPS and sell them for $5995 but these sounded to close to the sound of the EPS ($7995) so he changed the design a bit by removing one of the mids and they became the SPX. All I know is that if the EPS or any of the higher models sound better than these I would consider them to be incredible. I found the Sound Labs to be finicky, the bias was always drifting and one would sound louder than the other. My pair was sort of old so that may not be the case with the newer ones. Sorry for gobbing off so much on these. I am sort of glad that they have only a small cult following in ways.
The Talon's disappointed me at first. Then an audio reviewer I know told me that it took the full 500 hrs to break in and sugeested because the woofers don't hardly move in the Khorus' (some pattented technology) to take every opportunity to break the in at extreme volumes. This is difficult to do with a ten month old in the house. After I had the opportunity to do this these babies just sing. Before i bought these both Jeff Rowland and Ray Kimber told me the thought these speakers were the best they had heard. I have had the Montana KAS's in my home they are damn good. I like the Talons better.