Stacked quad 57's or the new 2905's
31 responses Add your response
IMHO properly designed cone speakers, and maybe horns, combined with the right amp, can do a much better job than electrostatics or panels, if for no other reason than they do not depend on the room dimensions and set up so much for their reproduction. You can sit in close(r) proximity to them and obtain pin point imaging with a minimum of interference from room boundaries. At least that has been my experience with each of these types.
Actually the Quad 63 was fairly good at the pin-point imaging/clarity thing, but it was also very room/set up dependant, and had other weaknesses not so much a problem for dynamics.
A dynamic driver should be more articulated.A Electrostatic driver is way to polite to get all of the details to be considered highly articulated.There is to much going on for a electrostatic driver to handle it.The dynamic driver would have to be fast,plus have the dynamics to do it right.An electrostatic will get confused trying to do it all.It may be the more enjoyable or pleasant,but not articulated.Plucking the strings may pose a problem for example.
Newbee followed up my comment quite...well...articulately! Yes, a horn or dynamic driver, given a proper setup with the rest of the system, has always occurred to me as more resolving and detail-oriented..better at defining positions in space and individual 'voices', than electrostats or panels (with equal regard to their accompanying components). That's not to say the latter can sound outstanding with your selection of music, but when you say "articulate" I would not think of panel speakers.
Please allow me to make a recommendation for the Gallo Reference 3.1 - they are lightning fast, have incredibly good dispersion characteristics, and present a benign load to the amp. A very nice, used, pair can be had here for right around $1700. Read all the reviews, these are seriously good speakers...
no single design holds a monopoly in this area.
QUAD ES, Magico, mbl, OHM, some MLs, Triangle and Magnepan all do it very well but in different ways.
You need good electronics upstream in all cases.
The best reference source recording I have ever heard for this was a modern reel to reel tape master recording. Vinyl and CD both trailed it in regards to delivering both articulation and weight together.
I own heavily modded Acoustat 2+2s. I've owned and still own cabinet speakers. I've heard many types of speakers in audio shows throughout the years. More recently Wilson Alexandrias on big band and symphonic orchestras at a private house.
You might say Alexandrias cannot be considered reference in this discussion because of their very high price. Truth is, on massive orchestras and choral music, electrostatics are not considered the best. They lack the dynamic punch and quickness to follow heavy loads in some recordings. And when they do, they often do it for a short time before the amps start clipping. I've seen (and heard) Acoustat 6600 speakers overload a Plinius 250 MKIV and Krell KRS 100W class A monoblocs. And they were not playing that loud.
The best combination I've listened to was electrostatics combined with a very good subwoofer by a knowledgeable audiophile who could fine tune the adjustment.
Otherwise, on easier loads like jazz, small orchestras, voices, worl music, electrostats are hard to beat at their price. I haven't heard anything that can satisfy me as much for their their opened sound, complete presence and soundstaging at low to mid volumes. Everything supplying them beeing equal.
Given the thin film of the Electrostatics, used as a driver, control is 'easier' to achieve generally speaking. Certainly larger and larger magnets and stiffer cone materials all help in producing conventional loudspeakers. But imho, the Sound Labs 'full range' e'stats, are among the most articulate.
At very low volumes, certain sounds like rainfall, is articulated eerily well. Conversely, if your room is large enough to support the bass output, the correct time and phase of the bass to the uber high frequencies of even, say 'thunder' claps, can sound very accurate.
While neither of these things are music, they portend, to me that the subtleties of a violins higher notes, piccolos, triangles, etc, will likely be more faithfully reproduced.
Certainly well made ribbons do just as well with the upper frequencies, but then the 'blending' of ribbons with other drive elements makes for a slightly more difficult coherence achievement.
Overall, again, the Sound Lab, while not a big market player like some others, is a remarkable achievement.
Good luck, and good listening,
Lrsky, having owned seven different electrostatics, I tend to agree. I would not two things, however. First, plasma tweeters or even the ill-fated Pass full-range plasma speaker, would be faster. The plasma tweeter is used in many of the Acapella speakers. Second, being a panel driver, electrostatics don't image as well as more point source drivers, which detracts, I think, from the detail they are able to resolve.
I think Quads are definitely a must audition for what you are looking for. If you prefer box speakers, I would consider the Merlin VSMs - about as close as you get to the speed and transparency of electrostatics, with more dynamic capabilities. A pair of VSMs with Atma-sphere M60 amps is a classic combination - very well sorted out pieces of gear.
I own Audiokinesis Jazz Module speakers and have heard the Sound Lab ESL speakers (at Essential Audio in the Chicgo area). To me, the Jazz Module speakers are very articulate (and great at getting the timbre right) while offering a similar experience to ESLs in a box design. The Audiokinesis Dream Makers would be even better IMO. I would also agree that properly set up and system matched ESL speakers are a viable option.
For the record, the guy who builds the speakers Clio09 owns readily concedes that a good ESL is more articulate.
When the day comes that ESL manufacturers are moved to advertise "ribbon-like transparency" or "horn-like articulation" or "dome-like clarity", we will know that the torch has been passed. Fullrange ESLs have their limitations, but at what they do well in my opinion they have yet to be equalled.
After reading several of the above posts I have come to the conclusion that a lot of people have either never heard ESLs and are guessing or if they did indeed hear them,they were placed poorly,the room was wrong, the electronics were wrong or they are all smoking crack.
I mean no disrespect to anyone.
I own both Acoustat 2s and Snell Es. The Snells are lovely 2-ways with great extension,flat frequency response and good sound staging.Just look for the Audio Note E and you will see the Snell.They are direct replicas with "updated" woofer material,expensive wood,and very expensive outboard crossovers.And because they are Audio Note,they are outrageously priced.
Art Dudley for one raves about them.
They don't even come close to the Acoustats in ANY catagory.
Why would anyone think that planers don't image? Dipolar radiation vs. forward firing woofers and domes or ribbons.
Fast? Planers,espcially electrostatics are the fastest and therefore bring articulation and details.
A 1-way plainer of mylar moves less than a millimeter where a dynamic driver sometimes moves inches.
And they have no crossover to color the signal.
The usual take on Acoustats is:
I can assure you that everyone in our audiophile club that has heard mine just shakes their head at that one.
You have got to be kidding!I use a 115w rms amp and a passive Preamp! If they didn't play loud could I use a passive?
I have been driving mine with a 30 year old hafler 220.
Not a Krell, nor a Levinson (too much money) and they sound great! Mine only go down to 3.0 ohms; not much of a problem for most amps.
I feel that there has been so much BS written about EVERYTHING in audio that we have all swallowed a lot of bad kool aid.
I have been listening for over 30 years and I have learned that reading about music and listening are two different things.
You can listen as a musician,a fan, or a audiophile.
The musician listens for nuance,tempo,stylistic treatment,and pitch or intonation.
A fan listens on a ipod and doesn't care what it sounds like.
A audiophile listens for everything that he can find wrong with the cheapest link in the chain.And then trys to convince his wife that he needs a new phono cartridge,and a new set of $3000.00 power cords.
I would say that the Acoustats are more room reactive.I would also say that wives,girlfriends and sweethearts hate them.My aunt used to make fun of mine by calling them "mattresses".
Now to address the original post.
I am a professional choirister and have been singing in elite choirs since I was 8.
I listen to lots and lots of choral,symphonic,organ,chamber
I listen to some jazz, and classic rock too.
The Acoustats are very detailed, artuculate and smooth when called on. They can produce a 32 foot organ note better than most cone speakers.They have "Prat" in spades. They image better than any speaker I have EVER heard. Trust me when I tell you that I have heard a lot of systems, including some VERY expensive ones.These babys will image wide and deep and tall.
Go on Audiogon and look for a set of Acoustats. You can find them dirt cheap,around $1000.00. They may be old, but they are also indestructible.(I have read in forums here that they needed rebuilding periodicly,this is TOTAL BS!)
I have had mine almost 30 years.I have hauled them in a car across the country twice.Set them up and played without a hitch.
Whoever said that they need subs is also wrong.In fact subs NEVER work with them.They are too fast for subs and don't need them anyway.
disclaimer: I hate sub woofers. I have heard several,they never work.They always sound like a add on.
I don't mean to sound condescending or elitist,but I really am confused as to why people say the things they say and I have never experienced.
I guess that if you only listen to really loud heavy pounding Led Zeppelin or the like, you may think they were all wrong for you.So be it, but they don't suck at this either. They even thump some.
If you listen to classical, or acoustic music in general you can't go wrong with Acoustat.
Emorrisiv, I have owned KLHs, Quad 57s, Acustats, Servostatics, Martin Logans, Dayton Wrights, and Soundlabs. I have not owned the new Quads that make a great effort to be a point source. The others never sought this and this is the reason why none of them image. Most had help in the bottom frequencies as electrostats have no bass below 60 Hz unless they have wings to reduce the bass cancelation.
I too hate subwoofers, but there is nothing else that you say that is true. For example I have arched all of the above except the Dayton Wrights.
You are seeking to spread BS with your uninformed statements. But I do agree that where electrostats are good they are very good.
I don't want to spread bs of any kind.I have no reason to.
I can assure you that my Acoustats go well below 60hz, and image very well.
It sounds like you are another one of the guys that have never had them or had them in a poor room.
I have never heard of a Acoustat arcing.They even had life time warranties. What models did you have?
I really don't understand what you are saying when you talk about a "point source" or "wings" either.
Auralone-In my system I also listen to choir with organ and feel my soundlab m2's do quite a good job on this source material.
I also had dunlavy scIII's and with the same source material the m2's are at least equal to if not better than the dunlavy's.
I do feel that a electrostatic speaker setup properly in the right room can play this source material just as well as a dynamic speaker can.
Are you able to audition the speakers you are considering?
While what I stated was true, you can only accomplish this in a custom speaker. You will have to engage other audio experts to design the crossover and experiment with other drivers to get it all to blend over the audio spectrum to suit your taste. Once this is accomplished the sound will emanate from a black silence in space as if there are no speakers.
I too have been on a multi-year long quest for articulation in a speaker.
Having a friend that has Soundlab U1's I can say that they definitely have this quality, as well as the Sunny horn speakers that Clement Perry uses.
Both are huge speakers, however that didn't fit my needs.
So that leads me to let the cat out of the bag a little earlier than I had planned to announce this new speaker. Also I am going to be a dealer for this product, so take that for what is worth.
People may have read about (or heard) the $100K Symposium Panorama that was voted best of show twice be several reviewers.
Symposium is about to release the same planar technology in a much smaller speaker in the under $20K range - called the Reflection.
I have heard this speaker several times at the manufacturer, and I was often shocked by what I heard in very familiar recordings. Just one example of a non musical event - in listening to Rickie Lee Jones Pop Pop, I had to ask Peter, the designer, sitting next to me if he just took a deep breath. In other excellent designs, you can hear the performers breathing slightly, but in this design, it literally took these micro events buried in the mix and brought them to life, as I have never heard before. Another example of a pop recording with flutes - Sufjan Stevens Illinoise - the flutes became these undulating columns of air - fleshed out in a manner that I am unaccustomed to in reproduced recordings.
The entire baffle-less midrange/treble planer panel completely floats on springs, as does the entire speaker float on Rollerblocks.
Is the industry ready for yet another monitor, who knows, but at least I have found a reasonably sized speaker capable of revealing the resolution I always knew was there, but being hidden by most traditional designs, no matter how well built.