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I've heard them at Nicholsons Stereo in Nashville and at the Chicago Stereophile show. In Nashville they were properly set up in a large acousitcally treated room and used with Ayre electronics. I'd say it was the best system I've ever heard. In Chicago it seemed the room was too small and it was tough to properly evaluate the sound.
I listened extensively to same system in Nashville that Jschrimpf heard except with McIntosh tube pre and amplification on the towers. The experience was indeed stunning, and these were the smallest of the three lines of Pipedreams. Since, as their name implies, these speakers are designed to be heard "nearfield", I'm not certain that a particularly large room is necessary, but a dedicated room may be. One cannot stuff these speakers against a wall and sit way off somewhere off axis and appreciate what these speakers can do. Set them up correctly, and hyper critical nits aside, the experience is completely captivating.
I heard the large models about 8 months ago in an actual owners home large dedicated room with catherderal ceilings of inexcess of 12 feet. I don't quite understand Oahuans comment because just to set them up with sufficent wall spacing requires a large room. I own Dunlavy SC-V's which aren't exactly small and have them in an 8000 cu foot room. I think I would have a hard time geeting the big Pipe Dreams model to work in my space. Acoustic treatment is a must as is absolutely the best electronics. I do agree with Oahuan that captivating is the right word. The only negative to me personally is that my favorite music is orchestral classical music and for most of my favorite performances the limitation is the recording and not my system. But on superbly recorded music I think they are uniquely in a class by themselves.
Let me try to clarify my earlier comments without seeming argumentative. As I understand it, Nearfield Acoustics makes 3 different "models" of the Pipedreams: (1) the smallest has mid-treble line array towers that about 5' (?) tall and a single bass module (with dual 18" drivers, so a very large bass module, indeed); the mid-size model has line array towers that are 6'6" tall and two bass modules; and the largest model has 8' line array towers and four bass modules. So there is no doubt that to house the largest of the Pipedream models demands a pretty doggone large room, if for no other reason than to cope with the 4 huge subwoofer modules. On the other hand, the smallest model, such as the one I listened to at Nicholson's in Nashville, really doesn't need that much space, as long as you can use all of it to make a proper set up, i.e., the room is "dedicated" first and foremost to providing a good listening environment. I doubt that the listening room at Nicholson's was more than 14' wide, the ceilings might have been taller than normal (10-12', I don't remember), but I that wasn't critical, and the length was considerable, maybe 28', but only half the room was being used. My understanding of the theory of music reproduction through the Pipedreams is that the speakers should be brought out into the room and the listening position should be close to the speakers so that you hear direct radiation from the speakers almost exclusively (as opposed to the good mix of direct and reflected sound that you get in most settings with most other speakers). That being said, the bigger the room the better, since size of the room alone will diminish the amount of relected sound reaching the listener. Nevertheless, with the smaller Pipedreams, I think it is quite possible to get most of the marvelous Pipedream experience in a relatively small room, say 12' x 15' x 8', again as you can use all of it. And what is that experience? Incredible holographic imaging and a wonderfully smooth, unstrained musical presentation at the loudest and softest listening levels. A real treat - even from the small ones. I'd get 'em, but I don't have "the room".
I have heard the PipeDreams at an acquaintence home and 4 different locations at the most recent CES. 2 of the 4 were set up by the PipeDream folks. In all five cases, the speaker sounded awful..I am talking about really, really bad.. Zero image specificity, vocals were wrong and the sub does not integrate with the mains. I sure don't see what the rush is all about. There are many, many, many speakers on the market that cost way less than PipeDreams and are much, much better.
I have owned Model 15 Pipedreams (6' main towers and 2 subwoofer modules) since July of 1999. At that time, when I purchased them, they were the finest, most musically correct transducers I had the pleasure to experience and, based on what I have listened to since, they remain so. They are no more difficult to install and set-up correctly than any multi-piece speaker system. In fact, because of the ingenious active low pass/ passive high pass cross-over that accompanies each system, they are, in fact, easier to place than most multi-piece systems. Therefore, it would be difficult for me to believe that the "awful" sounds you experienced from the 5 installations you "heard" all suffered from improper installation and set-up. The only other plausible reason I can think of for your unfortunate experience is that you are deaf. Fortunately, you have found the Audiogon site and can post your audio system for sale since you won't be needing it any more due to your regretful hearing impairment. If, however, this condition is only temporary I cordially invite you, the next time you are in Northern Ohio, to contact me via email. I would be more than happy to demonstrate the prodigious capabilities of the Pipedreams, properly set-up, in a relaxed and comfortable environment, my home. That is assuming you are capable of hearing (and feeling) sounds in the range of 18hz to 17kHz (approximately). I offer the same "therapy" to anyone else who might be suffering from a similar malady as Cg70754
I don't know about Cg70754 and his Agenda or hearing. While I believe the Pipedreams are the best speakers I have heard ( and I have heard them many times and under numerous conditions), I have NEVER heard them sound Awful. What disturbs me about this post is the claim that they sounded awful in all 5 cases. Very few high-end loudspeakers sound awful, especially on 5 different occasions. 5 complete groups can't discern awful sound, but, Cg70754 can. This is pure BS. I heard the the Pipedreams in 3 rooms shared at CES 2001 with 3 manufacturers - 1) Plinius ( also at CES 2000) 2) VAC & 3) Wadia- wonderful sound in all 3 rooms- Can none of those manufacturers hear "awful"????
I had the pleasure of hearing the Model 21 at a meeting of the NJ Audio Society last summer, and can say that, even without Lamms and that level of equipment (the dealer used a Melos 333 preamp, Melos 400 monoblocks for the towers and a Bryston for the bass, and only used an MSB DAC 3 with a Pioneer DVD player feeding it ) the speaker system is stunning in certain respects and overall one of the best speaker systems I've ever heard. They do need some space, partially to give all the bass they are capable of and partially to allow you to bring the towers out into the room, and for the latter point I'd say you really need a dedicated listening room, if only because I'd hate to have to move those towers back and forth in my living room, where I listen. They have an ability to recreate a recorded soundstage that I have come close to with my 4-piece system (which is not really commercially available, but is a Richard Davidson design which uses an upward firing midrange and front and rear-firing tweeters to create a very spacious soundfield) but can't entirely match and have otherwise heard approached only by the mbl 101s, and there only on a smaller scale. They have effortless and natural dynamic capabilities, both macro and micro, and when you are in the proper spot their tonal balance and ability to reproduce timbres of instruments are excellent. And VERY deep, extended and natural bass. If I had a dedicated room and the cash burning a hole in my pocket, I'd seriously consider them; the room is key, because they indeed are best for nearfield listening so I'd think you have to bring the towers out away from the back wall to enhance the soundstaging, the sweet spot is not that wide, and I felt you have to be on axis and sitting to hear them at their best. When I stood up, the tonal balance shifted to bright, and had I not been seated I would have been critical of the speakers in that area. I wonder if that might explain some of Cg70754's reaction?
firstname.lastname@example.org: "We...are curious about your private listening experience"? So, do you install lipstick cameras in your towers to assure that only those who appear "worthy" are allowed to listen to your over-rated and over-priced products? Sounds to me like you pipedream folks have pretty thin skin. Or is it just paranoia?
It sounds to me like they want to MAKE SURE that their customers are completely satisfied with the product. Part of this would be doing extensive follow up and consultation as needed. After all, you paid quite a chunk for those and they want you to get every pennies worth. It might seem strange to some, but this level of dedication and customer service should be what ALL of "high end" is about. Sean >
as the owner of the most recent wersion of the melos ma333 preamp (the music-director), i humbly submit it *is* up to "that level" of equipment as the lamms. not that i'm biased, or anything! ;~)
melos used to be paired w/the pipedreams at shows like ces, before melos had financial diffiulty & stopped offering new product. also, according to melos' current owner, soundlabs speakers are a favorite w/melos-owners, as well as pipedreams. melos' current owner offers mods/repairs to melos gear, & is hoping to start manufacturing product in the near future. i, for one, hope they are succesful... :>) besides, the music-director, the sha-gold was an outstanding pre at its price-point of ~$2k, & is a bargain preamp at the ~$1k used-market price i've seen 'em being adwertized for, imho...
Hi Doug. My recollection is that it was an older Melos preamp, the SHA Gold, not the current version. The preamp was not really much of a limiting factor in our listening, either, as it did very well in the set-up. My point was more going to the inexpensive CD front end we listened to which, while terrific for its price, did have its shortcomings. I will also note that I thought the system really came alive when we listened to vinyl!
yust fyi, the sha-gold *and* the ma-333 are both older versions of melos' most recent preamps - the sha-maestro replaced the sha-gold, & the music-director replaced the ma-333. while they both have upgraded parts, the older wersions actually had a better-sounding wolume-pot - those photentiometers. but, they were so sensitive to shipping-damage, melos had to go to a conventional alps pot. the ma-333 was basically a true dual-mono, two-box (3-box, w/fono) wersion of the sha-gold...
As an owner of the 6' model, I can say that these are the best speakers that I have heard, or else I would not have made the investment. The form factor makes image and soundstage the real standout features of these models; and combined with LAMM ML-1's, I have yet to find a type of music that doesn't sound better with my Pipes.
Yes, the size, weight and setup can make them a logistical (and marital) nightmare; but I can tell you that everyone at Nearfield went out of their way to make sure I got what I needed. At these prices, you should expect that sort of treatment...