I've heard these speakers at a couple of shows, too - and I think they are really good. Perhaps a tad laid back... musical... my taste leans that way. I don't know about what amplification is best for them. Dogmcd - do you use a DAC with your squeezebox?
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Thanks for your comments! I've used my current Red Dragon amps for quite a while with the Adagios and previously had a pair of Aleph clones and both sounded extremely good. Considering that they have a relatively easy impedance to drive, amp selection may not be too much of a hassle. I know that Robert likes to demo with triode tubed amps, so they don't take huge amounts of power to get going but they will reward you if you give them some watts. Like I say, I would like to try them with some different amps sometime myself.
Yes, I do run my Squeezebox with a DAC. Right now I'm running the digital out to the DAC in my Marantz SA8004 which is quite good.
I'm intrigued by your comment of the speakers sounding "laid back". Not saying that's a bad or incorrect comment by any means, I'm just curious about what you'd comapare them to that's not "laid back"? I'm thinking I might agree with you, but I may term it "non-agressive"....
Nice review. I also own the Adagio's and love them. Like you, I find they are very responsive to upstream equipment. Also like you, I love Magnepans, and these are some of the only cone speakers that capture almost all of the Maggie magic but with the dynamics of a cone speaker. I often have upgrade-itis, but the only speakers I've heard at shows or dealers that interest me are generally much higher priced - Avalon, Thiel's high-end, the top of the line Vandersteen, Wilson Sophia, etc.
Go up withe the Crescendos, you will be in heaven, I have mine with Ayon Triton, not looking for upgrade anytime soon.
I felt in love with the Az speakers min one after listened to them, wow this is like benign at the Blue Note, with live musicians, first time i listened to the music while i forgot about the gear,
Thanks for the responses folks...!
Roxy 54, no I have not considered that. I'm sometimes a little suspicious of mods (even though I've done plenty myself over the years!), but it may be worth some serious investigation. I'll check it out!
Junglem, I'll bet your Crescendos are awesome, especially with those Ayon tubes! The Crescendo is one of the speakers I will lust after and hopefully my pocket book will catch up. I have had an opportunity to hear them, and I have to say that I think they are stupid good for the price! I'm like Darkj and can honestly say that the only things I've heard that might bear some consideration in comparison are many times more expensive, like the Wilson Sasha or Vandersteen 7 or some of the better Avalon's, and even then I'm not sure how much you'd gain in performance against the Crescendos.... If I ever get to own a pair of those it will probably be my last speaker purchase ever. For now, I will happily live with my Adagios that get me about 90% of the way there!
In re-reading some of my comments about the Adagio, I notice that I said little about the speaker's sounstaging & imaging abilities. Maybe that's because, like the rest of their presentation, those properties are so natural it almost goes unnoticed.
I personally have found that loudspeakers that seem to cut instrumental and vocal images out with an X-acto knife don't appeal to me, mainly because that's NOT how real music sounds live. Yes, you should be able to localize things, but as a whole, music being played in a real space has a certain "blend" that reaches your ears. An example is massed strings. If you listen in the concert hall, they come to you en masse from an "area" that you localize but you don't generally hear each instrument cut in stark relief from the whole, unless one is grossly out of tune and even then, it will take you a bit to get the offender identified within that whole sonic cloth. Some speakers unabashedly allow you to hear each and every instrument, noise, voice or pin drop in stark relief within their soundstage in your listening room, and that actually just reminds me that I'm listening to an electronic reproduction rather than just listening to a musical performance.
So, the Adagios throw an excellent soundstage that spreads beyond the outter edges of the speakers themselves, but not unnaturally so and they also have the ability to give you a perception of the depth of the venue as well so that what you hear is not just a flat picture but one that has appropriate dimensions to it. A good example is when you listen to "Bird On a Wire" from Jennifer Warnes' "Famous Blue Raincoat", Vinnie Colaiuta's drums are in the right place in the center rear of the mix, and his toms are in the right positions as he plays through the opening riff's, but they all still blend approriately with the overall presentaion. I've been listening recently to the DG/Archiv recording of Haydn's "The Creation" with the Gabrielli Consort & Players conducted by Paul McCreesh (great recording and an outstanding performance by the way, go get it! Archiv 477 7361) and the overall soundstage has the size and depth that it should with the players and chorus in the right places, and they stay firmly rooted and stable throughout.
So, the bottom line for me is that the Adagios create a "real" soundscape that doesn't make you stop and "look" at each performer like they're a two or three dimensional cut out doll. They sound like music as it would if you were there, with the correct size, depth and weight. Just another plus in their considerable arsenal of qualities!
An interesting update...
Not long after finishing up my review, I noticed something was suddenly not quite right with my system; some of the life was gone, the image was collapsed, the sound was dull, just not right. After a little investigation I found that one of the tweeters in the Adagios had something wrong with it. It was very muffled and obviously down a couple of dB from the opposite speaker. Popped the tweeters and noticed a huge difference when checking their resistance with a DVM. Not good!
I called Robert and he said he thought he knew what the problem was and asked that I send the tweeters to him. So, I sent the tweeters off to Robert in California and waited patiently next to my system, wimpering and getting cranky because I had no tunes.
Well, in just a few days, I received the tweets back, repaired, along with new gasket material and some silver solder to reconnect them to the speakers. Robert worked on them himself and repaired the internals of the ribbon tweeter assembly and made sure the pair were properly balanced. I hooked them back up and the sound was back to its original glory. Everything is again right with the world!
The point is this... On top of desiging and manufacturing what I believe are some of the best speakers and cables in the world, Robert Lee also cares about his customers and stands behind his product. I believe a shout out is always deserved when someone goes above and beyond the call to work directly with a customer and help them out when they have a problem. One more reson that I for one will be an Acoustic Zen customer until the cows come home!
Thanks you Robert !!! :-)
I'm about to buy a pair. Robert Lee said my Pass Aleph 30 amp would sound "very excellent" with the Adagios. I have heard the speakers at shows being driven by Red Dragon amps, so I was amazed when I saw you are familiar with the speakers being driven with both Red Dragons and Alephs (though clones).
Could you describe the DIFFERENCE you hear in the speakers depending on which amps you use?
Russellreich, my sincere apologies for the extremely late reply! Haven't been engaged on the site much for a couple months due to work, family, life in general getting in the way!
To answer your question, the differences between amps can be readily heard through the Adagios but all can put their best foot forward. The pure class A Aleph clones were extremely smooth with very sweet midrange performance where the Red Dragon's had a masterful grip on the frequency extremes, especially the bottom end where the bass was powerful yet articulate. The Red Dragons also afforded lots of dynamics due to the simple fact there was plenty in reserve when needed! In both cases though, the Adagios were musical, articulate and beautiful to listen to.
Interestingly, I've changed amplification again. I am now running an Ayre AX7e integrated, which I think may be the best amplification device I've ever owned and the sound is sweeter and more truthful than ever... but I still have the Adagios, and I guess that should tell you something in and of itself.
Hi,in my search for reviews on the Adagios I cam upon yours. To keep this real short,I have had some bad experiences in my quest for "Hi end audio" and was about to give up and just get some cheap Polks or something (I have a H T so I need something). I have a line on some Adagios for $1775 shipped and I am hesitating! Seeing your review and your equipment I realize maybe I can have a good system on my budget (speakers under 2k,cables in the $100s,amp or amps under 2k)Bottom line is I would really like to talk to you because you have the Adagios and if I buy them that's what I would be building my system around.If you could email me you phone# and the best time to call it would be greatly appreciated. If you don't feel comfortable with this I will understand,thank you in advance for your time,Larry [email protected]
I'll contact you separately, but allow me this; what you will find with the Adagio's more than almost any other speaker, is one that plays MUSIC! The only other speakers that I've ever run across, and listened to, that come close are Harbeth's and Spendor's (BBC style speakers). In my experience, the Acoustic Zen's have that same level of real life musical expression as those BBC style monitors along with better dynamics and better extension at the frequency extremes. And, the only speaker I've heard that I think would be an upgrade are Robert Lee's Crescendo's (and I'm trying to figure out how I afford a pair of those someday!).
Just my personal opinion that you don't see lots of reviewers jumping up and down about the Adagio's because they don't have all of the bombast or sparkle or unnatural sounds that sometimes drive reviews, not always because a speaker is accurate or sounds correct, but because it sounds "different" and has a huge "wow" factor. The low distortion and proper phase relationships that the Acoustic Zen's provide are more natural. Not to denegrate some very good, very expensive products, but it's interesting that most Acoustic Zen owners just settle in for the long haul, and I think that says a lot!
And, for $1775, you'll steal 'em!