Review: Eminent Technology LFT-VIII Speaker

Category: Speakers

I owned LFT-VIII speakers, serials 892087 _ _ L and 892087 _ _ R, for about eight years and used them with the mid-fi Adcom/Rotel/Parasound/Thorens equipment and AQ cabling as listed.

My particular Eminents were characterized by:

1. very limited vertical dispersion anywhere above the midrange, somewhat limited horizontal dispersion in the highs
2. a rolled off high end in absolute terms on axis, imo, even with the user-instigated factory cross-over mod
3. wobbly spike struts and panel to woofer box connection
4. low visual design quotient - they may be works of art to you, but they are more works of industrial engineering art
5. good extension and overall air movement in the lows, with some fullness/slowness under about 100hz compared to quick panels, including their own, with their fairly low Q dynamic woofer/box (traits I did not find personally find objectionable)
6. better sound at medium or loud volume levels, and a capacity to reach quite high spls
7. nice big soundstage, including good depth
8. good imaging, i.e., not hyper-specific as with some monitors/point sources
9. great midrange resolution
10. enjoyable musicality, rhythm if not the best amplitude accuracy or coherence .

They are inefficient planar magnetic dipoles, use a push pull magnet structure (unlike Maggies) without electrostatic-like transformers and had nice Edison connectors. (Along with the previously mentioned dynamic woofers.)

What you should know is they had a slight diy feel to them. They only weighed about 60 lbs. each, but were a pain for one person to assemble and then tweak about the room. They arrived in three big cardboard boxes and it involved balancing the heavy panels upright while putting screws into the wood of the woofer modules. Do you move a lot? That's one reason I sold mine. The screws never stripped their holes, but they needed force to get in place. Not a ten minute walk in the park.

Also, there used to be this whole thing about using a hair dryer to tension the panels when being assembled after transport or storage. That doesn't strike me as a re-assuring or scientifically repeatable process.

Designer Bruce Thigpen was always unfailingly polite on the phone, but seemed absolutely reserved himself about my concerns with the high end response and super-tweeter qc testing, in particular, although he sent the little cross-over jumpers at no charge.

I haven't read Corey Greenberg's old, favorable Stereophile review recently, but I have a dim memory that I generally agreed with his comments. Maybe it's archived on ET or Stereophile web sites.

Associated gear
Adcom GTP-400
Rotel RCD-855
Parasound HCA-800II
basic AudioQuest wiring

Similar products
owned Gale 401c
owned Fried A6
(heard almost everything else at one time or another, but not exhaustively)
Hi Suits_me…I enjoyed your review of your 8-year relationship with the ET VIII’s and thought I’d jump in with some info on the new “a” revision. I’ve been a fan of Thigpen’s ET speakers and have owned the LFT III’s, the LFT-VI’s and, now, the updated VIIIa’s (which replaced my MG 1.6’s). I have always thought these planars to be a great value, very musical, and can “let go of the notes” like an electrostat. Although below average in efficiency, the VIIIa’s can be played with tubes or SS, and do not require a high current amp, i.e., flat impedance curves in the panels and woofers. I am now running them with an Audio Research VT100MKII and LS25 with all Acoustic Zen cabling, which can play them well beyond comfortable listening levels in my 16’x20’room. BTW, I did not have a problem assembling the ET’s …they weren’t any more difficult to assemble than other planar speakers, e.g. maggies. But I can imagine that frequent moving and assembly would get tiresome.

The “a” revision includes both a new woofer and crossover. The new woofer has a longer voice coil, larger magnet, etc., and the resulting transition between the panel and woofer at 150 hz blends quite well. This low crossover point allows the low-mids to come through the panels, i.e. quickness and transparency in spades. ( in contrast, the Martin Logan re- Quest crosses at 180 hz and the SL3 at 250 hz.) According to Thigpen, “ the low frequency woofer was carefully designed to blend seamlessly with the mid-range and high-frequency drivers... The woofer has a very high compliance and operates with a near critically damped system Q of .58. This tuning insures excellent transient response.”

The new crossover smoothes the mids and increases the tweeter output. Tweeter attenuation can be set to low, medium, or high. This upgrade is available in a kit for around $200. The optional Sound Anchor stands, at $200, are a major improvement over the factory stands, especially in speed, detail, and panel integration. I found the longer adjustable spikes allow more flexible vertical alignment for changes in high frequency dispersion and imaging than the factory stands.

So far, I haven’t made any internal crossover upgrades with better capacitors, but similar mods to my VI’s and III’s were well worth the effort. Also, Audio Asylum members discuss various mods to the ET’s.

In addition to the Sterophile review of the VI’s, several reviews can be found at:

· The Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity Review of the LFT-8
· The Audio Observatory Review of the LFT-VIII
· The Sensible Sound Review of the LFT-VIII
This is a addendum review for LFT8A's. The main difference is the relocated tweeter to the center of the panel, crossover changes, updated bass driver and the Sound Anchor stands which I understand now are included in the 1800.00 list price. These speakers are a great value for the money and Bruce at ET is very helpful. I did modify the crossover with higher quality parts and raised tweeter capacitor value to 4.5 MF. This mod in tandom with high quality silver IC appears to deliver all the high frequency energy I need in my 18x28 listening room. These speakers do something nice in the midrange in that they make the image big, deep and seamless. I believe the the midrange driver operates from 180 hz up to 10K. It is asked to do alot of work, but there is no crossover getting in the way of the music or voice in this area. I have found that I needed aleast 100 watts per side to drive them and ended up in a vertical Bi-Amp set-up with 260 watts per side. I also wired in a powered transmission line sub in the the system by using a spare pair of pre outs from the pre amp to a crossover/amp for the sub. This gets the bottom octave to a solid 20 hz as measured by HP Spectrum Analysis.

Associated Equipment:
Music Reference RM Mk4 preamp
2 Kinergetics KBA 75 class A amps in a vertical bi-amp
MSB Link DAC 3 with upsample chip/NEC CD drive
Sony SACD player/also used as a drive
Roksan Xerxes table/RB 300 W/cardas wire/Ex cart
IC and speaker wire are Music Meter
I have owned this speaker for 11 years and think they are an exceptional value for the money.They go really well with tubes I use a RM-5 MK 3 AND RM-9 and really love the open sound and awesome mids.The bass is a little slow,but I do not have any problems with the pristine highs and all the metallic sound is gone.I do have an itch for electostats but have not purchased any.I find Tara Labs are a good match for my tastes.I have been very satisfied with this setup.
Let me just cut to the chase(if you need more, read the full reviews, plenty of writers out there)...These speakers, given the right amounts of juice will do wonderful things in a 2 channel set up as well as in a HT set-up.

Set up properly, well off walls, 8+ feet apart, no toe, will give you a live presentation that will thrill even the most critical of self proclaimed audiophile. I sold of Dunlavy 4A's to buy these and have not looked back. The 4A's were good but at 8K+(crazy money), the ET at $1800 are a no-brainer!!

Lastly, give them silver spk cables and your done.

Basis 1400 w/ VDH silver rewired Basis300 arm, Benz Ruby3,
Sony scd-1,
MD ft101(original),
Krell KPE,
Sonic Euphoria PLC,
Classe CAM-350 monos,
TG Audio wire.