Seeking thoughts on Apogee Caliber Ribbon speakers


I just obtained a pair of Apogee Caliber Ribbon loudspeakers. I was trying to find opinions and evaluations on them, but there does not seem to be much information at all on this model. I'm just curious if anyone has any information on them. Good speakers? Great speakers? Junk?
bababondoman
Apogee Calipers are absolutely fantastic speakers, assuming that you have the right room for them and the right amp or amps (yes, plural) to drive them. There are few (if any) speakers that I believe equal the sound of a properly situated pair of Apogee planars.

I have owned several models of Apogee speakers, starting with the original Full Range Planar model, and I have thoroughly enjoyed them all. Although the Caliper is one model I have not owned, although I have listened to them many times with friends that had them.

Downsides:
1- Large, although the Calipers were one of the "small" models. Other speakers can disappear into the decor - Apogees never will do this. They will become the visual focal point of the room.
2- Hard to drive. Again, the Calipers were not the most difficult Apogee speaker to mate to an amp
3- Room dynamics and placement
4- Replacement ribbon and panel parts can be difficult and expensive, although that situation has improved in recent years. Now it's just expensive
4- WAF - very poor female love quotient. Re-read #1

In case you haven't seen them, here are some good links:
Positive Feedback Review
Stereophile Review
Apogee Speakers Userr Website (archive)
Br3098 THANKS SO MUCH for your research and results. Such a comprehensive article on these speakers. I really appreciate it. I am anxious to find a "mega watt" amp to really try them out. Now I am using 65wpc, one per input. It needs "something" and I'm pretty sure that "something" is more power. Sadly my hearing is not good enough to hear and appreciate what these speakers are capable of. After I am sure that they are working properly I'll probably have to find a new home for them. Thanks again!!
Dear Br3098, it is obvious that your knowledge of ribbon speakers is far above mine. With that in mind I'd like to ask you a question. At moderate volumes and above I will get substantial "breakup" when bass is anything but flat. I have examined the woofer and there is nothing loose. The ribbon seems to be as taught as a person would want it to be (without any definite knowledge of that). I am using a 63 watt rms amp for the woofer and the same for the mid/upper. I cannot compare the two speakers just yet. I don't want to do anything to the second one before I have had a chance to remove it from the case and check for any problems. Just a little anxious here. The amp I am using I am assuming is the problem. I don't think it can cope with a 3 ohm load. It a Phast 8 channel x 63 watt unit. Might you have any thoughts on this situation? Ribbon Newby
Bababondoman,

OK, I can answer you now that my swelled head had shrink back down to it's former insignificance.

You are almost certainly correct; your 65Wpc amp is not adequate to power the Apogee Caliper speakers. I would advise you to stop using these speakers with this amp IMMEDIATELY as you run a real risk of damaging both the amp and the speakers, if you haven't already done so.

From your last two posts I assume that you are attempting to use some form of horizontal bi-amping (seperate amps for the ribbon tweeter and the woofer panel), possibly with a multi-channel amp. Is this correct? From personal experience, I would avoid attempting to horizontal bi-amp unless you have a serious fascination with tweaking or repairing electronics. Vertical bi-amp (separate amps or monoblocks for each speaker) yes, certainly; but you will need to provide adequate power at very low loads.

I would recommend a MINIMUM of 125Wpc at <4 Ohms. 200W-250W or more would be better if your room is large (which I assume it is for these speakers) and if you intend to play large orchestral music. I would suggest the following as reasonably priced options:
1. McCormack DNA-1, 2, 125, 225 - remember you will need two if you are going to bi-amp (bridged mode)
2. Krell KAV-250a (not the /3 model) or KAV-500. (you will want two of the 250)
3- TAD Hibachi amp - monoblock pair

My personal choice would be one of the McCormack amps, preferebly rebuilt by Steve McCormack's SMC Audio. There are many amps that will work and you will undoubtedly receive other good suggestions.
Since I did not know if the 65 wpc 8 channel amp I was using was capable of 3-4 ohms without biting the dust I chose to take that chance. I had a mono signal feeding two of the channels and the outputs for low and high of each 65watts going to the Caliber. On a ribbon speaker, without any voice coil to bottom out I was under the impression that occasional distortion, while testing, would do no harm to the ribbons as long as the "excursion" was not obviously excessive. It wasn't. Perhaps you are concerned about the crossover networks? However, I AM going to take your advice and shelf the amp and try another amp that I have somewhere. It is rated at 185 watts at 4 ohms. THAT ought to do the trick I imagine. Since I have never listened to ribbon speakers before I don't know what to expect other than the reviews I've read. I will admit that I like a LOT of bass due to my love of pipe organ music. I do know that these speakers will not have a great deal of spl at low frequencies. I'll try the 185 wpc amp and report back with my observations. Thanks again for taking your time and giving me advice. :)
You need a very solid 200/channel amp that can pour power into difficult loads.
Everyone....I hooked up a stereo amplifier that I mentioned that is rated at 185 wpc rms each channel operating. One channel for speaker low and one channel for speaker hi. 370 watts to the speaker. Everyone was completely correct. I DID need far more power. Everything sounded 95% better! Also improved was the muddiness that was heard in the bass when volume fairly high and the bass boosted. It now occurs at a much higher volume level only. Maybe it STILL requires more power!! I have the power company on the way out here to give and estimate on three phase power to run the new amps. ;)
Apogees don't just need power, they need lots of current. Make sure your amp is rated for 2 ohm loads and you should be fine. A 4 ohm rated amp often doen't have the current drive. Icepower amps such as PS Audio or Wyred4Sound are reasonably priced modern amps that do the job nicely.
You will hear the difference if your amp is up to the job.
In a suitable room and with a proper amp the Calipers are very fine. Like all the 2 way Apogeees there is a bit of metallic ringing on the top end, but what they give in transparency and dynamics makes it a fair trade. The 3 way Apogees (Divas) avoided the top end issues, but are far pricier.
Jmbatkh, the early model Apogee speakers (FRP, Scintilla, Duetta, Caliper) were terribly inefficient, with sensativity in the very low 80s (at best). I have found that these speakers need amps that can deliver adequate current AND power in order to play with minimal distortion at reasonable sound levels.
Good advice above, I have owned Apogee speakers for years (Centaur, Centaur minor, MiniGrands, Duetta Signatures)....they all needed good amps, with lots of grunt power. I still own a pair of Duetta Signatures and a pair of Stage....although one of my Stage has the dreaded "Apogee bass panel Buzz".

Good luck,
Dave
I drive my Calipers with two Adcom GFA 555 power amps (bridged mono). I figure they're providing about 800-1000 watts per side into the 2-3 ohm load with lots of current. They deliver beautifully. Of course a tube preamp helps (Audible Illusions 2b), proper speaker cables and interconnects, room size and placement and a good turntable or [sigh] a top quality CD player (if you must...)
Anyone have a spare Caliper woofer ribbon? I need the right side if viewing from your listening position. My wife bumped one of the speakers with (you won't believe this) a broom handle. (Yup, she's still around...) I figured it's cheaper to keep her instead of training a new one [joking!] I gotta appreciate her. She's the one who picked the Apogees (for their sound).
It still works, but when I pump up the volume I get a crackle. Any suggestions for a repair?
Kai_s,
try Rich Murry of True Sound Works in Nevada. He refurbishes Apogee using Graz's (Australian manuf of after market Apogee ribbons).
http://www.truesoundworksaudio.com/

the whole process (of shipping to-fro & repair) will not be cheap - you have been warned!! ;-)
R.I.P. They were more trouble than they were worth to me. I donated them to Habitat for Humanity. I have no idea who bought them or what they charged for them. I'm just glad they are gone. But I DO appreciate the in depth advice that I have received on them. Now, to get back to putting a new metal tread on my wagon wheels.
They indeed can be frustrating.

Physics is physics and there is absolutely no getting away from the cancellation/doubling effects in the bass....some frequencies doubling up, some cancelling out, which is why folks can't figure out just what to do with placement to get the bass right. It cannot be nearly right across the frequency range.

They also never can reflect the instant dynamic attack of most real instruments.

However, by taking the bite out of the initial attack (that should be there) they are "smooth", "natural", "easy" in a way that is stylized but is so seductive that there are many admirers and many many people who wish real music were that way.

All in home systems are portraying an event that cannot be "real" in the home, so we could say all home systems put forth stylized sound. The Apogees are just doing it in their lush, smoothed over way, more stylized than the best, most neutral speakers. If this gives some listeners the memories of real music, that's great. In the end, I too felt they were more trouble than they were worth.
Omsed,
Just wanted to know which Apogee speakers you have had experience with & which amps you used with those speakers? thanks for your feedback.
OP -

I have always enjoyed the Apogee SLANT 6 & SLANT 8 speakers.
Bombaywalla, Apogee Calipers, Divas, Duetta Sigs, with mostly Krell amps of various vintages.

I've heard them in the homes of folks involved with both companies. They can be a nice audio experience, unlike many speakers that just hurt my ears or are so full of distortions and colorations that I would not even bother writing about them.

However, the bass is never really right, and there is always a midrange coloration on transients. Nearly every Apogee owner I have ever known stays away from music they do not do well on which includes, but is not limited to, music heavy in bass transients, music using lots of standup bass.

The newly updated models from Magnepan are truly superior, much more neutral, much easier to drive. I do not own them, I know nobody at Magnepan, but if I wanted a panel speaker I'd have them.

Omsed,
thanks for your feedback.
yes, I can see now why you have the opinion that you do. All the Apogees you have experience with have Kapton-backed ribbons & the Kapton does impart its signature to the sonics.
And Krell amps. Hmmmm....I was never a fan of them.
I heard a reconstructed Diva with Krell Reference amps in a person's home & I came away less than satisfied with the overall sonics.
The other Apogee speakers (Scintilla & Full Range) that you do not seem to have any experience with are much better sonically. The Scintilla has free standing ribbons that are just aluminum foil with no Kapton backing. The bass panel does have Kapton - no way around that due to its size which demands some structurally integrity.
As an owner of a Scintilla I can tell you that I do not shy away from any music - the type that has a double-bass/standup bass included. I personally think that the Scintilla does a superb job of the bass. It's not cone- driver bass; it's planar bass. Nevertheless it's room-filing, punchy & compliments the music - never less & never more.
I think that we have different opinions driven by our different experiences.
The Magneplanar have gotten better (& yes they have always been easier to drive) but IMO they still cannot measure up to the Apogee Scintilla.
If I could have another speaker, I'd buy a SoundLab....
Omsed, Very interesting comments about the Apogee BASS because for me, BASS, along with many other attributes of the Apogees which got me hook to Planar sound, and I'm afraid that is forever. And oh yeah! What Bombay said exactly!!! :-) Bombay, hope you have been enjoying the Scinnies. Curios, have you been to the Apogee website? Wondering what is new there since I have not visited the site for a long time.

Henry
Omsed, Very interesting comments about the Apogee BASS because for me, BASS, along with many other attributes of the Apogees which got me hook to Planar sound, and I'm afraid that is forever. And oh yeah! What Bombay said exactly!!! :-) Bombay, hope you have been enjoying the Scinnies. Curios, have you been to the Apogee website? Wondering what is new there since I have not visited the site for a long time.

Henry
Bombay,

I just wanted to add it is amazing we both have the same thought. For 15 years, I thought to myself that if without the Apogees, God forbid, the Soundlabs are probably the Planar for me as well. I began to have that thought after hearing a pair of the Soundlabs A1 10 years ago.
08-04-13: H2oaudio
Bombay,

I just wanted to add it is amazing we both have the same thought. For 15 years, I thought to myself that if without the Apogees, God forbid, the Soundlabs are probably the Planar for me as well. I began to have that thought after hearing a pair of the Soundlabs A1 10 years ago.
yes, Henry, this is very interesting indeed!
I am enjoying the Scintillas very much - such a good speaker (but needs the correct amp to drive it). thanks.
SUNFIRE...300x2 ....With the 'Scintilla Mod"