Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo S Speakers - A Review


I received these speakers about three weeks ago and with a bit of run-in on them, maybe 75-100 hours, I am prepared to say that they are simply stunning speakers.  I have a bit of a bind in my room in that I only have 2-3' from the rear wall to position them, which is about what Clayton Shaw from SA said would be workable.  I heard his former design, the Audio Physics OB speakers, at an audio show a couple of years ago and was very impressed with them, but was waved off when I learned that the AP speakers needed 4-5' of clearance to perform their best.  Clayton now has his own company and the Holograms incorporate major design improvements from his earlier designs for Audio Physics, not least of which is their performance much nearer the back wall.  

Most notably, these do not sound like any speakers I have ever had and I have had a nearly a dozen over the past decade in my room.  I listened to them with a pedestrian SS amp to break them in (note:  don't form any opinion of them until they have a least 50 hours on them) and then swapped them for an excellent 6L6 tube amp with 6 wpc.  With the tube amp (and my tube preamp), these speakers just simply blossomed with a huge soundstage and a very warm liquid sound.  There is no question that the speakers mate very well with tube amplification.  I then swapped my venerable CJ MF-80 SS amp into the system thinking that they might lose the holographic soundstage and warmth, but as it turns out, the CJ amp provides a bit more control on the LF response and gives up only a bit of the warmth and liquidity that the tube amp provided.  So, my take is that they respond very well to both tube and SS amplification, but with good gear, reveal provide much better performance.  

The M4's have such an effortless, uncongested sound to them that seems very coherent from the LF to the HF.  They are neither forward nor laid back, they just make the music sound tonally correct and realistic.  If I had more room for placement, I might consider the M3's, which go down to 32hz whereas my M4's go pretty flat to 45hz.  No worries with the M4's, I am very happy with the LF response and if I get motivated, I might hook up my REL sub to catch that lower octave.  No doubt due to the open baffle design of the speakers, I sense an openness to the sound that I haven't ever experienced in any speakers I have had.  They are very detailed, with a clarity to the spittle sound of Miles' trumpet and a palpable leading-edge attack to Ron Carter's  double bass that just is simply amazing.   The sound from bottom to top with these speaker continues to astonish me the longer I listen to them.  If think they might tend to a bit warmer presentation, to my ears, but only slightly so.  Overall, they are very balanced.  

Clayton has a generous no-hassle 60-day trial with these speakers because it is a fair bet that few buyers will not be very happy with them.   I am just a guy who has loves jazz and have been in the quest for great sound in my system for the past 45 years so that is my point of view in this review.  I am not going out on a limb in saying that I think Clayton has significantly moved the ball ahead, from technological design and production standpoint, with his Hologram speakers.  I simply marvel at the pure enjoyment I am hearing with these speakers... just such pure enjoyment.    

For $2K for the M4 Turbo S version, I can't fathom a more fulfilling audio product than Clayton's speakers.  I urge my music-loving friends on this forum to think outside the box (speaker) realm and consider what Clayton has created with his well-engineered and beautifully-constructed  line of of Hologram speakers.  At least, seek out his room at the next audio show and give them a listen.  Cheers, Whitestix






whitestix
huge fan of this design . it seems they are a hard load to drive but your review indicates this is not a problem. open baffles should be much more popular imo
Veroman,
To the contrary, they are very easy to drive.  The 5 wpc tube amp had plenty of headroom.  With my CJ amp, the volume pot on my preamp never gets past 9:00 to create a substantial SPL. 
Could you say what types of music this speaker leans toward, if it does seem that way? You listen to jazz and like it on the M4s. I also do, but rock (not too hard, or not too often), acoustic and female vocals are also to my liking.

How would you describe the speed, detail and resolution aspects?

Thanks.
Well, I listen to 90% acoustic jazz and some classical music.  And a bit of blues. I found no deficiencies playing The Who "Who's Next".   Diana Krall's voice sounds just right to my ears with the M4's. Thinking back to my Cornscala's (modified Cornwalls), the M4's are remarkably quicker in their response, revealing much more inner detail and resolution.  I was playing a cut last night and seemingly out of nowhere was a succession of soft strikes on a music triangle and my head snapped around wondering where the sound came from. Their HF extension is wonderful.  I would not have expected 4 12" woofers would be so detailed and articulate, but indeed they are, due no doubt to the engineering work Clayton has employed with them.  They do need time to break and now at 100 hours on them, they still continue to improve.  Cheers.
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