Stereo Times Review of the Apogee Acoustics Diva

Hi folks, I found this excellent review of the Apogee Diva by Christiaan Punter for Stereotimes. Christian compares new and refurbed Duettas & also provides pics of the crossovers as well as setup advice. Highly recommended if you're an Apogee fan!
Good to know others can still enjoy them. One of my all time favorites and longest running speakers. With the right electronics it put many other big names to shame.
I agree Dkarmeli, they are amazing speakers. I would love to own a refurbished pair of TSW Apogee Diva Ultimates one day if I buy a new home & set up a dedicated listening room. The Diva Ultimates require careful setup & a treated listening room to achieve their full potential, plus of course lots of clean power. In my current room, my sealed box Magico S5's work better.
I have refurbished Duetta Sig's that I bought from a buddy who bought the Diva Ultimates. Mine have original ribbons but totally updated crossovers. They sing beautifully.

My buddy had issues with his Diva's - they just didn't mesh with his room. You need sufficient space for these babies. He is trading them in and going back to the Duetta Ultimates.

Yes, extremely precise setup is the key to all Apogees. I actually bought a laser measuring device to get them to within 1/4".

I also have a pair of Apogee DS which I have totally replaced all Xover components by latest audiophile grade components. This was an astonishing upgrade in sound quality, but still had the Apogee buzz on low frequency content when played relatively loud.

About a year ago, I had the ribbons replaced by Rich Murry of True Sound Works. No buzz, improved sound again with new ribbons. I told my wife I want to be burried with my DS when I decease :-). The are keepers for life!
Yeah i've read the TSW Duetta Signature Ultimates are more room friendly & give the Diva Ultimates a good run for their money (especially in the bass). Congrats on your Sigs Ptm!
Can anyone who has experience with Apogee's and Infinity IRS speakers describe how refurbed Diva's stand up against the Infinity IRS-Gamma, Beta and/or IRS-V? Cheers.
Great question Melbguy1...I always remember the Apogee Stage...what a great speaker that was...and for $1K second hand, a steal imho.

I have heard the Genesis 1.1s...remarkable but boy are they BIG!

Would love hear how the big Apogees (Apogee Grand?) stack up as well.
Lloyd, another speaker I didn't mention (mainly due to its amp-killing reputation :o) is the 1 ohm Apogee Scintilla. But you need a lot of iron to drive those gorillas! :)

Given an adequate size listening room, the Genesis 1.1's would be my dream speakers, however my current listening room and budget prohibit such flights of fancy. But perhaps in 6-7 years or so I might be in a position to move house & find a good 2nd hand pair within my price range. With Vitus gear upstream, that would be a good system to retire with..
I hear you Melbguy1,

Those things are H-U-G-E. I have a good friend who owns them...he uses all-Kondo electronics...the best of their best stuff. And it sounds remarkable.

Have you heard the Rockport Arrakis? I have heard it tri-amped with VTL Siegried II monos with a Rockport Sirius III and Clearaudio Statement TT...whew!!!

Between the two, close call for me.

Would love to have heard the Scintillas or Apogee Grand...
Lloyd, those are some awesome systems you heard & amongst the best in the world. Though personally if cost was no object and I wanted to go all-out on tri-amping the Arrakis, i'd run 3 Vitus MP-S201's connected to a Vitus MP-L201 linestage.

Yeah my plan is if I buy a piece of land in future, i'll get an architect-designed house built to my specs with a dedicated listening room custom-sized to the ideal dimensions for the G1.1's, even though they may come along later. I would still choose the G1.1's over the Arrakis (even if I could afford the latter) for sentimental reasons due to how the Infinity IRS-V's blew me away. Also with the G1.1's bass amps, you only need a high current stereo amp to drive the midrange panels which obviously saves big bucks.

From my experience, the IRS-V and later G1.1/1.2 line arrays are the only speakers capable of recreating a life-like image and concert level dynamics. They are also more room friendly than normal box speakers due to their figure 8 radiation pattern. I have to smile though as i'm far from slumming it with my Magico S5's!
Yes, the S5s are amazing. I have heard them with Constellations and ARC though never Vitus.

With Arrakis, I would probably stick with my Gryphons since that is what Andy payor uses to voice them, and I really like my Gryphon. But frankly Vitus is exceptional and I believe reasonably similar in voice/character to Gryphon as I understand.

I honestly cannot say which I would go for...I suppose with unlimited space so that Genesis/IRS don't overcrowd the room, I could see myself with those. But there is just something about how deep house sounds on the Rockport Arrakis...incredibly effortless and yet TIGHT...that is just remarkable.
The S5's and Constellation is a good match up, though the best synergy Alon found with the Magico S series was with Vitus Signature and Masterpiece series amps as used at CES. VA & Magico have uncanny synergy.

Which Gryphon amp do you run Lloyd? I'm currently using a Vitus SIA-025 integrated which is a peach. Btw, you should post a Virtual system! I'm planning on posting mine in the next 2 months.
Nice...very nice. Yes, I have heard excellent things about the Masterpiece series.

I run the Gryphon Colosseum into my Wilson X1s (modd'd a bit). Zanden 4-box digital front-end and CJ GAT pre. Velodyne DD18 sub in parallel. Transp RefMM/XL (MM2) cables. All 16 components are each in their own 'isolation sandwich'...even the Transparent network boxes...each one a bit different...but mainly made of Stillpoints Ultra 5s, HRS M3X/Nimbus Couplers and Artesania, HRS, solid brass weight on top (upwards of 150lbs).
Lloyd, congrats, you have a unique and super nice system. I think i've seen it before on a forum possibly. The Colosseum is a lovely sounding amp apparently, as is the Zanden components, and you have the full stack! Roysen sold a 4 box set earlier this year on the 'Gon. I would be interested to see how the new/revised Vitus SCD-025 with DSD would compare to the full Zanden stack when it is released next month? That will most likely be my next cd player.

I agree excellent isolation, attention to your AC power & grounding are very important. I use extensive Stillpoints Ultra 5's, Ultra Bases, Ultra LPI's & a few Ultra Mini's in my system. And on the AC power side, I use a Furutech GTX-D (G) wpo, Gigawatt PC-3 SE Evo conditioner & Jorma Prime pc's. The Gigawatt provides 3 independent filtering branches optimized for digital, analogue and high current applications & also provides a true equipotential grounding. – not virtual.
@Dasign, congrats on your restored Duetta Sigs! Now that they've had a full resto incl: Graz ribbons, how would you rate your Sigs up against the TSW Diva Ultimates? Am with you on the Estate instructions!
Very nice, Melbguy1!

I have the Tripoint Troy Signature and also use Entreq well as Entreq AC wraps. Great stuff!!!

...about that Gigawatt of yours. I was most intrigued to read about it this morning (completely by coincidence).

what have you compared it with? I use the Transparent Ref Powerisolator 8. It is good, has 8 outlets so it works for me...but I know how important power most curious.

BTW, if you ever decide to go for Zanden, it benefits from a LOT of isolation, NOS tubes, EAT tubes dampers and AC wraps around their cables...but it is a different, purer, stronger, more solid (particularly in bass) and yet still 100% Zanden voice. If you ever decide you want to listen, let me sounds quite 'pretty' without the isolation on each of the 4 boxes, powerful rectifier tubes (Mullards) in the PSU and the noise floor drops with the AC wraps and EAT tube dampers.

Thanks for any advice on your Gigawatt and how it compares to other things you've heard/auditioned!
Thanks for your kind words Lloyd. I am not familiar with the Tripoint Troy Signature. It is certainly an expensive piece of kit, though it seems to perform a similar function to the PC-3 SE Evo. Personally I don't have the space for so many boxes, so the Gigawatt was an excellent solution for my system.

My previous power 'conditioner'/board was an Acoustic Revive RTP-6 Ultimate. The RTP-6 is fast and detailed, but the Gigawatt was just better across the board. My first impressions were; smoother sound (more liquid), blacker background, greater inner detail, more detail in general & improved dynamics. There was also a bit more body and warmth. My Dealer advised it needs 100hrs to run in, so the sound should continue to improve and open up.

I also had a chance to compare the Evo to the PurePower 3000+ Power Re-Generator with the Battery Back Up. The PP+ has a bit more dynamic drive than the Evo being a regenerator, but Gigawatt has a bit better focus and transparency and a blacker background which reveals more inner details and ambience in the recording. A couple more things to mention about the PC-3 SE Evo. It has MUCH better engineering and build quality than the PP+. Also, Gigawatt are the only manufacturer of conditioners or regens to my knowledge whose products are subject to an Insurance policy that covers damage to connected equipment up to 250,000EUR. (Disclosure: I have no connection to Gigawatt, just a happy customer).

Re: the Zanden stack, i've kind of been there, done that with tubed cd players. I previously owned a modded/re-tubed Ayon CD-5s, and my current player is an Aesthetix Romulus. I'm very happy steering toward the Vitus for synergy. It also fits nicely with my goal to simplify my system and reduce my box count.

Unfortunately, I have not heard the TSW Diva Ultimates. I purchased my DS brand new in the 90's and remember listening to the stock Diva. I would say that the stock DS were probably giving 80-90 percent sound quality of the Diva. The Diva has better bass, distorts less than the DS and possess better power handling quality. The Diva will require a much larger room than the DS. Both speakers require beefy amps to deliver enough current to let sing those speakers.

I am totally positive that my rebuilt DS would trounce the stock Diva, just with the Xover rebuild. However, if you rebuild the Diva (ribbons + Xover), I think the Diva would get back its edge on the rebuilt DS.

My 2 cents.
As popular as the Apogee's were and are, I never warmed up to any of them. My original dealer carried them and set up all the speakers they carried very well, with regard to room, placement and associated gear. I've heard them at various shows. IME, they always sounded dark, rolled off at the top, too heavy on the bottom, with a disturbing lumpy frequency response. The models with conventional drivers didn't seem to mesh. They have been/are extremely popular, so perhaps it's just me. YMMV.
Hi Unsound,

I have heard the Apogee Stages (never liked the Centaurs myself which I think were hybrids as you mention). Those Stages driven by a big ML amp were amazing. But my ear then was quite different than today, and who knows...maybe it was rolled off relative to what I enjoy today.

I do recall Apogees being monsters at absorbing any event, they are barely around now. But they are still part of why I have enjoyed panels...though perhaps it does say something that I have never owned one.
Dasign, Thanks for your feedback on the DS vs Diva. It's great to hear that first hand experience. If I move into a bigger house one day & have some spare cash, it would be fun to set up a good size treated listening room & set up a pair of TSW Diva Ultimates fed by a Vitus SS-102/SL-102 combo. That is if Magico don't release a tasty model to replace the S5's in 5-7 years!
I am very pleased with my Divas. I bi-amplify them with big tubes. I modded the DAX crossover significantly. With a good recording, the sound is shockingly real, unlike any cones-in-a-box I've ever experienced (including big Wilsons and Magico Q7). YMMV...
Room Size (from my experienced opinion) is the number one factor in determining whether to use Duetta Sigs or Divas. I am the "buddy" of Ptmconsulting [above post]and as he mentioned I have been a planar fan for most of my audioHOLIC life. After Maggies and Martin Logans from many years ago (with some 'dynamic driver' brands sprinkled in between) I finally "re-discovered" what all the Apogee fanfare was all about and have fully embraced the brand. Mini Grands to stock Duetta Sigs to TSW fully refurbished Duetta Sigs to TSW Diva Ultimates... my 13'x18' dedicated listening room has "told me" the Divas ARE incredible BUT the room still prefers the Duettas. Both are magnificent and essentially 'dream-come-true' speakers but for me, it was simply 'unfair' to the Divas to expect them to fully reach their potential in MY particular room. Of course YMMV but that was my experience, and believe me, I really, really, really...tried.
In my estimation, the room is the deciding factor. I will agree with the reviews that say in their ideal environment and with proper care and attention to set-up detail, the Divas are simply superb. I have been to my fair share of brick-and-mortar audio showrooms over these many 35+ years and have also been to many shows...there have been a lot of recent developments in speaker technology and a whole new batch of (often hideously expensive) flagship models that are quite amazing. But, properly set up Diva Ultimates, in the right conditions, are truly uncanny lifelike transducers that will simultaneously have you grinning from ear to ear while shaking your head in wonder.
Now for more 'size prohibitive' rooms the Duettas will essentially invoke the same response and, as I said, simply do the best "you are there" experience I could imagine...aside from the Divas.
Oh, and that laser measuring device is excellent (and actually goes to 1/16th") and makes speaker set up SO MUCH easier you will never go back to anything else.
Just my opinion from my experiences... Good luck and happy Lissn'n.
@Brian, sorry for the late reply as i've been on a break. Thanks for sharing your experience with your modded Divas. What is most impressive is, in your system and room they eclipsed even the awesome Magico Q7's for musical realism. Btw, what tube amps & front end are you running?
Lissnr, thanks for your feedback about your journey through planar & ESL speakers. In particular your feedback on the TSW Duette Signature & Diva Ultimate. As i'm familiar with the classic Infinity speakers and previously owned a pair of Renaissance 90's, i'd be interested to know if you've heard either the IRS Sigma, Epsilon, Gamma or IRS-V? And if so, how do you rate them against the Apogees?

I had a look at your system thread. I'm intrigued by the TRL amps, but there are no professional reviews and I could find only one old for sale ad for a pair of GT200's and the guy wanted $3200CAD. In contrast, the CJ Art mono's are extensively reviewed and maintain high resale value. I wonder how the Vitus SIA-025 would stack up against your TRL amps which add up to a similar retail price?

I feel ac power, cables, isolation and front end are as important in the musical chain as any other component, hence why I invest a lot in those areas. I try not to lose sight of the fact when you listen to music you are listening to a "system" which is the sum total of all the components, cables, front end, ac power, isolation & speakers. And of course how good or bad the speakers couple with the room.
I had the Stages. I had a real bad time with them. The frames came apart from just careful moving around, as you have to move panel speakers (or any speakers) around to get the best sound. Also, the ribbons (both tweeter/midrangs and bass panels) kept blowing. This happened even driven by a Levinson No. 23 amp, which was one of the most powerful amps back then (late 80s early 90s) And no, I didn't crank 'em all the way. Anyway, I completely wrote off the brand, even if I got a bad one, which to be fair, I probably did. Neither Apogee or the dealer would take 'em back, which upset me even more. They ended up sitting in the garage, and I didn't even bother to sell them as they weren't in any condition to sell anyway. So, I threw the suckers out.

For speakers of that vintage, gimme a B&W 801 Matrix Series 2. Not perfect, but a Hell of a lot better build quality, and more robust drivers. I know it's comparing apples to oranges, but the B&Ws are the better speaker, imo.
Sorry to hear about the bad luck you had with the Stages Dave. Don't worry, i've had a pair of lemons and had to dump them cheaply. It can be very frustrating. From all that i've read, the original Duette Signatures, Diva & Full Range were quite a bit better than the Stage, and the TSW restored versions are on another level again. I know Rich and Graz have done a lot of testing to address known issues/weaknesses with different models and been very successful. I'd love to hear a pair of Diva Ultimates, but i'm on the wrong continent for starters. It's academic in my case as I don't have the room to accommodate those panels.

Btw, if we're talking great value vintage speakers, its hard to go past the classic Infinity speakers such as the IRS-Sigma, Gamma & Beta.
No problem, man. As they say, "things happen"

I can believe that. I should have spent a bit more and got the Duettas. But, hindsight's 20/20. In the other thread, I commented on the audition of the Divas back in '88, and I was very impressed. Unfortunately I didn't have the room for those...

Yes it is. Those speakers have stood the test of time. So have certain JBL and Klipsch models too.
Dave, I had a look at your system. You're right, the JBL's are a bit like a young Shiraz, big bold and full of character. You've got a simple, but fun system. I'm also trying to reduce my box count. Less is more as they say. Congrats!
Melbguy1, to hear my personal opinion of Apogees take a look at my response to the other ongoing thread here entitled "TSW Apogee Diva Ultimates Any Good"? I will add to it that, as I had mentioned before, I think the room size, in conjunction with ideal electronics and careful placement will be the deciding factor in which model Apogees you choose...
As for electronics, my Tube Research Labs are also something of a 'niche' product in as much as it is a small, hand - built designer product as compared to something like the excellent Conrad Johnsons you mention (I am a former CJ owner and LOVED my Premier 12 amps which I would never have given up if it hadn't been to use them as $$$$ for their replacements, my current TRL monos...).
Paul, (Mr. TRL) isn't especially 'entwined' with reviews, advertisements...or even touting's more a word-of-mouth type company who simply crafts his product sort of the old fashioned point to point (tedious!) way and lets his products speak for themselves. Great stuff, long wait list...very nice guy. Oh yes and also: end of road/"done looking" performance.
Unfortunately I have never heard the Vitus amps but I do agree with your philosophy about all the seemingly less important factors adding up to make a REAL difference.
Stick with it.
Thanks Melbguy1! I appreciate that. Yeah, but wait until I upgrade the amp and preamp, haha. It won't be real soon...I'm still saving up my pennies! lol. Well, it's simple because it's what I need and what I was able to afford at the time. I only play LPs and CDs, and I don't do surround sound. Therefore, you have what's there. I would like a nice analog eq, but bass and treble control would work. The preamp that I'm thinking of getting has them, so that'll take care of that. Anyway, take care and happy listening.
@Lissnr, yeah the TSW Apogee thread is a good read. I agree, for super speakers like refurbed Diva's or Infinity IRS-V's, you're best to build a dedicated listening room of ideal dimensions optimized for dipoles. Also, both the above speakers like plenty of power. And as much as I love my Vitus SIA-025, i'd definitely be looking to upgrade to something like the Vitus SS-102/SL-102 amps to drive those speakers.

From what you described, the TRL amps offer great sound for the money which is what you want. I would only buy niche gear like that 2nd hand because they're not an established company and would likely have poorer resale value. For that reason if I had more room & wanted a tube setup, i'd go for 2nd hand CJ Gat/Art amps.

You mean fortunately you haven't heard the Vitu$ amp$!! Thanks for kind words.
Dave, be sure to update your system thread when you upgrade your amps! I agree with your philosophy of reducing your box count, having a simple system & focusing on quality and function. Cheers.
Hi Melbguy1, It's always exciting to have aspirations for newer/better gear 'someday' as most of us have been doing that for more years than they want to admit (myself for sure).
It also keeps the audio magazines and of course the equipment manufacturers themselves in business. Like any hobby, part of the fun is seeing what new(er) piece might just take us that much closer to [dare I say it?] "The Absolute Sound" (chuckle here...).
Maybe, the argument could be made, that when one finally stumbles upon a piece or pieces of equipment that truly 'crosses over the line' for you such that your system FINALLY sounds so satisfying to you (the OWNER of said system), you can truly call it a 'keeper''re 'done looking' for another version of whatever that component does...the synergy is's all finally "clicking together"...and your climbing off the merry-go-round (pardon all the cliches done for emphasis purposes!)...Then when you sink into your sweet spot chair it WAS all worth the fuss and muss and time and $$$$$.$$$$.$$$$$....?!?!
I have found that with both my TRL electronice (pre-amp and amps) as well as TSW Apogees (the model that fits my dedicated room best (Duetta Ultimates). As I eluded to... these are both that 'end of the road" discoveries and I can only wish the same revelations to you and everyone else reading this. It's really cool!
With that said then I'd like to assure you that TRL gear doesn't match the description of a "Great sound for the money..." "Not established" and "Poor resale value"...
In reality TRL has been building some of the finest audio equipment on the planet...built to literally last a lifetime and as such demands considerable respect and product value in the used marketplace.
I believe his top two monoblocs will set you back over $80K and well over $100+K per pair, depending on your power requirements...IF you could get on the order line....
Thanks, I just wanted to clarify that.
Good luck and happy Lissn'n!
@Lissnr, i'm still following an upgrade path to finish my current system, though it's all pretty well mapped out & i'm really content. As my Audio Engineer told me "It's hard to imagine any audiophile not being happy with a system of that caliber".

As nice as tube amps are, I don't find them practical with my combined 2 channel audio & home theater needs, but I still want a warm, tube-like sound. Vitus ticks every box such that if I change systems in the future, i'd more than likely move up the Vitus line :) It's hard to believe there is not a tube in that gear.

Sorry I didn't mean to diss TRL gear. My last 2 cd players & line stage have been tubed, so I appreciate what tubes do. But i've kind of been there and done that with tubes.
Grant - it's quite funny hearing you talk about finding a "keeper". The only "keeper" I saw in your listening room over the last several years was your listening chair.


Onward and Upward (hopefully).
Hey! I resemble that remark! HaHa!
Sure thing, Melbguy1. That's cool, thanks. :)
@Melbguy1. Sorry, I didn't see your question for several days. You asked what equipment I use with my Divas. Here is a listing:
Brian, that's cool. I had a look at your system list. You're obviously a long-time audiophile and enthusiast. Also nice rig, especially those mighty Diva's! They do like plenty of power and either tubes, or tube-like amps & you've ticked both boxes. Good stuff!