Stereophile review of Escalante Fremont

Has anyone read Stereophile review (Feb '08) of Escalante Design Fremont spkrs ?
Reviewed by Larry Greenhill & measured by Jon Atkinson .

How come they make a review of the spkrs without proper setup :
- LG didn't attached the stand spikes because of his new wood floor & put some bad comments (nasal / coloured tonal).
- JA measured the spkrs with above condition .
- No information if the spkrs burned-in

In my experience , result could be very sensitive for full range spkrs setup ( freq. resp : 18 hz - 50 khz ) .

How can such a great magazine editor allow to publish review with above condition ?

Really different with Positive-Feedback (by Greg Weaver) & Stereo Times (by Dave Thomas & Greg Petan) reviews .
This three reviewers has bought Fremont after made the review .

Seems our international respectable Stereophile magazine has a lot of degradation in their quality .
Is there politics inside this magazine ?
What a waste review ... i think ...
I heard the Fremonts at RMAF 07 and liked what I heard. The sound was open and spacious with what I thought a bit of overhang on the bottom end. Listening to this speaker, I would not expect a frequency graph to depict the results published in Stereophile.
Interesting, I had 2 people that lived near me owning these.. They both ended up feeling after 6 months to a year of use their time to shine had expired.. Not sure, I heard them, okay but nothing all that astonishing to me. They lacked that jump factor of dynamics, and bass was pretty shy. Both sets were run on very top shelf equimpment, one pair was even setup with the 27,000 dollar Jadis mono amps.. I think they are not a bad speaker, but for the hardware used in them they are way out of the price range in my opinion.. More like a 7500 to 10 k class vs. a 15,000 is I think the biggest detriment to them. The one guy ended up listening at my place and was blown away by the open soundstaging, well endowed bass, very dynamic range of what I had setup, he bought the speakers I own the following day and sold of the escalantes. So its gonna be opinions and your own final solution that dictates whether a review is correct or not. By the way I could care less about stereophile or the opinion given, just seems sometimes they might hit something on the head whether it has anything to do with advertising, politics or whatever.
Regarding the measurements, I have a friend who recently bought the Fremonts, and they measure in his room in a manner that is very close to Atkinson's measurements. That being said, my friend likes the sound of the speakers and, at least at this stage of the game, does not detect troublesome timbral inaccuracies or problematic colorations. The speakers were purchased used and are believed to be properly burned in. The speakers are also set up correctly on the spikes.

I have not heard the speakers, so I don't have a personal view as to their performance.
But looking at the Fremont, you might expect such a graph. It has the Revelator tweeter and one big, honking woofer. Isn't that pretty much the recipe for a large dip in the midrange?

PS: I like the way they sound, though.
Seems our international respectable Stereophile magazine has a lot of degradation in their quality

If the measurements are completely wrong (incorrectly and incompetently made) then I agree...but where is the evidence that Stereophile measurements are that bad. (Spikes and burn-in are irrelevant for the kind of obvious problems we see on the plots, which are among the worst I have ever seen published by Stereophile but I recall even the Maxx2 had some slightly weird stuff going on - but nothing like this - perhaps there is something in the air in Provo in the stratospheric high end...sniff sniff?)
Speakers are using the woofers dust cap for a mid range & upper bass from internal vented isobaric woofer, I would expect the upper bass & mids to suffer...same designer as Talon's. Weird thing was everyone was ethusiasitic about the bass, yet it measured so-so at the low end. USPTO has patent viewable on line. After viewing patent info was suprised to see in review that the internal & external woofers didn't cover the exact same freq. range
I heard the Fremonts at HE2007 in Sound by Singer's top system & thought they had a somewhat pale, old-fashioned reflex-sounding bass. However the large room full of people was not good conditions for a fair audition.

In the Feb issue of Stereophile it was refreshing for once to see reviewers omit the usual superlatives & take several extremely high-priced products to task for small imperfections.
Not the same designer as current Talon Reference series. He did work with Talon for the early speaker designs, all of which are no longer in production.
What make me dissapointed is why a big magazine not to have proper setup before published a review .
The review become not so accurate .
A good or bad comments should be acceptable if they did proper setup as factory's recommends already .

IMHO , I don't detect any nasal problem with proper setup on Fremont. I used Audiopoints between stands and spkrs .
Few milimeter positioning could be a big difference (could be soundstage collapse or big hole on center ) .
The most interesting for me is its PRAT , musicality and organic tonal feel .
Few weeks ago two of audiophiles friends who is a bassist & a drummer give comments if really has live feeling & has life alike tonal character .
Not hifi-ish terms , just pure music .

Undertow :
Could you let me know what spkrs that you are using ?
It could be very interesting for me as well for future upgrade .
Would agree with Dgarretson. Not really high on the price/performance list. You can get a pair of Harbeth 40.1s for similar $ and take a giant leap in performance. You can get the Gershman Sonograms for about 40% of the cost of the Fremonts and get better sound.Great cabinetry though.
I am the friend Cincy_Bob referred to.

I have been running a pair of Escalante Fremonts for a couple of weeks now, which I bought used from someone who is local. The measurements in my room, derived from warble tones, are indeed poor and track with what Atkinson measured in Stereophile. There is a suckout of roughly 6 db. at the midrange/tweeter crossover point. The bass is peaky, but I have a bad room for bass and for aesthetic reasons, am quite limited as to what I can do to improve it. Incidentally, I do not question Stereophile's integrity and make decisions about equipment on the basis of what I hear, what I hear from friends whose judgment I trust, and a variety of other information -- I bought mine after reading the Stereophile review.

The long and the short of it is that the speakers sound pretty damn good to me, and there are prominent reviewers (and others like renowned mastering engineer Steve Hoffman) who own them and sing their praises. There have only been a couple of familiar recordings thus far in which I can hear response aberrations, but it is less offputting than other things I hear in speakers that really bug me (slow bass, dynamic reticence, lack of resolution, overall lack of naturalness). While I see what is said about the midrange and measured for myself the suckout at the crossover point, I find the midrange to be clear, open and timbre-correct. Here is what Hoffman said about the mids (and the rest of his comments), which largely tracks with what I hear:

They are very efficient, very dynamic, have quick bass and bass slam, and image like a bitch due to the ring revelator tweeter. I have heard a lot of different speakers and own or have owned some pretty good ones (Salons for three years, still own Ultimate Monitors, Dynaudios for two years, Dunlavys for five years, V.A. Mahlers for five years) run with what most people would consider very good electronics -- none is better than the Escalantes, at least subjectively (and that's what counts). I will likely sell them for a much more expensive speaker in the near future, but I have been asking myself whether I really need to do this. I really like the way these things sound, and at least used, think they are high value.

Measurements are very useful and they are important, but they do not tell the entire story. In addition, most people rely too much on reviews due to their ignorance of high-end gear, lack of contacts in the industry, lack of access to high-end dealers, etc. I think that reviewers generally have integrity (except for the Absolute Sound -- that's a topic for another day), but readers need to understand that their listening biases, listening rooms, the equipment they review gear with, and many other factors shape their perception of what they hear. Michael Fremer, for example, is a lovely guy and has contributed a lot to this sport, but he listens to a lot of rock and roll on huge Wilsons in a 15' x 18' basement with monstrous solid-state amplification -- I'm going to make my own judgments based upon what I know and hear and like (zero-feedback triode amplification, battery-powered preamplification, and symphonic music from vinyl).
Here is what Hoffman said about the mids (and the rest of his comments), which largely tracks with what I hear:

OMG, now I understand why some of his masterings sound so terribly overripe in the bass... I complained about it a few months ago to someone working at one of the online record retailers.
JKalman: The overripe bass would be your WattPuppies (unless, of course, you've EQ'd that 7 db. hump out, which of course makes your sound perfect).
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As a long time audio salesman, short time store owner, and now a Fremont dealer I think I can give you some valid opinions on the Fremont.

First the measurement issue doesn't necessarily mean anything relevant. Most great sounding tube amplifiers measure poorly yet sound magnificent, this is especially so with many SET amplifiers.

Many time measurements don't correlate with what we hear and many times products which measure impressively often sound less than desirable. In the case of the Fremont its unusual design makes conventional measurements difficult.

I have heard the Fremont at numerous times at shows and honestly they never totally impressed me. However, I now have a pair in my posesion and my opinions of them speakers have changed drastically.

What the speakers do they do extremely well, and in some ways outperform many other speakers. some of which are much more expensive. However, the speakers are very setup sensitive.

I found bliss with a 30 watt Class A Master Sound 845 SET amps which made absolute magic with the Fremont. Other amplifiers didn't sound so great and some of these amplifiers were fantastic with other speakers.

Also the bass of this speaker is very room and setup dependent. I have heard the Fremont go very low in the bass in some rooms, but in my very large room they didn't go as low as I expected them to.

Pluses: Dynamics are outstanding, the speed of this design is unbelievable, the treble is smooth yet quite detailed, the sound stage is also very wide and the midrange is very natural! The bass is tune accurate, and they play extremely loudly and run on tiny amplifiers.


Room dependent, setup dependent and very sensitive to partnering components.

So the Fremont is an enigma. it is a very complex design and can reward its owner with breathtaking sound but it is not a panacea,

I have on occasion played the Fremont with Escalantes' Uinta sub woofer and this combination is truly mind blowing!

If you add it up the Fremont and Uinta combination is expensive but hardly insane for what you are getting for the money: at $19k for the speakers and $7k for a $26k combined price tag in their starter finishes.

In perspective the raved over Magico is $25k and has no deep bass to speak of. The Fremont uses much more expensive drivers, plays louder, has greater dynamics and runs magnificently on tiny tube amplifiers and will play to levels unheard of in audiophile speakers.

I would put a Fremont/Uinta combination up against a pair of Wilson Maxx any day of the week. So it comes down to what you are looking to achieve.

The Fremont it is a speaker which can reward its owner with some very special qualities but unless you are careful with it the results will not come through.
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BTW, rachel, it isn't so much the Watt Puppies as it is the room itself. I currently have Revel Salon2s in the room and they have bass issues in the same areas (and then some extra in others!). The W/P8 had a few dB extra in the 60-80Hz extra but that was it in comparison. I posted overlays in my System profile if you want to see the measurements. ;)
JKalman: I understand that you are currently experimenting with Salon 2's up against your WP-8's. I will be curious to read your findings. I compared the WP-7 to the original Salon (I owned Salons for three years), finding the Wilsons to be punchier and quicker, while the Salons had more accurate timbre and deeper bass. Both had their strengths, but I chose Salons because I could not accept what the WP-7's did to strings and much preferred the Salons' aesthetics. Let us know what you hear.

PS - I would imagine the beryllium tweeter in the Salon 2's needs a good 500 hours to fully come around.

You can read a play by play on my AVS HT thread:

I will post a synopsis eventually on these fora as well.

The titanium drivers seem to be sounding better hour by hour. I gather they have a long break-in time also, considering how stiff a material they are, correct? When I first started playing them, the mid-range localization was fuzzy and incoherent. It has been sharpening up over the last 30+ hours though.

The Salon2s appear to be as stubborn as the W/P8s in terms of room placement. They both have different needs, and unfortunately, the Salon2s so far need to be too close to my recessed HT screen!

I don't find any issue with how the W/P8 handles strings. They sound natural and real to me. If you look at the frequency response comparisons you will see that the W/P8 is flatter when both speakers are in the same spot in the room. I had to move the Revels further into the room to get the 200-300Hz bump (also affecting the 100-200Hz bump) flatter, but it still isn't as low as the W/P8 bump in that region. Consequently, on the Salon2 low frequency voices are a little chestier and the lower frequency strings on some instruments are a little ripe.

The Salon2 includes a boundary compression knob (which basically rolls off the lower frequencies below a certain point, though not between 200-300Hz unfortunately), which has been useful so far. This has added greater bass definition and extension than I was getting on the W/P8, which had a big kick drum sound but fell off quick below 40Hz. The kick drum was a little too much for me without PEQ. The Salon2 tweeter is still exhibiting sibilance, which I hope will fade more as it breaks in (this is even with the treble control set to -1).

It is too early to come to any real conclusions. So far I have had much more of those breathtakingly "lifelike" experiences with the music on the W/P8s, but I'm hoping that the break-in time and continued experimentation with speaker positioning will change that and even the scale more. I'm a big fan of technology...

It is too bad this God forsaken hobby is always one compromise or another.
JKalman: Metal tweeters take a long time to break in, as do crossover parts. Manufacturers tend to say "100-200 hours", but 500 hours is what it generally takes with speakers to get to 95%. The final 5% in my experience takes another 500 hours. Verity is honest about this and says "750 hours" (it's in the specs for their speakers). I would call Harmon out in California (NOT Harmon International in New Bedford -- I have spoken to shockingly ignorant techs there) to confirm that it is okay to wire one speaker out of phase for purposes of break in (should be fine, but call), and then just play the hell out of them 24/7 for a month (of course, if you live in a house, are single and can just crank them normally, do that). At that point, you'll be able to position them and start to draw some conclusions.

Unfortunately, Dhaan above is correct about the WP and the hot Focal tweeter -- the breakup resonance indeed causes distortion throughout the presence region, and this is plainly audible in the original Focal (JM Labs) Utopias and the Wilsons. I once heard the Grand Utopia run with the On-Gaku, and the combo of the tweeter with typical high-ish tube amp output impedance made the speaker absolutely unlistenable (it was owned by an industry pro in NYC who is famous for being partially deaf).
Unfortunately, Dhaan above is correct about the WP and the hot Focal tweeter -- the breakup resonance indeed causes distortion throughout the presence region, and this is plainly audible in the original Focal (JM Labs) Utopias and the Wilsons.

I don't agree if you are referring to the W/P8 tweeter. I even ran some tests and eliminated it as the cause of issues Dhaan said he had heard with soprano and violin (he said any soprano and violin material would reveal it). He won't give me any specific recordings to test, so I can't figure out specifically what was causing the issues he was hearing. The break up mode should be below adult hearing threshold unless you are a pre-pre-teen.

If you want to give me some music you heard the problem on, as well as specific times and locations on the albums, I'll be glad to figure out what you were hearing. If it was tweeter break-up, which I doubt because of the high frequency location of the break-up mode, I'll be glad to confirm it or figure out what it is. I also have the ability to test it on three decent speakers (as I did previously with only two speakers).

I'm not sure about the W/P7 if that is what you are referring to... The W/P7 and W/P8 use different tweeters...
I was referring to the WP7 and was not aware that the WP8 uses a different tweeter. The WP7 tweeter exhibited harshness in the presence region (3 Khz. - 7 Khz.). Atkinson wrote the following in the measurements section of Stereophile's WP8 review:

"Despite my caution about the tweeter's dome resonance being close to the audioband, very little delayed energy seems to be associated with it, which will minimize any audible problems. The latest version of this Focal tweeter is definitely better than the one used in the W/P7."

That is good news!
Nonsense! It is the same tweeter. It anything, it behaves slightly better in version 7.
The “brightness” of the Watt comes from its tweeter's dome break-up that is too close to the audioband. It is not brightness, it is simply distortion. Some, may find it exciting.

Almost all extremely rigid light weight drivers seem to run into resonance problems (high Q) - it is physics after all - and even when the problems are supposed to be "out of band" they often appear to affect "in band" response, especially at modestly elevated SPL levels...just my two cents....a cone that does not internally damp itself is akin to a "bell". The "bell" acts like an instrument in that the way it affects the sound can be quite unrelated to the music and therefore a more noticeable form of distortion. Soft damped cones have other distortion breakup mechanisms and they are much heavier material and require more expensive drive motors but they they have a big advantage in that they tend to damp unwanted distortion that is unrelated to the music.

I can't think of an easy way to explain it except that TIM distortion is much worse than Harmonic distortion and "ringing" drivers tend to produce TIM-like distortion.....much more audible....two cents, as usual.

No one is questioning that the problem can exist. I am questioning that anyone has heard it on the W/P8. If you have heard it on the W/P8, please provide the material you heard it with (album, song and time). Also, make sure to list the amp that was used as well, because audible transient intermodulation distortion (TIM) is sometimes caused by amplifiers.

It isn't a lot to ask for people who claim to have heard something to give some practical evidence that can be validated by other people who are using the speaker in question. The hearsay in this hobby gets old quick.

Having some audible proof would also help me to decide on which speaker to keep. I don't want to be using a speaker that might be ringing or exhibiting "grunge" from ringing occasionally, but so far I haven't run into it in my listening experiences. I don't feel like it is a lot to ask. In fact, I really wish someone would help me out with this...

I've thought of possible solutions to my Salon2 HT positioning dilemma, but it would require expensive custom built sliding stands that could slide to a position beside the screen for HT, and then out to the best listening position when being used for music. So having the proof I'm asking for would be quite meaningful in my current situation.
I am questioning that anyone has heard it on the W/P8.

The WP8 uses technologies from the MAXX - my understanding is that Wilson has improved on the problem of "grain" or "etched" sound from Titanium drivers (to me the need for "improvement" is admission that Focal had resonance problems with these drivers).

I don't have enough experience with WP8's to know which music or tracks may show it up best. FWIW - silk domes have issues too...just different issues...they tend to break up and roll-off early (albeit in a fairly benign manner). Personally I don't mind this lack of linearity and I favor the smoothness that they give to sound. So you pick your poison - nothing is perfect - silk domes with lower distortion but poor bandwidth or metal with amazing bandwidth but poor internal damping...neither is better than the other - but assuredly "rigid" metal rings whilst soft domes break up!!
Beryllium tweeters have breakups too. Quite nasty ones but at a much higher frequency then Titanium. BTW, the Focal TLR, which was used in the latest Utopias before the Be series, was a much better Titanium implemented design then the ones Wilson is using.

You should really listen to a good implementation of a ring radiator. I Just read on avguide that you may be getting a Mini in. You should use your time with the Mini to, if nothing else, hear a truly linear, low distortion, design. And as I told you before, the Mini actually goes lower in freq. then the W/P. And maybe, just maybe, you will see the light…

I didn't like the Mini at HE2007...

To be fair, the room was completely untreated, which is in and of itself sort of silly. A speaker company should be at least familiar enough with the acoustics of sound in a room to add a curtain and/or some first order reflection point diffusion and/or absorption. I am very interested in hearing them in my well treated listening room.

IMO, there is a point of diminishing returns where the technology isn't offering anything greater sound-wise (to the human ear which has sever limitations), but certainly is technologically attractive (though likewise more expensive as well). However, I do think in my particular situation, I may benefit best from monitors since my shared multiple room dimensions are causing so many low frequency response humps. I am also a fan of technology, specifically nano-technology (I'm in venture projects of that sort). I also appreciate a nicely built cabinet.
What about Beryllium? What sacrifice is made with that material?

Beryllium was used in the Yamaha NS1000 - so proof that these designs can sound extremely good. The success of the Wilsons and JMLabs are also proof that they work extremely well (and B&W's diamond tweeter to add to the list) - I think they made the Yamaha's for 20 years or more. However, there is still a trade off - rigid piston (but downside is resonance) versus damped but flexible (downside is early breakup early beaming - limited bandwidth). At the high end BOTH can sound great. At the low end - a silk dome usually wins hand down. Some people can hear the difference on strings - some people can't - it is not always a fair comparison because even the frequency response behavior is different. It is a very complex subject because even ultra thin and light beryllium can have flexural problems depending on the voice coil to cone ratio - making it less than an ideal rigid shape is a big factor too.

Do WP, JMLabs with metal tweeters sound great - YOU BET THEY DO!

Can you hear imperfections in any speaker - yes - more or less there are no perfect ones....just trade offs.

You know the cymbal hits on the Clapton unplugged album first song? What do you think would cause them to be unresolved completely on a Beryllium tweeter? Could it mean more break-in time is needed, or us that part if the nature of this particular implementation? Or, perhaps it is being muted more than I remember...
Ugh... Sorry for the typos. My iPhone likes to correct my good typing with mistakes...

I do not think you will have as much room problem with a proper acoustic suspension linear design like the Mini or even better the V3.
this thread was on fremont's or I am wrong?

LOL - quite right.


I will check that Clapton unplugged song tonight first on my speakers ( which tend to be polite or rolled off in the highs - because they are silk dome tweets ) and then on my trusty AKG 240's (much more linear). Most ot the important cymbals stuff is around 12 Khz but there may be some "air" higher up. Bear in mind I can't hear above 15.5 Khz anyway - those days are long gone with age - so if I report that it sounds muted then I am not sure if that means much!

As for what might cause it to sound muted - I have no idea - in general I would think that a silk dome should almost always sound muted or "polite" relative to a metal one. Generally a more "etched" or exciting sound is the way I describe how light weight cones tend to sound but this is a generalization.
As for what might cause it to sound muted - I have no idea - in general I would think that a silk dome should almost always sound muted or "polite" relative to a metal one. Generally a more "etched" or exciting sound is the way I describe how light weight cones tend to sound but this is a generalization.

I think the drummer might be holding the cymbal (which is what I meant by muting it). Usually I hear that effect mostly in the decay of the cymbal hit, but it seems like the attack isn't all there, or something in the attack seems off. I don't remember having that issue on the W/P8, and I won't have anyone around until this Saturday to switch the two again. I guess I could play them on my studio monitors, since they use a different material tweeter as well (Duh! I should have thought of that earlier...)


I checked out Signe "Eric Clapton" Unplugged (first track on CD).

I found almost no difference between AKG 240 headphones and my speakers...apart from the obvious that the sound was in my head with the headphones. I guess it does not mean much except that I obviously chose both for the sound is what a like and I guess I am consistent in my preferences..

Conclusion - I hear very little if any cymbals at all in this track. For me I hear high hat closed throughout (with the odd brief hit part open - for accent). I hear a wood block and I hear a triangle...but that is it for percussion.

No crash - certainly nothing bigger than 5 or 8 inch is being hit...a little ride at the beginning.

So in answer to your question - I think you will find the WP 8 will simply confirm what you are hearing with the Salons (mostly muted or closed hi-hat) when you swap them this weekend!!

If you want nicely recorded drums...try particularly DoctorFunk "Can't fight the funk" or to a lesser extent ToP "Oakland Zone" or Strokeland Superband "Jump on the Millenium" - I forget which ones were arranged by Chester Thompson (legendary drummer) but as you can imagine with David Garibaldi on drums they want you to hear every sublime detail...and you CAN!!!
Nilthepill and Jkalman - cool - let me know if you like this sound - I know of more albums with drums that are recorded this way. It is quite different from the way most rock drums are recorded (heavy plodding - kick and toms). Oakland Zone is a tad overcompressed by Vlado Meller - certainly more than I like - but it still sounds great! In the same genre you have Strokeland's "Bumped up to First Class", which was mastered by Gavin Lurssen - previously of Mastering Lab fame - Doug Sax's (Sheffield Labs) protege.