Kharma Exquisite Reference 1B is the very best I've heard so far.
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There is a shop in Phoenix AZ, called Speakers Ect. These guy build there own speakers, and are now building speakers without capacitors, and wow these things are just awesome, better then anything I have heard including some of the ones listed above, looks this guys up and see if you can demo there speakers.
I still love my Soundlab Ultimate 1. This pair is from the very first ever production run, and must be six years old now. They are still the only piece of audio gear that I never consider changing. What evolution that has occurred in the construction of this speaker is available from the factory for a very reasonable price. Not often mentioned, the design of the Soundlab makes it nearly impossible to damage them, even with ultra high powered amps. I have heard my speakers deliver realistic sound pressure levels with a 21 watt per channel SET, and yet 650 watts per channel will not damage them. The ultimate strength of the U-1 is its ability to present music without any sense of distortion or smearing. Every instrument, even when playing "full out" behind a human voice, will paint a solid image in every detail, with absolutely no phase shift, regardless of volume. The U-1 is the only true FULL range speaker that does not employ a multiple driver and multiple crossover design. It is physically impossible to get a multiple driver system to divide frequencies, then precisely start and stop every element at the same exact millisecond. Multiple drivers represent vast differences not only in their physical size and weight, but also their resistance to the air pressure in the cabinet and the listening room. The single element in a Soundlab is perfectly time and phase aligned, the element is equally exposed (no cabinet) to the listening room on both sides, has a single driver mass equal to 3 mm of compressed air, and equal resistance and speed in every frequency. The easy way to prove this is to listen, the human ear is extremely sensitive to these types of distortion. Once you hear the purity, speed and space of the original music presented in your own room, it is hard to go back.
the avalon sentinels. they do everything my eidolons do an order of magnitude better. they present exquisite mid's, extended but non-fatiguing highs and bass that you can feel, as well as hear. most importantly, these dynamic speakers, like the eidolons, do what no electrostat yet made has ever done ( with all due respect to roger west and albertporter): they disappear and present a correctly-sized and spaced image of every instrument and voice recorded on the source medium. unfortunately, they are exceedingly dear and require a sound room with a huge volume. fortunately, my room is too small to let em' shine. yeah, like i could affordem', anyway! good hunting. -kelly
Infinity Beta's with Audio Research. I heard them once in a store in Skokie, IL and the performers were there in the room with you. I have heard many other systems but non that were that believable. I heard these speakers at the CES show and they didn't sound close to what they sounded like in that store.
I don't think that there is any one speaker that does everything "right". Keeping that in mind, i REALLY like Ohm F's when properly set up. Sure, they're inefficient, tough to drive, won't play REAL loud and are really tough to set up, but there is something about a single omnidirectional driver that covers pretty much the entire audible frequency range that is just astounding. I've heard many tall $$$$$ speakers and liked them for specific reasons, but i'll never sell either pair of my F's. Unfortunately, i've never heard the MBL Radialstrahler or the German Physik's model with the Walsh "bending wave" transducer , but i'd like to. I'm sure that they share many of the attributes that i so dearly love about my "hot rodded" F's. Sean
Hey Plasmatronic. I clearly remember the time Dr. Alan Hill came to Barclay Recordng back in 1979 to set them up. Absolutely the most bizzare product in audio history. But the sound...ah that was memorable, it will stay with me 4-ever. Too bad lighting a cigarette near them could make them explode. And those storage tanks........
I agree with Adsal.
In the mid 1980's I had a chance to hear the original WAMM's at a demo given by David Wilson.
While I have not heard any subsequent versions of them, I have yet to hear anything better.
Unfortunately, these are not exactly commercially available speakers.
The performance gap between them and something like an Avalon, Dunleavy, Sound Lab (all of which I have heard) is huge.
When Wilson put on a record of a string quartet, I thought I was listening to a "rigged demo" in that there were a bunch of musicians hiding behing those towers actually playing. No other hifi system has ever come close to fooling me like that.
The original $40K B&W Nautilus w/ 8 ML33H Monos. I haven't heard any speakers more expensive than these, however, to date I put this setup above the Wilson Max's, and Avalon Eidions, both of which I thoroughly enjoy. Simply amazing! (Of course we're talking $100K+ worth of amplification. I'm sure one could do as well with better speakers and fewer amps for the same amount of money.) Never-the-less a sight and sound to remember.
Since this thread refuses to die, I guess I'll finally chime in.
The finest loudspeaker that I've yet had the opportunity to spend time with had its north american debut in my own exhibit in Las Vegas this past January, courtesy of Toffco, the US distributor for Neat Acoustics.The Neat Ultimatum(US$16K) was an extraordinary experience, with the coherency, articulation and imaging of a mini monitor and a chameleonlike quality that was equally at home with solo vocalists and small combos as it was with large scale orchestral and jackhammer rock.They displayed a sweet openess and spaciousness unlike any other conventionally enclosed speaker in my experience.They are superbly fast, nimble and dynamic.The Neats could float a serene, stable and convincing ly holographic image in the midst of a cacaphony of pyrotechnical fireworks and headbanging volumes.
I found it intriguing to hear comments after the show which ranged from "lush","laid-back" and "silky" to "relentlessly driven" and "kick-ass" all dependant on the character of the recordings used during the audition.I've never heard such a "complete", expressive and alluring do-everything big system.
I own ESL-63 and I love them but the new 989 are much more neutral and has killer bass compared to the 63.
The Avalon Eidolon is the only dynamic speaker I heared that has the magic and at the same time gives you the strenght of dynamic speakers (I have not yet heared Amati, Lumen-white and Kharma, but I plane to!!)
Easy. The Wisdom Audio Adrenaline Rush and M-75 systems. They have the speed and transparency of the best electrostatics (without beaming and the "hey I'm a hifi speaker" effect), very low and fast tight bass (to 12 Hz in my room), wonderful dynamics, best imaging I've heard from any speaker. They just disappear and play the music.