Transparency: What speakers have it in spades?

When I got my Spendor SP3/1P speakers a few months ago, I discovered what transparency really meant. I've never been able to hear "through" any speakers like I can with these. True aural "Windex." I wouldn't mind having some of that crystal clarity in a speaker that goes a bit lower, offering more of a bass foundation for orchestral music. The larger Spendors are obvious choices.

But what speakers have you heard that have struck you as being particularly transparent? THANKS.
Newform Research ... any models ...
Legacy Whispers and quality components upstream.
Martin-Logan Summit or Vantage... both literally and figuratively transparent!
Klipsch Heresys, la Scalas, and Horns. Although none go that low.

Unsound......LOL....a good one, dude
JM Reynaud Trentes have a sound similar to Spendor and go down to 42hz, they have tremendous clarity. A true gem.
The Harbeth HL-5 Super would be something to consider. The Radial driver is more revealing than the Spendors but manages the same authentic tonality and laid back presentation. They go fairly deep as well.
Add a sub!!!

Maggies with a sub in the RIGHT room, clearance to the walls front, sides, ceiling disapper better than most but lack a little in dynamics in the mid/lower bass. Add a sub.
My Buggtussel Somu speakers.
BTW you may just have a case of good component matching. I would be careful replacing those speakers.

food for thought...
Avalon Speakers

I can't believe more people haven't mentioned them.
This thread is a riot. Can you all be even *remotely* on the same page in what you mean by "transparency"? Given the recommendations, I don't think so.
02-27-07: Drubin
Can you all be even *remotely* on the same page in what you mean by "transparency"? Given the recommendations, I don't think so.
Drubin (Threads | Answers
I was thinking of this just yesterday. I'll wager that 20 audiophiles asked to define transparency with provide at least 15 different definitions...and perhaps 10 provide the answer according to Stereophile's (or Robert Harley's) audio glossary.

It's one of the traps of online discussions. Terms are often used incorrectly, but made in statements that on the surface appear to be informative.
At the risk of being pounded by Drubin, I'd have to say the Gallo Reference 3s seem to me to be quite "transparent". The soundstage and placement of performers is quite good, the top to bottom coherency of the sound is also quite good, and they didn't cost me a great deal either - $1700 delivered to my door...

Great speakers. Dunno what you mean by transparency but a bigger three way will definitely allow you to hear much more...if that is what you are looking for.

The reason are two fold;

Experiments show that the ear can hear a maxium of 120 db of dynamic range.

Experiments show that the ear can also hear roughly 15 db below the noise floor (as long as it is random or white noise)

Assuming 10 db necessary headroom (safety margin to stay below audible distortion) and a seating position of 2 meters (6 db down); expect roughly 87 db SPL from a small two way monitor. Subtract the average calm room noise (30 db) and add the 15 db for hearing below the noise floor....and you have a dynamic range of roughly 70 DB SPL.

If you were to go to a larger three way then you might expect to comfortably get up to 105 db SPL at the listening position (with plenty of headroom and no audible distortion).

This would give you an extra 18 db of dynamic range...a significant increase that would allow you to hear more detail. Whether this is as you term "transparency" of not I am not sure....but you would definitely hear more detail from a bigger Spendor, given a good recording.
I agree that audio terms are very subjective with no two people having the same interpretation.
In general, you have to read between the lines when people are describing their experiences with speakers or any audio product for that matter.

Bill B
Doesn't transparent mean true to the source with minimal added distortion and without frequency abberations? That is, a speaker that does not "color" the sound (all recordings being affected) with its own personality? By the way, by this definition, I would say the Merlin VSM speakers are transparent. By this definition I would not think that the Spendors or other "British" voiced speakers are tranaparent - lovely, "musical", but not the height of transparency IMHO.
02-27-07: Pubul57
Doesn't transparent mean true to the source with minimal added distortion and without frequency abberations? That is, a speaker that does not "color" the sound (all recordings being affected) with its own personality? By the way, by this definition, I would say the Merlin VSM speakers are transparent.
That's the definition of transparent as I understand it.

I agree that Merlin VSM loudspeakers fit the definition.
Quads, particularly the original ESL 57. For me, these speakers are the definition of transparency. With the possible exception of the Soundlabs and the Beveridge (also both electrostatic), nothing comes close. Of course, I am biased.
Thanks very much for your many interesting viewpoints. I appreciate it.
I had a recommendation to make, but then I realized I was thinking of continuousness, not transparency. My bad.
Quad (even their dynamic speakers are transparent, given the price range)
Martin Logan
Merlin Audio
Verity Audio
Interesting that no one had mentioned JMlab.
JMlab Electra and Utopia
The way I am thinking about transparency these days is operational and not musical: the more a component allows me to hear upstream system changes, the more transparent it is. I'm sure this definiiton is not without problems and I'll also say that transparency thus defined is not necessarily a good thing (except for a reviewer perhaps). But I think it's a good, valid definition.

By this definition, the most rransparent speakers I ever owned were Quad 57's. Thiels and Avalons were also very transparent. ProAc and Harbeth: no, sorry. Of course, I was younger when I had the Quads and I think could hear differences more easily.

Transparency means to me the ability of a speaker to, through slight of hand,
step out of the picture. To do this, it must minimize coloration, must be
crossover and driver seamless, and preferably be full range. Size doesn't
matter. A successfully transparent speaker can be a big as my Scintillas, as
long as they don't flinch while creating a Mahler crescendo, they just don't
come to mind.

Using your operational definition concur--the Harbeth's should not be on the list. Any speaker that sounds that good no matter what you put in front of it is not "transparent" by your definition.
All of these are very transparent, but I haven't personally auditioned any of them:
Transparent speaker(s) #1
Transparent speaker #2
Transparent speaker #3
Transparent speaker #4
Very cool
That was fun. Thanks.

Have you consider Innersounds? That is there strength, but they do have their compromises as well, lighter bass and narrow sweet spot...but oh what a sweet spot.

thanks for sharing!

I want speakers number four and the video machine please!

I said please!?!

pretty please?!!
Hi, if by "transparency" you mean each instruments fundamental tone and its harmonics are reasonably full; inner detail is available; and transients are reasonably fast, then I would take a look at: sonus faber, living voice, magnepan, legend von gaylord, audio kinesis, fal, kharma and verity. I'm sure there are others, but thats my short list. In other words, instruments do not sound "rolled off", even though their central tone may be beautifully reproduced. And the 3d image of various instruments can co-exist without cancelling out one another.

It seems that SET is often referred to as transparent, and often it is transparent. However, just as an example, there are many SET setups that choose to emphasize the central tone or timber of an instrument, especially a female voice, rather than choose to emphasize the whole range of an instrument. Sometimes this takes the shape of sounding rolled off and sometimes it does not sound rolled off, but one portion (low, middle, high) is emphasized over others. I'm not saying one is better than another (vanilla versus chocolate debate), just that to me, transparent means conveying as much of the whole range of each instrument. Further, some setups (SET or otherwise) will convey the whole range of the foremost instrument in the recording and will push the supporting instruments into the background. To me, this is not transparent.

Lastly, it seems there is a fine balance between transparent and an overly aggressive top end. IMHO it is difficult to find speakers that are both transparent and don't rough up the ears in the high end. Anyway, I've heard all of the foregoing convey transparency as I've loosely tried to define it.

Some folks above don't understand what transparency is. Lets say vandersteen with its "warmth" is at the other end of the scale. IOW Vandy is not what transparency is all about. What does have 'transparency by the spades" is Ty;er Excel designs.
Paul, are you saying that transparency is the opposite of warmth?
>>Some folks don't understand what transparency is<<

Thanks for the admission. At least you're honest about it.
The all new JM Lab Chorus 826v's are great I liked them better than all the Martin Logans that they had at Tweeters. The chorus 836v's is said to be the sweet spot in their whole line!
Yea but what did they have the logans hooked up to? A surround reciever?
Hesson 11 a truly neutral and open speaker is one that is time domain correct.Any speaker that deviates from TDC is flawed,they may sound good but do so at a cost to the original musical signal.If you want good open sound then look for the design that makes it a CRITERIA rather than a after thought.One of the best outhere is Green mountain audio.Hope this helps-Dennis
There are litterally a GILLION speakers out there that have the whole "transparency" thing down, as most people understand the word. Most readily recognizable speakers that come to mind are Wilson's, Theil's,Maggie's, Verity's, Talon's, Merlin VSM's, Apogee's, Piega's, JM's Eutopia's, and the list goes on. These speakers personify "tonal transparency". And most are very detailed overall.
However, as most people understand the term "transparent", I think they don't understand what most audiphile speakers AREN'T DOING, that keep them lacking TOTAL TRANSPARANCY as an accurate transducer (if there is such a thing)...and that's in the area of DYANMIC TRANSPARENCY!!! Most speakers fail in the perceived transparency department, and thus "realism of sound", in the are of dyanmics, yes. This is the very reason why speakers which much greater efficiency offer more dynamic realism (and the apparent missing "soul" and rythem of the sound), speed, impact, and pressence to the sound, than others! I think this is the great defficiency in most audiophile speakers today...regardless of how tonaly correct they may be.
So when someone speaks about one of the above mentioned speakers as being "transparent sounding". I think to myself that that's not a completely accurate assment of what those speakers produce sonically.
I am yet to hear a transparent speaker.They all have a sonic signature-even with very good stats you still hear the mylar.
Perhaps some full range ribbons come closest but transparency is never going to be possible when a fabric/material is being used to generate sound waves.

Maybe plasma speakers are transparent?
Wilson benesch ACT's. The carbon fiber cabinets "shake off" resonance as fast as electrostatics.
Definitely MartinLogan
Since Sounds_real_audio is a dealer for Wilson Benesch, such comments should be taken in that context.
Apogee. Can't beat the ribbon for tranparency. There is a reason that a lot of dynamic speaker manufactures are using them now.