No you are not delusional. I also would love to own a pair of Apogee speakers some day and the first place I would look is True Soundworks. I have spoken to Rich a few times and he certainly knows these speakers very well and how to properly refurbish them. He offers a warranty to support is work. As an alternative The Analysis Audio speakers are very intriguing. While not true Apogee's they are very close and some have said improved over the original.
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Original Apogees tended to lean a bit to the warm side of neutral, but they were fast, quick, & dynamic and have incredible imaging and transparency when set up properly in a room. The new revamped Apogees are quicker still and more transparent in the neutral camp.
Analysis Audio speakers tend to be a little lean on the bottom, to my ears vs the Apogees.
But in either case, you need a high current amp to drive them. But they will blow away any other panel speaker you can think of. No, they don't have cone speaker bass, which is why you should hear some of those others you mention and decide which presentation style meets your own needs.
The speakers you listed are all very different from each other. Which one you choose will depend on your room and associated equipment to a large degree -- some require a large room, and some require enormous power and/or biamping. I have not heard Apogees recently so cannot comment on them compared to say the Sound Lab U-1PXs here.
As an owner of Reconditioned Apogees I would suggest not only should you hear them, but you should be aware of the differences between the various models.
The Diva has its own issues as do the others. But with the latest ribbons, decent amplification etc, an apogee is hard to beat. It is more a question of which? You should contact Graz. He knows a thing or two about the pros and cons of each.
My Duetta signatures with new outboard xovers, new ribbons, wiring and connectors were and are devastating. The Diva needs a lot of care to come to life IMHO. It can sound congested or polite compared to the others at reasonable volumes.
IIRC, the Apogees are a *very* difficult speaker to drive properly. My reading indicates that they can drop as low as 1 ohm at certain frequencies, thus they are very taxing for 99% of the amps out there. Also, they present a very reactive load to the amp. And not very many amps are happy with such a load.
Additionally, they are known to have a *very* small sweet spot and positioning and setup are absolutely critical if one wishes to achieve the best listening experience....
I am the proud owner of a Duetta Signature for which I rebuilt an external Xover with latest audiophile grade capacitors, resistors and coils. The upgraded Xover made a huge difference in sound quality. I still had the Apogee panel buzz common to all of those speakers who are about 20 years old. I bit the bullet and had these refurbished by Rich Murry.
These speakers are now keepers for life. Bass output is tight, midrange is to die for and imaging is 3D. The only speaker close to it is the ML CLX but lacking the bass content of my Duettas. Rich is a true Apogee artisan and I highly recommend his work. I really think that to beat a refurbished Apogee, you will have to pay at least $25K-$35K for new speakers.
11-30-13: RlwainwrightHow do you know this, Rlwainwright? Did you own Apogee Divas at any point in your ownership of various audio gear? AFAIK, the Apogee Diva is a much easier load than, say, the Apogee Scintilla 1-ohm version. Here is a review from Stereophile from 1988 that shows an impedance plot (unfortunately no phase plot) but you can see that the Diva's impedance is, for all practical purposes, flat at nearly 4 Ohms. It does dip down lower at 20KHz but the program material power at 20KHz is likely to be very little.
again, may I ask how you know this bit of info??
I have owned a pair of Diva Ultimates for about one year. I traveled to Nevada and spent the day with Rich which proved to be a very rewarding experience. We discussed at length his design philosophy. I had previously owned a pair of Duetta Signatures and have heard stock Divas quite some time ago. Prior to hearing the Diva Ultimates i would have chosen the Duettas. Historically there have been many critics who have taken issue with the sonic presentation of the original Divas. Midrange coherence and integration with the film tweeter were problematic as well as bass panel issues. Rich has addressed these areas with great success. Specific redesign and upgrades can be addressed more completely by Rich. Some major changes were the midrange ribbon which is now a pure metal film without the backing, not unlike that found in the Full Range. The crossover had to be completely redesigned, eliminating the transformers. The bass panels now have more powerful and better aligned magnets. The bass impact and definition is quite remarkable, obviating the need for my JL 112 in my case. With all due respect the the Duetta Sig, the Diva Ultimate is indeed a significant sonic improvement. The only reason I would consider the Duetta would be a smaller listening room, where the benefits of the Diva would not be fully realized. A step up from the Diva Ultimate is the Full Range. Of course there is another camp of Apogee adherents who embrace the Scintilla. That is a very polarizing subject. Some elevate it above all others. Many feel the sound is unique and flawed due to phase anomalies in the midrange band that colors the presentation significantly. I have not heard it so i cannot offer a personal opinion one way or another. I have heard the ML CLX and do not feel that it is in same class as the Diva Ultimate. I listen mostly to Classical, chamber and Jazz. I am fortunate to live in an area where i can attend world class performances.
As an aside i have built some custom horns based on a JBL 375 with aftermarket beryllium diaphragms. I actually prefer this system with vintage jazz recordings from the the 60's. The immediacy is reminiscent of my visits to many jazz clubs in New York and San Francisco. My point is that no one speaker system is perfect for all occasions. But the Diva Ultimates comes pretty close.
Pass Labs X350.5 and Modulus 3B pre-amp. ( Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne and Audio Physic Virgo III )
I have owned both Divas and Full Ranges modified and re-conditioned by TSW. The Divas were originally bi-amped, and then, at Rich's suggestion, I used his passive crossover and single amped them--he was right, they were better that way. I used both tube and solid state amps, and preferred the tubes, and they had no trouble driving the Divas, so rumors about a nasty impedance curve likely are not true.
I now have the Full Ranges. Again, Rich has modified the crossover, so it is passive, and the speakers can be driven by a single amp. I am using them with ARC VT 150SEs, and do not find the combination lacking in any way. Rich is currently modifying the crossover for me (he called me to let me know that he had come up with an improvement) and I assume, as has been the case with all his upgrades, that the performance increase will be noticeable.
I don't think that your feeling that the Divas could be your dream speakers is misguided at all, Mgattmch.
I recently acquired a pair of original, but late production Divas with the bi-amplification option (including the DAX line-level crossover). Luckily no buzz issues; the foam is good, for now anyway. The DAX (purportedly a Krell design) is filled with mediocre opamps (40 stages!) and was the weak link. I have upgraded it extensively, opamps, caps, etc. Soon to be all tubes. The details are on the Apogee Users site if anyone cares. I would not dismiss bi-amping, although the stock DAX won't cut it and you'll need a lot of technical wherewithal to do something better.
The often-parroted misconception that all Apogees are hard to drive is simply baloney. The Scintilla was the crazy one that dropped to 1-ohm. The Divas are mostly a purely resistive 3- to 4-ohm load (I've plotted the impedance curves of mine), with much more benign phase angles than any cones-in-a-box. They are insensitive however, so you'll need a lot of power, which these speakers can handle with aplomb and grace. I am a tube guy, and I would not have considered Divas if I would have been stuck with Krells or something along those lines. I ended up with two stereo Audio Research D-250 Mk II Servo amps in a vertical bi-amping arrangement (one stereo amp behind each speaker) in a large room. I doubled the supply capacitance to REF 600/750 joule levels. But, you probably can get by just fine on a lot less than a kilowatt.
I hate it when a proud owner crows about his purchase decision as if to reaffirm to himself and to others the enlightened wisdom of his decision. It causes any of us cognitive dissonance to think that we might not have made the best choice in anything in life, and many people will defend their position beyond all reason. But I have to tell you that in my 40 years of being a card-carrying audiophile I have NEVER heard music reproduced as startlingly realistically as I have with the Divas driven by these big tubes. I have listened extensively in the past two years to big Wilsons, MBLs, the Magico Q5, Martin-Logan CLX, Maggie 20.7, Nola, etc, etc. My prior speakers were Quad ESL-63s with my own subwoofers. (NB: I have not heard the latest Sound Labs. I was impressed with them in prior years enough to be curious about them.)
Well, I have to say that the big Divas can do it all: natural detail, extended bandwidth, smoothness, clarity, sound-staging/imaging, lack of coloration, natural tone colors, tremendous dynamics. They have a "jump factor": they can startle and excite me at times in a manner that I've not heard from other speakers. Whoever said the sweet spot is small got that wrong. These speakers sound almost as good anywhere across the sofa and nearby chairs as they do in the "sweet spot" in the center.
But a unique aspect is harder for me to describe: They have this "togetherness" that I find lacking in other speakers I've heard. Everything is of a piece. It's as if all the distractions from the usual little resonances, noises and phase errors have been removed and you are connected closer to the original sound. Distortion is also very low. Everything is clean, but not in an astringent way. In a funny way, they remind me of the intimate connection to music that you get with really good headphones, but without the in-your-head sound-staging aberrations. Several long-time audiophile friends have come away quite impressed. One pal buried his face in his hands and said "simply amazing...". I'm grateful he held back on crying.
Yes, they need lots of care with the associated gear and in setting them up in a room - what else would you expect? They are divas after all. I've got more work to do with my too-reverberant room, but things are working well enough right now to procrastinate.
If and when I need support, I'm sure Rich at True Sound Works will do the work. I am leery of the new modified ribbons as I think that Jason Bloom voiced these speakers expertly. He had quite an ear. But I will listen to them someday and give them a fair shot. Right now I'm plowing through old LPs and having a ball. My electric bill has suffered though...
The Divas certainly have "a sound". They are along the road of impressionist, especially lower midrange and into the bass, than literal sounding.
They have that "airiness" of open back speakers, but a softening on transients that is just there no matter what. Since they have highs, and play sine waves nicely, folks like to argue the softening, but it's in the transients that they don't have the speed that some other speakers do have.
If you play mostly the music they are good at, and don't need the ultimate "truth" from a speaker, they can be very enjoyable, musical, easy on the ears. If you need a cymbal to have the snap of the real thing, a high hat to sizzle, a snare to POP, you may be disappointed.
This is no knock, they are better than most speakers made today.
After hearing various Maggies in the 80's, I was determined to own planar speakers. I finally bought Duetta Signatures in 1990.
In about 2000 I bought Apogee Diva's, and kept the Duetta's. A couple years later I replaced all the ribbons and foam, with Graz's direct guidance: picture and video exchange with telephone assistance. That was when he still sold bass panels to the public. Given the time he spent with me, no wonder he changed his bass panel sales policy.
The repanelled Diva's were magical speakers. I won't try to describe what everyone else has said above. The magic of great planers can't be beat. Except in one area.
Pure dynamic loud LOUD music, with deep loud bass. The Diva's go loud, but not LOUD. Not like cones can. The only time I need that is for parties and dancing and so on, which happens quite a bit. And, when playing something like The Wall at concert level after a few adult beverages. The Diva's can't do those things like cones.
The first cone speaker I have heard that has most of the planar/electrostatic magic is the Wilson Sasha, which also does LOUD and BASS, like only cones can.
The only way I could afford the Sasha was to sell the Duetta's and Divas. I now have the Sasha's.
So, if you can live without the really LOUD dynamics cones can deliver, and just bask in the planar heaven Diva's reproduce through every other aspect of the absolute sound, get the Divas. Especially if professionally reconstructed with Graz ribbons.
I sure miss mine, although I am not willing to go back. But, I have not heard the True Sound Works Diva's :)
Hello all, just my two cents from almost 40 years as an audio- fool ( always chasing the holy grail system). When i heard my first " high end" system it was early Maggies which were actually being bi-amped with pure class A SS on top and A/ AB on the bottom through a tubed pre and damn good vinyl. It was an instant aural addiction. I bought the pair of Maggies and much of that system from my friend... Later moved up the Maggie chain... Always loved planars since then, and especially Maggies. Dabbled with some very good cone/ dynamics for awhile but then heard a pair of Apogee Divas once ( all SOTA Threshold electronics at the time) and was again pulled back to planars with - A - VENGEANCE and found a great pair of Mini Grands... Very happy.... Kept a good long while... Moved my home and had more / bigger room so swapped them out for Duetta Sigs. GREAT speakers... Loved em to death. Sent them to Rich at TSW for full upgrades.... " Absolutely Fantastic!!!"... Finally decided on the " Ultimates" [Literally] as I traded those for Rich's TSW Diva Ultimates. They are the finest speakers I've ever known. Period. Using all tube everything... Mono amps, pre-amp, Dac, and phono stage... They are simply superb. My advice: don't hesitate, just do it. They ARE everything you ever wanted....
Lissnr, I'm glad to hear about another Diva owner using tubes. I think Apogees and tubes are the most magical combination possible, yet so many people parrot the claim that you have to use Krells with Apogees.
Tomb11, One thing I've noticed with the Divas (albeit driven by 1000 watts of tubes) is that they don't give you the usual cues of excessive loudness that other speakers do. Most speakers will sound LOUD because of "cone cry", non-linear distortion products and thermal effects on magnetics (as well as amp clipping). Many times with the Divas, I've realized just how loud they are playing as the volume level has crept up and up. Someone will walk into the room and have to shout to me over the volume levels. That's not necessarily a good thing for my ears. The Divas keep their composure and continue to sound pure and clean, which can fool you into thinking they are not as loud as they really are. Jason Bloom claimed that the last version of the Divas with the stronger magnets could hit 118 dB SPL with 100 watts per channel. I am sure that I have momentarily gotten into the 120s of dBs, but I do not need, nor want, to go there out of concern for saving what's left of my hearing. At reasonable or slightly loud levels the dynamic punch and purity can be really pretty astounding.
I own Duetta Sig's with a rebuilt crossover (and no buzz). I drive them with a McCormack DNA500 amp but there are tubes upstream. Yes, these speakers are magical.
In fact, I just came back from a weekend listening to various Magico speakers driven by a variety of different high priced electronics, including Audio Note Kondo's and such. The sound was good, but it didn't have the magic of my Duetta's.
About the only thing I can say is lacking in the Apogees is that they don;t necessarily have that "punch you in the chest" bass kick that you can get from a good cone speaker. Though the rebuilt ones with updated ribbons from graz do come close.
I don't mean to diss Magico, but I spent a lot of time at a recent CES with the Q7s, and I just don't get it. I came back several times as they swapped out amps. Sure, trade show conditions aren't optimal, and all that, but they had a decent room and plenty of top-flight megabucks electronics. The Q7s did all the audiophile things right: Deep and powerful bass? Check. Relatively uncolored midrange? Check. Airy highs? Sort of, check. Imaging? OK, check. Etc, etc, etc. Check, check, check. Magic? Uh...
There was simply no "magic" in Magico, even with these mighty Q7s. With bigger Apogees set up and driven properly, you can find yourself immersed in a "reality distortion field" with palpable instruments playing in front of you. All clean, pure and relaxed. That's the way I'll take it, thanks.
Magico is not alone. There are plenty of megabuck contenders to the speaker throne. It's just that Magicos, particularly the Q7s, are so very ambitious and costly, and TAS praised them so enthusiastically. I had high hopes for them, but as has often happened with new shiny audio things, I was disappointed.
Brian_beck, this was my experience with Magico as well. I heard a couple of their smaller speakers with a variety Bryston amps. The small was small for one of the speakers & there was bass overhang. If I discount that effect, I would say that these Magicos came up way short on the 'magic' factor esp. considering their price.
FWIW. YMMV. IMHO.
I can't comment on Divas, but I have a pair of 1-ohm Scintillas which I bought secondhand, and I'm pretty sure they were refurbished by TSW. I drive them with Ken Stevens' JL-3 Statement monoblock tube amps, and I am one happy camper. I never thought anything would surpass my Acoustat Spectra 66s, but the Apogees are so clean, they make the Acoustats sound "veiled" in comparison. BTW, the tubes drive them to crescendo leevls, even at 1 ohm.
I auditioned the Divas with Krell stuff back in '88, it was one of the best auditions I have had to date. Which leads me to believe that audio hasn't really progressed all that much since that time. Anyway, I picked up a pair of Stages a little while later, and I had tons of problems with them; blowing tweeters and woofer panels. I had enough juice via a Mark Levinson No. 23 amp. Then the frames managed to come apart when I was moving them around. I ended up throwing the damn things out. Due to this bad experience with Apogee product, I'll never bother with them again. But, I'll never forget that time with the Divas...they were truly awesome!
Interesting discussion. What are the TSW Full Ranges? I looked at their website and saw 2 Apogee speakers...Diva Ultimate and Duetta.
Do people drive them in parallel with subs or solo? (Note: i play classical, jazz, blues, solo...but also deep house, Hans Zimmer soundtracks with a lot of very very deep propulsive bass that is very powerful as well.)
I have modified my big Wilson X1s over the years, and enjoy them...but would be curious to learn more about these speakers. I really really liked Apogee Stages when i heard them many years ago...and nearly bought them second hand that day.
Thanks for any feedback on its ability to deliver propulsive power across the mids and of course deep bass. (sub 40hz)
Hello Lloydelee21, The Apogee full ranges are Apogee's flagship speaker. Some may argue that the Scintilla model competes with it but most agree that the Full Range is unquestionably the best save for the very limited production Grand model [which is in a whole other league as it integrates dedicated subs and extremely sophisticated and extensive "support" components including multiple amps to perform at their best].
The Full Ranges are made akin to the "regular" Diva/Duetta 'format/design' but do so at its very best. They require a serious room, serious power, top notch electronics and serious dedicated attention to perform at their best but will essentially take on any loudspeaker I have ever heard...(No, of course I haven't heard ALL the best/latest & greatest but the Full Ranges will make music reproduction in front of you "uncanny").
Thanks Lissnr!!! Sounds amazing. I have looked into the Apogee Grand...that much 25-year old electronics, 6 amps, etc...whew! that's a bit too much 'stuff' even for me.
I currently use the Zanden 4-box, CJ GAT and Gryphon Colosseum (160 watt dual-mono, pure Class A, doubling down to 0.5ohms with a doubling at peak) and drive a 'slightly' modified Wilson X1/Grand Slamm and Velodyne DD18.
If you had to pick one...would you go for TSW Full Range or the Analysis Audio Amphytron? I have heard excellent things about both (of course, there is the 4-panel Analysis Audio Orion too!).
Hello Lloydelee21, If it was a choice between the original Full Range and the "New" Amphytron (I'm referring to it as new because it simply didn't exist 25+ years ago) I would lean towards the Amphytron mainly because of the newer implementation of today's technology and because the Apogee 'house sound' in their original condition were considered by some to be a bit more in the 'laid back' camp whereas the Analysis speakers are less so.
I have a friend who drives Amphytrons with the big Lamm 2.2's and matching Lamm pre-amp (I forgot what the model designation is but it's the big 4 chassis pre) as well as a top-flight transport/dac in a fitting-sized room and it's quite impressive, (as you would hope and expect). Big, open stage, dynamic, expressive and composed... There's not much not to like and hard not to be 'in awe of'...but this is also what you would expect at this level of equipment. It seems that Analysis has been pretty successful with integrating the planar magnetic woofer to the ribbon mid/tweeter assembly. This speaker [obviously] is also available from a current production company and can essentially be ordered/delivered through normal channels.
TSW Apogee speakers are a bit different in as much as each speaker is completely built from the bare frame up by one solitary custom craftsman whose level of expertise and dedication to this purpose has been so refined over many many years of experience that a TSW Apogee is quite simply an [almost living, breathing...] work of art that also happens to produce extraordinary music in your listening space.
Before I start sounding like the head of his sales department (which he doesn't need by the way, as his products are known simply by word of mouth for what they are)let me reiterate that I'm simply a happy customer sharing the last pages of my search for the right speakers (for me)...after 35 years as a diehard audiophile. Rich crafts an Apogee with the same level of attention that a Ferrari receives and I use the Ferrari analogy purposely because that famous car marque almost seems a perfect parallel to the Apogee name.
20+ years ago they would both be described with similar terminology: absolutely exceptional performance (Exotic?!), state of the art groundbreaking levels of design and implementation taken to the "Nth" degree with virtually no consideration for what else was 'out there' at the time...just their own quest for ultra performance taken literally to the extreme.
Then, almost suddenly, picture the company no longer in business...a big part of which stemmed from the very reasons it was so exemplary in the first place and the prerequisites necessary to be an appropriate owner: common to both: the fanatical attention to SOTA details required customers to require the best in associated components and care to perform as designed: best tires/premium fuel, specialists to maintain/tune-ups..even storage and weather conditions for use...and for Apogees: best associated components? check; care to perform as designed? check; room arrangement, speaker placement, cabling... all had to be 'just right' to achieve its best performance.
The rest is history: a [worldwide] marketplace for ultra-exotic sports cars? "check". BUT...( uh oh...) a worldwide marketplace for a speaker brand that only a tiny niche of society called 'audiophiles' can fully appreciate and who must sit in a single listening chair/'sweetspot', have to have large 'door panel' sized monoliths placed well into the room (with no interference by other 'petty' furniture near by) and require everything just right....(not to mention pricing!) just to listen to exceptional music at its exceptional best??? OOPS! Umm, 'Seeya' Mr.Apogee.
Such a sad story...or is it ? Fast forward 20+ years ...technology has advanced (and Ferraris are now better than ever and STILL match their original description) but what of our unfairly cut-down in its prime-of-life favorite speakers?
Enter 21st century technology picking up where the Apogee marque left off due to the echoing outcry from the original owners seeking new life for their beloved speakers. A huge "Thank you" straight to a fellow in Australia known as Graz who undertook the time and expense to start supplying new parts (most importantly the [much improved] ribbon drivers... remember ALL the Apogee 'full range models' are ALL RIBBON drivers )and then a small network of worldwide Apogee service locations where trained Apogee tech's will expertly rebuild and update (now to considerably higher standards than originals)a state of the art Apogee just for you.
Enter Rich at True Sound Works and here we are.
And what of the "New" Apogee sound? Exemplary? Check. State Of The Art AGAIN? Check, CHECK! Specifically speaking the sound no longer has that somewhat overly laid back character but somehow manages to bring all the detail ( AS WELL AS hidden subtleties) to the presentation and as overused as a cliche can be, simply makes a you-are-there presentation, in all its glory. Soundstage, tonality, presence, dynamics (yes), it IS all there and in a completely NATURAL way. It will still demand the best components but the price of [their] entry is justified in the sound.
Comparing a TSW Full Range to the best speakers in the world is like comparing a brand new Ferrari to any other sports car...to compete you had better be bringing your Lamborghini, McLaren, Veyron, Porsche, etc... or you're simply going to get 'spanked'.
On a personal note I have found Rich to be one of those rare artisans who blends completely 'overkill attention to detail'("overkill" is a favorite mindset for me) into every aspect of the building process...engineering & design as well as stunning aesthetics (Do NOT shy away from having him beautifully paint your pair to your own color choice...(Rich is an experienced 'show car' painter as well)... FWIW,I went to every Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, Porsche etc. dealership I could get to for weeks... taking pictures, writing mental notes/descriptions and impressions until I came upon that perfect shade of that perfect color and my Apogees now add that stunning "Piece of Modern Art" aspect, blending flawlessly into my listening room.
Brand new Full Ranges done by Rich Murry? You'd better be "Driving" something else pretty special to compete with them (or you'll be in the rear - view mirror).
For me, I'm finally done looking. My TSW Apogees ... I can't recommend them enough.
Good luck and Happy Lissn'n.
I'm pretty certain the Full Ranges ( originally referred to simply as the "Apogee Originals") require bi amplification but I 'm sure your Gryphons would make a great 'Part A'. I would just give Rich a call if you get a minute as I believe they are getting pretty hard to find and he would be an obvious starting place. Good luck.