What beats the Evolution Acoustics MM3 ??


With 500 hours on my MM3s I'm feeling comfortable that they're sufficiently broken in to begin to draw conclusions on their performance. I'm wondering if anyone else has found a speaker with similar characteristics?

The MM3s are unlike any speakers I've ever owned- B&W Silver Signiture, WATT/Puppy 5.1, 6, Dunlavy IV, IVa, V, Kharma Midi Grand, etc.

The MM3s simply stated allow you to enjoy the music. They are so utterly natural in their sound reproduction that you can actually forget about hearing two loudspeakers in the chain and get a closer connection to the music. I know this sound like so much holistic drivel, but I struggle to find a better way to express the sensation. In analytical, terms the following audiophile attributes, when veiwed holistically, help to explain this end result.

- Seamless driver integration.
- Flat frequency response with exceptional extension at the frequency extremes.
- Natural sounding dynamic swings and transparency.
- Truly effortless full scale presentation.
- Rivals Houdini in their ability to completely disappear.

These characteristics, in concert, allows you for once to focus solely on the music- something most audiophiles sorely need. The quality of the components comprising the MM3s must also help to achieve this level of "rightness".

- Linear, smooth, sweet & extended ribbon tweeter.
- Two ultra high-line ceramic midrange drivers- D'Appolito arrayed.
- Two 15" powered woofers in sealed enclosures- D'Appolito arrrayed.
- Super premium crossover parts and internal wiring.
- Computer modelled cabinet structure finished to extraordinarily exquisite standards. Think Sonus Faber meets Magico Mini.

Ultimately, the performance level these speakers achieve must certainly be attributed to their designer- Kevin Malmgren- formerly of Von Schweikert Audio. Kevin designed most of the current VSA line, including the legendary VR-11 and the equally impressive VR-9. While on the subject of the VR-9s- I listened exrensively to the VR-9s driven by the DartZeel pre-amp, DartZeel amp and EMM Labs digital front end at the '05 RMAF and was mightily impressed. Last year- 06' RMAF- is spent many hours listening to the MM3s driven by the EMM labs CDSD and the Dart combo (BTW the Darts and the CDSD are what I'm currently using on the MM3s) and the '06 RMAF MM3 system was significantly better, to my ears, than the VR-9 based system of the prior year.

This brings me around to the great value I belive the MM3s represent. At approximately $40k the MM3s significanly bettered the VR-9 which run $75K. Are the MM3s the equal to the enormous VR-11- I don't know, but perhaps they are- at almost 25% of the $150k price.

The Evolution Acoustics modular design allows you to start with MM1s or MM2s and add woofer modules as your budget allows. I've got my MM3s in a relatively small room of approximately 18x17 dimensions and the speakers perfectly integrate into the room. I was a little suprised by this ease of integration, but needless to say am now delighted. No bass boom or overload- not even close! And as an additional bonus the tweeters, woofers and woofer/midrange crossover points are adjustable. My MM3s are set, essentially, flat and I've felt no need to fiddle with the adjustments.

This leads me back to the opening comment about the MM3s and their ability to let you just enjoy the music. No other speaker in my experience has allowed me to just listen and enjoy- without feeling the need to tweak this or change out that. This is a true revelation for me. I'd like to know if others have discovered other speakers capable of this feat.
fbhifi
This leads me back to the opening comment about the MM3s and their ability to let you just enjoy the music.

Congrats. I know exactly how you feel.

The speakers you mentioned having owned in the past do look like a solid progression from "hi-fi" exciting speakers towards more natural balanced sounding speakers. It seems you have found one that suits your taste best. It is nice to find something that plays everything well!

I am not sure I would agree however about the great value...to me a used pair of DAL V's still epitomizes great value. The MM3's dispersion pattern may be a lot better than the DAL ....is this perhaps why you perceive such a natural sound and "disappearing" act from such a large tower? Just a hunch, but the baffle looks very carefully designed to eliminate side edge diffraction and the D'Appolito design will limit the vertical response greatly.

I am also curious if you tried such large speakers (like the DAL-V's) in only an 18 by 17 room? Do you have significant acoustic treatment or a PARC? I am astonished that straight out of the box without tweaking they give you a flat frequency response in this room.
Shadorne:

The Dunlavy Vs are certainly a fantastic value, if you can find a used pair. As you know they're no longer being produced. Getting original factory drivers would probably be difficult at this point but, quite frankly, the origianl drivers were not that great. Upgrading drivers would probably be beneficial as long as you they interfaced correctly with the crossover. I agree that the dispersion pattern is much improved on the MM3s over the Dunlavy Vs and almost certainly contributes to the MM3s ability to disappear from the listening room.

I never had the Dunlavy Vs in my present room and I don't believe they would have sounded their best in that sized room. The Dunlavys always needed plenty of room "to beathe" to sound right.

I do have some basic room treatment- 1st reflection absorbtion, some dispersion behind the MM3s and a couple of Tube Traps in the corners behind the speakers. I used to own a PARC, in a different more truobled room- horrible bass hump at 63hz- but got rid of it. It worked great, but I didn't like how it sounded in the system.

My present room, which has a couple of angled walls- one short one going into a bedroom and one long one behind the the listening position seems to help to break up room nodes very well. I 've had other speakers in the room and they have all sounded good. I think that I simply have a room without any significant nodes.
Fbhifi,

What are the super-premium cross-over parts and internal wiring that you referred to?
fbhifi-
Hi Franz. This is Barry K. We met at Rocky Mountain last year. As you know, I have the MM2's. I can't agree with you more. I also have them set very close to the factory settings. I played with the settings alot while they were breaking in. After a few hundred hours, the sound transformed and I have no desire right now to play with the controls. They are the most perfect component I have ever experienced. It is so rare and refreshing when there are no performance parameters that I feel needs to be improved. The only limitations to the sound are the limitations of the recordings. Being so transparent and neutral, the sound obviously varies from recording to recording. Mediocre recordings sound OK, good recordings sound FANTASTIC and great recordings sound UNBELIEVABLE. I now just sit back and feel transported to each and every recording venue.
Enjoy Franz

Disclaimer - I'm also a dealer for EA
Fiddler:

In talking with the Kevin he said that no expense was spared for their application. More specifically I know that they use the most expensive capacitors available and that the internal wire rivals most high-end ($1000+/meter retail price) speaker cable.
"Mediocre recordings sound OK, good recordings sound FANTASTIC and great recordings sound UNBELIEVABLE. I now just sit back and feel transported to each and every recording venue"

I have also a pair of MM3 and can only agree. These speakers are a lens. When you feed them with the best, the result is amazing. I never spent so much time listening to music! So transparent and not tiring at all.
Overall, I spent 2 days optimizing the MM3 position and settings using a RTA analysis (once at the beginning, once after 400hrs of burn in). It is worth the effort: Frequency response is flat (in a extensively treated room)
forgot to answer the title of the post: to my ears, nothing below 100k beats them. I am living between Taipei, HK and Tokyo so have access to dealers representing the best speakers on the market... I spent one year making listening sessions before deciding myself (including listening the VR11...).
The only speaker which may have made me hesitate is the Magico Mini... if I would have a much smaller room.
Well for one, a speaker that beats the MM3 is the Polymer Logic from Polymer Audio Research. Unlike MM3's ceramic midrange drivers, the Polymer uses a diamond midrange with a crossover that uses the world's best parts.

I am convinced that there is no better material to make a speaker cone than diamond. When talking about speakers under 100K, the Polymer Logic probably beats any speaker under $250K. I auditioned them at the Polymer listening room in miami and I am absolutely mesmerized by the sound. I heard the MM3s at a show and for sure the hype around them is true, they are unbelievable. But they still can't hold a candle to the Polymer Logic which just takes sound quality to another level.
I guess the answer to this question depends on how you define "beats". In my opinion, whatever speaker you prefer over the MM3 beats it. Like everything else in this hobby, speaker preference is purely subjective. We all know that measurements or driver configuration or material choice does not paint a complete picture if terms of how a speaker ultimately sounds. I got a chance to audition the MM2 recently and while I thought they are good, I was not overly impressed. Perhaps I was expecting magic given all of the hype they have received. Or perhaps my ears are made of wood. No doubt they are great speakers but I happen to prefer something else which does not mean it is better than the MM2.
It is worth the effort: Frequency response is flat (in a extensively treated room)
Not sure I'd want to live with that. A gradual downward slope is what sounds most natural to most listeners, or so goes the conventional wisdom.
Drubin,
you can set up the frequency response the way you want with the tweeter adjustment on the MM3. For too bright recordings, I decrease the tweeter setting by 2-3dB and at measurements you get exactly the gradual downward slope you are preferring. Same for the bass, you can do all type of adjustment depending on how you like it (tight vs "full", etc)

Bill Powel,
I wouldn't base my judgment based on a show. Room plays such a big role that you are basically listening to the room, not the speaker... If you listened to the MM3 at Rocky Mountain show last year, I heard that the room had significant problem. If you are traveling to Tokyo, I would be happy to invite you for a listening session. Otherwise, you should try to listen to the MM3 in a great room like Mike Lavigne's. The day I listened to the MM3 in his room I decided myself for them.
Now regarding the Polymer logic, I never listened to them. I only know that I would never judge a speaker just based on technology used: technology they are using looks great, but implementation still makes 70% of the difference. Good example is for example the Magico Mini (gen 1) vs. the HK based Volent speaker (same titanium woofer, ribbon tweeter). Totally different sound.
Anyway, they are a lot of excellent speakers on the market today. The most important differentiation factor between 2 systems will always remain the quality of the room... better spending on it first rather than on a more expensive set of speakers, cables, a better CD player, etc.
I still believe that the MM3 is great value for money. Main reason is it is sold direct. If I buy any other brands I need to pay for the distributor margin (30%+) and the retailer margin (40%+)... that makes a lot.
Hi Stereotaiper

How would you rate or describe the Volent speaker?

Thanks Larry
Tboooe,

I think that there is a very clear way to define which loudspeaker is superior and this is not subjective at all. The superior speaker is the one that sounds closer to live music. The closer you get to say capturing the sound of a real piano in your living room the better the speaker. Isn't this what our hobby is all about, capturing live music in the home?

Stereotaipei,

Obviously implementation has the greatest impact, but the Volent speaker uses relatively inexpensive cross-over components and a lower quality cabinet than the Magico which is also part of the reason for its inferior sound. The diamond midrange in the Polymer Logic is also the midrange used in a $250K speaker from Marten Design. THis is saying a lot. I think a lot of people do not take Polymer Logic seriously because of how inexpensive it is. Well, I promise you that all it takes is one listen to these speakers to realize just how they totally create a new standard. I am not talking about incremental improvements here,
Bill_powel, the problem is that not everyone wants the recreation of live music nor does everyone agree on what live music sounds like. Once the sound waves hit our ears and is interpreted by our brain, the judgment of what is pleasing to us becomes completely subjective. I have not even mentioned things like hearing acuteness that could greatly impact what is heard. For example, I could have an issue with hearing high frequencies. What some consider to be bright or tipped up in the highs may sound absolutely pleasing to me. I do not mean to be argumentative but the reality is everything in this hobby is subjective because it is interpreted by humans. The only way to make it objective is to remove any interpretation and to get everyone to agree on a set of standards that can be used to judge whether a particular component reproduces the frequency response better than another.
I heard Volent at the manufacturing company in HK. Bottom line is it is quite transparent in medium range, rather analytical sound (not surprising given the driver used), good tonal accuracy, but you don't have the same transparency and image as for the Magico Mini. Big problem for me is the ported bass: goes lower than the Mini but the bass is too heavy, too sloow. It is masking the lower mid.
Tweeter is nice if you are sitting in the right position (I always liked ribbon): sweet and transparent. Overall a good speaker but not the Whow factor of the Mini (they cost 4 times less).
I was looking for another pair of small speaker for my second home in Taipei, I am keeping looking as the port is too much of an issue for me and the improvement vs my pair of Usher 718 is not enough to make the jump. Currently listening to the Usher 718 Be (proce is amazing in Taiwan), hope to compare it against the new small JMLabs.
JF
Tboooe:

Great point on hearing acuity. It would seem that a speaker that allows the listener to adjust the tweeter level would greatly help in addressing individual hearing differences- All models in the Evolution Acoustics line have adjustable ribbon tweeters.
Bill_Powel

You say that "there is a very clear way to define which loudspeaker is superior and this is not subjective at all. The superior speaker is the one that sounds closer to live music."

That is much easier said than done.

Comparing a piano recording to a piano in your home is like comparing apples to oranges. First of all, you have the equipment (excluding the speakers) which factors into the sound. Second, the recording of the piano you are hearing is using a different piano as well as a different recording environment. Factor in varied recording techniques, microphones, recording equipment, CD or LP pressings, etc. which results in a very wide variance of sound.

Keep in mind that sitting in different locations in even the finest concert halls will yield very different sonic results. For example, sitting in the boxes in Carnegie Hall sounds like speakers playing with the tweeters turned way down (somewhat dull and lifeless). There is a far better sense of life and a far better sound overall sitting towards the front of the orchestra. Factor in going to a jazz club with less than optimal sound reinforcement. All this can lead to a more pleasing sound generated by your system as compared to live, minus the immediacy and raw power of the live performance.

The bottom line is that it will come down to your PERCEPTION of how you speakers/system performs as compared to the live event.
Bkonig,
I fully agree with your points. I am a big jazz fan, and the sad reality is that often the sound of my system is better than concerts I am attending, problem being the quality of amplification used in a lot of jazz clubs (and the fact that they often play way too loud): why do you need to amplify a band of 4-5 in a space of less than 100sqm?
Does anyone know who made the drivers for MM3? The tweeter looks to be Aurum Cantus G1, the midrange looks like Accuton, the woofer doesn't look familiar to me at all.
I believe it is an aurum cantum G3. Accuton for the mid. Don't know for woofer
Viper - The tweeter is an Aurum Cantus G3si. I don't know about the woofer either.
Does anyone know who made the drivers for MM3?

Judging by the looks...(a guess)
Aurum Cantum G3 Tweet
Accuton mids
ATC 15" Woofers
Well, this guy has sold his MM3 for a pair of SP Tech

This is the room before with MM3:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=9058847#post9058847

This is the room now with SP Tech Continuum 2.5 IIIs ($15k):
http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?topic=48756.msg437486;topicseen#new

So...MM3 is not without competitor..:)
I am an ATC fan. Have used these for 20 plus years and they have many of the same attributes you describe. Very neutral and dig out the detail better than any other speaker I have heard. The ATC 150 is a true reference speaker and is used in many recording studios. With that said, I really enjoy their 11 and 19 speakers for home use.
Viper z- The gentleman who sold his MM3s, whose room you posted, sold his entire system and replaced each component with a significantly less expensive make and model.

I don't believe that these sales, and subsequent purchases, were driven by the desire to improve his system.
any decent panel will provide a more realistic representation of timbre and no box colorations.

i have heard so many cone designs and their weaknesses are obvious.

it is too bad that there are so few full range panel deisgns out there. oh well, it must be gresham's law applied to speakers.
Fbhifi, I am the first owner of Evolution Acoustics MM3's in Europe. I must say that as anyone who purchased these speakers (including Frank who just sold his to my lucky audiophile friend Tom) I was bowled over by their appearance, sound...or lack thereoff, and room adjustability and last but not least their price. I sold my SF Strads that had the same retail $40.000 then (now $45.000) and got the MM3 being handsdown better in all areas we audiophiles listen for. It easily competes with speakers costing 2-3X. And when mated with Dartzeel in a good room probably beats most too. Don't expect that price to stay that low much longer...its insane in todays economic reality.

The best MM3 sonic quality I find is that music is just floating in the room, does not seem to come from the speakers. You close your eyes and imagine you're right there, at the sound levels that you please and befit the recording.

I'm going to audition the Kharma Exquisite Grand ($220k) soon at their HQ in Breda NL, and I'll let you know how many times X it sounds better vs the MM3. Didn't Charles van Oostrum choke at the price when he heard the MM3's intro at RMAF 06? LOL
Viper z- The gentleman who sold his MM3s, whose room you posted, sold his entire system and replaced each component with a significantly less expensive make and model.

I do not belive that his components (MM3s aside) are that much cheaper.

BAT VK-52 is $18k compared to $22k for the Dart pre
BAT 600SE is $14k compared to $18k for the Dart amp

This is hardly a big difference in the realm of hi-end.
Elberoth2- The prices you quoted on both the BAT and the Dartzeel equipment is incorrect.The correct pricing is as follows:

BAT VK-52SE- $10,500 (recently increased from $10,000)
BAT VK-600SE- $12,000

The OLD retail price for the Dartzeel equipment is:

NHB-18NS Preamp- $23,250
NHB-108 Amplifier- $18,181

The current price of the Dart units went up considerably from the above prices in October, 2007. It is my understanding that the BAT units Frank S. has were purchased used at a 50% or greater discount from retail, which is not uncommon. Purchasing used Dartzeel equipment at that kind of discount IS uncommon, if you can even find it used.

So, based on correct retail pricing the difference in price between the BAT preamp and amp and the Dartzeel preamp and amp is $18,931. The typical used street price difference is $1000-$3000 less.

Whether comparing the price differencial new or used- This IS a big difference, even in the realm of hi-end.
I don't want to be seen as thrashing the MM3.

All I can say is, once you got into the $10k range, price is not an indicator of performance. There are people who think that the $40k MM3 is a steal, better than Kharma, Marten, etc, but there are people who don't care for the sound, and won't put them in their room even they're for free.
Elberoth, you must be converting Euro's into USD's. Fact is US based pricing with the very weak USD (Thanks Mr Bush) at the moment is not comparable to Europe based pricing. That and the fact that in Europe about 20% VAT is mandatorily included in the retail price, whereas in the US...when a bit savvy, you do not need to pay any VAT.

Viper_z, yes even above the $10k range there are huge differences in sound and quality of gear. And yes, the best components are often very expensive, that goes for most everything in life. But, you can have a cheaper system sound better than an expensive one if you have the better isolation and room treatment and recordings for example. That's what makes this hobby so interestingly tricky, there are just a boatload of factors that have an influence...and then there are the personal ears and tastes on top of that!

People who don't care for the sound, are probably not in this hobby...but all people that own the MM3 have each evaluated most of the top speakers out there and came to the same conclusion I did: ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!

It does help us Europeans that the USD is soo weak at the moment, that means that the MM3 value is even significantly better than EURO based competitors. That would hold true for ALL US based products. For example the Kharma's Grand Exquisite retails for EUR 200.000 or about $290.000 equivalent...go figure
Viper z

Those are very strong words you are using. Remember that it is also possible that those that you quote as not wanting the MM3 for free may very well have equipment that those that like the MM3 may also not want for free. The perception of the quality in the playback of recorded music is no different than our perception of the quality of fine wine and art... completely subjective! Anybody that claims that any one piece of gear is the absolute best or has no equal or better match is been naive and ignorant of this.

However, i can tell you about my own personal experience and perception. I currently have the MM2 speakers and they have ~400-450 hrs on them. Prior to these i had the Kharma Midi Grand Ceramique and i have played both with the exact same equipment and in the same room and music. The MM2 are for me no doubt superior to the Kharmas. Mind you that the Kharma Midi Grands that i had retailed for $32-33 G's at the time when i purchased them. They now retail for ~$38 G's. The MM2 retails for $28 G's now.

I have not heard either the SP Tech nor the Polymer Logic speakers so that i can't make any statements about these. But again, even for those that have had the oportunity to listen to all these, it is crucial to understand that unless you have kept everything else constant,any comparisons are flawed and partial. This is not to say that one that has heard all albeit with different set-ups can't make comments about different qualities in a comparative way but no absolute total comparisons can fairly be made. And any assessments again are always partial to one's perceptions and prejudices.
MrTennis - You state:
"Any decent panel will provide a more realistic representation of timbre and no box colorations."

I couldn't agree less.

I have heard and owned many different types of speakers over the years (Planars, ribbons, stats, etc). In the 80's, I believed the hype that cones were too slow and cabinet colorations were unavoidable. That was in my logan, Quad, Apogee, Magnepan decade. I learned to listen to my own ears and came to the conclusion that top notch dynamic speakers sound more real in every way. Non-box speakers have their own set of problems that I obviously find to color the music more than great dynamic designs.
In the 90's I too used to only feel that panel speakers could give me what I was looking for soundwise. I had Crosby'd Quad 63's and within their limits, I always felt coming home from a Hi-fi show or audition that the Quads (or even better yet Soundlabs) offered something with a particular frequency and dynamic window that few others could.

With my current dynamic speakers am getting (even when I was using the same amps as I was back then) a level of fidelity that I could have only dreamed about at that time. I believe computer modeling and materials science have moved dynamic speakers well beyond their previous levels of quality. But 'stats have come a long way as well. I have to hear my friends latest Soundlabs with the PX technology - they are supposedly a big improvement in dynamics. I was also recently very impressed with the Quad 2905. That being said, I have recently read about at least 2 different soundlab owners that have gone for dynamic speakers and have gotten better sound quality. I dont think that would have happened 10-15 years ago.
12-22-07: Fbhifi
Elberoth2- The prices you quoted on both the BAT and the Dartzeel equipment is incorrect

Fbhifi - you are correct. I mixed the 52SE price with the price of the REX and gave you the incorrect price for the 600SE.

But even then, 12k for the BAT 600SE vs 18k for the Dart (in the EU the price difference is even smaller) is not a HUGE difference. Besides, we all know that price not always corresponds with sound quality. I have replaced my $22k Lamm M1.2 Reference monos with $10k ARC Ref 110 and IMO it sounds SUPERIOR to the Lamms. Maybe he thought the same about BAT gear ?

12-23-07: Aponter4
Viper z

Those are very strong words you are using. Remember that it is also possible that those that you quote as not wanting the MM3 for free may very well have equipment that those that like the MM3 may also not want for free. The perception of the quality in the playback of recorded music is no different than our perception of the quality of fine wine and art... completely subjective! Anybody that claims that any one piece of gear is the absolute best or has no equal or better match is been naive and ignorant of this.

There's no disagreement here, you just used more words to say exactly the same thing that I was saying :)

The MM3 is an excellent speakers ( I listened to it at RMAF06), so are Kharma, Marten, Wilson, JM-Lab, MBL. I don't have problem with people preferring one way or another. But it disturbed me a little when I read people raving about their speakers while thrashing others.

I don't care how many speakers you've auditioned before you bought your current one, there's a difference between saying:

(1)"I like my speaker better than the rest"

vs

(2)"My speaker is better than the rest".


Please understand, buying speakers is like finding a wife, different people are looking for different qualities. Once you've found your dream wife, you do not go out and say that all other wives are worse than yours! :)

Peace.

VZ
buying speakers is nothing like finding a wife. buying a speaker is more like looking for a good meal, a good book, a good movie, or any other artistic product.

i would not consider a wife an artistic product.

i will say for my purposes that panels are better than cones, or that cones are poor designs.

people can say whatever they want. it is just opinions..
they are not right or wrong and they are not subject to proof.

12-25-07: Mrtennis
buying speakers is nothing like finding a wife. buying a speaker is more like looking for a good meal, a good book, a good movie, or any other artistic product.

Really? Everyone can watch a movie a day, read a book a day, eat 3 meals a day. How many people can buy or change speakers every day?

Sorry, your analogy undermines how men appreciate their speakers. If there is a closer analogy, I would say a speakers is like a car to a man. You don't go and knock your neighbor's car.
How about the Emerald Physics CS-1 or the CS-2 ? http://www.emerald-physics.com

12-22-07: Fbhifi
Viper z- The gentleman who sold his MM3s, whose room you posted, sold his entire system and replaced each component with a significantly less expensive make and model.

I don't believe that these sales, and subsequent purchases, were driven by the desire to improve his system.
Fbhifi,
You'd better believe it now...:) (read below)
http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?topic=48756.40

Regardless, I still maintain that the MM3 is an excellent speakers!!! I'm happy for everyone who's happy with their speakers.
Hi,

i am toying with the idea of replacing my current speakers with the MM2. I currently have Rockport Aviors, which by the way, I love. 

The only reason reason I would contemplate changing the Aviors are for bigger, better scale of presentation, bass definition and depth and most importantly, the ability to adjust the bass and tweeter response. Hence the veer towards EA speakers. 

While this thread is old, I hope someone will be able to comment on whether I am looking in the right direction or not? Also, I would be quite keen to buy a used pair of MM2 or MM3 ( for that matter) if someone here is keen to sell theirs on way to an upgrade.

cheers

sujay