What is your opinion regarding electrostatics?

I am planning to purchase a pair of FINAL o.3 ESL/hybrids (made in the Netherlands). Surprisingly, these speakers did not make a review in any major audio U.S. publication, I wonder why....
Has anyone had the opportunity to listen to the Final's?
Power amp: parasound hc-3500 / Preamp by Placette
Musical tastes: jazz/blues/rock & french pop
The electrostatics will be too soft for your musical taste.
They are usually lack of dynamic, transient and punch. For myself, I love classical jazz and now I'm using a pair of Altec horn speakers. It sounds so real, intimate and musical. I always go to listen to live unampilify jazz and I know what I'm talking.
Could'nt disagree more with Edle... While i have not heard the Final, I'd be willing to bet it is superior to an old pair of horns. Good luck
Edle, to what kind of stators, if at all, have you listened to? They clobber almost anything on earth in transient speed, they can carry quite a wallop and with modern stators, dynamics are very good, if the stator is large enough. On the other hand, forget about a really low bottom end ( you'll need a hybrid like the one in question or subs) and highs which bats will react to are also nothing to write home about. Their midrange however, is practically unsurpassed to this day, in comparison to your Altecs, which though no slouch in transient speed, are terribly coloured to these ears. As long as Herve's taste of pop and rock doesn't embrace too much of heavy metal, IMO stators would be absolutely the right choice for his taste in music!
I think that E-stat's and horns have a LOT more in common than most people would imagine. They both have specific characteristics though and some of this is where they differ. Getting them to work properly together would be one heckuva good trick.

E-stat's are typically noted for their very fast rise and fall times, i.e. their "crispness" with a lack of ringing or overhang. At the same time, horns are also noted for being very dynamic, which is also somewhat a measure of speed (velocity). Both are limited in bandwidth, one due to lack of excursion capabilities ( e-stat's) whereas the other is due to lack of size (horn). One can get around this somewhat by using a very large array of e-stat's to move a lot of air or using a very large horn that can go lower. Both are inconvenient and eat up a lot of real estate, to say the least.

Obviously, reasonable quality horns are decidedly more efficient than ANY electrostat. Even though the Innersound Eros are now rated at 96 db's, which is EXTREMELY efficient for an e-stat, they will run into compression when played VERY loudly. On the other hand, "weak" horns are at least 96 - 98 db's with more common designs coming in closer to 102 - 104 db's. Some can even generate well in excess of 110 db's @ 1 watt / 1 meter. The reasons why horns are used in sound reinforcement becomes quite evident once you see figures like that. They simply generate more sound with a wider dispersion pattern, greater "throw" and do it using WAY, WAY less power.

Given the differences in efficiency and maximum "clean" volume level, e-stat's and planar's have typically been favorites for people that listen to "quiet music" such as vocal work, choirs, chamber music, light classical, mellow jazz, etc... One can understand this selection given their ability to seperate voices & instrumentation so well, along with adding a sense of "air" and spaciousness that few other designs offer. On the other hand, horns typically find themselves placed where volume and dynamics are more of a concern. Rock music, big band, etc... type of music that is typically more uptempo and "louder" seem to work well with horns. This is not to say that one type of speaker can't play the other types of music well, it's just that it may not be quite as well suited overall.

Another major difference between the two is in radiation pattern. E-stat's radiate both front and back while horns throw in one direction. This makes for VERY different room placement requirements if looking for optimum performance. Whereas e-stat's will have MAJOR problems with room cancellation and reinforcement from reflections, horns / direct radiators are not nearly as severely affected. Obviously, the room is being "loaded" by both types of speakers, it's just that one "pushes" the air in on direction whereas the e-stat (and planars) push in both directions evenly. The problem results because the back wave is out of phase ( the signal does not arrive at the same time ) with the front wave. There is NOTHING that can be done to correct this and keep sound coming out of both sides of the panel. As such, proper placement becomes VERY critical with e-stat's and planars. While we are simply trying to minimize the effect of the rear wave colliding with the front wave, various room configurations can make reflections and placement quite unpredictable in all but the best situations. As such, one should do a LOT of research before buying any type of "exotic" speaker as they just might not be suitable for your room or listening tastes.

Of the two, i find horns to be more versatile due to their efficiency, dynamics and less finichy placement. I am of course talking about GOOD horns and NOT the stuff typically found in most audio shops or mass merchandise sellers. I would venture to say that the majority of bias against horns ( they sound "bright, glaring, harsh, ring, hurt my ears", etc... ) is due to poor overall design. While some of this can be "lulled away" by using "soft sounding" components (ala tubes), the proper way to do things would be to use the correct flare rates for the horn body itself, pay attention to the materials used for the horn body, make sure that the horn is well damped and securely mounted, etc... as MOST of the annoying attributes of "horn sound" ARE coming from the body of the horn / horn throat. Taking some "generic" horns and simply mass loading / damping their bodies will demonstrate EXACTLY what i'm talking about.

So that one doesn't think that i'm "biased" against e-stat's and love horns, let me give you some background. I have one system with horns and am working on another with e-stat's (VERY slowly). I think that they both have their place IF properly designed and constructed. Once you hear a good version of both types, you won't hold a bias towards either. Sean

Sean, kudos to you. You definitely have had the final word on this topic. Your thread, no, your essay is well considered and right to the point. I use a wall of stators, carefully selected and even more carefully placed, reinforced by plasma tweeters and subs, whereas a close friend uses the excellent horns made by a-capella in Germany(www.acapella.de), which also use the same plasma tweeters. They are very good in their bass rendering as well, the biggest horn having a diameter of about 130cms I think. As you say, they are less finicky with placement, much more efficient and more dynamic than my stators, but also a tad less demanding of the electronics feeding them. As you indirectly infer, I had to spend much more time and care, as well as money to get my music right, in comparison to my friend, who however spent as close as the equivalent of $60.000 for his speakers.
On the level of personal taste I admire the finesse and delicacy of his setup, a soundstage, which to my ears is unsurpassed, but in spite of the wallop and dynamics his rig can develop, I find the musical rendering a trifle too polite. In comparison, my wall of stators is clearly less good in the rendering of the soundstage, but will develop a directness and can play "dirty" as I call it, in the way real music often is, which his A-capellas cannot match. I have never had the chance to listen to the US SOTA speakers like the Pipedreams et al, so I cannot compare, but his system and mine in rare moments let you forget that you are listening but to a facsimile of the real thing.
Actually, for the same amount of money as a 0.3(less actually), you could score a mint pair of Apogee Duetta Signature full range ribbons with an electronic x-over. Stunning looks, stunning speed, stunning bass and stunning soundstage. And they are not all THAT hard to set up. Just a thought.
I have owned Quads 989 and Martin Logan Quest Z, Aerius (still do), SL 3, And Odyssey (still do). I have also owned Legacy Whispers, Watt Puppy 3/2, Apogee Slant 6, Eggleston Andras. Nothing brings it across like the electrostats. Go for it and do not look back - look forward to trading upwards in the line later. I also had a pair of Magnepans which I liked - look into the Monsoon line - a friend has the 1600 and they sound really great. Best I have heard for the money 1800 a pair.

if you are looking for electrostatics -- please check out the monsoons before you make a final purchase ...

teh 1000 and the 1600 's are superb .....and as ljgj said best value for the money >>>>
If you have your heart set on E-stats then buy Martin Logan Asecnts. I have had Aerius i, SL3 and the ascents and the ascents are by far the most dynamic thing martin logan has ever put out. ( in that size) I just sold my Asents because I one day s I was listening I decided there was something about e-stats I didnt like. So I put them on the net and bought a pair of B&W N803 and now Iam very happy. They are much more dynamic and tonal accurate. They arent as large sounding as the ascents where but they are great. Also the Ascents had awesome mids not that the 803s dont but the panel really invites you in. So in saying that I would tell you dont buy unless you listen on your equipment. For a box speaker the b&ws are really open and airy. Give a listen and youll see
If you think altec horn is colored, may be you haven't hear a pair of good one yet. Be openminded. Different types of speakers have their share of strength and weakness. The best way to choose your speaker type is to match it with your own music taste. Failing to get the first step right, nothing else matter.
Hello Herve, The truth of the matter is, once you live with a good Electrostatic or Planer, the midrange of conventional drivers may be hard to return to. Certainly ESL dynamics are constricted, as well as the bottom octaves lacking in weight and slam (but not on String Bass). All of this fades into inconsequence when voices and the majority of middle frequencies are reproduced thru these panels.
This has been the case as far back as the KLH-9 days as well as through Quad, Stax, Beverage, Sound Labs, Acoustat and Magneplaner to name the ones I am familiar with.
Amazingly, there are many audiophiles that do not like the sound produced by panel type speakers and opt for B&W type of conventional monitors. While these will satisfy the other needs (SPL, slam etc) they still do not approach the panel level of "you are there".
Ribbon drivers, while even faster than ESLs fail to retain the "Warmth" level present in the human voice. You get all this fabulous clarity, speed and air, yet you can never get all the metallic sound out to get you to REAL.
As a furthur thought to Sean's excellent post above, I find the backwave (doublet) dipole to be the ESL/Planer's greatest Strength, and a huge contributor to the live sound illusion. (Maybe Amar was right about that after all!!)
There is a group of Audiophiles that I respect who regard the Western Electric (Altec) 755A driver the equal of a ESL midrange. I know that enough good ears have reported on the sound of these historic drivers to warrent possible truth to the statement...........Frank
Sean, what an incredible post! You did a superb job of laying out the merits of horns and 'stats without becoming "partisan".

I'd like to suggest that the dipole radiation pattern of a full range electrostat is actually an asset rather than a limitation. The only significant placement issue is getting them far enough out from the wall behind them, and five to seven feet is usually adequate. You might want to treat the first reflection points with a bit of absorption or diffusion, then fine tune the toe-in angle, and you're pretty well done.

A good full-range dipole has three significant advantages over a direct radiator loudspeaker:

1. The bass is significantly less colored by the room.
2. The direct and reverberant fields are more alike.
3. The sound field more closely approximates a live event.

A dipole does not excite room modes more than a monopole speaker - in fact, it excites them far less. This is because a dipole's figure-8 radiation pattern puts 5 dB less bass out into the reverberant field than a monopole's spherical radiation pattern. True a dipole will excite the room's front-to-back standing wave modes (and so will a horn), but it will put much less energy into the side-to-side and vertical standing wave modes than a direct radiator does. The result is much better pitch definition, because the room isn't contributing nearly as much overhang to blur the decay of the bass notes.

Because a well designed dipole (such as the Maggie 3.6, 20.1, and full range Sound Labs) maintains pretty much the same radiation pattern all the way up and down the frequency range, the reverberant field will have the same tonal balance as the direct sound. This is conducive to natural timbre and to long-term listening enjoyment, because the brain expects the reverberant field to sound like the direct sound with the room superimposed on top. A direct radiator almost never gets this right because its radiation pattern changes drastically as we go up and down the frequency range. Therefore, its reverberant field cannot possibly have the same tonal balance as its on-axis sound. The result is listening fatigue over time. You can listen to a good dipole literally all day long and never get tired of it (the freedom from boxy colorations probably helps here as well).

A dipole that approximates a line source sets up a very different kind of sound field than a horn or direct radiator can (with the exception of line source direct radiators, like the Pipe Dreams - which have problems of their own). You see, sound pressure falls off with the square of distance from a point source, but linearly with distance from a line source. Okay, once again, in English: As you move farther back from a tall dipole speaker, the volume falls off much more slowly than when you move back from a horn or direct radiator speaker. The result is a vastly different "feel" than what you get from a conventional speaker. This uniform sound field feels more like a live performance, because as you listen to a live performance from forty feet away, the sound field is very uniform in volume and tonal balance.

Alas, Sean, I don't know as much about horns as you do about 'stats, so I cannot give the comparison as even-handed a treatment as you did. I certainly agree that horns do macrodynamics better, are easier to place, and are much easier to drive. So far I have yet to hear a high end hybrid horn system where the direct radiator woofer matched the clarity of the horn. But, in all fairness, I have yet to hear a high end hybrid electrostat where the direct radiator woofer matched the clarity of the panels. Just as the ultimate in electrostats is the full range panel, I would imagine that the ultimate would be a full range horn system. Besides the K-horn, does anybody make one?
Thanks for the kind words folks. While i do appreciate the "roses" ( i'm much more of a gin & tonic or beer man though ), i'm learning just as much from you and your posts. As such, PLEASE continue to share your thoughts and experiences. I would HATE to think that my rambling has made someone feel that it was "unnecessary" for them to contribute to a thread. You just don't know how much that "little" comment that you didn't make might've helped someone else out, so PLEASE don't hesitate.

As to Duke's question about "full range Horn's", i don't know of any others besides the various Klipsch models. These should be considered a "starting point" at best with LOTS of room to move in terms of EASY improvements though. If i ever get my act together ( yeah, right...), i have another set of La Scala's to rebuild. I'll probably do these from the ground up, as they are REALLY beat. This would present me with the perfect platform to try out a lot of my newer "horn based" ideas.

As to Duke's comments about planars and conventional drivers loading bass into a room, my experience is that Planars have only ONE advantage. That advantage can only be used under VERY specific conditions. Otherwise, i find that their dispersion characteristics to be tougher to work with, typically resulting in blurred imaging and OVERTLY lean characteristics when things are less than optimum. These are MY thoughts and opinions though, so that means they are worth LESS than $0.02 : )

I think that we will all agree that LOW freq's are the most problematic area in the audible frequency range to properly reproduce in a reasonable sized room. The fact that LOW frequencies are omnidirectional doesn't help any either. This means that ALL speakers, regardless of their radiation pattern at higher freq's, face an equally tough task in this area. If anything, the fact that many planar speakers don't have a LOT of output below 100 Hz may help them out a bit in this respect.

The ONE way to overcome the "room loading" problem with a planar is to place it EXACTLY at the mid-point of the room. So long as the room is evenly "clustered" with furnishings, etc... the wavelengths and pressure to each side of the panel remain identical. The result is "even loading" with equal reflections. This minimizes the standing waves in the room and will result in the most natural bass response that those speakers are capable of in that room. This does NOT necessarily mean that you will like what you hear though.

While this approach MIGHT work with conventional dynamic woofers running back to back in a push-pull configuration (one wired in phase, the other out of phase), I have never tried it. I would ASSUME that the results would be similar to that of the planar while still retaining the characteristics of the dynamic driver. Whether this is good or bad would depend on your point of view.

If someone has an opposing ( or confirming ) point of view, PLEASE share it with us ( me in particular ). I'd love to compare notes and experiences and hopefully learn something along the way. Sean
Sean, don't you think that most good planars today have a fairly decent bass response well under 100hz? Just think of the new Quads or the bigger Sound Labs. Also the more expensive Maggies are no slouch in this regard at all. So I find your remark perhaps a bit misleading, at least for a newbee. But just because we seem to be in disaggreement here, I find your thoughts about bass response and planar speaker placement all the more important: When I originally experimented with this, I adhered to the one third/two third rule and got muddy bass amd fuzzy images. Finally I ended up not quite halfway into the room, more or less in the middle between the 1/3 and 1/2 position to get things right.
Also here there are no really hard and fast rules. Every rig and room is different, not to speak of the furnishing in it.
As for Altecs and Klipschhorns, I have of course never heard all and every make of them, but the ones I had the chance to listen to, I found very statorlike, as you said in your first post, but also coloured. So I never really considered horns as an alternative until I came across the a-capellas, which I would suggest everyone look into, who is seriously considering hornspeakers. I don't know however, if they already are being imported to the States.
Hi Sean,

Great to hear from you again! Hey by the time you and I are done, we'll have all these dynamic guys lining up for either horns or 'stats...

You are a true gentleman, and it is a pleasure exchanging ideas with you. Your ideas are worth way more than the customary $.02. I'm a dealer (see the fin on my back??), so my ideas have to be taken with so many grains of salt I oughtta buy stock in Morton...

Okay, here we go...

I gotta differ with your statement that "LOW frequencies are omnidirectional" (which, if true, would refute my assertion that dipole bass is less colored by the room). Low frequencies are only omnidirectional with a monopole direct radiator source. For example, a true low frequency horn would be just as directional over its passband as a midrange or high frequency horn.

A dipole is directional in the bass because, in the plane of the driver, the out-of-phase front and rear waves cancel. In a true anechoic chamber, you would not hear any bass if you stood exactly to the side of a dipole. But you would hear plenty of bass if you stood in front of it. In a room, what you hear to the side of a dipole is the reverberant field.

If you did an overhead graph of a dipole's radiation pattern at low frequencies, it would look like a figure-8 [see - more bass out front & to the back; less bass to the sides]. A monopole has a figure-O [omni-directional] radiation pattern in the bass.

The Stereophile 1998 "Speaker of the Year" was a dynamic dipole called the Audio Artistry Beethoven, designed by Siegfried Linkwitz. Go to this address and you will find an in-depth description of dipole bass: http://www.linkwitzlab.com/rooms.htm

You can also find an excellent but less technical discussion of dipole bass at Gradient's site (the Revolution uses dipole bass loading). Be sure to click on the link to the picture of the bass radiation pattern on the second page: http://www.gradient.fi/En/Products/Revo/Revo1.htm

Hopefully these sites will establish that a dipole is indeed directional in the bass.

Now, I'm sure you'll agree that one of the advantages of a horn is that its directional nature minimizes room-induced colorations. Well, dipoles have the same thing going on with their directional bass - they have significantly less room-induced colorations.

Mind if I try to bolster up my assertion that dipoles have similar direct and reverberant fields?

I said that with a good dipole the direct and reverberant fields sound pretty much the same. Okay, this is easy to test. Go to your Maggie or Sound Lab dealer and turn the volume up louder than normal. Walk into the next room, leaving the door open. Does it sound convincingly like live music is going on back in there? From outside the room, all you can possibly hear is the reverberant field. If it sounds realistic, then the speaker's reverberant field response is very good. By the way, Klipschorns are also very good at this, because their full-range horn loading maintains essentially the same radiation pattern at all frequencies.

As an example of the reverberant field, consider this situation: You're walking past a night club and you hear saxaphone music coming through the open door. You don't even have to look inside - you know instantly if it's live or if it's Memorex. All you can possibly hear through the open doorway is the reverberant field. With live music, the reverberant field sounds right. Over most loudspeakers, it sounds wrong. One of the most significant but most often overlooked factors in the difference between live and reproduced sound is the reverberant field. Papers published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society decades ago established the correlation between listener preference and good reverberant field response, but this has been all but forgotten.

I can't think of any arguments in support of my 3rd assertion in my post above, so I'll pass on that one for now.

Just for the record, many planars are indeed capable of substantial output below 100 Hz. Sound Labs and Maggie 20's go down into the mid-20's, and can shake the room, as can the dipole Beethovens mentioned above (which go down to 18 Hz). The dipole active Gradient Revolution system demo'd at the 2001 CES easily went down into the lower 20's, and had by far the most natural sounding bass I heard in any of the smaller rooms (and better than many behemoth direct radiator systems).

Frankly, I don't think placing planars in the middle of the room is necessary (or practical). Perhaps we have had different experiences?

Also, I have heard many planars that have superb imaging and do not sound the least bit "thin". Just like there are horn speakers out there that do not "honk"! I will admit that it takes more effort to get excellent imaging out of a planar, but you also get a greater sense of acoustic space and ambience. A diffuse, well-energized reverberant field is desirable in the concert hall, and in the listening room as well. Again, this from published research.

I gotta ask one clarification. I'm not clear on just what the "ONE advantage" of planars is that you concede. Hey, I gotta trumpet and celebrate any little point in our favor here!!

Hey Sean, I'm having a blast. Thanks so much for writing back. Like you, I invite reply from anyone who wishes to offer correction or a differing point of view, and I will try to offer them the same respect you have.

Kindest regards,

Duke, nice post. Nothing to add, except to remind you that even though a large panel does manage to "shake the walls" at 28cps, they still do not have the piston action of a great 12 or 15" woofer system, to give the "slam in your gut" bass delivery.
A woofer assembly like the one used in the Infinity IRS V or the many great subs that have been made with proper attention to ideal dampening Q ratios, is the only thing that can give something like "The Sheffield Drum Record" its proper dues. I wish it were'nt this way, because the only way that I have found to integrate the ESLs and the subs sucessfully is to run the panels full range and then overlap the subs. Just a thought to those that want it all in a system. When Levinson brought the HQD to the shows in 78, I think he really did have the right basic idea that stands to this day, at least in concept........Frank
Thanks for jumping in there Frank. You made the same point that i would about large panel's having "reasonable" (albeit very good quality in terms of being quick and tight) bass but nothing in the same league as an array of large dynamic pistons that are well tuned.

It takes both surface area and displacement to move a lot of air. Panels simply lack the excursion capabilities to do this unless you have a LOT of them. Having said that, i've never heard ANY panel type speaker ( planar, ribbon, e-stat, etc...) that could give you chest compression let alone sound clean attempting to do so.

As to the comments about low frequencies NOT being omni in some designs, that goes against all of my audio education. This is NOT to say that you are wrong ,it is impossible or that i know everything. I am surely just as "pea brained" as anybody else ( and maybe even moreso ) on a more than a few subjects. I'll have to do some digging and see what i can come up with using various resources.

While i will look into the examples that Duke was so kind enough to present, i dislike having to rely on someone trying to push their own product as the sole source of info on the subject. I hope that you can understand where i'm coming from on that one Duke. If anyone can come up with some "unbiased" sources of info, PLEASE post them so that we can all learn from them.

As to what the advantage of dipolar bass response was, i was trying to make clear that a standard "front loaded box" will ALWAYS have to deal with unequal pressure in the room. The dipole, when situated near mid room, will have relatively equal loading and pressure drops both fore and aft. In effect, this cancels a LOT of the loading effect of the room and can offer truly outstanding "clean" and "linear" bass reproduction. Kind of like having even weight on both sides of a well balanced "teeter-totter" (sp ???). Everything remains balanced so long as there is no outside interference. Sean
Point conceded, Frap - a first-class brace of 12's or 15's will indeed outslam a big panel.

I agree with you that very good results seem to come from running the panels full range and then using a low-Q sealed sub to add the ultradeep bass. This preserves all the superb pitch definition the panels have to offer. The REL's come to mind.

Sean, I have yet to hear an electrostatic or planar magnetic that can displace enough air to give you that solid chest-whump that a big dynamic can. However, a dynamic dipole (using say a dozen or so 12" woofers) can do it.

I don't blame you one bit, Sean, for wanting information on dipoles from source besides some guy selling them. And if I have come across as pushing my product, then I owe you all an apology. I believe in dipoles, and I've tried to articulate their advantages because they aren't common knowledge.

Just for the record, my background is that of an amateur speaker builder, not a salesman. I'm not blowing ad copy at you - I'm telling you things I learned over the course of 20 years of seriously studying and building loudspeakers. My intention was to one day become a manufacturer (which I almost did), but when I encountered a particular speaker I hung up my table saw and became a part-time, in-home dealer.

Sean, if you would like, I can find for you papers published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society that are the basis for many of the things I talk about. I didn't want to come across as some kind of name-dropper by tossing out references left and right. And frankly, unless people are really going to look them up, I'd rather not go to all the trouble to dig them out. But I understand your skepticism of claims made by a dealer, so if the references would help please let me know.

Again, I enjoy very much engaging in such dialogue. Thank you, Frap and Sean. Until next time!

Kindest regards,

Audiokinesis point, that the bass of dipoles is NOT omnidirectional as well as the reasons he gave for it, (cancellation of out of phase front and rear waves) is common knowledge here in Europe. The reason for that may possibly be, that electrostats, at least until about 10 years ago, when horns again became interesting, were the speakers of choice, if you wanted to have anything resembling a live jazz combo or chamber music. And since the chance to hear anything really loud would send the police to you though the kind graces of your neighbours, they did also fine with orchestral music.
Furthermore, Audiokinesis is right on the money maintaining, that when with dipoles the direct and reverberant fields sound pretty much the same, you've got them set up well. I should know. I've been playing
around with them for more than thirty years.
Whereas I will contest Sean's statement that most stators don't have much output below 100hz, I fully aggree with him, that it takes " surface area and displacement " to move a lot of air. Hence my idea of using "walls" of stators, in fact 6 on each side and stacked, to try to solve this problem. In fact it did not, until with the help of a pair of old Maggie bass panels and three different sets of subwoofers and much agonizing in trying to blend and voice it all, I finally had the problem licked to my satisfaction and the legs of my pants flipping, when sufficient bass energy was around.
As you've probably guessed, if you've bothered to read until here, I am not a technical man at all. I prefer to find out things for myself by trial and error and the only thing on earth I trust are my own ears, which (masochistically perhaps) I regularly immerse in live music.
Cheers to all,
Well, Detlof, beat me to it on the question of stators' bass directionality!!! Fortunately, for I couldn't have put it better; my experience is identical (down to the police visit).

Another small point: I had good dispersion in the mid-highs but also good imaging with very narrow e-stators (~1 ft in width, 7ft high). Never managed to add a sub, so bass was clear but intensity was lacking.

BUT, coming back to Herve's question, I DID listen to Finals yrs ago, BUT memory hardly serves: a)I don't remember those being hybrid / b)they were driven by a SS (Krell?? Sphinx?? something like that) /c) the music was definitely classical (cd: Brahms 1st piano concerto) and...
I have retained an aural image of holographic, plush sound.

Very vague, I know. Sorry!
You guys just blew me away! This is the best thread I have come across since I've discovered this site. Thanks one and all for sharing your experiences.
Please remember one thing guys ( and "gurls" ): I am basing my statements on personal experience and what i've been able to learn from other "reliable sources" over the years. As such, i have no first hand dealings with any of the Sound Labs or others mentioned here that supposedly go quite low with solid output. I have heard "big" Maggies on more than a few occasions and i would say that they are a 50 Hz speaker at reasonable listening levels.

Part of the problem with panel's is that bass extension is compromised as the volume is increased. Trying to achieve both ( once again ) requires excursion and surface area.

I think that this is one of the very reasons that MANY people shy away from panels or are normally considered for "low to medium" volume installations. Their lack of sustained SPL capability and bottom octave performance become quite obvious after just a bit of listening. While it is possible to achieve those goals with the better designs ( according to what you folks are saying ), it obviously costs quite a bit more than what many folks feel comfortable paying.

Don't get me wrong as i DO like panels. Like i said earlier, my "big" system will consist of stat's on top ( and maybe mids too ) when i finally get it done.

In response to Detlof, you're just a "one of a kind". Believe me, i mean that in the most sincere and fun way. How many other people do you know that would go to the lengths that you have in terms of being in "planar & plasma heaven" ??? Definetly an "audio nut" and maybe even just a "nut" : ) I would REALLY like to hear and see "Frankenstein".

As to Duke's comments, i don't think that you have ANYTHING to worry about in terms of being a "product pusher" or a "name dropper". You've always made your situation VERY clear while offering a solid take on the situation and doing it in nothing less than gentlemanly fashion. If you don't know Albert, you two should hook up and "tip a few". Birds of a feather : )

My comments about finding "unbiased" sources of info were not aimed at you or any specific manufacturers, i simply meant what i said in general terms.

Like Tubegroover said, this thread has been both enlightening AND great fun. Let's try and make 'em all like that : ) Sean
Tubegroover you've hit the nail on the head. I too love this thread and I'm learning from it.
Sean, I'm surprised that you think of using electrostatic panels just for the highs. An interesting thought. In my practical experience, I've found ALL ESP's I've every listended to somewhat lacking there. As for your thoughts ad personam:
Your diagnosis is right of course: When I was a child, they used to say that there was nothing crazy enough, which I would not try. So there you are...and ahem, its a Golem, not a Frankenstein and drop me line, if you should ever hit these shores. Though you seem to tackle your goals far more rationally than I prefer to do, we seem to be after the same thing and that is what counts.
Cheers to all and happy listening!
Sean: having lived with planars & e-stats for 12 yrs, I too would dare advise against yr having expectations from the highs -- especially as new media can go well over 20kHz.

The mids& mid-highs are very fast, granted, but until two yrs ago (when I changed from stats), the +15kHz region couldn't reach conventional speaker levels: witness, Detlof, who uses plasma for the upper highs.

A related subject is placement; with stats firing along the long side of the room, I have been happiest without toe-in at all. And yes, I do sometimes listen to jazz & blues apart from classical. I suppose Detlof, A-Porter or Duke, would be among the resident experts on the placement...

Greg you are right about the toe-in, with stators on the long side of "shoe-box" like rooms. I am just using a very tiny amount of it and another thing should be mentioned, that with stators the distance to the side walls is uncritical for all intents and purposes. Another advantage of dipoles, which is not to be underestimated.
Detlof, now that you mention the side walls issue, I remember that the narrow stats were standing ~10 ft apart centre-to-centre and two ft from the side walls. Eight ft into the ~23ft room -- i.e. not far from your present set-up (between 1/3 & 1/2 into the room).
Yes Greg, how does the saying go? "Great ears hear alike " or something like that, no? (-;
One of a handful of speakers that stood out at the last CES was Finyl(?). Their HT set-up was truely outstanding offering a punchy low-end with typical sizzling upper freq sounds. Sonics were well balanced, and their relative low-profile, large soundstage was very suprising! I like this speaker alot!

You folks mentioning the proper toe in angle might be interested in my findings.
On running the ESLs along the long wall of a 23'X 14' room, I find the best compromise to be 36 inches off the wall minimum, with a slight toe-in. Roughly halfway to the point where you would have them be a direct line to your ear, at a dead center seating position. While more upper treble detail can appear to be had at the full toe in or direct line pattern, there is somewhat more listener fatigue, and less overall enjoyment, if you do.
Another benefit of halfway toe-in is that it buys you more distance away from the backwall, possibly another 8 to 10 inches.
I do beleive that using the short wall, and getting the distance of the room in your favor is the more optimal way to run most any speaker. I think Stereo integration occurs better at 20 feet then at 10. Anyone have an opinion? Might make a good thread..........Frank
Interesting thoughts, Frap. In a rectangular room I generally prefer to place the speakers along a short wall, and to sit well back away from them. To me, this sounds more like what I hear in a concert hall.

I think there's a reason for this - you see, in a concert hall, for everyone except perhaps those in the first few rows, the reverberant field dominates - that is, more sound power reaches the listener's ears via the reflections than direct from the instruments. Typically in a concert hall, the reverberant energy dominates by a huge margin - we still get our directional cues from the first-arrival sound, but the timbre is greatly enriched by the reverberant field (which also gives us the feeling of huge acoustic space). Indeed, the concert hall's feeling of velvety lushness is the product of a powerful, diffuse reverberant field. See Pisha & Bilello in the September 1987 issue of Audio magazine.

When we listen "near-field" (say a few feet from the speakers), the direct sound dominates. Proponents of nearfield listening claim that the recording itself already has all the reverberations you need, and any added by the listening room are distortions. The problem is, the ears expect for the reverberations to come from all around, not from the two points of origin of the direct sound. So while nearfield listening can give you holographic imaging (including depth), I get more of the "feel" of live music by sitting much farther back, where the reverberant field is dominant, and also where small head movements don't cause significant image shifts.

There is something of a tradeoff relationship between precise soundstaging and a rich sense of ambience - in concert halls as well as in listening rooms!

In my demo room, I have two listening positions - a single chair about 8 feet back, and then a couch about 18 feet back. The soundstaging is more holographic up front, the ambience richer in back. Probably a bit more than half of my customers prefer to listen from the chair, up close, while I usually prefer to listen from the couch - but (just to muddy the waters a bit) it does vary from recording to recording. C'est la vie.
Audiokinesis, in your post of 09.05 you possibly gave me an explanation, why when listening to the Exalibur horn speakers I found them a tad too "polite", i.e. artificial, compared to my rig at home, which in its fairly uniform soundfield seemed to have a closer aproximation to the real thing. I've also experimented intensively with infield listening and positioning myself further away from the speakers, finally preferring a position, which gave me the best holographic soundfield. Since Sean diagnosed me as a "nut" (-; whereas, by no means in disagreement, I would rather call my mental state experimentative and curious, happily moving in fool's paradise, because unhampered by any technical knowledge, I have nothing to lose if I tell you, that for better ambience retrieval, I am experimenting with a pair of Quads, placed at right angles from and right next to my main body of speakers, close to the long side of the walls, firing toward each other and with their own set of electronics feeding them. The results so far are quite interesting, IF you apply power to them VERY judicially, first setting SPL for the main body of speakers and then blending the side speakers in very carefully. I was amazed, that the holographic nature of the soundstage practically remained the same, whereas ambience seemed to increase in quite a pleasurable way. I borrowed the stuff from a dealer friend, in order to make this experiment and shall have to give it back, but am sorely tempted to try something similar at a later time.
Detlof, I dont know if you are aware of it, but the great tonearm owner/designer of SME (Alistair Aikman)(dont know if thats the correct spelling),runs 2 pair of ESL-63, not stacked, but just as you described above. It seems that the right angles DO produce the holograph akin to the real event. Check out HiFi News & Record Review on the Aikman interview years back if you have the issues. According to the interviewer the sound at casa Aikman was positively live. This audio superstar can own just about anything he wants. Must be something to it...........Frank
This brings up a question for me (I started the "need wisdom comparing planars" thread)...has anyone tried using two pairs of Maggie 1.6's in the "wall of planars" configuration alluded to? Is this a "poor man's" Mag Tympani?

Or are there better roads to the same end?
Now Frap, that is truly fascinating! I did not know about Aikman nor do I read the the mag you mention. Thanks for putting me one to this. Just goes to show, if you experiment with an "open mind".......just another word for "fools paradise" (-; ...you sometimes get interesting results!
Tim, I don't know, never tried it with Maggies. However using Quads etc, it only really worked, if each pair of speakers has its own amplification, that is, you would have to use either four monos, or two stereo-amps, one per side. Quads, like most stats are not an easy load for an amplifier and hence running two, even on fairly powerful amps, was not a good solution.(I do cascade two specially modified Stax F 91s however, but they run on the Spectral 360, which seem quite unperturbed by this load.) So to really get an advantage out of this kind of setup ( better dynamics, much better SPL ) it soon gets quite complicated and costly. Just think of the extra cabling it takes. Put Perhaps the Maggies are easier to drive. I'd surely try it out, if you have the necessary hardware at hand.
Regards, Detlof
Several thoughts, my system uses Crosby Quad 63's and Entec LF40's. After many years of moving the Quads around my 19' by 29' room, they are currently sitting a little more than 8' from the back wall and about 4' from the side walls, toed in toward the listening position. Demian Martin of Entec has visited my home two times and he feels strongly that any dipile should be a minimum of 8' out from the real wall to insure enough time lag between the direct sound and the first reflection so that the ear does not confuse them, otherwise imaging will suffer. I guess that the same result could be accomplished by attenuating the back wave with damping mayerial; however, in my room that seems to suck the life out of the sound. After much experimentation, I have ended up with two 8" diffusors centered on the wall behind the speakers and a single custom 16" deep diffusor in each corner of the room. I also use 5 of the Argent Room lenses and two custom 16' resonators in the corners behind my listening position.

Even with the subs the Quads do not play at really loud levels, but up to f, they are great at differentiating dynamics. This is particularly true from p to ppp.

I found it particularly difficult to seemlessly mate a sub with the Quads, but am reasonably pleased with the latest Entecs which incorporate less motional feedback than their predecessors (yes, the subs still sometimes outpace the dynamics of the Quads).

Last, the outboard crossover that came with the Entecs was horrible and colored the sound of the Quads. At present I use a teflon cap at the input of my amp and a separate attenuator that is in series only with the subs to set levels.
Hi Fcrowder, your findings go parallel with my experimenting and I also found, that the Quads should be moved well into the room for a good compromise between holographic imaging and ambience retrieval. I have record shelves with LPs on my back wall from the floor to the ceiling and they do very well as difusors. On the side walls I have those made by Gryphon in Denmark at the critical points of reflection. I also found the external crossovers of the E. sadly lacking and hence never used their highpass side. Seamlessly blending subs with stators is an absolute pain, especially in my configuration. It took me about a year and a pair of old Maggie bass panels, as well as cutting my subs off at the lowest possible frequency and lots of moving around and quite a bit of room treatment, until I was (more or less) happy.
I've never experienced however, that my subs were faster than my stators. But then I never cranked my subs volume up very high. It was the contrary which practically drove me nuts and forced me to try unusal ways, like blending in the the Maggies between the stators and the subs.
Sorry i left you hanging on some questions / statements folks. As to why i'm opting for e-stat's for the tweeters, let's just say i ran across a great deal on a good quantity of small electrostatic tweeter panels made by RTR. While i think that they will work well enough, i can always throw something in their place if need be. I have always wanted to "play around with" some plasma tweeters though and have a very good source for some Ionovac's that are still sealed in their original boxes.

As to mid's and upper bass, i will probably use some large e-stat panels. Possibly something equivalent or similar to stacked Quads. I'm working on that situation now.

I have NO idea what i'm going to do for subs at this point in time. One thing is for sure though, they will be sealed or transmission lines and make use of multiple drivers.

I recently stumbled across ( quite literally ) some very unique RTR subs that were supposedly quite fast and musical in their day, but they are in need of MAJOR work.

I've got the amps that i intend to use along with the preamp and electronic crossover. I'll be tri-amping with mono-blocks, so it should be pretty interesting when all is said and done. Regardless of what i use for speakers or raw drivers, i will have enough power on hand to drive whatever i want. I am a BIG fan of "horsepower" so long as it is "clean". I just have to work on all of the rest of the details now and find some place to put it when it's all done : ) Sean
Sean, congrats for finding those RTRs. Those panels are excellent and I think, they should "work well enough", as you put it. In their heydays they easily held their own against those famed Decca ribbons, were certainly better than the Sequerra ribbons I used later. Unfortunatedly I blew one after the other, with my " experimenting". Weren't they used for the high end of those memorable Servo-Statics, made by Infinity in the seventies? What you're building up, seems somehow familiar. Wished I could hear it, when you're happy with it.
Cheers Detlof
i have owned thiels ,bws,vandersteins,maggies,jm labs,but i keep coming back to martin logans i have owned 7 pairs they must be doing some thing right, p.s. listen to the oydessys