Sounds like you have described Avalon Acoustics with out hearing them. They are known to disappear, even some stereophile reviewers admit this in there reviews which I seldom here them say. But more important then speakers is room placement which truely makes speakers disappear. I would say get the best avalon's you can afford and don't look back, those of us that have them don't and we always go back and buy new ones(when it is time to upgrade of course). It is very seldom if ever that anything bad is said about avalon except the fact that some folks want them and don't have them. Good luck I am sure others will give you suggestion, so now you gotta go out and listen to everything. Regards, Tim the Tire Guy
Every speaker I have had for the last 15 years or so has achieved what you want. The trick is mainly in room treatment and speaker positioning.
The older Totems (Sttaf, Arros), the Reference 3A DeCapos and some of the British speakers like ATCs and Spendors. Good luck
I have a pair of Sonus Faber Extremas and are as transparent as they come. I know I will get told I am nuts for this but properly set up they will actually image behind you at times.
yes the avalons are very good . try jm lab . sound labs with tubes are scary. that is what you are looking for i think. tim why dont you go hear the labs with good tubes?
I agree with Redkiwi. You need to find help in setting up your system. I can only add that analog (records) do it better than digital.
I've always felt the same way, that alot of speakers don't completely disappear, at least my limited experience. I've always considered my listening rooms less than ideal even with acoustic treatment. But aside from the significant effects positioning can do to acheive your goal, good electronics are also important. A better piece of gear can have a way of really getting the sound "out of the box." Another thing I wonder is how significant it is for the driver to be the only thing vibrating in the area, i.e. cabinet resonces may be to blame for messing up an otherwise capable driver for the task, among other things.
My tops are avalon eidolons and audio physics (virgo, avanti, spark and tempo ). The virgo is in a class all it's own for the 2500-2800 range.
A Tube preamp/amp will generally increase a sense of presence as well. Moving the speakers out into the room, and clearing away /covering reflective items helps too.
I agree with a LOT of the above comments but would also add this to the conversation:
Electronics / cabling have more to do with "spaciousness" and the "disappearing act" than you might think.
I have a set of large 4 way / 5 driver towers that have always come across as being exactly what they are: LARGE boxes. I swapped components and cables in this system MANY times and always ended up with a very specific left / right image. Like most others, i simply attributed it to the large baffle area and overall size of the speaker cabinet.
Out of curiousity and a bit of necessity, i swapped a preamp into that system that i had never tried there before. WHAM !!! I had air, spaciousness, detail, warmth, body, projection of imagery WELL out into the room, etc... ALL of the "musical terms" that you read about and hope to achieve some day. Needless to say, i was ecstatic and it taught me a WHOLE bunch about "system synergy"!!! I knew that i really had something when my brother, who was standing next to me some 25+ feet directly off to the side of the speakers as i was listening to Diana Krall's "Love Scenes" said "man, it literally sounds like we are at a live performance and she's out there in the middle of the room. Listen to that stand-up bass". I don't think that my smile could have fit in any "wide angle" lens if someone was taking pictures : ) Sean
I agree with those who talk about speaker placement being the key to the disappearing act that you are looking for. With that being said no speaker disappeared in my listening room the way that the Audio Physic Virgos did. I believe that their narrow baffle design and quality drivers are the reason behind their amazing ability to throw a wide soundstage.
They did not last very long in my listening room. I found them a little bright and a little thin for my taste. There are many others who find what I call bright and thin to be lively and realistic. I now have a pair of B&W 803's and find them to be more to my liking. They do not throw as wide a soundstage as the virgos did. They do seem to present more depth and are easier to listen to. Good luck.
Quite a few do the job nicely... Rockport Merak / Sheritans, Rockport Antares, Pipedreams, Piegas, Maggies, Soundlabs, and quite a few others. The statement above about the importance of the room placement is extremely valid and should not be taken lightly.
Verity Parsifal Encore (with all tube setup)
In the right room, Quad 988/989 can really disappear beautifully. That's what I love about them. You may want to take a look at this month's Stereophile in support of this claim.
i'm newbie so don't take my word as too much...
but my Mirage OM-10 does completly disapear even in my small room ...the technology omnipolar under theese speakers is awsome..they sound really wide even in a 13*20feet room..
and i can't point the speakers at all with the sound :)
i am realy pleased by them ..but again ..i didn't hear a lot of good speakers to be able to compare :p
Any speaker you put on your credit card and then fail to make payments for. ( just thought this needed a little humor).
Of all the speakers I have owned , my current speakers, Wisdom Audio D-75's and prior speakers, Waveform Mach 17's both do an excellent job. Both use active crossovers and the Wisdoms use a rather large Planar panel for 120 Hz and up. Most of my electronics are Audio Research tube gear. VPI-TNT and Wadia Digital
I'm surprised no one has mentioned any ESL (except for the Quads--which do disappear). I find most of the ESLs to do a great disappearing act, when set up properly--and as Sean mentioned used with appropriate equipment and cables. Martin Logan and Soundlab speakers do wonderful disapearing acts.
Aerial 7B's and 6's disappeared nicely as have Proac 1.5's. Excellent smaller floorstanders. My favorite is the Eidelon, especially considering the size difference. Iterations from above; placement, associated electronics and cabling may dictate your success.
Abstract7, no one has mentioned ESLs because although they can and do disappear within a limited sweet spot, they tend to have non-uniform sonic dispersion in other parts of the listening room.
In addition to my ESLs I own a pair of B&W CDM 9NT speakers, which sound great in the sweet spot -- but much more uniform throughout the room.
My Ohm Walsh 300's do a great job in this category.
Many quality small monitors will do that "out of box" thing, Totems come to mind. I have heard very cheap Mission 771s do it. I think beyond driver and x-over design that baffle area and cabinet design have much to do with it. But on the other hand I have heard it from much larger speakers too. Adding a sub with a steep x-over and a quiet cabinet will help with that all around sound.
Sean was also dead on when he talked about a preamp making the big change in his system. The electronics you use will define the limits your speakers will achieve, and many believe the hardest part to get right is the preamp. Maybe Sean will mention the preamp that sounds so good with his large speakers?
Apogee -- The Duetta and Diva not only disappear --- they stand the hair up on the back of your neck !
My two cents worth,I agree with the comments on the importance of room placement and for my other 2 cents,my friend owned a pair of 3.3`s and had great difficulty setting them up to a point where they sounded good.Even after numerous phone calls to NHT and tech support,never could get it right.We threw the manual out the window after the first couple days and tried getting creative but still a flop.He ended up selling them because of this.I am not slamming NHT or anything,just with my experience they seem to be not the most user friendly.
I agree with Catalogwiz - Apogees (I have Stages) do the best job of any speaker I've heard under $10k.
I have Vienna acoustics and Dynaudio,they both do the trick very well.
i think redkiwi and timperry are on the money. placement is everything. i owned a pair of 2.5i's. very hard to place because of the side firing woofer. they never lived up to the audiophile rating (but that is another matter indeed). infact if you look at nht web site 2.5-2.9-3.3 are all for dedicated listening rooms. where you can space them as they were designed to be. i sold my 2.5s and bought merlin vsm-ms. big difference...in sound and price (i have never looked back). unless you have the upgrade bug...try room treatments and placement. if not audition some of the others mentioned.
good luck / oh yes...my vote is for merlins
Audio Physic Avanti Centuries truly disappear.
Some speakers are designed with a more focused dispersion like Dunlavys and with thier angled baffles the NHT. These speakers are designed to address room reflections but are more of a "sweetspot" speaker.
gotta agree on the avalon suggestion.
the "dissapearing act", i.e. sounstaging, imaging, etc., was the main reason i chose avalons for myself. listen to some eidelons with good electronics and you'll be amazed.
Small speakers will do this best. Best I have heard are the WATTs and the ProAc Tablettes.
Two of the three best disappearing acts I've heard were by speakers that are no longer in production.
The first was the Meridian M2. This little beauty used a pair of 5 1/2" KEF woofers and a 2" (that's not a misprint) KEF dome tweeter. This was an active system using an MTM driver layout (well before Joseph D'Appolito's landmark article in SpeakerBuilder), with fourth-order Linkwitz-Riley filters, delay-compensation in the crossover, and a sixth order (assisted) vented alignment. All this back in 1981! This little beast was absolutely holographic - the sound field extended way beyond the plane of the speakers in width and depth. I haven't been the same since.
The next speaker that did an amazing disappearing act was the Snell Type A, not sure which version (again, early 80's). This was a brilliantly designed speaker with the best anti-diffraction baffle ever made. The baffle was a two foot wide, three foot tall totally smooth surface that gently curved back from the drivers, and more or less approximated a large spherical surface. The Type A's were intended to go flush up against the rear wall, not normally a location associated with decent imaging. But on a good Sheffield Lab recording, the room seemed twice as deep. And unlike the little Meridians, the Snells had a very natural tonal balance.
Plato, there is one line of electrostatics that has very uniform dispersion with respect to frequency and a correspondingly wide sweet spot. That line is the Sound Labs, in particular the full sized models. I'd be happy to explain why if you would like.
Which brings me to the third speaker that really surprised me with its disappearing act - the Sound Lab Ultimate 1's. These huge, rigid metal-frame electrostats replicated and perhaps even surpassed the vanishing act of the little Meridian M2's. Once again, there was no sense of room boundaries, much less of speakers in the room.
To put things in perspective, I do not place holographic imaging near the top of my list of priorities. If I had to choose, I'd much rather a speaker get the timbre of instruments right rather than their position. But holographic imaging can be a lot of fun, especially when combined with correct timbre.
Honorable mention for disappearing acts goes to the Martin Logan CLS, the MBL Radialstrahler, the Spica TC-50, and the Quad 63.
for the kind of sound you like with your current setup the norh 9.0's are the best
Magneplanars, 3.6s are the ones to go for.
Martin Logans do. So do Thiel 2.3's with proper placement.
My experience is that whether or not a speaker disappears is dependent on room acoustics, location of the speaker in the room and on the remainder of the system. Any one of these facotors may limit the ability of the speaker to disappear. Similarly, these factors will effect the ability of a speaker to image beyond its outside edge. Having said this, some speakers are obviously better in this than others. The best examples that I have heard are small stand mounted two ways, point sources like the Quads and planar drivers like the Magnepans and Martin Logans.
A related issue that is also revealing of the quality of the system as a whole is where the system places noise. Much of my listening is analog. In a really good system the record noise is localized on the front of the speaker and is not a part of the soundfield. In lesser systems the noise meshes with the sound field. A related phenomena is the ability to move around in the room and have the location of instruments remain stable. For many years, I thought that this was solely an artifact of the speakers and their set-up and that it was impossible to have a sharply focused image and not have it collapse as one moved away from the ideal listening position. Now I am beginning to think that this may be an artefact of the phase accuracy of teh system as a whole. Given phase accurate speakers and electronics it is possible to have sharp image focus which is stable with movement away from the listening position. I had previously experienced this with Beveridge speakers many years ago, but not since until recently.
I'll proffer a vote for the Parsifal Encores (but with Alephs!) too....
Many interesting posts, folks, but my first thought relates to the inaccuracy in the pair-matching process. Image flotation specificity is wildly affected by acoustic loading AND left/right variations in amplitude response, no?
ANY carefully-matched pair of good-sounding speakers, all other things being equal, will image well.
Some manufacturers are exceptionally careful about specing matched pairs (Verity certainly excells here; Snell, and even Boston (!) are famous for tight control of driver response tolerances, whereas some are notoriously poor.
When I realized that even good manufacturers (SEAS, Vifa, et al) will only control tweeters and mids to +/- 1-2dB in non-custom lots, I knew that amateur attempts to make cloned pairs would be prohibitively costly.
Although process controls are improving all the time for driver specing and sorting (crossovers, too), I always wonder if the "critically reviewed" pair actually sound like the ones one is apt to get. I think the most dangerous thing to do is to decide on a speaker pair after home-demoing a dealer's pair, and then insisting on a brand new pair! Most of us (between bouts of tinnitus) can hear
1/3 dB shifts in midrange response over only an octave or two, right? xcept for only SOME of the best manufacturers, there's practically NO WAY you can get a second pair to sound that close to another!
I know that arguments re room loading, driver smoothness, diffraction and phase issues are pertinent here, but I don't think the mirror-imaging inaccuracies should be ignored because they're too difficult to think about!
Just a wee hours thought....Ern
Excellent points on quality control, Subaruguru!
Ultimately, I found driver-to-driver inconsistencies to limit what I could accomplish on my own during my years as an amateur speaker builder.
Now that I think about it, the three speakers I mentioned above all excel in this area. The active Meridians used individually-tweaked amplifiers to set the exact levels of each driver, and if memory serves me right, when ordering replacement drivers they would ask for the serial number because they matched the replacements based on their database at the factory.
You mention Snell as a company that pays special attention to driver-to-driver matching, and in retrospect I'd have to credit the Type A's excellent imaging in part to this.
The Sound Labs have a bias control for each panel that allows precise level matching. I have found that sometimes, especially with tube amps, one channel may be a tiny bit louder than the other. By tweaking the bias controls on the Sound Labs I can dial that vocalist right in to dead center, and the result is much more three-dimensional than using a balance control in the signal path would be.
Fcrowder, I remember well the way the Meridian and Snell placed the analog noise at the speakers, instead of back in the sound field. This made it much easier to ignore the ticks and crackles, much as it's easy to ignore minor audience noises at a symphony concert because they are not spatially intermingled with the music.
You also spoke about being able to move around in the room and have the location of the instruments remain stable. This is something a line source inherently does better than a point source, because the decrease in volume with distance is much more gradual with a line source than with a point source. Of course the speaker would need a wide, uniform radiation pattern to give decent soundstaging from well off-axis. Also, a tall line source will have the same tonal balance whether you're sitting or standing, which I think is kinda neat.
I think the disappearing act is also closely dependent on the source material. I auditioned Dynaudios (the ones with the Esotar tweeter, in the range one up from the Contour, but about the same size and driver complement as a Contour 3.3) with Pass amps and a very expensive CD player (sorry, I don't normally sound this thick but my mind was elsewhere that day, as I tried to fit in a little listening when I should have been working! By the way I am self-employed so I couldn't get fired, which is one good thing... although I have thought at some points of firing myself... I digress), and realised how good speakers, in a good system in a good room, can only do so much. As they normally do, the salesperson put on something that flatters the system, in this case a jazz vocalist (again, I couldn't identify her) with a small group. The sound was excellent and the most amazing part was the "disappearing act". Since I had gone unprepared, the only material I had with me with which I was familiar (although I had not listened to it in ages) was a Denon recording of Beethoven's ninth symphony by the Staatskapelle Berlin under Otmar Suitner which I had in the car. When the CD was put on I couldn't believe what I heard: the orchestra was stuck way out in the front of the room, somewhere in the centre third of the space between the speakers, with really nothing near the speakers, on the outside of the speakers or appearing to come from in front of the speakers. So, on the one hand, a small group and vocalist, sounded as though they were in the room, life-size, totally divorced from the boxes, and an orchestra sounded like it was being heard through a basement window, maybe away from the boxes, but I am sure that such a narrow sound field is nobody's idea of great sound! Yes, the room itself and the placement of the speakers vs. the listener in that room are crucial, the speakers themselves are crucial (although, as it was pointed out, a great many speakers can do the trick, small box speakers or those with a narrow baffle seem to have less difficulty doing so, but that is a generalization and hardly significant), but the one forgotten factor which is paramount is the recording itself. So before you thrash your speakers, make sure they are properly set up and are fed something decent, but if nothing gives you the result you expect, remember the old adage about the sow's ear and the silk purse and realise it may be time for you to move on to other speakers-, at which point you may want to consider a true bargain in the all enveloping, disappearing, boxless category: the Magneplanar 3.6. Although you are the only one who can make a final decision, keep an open mind, audition everything you can within your budget and realise that you often have to accept inferior sound as a price for a superior performance, and, no matter the quality of the playback equipment, you will have to grin and bear it. Don't just listen to the sound of the system, focus on the music. In closing, and I don't want to turn this into an Olympic event, but can most adults hear a 1/3 db. difference? I doubt it, but again at the risk of repeating myself, I only have gold plated ears.
My personal experience with speakers of this character include the Rogers LS3/5a (15 ohm version) and Gallo Nucleus Reference. -Sam
I have the Dynaudio 1.3Se's and I am constanly amazed at how the speakers seem to just not be the source of the music. The sound is so smooth and integrated to the music that I need to close my eyes so that I don't stare at the speakers and try to locate the sound instead of just listening to the music. Now that I have finished all the tweaks on my todo list. It is a real satifying experience. Dale
Audio Physic Virgos. They're very difficult to set up properly, but once you get the set up right, they do disappear. It's very impressive. Still, that's not to say that they are the best out there - I find the vocals on my Virgos not quite as good as my previous B&W Nautilus 805s.
I am still amazed by the kind of soundstage that the old Spica TC50 have. I own a pair of Alon IIs, Hales Sig II and Thiel CS3.5 but every now and then I just have to fire up the old Spicas. Paired with the Quicksilver KT88s or Counterpoint electronics, these things are amazing. Too bad John Baugh left audio.
I recently acquired a pair of Paragon Regents from another Audiogon member......I don't think enough people have ever heard these speakers! So little ever mentioned about them but so much speaker for the money. Paragon gives you the Cardas room measurements and if you at least try it out you will be amazed at what these Regents Will Do!...Of all the speakers to pass through my system the Regents are the only one's that made my wife sit there through an entire disc.
Newform 645's !!!!!
I owned Rogers LS3/5a's for years with Rogers sub. These speakers are legendary for imaging. When I purchased the 645's I hoped they would be close to the Rogers in imaging.
Wrong. The 645's are in a league to themselves. Never have I heard a speaker that continues to image well regardless of where you are in the room. Directly in front of the speaker, the 645's still put the sound between the speakers. In other words, the sweet spot is huge and the soundstage is wall-to-wall and very deep.
I have been amazed at these speakers. Best audio purchase I have ever made.
There is some "snob factor" against these speakers in high-end discussions which, IMHO, is primarily driven by the conventional "retail/manufacturer chain" directed at any "dealer/direct audio business on the web".
Let's face it. Dealer/direct is a very real threat to the huge mark-ups that many audio products have.
Well, the world is changing and it all benefits us, the consumer in the end!
BTW, I have no connection to Newform Research or any other audio company. But I am thrilled to tout any product that is as superior as the 645's are and that has customer service to match.
I personaly have owned Alon, very good very warm and image christal clear. Quads even better but my end all search was with the Wilson watt puppys. If you can afford them and at least 600 watts of power to truly experiance the disappearing act, I would also recomend nordost at least red dawn and pass labs or krell power and the 850 wadia is just fine in its role. Also the new Krells lat speakers are great, best tweeters I've heard.
If pin point imaging is the question, then the NHT 3.3 should do fine. It's drivers are matched to within 0.3 db. Placement is the key as is room acoustice treatment. For placement I would contact NHT. It's also recommended to have a SOLID wall behind the NHTs. For room acoustic treatment, i have seen good info and DIY products on decware.com. Ciao
ProAc response 3 signatures; yes I know these are old, but they are great!, otherwise JM labs Utopia.
This system has a huge, multi layer, transparent soundstage. This image has a very realistic sense of depth, width, and height. It really helped when I set them up along the long wall of my room and good some room for them to breath. Setup is very important to get a good image and soundstage with any speaker.