Which speaker is the master of IMAGING ????

My jaw has only dropped with one system. I was at the Home Entertainment Show in NYC last summer when I was floored. It was the Legend Audio 'The Legend' speakers powered by Legend Audio Nirvana 100 watt Tubed Monoblocks.

OH MY GOD! Till this day, I get chills just thinking about the experience. It was like there was an entire stage filled with people and instruments right in front of me. The best part was when I took my eyes off of this stage to look at the speakers,,,,,,,,,,,,YOU WOULD SWEAR THAT THEY WEREN'T EVEN ON. I have heard other speakers that have exceptional qualities in other areas but I haven't imaging like that since that day.

Any other great imaging speakers out there?
If these are the little two-way design that they sell, i agree. It may be the finest "baby sized" speaker on the market. The funny thing is, these use drivers made by Focal. For those that don't know who that is, Focal is the same company as JM Labs. As far as i'm concerned, Legend could show JM how to make better use of their own drivers : ) Sean
Sound Lab.
I was really floored the first time I heard a pair of Vandersteen 2CE Sigs. I actually kept looking around the room to "find" the other speakers. I have heard speakers that were bigger and more expensive, but I still have not had the same "in-your-gut" response that I had from them.
The best imaging I've heard was from the Intuitive Design "Denali", shown at CES 2002. Gave me goosebumps. Nope, I don't sell 'em.
The best imaging I've ever heard comes from single-driver speaker systems. The true point-source radiation is a key factor, in my opinion, combined with the lack of passive crossover problems. However, single-driver systems have a limitation in low bass response, rolling off at about 40Hz on the bottom end.
I agree with Sean about Focal drivers. Another excellent adaptation of these drivers is the Rosinante Dulcinea speaker. A 2-way stand-mounted monitor that does it all, with the exception of very low bass. Still, in the right room they can go down to 35hz. They're not picky about set-up and at 91dB efficiency can be driven with a low-powered amp. I use a 13 watt Art Audio Diavolo SET amp in a 20' x 23' room and only have to turn the volume to the 9:00 position.

These are hand-built by Ric Cummins, the inventor of the Argent Room Lens. They are hard to come by on the used market since those who own them tend to hold on to them they're so good. You can take a look at them on the Rosinante website at www.roomlens.com. I don't work for Ric, just love his speakers and cables!
Wilson W/P 7's. They also make use of Focal drivers on the top end.
Spica TC50 and Quads have superb imaging. Also, I've heard a few single driver (Jordan, Fostex, and Lowther) speakers with great imaging too. Single driver speakers usually have more precise imaging, depending on size and execution. As a general rule, small 2-way and smaller single driver speakers have better "imaging" than larger multiple driver speakers.

Furthermore, I've never heard a speaker with 3 or more drivers produce imaging that was convincing. They all seem to distort scale and proportion, albeit while playing louder over a greater range.
A few years ago, I heard the MBL 101s (the watermelon-shaped speakers) with a single sub driven with the-then-top of the line VAC CPA pre and a model of the Vintage amps. On an orchestral recording, musicians each had their own little 3D spot where they sat. When you walked towards the speakers, none of the their positions moved. Once you were past the front line of the speakers, still facing forward, the first lateral rows of musicians were BEHIND you, just like you were walking past them in real life with you moving closer to the woodwinds. The hairs on the back of the neck went up then! Uncanny and WAY outta my price range! Also, not even close on solid state, so much so, I don't recall what was used.

Sean. Interesting comment on JML and focal drivers.Every JML speaker I have heard has a distinctive sonic signature that's recognizable throughout their entire speaker line.Funny... how other speakers employing that driver sound so much better.I have to concurr with TWL regarding single drivers as a "point source".Most single driver speakers have the ability to completely disappear in the room regardless of the size of the cabinet employed.The older Tannoys with their dual concentric drivers are a good example of that analogy.The music just floats in the room with nothing sticking to the speaker.An amazing illusion when you can make a box the size of a refridgerator disappear.
Ecclectique: I agree that JM's have a very specific "house sound" to them. Then again, i've always thought that there were two ways to design a product. One is to try and make it as "measurably accurate" as can be made at that given price point. The other is to "voice" a product for a specific sound that the designer likes or thinks sounds good. If the second approach is taken and the engineer / designer is consistent in these thoughts, their product will have a very distinct sound. Enter the JM Labs, etc.. type of products. As mentioned, i don't personally like that sound and i find it highly coloured.

The only other remaining way to design a product is to build something that works and throw it on the market. Manufacturers that do this are not hard to find as they leave plenty of evidence behind. A perfect example of this is Bose. When switching between various models in the product line, each speaker sounds different from the next. As such, which one is "accurate" and / or which one "sounds good" ???

I recently demonstrated this to a salesperson at Best Buy and it got them to thinking. By the time i left out of that store, the salesperson had run me around the entire audio department asking me about various products, how they worked, what my thoughts were on different manufacturers, various cable designs, etc... It was both enjoyable for me as finding someone in such a position that wants to learn is rare and enlightening for him, as he could now better understand some of the things that his ears had already told him years before. I turned him onto Audiogon and have the feeling he'll show up here sooner or later : )

As to your comments about point source speaker designs, i too am a fan of these. While they have their limitations ( that's why i have several very different systems ), they can do some things like no other speaker system. Sean
While I really like the Legends, it's more for their tone than the soundstaging - not to take anything away from that.

Recently, Sufentanil and I auditioned a pair of Totem Arros that soundstaged like nobody's business. I was on the other side of the room(15 feet away), and basically behind them, and they were still imaging like a laser beam. I was floored, and I don't get floored so easy.
Joe: I agree that the Totem's also offer very good imaging / soundstaging. Then again, Vince knows how to work with baffle size, driver arrangement, etc.. in order to achieve this.

As to the comments i made about the Legend's, i only listened to them briefly under show conditions with an all Legend system powering them. The sound was VERY spacious, full-bodied and dynamic for such a small speaker. I'm sure that having a system that was built to work as a whole surely didn't hurt any : ) Sean
Sean, I agree with you about Legend. I hope I didn't come off in any way as not being crazy about their speakers, as I do think they sound very good.

In my mind, the biggest crime on the flip side of what most of us complain about as far as the Stereophile Recommended Components List(grade inflation) is the Legend Starlet integrated amp.

As many around here know, I am not the biggest fan of the 6550 tube sound, but Legend really does something special with this amp. What gorgeous sound! I think it is probably the best 6550 sounding amplifier I might have ever heard.

Class C?!? If that amp is Class C then that whole list desparately needs to be rebalanced.
The best imaging speakers I've heard were the MBL's in an all MBL system. While they also had some very excellent other qualties, they seem to have a serious problem integrating the bass region with the same quality that the rest of the system does so well.
At the HE2002 show, didn't Legend have the lights turned out in their room to make it very dark. If so, this could partly explain a better perception in imaging. Just do the same or close your eyes while listening to any speakers.

It was a smart idea by whichever manufacturer did it , if not Legend. However, you have to discount this effect when honestly trying to compare speaker imaging. One other "trick" that sometimes works for imaging is to leave the speaker grill on versus off. Without the grill cloth, some people's eyes gravitate too much toward the drivers and perceive less imaging than with the grill cloths on.

As for the specific question, I think Audio Physic speakers are masters of imaging. Surprisingly, I think the huge Dynaudios disappear amazingly well (they should for the price). Other favorites for imaging are Spendor, Spica and a company once called MCM Audio who made a model called the Focus .7 speaker.

FWIW, that MCM Audio speaker is still the best I've heard under $2500 and better than many well above that. It sold for only around $1,100 new and I recently saw a used one at a dealer for around $300 (amazing steal). If anyone knows what happened to the MCM Audio guys, I'd be very interested to know if they are still working in the industry.
The Merlin VSM is among the top tier of speakers I've heard that image extremely well, they can absolutely disappear, I'll attest to that ;^). I don't believe in best in the absolute sense so I won't say they are but I will say I haven't heard better. I own them, the system has been optimized over a 3 year span so take that for what its worth. I mention them because they aren't included and they are MUCH better than some of the ones noted above that I have listened to extensively. What they also do is image well off axis. The "sweet spot" is less of an issue with these speakers. And of course they are a 2-way which lends itself better to this area of performance.
avantgardes after playing hifi for more than 20 years
I would love to get my hand on those Legends. I would just have to say they were the most enjoyable speaker I ever heard- which is all that matters to me. I wish they were a little le$$.
Heard the JM, Dynaudio, Magnepan, Vandersteen,Totem, Merlin, Spendor,... and I own Virgos. All are great speakers. But the Spica Angelus really does something different when it comes to imaging. It is really a standout in this regard.
I am suprised the Legends don't get more press. The one review I read seemed so-so. I am ashamed to admit I let the review dicourage me from seeking out a dealer. I heard them at a NYC show with the little integrated and they also sounded great.
this speaker looks the same!
Magico, by far.
I guess this jaw dropping thing is contagious. I saw an ad
posted on Audiogon for Audio Sound Labs Episode 5 Full-Range Planar Loudspeaker System. After doing some research, I found the company located in Montclair California, and they were able set up a demo. The system set up included Mark Levinson Mono Amps & Levinson Preamp with Sony's Top SA-CD1 Super Audio CD Player. I've never heard anything like it! When the music began, the physical aspect of the speakers suddenly seemed to vanish, it was as though, an area widened in front of you right before your eyes and ears, it was astonishing and incredible. The speakers are a work of art with an amazing sound to match.
Just had my new NEAR M50's arrive 2 weeks ago and they are outstanding in the imaging department. They are modified with the new drivers and I had them made with Cryo'd OTA.

Am reworking the XO's so it should even further enhance imaging and soundstaging.

I use to think that Magnepans were the elite until I found the NEARs and did A\B testing. The NEARs are more revealing also.

Wish Bill Kietyka would start producing commercially again as these babies will have a permanent place in my system till the time I go to the great gig in the sky!

Happy ;istening and I hope you find what I have in the future!
The Von Schweikert VR 4 HSE III, which is the latest incarnation, is a good immaging speaker. It imparts a feeling of width and depth, with space around the sounds it creates. This allows for an almost holographic representation,(I know that mixing video and audio are patently unfair), but given the subject matter, why not?
The tweeter (a fair resempblance to Ashley Judd's nipple) is responsible for some unusual happenings here.
The tweet operates from 500hz to over 40K. That implies that it offers a variation on a theme of the quad electrostatic, with its higher frequencies coming from the middle, and lower moving away. A concentric presentation . This can be a very pleasant experience. What really makes the case is the way the speakers are almost a second thought during some of the music. They become invisible to the ear. Anyone who has experienced this can chime in and agree, becaue it is one of those unique moments we all experience from time to time in audio.Another candidate, with very different technology, is the Nearfield Acoustics Pipedreams. I esperienced several configurations of this product, and decided that the constant, the most striking benefit, the place where it actually destroys the competition, is in micro and macro dynamics. Soundstage is larger than life somewhat, but no more out of ideal than the real experience in one room, of live music compared to another. The speakers are killer. They deserve more marketing attention from the professional level than they are currently getting.
Best Regards, and good luck.
Larry R. Staples
If you "really" know what imaging is. The best at it is the VMPS RM40.
Best imaging I ever heard was a pair of Orignal Quads driven by Futterman OTL1's.
Bose 901's. Gives the "up-chuck" imaging!
I'm about to embark on the "final frontier", room treatment.
My Meadowlark Blue Herons are the most coherent speakers I've had in my own system, but my 21' x 31' essentially unfurnished basement listening room is very live with significant slap echo problem. It'll be interesting to hear the improvement in imaging from dousing all first order reflections (including ceiling) as well as placing diffusors behind the listening position (front corner bass traps as well). My hope is, after investing about a third what I paid for my used speakers, I'll finally be able to hear how they REALLY image. I'd appreciate comments from any who've successfully taken this approach to maximzing imaging (among other qualities)
Avalon Eidolons driven by Rowland Model 12s is the best I've heard. The soundstage was gigantic. Depth, width, height were all very realistic. In a choral piece (Cantate Domino), not only could you easily distinguish the left to right position of each singer, you could tell which singers were on risers.
The best I heard was Kharma driven by Tenor amps with all Meitner digital and SME analog thru a Manley Steel Head phono set up with all the cables Nordost Valhala. I wet myself.(drool)
I agree with Tubegroover.

Merlin VSM-Milleniums are truly exceptional in the imaging/soundstaging department. I've had some owners claim you had to spend $20K to get something better.
Don't know about the best, but I bet Spica Angelus are the best imaging you can get (used) for $500 or less. With the caveat that I don't spend much time in hifi shops I have not heard any speaker image better than the spicas for anywhere near their price.
Spica TC50s are phenomenal but with some fundamental flaws i.e. no lows and not much highs either. The TC50s paired with Quicksilver amplifier and a Counterpoint 3000 preamp does many things that my bigger setup (Hales Sys2 Sig, Muse 18, Classe electronics) can not.
I think you could get as many answers as people on this forum. I think this is a 'non-question'. I think if the speaker is of decent quality and setup properly, one should get a decent image from it.

Brentworth bested the imaging even of Virgos.
Acoustic Energy AE1's are image meisters of the first order. They just flat vanish and leave you with the music.Also had a pair of Spica TC60's that weren't to shabby either.
The Peak Consult Incognitos IMHO are the best imaging speakers made. The downfall is you have to pay a hefty price(13k) for the best
The best imaging ive heard yet (for the small size especilly) were the Fulton FMI 80s I just found at a second hand store for twelve bucks...The only coloration I hear is coming from my giddy laughter evry time I hear them
KEF Q1 bookshelf speakers are oddly adept at imaging...
i got a couple of these as Get-By speakers, after i sold my old deftechs and processor to upgrade my processor...

$225 a pop, and they sound in my view, far better than the Definitive Technologys BP2004TLs which sell for $800 each. (and no, it was not the processor holding the deftechs back, ive done side by side comparisons on the same processor with these)

these were origionally get-by speakers but thier performance totally floored me, very suprising.

Anyways, these things image like steven speilberg. talk about depth and pinpoint accurracy.

what started out as a "Get by" speaker has turned into what will probably be one of my favorite and most cherished stereo posessions.
These are 2 modern day speakers that image well.
Ok, you gonna keep us in suspense, or are you gonna tell us which two those are?

After further listening in real world rooms I have to lean towards the Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 7s followed by the Sophias and the Kharmas. Sound this good in a typical room only gets better when the room is tricked-out. The Kharmas and Wilsons are so close that any difference becomes personal. The one element that really impressed me was how much of a difference an interconnect makes. The sound stage that the Valhalla throws when everything is equal and with a push of a button you can go from one IC to another, is not only audible but its dramatic. I trust what I witnessed and what I heard because the demo was on my system and I was given a week to play. Peace and Good Listening , Pat.
Meech33 - Do you remember what recording you were listening to when you had this experience? I was listening to a shop's reference system once and found it very flat and I was in shock at the cost for the sound they were getting. Then they spun the Classic 45 version of Louis Armstrong's St. James Infirmary. WHOA! Talk about imaging and analogue over digital...it was religious. I always liked Armstrong but I never realized how much he truly deserved to be the american legend he is until that day. It wasn't the speakers nearly as much as the recording. That sound has been the dragon ive been chasing ever since.
Souljasmooth, great post! So someone else is familiar with the Peak Incognitos! I got a pair after hearing them at the 2003 CES. One of the top 4 sounding rooms at both shows, I.M.H.O. I'm running mine with Atma-sphere gear...their impedance is a great match for OTL amps (7 ohm, never dropping below 6.8 ohm!) Sound staging, both location and depth is amazing. But the clarity and separation is where these speakers really shine. The way that the Incognitos present female vocals and especially the way that they can separate and clarify vocal harmonies still defies my belief. The Peaks transcend that magical audio threshold presentation from "they are here" into "you are there"!
I think a lot of people feel as you do. The Legend system is an eye opener. But has anyone mixed and matched components? Unfortunatly I can't just buy the whole system. Should I try the speakers? the amp? or the cables?
Two words: Martin Logan
Almost any ESL with the right tube amp.
From a professional POV,my opinion is that the Dunlavy designs are the most accurate designs,and many of the top mastering people prefer them.Bob Ludwig,Denny Purcell,Sony Mastering are some of those who use them.The Duntech speakers,designed 20 years ago,are still used by Ludwig for stereo mastering.If you want to hear detail,these are the real thing.Performance like ESLs,but full blown dynamics. The Duntech's used Dynaudio drivers,and the DAL,Dunlavy Audio Labs (no longer made,bankrupt in 2002) I think used modified VIFA or SEAS drivers.Depending on your dynamic requirements or listening tastes,I would also recommend Vandersteen,Thiels,or the relatively new Usher speakers.(if you don't need high SPL) All Dynaudios need lots of power to really perform. What do you want,accurate soundstage or something larger than life? This is a subjective topic,a brutally neutral,honest loudspeaker will disappoint most people,when they discover how lean/bright many recordings are and poor their room acoustics are! As Tom Holman says:"Film and music is an art,audio is a science" I like many of the ESLs,but they have dynamic limits and bass limitations,although they are more immune to room acoustics.Audio mastering is an obsession of mine,I work in film audio restoration.I still have my Spica SC-50s.They were a remarkable speaker,but were made 20 yrs ago.I prefer sealed loudspeakers,although half as efficent,their bass is tighter and deeper.Audio is a world of tradeoffs.