High End 2017

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by Serious, May 16, 2017.

  1. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Anyone else going?
    Obviously I'll be there all weekend, but this year is a bit special as I will meet @Muse Wanderer there.
    I'll also go to hifideluxe tomorrow. It's going to be an interesting weekend.

    Also seems like there's quite a bit of new stuff this year.
     
  2. pedalhead

    pedalhead Friend

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    I won't be there, but slightly randomly one of my dacs will be (manufacturer needed an extra dac for the show). Hoping to attend next year.

    @Muse Wanderer - speaker shopping? :)
     
  3. Huhnkopf

    Huhnkopf Friend

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    I'll be going since i'm Munich based. Easy choice and every year has been exciting. Looking forward to listening to the Susvara, hopefully again in that closed wooden box (as last year when they demoed that Shangri La Prototype) and not on the open.
     
  4. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

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    Flight tickets in hand and ready to squeeze all the juice out of every speaker setup I can listen to! I will also probably sleep in a hotel in betweeen! Yeah @pedalhead I am still speaker shopping. We had some fun last year speaker hopping at the Indulgence show, but at the time the Utopias were on my mind. Now, I have been speakerless for 8 months already! :eek:

    I might also bring my Utopias for @Serious to measure, but the headphone lounge will not be of great interest to me as I am done for now with headphones and IEMs.

    My main objective is to listen to speakers that I may purchase used or new at a suitable price point. The Andros driven by WM1A will serve as frequency reference and I have CDs with test tracks to sample my own music. Hardcore Wagner, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Debussy etc will rock some systems properly I hope. Furthermore I need to get my mind wrapped up between various speaker configurations i.e. widebanders with or without active subs, BLH, open baffles, multi- drive speakers.

    There will be so many systems that I will certainly have vertigo. In my case, since I now live on a 'hifiless' island, I will have the make the most of it. I miss London audio shops but not the weather!

    The Voxativ room will serve as a good single driver reference for the other systems. I hope there will be more than the exhorbitantly expensive Duo and Pis. I would also like to listen to the Pis without the subwoofer. Unfortunately the original Ampeggios will probably not be at the show.

    Pure Audio Project Voxativ trio is interesting as an open baffle design but in my room these will probably not work.

    Marten are also at the top of my list. Many esteemed members speak highly of these including @shaizada. I am mainly interested in Heritage Bird 2s and Duke 2s as the rest will simply be out of reach even used.

    Gamut speakers - have excellent reviews for their dynamics and tone. Raidho - I was almost going to buy a used pair of these bookshelves last year advertised in UK.

    Larsen 8, Audionote and Devore Orangutan speakers need to be placed close to back wall in order to make use of the room effect so may be ideal for me.

    Vandersteen - Quattro wood and Treo CT. The alignment of the drivers apparently create good imaging. Oceanway are also interesting but their best monitor is active.

    It will be a hectic but great weekend indeed especially in company of an esteemed more speaker knowledgeable @Serious and hopefully other SBAF members. If all goes to plan, I might get some speakers in my room and stop my 'cold turkey' symptoms! :drunk:
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
  5. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    First impressions from hifideluxe

    Like last year I went to the hifideluxe show on thursday. It's a much smaller show than High End so you can easily check out every room in one day. There were 19 rooms in total. My preferences haven't changed much from last year, but my references have. I now almost exclusively listen to my DIY OB speakers with Voxativ drivers.
    I know stuff typically tends to sound better at the end of the show, so first day impressions are likely never the best ones, but I'll most likely focus on High End on the weekend.

    Kii Audio
    Kii Three speakers. Supposedly really awesome. What I heard was not good. I actually expected them to be better. Bass quality was obviously still a small speaker, but tuned to extend very deep. Actually probably extends similarly deep as my 2x15" woofers in the OB. Because of the tuning for fat and extended bass the bad bass quality was much more apparent. It sounded close to breaking when the drum in Hotel California came in. The beginning of Dark Side of The Moon wasn't too bad, though. The small speaker seemed to be able to hit the note, but distortion actually seemed to shift it higher in frequency. Definition and control in the lowest registers isn't something you can expect from small speakers and these didn't have it, either. Deep bass didn't sound deep because of the high distortion. To be fair it's better than other speakers this size, probably mainly because instead of 1 bass driver it has 4. And the directionality in the bass worked - there actually was less bass behind the speakers, close to the wall. Still, room modes in the room didn't seem to be avoided at all.
    But I didn't have high expectations for the bass anyway - small speakers always sound like small speakers, even those that supposedly don't. What was disappointing was how lackluster the speaker sounded all across the board. First up I expected neutrality from this speaker that uses a DSP to achieve a ruler flat frequency reponse. In this room it sounded U-shaped, with a midrange that seemed to be hollow, reverby and slightly shouty at once - it's possible the guy who did the set up fiddled with the knobs in a weird way. It's hard to describe but it sounded really odd. It also lacked any sort of natural dynamics my speakers can reproduce - subtle variations in volume seemingly got lost in the DSP math. As did a lot of subtle information. There seemed to be a disjointedness between the tweeter and the midrange, despite perfect phase response. The treble texture is just different from the midrange and in this case it also seemed to have a "tweetery" sound to it. If I had to guess I'd say they use metal dome tweeters, but I'm not sure. Adding to that is probably Class D amps and DS DACs, but generally the treble wasn't very clean.
    The imaging wasn't too bad, but honestly I expected better. Typically speakers with close to perfect phase response tend to image very well and small speakers also tend to image well, but these didn't have the correctness to the image a widebander or coax can have. The stage just didn't seem to have a real depth.

    I think most of my issues with the speaker can be explained by the need to fit it all in a tiny package, while trying to make the absolute most money. You just can't fit an Yggdrasil, 2A3 SET amp and 2 15" woofers in a cabinet smaller than my CRT monitor.


    There were a couple of rooms that I liked, but none that blew me away.

    I quite liked the Kroma audio room. The speakers I felt were mainly held back by the Scan-Speak Revelator midranges, the tweeter I actually quite liked and the tuning was pretty good off-axis. On-axis it was too bright. Those speakers looked beautiful!

    The TotalDac room was interesting. They demoed the new D150 speakers and subwoofers with an Absolare amp and (obviously) their own DACs in an absolutely massive room. Despite their room most likely being the biggest one of the show, there never seemed to be anyone in it. They seem to use a modified Fostex driver (maybe 4" size, possibly something like the FE-126En with a bigger magnet) in a big open backed horn with an AE TD18H+ woofer. I didn't really like the widebander all that much, but I at least expected to like the woofer. But for some reason the bass seemed to have a lot of enclosure and room mode issues. The driver itself seemed to be better damped, but less agressive and fast than the woofers in my speakers, but it's hard to judge with all that resonant bs going on.

    Quad demoed a new, bigger Estat speaker. I think they're called the Quad ESL-60. About 6ft tall, so about the same size as my speakers. To be succinct I much preferred my speakers, but these new ones have better bass than the older ones. Still not as good as dynamic driver bass.

    Malvalve room. I still don't get what he tries to achieve with his speakers and his headphones. These use an electrostatic tweeter thing that sounds more like a ribbon or AMT - me not likey. This was also the headphone room and I was disappointed to see that nothing changed compared to last year. Dan's Ether stat still sounded bad compared to the SR-009 and I still don't like the SR-009 as much as my modded HD800, despite their amps supposedly being pretty good. I think Voldemike preferred these to the BHSE.

    The Acapella room was tiny! These speakers deserve a bigger room. Why couldn't Acapella and TotalDac swap rooms? This room seemed to be well received as there were the most people in it. I'm a fan of the spherical horns, but not a fan of the ion tweeter. This speaker seemed to have the horn about a ft above my head, while the ion tweeter was slightly too low. Great dynamics from the midrange on up.

    The Tannoy room was the last one I visited. Tannoy speakers have some qualities, but the shouty midrange coloration the smaller speakers had put me off.

    The Prism sound and ATC room. I had high expectations for this room based on the almost legendary status of the ATC speakers, but I was really disappointed. The tuning seemed to be U-shaped and the sound just generally lacked transparency. To be fair it wasn't a bad sound, but it just didn't grab my attention.

    The La Rosita room was probably my favourite. I already really liked the La Montespan speakers last year and this year there was nothing else to beat them for me. I bet the tube amps also sound better than most others at the show, but the DAC with its 384kHz resolution might be a bottleneck (not a fan of things that try to impress with high numbers). These are single-driver BLH speakers based on the L Cao alnico drivers with a Fostex super-tweeter above 8kHz with just a cap as a cross-over.
    Tonally they were actually quite balanced. A bit less bass than I'd like and the BLH added some weirdness to it, but it wasn't too bad. There also seemed to be a lack of lower midrange energy, most likely from the lack of baffle-step compensation. Bass-guitars sometimes seemed almost missing and I love bass-guitars. Otherwise the midrange was quite respectable. Some slight shout on-axis, maybe partly from the driver and partly from the drivers not being flush with the baffle, but it was relatively well behaved, at least until you cranked up the volume. What I didn't like was the super-tweeter integration. It just wasn't natural and you could clearly hear the super-tweeter. It was also set up a few db too high in level for me. The super-tweeter had this clearly audible and ever-present metallic timbre to it that I really hated.
    What really set this room apart was that the overall level of transparency just seemed to be the best. Micro-dynamics didn't get lost, micro-details were relatively well resolved and the overall emotional connection with the music just seemed to be there. The imaging was really good, at least if you ignored the super-tweeter. I also really liked the music selection the guy picked. The midrange just seemed more natural than that of the other speakers, but when it comes down to it I'd still rather take a good whizzered widebander over a single-cone widebander with supertweeter.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  6. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Oh wow, High End was really interesting. Meeting @Muse Wanderer was definitely my favourite part. It was shocking to see how much having a proper speaker reference at home can change your opinion on gear. I didn't care at all for gear that I loved last year, so I'm going to keep this brief.

    AER
    Probably the most interesting part of the show for me. Well, technically it wasn't AER, but JoSound with their Horus speaker. Supposedly a custom AER driver with a half as long voice coil and (I think) a different Neodymium magnet system.
    This one I didn't like at all. I could tell within the first seconds that it was obviously more colored and less transparent than the Voxativ drivers. It seemed to have more resonances/ breakup issues in the upper midrange and treble. A more obvious cone coloration. It was almost painful. I have no idea how the Lowthers compare, but the AERs are supposed to be more controlled than the Lowthers. The upper treble (which is said to be lacking with the Lowthers) felt very extended, though, but it was too bright even. Could be a matter of the shorter voice coil. We discussed at length with the JoSound guy and he kept insisting that the AERs measured flat and that they sounded realistic. Now, I'm not sure if he just tried to defend his product, but they were definitely not natural sounding. He told us about how he switched from Voxativ to AER because the AER drivers are faster. Now, excessive treble will make the impulse response look "faster", but that's not the point at all. If anything they sounded slower because they don't decay as cleanly.
    Even at the proper off-axis angle the upper mids were still to pronounced. I'm really not sure if it's a matter of his custom driver sounding worse than the regular AER drivers, but the AER drivers are said to be more neutral in the upper midrange compared to the Lowthers.

    Denon home theater room
    This was my favourite room at the show. They had free popcorn! No idea about the sound as I didn't check it out.

    JBL
    I kinda liked their two way speaker with big bass driver and horn (4367?). The three way I didn't like (K2 S9900?). Good clarity and dynamics. Tuning was too bassy for me. The crossover point seemed relatively high which results in an almost complete lack of horn coloration and nicely low distortion, but hurts the imaging. They should make a D'Appolito.

    Marten
    I was kind of interested to hear the new Tenor 2 speakers. I know @shaizada prefers his old models. The new ones are basically a smaller Coltrane 3 and it sounded that way, too. The bass drivers are just too small. They distort and sound muddy at medium to higher levels. Both crossover regions aren't coherent. Lower midrange warmth seemed to be lacking on the first day, but seemed to improve a bit on the second day. Otherwise great midrange clarity, but I'm getting a bit annoyed by these plastic things Marten keeps putting everwhere. The just color the sound too much and add too much reverb. It sort of works at making you think the room is bigger than it really is, but they add to much reverb for my tastes.
    The Coltrane 3 wasn't bad, but set up with a lot of excessive bass. More coherent in the lower midrange, but still not coherent in the upper midrange. If you can get over the lower frequencies being below the midrange and the treble being above the midrange the imaging was pretty good. It does get more fuzzy when instruments cover more than just one driver.

    KEF
    I was looking forward to listen to the new Muons, but I missed it. I got to hear the other two speakers, though. The KEF LS50 wireless seemed to have a more balanced FR than the regular KEF LS50, but I was shocked at how insanely crappy the bass was, even though the rep insisted that the bass was really good. Why even demo a tiny speakers with bassy electronic tracks? The Kii Three would beat the crap out of the bass on those.

    Tidal
    Heard the La Assoluta. Definitely not the absolute. Diamond driver timbre was really obvious to me on these - it just doesn't sound natural. You could also hear the filters. I kind of liked how they managed to control the bass, though. Probably because it has tons of passive bass woofers on the back. Also why have the listening axis at 115cm?

    Voxativ
    One thing that needs to be appreciated more is that all the Voxativ speakers have their driver at approximately the same height - the right height for proper soundstaging. The Zeth/Pi are way too thin for me. This is despite the overly warm sounding Voxativ amps. The Zeth bass and Pi bass sound way too bloated and lack clarity - no idea why they cost so much. They don't mate well with the widebanders. They really do sound like subwoofers and not like a proper bass. Might be the RiPol essentially adding mass or something, I really don't know.
    The Ampeggio Due is pretty darn good. Still a bit thin, but the large baffles really help a lot in this regard. And the bass went pretty deep, but obviously still a BLH, which is actually less coherent than a properly integrated woofer. This could actually be considered a full-range single driver speaker. The field coil adds some magic that the magnets lack. The wooden cones have a different midrange timbre than the paper drivers and I think I prefer the wooden ones. And the wooden ones probably have a much more solid bass.
    The Ampeggio Due receives the official "Not Crap" award from me.

    Zu Audio
    I kind of like their speakers. They have a unique sound that I like, actually. Their stuff is a bit too unrefined, but FR is still neutral overall. Transparency is not on the level of the Voxativs, but more bass and lower midrange (which is a good thing), because of the bigger drivers with lower efficiency. Not something I would buy, but something I could see someone with certain tastes be very happy with.

    Cabasse
    I was looking forward to their new Sphere speakers, but it was almost impossible to get a good seat. The room was always packed. For some reason they didn't have the bass under control at all. The bass in the room, at least where I stood, had horrible room modes and sounded compressed, despite the WTF OMG bass tuning. They had easily 10db too much bass, maybe 15. I think the enclosure is just too small for the 22" driver to breathe properly. The rest of the sound seemed to be lacking clarity and coherency, but what I liked about the old speakers - the good imaging - couldn't be judged from where I stood in the room. I'm sure the imaging is still great.

    Manger
    The bass integration needs work. Also the driver needs work - resonances in the midrange need to be better controlled.

    Audium
    I already know I don't like their woofer integration. It gives high WAF at the expense of bass quality and realistic imaging. The 4" driver is what I was interested in. It has a tiny whizzer cone and a hollow moving phase plug. Overall still tonally neutral, but with a rough spot in the upper midrange and midtreble. Overall it sounds like the driver is too small for what it's asked for. Lacks the clarity, resolution and effortless dynamics I'm looking for, but in this regard better than the FE83En I had. I also feel this newer driver is quite a bit better than the older one without the tiny whizzer cone and with a fixed phase plug, but I think the hollow, moving phase plug adds a metallic sound to the treble. I really wonder how this driver compares to some of the other 4" widebanders for a small bookshelf speaker with possibly an extra 8-10" bass driver. I have a feeling this is one of my favourite small widebanders actually, it's just that they're all not too great.

    EAR
    Despite me not liking the Rockport Altair speakers this room really impressed me, both with vinyl and @Muse Wanderer's CD. I'm sure their gear is awesome. The EAR Discmaster seems to have a different sound from most other turntables - one that I enjoyed very much.

    Vandersteen
    Rough treble and subwoofer bass, but not too bad overall.

    PureAudioProject
    These are very similar to my speakers. Difference is because of the higher WAF smaller baffle these need a resistor for the AC 1.6 driver. The woofers are modified Alpha 15 drivers which bring the T/S parameters much closer to the Beta 15 that I use. They were in the hall in a pretty noisy area, so hard to judge properly. I'll let @Muse Wanderer comment on the sound as they're so close to my speakers that it wouldn't be fair for me to comment on the sound.


    Headphone stuff:

    Astell&Kern
    Their gear is seriously overpriced.
    The Kann was extremely congested with a claustrophobic staging and lacking technicalities with the UERM.
    The AK380 had too high an output impedance to be used with the UERM, which might not be a bad thing for Andro fans. Treble bit rough, but otherwise would be decent if it was 500$.
    The SP1000 sounded extremely crappy with the UERM - like as if the OI was way too high. No treble and not enough bass. Otherwise it might have been the best of the three.
    I also briefly tried the JH IEMs, but all of them had an extremely colored midrange. And the Layla (supposedly the most neutral one?) with the bass knob turned all the way down still had too much bass. WTF!
    For the UERM the WM1A does a much better job than the AK stuff I heard.

    Focal Utopia
    We got to compare @Muse Wanderer's Utopia to 4 others. His is much older with a S/N in the 1100 range, while the first one we heard had a S/N around 2000 and the 3 others we heard had a S/N around 3000. The 4 newer ones were pretty close with the newest one being the worst (treble was sizzly sharp), but his was special. More neutral with less of a sharp treble, less of a midrange bump and less of a bass emphasis. Definitely the best Utopia I've heard. Could be a matter of burn-in or pad wear, though.

    Sennheiser HE1
    My CanJam impressions still stand. I'd take a modded HD800 or an HE90 over it any day. Definitely held back by the built-in amp and the sabre dac. It was a good thing that I got to hear it with an external dac at CanJam - the internal dac seems to be even worse.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  7. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

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    Munich High End and Munich Hifideluxe show was really interesting and I am so glad that I managed to go. The best part was meeting and spending the whole weekend with @Serious . We had loads of fun listening to all sorts of stuff. My test track, Wagner's Gotterdammerung finale conducted by Solti and Wiener Philarmonic Orchestra, was probably heard a 100 times! Serious got to know it by heart too.

    The 2nd best part of the weekend occurred at Serious' house - listening to his truly sublime speaker setup Friday and Saturday night. My goodness those open baffles with Voxativ widebanders are the key to my understanding what speakers should sound like. Firstly my question about which speakers I prefer has been answered. Wideband speakers rule, no question about that. No multi-drive speaker could equal the coherence of a properly implemented widebander. The problem of course is achieving nicely flat midrange, controlled treble, proper bass delivery and high SPL output during the peaks Wagner's music demands.

    At Munich high end there were very few systems based on a widebander unfortunately. However we got to listen to two contenders for the crown - JoSound AER based Horus and the Voxativ speakers. Voxativ speakers won by a wide margin. The Horus had way too much treble and upper mid energy, that could not be relieved with changing listening position to a more forward position or toeing out the speakers. The AER drivers used were simply too bright with the upper mid shout I have read about so evident it hurts. The coherence was great though with pin point staging.

    Onto the Voxativ room, and I was impressed with the sound from the start with pure unadulterated music with impeccable imaging and coherence. The mids and treble were very balanced and the Due imparted some proper tangible and coherent bass. The Zeth was supported by two subs that bled a bit of bass bloat that suppressed the lower mids. I could only enjoy mids and highs on these. Unfortunately we did not manage to listen to the Pis. I could not use my test tracks and initially chose the same Wagner track by an unknown conductor and without any soprano voice. This Gotterdammerung finale rendition was NOT to my liking but I got hold of the volume button and was ready for some orchestral magic. Unfortunately with the volume upped, the huge dynamic shifts and wide frequencies that needed to be rendered all at once made the Voxativ Due probably distort at high SPLs and the experience was not a good one. So on Sunday we got there first thing in the morning and after lots of hassle managed to upload my music from the WM1A to the TotalDac server. We were ready to savour Solti's version like never before. However the chief designer kept the sound too low in order to accomodate the peaks. Needless to say, the music was sublime at lowish volumes but cut short by an alleged 'corrupt' music file we uploaded. It was a shame, but at least we savoured some good music from the Due's albeit with low volumes.

    As I compare the Voxativ sound to so many multi-driver speakers, I can now understand what sound coherence from a single point source really means. I could differentiate the sound emanating from multi-drive speaker woofers, midrange and tweeter by its different quality, timbre, speed and position in space. Even the KEF speakers had incoherence in timbre quality despite their mid-tweeter coaxial implementation.

    The Voxativ Ampeggio Due sounds fine with 'normal' music but once Wagner Gotterdammerung finale was put on they struggled, unable to keep up at high SPL due to the dynamics of the piece. As I thought about the options I really wanted to listen to back loaded horn speakers with Voxativ drivers but the original Voxativ Ampeggio was not displayed. I got to know that there was a back loaded horn speakers using Voxativ drivers by RDacoustics. This was the real turning point towards the end of the 3rd day as they use Voxativ drivers with two of their speakers. The Euphoria speakers uses a paper Voxativ paired with a 15 incher and front port. Of course they impart the typical 15 inch ported bass bloat bleeding into the midrange. However the rest of the sound was fine.

    The Evolution speaker is a huge back loaded horn I was interested in hearing as this may be the price range I could reach, maybe used or DIY. The sound from this Evolution backloaded horn was definitely NOT to my liking. I have no idea how voices were rendered but it was like being in a warped reality where a soprano was voiced like a deformed mutated monster! Lower strings were also warped in time and space and my brain could NOT filter this incoherence at all. All the tracks I tried were abominable and detestable. The treble was fine and the bass extended nicely but the in between, the fundamentals were wrong. This of course put me off from purchasing any back loaded horn without auditioning. I was surprised that Serious was not bothered by the horn colouration and incoherence.

    What really struck me is that I loved Serious' open baffle Voxativ setup most. When I got into his room listening seat, I could hear the orchestral opening with absolute clarity. Nilsson soprano voice was rendered with precision that was sharp but soft at the same time. The best Wagner soprano that has ever lived sounded alive in front of me. The bass was extended, not as much as the Andros or Utopias, but enough to create a believable fall of Valhalla sound. Alberich bass voice sounded deep and the minor to major shifts were emotionally involving and unbelievably real. I could not stop listening till 1am when Serious' had to get me to my hotel to, you know sleep. After a whole day running around listening to all sorts of electrostatic, panel, multidrive speakers from Marten, to Vox, to Tidal speakers to huge horns and weird contractured towers, the highlight of the day was from 11pm to 1am stuck listening to Serious' speakers.

    The only setup that equaled Serious' is the PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ, that is of course almost a carbon copy of his with a 1st order crossover (serial, two way topology - woofers are in parallel - short path) from widebander to the 15" custom Eminence drivers at around 400Hz. These are priced at 5790 euro (exc VAT and shipping). There are few excellent reviews on the internets like this Dagogo one. Initially I dismissed it and Serious' setup as not applicable to my case due to the close to back wall setup I have not working for OBs. However the magic of Serious' setup is too much to let go. He managed to achieve such clarity, flat FR, pinpoint imaging, delicious bass, quick transients, deep soundstage and connection to music through a simple open baffle. It is like having the FR qualities of the Andromedas and Utopia with speaker staging, imaging and Utopia dynamics, tactility and timbre. The magic of the Vox was even better helped by the 4 15" inch drivers. The bass was seamless, palpable and neutral. The Ragnarok sound was the one I am so used to and of course the Gungnir Multibit has the same Yggdrasil traits I absolutely love.

    Thus after the bad experience wih the RDacoustics Vox horn we moved again to the PureAudioProject in the corner of the hall at the end of the show (I almost missed my plane to listen to these!). These Vox drivers are at a level lower than the ear and we needed to kneel to listen properly. They had no dedicated room unfortunately and there was some noise but we already liked their sound. This time however I was desperate. Here I am after 3 days NOT liking multidrive speakers due to incoherence, allergic to horn incoherence and in love with Voxativ's pure sound. These PAP trio 15 Voxativ speakers sounded HEAVENLY. Despite the noise I could go through my test tracks sampling Wagner, Mozart, Bach, Debussy, Bruckner, Handel... it all sounded just right as in Serious' setup. This may be what I was searching for all along.

    Now I wonder whether an open baffle speaker with 2 Voxativ and 4x 15 inch bass drivers will work in my room along long wall relatively close to back wall. The most I can keep the front of drivers is 60cm from back wall. Serious has tried this setup in his room and the bass below 50Hz fell sharply. However it still sounded good and more open due to lack of sidewall reflections. Furthermore, I am thinking about mounting these open baffles on a custom built wheeled trolley mount to lift the Vox to ear level and enable me to move the speakers forward to help the sound whenever I want to listen. Maybe PAP can produce one for me. I could also move them along short wall in middle of room when alone at home for that one off listening pleasure time that is rare at the moment. Hopefully wheels will not effect the sound. I can always put brakes on them. The more I think about this, the more it sounds right. The speakers are also relatively reachable price wise as these are distributor direct distribution model. Around 6K for the paper Vox driver. They are mounted by user and the crossover can be adjusted by the user too. I would need to increase the price to ?9K for the newer wooden cone Vox drivers. These OB are so good that SBAF should get them in for review - maybe the owner Ze'ev can send a loaner / review pair. I can ask him when negotiating the price for mine if I convince myself to buy them in the near future.

    Special thanks to Serious for receiving me as guest in his house and showing me his magical speaker setup. Truly wonderful music I had to pleasure to listen to and a great person I got to know over the weekend. Couldn't get any better! Was it worth it? Absolutely!

    I managed to find a speaker transducer that imparted a realistic musical experience like no other.

    This might really be the holy grail sound of music I was searching for, the music I was yearning for.
     
  8. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    @Serious were you comparing the hd800 (modded) to the he1 or he90. I have not heard the he1 but I have a friend with the he90 who lives locally and the he90 is one of the very best headphones I've had the pleasure to listen to. Easily better than any modded hd800 on a good tube amp.
     
  9. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    It's a different sound and I wouldn't say one is better than the other. I compared mine directly against the HE90 a few years back, but not recently with all the improvements I've made to it. I haven't heard an HE90 in the past year, so hard to be sure. Sennheiser doesn't bring an HE90 to shows anymore since the HE1. I'm almost certain I prefer the midrange tuning of my HD800 to the HE90 and if you don't then you've probably not heard a properly modded HD800. In fact I prefer the midrange to every other headphone. Mods can adjust the midrange to almost every sound, you just have to know which knobs to turn.
    The HD800 I feel is less clear, but more resolving. Much better staging, too. It also comes down to which HE90. The HE90 I heard a couple years back sounded less soft and more vivid than the one I heard more recently at the Sennheiser booth. Even the best HE90 sounded more soft than the HD800, with a weird blurry bass. It's possible that your friend's HE90 sounds better than those I've heard.

    Keep in mind that I'm generally not a fan of estats, be it speakers or headphones. A good sounding HE90 I would say is my 2nd favourite headphone after the HD800, but really both are equally good, just in different ways. @Muse Wanderer's special Utopia can also hang in there.


    To clarify I didn't particularly like the Rdacoustics speakers, either. The small one (Euphoria) was far too bassy (and not even good bass, despite having a 15" woofer) for me. I know you can adjust the bass, so could be better with the bass turned all the way down, but even then it wasn't even coherent, so I doubt a level change would help much.
    The Evolution was weird. I was impressed by the bass quality from just a single driver, but the midrange was all weird. Part of this I attribute to the weird looking ring around the driver (that both speakers have). I would probably take the Zeth over both of these, but then there's a reason I went for a two way and not a single driver speaker. I might build an Ampeggio copy just because I'm curious as to how it sounds, or when I decide to move on to a flea watt tube amp and it turns out that it can't power the 3 Ohm impedance of my speakers (albeit at about 98db/2.83Vrms sensitivity).
    The downfiring horns help with the coherence in the midrange as the horn doesn't add anything to the midrange, but this also makes the midrange thin, because of the lack of baffle-step compensation. And I thought the downfiring horns, even the Ampeggio Due, don't have the bass impact of an equivalent front-firing horn.

    The PAP Voxativ speaker I thought was really good. Tuned for a slightly warmer, bassier sound than mine. The woofers have a bit of a different sound and I think I actually still prefer mine, but then again my baffles are much larger so the woofers don't need as much excursion for the same level, which reduces distortion. I'd say the woofers have more impact at the cost of some control and extension. The Voxativ driver needs a 10 Ohm resistor and actually also has a coil in series to make it slightly warmer and a big capacitor to protect it from the lowest bass. The basic crossover uses a cheap Mundorf resistor and I'd definitely look to replace it - and probably toss the coil, too. Personally I would experiment with values ranging from 5-10 Ohms as the tuning was a bit too warm for me - think Andro (low OI)/Utopia instead of UERM/HD800, but no resistor would not work with the smaller baffles.* I have huge baffles and have to use the U-frames to get neutral bass. My woofer baffles are effectively 1.6m x 0.8m. Even then once you place them close to the wall all the subbass goes missing. I doubt lack of bass would be a big problem with the PAPs placed 60cm from the back wall.

    *Nvm, would probably not work.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  10. Ice-man

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    Hmm...I use the sdr and EQ with the hd800 and even with a good tube amp I'd still say that the mids on the 650 are better than the 800. And for me, the mids on the he90 are more engaging, natural and enjoyable than the 650 and not by a small margin. But I agree that there is some variation of the the he90 from pair to pair. The amp will also make some difference with the he90 as well. With the hd800 the tolerances are so incredibly tight that there is very little variation from pair to pair.

    I get that the mids are good with the hd800 when properly modded, EQ'd and amped. But I don't hear the mids as "magical" or even "special" really...and not even what I'd call the best aspect of the headphone. The treble extension, imaging, staging and surprisingly bass are the standout aspects of the hd800. That's what I hear anyway.
     
  11. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    I agree. I don't care at all for the stock HD800's midrange, but I think most of my issues are FR related. The midrange itself is extremely well resolved and clean, much more so than the HD6X0. The HE90 midrange, when I first heard it, was magical for me. It took me a lot of time to get my HD800 where I wanted it to be. This is a very personal thing so I cannot really tell you what to do.
    The best aspect of the modded HD800 I would say is how little it does wrong and how seamless it sounds, while this is where the stock HD800 absolutely fails.

    Even then my speakers have now completely replaced the HD800 for me. There's little the speakers do worse than the HD800. Even the resolution is as good or even better I would say. Most importantly they have a less artificial transient response. Call me a Voxativ fanboy, but the drivers are absolutely fantastic and probably the best I've heard.
     
  12. Priidik

    Priidik MOT: Estelon

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    You do sound very exited about these indeed. My experience with widebanders has been that they sound like K701, thus my disbelief.
    Why do you recon the 'commercial' speakers using Voxativ drivers sound inferior to you? Do you use some filtering to tame down the rising response towards treble?
     
  13. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    The Voxativs are very well behaved. The stereophile Ampeggio in-room measurements weren't lying. They really measure like that at the listening position - and they sound like it, too. They do proper treble, without resonant crap or artificial sharpness, but with believable attack/bite/sharpness when called for. Even the upper treble sounds just right to me - not excessive like the HD800, but also not shelved.

    No filtering for the Voxativ driver with my speakers, just a cable. If you were to make it measure flat on-axis and listen on-axis it would sound too warm due to the beaming. The response is nicely flat at about 15° off-axis anyway. That I don't use a filter of course means that the woofers have to have the same sensitivity, but they're close enough in these baffles. It also means that there's quite a bit of excursion in the low bass with the Voxativ drivers. When trying to reproduce a recording I made of thunder at a believable level the Voxativ drivers move quite a bit - because there was a 6Hz fundamental. With most music I don't think this is an issue and I think the effect of "Doppler distortion" has been overstated. I don't really see the drivers moving at levels I listen to most of the time.


    I'm a big fan of OB bass. It sounds closest to headphones. Even big woofers in big enclosures don't sound as good as OB bass to me. Coherency isn't perfect, but coherency isn't perfect with a BLH or a fullrange + sub speaker, either. This is really just the best compromise for me. This is the kind of speaker that gets closest to a speaker that does it all, at least in my opinion. The single driver speakers with no baffle step compensation sound too lean and don't do proper lower mids and bass.

    Something you will realize after listening to good widebanders is how crossover networks hurt the transparency. I even felt with the Audiodata Coax speakers that the crossover removed information from the midrange driver that was present in the treble. An unfiltered midrange is the closest to true transparency to me.

    @Muse Wanderer really put it best:
     
  14. Muse Wanderer

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    There was some discussion on another forum last year regarding the utility of crossover for the Voxativ driver in the PAP Trio15 Voxativ OB.

    A response email posted on the forum from PAP and the designer is as follows:

    If you could please explain something about the Trio15 Voxativ for me ... is the Voxativ driver ran full range or is the Leonidas crossover involved with it somehow?

    I love single driver speakers (crossover-less) and I currently own some Omega Super 7,s ~ which the main reason the Trio15 Voxativ caught my eyes was that they make some of the best full rangers on the market, with that in mind ... it seems a bit perplexing to me that there would somehow need to be a crossover ran with those drivers ... so perhaps you can tell me a little more about how that works with the Leonidas crossover.

    Thanks in advance for your time!


    PAP's response:
    I will add a bit on what is written on our web, re Leonidas.

    The Leonidas is a serial topology whereas the two drivers (two woofers in parallel) and the FR are serial but have a filter schematics that can be compared to first order on each. This specific topology allows a bit of a blend between the two drivers around the crossover point and this blend is just what was needed to soften a bit Voxativ super fast response alongside the Neo woofers. The Neo woofers play very clean mids therefor their integration with the Vox is so successful… We do not use further filters except of a light shaving of the highs (that you can eliminate or change to your preference). This also brings the Voxativ to a sweet sounding zone !

    In general, 4 15” woofers move a lot of air therefor the bass not only sounds deep but also is physically feelable but without the box-air compression… Clean and playing Open Baffle bass… The mids blend a bit with the Vox, making the cross point totally seamless and allowing the Vox to perform just where it excels, the low mids and up ! All is in perfect phase as the drivers are in serial !

    All in all, this topology allowed bringing the Vox driver and the woofers to a unified, warm ! and natural sonic experience… Resolution is top (like Vox provide) but the complete presentation is pleasant, warm and natural, non-fatigue for long hours of playing !

    The Leonidas allows swapping the components so you can experiment both, the values and the type of components ! We can guide…


    Now here I am wondering whether this difference between @Serious open baffles and the PAPs will impact clarity in some way. There was way too much noise to check for absolute clarity, resolution, microdynamics and microdetail. Integration of 15" and the Voxativs was seamless though as evident with every track I threw at those things. They did not break a sweat and rendered every single piece with ease, in an effortless manner and I could feel an emotional connection to the music. Single driver coherence was still an integral part of the sound without any particular emphasis along the mids to treble areas. The bass was fast, textured and clear with no ported bloat or horn weirdness.

    They were also probably a tad warmer than Serious' speakers, with added punch in the bass. I am not sure about bass extension though, as my room will probably have its own issues. The configurability from the end user of the Leonidas crossover is another feature that can help in this regard.

    All in all the PAPs were better than the Voxativ Due especially at rendering complex orchestral passages. Bruckner's thundering scherzo from his 9th symphony rattled the hall magnifecently. Wagner Walkyrie and Gotterdammerung finale and Debussy Les Mer were astounding. Mozart's Figaro soprano aria Porgi Amor and Jarrousky's Handel Scherza Infida were sublime. Bach's Kommt Ihr Tochter from St Matthew's Passion and 6th Brandenburg concerto were beautifully rendered in all their layered fugal contrapuntal complexity.

    These PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ speakers were simply best in show for me.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  15. shaizada

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    You are right on about this new direction that Marten has taken. I am baffled by it myself and I had to actually get the Mingus Quintet in my home for audition to wrap my head around this new direction. It is part of the Coltrane 3 sound, the Coltrane Supreme II and the Mingus Quintet. The Coltrane 3 and Coltrane Supreme II seem to mask some of this crossover issue by increasing the amount of bass. It all just doesn't feel natural sounding to me.

    Coltrane Tenor 1 is somewhat of a peak for me in the Marten lineup. It has the best thing about the new Cell Concept Accuton drivers (the bass drivers), but the naturalness and refinements of their 2nd generation crossover and ceramic drivers. I feel at home with this sound.

    Tidal is another company that uses ceramics and diamond drivers. But very different sound and it sounds like ceramics and diamonds...this is something Marten does not have at all. They licked that resolution and naturalness concept even in the Generation 1 Bird. Tidal Speakers use the best drivers, but they still have work to do with their sound I feel. Their fit and finish is drop dead perfect though! The gloss wood finishes would steal your heart :)

    EAR gear....what can I say that I haven't said before about this stuff. You can take a mediocre speaker and make it sound fantastic by just using EAR amplification. I love the sound of this gear, easily the most in this whole audio market that I have heard or experienced.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017

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