Anyone successfully go from stats/ planars to box speakers

default -- Wed, 09/02/2009 - 13:08

Hello All,
Anyone here go successfully from a stat or a planar to a box speaker?  To my ear, the cheapest maggie or martin logan outdoes the Wilson or Magico at the $30K price point.  The latter just sound veiled.  Does anyone know why that is? 
At what price point can a person who is used to that sound accept a box speaker?  Does one need the Magico M5 or the big YG's to do the trick?  Or is there something else?

Steven Stone -- Wed, 09/02/2009 - 18:15

 I went from a Soundlabs A-1 with wings to the Dunlavy SC VI speakers.
I never looked back.
All it takes is the right room...and a good set-up.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Arnold Robert Abrams (not verified) -- Wed, 09/02/2009 - 19:09

 I owned Tympani IIIA's from 1975 to 1987.  I loved them.  I used Audio Research electronics.
I then owned Tympani IV's from 1987 to 1999.  I loved them. I used Audio Research preamps, and a D115, for several years, followed by mono-blocks designed by Sherwood Sax, and used (I believe even until this day) by Doug Sax at tthe Mastering Lab.  Wonderful sound.
In he late 1990's, I heard the Waveform 17 demoed at the Stereophile show in San Francisco.  I liked them so much I actually traveled to John Otvo's home near Toronto (which was also his factory) for a full days audition. To give you some idea of how much I liked the speakers, I live in L.A.
 I purchased them in 1999, along with a full set of Bryston electronics (the speakers are triamplified).
I have had no desire to return to planers since then.  Nor do I pine for tube amplifiers.  I much prefer the Bryston's.
By the way, I attend live, un-amplified concerts two or three times a week, Usually Jazz or classical. I am very familiar with the sound of live music.
Have I answered your question?

zead (not verified) -- Wed, 09/02/2009 - 19:53

               man i remember those Waveform MACH 17 were awesome.....what's up with that designer......remeber those upper modules imaged like i'd never experienced before....and they were seamless...imagine if this guy had access to the new age cabinet materials and lower distortion drivers....definitely a milestone in audio

Arnold Robert Abrams (not verified) -- Wed, 09/02/2009 - 21:15

You are absolutely correct -- I have yet to hear a speaker image as well as the now defunct Waveform 17, or their smaller siblings the MC's.  They also have a crystalline "see through" clarity that is only rarely seen (or perhaps better, heard).
John Otvos owned the company, and responsible for the fabrication of the speakers and their marketing.  The electrical and acoustical design of the Waveform speakers was the responsibility first of Paul Barton, and later and primarily of Claude Fortier.  The electronic crossover is quite a piece, was designed by Bryston, and does much more than merely divide the amplifier feed to the woofers, the midrange, and the tweeter.  It in fact frequency contours those bands in a very acoustically meaningful way.
The speaker received glowing reviews in Stereophile and several other American and international publications.  It was also used as the primary monitor speaker at Delos Records, Dorian Records, occasionally at Telarc records, and was the monitor speaker at Posthorn studios in New York City.
For those interested in the speaker, Stereophile did a very extensive and long review:
Readers of this review should be aware that an error was made in the measurement section.  Specifically, the measurements (but not the listening) were made with the electronic crossover controls set at their mid positions.  Unfortunately, this is NOT the flat position.  Flat would be with the bass control fully counter clockwise, and the midrange and treble controls fully clockwise.  Set at their midpoint, substantial changes non flat changes are made in the bass and treble.
The company closed when it became evident that the business model (direct marketing) was far ahead of it's time, and could not support the enterprise cost.  John became very frustrated with the whole field of hight fidelity manufacture, and left the business, and apparently Canada.
I have tried to maintain contact with him, but it has been very intermittent and frustrating.

zead (not verified) -- Thu, 09/03/2009 - 02:26

 thanks! thse are definitely speakers for lthe long haul

Mr Plus -- Thu, 09/03/2009 - 03:26

The box vs. panels challenge is an interesting one. I like panels a lot (especially the current Summit X from the M-L range) but for my own listening, I generally prefer boxes. However, I have a number of audiophile friends and colleagues who adore the sound of panels and I have to factor that into my own reviewing.
I think in the lifespan of a typical audiophile, panels (and tubes) are things that periodically get adopted and dropped by listeners. Interestingly, if you are in tube mode, you'll look back on your time with solid-state electronics with shock that you could live a sound like that. When you flip back into solid-state, you'll think the same about tubes. The same seems to apply to the box/panel debate. None of this has any relation to the kind of music you listen to during the process.
There's a process of acclimatization when changing from one technology to the other. Generally the process begins with a mild discomfort you might have with your sound, that places you on the path to listening - and then extened listening. Eventually, you find that the sound you have 'flips' in your own perception and you begin to find the sound of what you don't have increasingly more attractive than the sound of what you currently own. All of which suggests there's no such thing as the perfect solution, just a series of compromises. As we go further up the high-end ladder, so those compromises should lessen, but never disappear entirely. It's which side of the trade-off you choose to take determines the sort of speaker system you'll end up listening to for the next decade or two.
Here's a point, though. There's a temptation to experiment to find out precisely why box speaker people like box speakers, or why tube people like tubes. That's just the start of the process to end up with box speakers and tube amps. Be warned!

Alan Sircom
Editor, Hi-Fi Plus Magazine
London, England
editor [at] hifiplus [dot] com

Cemil Gandur -- Thu, 09/03/2009 - 06:59

I went from living 15 years with Maggies 3.5 to Magico (Mini 2). The only other speaker that I considered long and hard before hearing the Magicos was the MG20.1 as I didn't like any box speaker I heard, at least until $25-30k or so.
I'm only speaking of the Mini 2 here, but they are better in every sense than my old 3.5s, including openness and clarity, except they have slightly smaller soundstages height-wise (the Mini 2s have a phenomenally wide soundstage extending well beyond the speakers) and the ability of Maggies to project the sound further out. It is only right that the Magicos do perform better, at about 6 times the price of these Maggies.
As far as comparing them with the 20.1, I've not heard them in the same room/same equipment, but I think the differences would be very similar in nature, but to a much lesser degree.  If you've heard the Magicos veiled, look elsewhere for problems. I've heard the V3, my Mini 2 and the M5 all sounding exceptionally open.
Having said that, I still think that Maggies, any Maggie, provide the best bang for the buck in speaker world if you've got the room to put them in.

David Matz -- Mon, 09/07/2009 - 10:18

I understand where this question is coming from.  I recently heard the Vienna Music that a TAS reviewer has just goo-gooed over, and I remembered a quote from J Gordon Holt (and repeated by Robert Harley in all of his books): "If you cannot get the midrange right, your speaker sucks" - or something to that effect.  Same can be said for the new Watt Puppy or the Magico V3.  I was shopping for a printer cable recently at Best Buy.  I walked over to the Magnolia part where they had a pair of $2k Martin Logan source speakers hooked up through a "cheap" Pioneer Elite receiver.  No contest, folks.  Don't get me wrong, there are compromises with stats, but anyone buying a $30K speaker should compare the midrange to that of a cheap (or an expensive) electrostat.  YG has a pretty good midrange, but one spending big bucks to get at that breakeven point.

Ben_H (not verified) -- Mon, 09/07/2009 - 16:50

Just finished reading TAS M5 review and AW interview. He touched on a very important issue, which had to do with training ourselves to hear what is really going on. It is very easy to fool our ears to think that we are hearing more information when we are only hearing more output at certain freq.  Beside, Getting the midrange right is indeed critical, but so is the highs and the lows.  These kinds of statements are very anachronistic. When you listen to a speaker like the M5 you understand how important it is to get the lows and highs right as well.

David Matz -- Mon, 09/07/2009 - 23:20

Ben_H, I agree with you for the most part.  I think the original question was regarding the point of indifference between stats and box speakers.  If you believe the answer is the M5, it will not meet the needs of anyone except a hundred or so people over the world who will purchase that Magico model in the next 3-5 years. 
You do bring up a good point regarding listening to the whole speaker.  From an electrostat perspective, box owners compromise in coherence between drivers, transparency, and midrange.  How recently have you heard the female voice on an ML Summit or the Quad.  If you listen to that day after day for years, very few things will measure up.  The compromises that stat owners face are usually dynamics for some of the brands, limited bass frequencies for most brands except SoundLab, and bass/ panel integration for hybrid owners.   The latter has been diminishing.  Mr. Plus has recently reviewed the Summit X and claims that the X is a great speaker and better than the original CLS. 
As one spends more money, the compromises get smaller and one does get to hear more of the musical event - the highs, the lows. the midrange, the dynamics, etc.  The example of the $2K ML source was to bring up an extreme case just to make a point.  It seems to me that one can spend in the $20K's and get a great speaker with ML CLX or the Soundlab, or spend $100K and get the Magico M5 or the YG.  Unless one is super rich, the decision seems pretty easy.

Ed Griffith (not verified) -- Tue, 09/08/2009 - 12:29

I would not put the YG and the Magico in the same category. I would have not changed my beloved SoundLab for any YG products. But I did for a Magico V3. Maybe not quite the M5 but plenty satisfying. You really can’t quite generalize here. It took the Magico’s to move me away from the stats. Yes, a female voice on a Quad57 is still hard to beat, but so is the highs on ribbons or lows on the IRS 5. All of which  further remove you away from true musical enjoyment due to their lack of balance.

bvdiman1 (not verified) -- Tue, 09/08/2009 - 13:38

 I too was a planar/stats (and Yes.. tubes3!) early adopter started my 'audiophilia journey' with the original CLS/ and Z, then MG3a in the early 80's. Fast forward.. 2000-2009, lived with the ML Prodigy to MG20.1 to Strads to Mini2 to V3 in succession of around 2-3yrs each. It's true to an extent that once addicted to planar/stats sound it's damn difficult to be swayed, thus far only Magico has done it for me.. Not looking back. To me, it's not about dissecting the mid, the low, or high, it's the whole/complete package to their musical presentations which continuously enchant and captivate me each time I fire my set up. Will be home auditioning the M5--hopefully next month.

Hyperion Believer (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 11:56

I am extremely happy with my new Hyperion Sound Design HPS-968s.  They indeed, as Jim Hannon has already said, have 'stat-like transient response.  And all the "slam" and bass of a cone speaker system.  What a mid-range!  A very transparent speaker.

david (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 13:13

no  matter which box speaker I've listened dealers and CES shows....each driver has it's own sound, and kevlar sounds different than titanium or aluminum or paper, a high resolution system I can hear the coherence.............worst case I have heard was for Theil CS-5i that I am using Quad 2905s....

Steve Gambhir (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 13:43

Ribbon or Stats vs Box
I have been using the Apogee Stages since 1990 and have yet to be swayed by a boxed speaker.
The palbability and the wave of sound just does not come from a box speaker. The music is just so much involving.
I have auditioned plenty of boxed speakers at a showroom and some at my house, but I have stayed with my Apogees. I use the Rel Britannia Sub for the low frequencies, which I can dial in to a point where it does not affect the midrange clarity. Adding the Audio Research Ref 3 preamplifier made a big difference in my two channel listening.
I did try my bedroom Revel M20's in my living room for a while with the Rel Subs and I got 90% of the experience. But that is due to the larger living room. I still missed the soundstage of the Apogees. By the way the Revels sound fine in my smaller bedroom again hooked up with the smaller Rel Britannia Subs.
Happy listening!

STeven Becker (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 14:38

 I had always used dipole planars for the first 25 years of my audiophile life, but in the last five years, I switched to an all Meridian system, and find that the music is so involving, I really don't care about the equipment or technology anymore. Besides the terrific stuff Meridian does, I suspect the room/speaker combination is far, far more important than choosing the speakers monolithically.

bvdiman1 (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 14:44

Different ribbons and mylars too each has their own inherent sound (characteristic and/or colorations). And often, coming in as a package in many applications and designs (reasonably sized stand-alone planars), are their rather restricted dynamics. Thus for me, severely curtailing most musical types to be immersive nor believable enough. Good midrange usually though.

Neil D. (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 15:09

One more data point .....
Started with box speakers (IMF ALS 40)
Later fell in love with a pair of eletrostatics (Audiostatic ES 240)
During a recent upgrade I tried to like some "boxes"  (DynAudio, Focal and SonusFaber) but opted for Magnepan MG3.6 panels.
It is hard to go back ....... but I can .... as I still have all of the above.....

Garth (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 15:58

I think one of the reasons that panels are so engaging is their transient response. They are exceptionally fast, their attack is very realistic and in this area hard to disguish between a recording or real life. I do think though that some box speakers are now competing in this area without the negatives of the Panel speakers. Panels are however still a very good option, in fact their is a man in New Zealand who has developed some quite incredible panel technology that is not yet in production. I make speakers for a living and transient response has been one of our main areas of focus for a long time. Our woofers have transient times of around 1.6 miliseconds which is exceptionally fast. We have also utilised multiple small drivers to maintain transient response time below 2.5 miliseconds. Once you get above three you get the veiled effect you were talking about. Typically the larger a cone speaker the slower it is. Box harmonics and airflow are also critical both inside and outside the cabinet. If you are interested check out

Jose Freire (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 17:18

I fully agree with the first fellow. I´ve listened those so called "Magico" speakers with Krell amps and they were veiled and lifeless compared with my Quads 2905 with Mcintosh amps at 1/4th the price. The bass had impact and slam but box bass it's (allways) artificial. I go very often to classical music concerts and that bass does not exist. Even on rock live concerts, if you are 50 meters or more, distant from stage (minimum safe and reasonable distance for your ears) that bass does not exist. That bass only "exists" in disco facilities and it's good for Paris Hilton and a few more empty heads.
Best regards
Jose Freire

Ernesto Freyre,Jr. (not verified) -- Mon, 11/02/2009 - 16:24

As you can see we share a last name in common with the exception of the i/y.
We also share a bias for planars/electrostats.
Through my years of attempting to be an audiophile I have owned Maggies mg II b and currently 20.1. I have been through two pairs of esl 63s and a pair of 988 Quads.
In between I have ownwd "boxes" including Kharma 3.2 that I still have.
At this time I am again in search of the "ideal box" with some preference or inclination towards Avalon.
I would really appreciate comments that you may want to share and help me in my future decision. By the way, the 2905 were on my short list when I purchased the 20.1s a yearr so ago.

schussor -- Mon, 11/02/2009 - 23:03

I suspect you would be better off modifying the 20.1 - or having it modified - over any upgrade to a box speaker  you may have in mind. Magnepan has not even come close to maximizing the potential of the design. There is more clarity, image depth and specificity, air, bass extension and dynamics to be had from the 20.1 than even biamping by Magnepan's recipe can provide.
First is to triamp the 20.1 with an active crossover. For this you will need to take the crossover out and replace it with a Marchand XM44 or one of the hyper high end devices from Pass Labs, AR and others.
Then you can brace the speaker with a Mye stand or an equivalent.
Ultimately, replacing the stock MDF panel with a hardwood construction can bring the speaker to its ultimate performance.
In my post later in this thread, I describe what I did with my old Tympani IV speakers. It is as good as anything I have heard, and I keep managing to get more out of it. There is more left to do and more performance to be had.

amclaussen (not verified) -- Thu, 11/05/2009 - 17:14

Schussor: I think you are right, multiamping is the way to go.  The Marchand (often ignored and rejected by so many dumb "connosieurs") is not bad at all, I've tested it many times and nobody was able to detect if it was playing or if it was another much more expensive unit... But I have found an even more inexpensive and excellent option: to make my own crossover with the printed circuit boards available from Elliott Sound Products, down under in Australia.
Those are 24 dB/Octave, Linkwitz/Riley alignment, phase coherent; and work perfectly.  Your comment on MDF vs Hardwood is right on too.
When multiamping, you don't really need to expend in an esoteric ultra-expensive power amp, since there won't be an inefficient and quite imperfect passive crossover wasting a lot of watts and playing havoc with the signal purity and integrity; and quite less power per amplifier is needed.
When I see or hear about the absurd, outreageous prices some people seem happy to pay for top class speakers, and guess how many albums I am able to buy by building my own speakers, I can't erase that diabolical smile appearing on my face!

Pete (not verified) -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 19:03

 I remember the first time I heard a female voice on a Quad; love at first listen! Stats are spectacular too. Unfortunately for me I love full orchestral music and I need the bass. I ended up with B&W 801's.
As someone mentioned earlier, you have to spend a lot of money to get the midrange and highs of a ribbon or stat in a box speaker, and likewise you have to spend a lot to get the bass of a box speaker in a ribbon or stat. Heck I couldn't even afford the latest 801's at their current prices.
Just depends of what you need from a speaker and how much money you have. There's compromise to everything.

amclaussen (not verified) -- Thu, 11/05/2009 - 19:23

Pete:  I do not agree with your impression that high money expenditures are the only way to achieve better results. Invest some time with some simple instrument tests: you will be surprised to see that your beloved 801's have a terrible impedance curve, that means that the passive crossover was altered (messed with-would be more appropriate)  to force the assembly to sound balanced... but the impedance reflected to your amplifier isn't smooth at all!  Then find why it is sooo difficult to try to "fix" an acceptable passive crossover to more-or-less "work" with the real-life behaviour of the less than ideal dynamic drivers from B&W (or any other else).  Then don't trash your 801's yet, get to Tri-amplify them and see them acquire a new clarity.  An all this for much less money than you think.  Then the only regret will be that you will end up with lots of large, expensive copper wire coils and large capacitors that the designers at B&W used in a mostly futile attempt to linearize the electrical-acoustical behaviour as the drivers inevitably interact in the most undesirable ways, those won't be needed anymore.
The Active Crossovers need not be very expensive after all, and smaller (and often cleaner sounding) amplifiers will be more than enough for directly driving the well designed drivers of the B&W's.  In any case, the total expenditure could be well under the one needed to purchase another pair of completely new speakers.  When a dynamic speaker system is multiamplified, one has almost complete control on the drivers behaviour; you can level the actual output of every one of them with the volume or gain control of each amplifier, you can change the crossover frequencies, the overlap (or lack of) too. The Midrange and Tweeter drivers wil benefit from the absolutely superior control of each one having it's amplifier handling directly it's voice coil, you can use a 24 dB/octave crossover slope, which is almost impossible to get with a passive crossover (without serious and often unpredictable effects).  Finally, you won't need to have an anechoic chamber to balance such a system, because this can be made by ear with some careful listening, often in a few hours.

Nemesis (not verified) -- Fri, 09/11/2009 - 01:31

I have gone from Martin Logan Vantage and Summit to Rockport Ankaa and Altair. I feel I have done some smart moves.

Peter (not verified) -- Fri, 09/11/2009 - 02:01

Can I make an easily forgotten point....that no speaker, no speaker, sounds much like real music.  Immediately you hear real instruments being played, you know that even the best 'hi fi' is  a huge distance away from the real thing. In particular, hi fi equipment seems to strip out much of the natural richness and harmonics of instruments. I love planar speakers, and have owned apogees, maggies, quads (57s, 63s etc), martin logans, sumo arias etc etc. And some nice box units too .  But while they can create a decent illusion (which is a major achievement in itself) the differences between different speakers is not too relevant when put against the vast gulf between reproduced music and live music. That's how it is folks! It doesn't matter how much you spend (and I have spent plenty!), in the end it is an illusion, an illusion shattered by the reality of real music in a real space. Still great fun though.......

bvdiman1 (not verified) -- Fri, 09/11/2009 - 12:48

Were this thread aptly called "Speakers Sounding Live" then I guess many would probably share similar (or thereabout) a conclusion as previous post.. But then again with right choices of equipments and proper set-up, the gulf ain't that vast anymore these days.. and the illusions--very much believable. 

KKM (not verified) -- Sat, 09/12/2009 - 01:39

First time I heard planars were the Apogee Stage at CES and loved the sound. Owned the Apogee Centauraus, then Maggie 3.6. Have sold 1/2 dozen friends to purchase the MMG's. Swapped the 3.6's for Gallo 3.1's about 4 years ago. The planars can't  match the micro detail and bass attack of the Gallo's. The planars do have the upper hand in larger then life soundstage and palpability.

Suteetat -- Sat, 09/12/2009 - 05:17

I had Celestion mini monitor a long time ago then went to Magnepan then Thiel CS2.2 then Martin Logan Monolith III for a long time.
After auditioning ML Summit, Quad 2905 among other and ended up with Usher Be-20. There are much to like with static/ribbon but also
with much sacrifice. Usher is superb and I felt that after all the pluses and minuses, Usher seems to have the best virtue and the least sin
and they fit my room/system better.  If I have more money and have to do things all over again, don't know if I would pick Magico V3 or ML CLX.
Both sounds great and happen to be on display at the same local dealer.
I attend a lot of classical concerts, operas, etc and in different halls, a singer can sound quite dfferent. I heard Andrea Rost at La Scala, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Vienna State Opera house and did not care much for her voice until I heard her in Vienna. So basically, I don't really go for one technology over another, I switched between various speaker designs, solid state and tube amps etc, whatever happens to fit better with my taste in my room with my current equipments will be the one I pick.

Vince (not verified) -- Sat, 09/12/2009 - 20:53

I did something a little odd earlier this year.
Not quite on the thread of this discussion, but thought it might be worth the time.
Went from ML CLS IIZ's to Maggie 3.6's.
Only reason I did this was I was getting tired of locking my head into the sweet spot on the ML's.
The sweet spot on the Maggie's is much larger.
I agree with many of the posts in this forum; it is difficult to find a "box" speaker that can sound as good as a planar or electrostatic.
The nearest I ever heard was the big B & W's (800 series ???); however, never bought them.....stayed with planars.

Arg (not verified) -- Sun, 09/13/2009 - 00:07

A hifi nut I know went from Martin Logans to second hand Spendors a couple of years ago after several years with the ML. He says the Spendors are better. He isn't going back.

Arg (not verified) -- Sun, 09/13/2009 - 00:13

Oh I forgot to answer the OP's question, "The latter (box speakers) just sound veiled. Does anyone know why that is? "
That is because our minds process the sound based on factors other than the sound waves themselves. Your opinion of box speakers arises because of what your mind is doing when it knows what it is listening to. When you know what you are listening to, you are listening to what you know.
Note that your opinion of planar vs box is a momentary thing and could change at any moment, or not. Don't trust it or expect it to last. And especially, don't look for explanations in the equipment!

dlaloum -- Sun, 09/13/2009 - 05:02

As a long term Quad ESL user I listened a number of times to other speakers - both planar types of various brands and the much more commonly found "boxes"... I used to sell audio - both planars and boxes.....
Over the years I found that I could always hear the box.....
However, when I listened to the Gallo speakers a couple of years ago, I was blown away by 1) their sound quality at each price point and 2) they had no box sound - which is probably due to the fact that there is no box.
Basically any box speaker to a greater or lesser extent radiates sound from the box itself (the better the speaker the less this is apparent) - if the speakers you are used to have none at all of that type of coloration - then you can easily find yourself recognising something "wrong" (or at the very least distinctively different) whenever listening to a box speaker.
The "sound of the box" is simply not there with designs like the Gallo's (balls), also some designs that place standard speaker types in a board/baffle (ie no box again).
This is not to say that the speakers that have that distinctive "box" aspect to their sound are bad - it is just to say that I can tell consistently when a box speaker is played as opposed to a non box speaker - regardless of the design or types of drivers.
good luck in your search

PQ (not verified) -- Sun, 09/13/2009 - 22:31

I've lived with many differing designs iver the years. I've had ML and Acoustat electrostats and more recently Maggie 3.6R's which are extremely fast, transparent and most of all faithfull to the music and emotion of the performers. I have had friends who have moved to box speakers such as the Magico Mini II and have loved the similar qualities, albeit at a higher price. I have moved to Magico V3's as I found the bass speed and character of the Maggies to be bettered by the Magicos. Yes, you have to spend a lot to get as seamless and transparent a sound as that from an MG3.6R - these are one of the best all time bargains in audio, but the room and placement play a big part in how well they sound. Modern materials as in the Magicos and cost no object attention to the design do pay off but like everything in life you pay for this attention to detail. Finally it all comes down to what you personally like. My wife loves the Maggies and thinks they reproduce just the most lovely sounding voices she has heard. Emotionally they do it for us both, they are just so seamless. Most of the time I find that I prefer the speed and resolution of the Magico V3's and I just love the bass weight, pitch, speed, definition and dynamics which beat the Maggies. So as always the perfect speaker is often a combination of the particular strengths of several designs as nobody gets it right all the time. Hope this helps.
Paul Quilter
Owner P Q Imports
NZ Distributor for Magnepan and Magico

amclaussen (not verified) -- Thu, 11/05/2009 - 20:01

David:  If you look at OLD (I mean really old, like 1930) books on electroacoustics, will find that since that time, designers like Olsen and others DID knew the gross effects of the enclosure cabinet shape.  The "box" causes a lot of troubles as you can see here:Sphere vs Cylinder vs cubic vs "standard speaker box" shapes.
As you can see, the spherical shape used by Gallo is NOT an innovation, but a clever er-incarnation of 1930's research!  Please understand that the rear wave that goes into the cabinet, reflects and emerges tru the cone, delayed long enought to play havoc with the speaker original output waveform. No available cone or dome material can effectively block this undesirable sound pressure. That's a fact. No amount or kind of absorbing material can suppress it too.  An Sphere is the most effective shape, and this has been known (and somehow forgotten) long ago. Other than Gallo, I can't remember any other present day speaker manufacturer using this facts.  Why? Good Question!

amclaussen (not verified) -- Thu, 11/05/2009 - 20:03

Sorry, the images did not load, please see them at:

tc -- Mon, 09/14/2009 - 05:14


Agree with your point "the room and placement play a big part in how well they sound" PQ, if I live in a city where property price is half reasonable, I would have bought myself a pair of big electrostats or planar and probably would not consider anything else. For those who live in big cities like myself where property price is absolutely insane, speakers with a small footprint and require less room to breath is as important. I have recently switched from maggies to the magico mini 2 and are very happy about them. They sounded as open as the maggies from what I can hear, they do not sound 'boxed' at all and I am as happy (if not more) with them as I were with the maggies.
So the answer is yes, I successfully switched from planars to box speakers.


sacduser -- Mon, 09/14/2009 - 20:05

I've always gravitated to box speakers engineered to sound as boxless as possible: Wharfedales with their "sandwich" panels, Celestion SL600's with the "aerolam" cabinets, Harbeth M40's with their "lossy" enclosures and Magico Mini 2's with their vertically-stacked birch ply design.
I've also auditioned many Maggies over the years, from 1.6QR and the 3.6R to the 20.1 but never took the plunge as i could detect the mylar resonances which coloured the music.  Their soundstage was also a bit diffuse compared to the mini monitors I was used to.
Regardless of the many brilliant cabinet designs that seek to minimise any sonic traces of an enclosure, I have not heard any designer totally muffle the "honk" of a driver resonating within a box.  There is always a residual "hollowness", no matter how faint.  
Last year, after months of auditioning, I finally made the move to Soundlabs U1 PX's.  Apart from sounded liberatingly boxless, Soundlabs adequately dealt with the mylar "clang" problem using their distributed resonance approach.  Although SL's do not have the pinpoint precision of monitors, they do not sound as diffuse as Maggies.
The Soundlabs have two more important advantages.  The first is the sensitivity of electrostatics that allowed all kinds of quick delicate detail to come through. But the most important advantage is the single-driver design which offers a coherent presentation which I had yearned after right from the start.   I have somehow never managed to ignore that region of phasiness or blurriness at the crossover points in multi-way drivers.  This separates the treble from the midrange and spoils the illusion of music for me.
It would be hard to return to a box speaker, a dynamic system or a multi-way design because phase coherence, absence of colouration and  transient/dynamic transparency are so essential when reproducing unamplified recordings of orchestras, ensembles and Jazz groups in a natural acoustic.

sacduser -- Mon, 09/14/2009 - 19:58

I should add that for pop music, I find box speakers preferable as they can provide that thump in the bass that resonates through the bones.
But I find that panel speakers reproduce bass detail with greater speed and nuance.  Also, Dipole bass sounds cleaner as there is far less room boom.  

dlaloum -- Mon, 09/14/2009 - 20:00

 I would have agreed with you with regards to lack of bass in stats... until I heard (and then owned ) the Quad 989's - I havn't heard the 2905 updated version... but it is purported to be even better.
They also have the advantage of behaving as a point source single driver speaker with no crossover...
and the serious disadvantage of not fitting into smallish rooms (hence the absence of Quads in my home at present!)
I tried a few times to run hybrid setups (Stat & Sub) but never found one that was satisfying - the match never quite worked.... same thing when listening to all the ML hybrid designs - the only ML design I really liked was the CLS pure stat....
The Gallo's I am currently running (Ref 3.1) are also crossoverless above 125Hz (there is a X-over for the woofer) - which may be part of the reason why I like them.
Although I found the Quad ELS63's and their replacement the ESL988 somewhat lacking in thump for pop/rock/tympani... I didn't find that to be the case with the ESL989... so it is possible to have your cake and eat it too....

zead (not verified) -- Tue, 09/15/2009 - 11:18

   somehow i had been left with the impression that you had arrived with the MM2; anyway, how do the SL compare and how large is your room

SundayNiagara -- Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:30

After following this thread for quite some time, I must ask this question:  How many times over the years have you read these words; "Quadlike Midrange," and didn't those of you who have never experienced Quads ever wonder why reviewers speak/print those words?

zead (not verified) -- Tue, 09/15/2009 - 18:18

                             while i still reflects only a So i guess the race is to find the best compromise...i guess that's what makes this thread what it is

SundayNiagara -- Tue, 09/15/2009 - 20:08

The midrange is where MOST of the music is and the Quad's do it better than any other speaker, regardless of price.   Further, there have been MANY Quad owners over the years, who have switched to box speakers, but have returned to the beloved Quads because of the midrange.

ABF (not verified) -- Wed, 09/16/2009 - 15:16

Yes and if you listen (like I do it since 8 years) music reproduced by Quad esl 989 (or 2905), you have the feeling that this wonderfool midrange is extended (if amplification is fully adapted) to the full frequency range (listen to jazz and organ !),  with pannels that are literaly deasapering (despite their visual dimensions) !

dlaloum -- Tue, 09/15/2009 - 20:11

 Yep, agree 100% I had to go out and listen to compact alternatives.... and I must say my current Gallo's are very very good... but ultimately the Quads were (are) better - and given the opportunity (ie space) I will return to an all Quad surround system (989/2905 Front L/R, 63/988/2805 centre and surrounds).

sacduser -- Thu, 09/17/2009 - 11:10

Hello Zead, you are right that the MM2 took coherency, freedom from colouration and transparency as far as they could go in the world of boxed, multi-way, dynamic speakers; at least within my range of affordability.
The Mini 2's soundstage precision and ability to disappear are what I missed most when I moved to the SL's. Ultimately, as in life partners, what we settle for is governed not so much by what we like but what we can't tolerate.   I just happened to develop a sensitivity and aversion to the phasiness in crossover ranges that so conspiciously separate treble from bass.  I was bothered by this even in the most coherently-integrated two way speakers.  So the next step had to be a single driver transducer.
Sunday Niagara, I once considered the 989 generation Quads and spent a lot of auditioning time to get an objective sense of their strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, their mid-range transparency does have a remarkable see-through quality.

SundayNiagara -- Thu, 09/17/2009 - 11:52

"Sunday Niagara, I once considered the 989 generation Quads and spent a lot of auditioning time to get an objective sense of their strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, their mid-range transparency does have a remarkable see-through quality."
Bingo!  That's what keeps brining 'em back.

Rick Lee (not verified) -- Fri, 09/18/2009 - 09:43

Haven't heard anyone mention that stats and maggies deliver the sound from the speaker to your ear as a "line source" without hitting the walls and floors and ceiling and thus these speakers don't bring along honking reflections.   Yes I know about the rear reflection but I'm trying to make a point here. In this sense a stat and a maggie starts out with a decided room advantage as they are instantly overcoming one of the big deficiencies in a typical box speaker/room integration installation.  They are in effect like hearing headphones except out in the open air, not closed in.  This is a large part of their charm.
A good box speaker can get in phase with the room resonances but you might have to move it a tenth of an inch at a time for a year or two before you find the most coherent spot from which to launch its waves.  I have a difficult room that took closer to four years to "learn" using spectrum analyzer a good set of ears and a hell of a lot of moving speakers (I use subs for God's sake!).  Yes it was worth the effort, isn't obsession a wonderful two edged sword?
The advantage of a box speaker in general is better sound over a larger coverage area and not just in the sweet spot.  They can generate good palpable sound levels from a smaller footprint.
But if I were trying to help a newbie become an audiophile and he had a honkin big room I would immediately turn him or her on to panels as the results are easier to generate.  A seasoned expert like many of you here may prefer either design as you all have the patience, knowledge of room resonances, money and ambition to make either design sound to die for,  Plus you know how large your room is, what speaker design appeals to you and where you will be living in five years so you don't have to buy something new then.
So take your pick.  You know who you are.
Oh by the way I get the biggest grin watching a newbie try to "audition" a box apeaker in an untuned room with perhaps a pile of boxes thrown about.  Or at a "demo" session in some dealer showroom where they are trying hard but only spent a day working with the speaker and room.  There is about as much chance he or she will get a clue what a box speaker will do under these circumstances as  winning the lotto.  But still they come.  Amusing, no?  And don't tell me about trade shows.  I have worked them on both sides and they are hopeless too.
All you can do when picking a speaker design is learn everything you can, pay your money for the most promising ones and then start working trying to get them to kick hard in your own room.  Am I lying?

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