Vandersteen Model 7

johnny p. -- Tue, 09/28/2010 - 13:44

Is it me ? Or are others outraged that a speaker costing $45,000 is only 81db and just 44 inches high ? I would think Vandersteen would give us a little more for our money.
To insult to injury, Robert Harley says this is a "bargain". Knowing what he said, he almost expected e-mails from  readers complaining about his comment. Well, here's the first one - and at least I gave detail why I'm outraged.
When will people realize that a direct-radiating speaker is trying to do too much with what it's got ? Doesn't dynamic range matter ? How about  the speed to get from the lows to the highs ? How about image size ?
You really can't do it with a cone radiator. John Atkinson just reviewed the big Acapella's. At least he knows what life is like before-and-after a direct-radiating loudspeaker.........

Robert Harley -- Tue, 09/28/2010 - 15:47

Is it just me, or is it a mistake to dismiss a loudspeaker based on its sensitivity and height? I don't care about a loudspeaker's physical dimensions---what matters is how they reproduce music. The sensitivity issue has some merit in that you need to drive the Model 7s with a big amplifier, but it's not a reason to be "outraged" at the product.
I said it in my review and I'll say it again; all things considered, the Model 7 is the best overall sound I've had in my home in 21 years of full-time reviewing. It didn't have the best bass, or the widest dynamics, but in every other category it was phenomenal.
Have you heard the Model 7, or are you judging it based on its sensitivity, 44-inch height, and fact that it uses cone drivers?

cedup -- Sun, 10/03/2010 - 08:44

Then you ain't ever heard LEGACY? Focus or Whispers, more sound better sound priced on this planet. I've had people SELL their over priced FOCAL Utopias after hearing Legacy Whispers, they bought a used set direct from Legacy, they completely smoked teh grossly over priced Focals. Surprised you are really out of touch. You do write about audio, you are missing the good stuff.

Of course that wire sounds better!

cedup -- Sat, 10/09/2010 - 04:40

did you let the wires "settle in", otherwise the review is invalid!. And how do you know it was the speakers you heard, since you also hear wires.

Of course that wire sounds better!

johnny p. -- Tue, 09/28/2010 - 20:04

I didn't "dismiss" the Model 7 !! I simply stated that for $45,000, you should get more. More stage height and dynamic range...
And before you tell me that the Model 7 is "loud enough", I remind you that peaks of 110db are needed to reproduce a full orchestra. This could be achieved with a good horn, which are rated (electrically) at 100db. I know most cones can't do this - but one costing $45,000 should give us at least 90-91db.

Every 10db reduction is half the volume - the Model 7 is way off...

cedup -- Sat, 10/09/2010 - 04:43

Legacy Helix are $45K and they will do 120db! Legacy Whispers are $18K and will do 105db all day long, i do it, and it's REAL. Harley is so full of crap. $45K for miniature speakers, that are not capable or realistic levels are junk..

Of course that wire sounds better!

Robert Harley -- Fri, 10/01/2010 - 23:40

I'll go back to my original question: Have you heard the Vandersteen 7, or is your "outrage" based on theoretical arguments?

johnny p. -- Sat, 10/02/2010 - 15:30

Yes, I have heard the Vandersteen 7. But do I have to hear a speaker to know that it's 81db ? This means it can't play loud - and lacks serious dynamic range.
And does the Model 7 have the greatest speed you've ever heard ? I don't have your review (on hand) but I don't remember hearing much about that. Lastly,  low-level detail - is it the champ there too ?
Designers of direct-radiating loudspeakers say that building a speaker constitutes "compromises".  They talk about "trade-offs". This is because they're making one single-box reproduce all the frequencies (from the same point in the room) and without a horn to help the transducers couple to the air. 
Add-on the fact that we're trying to reproduce a live musical event from (only) two points - which over-stresses each speaker. This especially hurts cones, which are have to work their butts-off in the first place....

Robert Harley -- Sat, 10/02/2010 - 23:05

Sensitivity and dynamic range are not determined by a loudspeaker's sensitivity, provided you drive the loudspeaker with a big enough amplifier. The BAlabo's 500Wpc into 8 ohms was plenty of power.
Yes, the 7 is amazingly fast in reproducing transient detail, and was also superb at resolving low-level information. In fact, it is the latter quality that makes it so special, in my view. It strips away a layer of cone coloration to reveal fine detail. The 7 has the best reproduction of things like brushes on cymbals and snare drum I've heard. Getting that micro-transient detail right goes a long way toward musical realism.
I agree with many of your points about horns. I've written about the advantages, such as the electrical, magnetic, and physical forces involved in moving air are an order of magnitude lower than direct-radiating speakers. This in turn allows greater linearity (the low excursion results in the voice coil staying in the linear are of the magnetic field, no dynamic compression because of voice-coil heating, etc.). Still, apart from the big Magico Ultimate, I have not heard a horn system I would want to live with. I think every approach involves trade-offs, and each listener must decide which trade-offs are most acceptable to him.

johnny p. -- Sun, 10/03/2010 - 01:53

I beg to differ on dynamic range. I didn't think the problem (of low sensitivity) could be solved with "more power". At some point, the speaker will distort and I would not want to be around when that happens. The Quads were universally known to have limits in output.
This is one key reason for horns. They don't need the ultra-complex crossovers (or drive units) to produce great sound. Did you ever notice how complex a great cone speaker is, in these categories ? Compare that to a horn and you will be quite surprised.
And it's a shame that a person in your position is not up-to-date with horns. Just pick up a recent Stereophile. The JBL Array and Big Acapellas - new standards of excellence for their respective reviewers. Sam Tellig reportedly bought the Klipsch LaScalla's he reviewed a few years ago. In 2003, Paul Bolin (in review at Stereophile) said that the big Calix horns were "first on the list" of ultimate loudspeakers. More recently, TM of TAS stated that the Classic horns were "breakthroughs". On-line reviews of Sunny horns have seen their writer(s) buying the review pair...........
Actually, horns are one of the hot points in high-end audio right now (along with open-baffle loudspeakers, power cords, hard-disk /memory playback and Red Book processing - "apodising" filters). It's time to get up to date !!

zead -- Tue, 10/05/2010 - 11:18

         you must be new to TAS otherwise you wouldn't be preaching to one of the reviewers in this business who's always been at the forefront of technologies..such as filter, drivers, etc.....what i find funny is you said you'd heard the model 7 yet you had nothing to say about it......there's just no way a music lover could listen to this speaker and not have anything to say about it..which lets me conclude that your outrage is just that an outrage totally emotiuonal and having not an ounce of rational assessment....hence, i will leave it at that..oh by the way......i do love horns too....just not all the time
one last thing: if any other manufacturer had put out this level of would have been a $80,000 speaker..........thanks Richard for great value in high-end audio

Elliot Goldman -- Tue, 10/05/2010 - 11:51

To quote and then bend Forrest Gump '
" life is like a box of chocolates ( audiophiles particularly on the internet) you never know what your going to get."
I have no qulaifications therefore I am an expert,. Its so funny how an individual hiding behind a screen name can denograte a mans work of a lifetime becuase of its size and sensitivity.

SundayNiagara -- Tue, 10/05/2010 - 12:21

Lol @ Elliot!

johnny p. -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 02:10

I don't have to comment on this speaker - RH did that. I simply stated for THAT kind of money, we should get more stage height and dynamic range. How much more would it cost Vandersteen to make The 7 six inches taller ? On dynamic range, I guess we can't expect much from a first-order direct-radiator - with all its complication in the crossover and drive-unit. But many cones at this price go to 92db anyway. A big difference.

AND they sound musical (like the Rockports and Verity's). But they don't have this dynamic limitation imposed on them. In his review of the 7, Michael Fremer said that The 7's tonal balance "wasn't rich and full" and several of his fellow listeners said it was "too analytical and insufficiently fleshed-out". Not everyone thinks this is a perfect loudspeaker.

Beware of reviews that hyperbole. If we learn from history, we see that reviewers (one year) blow-out a speaker, then something else comes along and beats it by a "wide margin". RH was practically doing cart-wheels after reviewing the Avalon Eidolon over 10 years ago. Fremer much the same after reviewing the Verity Sarastro. Here we go again. All I'm saying is, be careful - loudspeakers are not getting THAT much better in such a short time............

David Matz -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 00:05

Mr. Harley,
Don't mean to be piling on the negative stuff here, but I also have a few questions about your reveiw.  Obviously you are an expert and this speaker is a MUST audition for an audiophile.   You called in the B word under $100k - or something to that effect.  That's fine.  Like most people I find that the B word gets a bit overused and its impact has been dramatically reduced.  Personally, what I am looking for from a review is criteria to make a decision.   I already know that if the magazine is reviewing something, it is pretty damn good. 
What I find interesting is that you didn't directly compare it to any of the top speakers out there under (or over) $100K - like Wilson Maxx, Magico M or Q, the Rockports you thought were "best" not too long ago, the YG;s. etc.,  across a variety of evaluation parameters.  Those specific comparisons could have shed a lot of light on how the speakers really differ from others.  Instead, you stayed general and used the "appeal to authority argument."  As you well know, there are tradeoffs with every design.  Your subjective opinion of "best" is fine.  But specifically mentioning the tradeoffs can really help someone dropping big coin save some angst and airline miles in making that big purchase decision. 

Elliot Goldman -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 10:09

Are you implying that they have cried "wolf" one to many times? LMAO

SundayNiagara -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 10:52

Geez Elliot, what do you mean by, "wolf?"

David Matz -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 13:44

Elliot, that word has become meaningless. To me, "best" has become what are you willing to put your money in (or take up space in your listening room). Mr. Harley has a "best". Mr. Valin has a "best". (I just saw a blog by JV regarding the Magico Q.) Mr. Breuninger has several bests. Others have their "best". I guess the "best" has evolved into a "class of best". And in the realm of the subjective I can understand that. What I would like to see, however, is the differences between these "bests" and rationale why experts, who can pretty much have whatever they want to have, chose what they chose. (And if they did not compare to another brand and are just going with their gut, they should come out and say so.)

I also want to know if I own something that is almost "best" or recently was "best" is worth upgrading to the new "best".

Describing some platonic ideal is nice. But as I said in a previous post, I already know that if a piece of gear has made it to the pages of the magazine, it is very good - if not great. Helping people make decisions could be one of the greatest values of the reviews.

Elliot Goldman -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 13:56

Curious, I agree since I really don't care what they think the best is or even what is the best? I thought the purpose of reviewing was to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the product and delineate the differences so that the readers could understand. What you and I like may be very different and that does not make or you right or wrong. We can all go tot he same restaurant we won't necessarily eat and like the same thing.
I think the use of the word has diminished the magazine/website and in fact makes so much of the process just plain boring. There are so many bests. I am not attacking the reviewers or there ability to hear but I question why they don't cooperate to do the task better.

Elliot Goldman -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 10:56

 Sunday, Sunday Sunday,
I don't think you forgot the story about the boy
that cried "wolf" and what happened to him! he did it so many times and at the end no one listened anymore

SundayNiagara -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 19:30

For a while there. ya had me thinking, double entendre! (G)

Elliot Goldman -- Thu, 10/07/2010 - 09:01


stillone -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 14:48

 I am not sure if the original poster even understands that 81dB has little to do with capability of a speaker to play loud. Unless you are using a flea size amplifier then you will can easily push similar speakers to listening levels in the mid 90dB range which in itself is a unsafe for extended periods. There is  a lot more than a speakers sensitivity to determine how much power you will require to control all aspects of a given speaker.   

johnny p. -- Thu, 10/07/2010 - 23:49

If you don't mind your music without the slam and dynamic range of other (far less costly) designs AND don't care how much height there is to a presentation, then fine. The 7 is a very-good loudspeaker.

Beyond these things, there's speed. Harley didn't mention this in his review, but apparently, it's not a top concern either. I think the problem is that Harley (among many other audiophiles) doesn't listen to music that demands the items I mention. They're more concerned with soundstaging, bass and how "natural" a speaker sounds. Things that go along with popular and rock 'n roll music. To their credit, they cite transients as a virtue - which they are. Listeners of acoustical, wide-dynamic range music - where speed even of micro-detail matters - have more stringent demands on what they hear.

But there's one more problem with Harley's review. He apparently reviewed the speaker with all-new electronics !! This violates a key tenet of reviewing - make sure you hear ONLY the component under review and no more. How do we know what sound-advance he was hearing ? Was it the speaker, or the electronics ? The later might be a force because they cost MORE THAN THE SPEAKER......

quadlover -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 17:30

let me get this straight.  if i use allisio's logic, a speaker with 98db and is 6 foot tall has to be better than the 7's?  mr.harley, unlike some of his fellow reviewers, seldom throws out "the best" at least not since i have read the absolute sound (since issue 1, by the way).  and he does not say it in this review.  all he states is in his room, with the equipment he uses, with the source and selection of music he uses, that the 7 is his favorite all around speaker that he has heard/used.  anyone dismissing a speaker (or any equipment) due to its size , efficiency, type of speaker, crossover, material, etc...should not consider himself/herself an audiophile.  the magazine the absolute sound was based on comparing the reproduced sound to that of live performance.  in that end all equipment is a compromise.  it is merely the reviewer's job to report what equipment sounds like in their envirement, not your room.  that is for your ears and opinions to decide. keep up the great work rh!

Robert Harley -- Wed, 10/06/2010 - 17:40

Thanks, quadlover!
For the record, I drove the Vandersteens with Audio Research Reference 210s as well as with the BAlabo. As for not listening to music with wide dynamics, I challenge you to name a source with wider dynamics than Keith Johnson's orchestral recordings played at 176.4kHz/24-bit on a fanless and driveless (and thus totally silent) music server feeding a Berkeley Alpha DAC. I use this source for every review. You'll also find mentions of recordings in all my reviews.

David Matz -- Thu, 10/07/2010 - 10:13

Mr. Harley,

Please understand that my comments are not personal. I am not questioning your expertise or your review. Considering all the "bests", I am just asking that you and other TAS writers put their feet in the shoes of the customer and do your best to compare and contrast the different models.

Elliot Goldman -- Thu, 10/07/2010 - 10:33

well said Sir! The list of bests is so long as to render them meaningless. I still don't understand how an organization that reviews product can have more than three independent streams of thought on the state of the art and no
method of contrasting them. The magazine/website pays nothing for the gear and are they telling us with all the factory trips and shows they attend that the main cogs of this machine can't find the time to hear each others systems? Makes one wonder why?

cedup -- Sat, 10/09/2010 - 04:50

Use the two SACD's The Stevie Ray Vaughan/albert King sessions LIVE and The SACD from APO Jimmy D. Lane "It's Time". Those tiny speakers will not make these recordings sound LIVE like a set of Legacy Whispers do, for less than HALF teh price. There is no substitute for SIZE and quality drivers to move air. Whisper have 10 drivers and they are 96db efficient and reproduce at lifelike levels and clarity. Harley is still clueless and or deaf. Another "expert" that knows nothing about what he writes or says. A shill for crap, overpriced junk. I drive my Whispers with about 5200W RMOS 4 mono VanAlstine P500 Insight/OmegaStar EX and his Ultra Hybrid phase inverters, there is no substitue for WATTS and drivers for clarity and SLAM, IMPACT and REALISM. Harley needs to learn what he is talking about before making dumb claims like his wires settling in nonsense.

Of course that wire sounds better!

johnny p. -- Thu, 10/07/2010 - 00:43

Let me clarify - my type of music demands more dynamic range from a loudspeaker. This means speakers that display very wide differences between loud and soft passages. AND sound very musical. People who listen to mostly pop and rock music - Harley's main type - could probably care less if a design is 82db.

If I was a car enthusiast, would my dream car be just "smooth" and "quiet" ? Or would it have these things *plus* great torque !! You folks are missing the picture. 
As for the electronics, Harley said it right in his review "part of this (speaker's) quality is due to the extraordinary preamp and power amp." Which I add, are among the most expensive in the world !! How The 7 sounded without these we'll never know because Harley blew one of the central tenets of reviewing. Maybe this is why Fremer (and fellow listeners) were not as enthused as RH......
Finally, progress. If dynamic drivers are only NOW sounding like they're not (really) there and sound "coherent", what were they before ? To add to RH's comments, Alan Taffel said last year (In his show report on The 7), "finally - a cone speaker that sounds coherent". This type of technology scares me. 50 years after they started improving cones and after a *thousand* designs costing north of $40,000, we're finally removing these long standing problems. Mmmm...... 

rep4years -- Thu, 10/07/2010 - 21:35

First, refer back to the review  and READ what he said: Best sound he'd heard IN HIS ROOM. That should eliminate most of the "outrage" and most of the negative commentary here.........
Reading between the lines, some here are either calling RH ignorant of necessary characteristics of sound reproduction and general speaker design  or challenging his integrity by complaining all reviewers throw "best" around casually and regularly.
I don't know RH but I've read his stuff for years at Absolute Sound and other mags. Based on his technical explanations of various topics over the years I can assure all of those who lecture him here about sensitivity, dynamics, detail, dynamic range, etc. that he's biting his tongue. He's not patting himself on the back that his knowledge of these concepts and many more far excede most anyone on this string of commentary. Those lecturing have demonstrated some basic ignorance of speaker design and RH hasn't jumped to direspectful retorts that could and would discredit and expose the ignorance of those who've attacked him. My hat is off to him for remaining civil. This is friggin' electronic gear producing music and all of this "outrage" is just ridiculous!!!
I've read A.S. since issue 1 in high school, remember RH with other publications, and think of him as someone not afraid to go out on a limb and take criticism. Audiophiles can be a tempermental bunch, and many times have a belief system based on misinformation repeated in various publications as "fact", limited understanding of the physics and science of the gear, and anecdotal "proof" for their opinions. To challenge the ill-informed belief systems of that type of crowd takes some guts and I've seen RH do that repeatedly, knowing he would take heat for it. That speaks of integrity to me.
Some of the criticism/commentary is laughable: criticizing RH for not being current (time to get up to date) citing LaScalas (circa what, the 40s 50's 60's 70s) as being "up to date". Seriously?.....
Horns are great...... Quads are great....... it's all about which compromise you'd like to live with...........Admittedly, the benefits of horns are  well known, amazing, and haven't changed much in 60 years. Not exactly ground breaking or "up to date". So are their weaknesses. If only they could resolve detail and had less moving mass per square inch than a human hair like a Quad or Martin Logan. And if only a Quad had the bandwidth, dynamics, output capability, and electrical sensitivity of a horn. But that's the point, isn't it?  That speaker doesn't exist! 
Possibly, a Vandersteen 7 is a bridge between those two extremes? Don't know but it was the best sound RH heard IN HIS ROOM, not a blanket pronouncement it was the best speaker in existence!!!!!
Whatever you like and can live with is based upon which compromises you feel intrude least on the "suspension of disbelief" that you're listening to the real thing, if only for a moment....... ah, that's the elusive gremlin we chase, isn't it?! 
I've learned much about audio from RH. Recent examples would be CD strengths and limitations from RH's CD manufacturing experience, his review of the Meridian CD player which corrects for those limitations, etc........The originator of all of this controversy has cahunas to lecture RH if not the tact, general audio, and technical knowledge to go with it..... Unfortunately we seem to have arrived at Andy Warhol's prophecy, "in the future, everyone will have 15 minutes of fame." Like sphincters, everyones got an opinion and unfortunately on 9/28 we all had to hear "allisio's outrage"!!!!!

johnny p. -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 00:37

I suspect this person is a repeat from above...but is now using a different moniker. Anyway, I thought I cleared-up these complaints in my last note. Let me re-clarify:
I would expect a modern $45,000 loudspeaker to excell in *all* parameters. A few years ago, Anthony Cordesman said in his review of the Reference TAD speakers "the day where loudspeakers could be near-great in *all* categories has finally begun". Not with the Vandersteen 7 - it's seriously deficient in a major category of sound reproduction. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy the speaker - you'll do great if you like pop and rock, as I noted.
But if one of your top values is dynamic range, you deserve *every right* to reject this speaker - on paper OR in listening.
I then question how good this speaker is, anyway. With Harley inserting brand-new (and very expensive) electronics AT THE SAME TIME as the speakers, we'll never know. A NO-NO is audio reviewing.
That's mainly it. I also said beware of the rave - Harley (and the like) have written plenty of them. And with no second opinion on this speaker, we'll just have to take Harley's word for it. This lack of second opinion goes beyond TAS, of course.
Lastly, my citation of Harley's ignorance of horns stands. There are many reviews in the past 10 years (beyond which I noted above)) that utterly refute Harley's dislike of the horn. I'm assuming it's the "coloration" that RH doesn't like. But it's just not there anymore - if he would only listen (especially at all those shows he attends !!).

quadlover -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 11:21

for the record, i am quadlover and am secure enough with my identity to answer questions and post comments under my 1 name here, and not hide behind another identity. as my name here suggests, i truly love quad electrostats and their ability to reproduce a couple of types of music i prefer to listen to. on the other hand i also have a set of shahinian obelisks in another system in another room for when i listen to other types of music. i would be foolish to say either are the best in the world but for my taste, my listening habits, and my budget i prefer them and use balance of disposable income to purchase music and attend live performances.

rep4years -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 08:45

Not the same person under a different moniker. Just thought I'd give my audio history for perspective and perspective seems to be what's missing here.
Probably I used far too many words to make the two points I wanted to make and probably will here again:
1. Be decent and respectful, especially to those who may know something you don't and who appear to be gracious enough not to rub your face in it.
Example: At 18 years old, a friend and I attended a CES in Chicago about 100 years ago. At the Pick Congress Hotel, our first stop, we eagerly waited for the elevator doors to open so we could go upstairs and listen to all of the high end exhibits. When the doors opened, there stood Saul Marantz and Jon Dahlquist....... My friend and I would have been less impressed if it was Ronald Reagan. When they could see how star struck we were, they graciously escorted us to their suite and played DQ-10's on Audio Research. They were kind, decent, and respectful to two young bucks whose ignorance knew no bounds. Jon had worked as an engineer on the lunar excursion module that Neil Armstrong would use and was not yet legendary in the audio industry and Saul was and is legendary still today. When one "gentleman" walked into their suite and casually commented that the system lacked dynamics, both Saul and Jon, both of incredible technical background, politely engaged the man. They were classy with my friend and I, classy with someone who would insult their "baby", now a legendary and landmark product, and didn't procede to infer he was biased, ignorant, or had a lacking of integrity. They were within their rights to do that but simply exuded class. RH seems to have followed the example of Saul and Jon (I  call them that because later I was fortunate to be a rep for Dahlquist for many years) in his responses to allisio.
2. Like Jon and Saul, RH has a fairly impressive technical background and broad knowledge base, including loudspeakers. Just like lecturing Jon and Saul about the technical deficiencies of certain products would be to think too highly of your own opinions, lecturing RH may be a little presumptious.
There are in fact major measurable and audible delayed effects in horns that continue to frustrate those of us who love the strengths of a horn, the best of which are amazing on many levels! I agree with allisio, horns produce the dynamics of music in a way nothing else can. But a Quad, full range Martin Logan, Sound Labs, etc, do not have the measurable or audible problems of multiple time arrivals down the length of a horn and many of us can hear them. The distortions of a Quad or perhaps the Vandersteen 7, are a restriction of dynamic range and, in the case of the Quads, full frequency bandwidth limitations as well. For those, like allisio, who most highly value unrestrained dynamics they either overlook those distortions or can't hear them.. The best dynamic drivers don't have this problem either. Those of us who have gone to planar speakers or the best dynamic designs can't live with horn distortions, even though we'd love to have those wonderful horn dynamics as well! I, for one, miss the dynamics and excitement of a horn but crave the low coloration of a boxless, low mass planar driver. Maggie 1.7, 3.6, or 20 are the best compromises for me, giving a mostly seemless, between
We all have to decide which distortions we're going to live with. All of us would like the dynamic range of a horn, the detail of a Quad, all produced from a box the size of an LS35A. Until that product exists, let's all be decent if not kind and have fun with our hobby without personal attacks!!!

Elliot Goldman -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 10:18

Deat Allisio,
I dont agree with RH most of the time either but it is yor tone and the volume you are expressing it at that seems way out of line here. We get it you don't care for cone speakers! In saying that you probably won't like what JV is declaring the best either, or what HP is, or TC or whatever. 
I have issues with the totally seperate threads of reviewing that this site and publication have embarked on over the last few years. I can not believe that RH, JV, HP etc don't ever get to hear what  the others think is the cream of the crop, or the "best", or their current favorite or some phrase yet to be determined. If you have issues with the speaker in question here that is your opinion and you are entitled to it. Don't buy it! It does sound to me however that you are condemning the speaker without ever hearing it and that is just plain wrong! I heard the product at CES and from that experience I could not make a final evaluation. I find shows only give you a glimpse of a product and many times not a good one. I have done shows and understand the issues of trying to make something sound good in a very bad environment in a very short  time. I will also tell you to really dial in a system even in my own room which I am extremely familiar with it can take weeks to get it "right."
In conclusion, have a drink, smoke a joint, eat some prunes, something and be respectful and reasonable even if you do not agree with Mr. Harley.
To rep  Jon D was a friend of mine and quite a character. He did a lot of listening when he was working on those products in my store and home.

rep4years -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 10:43

Hey Elliot,
Jon was a true gentleman, a brilliant individual, and always very kind to me, a young rep, only 23 when I began working for him. He looked for the good in people and guess what, he normally found it!  He did have a temper but you could see him bite his tongue in the presence of prima donas, loud mouths, and those who were not worthy, technically speaking, to tie his shoes! I used to bring Tennesse Walker (I think?), a favorite of his to shows in Chicago, which in those days he couldn't get in Haupague, NY and considered it an honor to do so. You're not Elliot, the dbx rep who used to go to Bryce Audio in New York, are you?

Elliot Goldman -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 10:51

Jon was quite the character however he was really fun and I used to have to throw him out of my house to get him to go homeLOL.
I did work in NYC and L.I. but I am not the person you are describing. I worked at Lyric for a long time and founded Audio Den, which I sold, when Fred Flinstone was around :)

rep4years -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 11:03

OK....... We may practically have been neighbors! I took a break from the rep business for a time, managing Bryce Audio for a couple of years near 6th and 40th (also Flintstone era :)~. They wanted to move upscale and brought me in to do that but fought me tooth and nail, NAD was as upscale as they'd allow........... I left New York and eventually started a rep firm, representing Quad, KEF, Carver, Sunfire, Onkyo, and others....... I checked on Jon about a year ago...... wonderful guy......

Elliot Goldman -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 11:05

I have no seen him or spoken with him in a very long time. I know he had a very bad accident but that is all  I know. I moved to Florida in 1992 and have been there ever since.

johnny p. -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 12:58

Elliot: I have heard the Model 7. On different occasions, I might add. A very good speaker for those it was designed for - higher price-point folk who take to popular music. (The irony is that horns can play rock 'n roll great as well !!)

And sorry for the angry tone - but I'm a little tired of reviewers not doing reviews right. They should know better.......
As for those who can "hear" horn distortion - they're certainly in the minority. I can't find one review in the past 10 years where the reviewer cited "distortion" or "coloration". And that's about 25 reviews !! The problem is that these people have not heard a compression-horn in recent years.
Finally, I applaud "rep4year's" enthusiam for RH. I stand corrected, but I didn't think RH was a trained engineer in audio science. Meaning he's not an EE or practitioner in physics........

rep4years -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 13:55

I've found several reviews that mention a stridency in the horn. Whether it's mentioned, measured, or heard in reviews you mention,  it does exist. Several creative attempts have been made to ameliorate the horn sound, a result of multiple reflections along the horn mouth and the associated multiple time arrivals to our ears. It has nothing to do with the compression driver and everything to do with the horn body. Again, I LIKE horns, I like electrostats, and I like some dynamic driver speakers. If budget wasn't an issue I'd probably have a great set of horns,  a small set of estats for small rooms and chamber stuff, and a great set of dynamic cone speakers.
To see one attempt at eliminating those distortions see giving the benefits, i.e. high sensitivity, wide dynamic range, high output levels, freedom from dynamic compression,  of a horn without the downsides of classic designs such as La Scala's etc. . Another is  Both of these, to my ear, best the horn designs I've heard. They seem to do most of what all of us love about horns without doing the things that some of us don't. I'm considering buying one of those two designs myself!
I don't know of RH's educational background. It is apparent from his writings that he has a rather extensive knowledge of speaker and electronic design, including a very detailed knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of a horn despite your claim of his ignorance. Whether he is a physicist by training or an EE, his opinions mirror what I know about loudspeaker design and are expressed in a way that doesn't rely on personal attacks to make his point. I've been schooled directly by Quad (actually met Peter Walker) of their own strengths and their admitted weaknesses, which they are first to admit. Laurie Fincham, previously of KEF taught me much about cone speakers, enclosures, loading, damping, etc. Jon Dahlquist showed how freedom from an enclosure and time alignment impacted sound long ago. Klipsch has trained me as to the benefits of a horn. RH seems to have a great understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, and compromises of all of the above as I've seen demonstrated in his writings for many years. 
Elliot, quadlover, RH, and I have all  acknowledged the weaknesses, trade-offs, and compromises of all speaker designs, including the Vandersteens. It appears as if you're the only one here claiming that one speaker, the horn, is the end all be all.
Again, be nice, and don't attack those whose technical knowledge may surpass your own, and lighten up and have some fun. I can't recommend a few of Elliot's recreational diversions but.......... :)~
Everyone here seems to be saying the same thing allesio, calm down, be nice, and allow others their preferences without going into attack dog mode. RH is NOT ignorant of horn attributes, he just doesn't seem to want to live with their shortcomings. You don't need to feel threatened by that! Enjoy! Let him enjoy his preferences! 
I don't have any particular enthusiasm for RH. Just a respect for what and who he appears to be and how he graciously responds to ill-informed and unprovoked attacks.

johnny p. -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 15:04

What do mean by "be nice" ? RH blew a major tenet of audio reviewing and you don't seem to care. It sounds like *you're* ignorant of how a review should be done. Like reading reviews and accepting everything about them (without asking questions). Not my way of doing things.
It seems that Harley merely repeats what the manufacturer claims in his reviews. Nowhere does he indicate that he was trained in (or practiced) audio science. And his opinions of horns are not in-line with most other audio reviewers, these days. Are you a friend of his ?
And speaking of horns - the designs you mention ARE horns !! But it sounds like you haven't heard any other so you are not qualified to make any claims about them.
Finally, Dahlquist. I stand corrected, but I didn't think he made a dipole loudspeaker in 1973. It was baffle-less - not enclosure-less. I thought A'lon and Linkwitz were the first to make an open-back cone speaker in the 1990's........

Robert Harley -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 15:27

I hear approximately fifteen horn systems a year, year in and year out, at consumer and trade shows. There isn't a single one, except the Magico Ultimate, that I would want to live with.
That shouldn't be a problem for you, just as your summary rejection of any loudspeaker that isn't a horn isn't a problem for me. My preference is based on more than 30 years of working professionally in the audio field.
You say "Nowhere does he [Harley] indicate that he was trained (or practiced) audio science." For the record, I have a degree in recording engineering, and taught a degree program in that field. The college had a 24-track studio with a 40-input automated console, and when I taught the program we were the first college audio-engineering program to create and release a CD. I designed and built a recording studio in which I engineered albums that were on the national charts. I've also worked in a CD mastering lab where I was on a team that designed and built CD mastering machines. I've written, or co-written, three Audio Engineering Society papers ("CD-V Signal Optimization", "Recording, Editing, and CD Mastering Entirely in the DAT Format." and "The Role of Critical Listening in Evaluating Audio Equipment Quality.").

johnny p. -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 21:25

I'm sorry to see that you differ from (almost) all other reviewers on horns. Even JV was most impressed by the Cessaro horns that he heard at shows.

And your experience with recordings is laudable - really it is. It's just that people have mistaken your repeating of manufacturers claims as if it's your own technical analysis. Anyway, I didn't start this point on your experience - someone else did.....

johnny p. -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 15:47


cedup -- Sat, 10/09/2010 - 04:57

Which company did you work for in making CD equipment? PolyGram Philips? What is your "degree" in? You do know that calling yourself an "engineer" is clearly defined LEGAL term Recording music is not "engineering" you know. There probably is no such thing as a recording "engineer". made up terms to impress. What is your degree in? What school? Wire Univ?

Of course that wire sounds better!

rep4years -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 18:36

I SAID they were horns! You really need to read what people say before you get in a huff!  I said I LIKE horns and here were some examples that were trying to correct the problems so many of us hear!
The DQ-10 was for the record, baffle-less and dipole on the midrange with a sealed woofer. I'm not a friend of RH but I'm sure I'd probably enjoy his company. You seem bent on argument even when I give you several examples of where I agree on the merits of horns. Finding some common ground is obviously not on your radar screen and any who don't sing the "horns rule everyting else drools" anthem are subject to your ridicule. With several signals from you that you're bent on being contentious without a thoughtful give and take I sign off from discussing anything further with you. Be well and enjoy the horns.......

johnny p. -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 19:19

You said those speakers have qualities "of a horn" and "best the horns". You did not say they WERE horns.

Most people don't know that Emerald Physics - nor SP Tech (both "waveguides") are horns. More rave reviews in the press....

And I *never* indicated that "everything else drools". Go back and read what I said about the Vandy 7 (as pertaining to pop and rock fans). Please !!

rep4years -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 19:57

Here's exactly what I said: "To see one attempt at eliminating those distortions see giving the benefits, i.e. high sensitivity, wide dynamic range, high output levels, freedom from dynamic compression,  of a horn without the downsides of classic designs such as La Scala's etc. . Another is 
It's implied that attempting to eliminate the distortions I described from horns was the goal of both emerald physics and gedlee. It's why I told you about them, because they were horns I enjoy and was considering! It was an attempt to find common ground! I said they had the strengths of a horn without the downsides of a horn...... wow........ Again, even when someone attempts to find common ground, you find a way to ignite contention. You insult those with more knowledge than you...... I've tried but I give up. I think all would be best served if we simply stopped responding to the just drags out your 15 minutes.....
I've been in audio for many years but new to this forum, invited by quadlover. I'm not a friend of RH but cheers to him if he has to tolerate this type of thing regularly from the inadequately informed and the socially inept.

johnny p. -- Fri, 10/08/2010 - 21:07

How am my inept ? That would be *you* for applauding RH's botched review of the Vandy 7.
A horn is a horn.. "Without the downsides of a horn" indicates you thought they were partial-horns, sorry.
Then putting words in my mouth concerning my attitude toward other speakers.
Please go away..........

rep4years -- Sat, 10/09/2010 - 02:15

OMG............ Done.

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