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In Reply to: RE: "Maggie woofers for the midbass, Acoustats for the mids, Maggie ribbons for the highs" :-)) ... posted by Satie on March 17, 2012 at 00:30:09
Any figures on how loud the Acoustats will go if you relieve them of bass duty?
Depends on size.
The bigger ones will do bass in particular and midbass significantly louder and midrange proper (at and above orchestral A) a little louder. They compress above 100db and distort heavily above 105 or so. My 2+2 owner friend had them crossed over at 50 hz to a compact sealed 10"sub. He was using the Transnova amps and we managed to get near 110 db peaks on the combo - though the sub was running out of steam a little before that. Beyond that, I can only repeat what he told me in that the Acoustats lacked bass and midbass power and bass would bottom out at roughly 100 db, leaving little midbass energy beyond that, but he said the midbass came to life once he introduced the subwoofer.
If you want the clear loud transients with an Acoustat you must use a sub to preserve range of motion on the diaphragm into the midrange. If you just want the bass to be loud, you can use one of the 6 or 8 panel acoustats and they will do it readily, but not give you the powerful middle mids for the likes of Etta or Berganza.
On another bass note:
I had been listening to Howard playng Liszt Hungarian Raphsodies and Pagannini etudes, and was really impressed by the new Utopia like warm tonal balance punchig the lowest notes. The transition to the single wire low notes was incredibly clear and obvious in the dryish acoustic. I measured it at 105 db c weighted peaks. It was very satisfying.
I then put the Arrau Transcendentals on Phillips to play, the bass was nowere nearly as defined and there was a giant warm acoustic unmistakeable in its overwhelming takeover of my room. There was nowhere near as much punch. So I started raising the volume till the midrange tube amp was getting microphonic noises in it. I took out the SPL meter again and noted that the peaks were just over 110 db and shut things down to move the amps around so that the tubes were further away and the trannies were first in line for the soundwaves from the bass. Playing again, the impactful bass of the Howard recordings on hyperion were still not there with the Arrau/phillips, so I continued raising the volume but even reaching over 120 db peaks (c weighted) and my ears ringing and on beyond the verge of pain, I could not get the desired bass impact because of the recording venue - the large space of the Concertgebow. Though the large hall bass is satisfying in its own wrapping warm way, you really want your solo piano in a drier acoustic and smaller chamber to have the requisite satisfying impact.
But now that my ears are shot for the weekend, I can only listen sotto voce.
Wow, 120 dB, that's not bad (for anything except your ears, that is). Agree that a recording made in a large hall isn't going to have that kind of impact, and I'd think that raising the levels up to what you'd experience next to the piano would distort the overall presentation even more than what the butchers I mean producers did when they compressed it. (Did I ever tell you about the one time I heard Horowitz live? The remarkable thing about it wasn't the loud passages, but the preternatural evenness and quietness of his pianissimos. Control like I've never heard and didn't think was possible. Every time he played one, the audience would literally gasp and you could hear the intake of breath in the auditorium. Amazing, but completely absent from the recordings. I think there should be a law that dynamic range can't be altered, and that all recordings have to have an absolute SPL reference.)
Thanks for the Acoustat levels. I'm wondering whether you could get to 115 dB if you move the crossover even higher, say to 80 Hz or more. I'm curious about the practicality of a planar/electrostatic hybrid with good dynamics (minimum 115 dB, though of course higher would be better). Also about the practicality of a Mmlrot1-type Tympani/electrostat kludge with wide dynamics. I think that would pretty much rule out the wider double-width Acoustats if you kept the ribbon tweeter because you'd have to put it too far away from the acoustic center of the midrange, and I'm not wild about beamy speakers so if it were me, I'd want to. Logans might be a better choice since you can run them full range without too much beaming, but I'm not sure what their dynamic range is either (the hybrids cross over significantly higher).
Nobody makes what I'd really want, a high-output delay line line source stat, though I gather Kentaja's friend is working on it. But he was talking about something too wide for this use anyway.
Yes, you did mention your Hprowitz experience, obviously made a deep impression on you. I was a child when he retired so I only know him from recordings, of which I have some dozen from scarlati to liszt Rachmaninov and Chopin.
I don't think you can get any more than that level of mid power out of Acoustats, definitely not 115 db. I can't tell whether the issue was the near clipping of the Transnovas or the speaker, but I am inclined to think it was the speaker. Coming to think about it, that listening session at loud volume was the first time I noticed the kazoo noise from an ESL, and the only time it was a bother.
I think the Martin Logans have even less headroom than the Acoustats. The CLS with its big surface never managed to do midbass as well as I heard from the acoustat 2+2 with or without the sub.
So till someone does a better than Kingsound stat, then Acoustats (4 to 8 panel models) are pretty much all there is in ESLs that do good midbass and believable bass - but for the giant soundlabs.
I think it was far and away the most spectacular performance of anything I've ever heard. By leaps and bounds. I've been to lots of great concerts by great pianists but this was like watching Superman. I can understand why people used to line up all night to get tickets.
The reason I scored them is that there was a scandal -- it was revealed that Carnegie Hall was giving blocks of tickets away to friends and connections rather than selling them to the general public. So Horowitz cancelled his scheduled Carnegie Hall concert and rescheduled at Avery Fischer Hall. It was on short notice and my brother got word of it before word got out and the lines formed.
I don't think anyone is ever going to get more bass/midbass levels out of electrostatics of a reasonable size because it's pretty much determined by the breakdown voltage of air, the only way around that is to use gas-filled bags and that creates problems of its own. Quad's folded woofer design does increase surface area and output, that's one possible way to go, but I imagine it would be very expensive for a large woofer. And the figure I've seen is that planar magnetic panels will give you 10 times the excursion of stats.
I was more curious about the SPL potential of the panels in the midrange, where excursions are much less and with a reasonable baffle size you don't have to compensate for 6 dB/octave dipole cancellation, which means that below Fequal Xmax has to increase as the cube as frequency decreases. I mean, everyone agrees that Tympani midbass is unequaled, and most people agrees that electrostatics are unsurpassed in the midrange where they play, and from what I've seen the two blend very well. So if you limited the stats to the midrange and got their level up . . .
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