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Speaker Asylum: REVIEW: ADS L9E Speakers by jonbee

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REVIEW: ADS L9E Speakers

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Model: L9E
Category: Speakers
Suggested Retail Price: $800
Description: 3 way stand mount speaker
Manufacturer URL: ADS
Model Picture: View

Review by jonbee on November 12, 2009 at 11:30:42
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for the L9E

Since my main system is pretty stable thrse days, I busy myself by buying 2-3 pairs of speakers/month of models from the distant past that I've wanted to try, and are now available for very cheap prices.
The latest is the ADS L9e.
In my years in this hobby (I bought my first good system 41 years ago) I've owned the following from ADS: L910,L780 II, L300 and L1290, and have a lot of experience wih L1590 II. FWIW, I think the 1590 is the best of the bunch, and is a marvelous speaker by any standard.
I found a lot to like with ADS line - they have very flat response, good engineering, pretty low coloration, and are nicely constructed. They are quite dynamic, and the 3 ways offer excellent detail in the upper part of the range.
However, I also found similar problems in the line - in particular, I felt the sticky dome tweeter had some ringing that gave an edginess to the top end (not so much in the 1590), and the cone woofers were audibly less transparent and detailed than the mids and tweeters. These issues precluded me from owning any of these long term.
The L9e is one of the later generation (around 1989), after ADS changed from the coated cloth mid and tweeter domes to plastic. ADS stated that the plastic had much less ringing and distortion than the coated fabric. I've read that many seem to like the older models better, but I wanted to hear it for myself. The other major change in this time frame was moving from 12 db/oct. crossovers to 24 db/oct.
The L9e is the largest among several very similar 3 way standmount models from that era that used the same mid and tweeter, along with 7-8.5 in. woofers: M9, M9/90, CM7, Sat7 and S700. These models use various cabinet sizes and materials. The L9e uses the older style Stiflite paper cones, the others use the newer plastic cones for the woofers. Xovers for all are at 700 and 4000 hz., 24 db/oct.
So how do they sound? They have similarities to the "old" ADS- they are very flat, open, and uncolored. I'm happy to say that the new tweeter is much better behaved, sounding detailed, yet very smooth. The ringing issue does seem to have been handled. Instead, it is a bit rolled off on top, sounding a bit subdued. The earlier tweeters certainly were livelier, but not as accurate, IMO.
The story is similar for the mids. Detailed, clean and neutral, but a tad laid back by comparison. The dome on this new mid is smaller than the older 2" treated fabric domes, so the xover is at 700 rather than 350-550 on the older 3 ways. This requires even more range from the woofer, and the old discontinuity I found is still present. The Stiflite woofer has a very smooth reponse, and is uncolored, but is not as fast as the mid it hands off to, so the bottom part of the range is a bit more opaque and subdued than the top.
The other sonic element worth mentioning is the bass- it is very deep for the size (40 hz. is my estimate), clean and dynamic, but there is some emphasis in the mid to upper bass. I think it is precisely the sound many people want, as it really adds kick to the clean and fast bottom end, but is not accurate, strictly speaking.
All these comments are standard nitpicky fare; I've been comparing these directly to my long term $7500 personal reference speakers, VMPS RM30 with twin ACI Force XL subs.
I want to emphasize is that overall the L9e is really a very good sounding speaker, with some shortcomings but overall a smooth, fullbodied, very musical and easy presentaion. I think most listeners would consider them very enjoyable sources. IMO they are a bit better than the older ADS models, such as the 780, and are a super bargain at typical prices of $400 and under, depending on condition.
For me, these are good enough that I'm going to invest some more effort in them- open them up, replace some caps and wiring, and add cabinet stiffening and damping just to see how much more there is to got from them.

Product Weakness: Lower mids a bit more opaque than upper mids, rolled off a little on top. Bass is solid and dynamic but a bit overdone.
Product Strengths: Smooth, detailed clean upper range, full, very punchy bass. Well made. Musically natural and unfatiguing. Newer drivers less prone to damage and dust buildup than the older.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: PS Audio GCC-250
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): none
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Modwright/Sony 9100 Platinum Sig Truth
Speakers: vmps rm30C, ACI Force XL subs
Cables/Interconnects: all silver
Music Used (Genre/Selections): lots
Room Size (LxWxH): 16 x 19 x 8
Room Comments/Treatments: a bit bright. difficult to get good bass loading
Time Period/Length of Audition: 1 week
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): PS Audio Quintet
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: ADS L9E Speakers - jonbee 11:30:42 11/12/09 ( 2)