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What are some great non-traditional speakers like omnidirectionals and electrostatics?

Duke

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I have Revel M16's which I love and I don't think upgrading to the more expensive towers like F206's will be that different of an upgrade so I'd like to try out of some more unique types of speakers. Stuff like omnidirectionals and electrostatics. Speakers with big woofers like Klipsch Forte are also included in this. Just anything that is great and not traditional. My budget is around $3000 but I'd be willing to spend more if it was worth it.

I have been involved with multi-directional speakers as a dealer or manufacturer for twenty-something years, and before that as an enthusiastic amateur going back another fifteen years or so. I think they can often do some things better than conventional speakers, but sometimes they do some things worse.

For one thing, multi-directional speakers are usually more demanding in terms of real estate; that is, they generally like to have some "breathing room". In my experience if their extra dosage of off-axis energy arrives too soon, it can degrade clarity. On the other hand the additional off-axis energy of a good multi-directional tends to be spectrally correct, which is imo desirable, and given sufficient reflection path lengths, ime the extra relatively late-onset reflections can be beneficial to both timbre and spatial quality with little or no downside.

If you have any interest in an arguably "unique" multi-directional approach which would take advantage of what your M16's already do well, then there might be another option.
 

Rip City Dave

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The Fisher/Bertagni (BES) loudspeakers were fairly nontraditional. ;)

P1010094.jpg

I still have a pair of these in my garage. Don't even know if they still work
 

fpitas

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People here touched on it, but be aware that restoring old speakers is a labor of love. Often quite expensive and frustrating, too. I know that old Altecs in particular are often a hodge-podge of incorrect replacement parts. So caveat emptor, and all that.
 

pocoloco

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I was in a similar position as you a while back and ended up buying some JBL horns and then some spatial audio open baffle speakers. In my mind, having different flavor speakers is more enjoyable better than upgrading the same type of speaker if you had to choose a path.
 

gnarly

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You could try Acoustat ESL's. People do manage to restore them. You'll get pretty severe head in vice syndrome. But they are very nice within that vice. Here are some model Two's which I have owned.
View attachment 223318
Yep, plenty of Acoustats still running.
I keep a pair of the original Acoustat X with their high-voltage servo amps set up, for comparisons against my DIY speaker builds.

acoustat x pair.jpg
You could look for more oddball ESL's like Beveridges.


Or Dayton-Wright XG-8s or XG-10s which were contained within mylar bag holding sulfur hexafluoride gas. The gas had a different speed of sound making the speaker acoustically larger and let it run higher voltages so it was an unusual ESL in that it had good bass and was fairly efficient. Of course that is the most potent greenhouse gas known.
ou might try some of the early Martin-Logan speakers in the CLS line. They were a single curved panel. Not much bass, couldn't play loud, not very efficient. For music not needing much below 100 hz they were pretty special.

Never got to hear the Beveridges or Infinitys, but did hear the Dayton-Wrights, Apogees, and Magnaplanars.

Still have a pair of the Martin-Logan CLS too, although they are in the back of a coat closet.
I agree, for low volume and with the right room & sub integration, they can be remarkable.
cls.jpg






The only old box speakers that would be of interest in my opinion might be some of the big horns from Klipsch or Altec or similar.
Agreed. Although there are some old live-sound boxes that still look interesting.
 

gnarly

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You might want to try the CBT speakers that D.B. Keele developed. AFAIK, they're sold in kit form only, but they're not difficult to assemble. Jim
CBTs are really cool....they are the least room dependent speaker I've had experience with. Very even spatially anywhere you put them.
Here's one of my DIY pair

cbt pict.jpg
 

aschen

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Would love to see some spin data from electrostatics, planar magnetic, open baffle, Bose 901s, and other non conventional designs..
 

olderman

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Would love to see some spin data from electrostatics, planar magnetic, open baffle, Bose 901s, and other non conventional designs..
Amir has done some extensive measurements on the Magnepan LRS on this site.
 

Blumlein 88

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Would love to see some spin data from electrostatics, planar magnetic, open baffle, Bose 901s, and other non conventional designs..
hardisj has done the spins for the Bose 901s.

 

aschen

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hardisj has done the spins for the Bose 901s.



I forgot I had seen that in the past. Border line thesis level of effort from Erin on these. The curves are definitely bizarre compared to conventional speakers.
 

fpitas

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I forgot I had seen that in the past. Border line thesis level of effort from Erin on these. The curves are definitely bizarre compared to conventional speakers.
Heavily room and placement dependent. Like a lot of "spacial" speakers, very polarizing.
 

Gorgonzola

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Not sure how much they cost these days, but the Magnepan 1.7i should be on your list, if you have the room for them.
I enjoyed my Magneplanar MG 1.6QR's for over a decade; the 1.7i's are their successor though 3-way with "Quasi-ribbon" drivers.

Bi-polars tend to do poorly measured by a Klippel system but sound better in real application, say 3-5 ft. from the wall behind
 

Recluse-Animator

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Sanders Model 10e hybrid electrostatic speakers.
Can be bought with active crossover and amp or just speakers.
walnut-model-10.jpg


JansZen sealed hybrid electrostatic speakers with optional side tweeters.
Active DSP with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth or passive.
all_up_and_from_left_446ec4ff-df5f-444a-9402-22d8dde5853a_2048x.jpg


Morrison Audio Model 29.
Real 360 degree omnidirectional active speakers.
31463-4__68679.1619721216.jpg


The rest are not omnidirectional nor electrostatic so sorry for off topic.

Bohne Audio
253153780_272873581512304_8151456426463042628_n.jpg

172709968_132446402221690_3426550796426589094_n.jpg


Oswalds Mills Audio
mon9.jpg


Legacy Audio
image
 

dlaloum

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My recommendation would be Quad ESL's

Pros and cons...

The 57's have a limited Sweet spot, you need to set them up carefully, and you need amplification with the max V strictly limited - if the amp puts out too much voltage, they will ARC and self destruct.

Limited bass, limited highs, BUT - Nothing and I mean NOTHING comes close to the wonderful midrange that these produce - truly magical.

In combination with their original QuadII valve amps, these can make music magic - but they are strictly SPL limited (won't go loud) - and you really truly need to get an appropriate matching amp, or run the very likely risk of self destruction. (I know from long experience! - I have a set in storage waiting for a refurb)

As originally shipped with their stubby little feet, they tilted back and were designed for small english lounge rooms.
If you can, get a stand for them which raises them up and faces them straight forward - works much better in larger modern rooms.
They have absorbant material built into the back, intended to allow them to be close(r) to the wall behind them, it minimises the sound emitted to the back, and makes them more suitable for small rooms.

There are various mods that have been made over the years - a stacked pair one on top of the other, can provide greater dynamics...

Matching subs to ESL's is... difficult. If you are sensitive to the "speed" (for lack of a better word" of the ESL panel, most subs simply don't work, there is a disconnect between the way the mids are reproduced and the way to sub reproduces the bass.
Some people are more or less sensitive to this - I could always hear that disconnect with the ML hybrid stats... most people don't.

OK Moving on to other Quad Models

ESL63 - released over 50 years ago now!! - and in all important aspects well nigh identical to the current ESL2812.

I picked a used pair up around 1997 for US$1000 .... had them refurbed and used them up until circa 2010 when they were replaced by something smaller due to WAF issues...

OK the ESL63 (and all subsequent Quad ESL's) is very different - suggest you read about their design online - their time delay, makes them behave as a virtual "sound Orb"

They are a true dipole design, emitting sound equally to the front and back - so you need to bring them forward into the room, give them "breathing space" - that means you will get a spacious sound, enhanced by the slightly delayed back reflection from the speaker (if they are too close to the wall behind them, the reflection will muddy the sound...) - alternatively, you can place them in front of curtains or other absorbant surfaces - and use them as virtual monopoles. - with a reflective wall behind them, you need to bring them in from the wall at least 1m (3ft) - a bit more is better.

They have more bass and highs than the ESL57 - still tends to be bass light - again there are a range of mods for them, including some that raise them off the floor - opinions differ.
The only sub I know of that by reputation, properly matches with them is the Gradient Sub - which comes as a pair, and each sub becomes a stand for one ESL63 - they are fairly rare, and I never managed to find one near me.

Properly set up, these will throw a very wide sweet spot, one you can really walk around in! (a matter, I suspect, of proper use of the reflections!)

They do so much right !! - The midrange is not quite as "sweet" as the ESL57 ... but everything else is much improved.

Parts are available for them (including complete panels) - and there are specialist repairers all over the world.

You probably can pick a pair up for "a song" (as I did) and still have change from $3000 after a full refurb. (the Current ESL2812 is around $12,000 - an ESL63 will give you 99.9% of that performance)

About 20 years ago, Quad put mighty efforts into developing a version of the ESL63 with more bass.... they then released the ESL988 and ESL989 - the 988 was an updated ESL63, the 989 added two bass panels top and bottom, giving it a touch more "oomph", current models are ESL2812 and ESL2912

Basically it raises the SPL capability of the ESL in the bass range - extension is not really increased - but mid bass dynamics and max output are.

It is still not a "Bass-Head" speaker - but is definitely more satisfying for Rock & Pop music than the ESL63/988/2812

For a few years I ran an all ESL surround setup with 63's at the rear and 989's at the front - I was planning on integrating the 57's into the center if possible - but ultimately ran up against WAF issues - and the Quad's were sold off in exchange for a set of Gallo speakers (about which later...)

I used to sell the Quad's around 1985, and have owned Quad ESL's of various models since then. - I still have a pair of ESL57's - although currently in storage.

Happy to answer questions to the best of my ability
 

dlaloum

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Martin Logan....

Ok I talked about the quads.... but I spent a lot of time over the years, auditioning other panels - ML's, Maggies, and others - during the 80's and 90's (and early 'aughties) I could consistently "hear the box" with box speakers.... not all, not always - but most of them, and some of them very very expensive megabuck models.

People who hadn't familiarised themselves with panels, couldn't hear it. I could walk into a showroom, and tell immediately whether it was a box speaker or panel playing - sight unseen. Things have gotten better more recently (speakers perhaps have more rigidity in their structure and/or more absorbant side panels... or other aspects - not sure)

Ok about the ML's

I found them to be much more sensitive to positioning in terms of getting a proper soundstage and a decently wide sweet spot (when compared to the ESL63) - they are more like the ESL57 in this sense.

The Hybrid models with built in dynamic woofer/sub - tend to do many many things right, and have no lack in the bass, like most pure ESL's - on the other hand, even the TOTL versions of these, sounded to me like the bass was disconnected from the mids and highs - not "of a cloth".
If you can find them, the classic ML CLS - full range ESL - did not suffer from this issue.
They are rare.... always were... but given their age, you might well find them at a reasonable price.

They are BIG - and need to be placed carefull (see my comments about the ESL63 above - same applies to these)

They get higher SPL than the ESL63's - possibly simply due to double or more the surface area! - a superb speaker

They are still not a bass head speaker - and matching a sub to them might suffer from the bass matching issues I mentioned (however those were before digital crossovers, and Speaker/RoomEQ solutions like Dirac.... so there may be a better way nowadays!)
 

dlaloum

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Maggies (Magnepan) - the 3 series and up

Been around forever (back to the 80's) - I always enjoyed these - have not done as much critical listening as to the Quads or the ML CLS...

They are true dipoles, so same positioning issues as for the Quads and ML's

I certainly would have them shortlisted
 

dlaloum

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As an alternative of interest... I replaced my Quad ESL's with Anthony Gallo Reference 3.2's, Reference AV center, and Micro Nucleus surrounds....

These are not a dipole or omnidirectional speaker...

But the CDT tweeter, does radiate the high freqencies to a bit more than 180 degrees - so they have some similarities to omni speakers

They are one of the very few speakers that I have heard that keep 99% of the benefits of ESL's while fitting into a home decor more easily.

The Spheres design, tends to get rid of most of the additional radiated sound that identifies "box" speakers.

Decent placement and the wide radiating pattern, can combine in excellent imaging while keeping a spacious sound

They are typically available used (as a pair) for around $1500 - so well within your proposed budget

An interesting "left field" design - which I have been happily living with since circa 2010

Anthony Gallo, sold the company some years ago, at which point they discontinued their floor standing reference models, the satellite models keep that superb CDT tweeter... but they no longer make full range speakers sadly

Their final swansong was the 5LS Line Array speaker - of which they only ever made something like 60 sets - definitely an interesting and superb speaker if you can find a set.
 

Blumlein 88

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I really liked the Mirage M1Si when I heard it a long time ago.
Spent more time with the Mirage M3Si speakers. Both models seemed a bit heavy or slightly dark. Of course I was using Quad ESL-63's so maybe not as heavy as I remembered. Now don't get me wrong, they were good speakers with many good attributes. Just a little dark and sluggish sounding according to my tastes. Being bipoles they also need lots of space from the wall. Give them a good bit of power and they can be quite good. Some modern class D amps would likely be just perfect for them.
 
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