As a guide to the OP, there are threads on this topic here at Agon. Plenty of ideas and companies to select from. I would caution that it is most helpful to understand the inherent performance characteristics of panels vs. dynamic open baffle, as, imo, they differ significantly.
The two most fundamental differences I hear are that images with panels are more diffuse, and with less macrodynamic impact (less concentrated force) than open baffle dynamic and dynamic hybrids; not bad, just different. I can get either to sound wonderful. But, imo, there is no being able to duplicate the essential character of the other. Try to experience and hone down your expectations before you buy. If you can't experience them, do a LOT of reading to know what the performance differences are.
Finally, my experience has been that speaker systems that are passive vs. active depend more on the setup/system configuration for ultimate performance, and that neither one has absolutely outperformed the other. i.e. I can get either one to sound better depending on system. Don't believe it when you are told that any given active speaker system will always outperform a passive one by another manufacturer. It's simply not true, as I have learned by building systems with them both.
Consider OHM's, Salk makes a few models with an open back option which can add some ambience.
DefTech still makes bi-polar.. or high dollar options like German Physiks and MBL are omni-polar.
I also like that added ambience so I get it. I currently have a set of OHM's and have some Salks on order.
When I've heard properly set up MBL's I tend to like them.
Just like that "big" sound.
If you can: audition Spatial Audio and/or Emerald Physics systems. You won’t regret it! http://www.spatialaudio.us/products and https://www.emeraldphysics.com/categories/panel-speakers No connection, outside of being a very happy, EP owner.
There are several, including some of those mentioned, but some of the best of any type are:
1. Legacy Audio Aeris - can match or better pretty much anything of any type available.
2. Nola's - but they're expensive
3. GT Audioworks - outstanding
4. Spatial Audio / Emerald Physics - great values, but may not have as great a treble as some of these others.
5. Magnestand modified Maggies - much better bass and dynamics than Maggies - but, also a great value.
6. Eminent Technology LFT-8b - great value and great sound.
There are others, but these are some of the best. I have the Aeris, Magnestand Maggies, and Emerald Physics, which I would rank in that order. They're all great - but, the Aeris is simply one of the best speakers available.
Oh, no... I almost forgot some that are right up there with the Aeris in their sound quality - the Linkwitz Orions and LX-521's.
I also have the Orions, which I'd rank with the Aeris, or very, very close, as are the LX-521's.
The drawback - they're kits from Madisound, though you will find them available for sale used, occasionally. They are great values also, at their used prices.
Did I miss your budget? I owned maggies, but they lacked the bass slam of dynamic speakers, and the ribbons were sonically slightly separated from the bass panels
I have KCIIs that sounds ever better as I upgrade my system. Combined with the EVS 1200 amp and Oppo 105 with power supply upgrade ranks among the best I have owned (~ $5K MSRP)
If your room is 'normal' size check out the LAS Voyager GaN amp
Thank everyone for replying. Probably no more than $3-5K (but could spend $10k if I thought it was worth it).
The Linkwitz Orions page says what has struck me in decades of listening to the Mirage M3s: 1. the speakers disappear and 2. you can walk around the room and they still sound great. Not that these are defining criteria per se, but this to me seems to go with the speaker doing somethings very right. I’ll never forget decades ago auditioning some apogees which were 30 seconds WRONG and the mirages which were almost as quickly RIGHT. Years of listening haven’t changed that basic impression.
douglas_schroeder--thanks for your post and reminder about open baffle. I think my long gone and much loved Dahlquist DQ 10s were open baffle. Do you know any non-dipole speakers which meet the two criteria above?
berner99, glad to help. The point about speakers sounding good as one walks around the room is more a selling point than an absolute indicator of superb sound. Only IF you are up and about while listening regularly would that be important. It is certainly not a requirement to recreate a superb experience from the listening chair. Don’t be drawn off the goal by marketing and unusual features that do not necessarily mean the best experience.
I had the Apogee Caliper for a short period of time and it was meh, not terribly impressive. It didn’t help that the speaker had a surround issue and I learned why you don’t buy vintage from third parties when it involves shipping and you haven't heard the speakers. (Not condemning all third party vintage sales, just the one I experienced). But you couldn’t get me to go for an old Quad, Apogee, ML, or any of the others. WAY too good of new designs today, imo. YMMV
I think you’e answered the million dollar question, which would you prefer, panel like magnetic planar or electrostatic, OR open baffle dynamic? You likely would gravitate toward the open baffle dynamic. Now you only have to choose between Line Source or more defined arrays (such as 2xWoofer, full range, tweet) etc. There are several configurations, but I think you would lament the loss of dynamic drivers. It seems what you are gravitating toward.
Pure Audio Project.This was my immediate thoughts.
Really fantastic speakers, and upgradable.
Talk about a disappearing act...
Trio15TB - $4000.00
Trio15 HeilAMT - $5000.00
Thanks again for all the suggestions. The pure audio project speakers are being demoed at NY audio show in NYC next weekend and I'll have to see if I can track down some of the others to audition. Can't imagine buying speakers like this without.
1. Which of your categories do my current mirage M3s fall under i.e. sealed box with dynamic drivers facing forward and backward? I believe these drivers produce forward and rear sound in phase vs open baffle which produces front and rear sound out of phase
2.If the goals is to simulate live music then a. speakers that disappear fits, since there are no speakers e.g. at a symphony or acoustic concert and b. the person in the coupla seats on either side of you probably hears something similar to what you do. So while sound walking around the room may or may not be a marketing gimmick, a 3" sweet spot means something fundamental is wrong. c. Also in any indoor concert some percentage of sound reaching you will be indirect. Are most speakers today direct radiators?
I'm inclined toward dynamic speakers and dont care for electrostatics aside from maggies (not my first choice but they do something right that some dynamics dont).
berner99 wrote: "So while sound walking around the room may or may not be a marketing gimmick, a 3" sweet spot means something fundamental is wrong. c. Also in any indoor concert some percentage of sound reaching you will be indirect. Are most speakers today direct radiators? "
"Direct radiator" speakers still generate a lot of off-axis energy and therefore a lot of reflections.
At most normal listening distances in most rooms, most of the sound that reaches your ears is reflected sound. And most of that reflected sound started out as off-axis energy. What we perceive is a weighted average of the direct + reflected sound, which implies that what a speaker is doing off-axis (including around back!) matters.
A bipole or dipole speaker produces additional spectrally-correct reverberant energy. With proper set-up (dipole and bipole speakers should be out in the room several feet), this results in a warm, relaxing, rich timbre. They also do a good job of conveying a sense of immersion and of disappearing as the apparent sound source.
I’m a dealer for dipole speakers and used to build bipolar speakers. What I do now shares some common ground with bipolars, and I still think very highly of the format.
berner99, I do not wish to be presumptuous, but it seems firing full range fore and aft now is considered a faux pas. It's pretty old technology and there have been some wonderful advancements, i.e. all these open baffle dynamic speakers, since then. I never could get past the sense that they were inherently more sloppy than traditional designs when I heard them several times years ago.
Pertaining to your second paragraph of question/observations, perhaps it would be best for you to think in terms of "concentration" of energy when thinking about which type of speaker would best suit. I often use the analogy of straight line wind versus tornado. Both have powerful fronts, but the straight line wind is a wall of sound, overall less concentrated than tornado. Tornado is tightly packed and while less distributed, more forceful. Now, apply this to panels and dynamic speakers; the panel is like straight line wind, while the dynamic speaker is like tornado.
You will overall get more tightly focused center image and bigger variance with dynamics with dynamic drivers. You will overall get more diffuse center image (larger and less dense) and less variance in dynamics. Forget the "walk around" variable; it does nothing to determine the final happiness with the seated listening to a speaker system - unless you will be up and around while listening constantly.
When I establish a system with this particular genre of speaker my goal is to claim the best of both worlds with an open baffle dynamic speaker at least 60" tall. I would not wish to settle for less than at least 2 15" woofers per side and a speaker ideally 60" or taller. There are some wonderful speakers of similar (but not identical) ilk mentioned here already. The PAP Horn 1 (or other variants) does not meet the height criterion, but that is easy fixed with a bit of imagination. :)
I advise you to keep your current speakers, and buy new ones as well. Swap them out whenever you feel like it. You will begin to hear substantive differences, ones that cannot be mimicked by the other. It's a great way to gain appreciation for the vast palate of sound available, and to slowly determine which technology suits your ears the most.
I’m certainly open to improvements, and assume current products can do better than my over 20 year old speakers, and will investigate but at a minimum they have to produce this experience (sorry for repetition but as audiokinesis describes):
A bipole or dipole speaker...With proper set-up...results in a warm, relaxing, rich timbre. They also do a good job of conveying a sense of immersion and of disappearing as the apparent sound source.
And thanks for taking the time to describe details in different types of speaker above.
"Direct radiator" speakers still generate a lot of off-axis energy and therefore a lot of reflections...At most normal listening distances in most rooms, most of the sound that reaches your ears is reflected sound
Wouldn’t the amount of reflected sound that reaches listener be very different from dipole/bipole vs any random ported box speaker? And which is one is closer to what person would hear in e.g. symphony hall?
Thanks, I understand what dipoles and bipoles are and that they are very different, and yet if my decades old memories are correct, maggies (dipoles) and my mirages (bipoles) produce a similar reaction in me.
I heard the spatial speakers (not sure which models) at the capital audio fest and they were breathtaking.... dynamic, open, airy, natural, and live. One of the few speakers that produced that "she is here singing now before me" sensation. And the bass was shockingly good... tight and deep. Amazing considering that the base drivers are dipole!
open dipole Planars with OPen baffle servo subs
hit of Capital Audiofest and Best sound of show Don’t believe me read the review
Berner99 asks: "Wouldn’t the amount of reflected sound that reaches listener be very different from dipole/bipole vs any random ported box speaker?"
Assuming similar radiation pattern shapes, yes having two such patterns - one in the front and one in the rear - will result in a correspondingly higher reverberant-to-direct sound ratio.
Berner99 continues: "And which is one is closer to what a person would hear in e.g. symphony hall?"
Imo the dipole/bipole configuration has more potential to replicate what you would hear in a concert hall.
Briefly, at a good seat in a concert hall, the direct sound is strong and the reverberant sound is strong BUT (and here is what largely differentiates a good seat from a poor one), the early reflections are weak. It is the early reflections which are the most detrimental to clarity.
I find this to be valid in home audio as well. For instance, if you push your Mirages back near the wall, their "backwave" energy has a relatively short reflection path before reaching your ears, and clarity suffers. However if you pull them well out into the room, perhaps five feet or more, not only does clarity improve but so does timbre, and on a good recording you also begin to feel immersed in the soundstage on the recording.
Sonus Faber’s top two models, the SE17 and the Aida, both have adjustable rear-firing arrays. Imo this adjustability is a good idea.
Anyway the topic of how to replicate "what a person would hear in symphony hall" is a huge one, and this post just scratches the surface.
into dipoles, bipoles, and quasi-bipoles
An investment that I’ve yet to regret is a pair of ’raw’ ESS AMT drivers.
Small, Fast, Efficient, Dynamic. Mate them with small(er) woofers for the low end, and a larger sub for the extreme bottom.
One really doesn’t need to go ’full dipole’ unless one’s an extremist about it. *S*
Just fuse them so you don’t make the elements take a stroll. ;)
The OB/Dipole woofer system seen in the GT Audioworks are made by GR Research/Rythmik, and feature the Rythmik servo-feedback operation. They are available separately by both those companies (as a DIY kit only), and can be added to any loudspeaker, just like a "normal" (non-OB/Dipole) sub.
The basic kit is a pair of woofers and a plate amp, the latter including a "shelving circuit" to counter-act the dipole cancellation inherent in all OB speakers and subs. Both 8" and 12" woofers are offered, the base version using a pair of drivers in an H-frame. But you can add as many woofers (and associated plate amp) as you want, the GTA speaker having four woofers per side. THE sub for planar loudspeakers!
@berner99 you're got it backwards, re. bipolar and dipole.
I'd like to repeat my question: is anyone aware of any currently produced speakers using similar sets of dynamic drivers firing forward and backward in phase? That old Mirage design was surely pretty rare.
Definitive Technology still makes the bipolar BP-10B.
It's comparatively quite inexpensive and I'm sure it's not in the same league as the other speakers mentioned here.
But, it's a well made, true bipolar speaker.
I have Maggie smmgs and 1.6's, both with magnariser stands. I held on to my Def Tech BP-10's because they are excellent, high-efficient, full range speakers and I obviously like the bipole sound. The Maggie's still rule with more life like sound...especially strings, horns and vocals at a cost of tricky placement and current demands.
For low volume night listening, the BP-10's are actually better than the Maggie's.
I read that there were some open baffles speakers on Capitol Audio Fest (I live in Europe and can't go to American shows). Going to a show is kind of a nice way to see what is out in the market right now, although they tend to mostly show the more expensive stuff.
For example Spatial looks interesting and costs $4200
Audiokinesis is correct.
Berner, A dipole is special because it radiates in a figure 8 pattern. It radiates very little to the sides. A bipole is omnidirectional radiating in a circular pattern. The dipole limits early reflections in the room. If the dipole is a line source the only reflections will be to the front (early) and rear (late) walls. No the side walls, the ceiling or the floor. The early reflection off the front wall is easy to control above 250 Hz. Below 100 Hz were things get critical the best way to deal is with subwoofers right up against the wall and in corners. That way the primary sound wave an first reflection are identical. All this makes room treatment easy. The resultant system will have relatively smooth bass response throughout the room and superior imaging. I am not prone to superlatives but the imaging is vastly superior in all dimensions. Getting a bipole to perform like this is difficult, maybe even impossible. It would require the right room, extensive room treatment and clever set up. Since I am dumb I'll go with the dipole every time:)
I have owned B&W for over 40 year, since selling my, Quad receiver, then Phase Linear powered stacked Advent grad school party system. During this meantime, I had electrostatics for 25 years, and Maggies for a few years. We also had Quads powered by Bedini. which were truly great when used from 4 feet away. In our home, we auditioned Time Windows and Dahlquist, along with Time windows. If you want to blur the sound all over the walls, I have a near-perfect set of Bose 701's Serie II someone gave me. They have not been hooked up in my house, but they were very interesting on acoustic piano, when powered by his Bryston Electronics, which he also gave me.
The Bryston stuff is very good, nearly equal to my Audire equipment. I am still amazed he used it with Bose, but it worked for him.
The M3si is a very special speaker and your going to have a hard time finding a suitable replacement I'm sorry to say. I wish I had a suggestion, but I'm on the hunt myself. Another issue is cost, your going to have to spend some serious money to find something in 2020 that's full range and has the same HUGE soundstage. Personally, I'd keep them or if your on the East Coast, sell them to me. :)
I was at the XFI Premium show in Veldhoven, Holland end of last month and can recommend Spatial and Pureaudioproject. Lots of good sounding rooms but these two appealed to me most. Open, spacious and natural. The bass does not slam but what it does do is provide great insight into the lower registers.
OB bass is sometimes a little lightweight but never boomy. Also the figure-8 radiation pattern is, in most rooms, an advantage. Without the booming the entire frequency range is clear and informative. I am using home built OB and will not bother with box types.
If more bass is needed then I very strongly recommend OB servo subs and I will be building some to augment my set-up.
douglas_schroeder's wind analogy was just 'shootin' the breeze' :) What happens behind the speakers matters. Everything matters.
Whilst in the PAP room I chatted to ZEV the designer who is from Israel. A nice gentleman who will supply parts to the DIYer. The pair I listened to used used a Voxativ driver for midrange. There is a model that uses a horn but were not available to audition. Out on demo I think he said. He has a model using 4X15" drivers, 2 up and 2 down D'appolito fashion for those with huge rooms or need more bass.
The Spatials also really great with all the charms of OB
Speakers have many qualities e.g. forward/laid back, how much bass, soundstage, etc, but I"m interested in one very appealing quality related to these designs
Audiokinesis pointed out:
--Both dipoles and bipoles result in higher reverberant-to-direct sound ratio [vs typical direct radiating speakers)].
--"at a good seat in a concert hall, the direct sound is strong and the reverberant sound is strong BUT (and here is what largely differentiates a good seat from a poor one), the early reflections are weak."
mijostyn describes the advantages of dipoles [over bipoles] with respect to reducing early reflection and states
"Getting a bipole to perform like this [reducing early reflections] is difficult, maybe even impossible."
Perhaps the higher reverberant-to-direct sound ratio (over conventional direct radiating speakers) itself provides a large amount of the benefit (of dipoles/bipoles) and the added improvements of reducing early reflections beneficial, but lesser. Dolsey isn’t the only person to tell me that I might have trouble finding suitable replacement for the mirages, and maybe the Mirage folks have gotten other things very right, unrelated to this issue.
@mijostyn " A dipole is special because it radiates in a figure 8 pattern. It radiates very little to the sides. A bipole is omnidirectional radiating in a circular pattern. The dipole limits early reflections in the room."
I have bipole speakers. They are not omnidirectional, but front- and back-firing. There is far less sound to the sides, compared to the front and back. The sound to the sides is ca 8-10 db lower. Early reflections can be further reduced by toe in.
All basically true, but the bipole still qualifies as an omnidirectional speaker especially in relation to a dipole. You still have to treat your room as if the speaker were omnidirectional. Toeing in just changes the position of the first reflection points. This will change the reflections in the room dramatically. You are left with either your hearing to adjust it or digital room control.
@mijostyn you got a point and I will investigate some more. Maybe I've been too lazy since my room is quite wide, and placing some mattress or similar on the sidewalls doesn't lead to big improvement. I should do the 'mirror trick' (its been years). Maybe I can locate the reflection point or zones even better by listening but I am not sure how to do it. I have always thought that the early reflection problem is largest in the treble, but recently I read someone claiming it gets larger downwards in frequency.
I tried my "DAAD test". I have DAAD acoustic devices, two columns ca 3 feet high, one side diffusion two sides absorption so you can turn/tune them to the room. I placed them with the absorption towards the speaker, on the line from the speakers to the first side wall reflection points. I found the reflection points with the help of my wife, holding a mirror.
Sonic result? No big improvement - I thought. But not clear. I only have only one pair of these columns, and when I move them to the sides, I missed the positive effect they have standing at the back of my speakers, tuning the reverberant sound down. So maybe I need another pair.
A big plus is that with DAADs and similar ’smart’ acoustic devices, you can do a lot to improve the sound, with small changes, and for a fairly low cost, direct in the analog / acoustic domain, before eventual digital corrections. I have a pure tube music system, and to my ears, the less digital and the less s-state electronics, the better.
My two Daads do not offer a "dramatic" improvement, my room is fairly big and good-sounding anyway - it is subtle, but it is there, and this pays off, over hours of listening.
Anyway - it is fascinating how sound is an evolving revolution.