Looking for the next level in imaging...

I enjoy my system every time I sit down and listen. But as we all do, we get the itch to seek improvement!  I am intrigued by Omnidirectional speakers such as MBL’s, German Physiks etc. and breaking free from the head in a vice sweet spot to get better imaging throughout the room and better the imaging in the sweet spot!  I believe changing the speaker will deliver on this quest!  What speakers would you look at? Or would changing a component yield the result? Has anyone gone from the traditional dispersion speaker to an omnidirectional?

current speakers are Martin Logan Ethos

budget $20-30K...could stretch if something is exceptional


+100 on over treating being better than under treating. Especially in smaller rooms where control is even more important.


i spent years optimizing the imaging in my large dedicated room, and holographic imaging is very important to me. i already wrote a long post in this thread about my opinion about it.

but when it c omes to musical connection, my highest priority is ’why’ and 'what' the musician is doing, not ’where’ he is doing it. it’s the musical intent and musical energy, micro and macro dynamics, textures, rich tonality, and flow which is the priority. every time i made a change in my system or my acoustical treatment i would take a week to 10 days to make sure that i was not inhibiting the flow and energy and musical touch to attain better imaging.

i want it all. imaging is desired, but it’s not first in line.

so over doing room treatments is NOT an option for me. it’s all about balance.

the physicality and how the music effects me is what i desire. imaging just takes it further. live music many times is a mess as far as imaging, yet we automatically connect. it’s REAL.

small rooms can be a challenge; i just got back from Axpona and there are many small rooms. but still musical connection comes from balance, and sometimes imaging suffers to get that connection. turning down the flow to get imaging is not how i would like it. YMMV.

You don’t want an omnidirectional speaker. Your dipoles are as good as you’re going to get for both imaging and spaciousness (artificial) without cabinet coloration.

Otherwise, look for speakers with incredibly well damped cabinets, controlled dispersion and steep crossover slopes (perhaps active crossovers for best results).

Driver quality also plays a large role. The higher the distortion of the drivers, the more they smear the image IME. Same for crossover slopes—low order/shallow slopes cause the imaging to fall apart when the music gets complex or played loud.


Hi @mikelavigne

re: "but when it comes to musical connection, my highest priority is ’why’ and ’what’ the musician is doing, not ’where’ he is doing it. it’s the musical intent and musical energy, micro and macro dynamics, textures, rich tonality, and flow which is the priority."

You have surely gone to greater lengths for a longer time than probably anyone on A’gon to make your room and system as good as it can be. In your quest to achieve a balance of all the best of "why" and "what", is it possible to break down or quantify the importance of the different components and room design and tuning?

For example—and I am just throwing out numbers as examples—would it be 30% room design, acoustics and tuning (to get a holographic image); 40% speakers; and 30% front end? Is it possible to break it down? And to refine it even more, like ratios of importance for the front end (ie, amp, preamp, DAC, source)? If percentages are unrealistic, maybe a ranked priority order would work?

I have heard tell of very expensive systems that sounded mediocre relative to price, because of bad rooms, poor setup, and another big problem (I’m told)—poor synergy between components.

I’m sorry if the question isn’t well-stated or imprecise, but maybe you get my drift. THX

Increasing detail and resolution will improve imaging.  Increased detail provides better imaging cues, more air around images.  An effective way to improve detail and resolution is to isolate the speakers and components.  The best way to isolate is by using springs.  

For decades my speakers sat on spikes.  I knew spikes improved the sound over the speakers resting directly on the floor.  Then a few years back I got the idea to build some spring platforms for my speakers.  The improvement in sound and detail blew me away.  Eventually I bought the Isoacoustic footers.  They sounded a bit better than my self made spring platforms and were also much easier to use.  Wrestling 130 lb speakers onto my self made spring platforms was a bit tricky.  I use Isoacoustic footers on my current 238 lb speakers and they are clearly superior to the factory supplied spikes.  The subwoofers in my HT setup now use my self made spring platforms and they sound great.  Having the subs isolated from the floor eliminates all muddiness in the bass.

With that success I tried isolating my components with springs.  I found that it is better to isolate the shelves with the springs vs. putting the components directly on the springs.  Isolate the shelves and then place the components on those shelves and use your damping of choice between the component and shelf.  The ideal isolation is to have the shelf/component combo resonate at around 3 Hz.  That can be difficult to achieve sitting on compression springs; but I find that below 7 Hz works very well.  I have thought about building shelves that hang on extension springs.  It would be much easier to achieve 3 Hz but my system sounds so good right now I have no motivation to tinker any further.  Maybe later, perhaps.  Although I have already seen a couple of examples of racks using shelves suspended on springs.

I gained so much detail that I found it distracting at first.  It took away from the music.  I almost wanted to go back but it is like letting the genie out of the bottle.   Fortunately, in time I grew accustomed to the added detail and resolution and was back to enjoying the music even more with the improved imaging.  It's quite a thrill listening to a Chorale piece and hearing each individual voice across the sound stage vs. a cloud of voices.

All I can say is WOW!  Lots of good ideas and suggestions to work through.  It's why I love these forums!  So much to think about before you make a decision!.  I will say this -  the most intriguing idea (and I forget which responder/poster said it) that you can't reproduce what isn't there. Helluva observation! However, I thought  that's why Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 were brought to market.  Which then made me reconsider what I'm after. Thanks for the good debate!