My Caladan Impressons

Ron Brenay’s video that introduced the Caladan speakers (by Clayton Shaw Audio Labs) created a lot of buzz and a lot of orders, but actual reviews have not yet come out. Since many are curious to know what they sound like, I thought I would share my impressions of the Caladans, which I’ve now had for over a month.

In a word: The Caladans are one of the most detailed and revealing speakers I have ever heard, and they do this without sounding analytical or harsh. And because they are an open baffle design, the sound is free of the resonances and aberrations of cabinets – a sound that’s hard to describe, but it has a clarity that can often be startling. These are truly special speakers at any price, but especially at their current low price-point.  

In terms of the overall sound, the Caladans are natural sounding, with very good tonality and imaging. I think I can safely say that these speakers add very little in the way of coloration. They will quickly reveal the personality of your amplifiers and upstream components.

They are honest in their presentation and very musical. In many ways they are reminiscent of a good electrostatic speaker (think Quad 57). The music completely detaches from the speakers and floats in the air with holographic images and excellent tonality. The soundstage is very wide and tall, as well as very deep and layered. The sound is also very quick and nimble – even the bass.  

The bass is certainly one of the best characteristics of the Caladans. It is full (not lean) yet still very detailed and textured. And it goes surprisingly deep. I have a pair of subs in my room, but didn’t give a moment’s consideration to using them, because I felt the quality and depth of the bass was so good, the subs weren’t needed and would probably even diminish the quality of the bass.

The mids are clean, detailed and very engaging. For me, the sweet spot of the Caladans is male vocals. I hear detail, nuance, and spot-on tonality, with zero artifacts or coloration. These qualities seem to be easier for most speakers to achieve in the higher frequencies with female vocals. The Caladans deliver brilliantly on female vocals as well. But unlike some speakers that seem to have a touch more coloration or less definition in the lower male frequencies, with the Caladans the male vocals are stunning, and don’t take a backseat to female vocals in any way. Leonard Cohen’s deepest rumblings are just as precisely defined and finely etched as any of the notes sung by Diana Krall two octaves higher. Male vocals are scary good.

The highs are lively and airy, but never harsh. Drums and cymbals sound real and resonant. They pop, snap, and sizzle with excellent dynamics.

In terms of flaws or weaknesses, I’m having a hard time coming up with anything. If you like a warm, richly colored sound, these may not be your cup of tea. But if you want to hear deep into the recording, with detail and resolution that is hard to match, you’ll love these speakers.

Be advised that these speakers benefit from some break-in time. They sound even better at 100 hours than they do out of the box. I especially like how they sound with tubes.

I am more than pleased with the sound of my Caladans, and on top of that, they are beautiful to look at (I went with the cherry wood). I apologize if this report sounds almost too good to be true, but I don’t know what else to say. I’m very impressed with the Caladans. I expect the reviewers will be as well.


Thanks for taking the time to write that. I wonder if these are just like the Spatials but now under a different name or if there has been some "leap" in approach or sound difference.

OP, you may not have heard the Spatials, so perhaps anyone who's hear both might chime in.

Clayton Shaw designed the Caladans and all of the Spatial Audio speakers. Clayton recently sold Spatial and I understand they will be coming out with their own designs soon. They already have a high-end  tube power amp and pre-amp on the market. As for the speaker comparisons, each model Clayton has designed seems to be better than the previous model (I've heard some of the previous Spatial models). The Caladans are probably the best yet. 

The caladens are a excellent buy for the money.

I know Clayton’s work well , the one Critical area of improvement which I recommended is a SE model puttting in Premium Xover parts which btw are the ♥️ .

since you own them why not less us know what brand model capacitors better yet a picture,he was using the VH audio Odam capacitor when he was using the AMT tweeter which is very good,  that may be the only thing that would make it better still.

I heard them At axpona if set up right they have huge potential to be a great speakers.

each model Clayton has designed seems to be better than the previous model (I’ve heard some of the previous Spatial models). The Caladans are probably the best yet.

Good to hear that each new design is better (rather than the same or worse) than the previous one. (Of course, who would ever claim otherwise? ;-) Then again, many here can think of classic speakers in a line of products that, as time went on, were superseded by what proved to be worse models.)

They sound better but whether they sound different is, I suppose, where my interest lies.

@wester17 Thank you for your review and insights after owning them a month. These are right in my price range for what will be my "end game" speakers. I’m also considering the JBL L100 MK II for about $5K. I have some old AR 9 that these will be replacing.

My living room isn’t huge, 13’ X 25’ with 8’ ceiling. The AR 9 are almost too large for it. The listening position is about 20’ from the short 13’ wide front wall. Do you think they would work in such a room if I pulled them out maybe 2’ and kept them 1’ from the side walls? And do they play at both quiet and loud volumes well?

You wrote, "If you like a warm, richly colored sound, these may not be your cup of tea. But if you want to hear deep into the recording, with detail and resolution that is hard to match, you’ll love these speakers."

Ah, there’s the rub. I do like a little warmth in my old age, especially for some of the thinner sounding recordings of the 1970s, but maybe I could address that with a touch of EQ?

Thanks again. Looking forward to any others take on these nice speakers at their amazingly reasonable price. Like you, Ron was sure impressed.

One thing I wanted to ask. Is Clayton retiring soon? Why did he sell Spatial? If I bought the Caladans and needed something fixed or replaced one day (say I blew a driver), could I find it?

Oh, and just curious how well integrated did you think the sound was between all the drivers? Does the sound blend well or are you able to pick out the location of the tweeter at times?  With the acoustic centers fairly far apart, I worried about that. 


Thank you for the very detailed review, and it closely mirrors a review I put up in February/March on another Caladan thread here a Agon. At the end I too, thought that my review sounded like an advertisement for Clayton's speakers.....but it was my true experience. They are truly the best speakers I have owned, by a very good margin. The fact that I purchased them for $3,000 a pair (November 1st last year) still boggles my mind.

Since that initial review, I have completely revamped my amp/preamp situation (CODA S5.5 Class A SS amp, Aric Audio Transcend "Push Pull" EL34 amp, and an Aric Audio Motherlode XL 6SN7 preamp). Those upgrades only brought out more magic from the Caladans, and they are definitely not outclassed with these exceptional upgrades.


I posted this some time ago, but here is what is in the Caladans

"IsoAcoustics Gaia III feet, WBT Nextgen 0703 binding posts, Jupiter twisted pair lacquered cotton wiring, US Coils air coils, Jupiter copper foil and Dayton Audio capacitors, and Dayton Audio wire wound resistors"


Some thoughts on your questions, I've had my Caladans 3 months now. You can read my full review on the "Anyone else order Caladans from Clayton Shaw?" Agon thread back in February.

(1) Placement - I have played around with positioning quite a bit, and have found them best at least 2 feet from the front wall, and at least 18 inches from the side wall. I'm building a dedicated listening room, where I will have more flexibility and will have them a little further into the room (2.5 feet) and a little further from the side walls (2 feet)

(2) Warm or detailed sound - I previously drove the Caladans with a Denafrips Hades SS preamp and Denafrips Thallo amp, and they sounded neutral.....not overly warm, but never sterile. I now drive them with CODA class A SS amp, and Aric Audio Transcend "Push Pull" tube amp; both being driven with an Aric Audio Motherlode XL tube preamp. I do prefer them with the tube front end, but I think it's the tube preamp that adds that extra warmth. Not sure what you have for equipment, I didn't see you have a virtual system loaded

(3) Clayton retiring - Not sure if he is, or even if it matters. Yes Clayton left Spatial, but still has a great relationship with them (they even do final assembly of the Caladans).....some have suggested he had some health concerns that influenced that decision. Someone correct me if I am wrong there

(4) Speaker driver alignment - I have found the Caladans to be well integrated. When he designed the Caladan Clayton moved the tweeter closer to the mid bass driver (than his Spatial speakers) and I do find them to be cohesive. To me music sounds as though it is presented from a "stage" of movement between the speakers. If I close my eyes, I cannot pick out their exact location.....even of course I know where they are.

(5) Low level listening - These speakers are great at that. I never listen at loud levels, and the Caladans are the best speakers I've had for low level. Most of my other speakers needed to be pushed for their best sound (many Thiel models), Infinty Reference Kappa 7 and 9s, and even my recently purchased Buchardt Audio S400 MKIIs. I do think high current (not high wattage) amps do help with low level listening

The Caladans are one of the most detailed and revealing speakers I have ever heard

OK compared to what other speakers you have heard?

Just curious.

Be advised that these speakers benefit from some break-in time. They sound even better at 100 hours than they do out of the box. I especially like how they sound with tubes.

@wester17 Clayton Shaw Acoustic Lab showed with us at the recent AXPONA show. The speakers were pretty new- when we set them up the bass was a bit disappointing. So we ran them all night before and throughout the show. By the 2nd day of the show they were starting to come around- the bass was showing up and the speakers were far more lucid.

So break-in is pretty important (as it is with many speakers). I liked how they easily cast a 3D space. They were also easy to drive (despite being 4 Ohms); our class Ds were loafing.

@vthokie83 thank you, your thoughts and those of Wes above are great to contemplate regarding these. Thank you for taking the time to answer many of my questions. I also see that Steve Guttenberg just posted his Caladan review a few hours ago.


Thank you, Steve for some perspective. Some have been saying that the Caladan is the best speaker Clayton has designed. This never made sense to me since the Spatial X4 uses a big dipole AMT tweeter crossed over around the same frequency, much better xover parts, much better baffle, much better base and the same two woofs as in the Caladan. Of course, the X4 is $9800.....not $3300.

Steve says the Pure Audio Project trio with the ESS AMT ($6K) is more transparent and punches harder......says the Magnepan 1.7 ($4K) is more coherant and less colored, says it does not sound all the great at low volume. However, as he said, it is the cheapest open baffle speaker he has reviewed and thought it was great....for the money. Which is good news for those waiting for their speakers to be finished.

However, you can build your own Caladan clone for $1500 or better yet do what I just did and build a speaker using the same woofers but use a time aligned $50 planar tweeter on top with hardly (or no) crossover on it that goes down to 400hz The woofs just have a 2 mh coil on them.....I will be starting a thread on this speaker and will have pictures of my speaker on my website and mucho information by the end of the week. This IS NOT a commercial product. This is for myself and for anyone who wants to make their own speaker.....I don’t make money sharing this information. If in the bay area, I will be (in a month or so) inviting people to come over and hear what I have done. The fun is in sharing.

For many, the Caladan will be a great buy and a speaker they will keep for a long time. But, for those with more refined tastes and can build their own (very few....even though it is easy)......or have more money....there are better options. My definition of an audiophile...."Someone who is not happy with their stereo".....I mean, why buy a new speaker.....wasn’t your last one satisfying?......he he. We have the ability to enjoy the please enjoy the speaker ride. None of this is serious.....just guys playing with toys.


Which Spatial Models did you hear ???? I own the Spatial X2’s so I am curious

Also, someone asked if Clayton is retiring? Why would he...he just started this company. LOL.. Curious how this even became a thought???

" Of course, the X4 is $9800.....not $3300."

Bingo. It's amazing how this community is jumping at the bit to find something to criticize about the Caladans. God forbid we have a great speaker at the 3000 price point. Makes me wonder about their agendas.

Well, I just watched Steve's video and must say that I have not seen him so excited in a long time. Now, I am sitting on huge heap of pins and needles awaiting for Caladans arrival at my door. It has to be any day now, it has to be, with invoice 182.

Well, I just watched Steve's video and must say that I have not seen him so excited in a long time.

Strange. I find him to be really really excited in almost every video. 

"Strange. I find him to be really really excited in almost every video."

Yeah, I’m not a fan of Steve at all for just the reason you mentioned. So this video does not impress or influence me. That being said, my above comments stand. We already have several reviews from Audiogon members; I take their opinions 100% over SG, good or bad.

Bigkidz: Fair question I suppose. Here’s a list of most of the speakers I have actually owned over the years: Klipschorns, Harbeth SHL5plus, the original Spatial Audio M3s, Tekton Impact Monitors, Magnepan 1.7i, Spatial Audio M3 Sapphires, SVS Ultras, Goldenear Aeon II, Klipsch RP 600 M, and Sound Artist LS3/5A. I’ve also spent time with a good friend’s Quad 57s and Thiel CS3.5s. Plus I’ve been to a few audio shows.  I thought I was finally through with new speakers (the Harbeths have been my speaker for five years now) but I couldn’t resist trying another of Clayton’s designs. I’m glad I did. I'm planning to keep both the Caladans and the Harbeths. They sound very different from each other, but both are outstanding. Variety is the spice of life!

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I have had the Caladans for a while now (sn0001}. They take a loooong time to fully break in. Like a couple of months unless you play them really loud.

Sonically the only criticism I have is they can be a tad sharp if the source material has hard peaks in the 2-4k range. But that is just reflective of the source. And I must admit to having become very sensitive to aggression in this region. Good recordings are wonderful. Superb detail and texture throughout the bass region. Well, make that throughout the full range. No bloat at all.

I had a pair of Spatial X-5 a few speakers ago. They were excellent but required being in a limited sweet spot for the magic to happen. And if you stood up you lost the high frequencies. The Caladans do not have these problems.

I am driving them with an AGD amp and a Backert Labs tube linestage. My CODA S5.5 is due here this week. Then the AGD will go in for an upgrade.

@aniwolfe — curious how you like your speakers. Heard them at RMAF a few years ago. Was dumbstruck with dynamics punch detail soundstage.. would be an endgame for me.(sorry to hijack the post).

@birdfan - curious how you like your speakers. Heard them at RMAF a few years ago. Was dumbstruck with dynamics punch detail soundstage.. would be an endgame for me.(sorry to hijack the post).

Hi....I have owned the X2’s for 4 years now. They are incredible speakers sonically and aesthetically. In my opinion by far the coolest looking design Clayon has ever created. They became too expensive to make from what I understand.

@markmuse -I had a pair of Spatial X-5 a few speakers ago. They were excellent but required being in a limited sweet spot for the magic to happen. And if you stood up you lost the high frequencies. The Caladans do not have these problems.

Its not a problem if they are set up correctly and understand the limitations (I see them as advantages)

My opinion is the X series with control directivity will always have a small sweet-spot unless you cross them in front of your face. Then they have the largest sweet-spot of any speaker I have ever heard. They need extreme toe-in and separated far apart from each other to achieve this. The Spatial Sapphires and CS Caladan do not have you need to pay more attention to side wall placement with the dome style tweeters.

Personally I don’t critically listen standing up. So the advantage of losing output when above the X series tweeter is less interaction with the ceiling.

On a side note. It’s great to see Clayton designing again. I am sure the Caladan kick a. Hopefully he will have a new design with control directivity in the near future.


@markmuse which AGD amp do you have paired with the Caladans? How does it sound vs your CODA amp? I have a tube amp and am strongly considering getting the AGD audions if it’s a good pairing.

@prismvineyards  I have the AGD Tempo. There is an upgrade available that I plan to do once the S5.5 is here. It was due here today but UPS now says Monday. And of course it will have to burn in, so it will be a little while before I can give you a comparison.

I think the only audible difference between the Tempo and the Audions is a little better channel separation. 

Another amp you might consider is the Atma-Sphere GaN FET class D mono's. Really excellent. I had a pair here but it was a while ago and with different speakers so I can't give a comparison. A little less cost than the Tempo last time I checked.

Anyway, the Tempo is very good with the Caladans. Don't think you can go wrong with the Audion's or the Tempo. At 200w into 4ohms they have way more power than you need.  But I am hoping the S5.5 kick's it up a notch. Not  that I feel that I am lacking anything, but sometimes you don't know what you are missing until it is no longer missing. 

@prismvineyards  Received mine today. Jeez, right out of the box it sounded great. Interesting comparison with my AGD Tempo. Sonically the Coda has better micro and global dynamics; is more nuanced; has better imaging depth; and just sounds more musical / real. None of this is a vast difference, but there clearly is a difference. Keep in mind this is the first version of the Tempo. There is an update which I will get. 

@markmuse thanks for sharing.

I received my speakers on Saturday and once they opened up, they are fantastic. Per my taste, I'm wanting a little more weight in the mids. I will continue to break in the speaker using my KT120 tubes but will eventually roll to my EL34s if I continue to seek more midrange weight - using an EVO400 Integrated amp.

@prismvineyards Give the speakers time to break in. Also make sure they have at least 5 feet from the wall behind them and you might want to work with how toed in they are- these things have a big effect on how they present.

Thanks @atmasphere. The extra day of break-in and extra foot from the wall made a big difference. They sound amazing with the KT120s.

Hey guys, got my Caladan's recently.  They replaced some b&w's 804's from 2004.  The b&w's cost 4k back then.  The Caladan's still need some break-in but they are better than the b&w's.  Now do they kick the sh!! out of the b&w', my old speakers I still really love but I won't say much because lot's of hate here for that brand.

The caladans throw a bigger deeper sound stage and play better at lower levels than the b&w's which took some volume to get going.  I stream with a rose and my amp is the newest Krell integrated.  Quite happy with them, and yes I really like the boxless sound.  These are my first open baffle.

@markmuse I have the Spatial Audio Lab X-5s and I've never had an issue of limited sweet spot. I have a fairly large (former 2 car garage) studio and the sound is great no matter where I am and I don't hear any significant differences. 

I’m intrigued by these open baffle speakers. I just have a hard time imagining they have any kind of visceral impact in the bass/mid bass. Am I off base “bass”😃.? 

@dz13  The X5’s are exceptional speakers, I don’t mean to suggest otherwise. The imaging was like nothing I heard before or since. But to have that experience, in my room which is less than ideal, I had to be sitting in the sweetspot. This room is large but is a combination of living, dining, and kitchen. With lots of glass. I have music on almost all the time, while cooking, cleaning, napping, eating… so a lot of casual listening. The vertical dispersion from that tweeter is limited. At over 6 feet, when standing anywhere near the speakers the HF diminished considerably. I hope this explains my comments. I do often regret selling them.

My "Beyond Caladan" speaker images really well off angle but does have some height limitation. However, you could expand what I am doing by stacking 4 mid/tweets on top of each other, essentially making a 32 inch planar line source mounted above the 2 woofs. I will have pics and lots of info about my speakers on my website by this weekend. These things are amazing!!! Fully time aligned, planar mid/tweet and zero crossover on the mid/tweet.......You need a cap in series to play really loud......I only play 95 db or not a problem right now. You could have two inputs for the tweet and use the one with zero cap when playing normal volume and when you want to bring the house down then take the hot lead and plug it it into the cap (which would always be connected to the planar).

Remember, I am not selling or making speakers for anyone.....just showing what I am doing and what anyone can do themselves. The possibilities are endless. You could run 4 woofs per channel with two facing the rear directly behind the front you get more dynamics, more even low frequency dispersion and less 2nd harmonic distortion. Check out the Steinway/Lyngdorf model B speaker....they use 3 woofs in front and 3 in the back in push pull (6 12s per channel). 2 would be enough for me!

mofojo The Caladans have pretty good visceral impact. I've owned a couple of different pairs of Magnepans and it's true, their visceral impact is minimal. But the Caladans aren't like that at all. They are quite comparable to a box speaker in that regard. 

I’m intrigued by these open baffle speakers. I just have a hard time imagining they have any kind of visceral impact in the bass/mid bass. Am I off base “bass”😃.? 

@mofojo Because they are open baffle, bass is emitted from the rear of the speaker and bounces off the wall behind the speaker. This reaches you a bit later so makes the speaker a little more resistant to standing waves in the room. FWIW, bass is entirely reverberant in most rooms below about 80Hz (the waveform at that frequency is 14 feet long) so this works out quite well.

IMO/IME they can be pretty good about bass impact, down to their cutoff frequency. I had a lot of fun with them at AXPONA playing cuts that have fairly deep bass. IMO they are pretty honest down to about 30Hz.

Can anyone comment on how long it took them to get their Caladans? I ordered mine mid January and am still waiting for a shipped notice.

@davide256 I placed my order at the end of Feb.  I heard from Clayton in mid-May that mine should be ready to ship in mid to late July.

@terrapin77 I heard a similar story saying mid to late June. What I am looking for is to hear from someone who recently received their speakers how long ago they ordered.

Atmasphere Iam glad you mentioned they were not break in.When I heard them at Axpona they sound congested. I thought the anti cables are the one to blame. On video they sound much better.

I’m a fan of dipole designs, I’ve owned Apogee, Maggies, Carver Plats, Logans, and single driver open baffles.

On hearing Spatial Audio speakers at CAF 2019 I took the plunge on a pair of X3s. I couldn’t get them to sound right in my room. Beamy AMT, poorly integrated midbass driver, just an all round frustrating experience. Though I sold the X3 I haven’t given up on open baffle designs and I am interested to hear from anyone who has heard both the Caladan and the X series Spatial Audio. 
Following this with interest.

+1 @rooze 

My experience with the X3 mirrors yours almost identically. My hope is that the Caladan is an improvement.

The X3 morphed into the X4 which used smaller better woofs and way better parts.....then he upgraded the parts again and now you have an X4 that is really good......much better everything.  However, Spatial now has a new top of the line speaker, suppose to be even $11.5K.

I will be posting pics and info soon on my open baffle speaker that anyone can build for very little $.  Uses the same woofs as the Caladan but uses a $50 Planar that goes all the way down to 400hz......and it has NO crossover on it.  Won't play seriously loud without a cap (which you can add)....but, OH MY GOD, is this transparent.  Am tweaking it more over the next couple of weeks and will add pics and info on my website when it is more completed.   I will describe in full detail how to make this thing and even more wild two 12s facing forward and two more facing the rear......and above a line source using 4 of these planars.....However, still less money for all that than a Caladan......and this would blow your mind!  No, this is not for sale.....just want to share info.

What is really so cool is that you can order all the parts today and in two weeks you can be listening to the finished 6 month wait.....and I am pretty darn sure this is much better sound.......all for $1800 in parts (including wood, exotic footers, WBT binding posts, wire, etc.  $200 less money if you hardwire into it....eliminating the binding posts.

However, for a plug and play, the Caladan looks like a seriously good speaker.  And it has resale value....your own creation will not.  The Caladan is not the best speaker in the will be upgrading....he he.

So, no joy with Caladan delivery, now being told my 1/14 order wont happen until mid August. Prospective purchasers, beware as the web site  when l last looked had been changed to stating 90 days for new orders, clearly untrue at this point. 

I'm probably going to cancel my order.  I was told by Clayton in May that my late February order would probably ship mid to late July. Clayton should at least be upfront that there are still delays in production.  The group email he sent out made it seem that was not longer the case. 

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