Steve Guttenberg finally reviews the Eminent Technology LFT-8b loudspeaker.


Over the past few years I and a number of other owners of the Eminent Technology LFT-8b have on this site extolled the virtues of this under-acknowledged loudspeaker. I myself have encouraged those interested in Magnepans to try and hear the LFT-8 before buying. That is not easy, as ET has only five U.S.A. dealers.

I am a long-time fan of Maggies, having bought my first pair (Tympani T-I) in 1973, my last (Tympani T-IVa) a few years ago. But the Tympani’s need a LOT of room (each 3-panel speaker is slightly over 4’ wide!), which I currently don’t have. So I gave a listen to the MG 1.7i, and didn’t much care for it. As I recounted in a thread here awhile back, I found the 1.7 to sound rather "wispy", lacking in body and tonal density (thank you Art Dudley ;-).

Brooks Berdan was (RIP) a longtime ET dealer, installing a lot the company’s linear-tracking air-bearing arm on Oracle, VPI, and SOTA tables. After Brooks’ passing his wife Sheila took over management of the shop, continuing on as an ET dealer. I knew Brooks was a fan of the LFT-8, and he had very high standards in loudspeakers (his main lines were Vandersteen, Wilson, and Quad). The shop had a used pair of LFT-8’s, so I gave them a listen. They sounded good enough to me to warrant investigate further, so I had Sheila order me a pair, along with the optional (though nearly mandatory) Sound Anchor bases.

I wouldn’t waste your time if I didn’t consider the ET LFT-8b to be just as I have on numerous occasions (too many times for some here) described it: the current best value in all of hi-fi. Hyperbole? Well, you no longer have to take it from just me and the other owners here: Steve Guttenberg finally got around to getting in for review a pair (the LFT-8 has been in production for 33 years!), and here is what he has to say about it. After watching the video, you can read other reviews (in a number of UK mags, and in TAS by Robert E. Greene) on the ET website.




I bought the LFT 8B many years ago and was horribly disappointed.  They were nice if all I listened to was piano trios.  The woofer was way underdamped and the highs were dull.  The panels rattled at moderate volume with bass heavy music.  Unconventional yes, but that's about it.  Hope he improved the design in the last 15 years and just left the 8b designation.  They needed a lot of work.

I’ve found the LFT-8b’s to be very critical on setup.  I have mine just slightly toed in.  There is a point where as you listen and adjust the speakers in/out and tilted up/down that all of a sudden it comes into perfect alignment and the sound almost doubles in impact and fullness and the soundstage comes in.  I mean very, very slight movements make all the difference in the world. 
I’ve never had any issue with not enough highs from the tweeters.  In fact I’ve had the opposite issue and have had to upgrade the tweeter caps and resistor (Mundorf) to smooth and tone it down.   The panels or woofer do not rattle, resonate or make any noise.  Most likely yours had an issue in that area and the panels had loose material or something.  And I many times blast my system a lot with prog rock to very loud db’s.  I have added a pair of Rythmik F12’s which sound great with the LFT-8b’s.  Are the LFT-8b’s the perfect speaker?  No but I don’t know of any other speaker in the price range that will give you the magic that these speakers do.  I’ve worked in and out of the high end audio industry since the mid 80’s and have had Quad ESL-63’s, various dynamic speakers, have tried Magnaplaners (never liked), also tried Aqoustats, Sound Labs, old Quad 63’s, Martin Logan and many other electrostatics, etc. over the years.  None are perfect and the ones that come closer to what I’d like are way out of my price range.  The ET LFT-8b’s do sooo much right.  Especially when the crossover parts are upgraded, they can just be amazing!  They can bring you into that arena of forgetting any speakers are there and just being carried far away into the music.  That’s what it’s about anyway.  Of course they will not match ever system or room.  But no one speaker is for everybody.  Also everybody has different tastes!

@harpo75 I concur that placement is super important with the 8b's. I never got to your level of perfection in terms of placement. I had them out 76 in. from front wall with quite a lot of toe in. And I was never quite satisfied with the soundstage. But I believe if I had persisted, I'd get there as there are many of you who have achieved it. 

I now use the 8c's and with slight toe-in the speakers disappear. The recording venue is palpable. Mind you, I am still fiddling with it, but I  can now appreciate what you mean. 

@rotarius If the panels were visibly rattling, then you would hear dullness. The panels handle the mid-range and the ribbon tweeters the high frequencies only. They do not receive low frequency signals.  If they rattle with bass heavy music, then it must be the physical connection with the woofer enclosure that is the problem. If you read earlier posts by @harpo75 , he has installed stiffeners to reinforce the swaying of the panels not to correct a mistake but to enhance the stability of the sound field, a project that is on my bucket list.

Here is my latest thinking on a diy super duper speaker using planars and woofs

Bi-amped, eqed, flat to 30hz...Super transparent and inexpensive.