• If you ever spot Spam (either in the forums, or received via forum direct message) please use the Report button at the bottom of each post to make sure a Moderator can handle it quickly. Thanks for your help in keeping things running smoothly!

The Devialet thread

Page 20 - Seeking answers? Join the What HiFi community: the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products.

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
So this afternoon it was back to the palace of hi-fi bling that is K J West One. Marble floors, shiny brass fittings, salesmen who don't get out of bed for less than £5K, and one of my favourite demo rooms.

The idea was to hear some Martin Logans up against the Sonus faber Olympicas. I was fully expecting to love the Olympicas and find the MLs harsh and fatiguing. Read on …

The system: Copland CDA 825 via SPDIF into Devialet 170.

Martin Logan Ethos

For those not familiar with the ML range, the Ethos is the “entry” model in the Reserve ESL range. It has ML’s trademark tall (1120mm) and narrow (235mm) curved electrostatic panel, bolted onto an active sub. The panel has no crossover as such; it uses a high-pass filter set at 375Hz. Below this it hands over to a sub consisting of an 8” woofer (driven by 200 watts of Class D) and an 8” passive radiator. There is basic DSP functionality, which allows the sub to be turned up or down.

Two things immediately struck me about the sound of the MLs. The first is that the soundstage extends remarkably high above the ground. People talk about the “walk-through” soundstage of MLs. The effect is remarkable: imagine your music as an image on a TV screen about 10 feet wide and 6 feet high. Truly stunning. And it’s in 3D as well. More than that: the ability of these speakers to separate and situate instruments is uncanny. One of my demo disks is Janacek’s From the House of the Dead. In Act I there’s a rat-a-tat argument between a tall and a short character. And there they were, standing toe to toe, but one audibly taller than the other. Quite remarkable.

And then a Beethoven string quartet. I’ve never heard the position of a microphone so clearly, hung just in front of and a bit above the performers, so you actually feel like you’re looking down at the players. Something in me wonders whether this extraordinary accuracy might eventually become intrusive; on some recordings the artificiality of the mic placement might end up being a distraction. But it’s jolly impressive.

The second thing is the transparency. I’d heard MLs before at a show, but nothing had prepared me for the degree of sheer attack and detail these speakers are capable of. The combination with the Devialet is quite amazing. I can’t really describe just how good the mid- and top range are. There’s nothing harsh, nothing brittle, just sheer immediacy.

Once I moved from my classical stuff to some rock/pop recordings this began to be an issue. It wasn’t that the speakers sounded edgy or tiring. It was just that they consistently revealed artefacts in the recordings. The old hi-fi cliché has it that a more revealing system lets you hear stuff you hadn’t heard before: the pianist’s intake of breath, the lead singer picking his nose. To me listening to the MLs was like being inside the electronics of the mastering suite.

Now the MLs do have one problem. Low frequencies sound woolly. They also sound slightly disconnected from the rest of the frequency band. I think of it this way: you have an amazingly transparent electrostatic panel, driven in this case by the world’s best amp, yoked together with a fairly decent dynamic sub driven by an OK piece of Class D. Is it any surprise that the former sounds so much better than the latter, and that there’s a bit of a disjoint between the two.

So how would the Olympicas compare?

Sonus faber Olympica III

I won’t describe the speakers, except to say that they’re a three-and-a-half-way design with a narrow slot port that runs vertically all the way down one side of each speaker towards the back edge. Oh and they look stunning.

To be honest, moving from the MLs to the SFs is difficult. The SFs are lovely speakers; I think they’d come off pretty well in a duel with the Dali Epicons that I liked last week. But compared to the MLs the top end and mid-range of the SFs just sounds woolly and slow. I never thought I’d say that. There’s much less attack and nowhere near the same crispness and articulacy. And that applies from the very top right down to the lower mid-range.

These are big speakers. They provide a sense of scale and atmosphere. The bass is properly musical and lends a great sense of swing and rhythm to music. There’s also that persuasively seamless integration that a well designed pair of three-ways gives. Whereas the MLs seemed to suffer from a gap between the lower mid-range and the bass, there was no sign of that at all with the Olympicas.

The lovely pure timbres of acoustic instruments were in evidence, although perhaps less so than with my Cremonas or the smaller Olympica IIs. Or perhaps it was the comparison with the MLs. Sure, the Olympicas didn’t spotlight any particular aspect of the music; they presented the whole picture in an even-handed way. But they also didn’t give as much in the way of texture as I’d been expecting.

Where the Olympicas were most persuasive was with rock/pop material. This is a little surprising, as SFs have a reputation for scoring highest with classical and jazz. Again, I suspect this is a result of hearing them after the MLs.

So, three lessons from today’s demo:

1. This was never going to be straightforward.

2. All speakers involve compromises.

3. Martin Logans do work with Devialet.

:O

Matt
 

DocG

Well-known member
May 1, 2012
54
1
18,545
Reading your report, am I right assuming neither of them is making your shortlist?

Maybe the ML Theos, with its passive bass woofer, could be the better match for your Dev... Or the CLX Art, in case you just won the lottery!

Quite a surprise the Dev can make the ML harshness go away. I wouldn't have guessed so!

Such a shame Essence is out of reach for you...
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
DocG said:
Reading your report, am I right assuming neither of them is making your shortlist?

Maybe the ML Theos, with its passive bass woofer, could be the better match for your Dev... Or the CLX Art, in case you just won the lottery!

Quite a surprise the Dev can make the ML harshness go away. I wouldn't have guessed so!

Such a shame Essence is out of reach for you...
I was really surprised at how smooth the Dev + ML combo was. And what the MLs do well is just so persuasive that they have to be on the shortlist. If I went up the ML range, it would be to the Montis, which has a larger panel (and therefore a lower crossover) and a better sub. I know where I can get an ex-demo Montis for less than the price of a new Ethos. Surely a home demo beckons ...

I remember you saying that once you'd heard the Quads, nothing could ever be the same. I feel a little like that about the MLs: no dynamic speaker I've heard has come anywhere near the presence of that electrostatic panel.

As for the Essence, I like the theory, but I'm not convinced it could do "proper" bass. I reckon it would be like the Quad ESLs: brilliant down to about 70Hz, but a bit thin down below.

:?

Matt
 

DocG

Well-known member
May 1, 2012
54
1
18,545
matt49 said:
I remember you saying that once you'd heard the Quads, nothing could ever be the same. I feel a little like that about the MLs: no dynamic speaker I've heard has come anywhere near the presence of that electrostatic panel.
Hard to put into words what it does, innit? (even more so for me, with my lame English :shifty: ). But indeed the Quads changed something in my head. So far, for me only the Zero1 can beat them (even with a Dev to drive the ESLs!).

I think you should really try a pair of Maggies now, the 3.7i maybe? Because, truth be told, it's the Maggies that opened my eyes, long before I met the Quads...
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
DocG said:
Hard to put into words what it does, innit? (even more so for me, with my lame English :shifty: ). But indeed the Quads changed something in my head. So far, for me only the Zero1 can beat them (even with a Dev to drive the ESLs!).

I think you should really try a pair of Maggies now, the 3.7i maybe? Because, truth be told, it's the Maggies that opened my eyes, long before I met the Quads...
Well, I think you do a great job of describing your experiences. :clap:

Unfortunately, the way things are currently configured in my room, I can't accommodate anything over 350mm in width. Even the 1.7s would be too wide. Which is why it's annoying that the Essence aren't available over here (yet).

Matt
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
20
0
0
matt49 said:
DocG said:
Hard to put into words what it does, innit? (even more so for me, with my lame English :shifty: ). But indeed the Quads changed something in my head. So far, for me only the Zero1 can beat them (even with a Dev to drive the ESLs!).

I think you should really try a pair of Maggies now, the 3.7i maybe? Because, truth be told, it's the Maggies that opened my eyes, long before I met the Quads...
Well, I think you do a great job of describing your experiences. :clap:

Unfortunately, the way things are currently configured in my room, I can't accommodate anything over 350mm in width. Even the 1.7s would be too wide. Which is why it's annoying that the Essence aren't available over here (yet).

Matt
Back when I was still striving for perfection I had a pair of CLSIIIz. Driven by an ARC D400 power amplifier these remain the finest speakers I have ever had at home. Interestingly I moved to these from SF Electa Amator.

Deep bass was by and large absent, various solutions were tried, the best being a pair of small REL Stratas, more agile than the bigger models, but still way to slow to keep up with the panels.

In the end I stopped playing certain kinds of music, not ideal, but on the right material......wow!
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
davedotco said:
Back when I was still striving for perfection I had a pair of CLSIIIz. Driven by an ARC D400 power amplifier these remain the finest speakers I have ever had at home. Interestingly I moved to these from SF Electa Amator.

Deep bass was by and large absent, various solutions were tried, the best being a pair of small REL Stratas, more agile than the bigger models, but still way to slow to keep up with the panels.

In the end I stopped playing certain kinds of music, not ideal, but on the right material......wow!
That was my experience of the MLs. The bass had trouble keeping up with the amazing speed of the panels.

For well recorded classical music (and I've been careful to buy stuff that's well recorded) the effect seems to be stunning. Given that my diet is over 80% classical (and that I have other systems on which I can play less well recorded stuff :oops: ), I'm thinking ML is the way to go. Is this crazy?

Matt
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
matt49 said:
I'm thinking ML is the way to go. Is this crazy?

Matt
NO!

You just need to make sure they aren't "too much" over a longer period.

After listening to such a big variety, you will imo, know the right sound when you hear it....sometimes it smacks you across the face; other times it sneaks up on you.
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
CnoEvil said:
matt49 said:
I'm thinking ML is the way to go. Is this crazy?

Matt
NO!

You just need to make sure they aren't "too much" over a longer period.

After listening to such a big variety, you will imo, know the right sound when you hear it....sometimes it smacks you across the face; other times it sneaks up on you.
I've booked a home demo of the ML Montis. I'll have them for a week, which should be long enough.

The MLs really did smack me round the face, but as I'm sure you can imagine, the effect of being smacked round the face is disorientating; it makes you wonder whether what you're thinking is really real or just a transitory effect.

So you're absolutely right, as usual: I need time.

:?

Matt
 

oldric_naubhoff

New member
Mar 11, 2011
23
0
0
matt49 said:
Unfortunately, the way things are currently configured in my room, I can't accommodate anything over 350mm in width.
if you're getting fond on ESLs you might be also interested in Audiostatic. I know from a well informed source that a new model is soon to be released and is supposed to be "better than anything before" thanks to making use of new technologies. the guy, Ben Peters, was mentioning nano-technology. I presume it was used in creation of the diaphragm and the conducting coating?... and if it's going to resemble the older brothers size-wise this might be the ticket for you. there's a review on Stereophile of ES-100 from mid 90-ties. they were 350mm wide. also DCA were about 300mm wide. and they claim the speakers are full range thanks to a "long throw diaphragm" design. surely they can do proper bass as can be heard on this vid of ES-100 playing Enigma:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC1E1FLySNg

supposing those speakers could not do proper sub bass then mating them to a fast sub, like Kreisels, @ 40-50 Hz region wouldn't cause any sence of disjointment IMO. just some food for thought.
 

WishTree

Well-known member
May 18, 2010
107
1
18,595
matt49 said:
That was my experience of the MLs. The bass had trouble keeping up with the amazing speed of the panels.

For well recorded classical music (and I've been careful to buy stuff that's well recorded) the effect seems to be stunning. Given that my diet is over 80% classical (and that I have other systems on which I can play less well recorded stuff :oops: ), I'm thinking ML is the way to go. Is this crazy?

Matt
Glad to know that there these speakers really hit the spot! IMO, if you are able to have speakers of choice for 80% diet, I think that is already very good. I would like to share my views here on Smack vs Sneak !

Smack is good and even better if it is a good smack (Bad smack is just a wake up call!! )

However the challenge could be the continuity of the wow of the smak for longer periods and from that perspective sneak can be a better choice as it tends to get under skin and stay.

For some this smack, is a game changer and the only way to know is switching the speakers from traditional boxes to panels in the same listening envirorment and see which highlights are bringing the smile and which defecits can be lived with. For example, I can live with slightly loose bass compared to a harsh treble.

If I get this right Montis has no bass radiator and this might speeden the bass and a 10" woofer is a must, IMO. Also, cross over frequency (at 340 Hz) is to be careful though not heard by many but could be a thing. If I just pure look at specs, an 8" woofer working from 34Hz to 375Hz (with a passive radiator) in equation compared to a 10" woofer working from 29Hz to 340 Hz, I am inclicing more towards the woofers being pushed too hard. But this is just couch reading and I am only writing it here, so that you can keep on eye on this, if one can!
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
oldric_naubhoff said:
matt49 said:
Unfortunately, the way things are currently configured in my room, I can't accommodate anything over 350mm in width.
if you're getting fond on ESLs you might be also interested in Audiostatic. I know from a well informed source that a new model is soon to be released and is supposed to be "better than anything before" thanks to making use of new technologies. the guy, Ben Peters, was mentioning nano-technology. I presume it was used in creation of the diaphragm and the conducting coating?... and if it's going to resemble the older brothers size-wise this might be the ticket for you. there's a review on Stereophile of ES-100 from mid 90-ties. they were 350mm wide. also DCA were about 300mm wide. and they claim the speakers are full range thanks to a "long throw diaphragm" design. surely they can do proper bass as can be heard on this vid of ES-100 playing Enigma:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC1E1FLySNg

supposing those speakers could not do proper sub bass then mating them to a fast sub, like Kreisels, @ 40-50 Hz region wouldn't cause any sence of disjointment IMO. just some food for thought.
Thanks, Oldric, but unfortunately the new model, the MDi, is 485mm wide. :cry:

Matt
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
WishTree said:
If I get this right Montis has no bass radiator and this might speeden the bass and a 10" woofer is a must, IMO. Also, cross over frequency (at 340 Hz) is to be careful though not heard by many but could be a thing. If I just pure look at specs, an 8" woofer working from 34Hz to 375Hz (with a passive radiator) in equation compared to a 10" woofer working from 29Hz to 340 Hz, I am inclicing more towards the woofers being pushed too hard. But this is just couch reading and I am only writing it here, so that you can keep on eye on this, if one can!
That's right, the Montis has no radiator, just the single 10" driver. And the electrostatic panel is about 2" wider, meaning it goes deeper. We'll see ...

Matt
 

oldric_naubhoff

New member
Mar 11, 2011
23
0
0
matt49 said:
Thanks, Oldric, but unfortunately the new model, the MDi, is 485mm wide. :cry:

Matt
the MDi is not the new model. it'll soon be superseeded. don't know exctly when as by my knowledge the new one should already be announced. (maybe some unexpected delays?...) either way I think it's worth a wait if you're not too much in a hurry to part with your money ;)
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
oldric_naubhoff said:
matt49 said:
Thanks, Oldric, but unfortunately the new model, the MDi, is 485mm wide. :cry:

Matt
the MDi is not the new model. it'll soon be superseeded. don't know exctly when as by my knowledge the new one should already be announced. (maybe some unexpected delays?...) either way I think it's worth a wait if you're not too much in a hurry to part with your money ;)
Ah, OK, thanks for that. The next question is whether they'll be available for demo in the UK ...
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
There's something blindingly counterintuitive about pairing a Devialet with the Audio Note AN-Es. It's not just that the AN-Es are designed for use with low power valve amps, whereas the Devialet is rated at 170W and has a massive power supply and bags of current. The two products just come from different worlds. The Devialet look like a piece of haute couture jewelry and drip with patents; the AN-Es are old school, determinedly low tech, and as Mrs49 observed, look like something out of the 1960s. (She actually meant it in a positive way.)

I’ve now had the AN-Es since Friday morning — enough time to form a view. However, two things remain mystifying. Apparently there are 17 different versions of the AN-E. All I know about this one is that it has the word ‘Signature’ in its name, it has the AN-E/SPe Signature external crossover, and a pair costs around £12K.

The second thing that’s mystifying is why anyone would want to spend that kind of money on them.

These are fairly big boxes: 790 x 360 x 270. The finish is of moderate quality; they look very home-made. The cabinet joints aren’t tight, and there’s glue visible. Apparently more attractive finishes are available at no extra cost.

The dealer spent about an hour fettling the set-up of the speakers. They’re on 300mm tall shot-filled and expensive-looking stands (apparently mass is important), and they’re toed in to point directly at the listening position. They’re fairly close to the rear wall: the middle of the speaker’s rear panel is only 250mm out from the wall. We removed my bass panels from the wall behind the speakers as these were providing too much damping. I’ve also tried moving the speakers even closer to the rear wall, but without any noticeable effect.

Parked in front of the speakers on their own low (and also expensive-looking) stands are the external crossovers, each the size of a small bungalow.

How do they sound? Well, whilst they do have some strengths, the overall degree of performance is disappointing.

On the positive side, the top end is extremely smooth, unforced, and natural, though it seems to roll off quite early. The mid-range is also charming, pleasantly transparent, and nice with female and male vocals. The bass is impressively tight and tuneful but perhaps a bit light. Except at the extremes, the frequency response sounds subjectively very flat: there’s a pleasing neutrality and even-handedness about the presentation.

Dynamics are decent, and the speakers are relatively articulate, though they sound slow-footed in comparison to my SF Cremonas.

However, the overall sonic picture is flat, two dimensional and unengaging. I have the frustrating feeling that the speakers are holding back. The music just doesn’t project out of the boxes. There's no insight into the structure of the music.

The soundstage is frankly rather poor, and no fiddling on my part seems to improve it. It occupies a very narrow horizontal band, and there’s a bit of a gap in the middle of it. Imaging isn’t very precise: certainly not as precise as my Cremonas.

Another frustration is that some important micro-details appear to be missing, and the timbres of acoustic instruments don't sound very real. These speakers have stolen my music!

So not a happy picture overall. The speakers have no trouble going loud and generating a fairly decent amount of tuneful bass. But they’re polite to the point of diffidence. And the size of the sonic picture they produce is frustratingly small.

If I were listening to these blind and assigning them to a price point, I’d put them at about £3K, quite a bit less than my Cremonas. In pretty much every respect (OK, maybe not the bottom end) I prefer my Cremonas. In fact, although I have the AN-Es on loan for a while yet, I've wired up the Cremonas again. And now my music is singing to me; it's communicating; it's making me happy.

One last point. It could be that the AN-Es simply don't like my room. Maybe a smaller Audio Note model would work better.

:?

Matt
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
Your findings don't really surprise me, as AN works very well in an all AN system, but not always in isolation.

I tried this with one of their DACs (2.1 x Sig), which didn't work out either in my system.

Anyway, its an easy one to cross off the list...though it was worth a try.
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
CnoEvil said:
Your findings don't really surprise me, as AN works very well in an all AN system, but not always in isolation.

I tried this with one of their DACs (2.1 x Sig), which didn't work out either in my system.

Anyway, its an easy one to cross off the list...though it was worth a try.
Yes and yes.

I'd be interested to hear a full AN system. It's one of those things one ought to do in life. But as for ownership -- the cost scares even me.

:jawdrop:

Matt
 

DocG

Well-known member
May 1, 2012
54
1
18,545
Thanks for sharing this, Matt.

After my AN-K demo, I was left in doubt: was it just a bad match with the Dev or would I need to try a larger, more expensive model to be sure? They don't make 'em larger than AN-E, and 12K is far above my budget.

So problem solved! :cheers:
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
DocG said:
Thanks for sharing this, Matt.

After my AN-K demo, I was left in doubt: was it just a bad match with the Dev or would I need to try a larger, more expensive model to be sure? They don't make 'em larger than AN-E, and 12K is far above my budget.

So problem solved! :cheers:
Glad to be able to help you out!

Although it's entirely academic now, I'd be interested to know why the AN-Es sound so poor with the Dev 170 (or indeed the AN-Ks with the 110).

Matt
 

RuudS

New member
Jan 14, 2014
0
0
0
Hey Matt, it's interesting to read your findings.

Have you also considered the Piega coax 30.2?
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
matt49 said:
Yes and yes.

I'd be interested to hear a full AN system. It's one of those things one ought to do in life. But as for ownership -- the cost scares even me.

:jawdrop:

Matt
The speakers I heard were AN E-LX @ £3960, which were on the end of CD 3.1 (£3960) + M5 Pre (£6300) + Ankoru/11 Monos (£25,200)........and it's sound was the antithesis of what you described.

Martin (of AN) did warn me that taking elements out of the system to try and capture some of the magic ,was unlikely to work, but he was happy to organize a DAC to be sent to me to try over the Christmas 2010 holiday.
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
RuudS said:
Hey Matt, it's interesting to read your findings.

Have you also considered the Piega coax 30.2?
Hi Ruud,

interesting. I've emailed them about UK dealers, but I'm not optimistic.

Matt
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
51
0
0
CnoEvil said:
matt49 said:
Yes and yes.

I'd be interested to hear a full AN system. It's one of those things one ought to do in life. But as for ownership -- the cost scares even me.

:jawdrop:

Matt
The speakers I heard were AN E-LX @ £3960, which were on the end of CD 3.1 (£3960) + M5 Pre (£6300) + Ankoru/11 Monos (£25,200)........and it's sound was the antithesis of what you described.

Martin (of AN) did warn me that taking elements out of the system to try and capture some of the magic ,was unlikely to work, but he was happy to organize a DAC to be sent to me to try over the Christmas 2010 holiday.
Well, I guess that sort of confirms what we've experienced, anecdotally at least. But I still wonder why.

Matt
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS