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The Internet has brought us quite a bit in the last 20 years, most of it life-enhancing. For audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts it has delivered incredible access to price-defying audio gear. We’ve witnessed the rise of several successful Internet Direct (ID) audio companies that have slashed traditional prices by cutting out the middleman. You know the names; in fact five of these companies (XTZ Sound, Power Sound Audio, Chane, Axiom, and SVS) are sponsors of Home Theater Shack. The upside of this kind of selling practice is that we (the consumer) have an opportunity to get more for significantly less. The downside is that these products aren’t in demo rooms for direct comparisons to competitors (note, SVS can be found in some Magnolia Stores), but most ID companies have bypassed this issue by offering generous in-home trial periods. In fact, it can be argued that demoing a speaker in your own listening space is significantly preferable to hearing it in a store.



Essence's Model 1200, now selling for half price


That brings us to a company called Essence and their Model 1200 and Model 1600 Electrostatic Speakers. Both speakers were designed by Maarten Smits (founder of the brand Final) and are manufactured in the Netherlands. Of course, being electrostats, they create sound by activating a thin, see-through, Mylar film diaphragm. The diaphragm handles the entire frequency range (48Hz to 23kHz) without a single crossover or the need for multiple drivers. They’re also wall-mountable.

Several years ago these models were priced at $4,000 and $6,000 per pair, respectively. Expensive, but competitively priced when compared to other electrostats offered on the market. Several days ago, the company announced that it's pulling the Model 1200 and 1600 (along with DACs and a Class D Power Amp) from dealers and selling them direct to consumers. This move is slashing prices by 50-percent, dropping them to $2000 and $2600. This marks an incredible price difference.

Essence says that the traditional way of selling their speakers (dealers) became “distorted” following the financial crises of 2008. Stores have disappeared, and those remaining are incentivized to sell products from brands that sweeten the pot for the dealer…at least this is the claim. Nevertheless, this deal appears to be significant, especially when considering the tech involved. It’s noteworthy that Essence has a different diaphragm coating process that involves Hi-Res Ink Jet printing to layer positive and negative coats of conductive ink on the stator’s inner surfaces. Other electrostat makers use a spray process.

Home Theater Shack’s Wayne Myers is in the process of securing a pair of Essence 1200s for a full professional review. With a price point of $2K, this is one review that should definitely be worth reading.

Speaker Specifications:
Frequency Response: 48–25,000 Hz ±3dB
Horizontal Dispersion: 20°
Vertical Dispersion: 48.8″ (124cm) line source
Transducer: Full Range Electrostatic Transducer
Panel Dimensions: 48.8” × 11.38” x 1″ (123cm × 28.9cm)
Radiating Area: 685 in2 (3,480cm2)
Sensitivity: 88 dB/2.83 volts/@1 meter
Impedance: 4 Ohms; 2 ohms at 20kHz. Compatible with 4, 6, or 8 Ohm rated amplifiers.
Recommended Amplifier Power: 20 to 200 watts per channel
Inputs: Custom 5-way binding posts
Power Draw: Idle: < 1W/channel; Max: 2W/channel
Weight: 12 Kg/26.5 lbs each
Dimensions: 48.8” × 11.38” (123 × 28.9cm) Footplate; 35 cm x 28.5 cm (note, 1600 is 63” tall)


Image Credit: Essence
 

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Good Morning,

Do you have an estimated date for Essence review?

I'd very much like to know how do they compare to Martin Logan speakers.
 

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Good morning! No estimated date. I believe it is dependent on the availability of demo speakers. I'll see if I can get more info for you.
 

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No ETA yet on a review. So far it is a "when we have them available" situation. But I will be working with Essence to get a pair ASAP, hopefully in the next few months, but that is just my own thought.

I am really fascinated by the Essence electrostatics. First of all, the price is super competitive for a full-range electrostatic. Looking at some details from the Essence website, they talk about innovative use of materials and manufacturing processes that help cut costs.

The front and rear stators, metal in most designs, are perforated acrylic in the Essence design. This is moldable, I would assume, and lighter, and undoubtedly less expensive. What about electrical conduction, part of the purpose of the metal in other designs? They use precision ink-jet print technology to print layers of conductors on the acrylic surfaces.

The panel size is somewhat smaller than other full-sized electrostatic panels I have encountered, but the construction involves gradual vertical folding back and forth of the panel shape, so radiating surface area is a good 35% greater (my estimate) than the panel dimensions - 685 sq. in. radiating area for the model 1200 - and horizontal dispersion would be improved as well.

With specified frequency response down to 48 Hz, it is truly a full-range electrostatic. I would probably pair it with a subwoofer and roll it off at 80 Hz so I could push it without fear of bottoming out, but they claim to have that covered, too, with "tapered spacers" that allow safe doubling of the allowable excursion.

Essence is the new brand name for "Final Audio" electrostatics, a company known for audio innovations over the years.

You can see I am excited about these speakers. I will let you know when I have a timetable for getting a pair for review.
 

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Very cool. Would be interesting to have a competitor to the venerable Martin Logan brand, and there's really not a whole lot else out there if you want electrostats. Looking forward to the review. :T
 

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I'm going to purchase a pair of Martin Logan Summit X / Montis by 2016 and I'll use a Subwoofer (Descent i) with it. But if your review shows that Essence can at least match Summit X or Montis performance, I'll buy a pair of Essence and since I use a sub with my system anyway, it's low frequency range doesn't matter to me.
 

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Sensitivity: 88 dB/2.83 volts/@1 meter
Impedance: 4 Ohms; 2 ohms at 20kHz. Compatible with 4, 6, or 8 Ohm rated amplifiers.
Recommended Amplifier Power: 20 to 200 watts per channel
Image Credit: Essence
They are in reality, most likey 86 dB considering the are using 2.83 volts (nice way to improve your sensitivity on paper!). I guessing they will be power hungry...not a bad thing as long as they preform well.

Looking forward to their review! They should become another sponsor. :clap:
 

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We have a tentative timeframe of late June / early July for delivery, so a review around the first of August. This is TENTATIVE.

Very cool. Would be interesting to have a competitor to the venerable Martin Logan brand, and there's really not a whole lot else out there if you want electrostats. Looking forward to the review. :T
There is the Kingsound, but their full-range panels start at $10,000/pair with their Prince III, which is twice the radiating area of the Essence 1200. The Kingsound specs mention a crossover, not sure how they implement that. Seems like each of the smaller stacked panels (6 or 7 of them?) had a HF and a LF area, but I'm not sure about that. The Essence design is a single large full-range panel, as far as I can tell.

I'm going to purchase a pair of Martin Logan Summit X / Montis by 2016 and I'll use a Subwoofer (Descent i) with it. But if your review shows that Essence can at least match Summit X or Montis performance, I'll buy a pair of Essence and since I use a sub with my system anyway, it's low frequency range doesn't matter to me.
I will be comparing the Essence directly with the MartinLogan ESL, which can drive a pretty good sized room, as witnessed at Sonnie's place in March. I will have adequate amplification to see how hard they can be pushed, and with/without subwoofer.
 

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Sonnie used to have the Montis. He spent a bit of time with SVS speakers I think, and now has the Electromotion ESL. I wonder how the two compare, now that I think about it (the Montis and the ESL that is).
 

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I've had my eye on this company for a while, good to hear their prices have dropped. Looking forward to Wayne's review.
 

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Sonnie used to have the Montis. He spent a bit of time with SVS speakers I think, and now has the Electromotion ESL. I wonder how the two compare, now that I think about it (the Montis and the ESL that is).
There was some concern about the ESL being able to fill his room. We pushed them hard back in March, for awhile with Dennis's smaller Exposure 2010S amp, which we could hear clipping, then later with the Parasound Halo A31, with which we could run them unbearably loud with no hint of distortion.
 

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^^ That's pretty amazing. Is there a significant difference in sound quality or soundstage or other characteristics? The Montis is about five times as expensive as the ESL, so presumably there's a reason for that other than sheer output. But maybe we're deep into diminishing returns here.
 

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Hi Wayne,

I was a little confused with the way you refer to Martin Logan speakers. ElectroStatic Loudspeaker (ESL) is just the type of the speaker, not the model name.

I think I finally figured that out. So you refer to ElectroMotion speakers as "ESL" (I hope I'm right).

I wish you could compare Essence and Montis. ElectroMotion is the lowest end ESL in the series. But still it is better than no reviews on Essence at all.

I think when you hear the Essence, you can guess how good or bad it is, since you have trained ears.
 

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^^ That's pretty amazing. Is there a significant difference in sound quality or soundstage or other characteristics? The Montis is about five times as expensive as the ESL, so presumably there's a reason for that other than sheer output. But maybe we're deep into diminishing returns here.
The Montis is definitely a better speaker, in more ways than just output level capability. But Sonnie uses subwoofers and runs Audyssey xt32, which in his case tends to wash a lot of the difference away in practical terms.
 

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Hi Wayne,

I was a little confused with the way you refer to Martin Logan speakers. ElectroStatic Loudspeaker (ESL) is just the type of the speaker, not the model name.

I think I finally figured that out. So you refer to ElectroMotion speakers as "ESL" (I hope I'm right).

I wish you could compare Essence and Montis. ElectroMotion is the lowest end ESL in the series. But still it is better than no reviews on Essence at all.

I think when you hear the Essence, you can guess how good or bad it is, since you have trained ears.
I am going to leave 90% of the responsibility for the confusion at the feet of MartinLogan, bless their souls. As you point out, they have the Premium ESL series, with various model names, and then the ElectromMotion series, with the ESL model. Their numenclature is EM-ESL. It is commonly (around here, anyway) shortened to just ESL as the model name. It is indeed confusing.

I will be comparing to the EM - ESL because that is what I have. I would be tickled pink to be the owner of a pair of Montis.
 

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You're correct. For some reason they call that one model EM-ESL. It is odd.

No matter what you compare it to, it is still a big step.

I know this stuff are time consuming and I really appreciate you doing this.
 

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Really looking forward to this review (and others) of the Essence 1200 speakers. As mentioned the price is really excellent for a "full-range" ESL (when complementing with subs you basically get a two-way system). I've heard the Final 400i before (and use Acoustat Spectras in my current setup) but the Essence should be a major improvement to that speaker. Too bad they don't have a buy & try option, then I would probably order a pair today.
 
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