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Bryan... Wayne can probably better answer this, but I think it is a matter of the speakers and possibly the setup. There is no doubt the ML's sound better with Audyssey Music (no Dynamic EQ), than without it (IMO). I would not say overly dramatic, but a more refined and detailed, yet airy soundstage... and really amazing lifelike imaging. The longer I have listened to it this way, the more I like it, to a point that when I now switch it back to Pure Audio, I can tell it ain't right... almost a boxy sound that I did not notice at first... I lose some of the openness and clarity (hoping those are the right terms)... immediately focus draws inward too much, if that makes sense. It is something we noticed when A/B'ing some speakers... how the bass and midbass can seem good and even (and where it is supposed to be), and then get all boxed up. I think you can look at the response measurements and see why this happens, and to me it is anything but natural (IMO). It would be better if you could just hear it for yourself. None the less... I have not heard anything better, anywhere... period, including all the audio shows I have been to. Are they worth $10,000... that is a tough call. For those where money is no object, probably so. While I love the sound, I could be satisfied with less... and any number of the much lesser expensive speakers would probably do me just fine... and still get me pretty close, although probably not breathtaking like the Montis. If they are 10 of 10... and I can get 7-8 of 10, I think I am a happy listener for hours on end. They just kind of take you over the edge, so to speak. The music I listen to may also have something to do with it too.

I did NOT hear any of the other speakers with Audyssey, only without, so I cannot speak to the differences of those, and if any of them may have sounded better with Audyssey. However, the ML's are no doubt a completely different design, not only dipole, but electrostatic as well, so this could have been the main contributor to the difference.
 

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Thanks for commenting, Sonnie. There are a handful of speakers on my audition list, and fortunately my budget allows me to have the ML Electromotion ESL on that list. The Phase Tech is also on my audition-in-my-home list (even though I've heard it elsewhere, or actually because I've heard it elsewhere. I share Joe's opinion on the airiness and openness of vocals on that speaker).

Might have to have one of these HTS-style comparisons of my own here soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #223
This talk of the soundstage on a couple of seemingly excellent imagers being degraded a bit by Audyssey has me wondering why. I don't recall Wayne mentioning such a thing in his review of the Montis even though its imaging was highly praised. Is there enough variability in MultEQ that another pass on the PSB or Axiom would have sounded significantly different? Are speakers very sensitive to toe in angle more likely to get messed up by Audyssey or be exceedingly sensitive to placement of the Audyssey mic?
Excellent questions, and I wish we knew more of the answers. I was thinking of the Montis when I wrote those remarks about the PSB Imagine T2. We never felt that the Montis suffered from the use of Audyssey MultEQ. But we are constantly learning here. There seem to be tendencies.
  • With Audyssey MultEQ, poor, medium, and pretty-good soundstages and imaging are improved somewhat by improved phase / time alignment and frequency response matching.
  • With Audyssey MultEQ, the best examples of soundstage and imaging may improve a little, not at all, or may actually suffer some. It is difficult to predict which it will be.
  • Even the best soundstage / imaging examples remain intact with sparingly applied parametric EQ.
  • If there is much attenuation of high frequencies due to the off-axis listening angle, soundstage / imaging are improved by having them boosted closer to flat.
It also reinforces to me the value of an auto EQ system that allows the user to restrict the ranges of frequencies it is allowed to perform EQ on, such as Anthem's ARC. Presumably if you had been able to stop the correction at say 200 Hz it would have tightened up the bass issues but left frequencies most important for imaging largely alone. Pure conjecture on my part - just thinking out loud here.
Sounds perfectly logical, would be another possibility to investigate.
 

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klipsch refused to participate in other challenges if I'm not mistaken.

Sent from my iPad using HTShack
That's disappointing. I'm glad the RF-62 II's were featured in the $1000 evaluation (I'm an owner). Nonetheless, this was a great evaluation. I've been interested in how the Axioms performed compared to the competition, so that was helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #225
Bryan... Wayne can probably better answer this, but I think it is a matter of the speakers and possibly the setup. There is no doubt the ML's sound better with Audyssey Music (no Dynamic EQ), than without it (IMO). I would not say overly dramatic, but a more refined and detailed, yet airy soundstage... and really amazing lifelike imaging. The longer I have listened to it this way, the more I like it, to a point that when I now switch it back to Pure Audio, I can tell it ain't right... almost a boxy sound that I did not notice at first... I lose some of the openness and clarity (hoping those are the right terms)... immediately focus draws inward too much, if that makes sense. It is something we noticed when A/B'ing some speakers... how the bass and midbass can seem good and even (and where it is supposed to be), and then get all boxed up. I think you can look at the response measurements and see why this happens, and to me it is anything but natural (IMO). It would be better if you could just hear it for yourself. None the less... I have not heard anything better, anywhere... period, including all the audio shows I have been to. Are they worth $10,000... that is a tough call. For those where money is no object, probably so. While I love the sound, I could be satisfied with less... and any number of the much lesser expensive speakers would probably do me just fine... and still get me pretty close, although probably not breathtaking like the Montis. If they are 10 of 10... and I can get 7-8 of 10, I think I am a happy listener for hours on end. They just kind of take you over the edge, so to speak. The music I listen to may also have something to do with it too.

I did NOT hear any of the other speakers with Audyssey, only without, so I cannot speak to the differences of those, and if any of them may have sounded better with Audyssey. However, the ML's are no doubt a completely different design, not only dipole, but electrostatic as well, so this could have been the main contributor to the difference.
I concur with Sonnie's thoughts. I would definitely normally elect to listen to the Montis in Sonnie's room with MultEQ on. There was no downside whatsoever that I ever heard.
 

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Good point. At my first carved in space soundstage witnessing at RMAF last October, I might have doubted my own ears except Dennis (Tesseract) was right beside me and had the same reaction. But there have been occasions like that where I was knocked out by it and others have not. So a factor is appreciation and being attuned to it.

Also, fine equipment does not a fine soundstage make. At RMAF there were many rooms full of ridiculously expensive equipment that had mediocre soundstages. There was only one carved in space soundstage at the whole event that I heard, one of the two Wilson Alexia setups. Even the main Wilson room only gave a pretty good soundstage in comparison. There are a lot of factors.
That wonderful tonal balance, soundstage and imaging were from an analog rig. Amazing what can be had from LP's and proper setup!
 

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Yes a pair of subs is already in the budget, as are speakers for 7.1 and a receiver and a blu ray player and projector. But if the speakers could save me some money that would be awesome.

I am fortunate to have enough connections in the audio world that I can get pretty good pricing on lots of stuff. So my budget allows for speakers that MSRP in the low $2000 range, but I wouldn't be paying that much. That's one disadvantage with Arx (or any ID company) for me only -- I don't get a deal on them.
Bryan, the ID business model is bare bones, anyone purchasing from that model is already saving a bunch. Even you, my friend. A5 sounds like a bargain, add A2 center, A2 surrounds, you are well within budget and punching way above weight class.
 

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Bryan, the ID business model is bare bones, anyone purchasing from that model is already saving a bunch. Even you, my friend. A5 sounds like a bargain, add A2 center, A2 surrounds, you are well within budget and punching way above weight class.
I don't disagree at all. That and the reputation of Arx means I will probably audition them even though I can go more than twice as high. And I won't be overly surprised if I end up liking them best or deciding that 95% of the performance for half the price is the way to go.
 

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Take-aways from this round of reviews...

Many have expected that these would be "shoot-outs" because we had multiple speakers in the same place at the same time. We have explained many times that we would not do so and would try very hard to let each speaker stand on its own. This was very hard to do, as comparisons always come up. If any comparisons were made, I tried to make them to the Montis, which are a much more expensive speaker and a fine reference point that we listened to extensively in the same room. And, frankly, they are, IMO, better than anything else I have heard there in most ways.

What I think all of the reviewers would agree on is that in this round we have reached a price point where identifying obvious shortcomings in each speaker becomes very difficult. Even more so than the lower price points, they all do most things at least adequately to be satisfying, and most do some things extremely well. They are all solit designs. The differences between them would likely be overcome by placement, room acoustics, and personal preference and priorities. I hope we gave enough information to relay our impressions of how they perform and under what conditions they might be better or worse choices for individual needs. That is very difficult to do, and we do not mind getting critiques or questions.

The Arx A5, which was one of our preferred speakers in the first session, which was intended to select a winner, has been discussed in this thread. I have to say, it does hold up pretty well against the higher priced speakers, but it does have some relative shortcomings. Whether they are important enough to justify the price difference is a personal choice, and I would not buy any speaker without some serious listening time. As fine a speaker as it is, there are others that one might prefer in any of the three groups of speakers we evaluated.

We have so many fine options in speakers these days that it really does boggle the mind. If I have learned anything in these sessions, it is that there are many good choices out there. And most importantly, once you get to speakers that reveal the detail that these do, music is a phenomenal experience. I think I am enjoying everything I listen to more since I have upgraded my speakers.
 

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Take-aways from this round of reviews... Many have expected that these would be "shoot-outs" because we had multiple speakers in the same place at the same time. We have explained many times that we would not do so and would try very hard to let each speaker stand on its own. This was very hard to do, as comparisons always come up. If any comparisons were made, I tried to make them to the Montis, which are a much more expensive speaker and a fine reference point that we listened to extensively in the same room. And, frankly, they are, IMO, better than anything else I have heard there in most ways. What I think all of the reviewers would agree on is that in this round we have reached a price point where identifying obvious shortcomings in each speaker becomes very difficult. Even more so than the lower price points, they all do most things at least adequately to be satisfying, and most do some things extremely well. They are all solit designs. The differences between them would likely be overcome by placement, room acoustics, and personal preference and priorities. I hope we gave enough information to relay our impressions of how they perform and under what conditions they might be better or worse choices for individual needs. That is very difficult to do, and we do not mind getting critiques or questions. The Arx A5, which was one of our preferred speakers in the first session, which was intended to select a winner, has been discussed in this thread. I have to say, it does hold up pretty well against the higher priced speakers, but it does have some relative shortcomings. Whether they are important enough to justify the price difference is a personal choice, and I would not buy any speaker without some serious listening time. As fine a speaker as it is, there are others that one might prefer in any of the three groups of speakers we evaluated. We have so many fine options in speakers these days that it really does boggle the mind. If I have learned anything in these sessions, it is that there are many good choices out there. And most importantly, once you get to speakers that reveal the detail that these do, music is a phenomenal experience. I think I am enjoying everything I listen to more since I have upgraded my speakers.
Nice summary Leonard! Thanks for all of your guys hard work in these evaluations. It really helps those on this site to perhaps determine what price point they are willing to go up to when choosing a speaker. Of course your preferences might not be someone else's preferences so each person must choose the speaker that is right for them but these evaluations definitely point people in the right direction.
 

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Excellent work Wayne. Thanks for this.

I have a question that any of you can address but I am especially interested in what Joe has to say because the things he listens for seem to align rather well with what I listen for. How do you feel about the way an electrostatic like the Montis handles audio versus the more traditional speakers you've been listening to? I leave this as a pretty broad question intentionally.
 

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Excellent work Wayne. Thanks for this.

I have a question that any of you can address but I am especially interested in what Joe has to say because the things he listens for seem to align rather well with what I listen for. How do you feel about the way an electrostatic like the Montis handles audio versus the more traditional speakers you've been listening to? I leave this as a pretty broad question intentionally.
Bryan,

Having had little prior experience with an electrostat, I had to rely on what I read mostly - and that was they are extremely finicky about placement. Also, one small shop in my area suggested they were akin to a Klipsch in one way - you either love them or you don't.

Having heard a couple electrostats at the shows and now the Montis speakers in Sonnie's room, I can tell you that I personally really enjoyed the sound. They do have a very open presentation and project very well - provided that you take them time and effort to get the placed. And, it can be a matter of an inch - there were instances when Wayne and I were playing with the Montis' location where I moved them that slightly and we could detect a difference in the soundfield. Once you do have them placed, I would put them up against any of the speakers I have deemed to have that "open, airy" sound.

The great thing about the Montis (IMO) is that they made a separate woofer cabinet in the base of the speaker to handle low end. There were a couple that I heard at shows that did not do this, and they really suffered in precision because of it.

I don't know that I would use them in a room in which I was going to do predominantly movies, but when I finally mke myself a two channel listening space at home (a bit in the future), I can tell you for certain that I will not be discounting an electrostat speaker - provided it is a hybrid.
 

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Thanks Joe, that was the kind of info I was interested in. Electrostats were not on my radar, due to some pre-conceived notions about them, until Wayne's review of the Montis. Now I must hear a pair to see what all the fuss is about. Or I will always wonder. Gotta love the audio obsession.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming . . .
 

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You really can get a lot of loudspeaker for $3000 a pair. While none of these models grabbed me personally as a "gotta have it" speaker,
I found that statement interesting.

I guess some people around here, will need to go the DIY route.:)
 
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