Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts

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Wind Chaser

Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« on: 9 Mar 2017, 06:25 pm »
Bill says he's got 400 hours on them and that they are ready. He's using the Red Dragon Mono's and I can't remember what else upstream. His M3's have replaced his Reference 3A de Capo BE. Another speaker I might have been interested in if I had more than 8 watts. Should be interesting. Will report back later.

Wind Chaser

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #1 on: 15 Mar 2017, 06:18 pm »
Okay, first things first. This is not a review, but a brief belated report based on a first impression. Even though Spatial offers a very generous return policy, many would be buyers still want to glean as much insight and information as possible prior to placing their order. To that end, I’m offering my thoughts as I have now had the opportunity to hear them for myself.

The first thing that struck me is these speakers are not as big as I had imagined. At 42” tall they are similar in size to the Magnepan MMG but 6” shorter and 2.5” wider.  They are very well proportioned and especially beautiful in black. Unlike some speakers, these do not overwhelm or dominate the room. They look super cool. Might I even dare say – sexy! Is that even possible?? To put it another way, none of the pictures I’ve seen do them justice.

Bill’s room is about 18’ wide. The front wall is recessed for the picture window which adds a few square feet to the room making it seem significantly bigger. He has his M3ts positioned along this wall, about 36” out into the room with 9’ between them. The position of the sweet spot is about 12-13’ back forming a far field isosceles triangle.

Selected cuts from the Rickie Lee Jones debut album and the Cowboy Junkie’s Black Eyed man confirmed that these speakers are balanced without any obvious deviations from top to bottom. Female voices sound natural and easy on the ear; in fact everything we played sounded natural and free of tonal coloration. These speakers sound right, and unlike some speakers they play all kinds of music equally well.

Even at modest volumes (60-65 db range) they performed well but not particularly engaging or lethargic either. As with any speaker, turning them up to the mid 70-80 db range proved to be much more satisfying, in fact I found that the more power put into them, the more enchanting they became.

Now I’m not in the habit of listening in the +100 db territory but by God, these speakers are truly spectacular if you if you are into that sort of thing. Like pushing a high performance super car to the limit – for those who dare, it’s a thrilling experience.

And so for this 500 watt exercise I chose Lateralus by Tool. The song starts off very gentle with a repetitive guitar melody, then a soft foundation of deep bubbling bass enters in the background, progressively becoming louder and louder. As the bass line swells towards a climax, a death march drum joins the bass  adding weight and great authority to what is about to happen next. It is at this point I get very nervous wondering whether I should turn it down a notch or resign all four 15” woofers to fate of my curious insanity. I decide to stand my ground. Then like a 500’ tsunami wave hitting land, I’m absolutely in awe of what feels like a supernatural event.

Without breaking a sweat, the 4 woofers converted all that power into very clean, crystal clear sound. It didn’t sound the slightest bit fatigued or stressed! Everything from top to bottom was intact. There was no apparent distortion or dynamic compression! 500 watts adds about 27 db to the stated efficiency of 94 db, which means we were briefly exposed to a whopping 121 db! And strangely enough, I do not recall any ringing in my ears afterwards. Go figure? Wouldn’t it be ironic it this were the cure for tinnitus?  :lol:

More to follow in the next day or so....

harley.guy07

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #2 on: 17 Mar 2017, 02:09 am »
I have really enjoyed My M3 TS's and really like their ability to handle and sound great on any type of music you put through them. I had Dynaudio before and even though they were great speakers they were only really great on certain types of music. The Spatial's sound awesome with every type of music I put through them even stuff I don't usually listen to. I do run a custom built high end subwoofer with them to catch the lowest notes but otherwise I am happy. I will be excited to hear what you think of them with more time to listen.

Wind Chaser

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #3 on: 18 Mar 2017, 05:45 pm »
On the same day I heard Bill’s M3ts I was fortunate to hear a second pair at another location 10 minutes away. The Hi-Fi Attic is the sole dealer/distributor for Spatial in Canada. Lucky me they had a pair of M3ts on display in their main showroom. Now having seen them in both black and white, I definitely prefer them in black.
 
They also had them set up in a far field arrangement much like they were at Bill’s place; consequently they sounded similar to the way they did at Bill’s place. So after about 30 seconds of listening I asked if I could move them around to try something different.

A near field arrangement produces a relatively wide soundstage as opposed to a far field arrangement, which produces by comparison a narrow soundstage. If you have the option to set things up that creates a front row center to the stage experience, why would you settle for less? When I attend a live event, that’s where I expect the best sound to be and that’s how I set up my system.

Another benefit of the near field arrangement is it is much easier to sense where every musician is located within the soundstage. However due to the set up at both locations, the imaging was so diffused that it was practically impossible to localize anything within the confines of the narrow soundstage.

So I pulled the M3ts further out into the room and spread them apart as far as the cables would allow. Next, I moved the listening chair in much closer. I spent a few minutes working on the axis of each speaker and then – viola! Now instead of ill defined images crammed into a narrow soundstage, individual instruments resided in their own space with excellent separation in a relatively wide soundstage.

Yes, the way you set things up makes a huge difference, especially if you value 3 dimensional holographic imaging where every musician occupies their own place on the stage relative to all the other musicians. If you haven’t experienced this, try a near field arrangement and listen with your eyes closed. By closing your eyes you cut off all visual input to the brain allowing it to focus more on the auditory aspect. A good system will isolate the exact location of each instrument. When everything comes together, an illusion of "being there" unfolds that can be very surreal. The better the system and set up, the better the illusion.

After a while many people who are into high quality play back systems develop definite preferences about what is right and what they like. Sound staging and imaging are every bit as important to me as tonal accuracy, resolution, PRAT, and dynamics. In both of my auditions of the M3ts I found the soundstage to be set a little lower than what I prefer. People differ in height so I don’t blame the speakers, however I’m guessing the height of the compression driver is about 32 – 33” up from the floor; when I sit down to listen, my ears are typically up 38” from the floor. That’s quite a disparity and it does factor into the perceived height of the soundstage.

Now the curious thing is some people put a fair bit of effort into positioning their speakers because they know how much of a difference even half an inch can make between good and very good!  Like a subtle adjustment to the focus ring on the barrel of a high quality camera lens, a subtle adjustment to the position of your speakers can make a huge difference. Yet many of audiophiles do not even consider adjusting the height of their speakers! Anyhow, in order for these to work in my room according to my preferences I know I will have to elevate them.

Open baffles sound distinctively different from boxed speakers. What makes the M3ts even more interesting is that they are fairly efficient compared to most speakers; however the 4Ω load (3Ω minimum) could be an issue for some amps.

In any case, next time I drive out to Kelowna I plan on taking my 8 watt SET. I am really curious as to how well it will pair with the M3ts. If it works as well as I hope, then I am quite certain I will place my order.

Vinnie R.

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #4 on: 18 Mar 2017, 06:08 pm »
Quote from: Wind Chaser
Yes, the way you set things up makes a huge difference, especially if you value 3 dimensional holographic imaging where every musician occupies their own place on the stage relative to all the other musicians. If you haven’t experienced this, try a near field arrangement and listen with your eyes closed. By closing your eyes you cut off all visual input to the brain allowing it to focus more on the auditory aspect. A good system will isolate the exact location of each instrument. When everything comes together, an illusion unfolds that can be very surreal. The better the system and set up, the better the illusion.

WC,

I couldn't agree with you more!  A couple of years ago I switched to near field listening (and mostly listening during the evening in a nearly dark room) and have not looked back!  There is far less interaction between the speakers and the room this way, and when carefully set up, the speakers (although closer to you) should 'disappear."  In many cases, the more the room comes into the equation, the worse the resulting sound.  Even in well-treated rooms, if the speakers are further way, the sound interacts with the room boundaries *before* it reaches your ears.  And the louder you play it, the more interaction with the room.  With near field listening, this is significantly reduced.  Everything snaps into focus and sound more real, dynamics are improved, and you don't have to turn the volume up as high to achieve the same desired SPL.  Subtle spatial queues, microdetails, leading edges of transients, etc. - all can become blurred or even lost as the sound waves travel through the room and reach your ears. 

Quote
Now the curious thing is some people put a fair bit of effort into positioning their speakers because they know how much of a difference even half an inch can make between good and very good!  Like a subtle adjustment to the focus ring on the barrel of a high quality camera lens, a subtle adjustment to the position of your speakers can make a huge difference. Yet many of audiophiles do not even consider adjusting the height of their speakers!

Very true, and if it is challenging to adjust speaker height, then try to find a different chair (or an adjustable height chair).  :wink:

And as "geeky" as it sounds, using a level on each speaker it helpful because sometimes one speaker is aiming a little differently (due to stand settings, spike setting, carpet, uneven flooring...).  If you are into the near field, sweet-spot listening experience like I am, then getting the distances from speaker to ear, toe-in, height, etc. all makes a significant difference and these are free tweaks!  :green:

Vinnie

mcgsxr

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #5 on: 18 Mar 2017, 07:07 pm »
Agree on near field listening when you can.

I wonder if tilting the baffles back would help with the perceived height issues?  I used to angle my OB's back some. 

glynnw

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #6 on: 18 Mar 2017, 07:19 pm »
Vinnie and others - how far from speakers do you sit?

zybar

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #7 on: 18 Mar 2017, 08:21 pm »
Vinnie,

If I recall correctly, you liked the Spatial Speakers in the near field and pulled way into the room when you were over.

The only drawback was that felt we lost a little heft and weight to the bass.  Otherwise, mama, many positives.

George

Vinnie R.

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #8 on: 18 Mar 2017, 08:23 pm »
Vinnie and others - how far from speakers do you sit?

Hi glynnw,

With Harbeth 40.1s:

I have each speaker 48" from front baffle of the speaker to ear, and each speaker 67" apart (from tweeter to tweeter).
Ear height is located right between the midrange the tweeter (I find that sounds best with them).

With P3ESRs:

I have each speaker 36" from front baffle of the speaker to ear, and each speaker 50" apart (from tweeter to tweeter).
Again, ear height is located right between the midrange the tweeter.

In both cases:

- When I sit, I am facing into a corner of the room and the distance from my head to that corner is about 12 feet.  So the speakers
are pulled out quite far into the room and away from side walls (as is my listening chair).

- I have the speakers fully toed-in so they directly are firing at each ear (which I find is important when you have them separated wider like this).  The speakers cross at my head to form a 90 degree angle (as opposed to a 60 degree angle if you form an equilateral triangle with your speakers.  For this near field listening, I prefer the wider approach and it gives a much wider soundstage and center image very well defined.  This phantom image really is 12 feet back into the corner and beyond, and the layering of the music is spooky real.  Both these speakers really EXCEL in the near field (makes sense as they were designed for this in the studios).  The performers sound so real and you get that "reach out and touch" effect.  Ella, Louis, John Lennon, Elvis, MJ, etc - it sounds like they are still alive today and in the room with you.  Many who have listened to this have made this comment.  My daughters (6 and 10 yrs old) ask me if they can listen to MJ Thriller and other favorites and they tell me their hairs stand up and you can see their goosebumps.  They love it, too!  But it is sweet-spot listening, so only one person can listen at a time if they want to hear it like this!  :rules:

Bass is much tighter and controlled this way as well, as your ears are hearing the sound well before the room reflections cause smearing or serious peaks/dips.   Transient attack is also better and they sound 'faster' than they do when put into the room.

I run them with the LIO DHT Integrated (directly heated triode in the linestage, MOSFET output stage that delivers 35wpc into 6-ohms).  And being in the near field, I can play them very loud and clean w/o breaking a sweat.  But what is most important is the level of realism that is conveyed, even at lower level listening.  Until you try and get used to this type of listening, you don't realize just how much the room acoustics skew what you hear. 

Is it for everyone?  No.  Some can't do it because they don't have their own listening room and they can't get away with it in their living room ("spouse acceptance issues" I guess?).  And not all speakers sound good in the near field and not all were designed to be used like this.  For example, some are supposed to be placed in the corners (Audio Note, K-horns, etc).  And no everyone likes sweet-spot listening, as they like to move around and do things while they listen.  That's just not me - when I listen, I just want to listen.

For some "non-audiophiles" who come over and see my system look at it and ask me "So you just sit there and listen to the music?"  And my reply is always something like - "Yes, kinda like how you just sit there in front of your TV and watch your shows."   :wink:

Enjoy it!

Vinnie

Vinnie R.

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #9 on: 18 Mar 2017, 08:30 pm »
Vinnie,

If I recall correctly, you liked the Spatial Speakers in the near field and pulled way into the room when you were over.

The only drawback was that felt we lost a little heft and weight to the bass.  Otherwise, mama, many positives.

George

Hi George,

Yes, I preferred them this way.   

They way you had it set up (where the speakers were relative to where the chair was) gave better bass response in your dedicated room, but I think the loss of bass weight when I tried near field could be due to room acoustics and where we had your chair located.  I don't recall use moving the chair that much. 

You would need to play with *both* the location of your chair and the speakers in your room and find the best response.  It might be a little trickier getting optimal bass response with OB spekaers in the near field, but I'm sure it could be done well in most rooms where you have the flexibility (and time / patience).

Vinnie

Vinnie R.

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #10 on: 18 Mar 2017, 08:31 pm »
Hi George,

Yes, I preferred them this way.   

They way you had it set up (where the speakers were relative to where the chair was) gave better bass response in your dedicated room, but I think the loss of bass weight when I tried near field could be due to room acoustics and where we had your chair located.  I don't recall use moving the chair that much. 

You would need to play with *both* the location of your chair and the speakers in your room and find the best response.  It might be a little trickier getting optimal bass response with OB spekaers in the near field, but I'm sure it could be done well in most rooms where you have the flexibility (and time / patience).

When I get some Spatials from Clayton, I'll be trying it!

Vinnie

Wind Chaser

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #11 on: 18 Mar 2017, 10:33 pm »
Even in well-treated rooms, if the speakers are further way, the sound interacts with the room boundaries *before* it reaches your ears.  And the louder you play it, the more interaction with the room.  With near field listening, this is significantly reduced.

Good point, I forgot to mention negation / minimization of room effects.


Quote
If you are into the near field, sweet-spot listening experience like I am, then getting the distances from speaker to ear, toe-in, height, etc. all makes a significant difference and these are free tweaks!  :green:

Yeah, not only are they free, but doing these things quite often makes a bigger difference than a component upgrade. I told Bill to put off upgrading his amp and cables for the time being. His system "as is" has a whole lot of unrealized potential. Next time I head up his way we'll explore that.

Wind Chaser

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #12 on: 18 Mar 2017, 10:49 pm »
Vinnie and others - how far from speakers do you sit?

Distance from the speakers is determined by the distance between the speakers. My speakers are 9' apart and my ears are 7.5' from each speaker, I think that works out to a ratio of 18:15 which could be written as 6:5. If I had a larger room I would spread my speakers even further apart.

harley.guy07

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #13 on: 19 Mar 2017, 07:46 pm »
Agree on near field listening when you can.

I wonder if tilting the baffles back would help with the perceived height issues?  I used to angle my OB's back some.

Being that the Spatials use a coaxial driver set up I am not sure angling them back will as much as separate tweeter,woofer speakers. But it might help with soundstage height. I am wondering if it is room placement as mine are great at height and they aren't angled back at all

TimS

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #14 on: 19 Mar 2017, 08:47 pm »
Here is a link posted by Vinnie a while back on near field listening:

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?886-Near-Field-Listening-Acquired-Taste-or-Proper-Paradigm

Vinnie R.

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #15 on: 19 Mar 2017, 09:26 pm »
Here is a link posted by Vinnie a while back on near field listening:

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?886-Near-Field-Listening-Acquired-Taste-or-Proper-Paradigm

Hi TimS,

Thanks for posting that link.

You will see a picture in the first post of that thread.  The speakers are still quite close to the front wall (the wall behind the speakers).  For me, this is too close, but still good if you don't have a lot of flexibility to position the speakers in your room. I have tried it like this, but I have found with near field listening that the more space behind the speakers, the deeper you can get the phantom image and the more layering of the soundstage (mostly happens behind the speakers, and the speakers pull off their disappearing act). 

So now when I listen, I am facing into a corner of the room that is 12 feet away.  Awesome depth and layering, and getting the speakers away from the walls if you can just makes everything even better.

Vinnie

debjit.g

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #16 on: 19 Mar 2017, 10:18 pm »
I have one question on near field listening - do we get the full depth on the soundstage by sitting so close to the speaker ?

Also from reading different places, some believe distance between the speaker to the listener to be equilateral triangle and some believe the ratio between 1:1.1 to 1:1.2. For example, Jim Smith says he always have much satisfactory results following the later ratio. Vinnie's placement seems to contradict this. What are other folks using as the ratio between the speaker and listener distance ?

Wind Chaser

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #17 on: 19 Mar 2017, 11:56 pm »
I have one question on near field listening - do we get the full depth on the soundstage by sitting so close to the speaker ?

System dependent, but yes.

Quote
Also from reading different places, some believe distance between the speaker to the listener to be equilateral triangle and some believe the ratio between 1:1.1 to 1:1.2. For example, Jim Smith says he always have much satisfactory results following the later ratio. Vinnie's placement seems to contradict this. What are other folks using as the ratio between the speaker and listener distance ?

I answered this with what works for me in reply 12 of this thread. The equilateral triangle is a good starting point; from there experiment. I find myself moving in a little closer than that to attain a wider stage.

Vinnie R.

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Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #18 on: 20 Mar 2017, 12:30 am »
I have one question on near field listening - do we get the full depth on the soundstage by sitting so close to the speaker ?

Hi debjit.g,

In the way I describe my setup above, the depth is much better with near field listening.  But as WC mentions above,
it really depends on your system (how resolving the electronics and speakers are) and how you have it all set up in your room.

Quote from: Wind Chaser
I answered this with what works for me in reply 12 of this thread. The equilateral triangle is a good starting point; from there experiment. I find myself moving in a little closer than that to attain a wider stage.

I have found in my near field setup that if you do full toe in so that each speaker aims directly at each ear, you can
use a 1:sqrt(2) = 1:1.414 ratio.  (e.g. if distance from ear to speaker is 48 inches, distance from centers of each speaker
is ~ 68 inches).  This presents to me the widest soundstage, a very focused center image, and lots of depth and layering.

Again, not all speakers sound best like this.  One really needs to experiment with positioning, listening, re-positioning, listening... and more and more listening - before you find what works best for you. 

I will also add this  :idea::  When I exhibit at audio shows, for best sound quality I personally would much rather have only one listening chair and the speakers set up near field as I mention in my posts above.  No doubt I can obtain the best results this way, especially in a hotel room with poor acoustics.  The speakers and chair would be pulled far out into the room, speakers setup using the 1:1.414 ratio mentioned above, etc.  The drawback is what I also mentioned earier - it would sound superb for only one listener at a time, and all others standing around in the room would not hear any of the magic at all.  Obviously this is not good for a show room where lots of people are coming in and out to listen.  I think the only way to make it 'sort of work well' is if everyone gets 3 minutes when it is crowded (while 30 seconds of each song are played, so 6 songs) and then the next person gets to listen.  But even then, the waiting line could still be too long and people would lose patience waiting  :banghead: (rightfully so, since they came in to listen).   If it were less crowded, one could listen longer. 

Vinnie

Wind Chaser

Re: Leaving shortly to hear the Spatial M3ts
« Reply #19 on: 20 Mar 2017, 05:13 pm »
Vinnie,

With respect to toe in, I find "how much" really depends on the speaker. But as you stated...

One really needs to experiment with positioning, listening, re-positioning, listening... and more and more listening - before you find what works best for you.

That is the key. It takes time and effort, but it is well worth it. Even after you think you've nailed it, it's worth revisiting. I've spent as much as two months experimenting before settling in with a particular arrangement... and I'm always open to further improvement.