Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review

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Whitestix

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I received these speakers about three weeks ago and with a bit of run-in on them, maybe 75-100 hours, and I am prepared to say that they are simply stunning speakers.  I have a bit of a bind in my room in that I only have 2-3' from the rear wall to position them, which is about what Clayton Shaw from SA said would be workable.  I heard his former design, the Audio Physics OB speakers, at an audio show a couple of years ago and was very impressed with them, but was waved off when I learned that the AP speakers needed 4-5' of clearance to perform their best.  Clayton now has his own company and the Holograms incorporate major design improvements from his earlier designs with Audio Physics, not least of which is their performance much nearer the back wall. 

Most notably, these do not sound like any speakers I have ever had and I have had a nearly a dozen over the past decade in my room, but admittedly no OB speakers.  I listened to them with a pedestrian SS amp to break them in (note:  don't form any opinion of them until they have a least 50 hours on them) and then swapped them for an excellent 6L6 tube amp with 6 wpc.  With the tube amp (and my tube preamp), these speakers just simply blossomed with a huge soundstage and a very warm liquid sound.  There is no question that the speakers mate very well with tube amplification.  I then swapped my venerable CJ MF-80 SS amp into the system thinking that they might lose the holographic soundstage and warmth, but as it turns out, the CJ amp provides a bit more control on the LF response and gives up only a bit of the warmth and liquidity that the tube amp provided.  So, my take is that they respond very well to both tube and SS amplification, but with good gear, reveal provide much better performance. 

The M4's have an effortless, uncongested sound to them that seems very coherent from the LF to the HF.  They are neither forward nor laid back, they just make the music sound tonally correct and realistic.  If I had more room for placement, I might consider the M3's, which go down to 32hz whereas my M4's go pretty flat to 45hz.  No worries with the M4's, I am very happy with the LF response and if I get motivated, I might hook up my REL sub to catch that lower octave.  No doubt due to the open baffle design of the speakers, I sense an openness to the sound that I haven't ever experienced with any speakers I have had.  They are very detailed, with a clarity to the spittle sound of Miles' trumpet and a palpable leading-edge attack to Ron Carter's  double bass that just is simply amazing.   The sound from bottom to top with these speaker continues to astonish me the longer I listen to them.  If think they might tend to a bit warmer presentation, to my ears, but only slightly so.  Overall, they are very balanced. 

Clayton has a generous no-hassle 30-day trial with these speakers because it is a fair bet that few buyers will not be very happy with them.   I am just a guy who has loves jazz and has been in the quest for great sound in my system for the past 45 years so that is my point of view in this review.  I am not going out on a limb in saying that I think Clayton has significantly moved the ball ahead, from technological design and production standpoint, with his Hologram speakers.  I simply marvel at the pure enjoyment I am hearing with these speakers... just such pure enjoyment.   

For $2K for the M4 Turbo S version, I can't fathom a more fulfilling audio product than Clayton's speakers.  I urge my music-loving friends on this forum to think outside the box (speaker) realm and consider what Clayton has created with his well-engineered and beautifully-constructed line of of Hologram speakers.  At least, seek out his room at the next audio show and give them a listen.  Cheers, Whitestix

JackD

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Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #1 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:13 am »
Whitestix

I have had my M3 Turbo S model probably just a few days longer than you and after testing them for 3-4 hours the first night to assure all was well, I moved them to a spare bedroom and wired them up facing each other out of phase and put blankets over them.  I let them run 24/7 for almost 10 days so right now I am right at or just over 300 hours.  So far I have tried them with tubes, A/B SS and Class D.  While each of the amps have their strengths, like you I found that the Spatials respond very favorably to power and control.  As they are in my family room and not my dedicated room they are only 36" from the front edge of the baffle to the rear wall and in this position have more than enough bass and probably get very close to the 32 hz mark.  I have an ACI Force XL sub set up in the system, but as yet have found no need to turn it on.  Give them another couple hundred hours and the bass will get even better.  As you said a bargain at their price in the current price market that is "high end audio." They are really worth a serious listen for anyone looking in this price range or higher.  The cost of shipping them back is a whole lot less than what you would lose on buying a speaker new that you decided you couldn't live with.

Jack

md92468

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 182
Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #2 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:20 am »

"Such pure enjoyment....I can't fathom a more fulfilling audio product than Clayton's speakers."

Could not agree more. I recently moved up to the Turbo S from the base model...what you get at this price point is just hard to fathom. Wonderful speakers that will sing with nearly everything you throw at them - tubes, class D, hybrids, low powered, high powered...They just keep delivering music. Can't imagine going back to a box design after these...

jtwrace

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #3 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:23 am »
Hey guys, same with the M3 Turbo S that I have.  Insane really. 

zybar

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #4 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:27 am »
I think it is probably time to order a pair of M3 Turbo S speakers.

George

jtwrace

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #5 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:28 am »
I think it is probably time to order some M3 turbos! 

George
Be prepared to be floored.  $3k shouldn't sound this good and be full range.  Well, it should but I've never heard it until these.  Yes, they're really that good. 

zybar

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #6 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:30 am »
Be prepared to be floored.  $3k shouldn't sound this good and be full range.  Well, it should but I've never heard it until these.  Yes, they're really that good.

I believe you!

Your recommendations on the Ncore amps (both pairs), Aualric Vega, and LIO have been spot on.   :thumb:

George

jtwrace

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #7 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:34 am »
I believe you!

Your recommendations on the Ncore amps (both pairs), Aualric Vega, and LIO have been spot on.   :thumb:

George
By the end of the weekend I should be able to tell you what a LIO sounds like on M3's.   :green:

md92468

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 182
Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #8 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:36 am »
By the end of the weekend I should be able to tell you what a LIO sounds like on M3's.   :green:

Jealous...looking forward to hearing your impressions. That would be my dream combo...one box, no ICs, beautiful design, resistant to obsolescence, made by a guy doing what he loves...perfect.

jtwrace

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #9 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:37 am »
Jealous...looking forward to hearing your impressions. That would be my dream combo...
No dream required!  Save those pennies!   :lol:

zybar

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #10 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:37 am »
By the end of the weekend I should be able to tell you what a LIO sounds like on M3's.   :green:

Sweet!

George

schw06

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #11 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:44 am »
By the end of the weekend I should be able to tell you what a LIO sounds like on M3's.   :green:
No need to wait...Sounds awesome! I have the LIO on the M3 Turbo S's and run it with the LIO amp, Kismet monos and NCore 500's...Awesome combination with all 3 amps.
David

jtwrace

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #12 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:44 am »
Oh yeah, that was easy.   :oops:

schw06

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #13 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:45 am »
Super excited you're getting a LIO Jason!

jtwrace

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #14 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:48 am »
Super excited you're getting a LIO Jason!
I'm not.   :nono:

schw06

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #15 on: 15 Apr 2016, 01:52 am »
I'm not.   :nono:
If you hear the combination, you will

jtwrace

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #16 on: 15 Apr 2016, 02:03 am »
If you hear the combination, you will
What I have is technically better.   ;)   Fully balanced from input to output. 

JackD

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Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #17 on: 15 Apr 2016, 02:08 am »
David

I am using the Modwright LS-100 preamp, but also tried my W4S STP-SE, with the two tube amps plus the Kismet, Nuprime ST-10, W4S mAmps and right now testing out another members Nord One Up  NCore 500 amps.  The tube preamp and the Nord's are quite a combination with the Turbo S's. I initially thought I would be testing the Spatials out, but the wife has decided they are staying.  My Nolas are OB for the mids and tweeters and bass reflex for the woofers, but full OB is a bit different.

schw06

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #18 on: 15 Apr 2016, 02:13 am »
David

I am using the Modwright LS-100 preamp, but also tried my W4S STP-SE, with the two tube amps plus the Kismet, Nuprime ST-10, W4S mAmps and right now testing out another members Nord One Up  NCore 500 amps.  The tube preamp and the Nord's are quite a combination with the Turbo S's. I initially thought I would be testing the Spatials out, but the wife has decided they are staying.  My Nolas are OB for the mids and tweeters and bass reflex for the woofers, but full OB is a bit different.
Jack,
   I'm using the AVC/tubestage from the LIO into the Atsah NC500's into the M3 Turbo S's and totally dig the combination of a tube preamp/ncore/M3...Couldn't agree more.

Russell Dawkins

Re: Spatial Audio Hologram M4 Turbo OB speaker - A Review
« Reply #19 on: 15 Apr 2016, 05:26 am »
What I have is technically better.   ;)   Fully balanced from input to output.

I have to take exception.

All a balanced configuration accomplishes is greater freedom from hum and the like, due to the inherent rejection of common mode signals, like EMI induced hum. This can be an advantage only when hum is a problem or is audible, otherwise the signal suffers twice the degradation needlessly. I say twice the degradation because it is impossible for a signal not to be degraded to some extent merely by passing through any electrical device, be it transistor, capacitor, resistor, transformer winding or whateverr. Since fully balanced involves twice the number of devices for the signal to pass through, the resulting distortion from this is doubled, all other factors being equal.

Is that technically better? Not in my books, but it is a very common misconception.

In recording studio work it is more likely to be necessary and the convenience of not having to trace and deal with hum is often worth the degradation, but even in that environment the same misconception is widely held. In fact I had a lengthy online debate with an otherwise extremely well informed engineer about this very subject a few years ago.

Part of the problem is that balanced connectors look so much more professional than the humble looking (and flawed-in-its-own-way) RCA connector. They click-lock into place and all that good stuff, but if you are in search of the ultimate sound, you want to keep the signal path free of needless complications. Hum is seldom an insurmountable problem in the home, but manufacturers know the cachet associated with balanced and are only too pleased to service that perception.