SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION

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zybar

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #80 on: 11 Dec 2016, 01:37 am »
Thanks for the comments and pictures Tom.

Safe travels.

George

TomS

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #81 on: 11 Dec 2016, 05:49 pm »
This is as basic as the setup gets - MicroRendu for streaming, MiniDSP crossover/DAC, and 2 stereo Red Dragon amplifiers. This setup more than held it's own. The MiniDSP with 4 channels of amplification of your choice (e.g. a spare multichannel HT amp you might already have) is a great starting point and the pre-configured MiniDSP (<$400) will be available turn key from Spatial.



roscoeiii

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #82 on: 12 Dec 2016, 08:33 pm »
More sonic impressions please!!! :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

Love the concept of these speakers. How's the sound?

goskers

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Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #83 on: 12 Dec 2016, 08:45 pm »
I have a long write up which I plan on posting tonight.

Stay tuned...

Vinnie R.

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Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #84 on: 12 Dec 2016, 08:48 pm »
I'll be posting as well - this evening or tomorrow.  It's just been insanely busy today!  :hyper:

Vinnie

TomS

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #85 on: 12 Dec 2016, 10:18 pm »
Same here, just been back to the grind at work today  :(

jtwrace

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #86 on: 12 Dec 2016, 11:50 pm »
I'm sure the others above will give more detail explained more eloquently but here's my take after an incredible weekend full of fun and long travel.  I'm toast tonight. 


I arrived at Spatial on Friday (12/9/16) at about noon along with "TomS".  When we arrived Clayton and Vinnie Rossi were already doing their thing.  We briefly talked about the X1's that were standing proud in the room.  After a brief talk we listened with the Spatial demo equipment on hand at the time.  It was a 2009 iMac > miniDSP > Red Dragon Amps.  Basically as simple as it could really be.  It certainly sounded good.  After that the Vinnie Rossi LIO was installed and measurements were taken as "TomS" posted above.  Vinnie and Clayton started to do what they do; and do best.  I must say that Vinnie Rossi impressed me before this day after seeing the LIO back at RMAF with Tom back in 2014 (?) at its debut.  To have the foresight and knowledge to pull something of that magnitude is no small feat. 


Enter the Vinnie Rossi X1 Amp Module.  What Vinnie did while we were standing there with iteration after iteration of tweaking on a board based on measurements and math was nothing short of incredible.  The guy is by far the best I've ever seen with a soldering iron on a very small board with very small components where there is no room for error.  He and Clayton pulled it off!  After a bunch of measurements it was time to hookup some of the electronics I brought.  We installed my Apple Airport Extreme that I put a static IP address on for the Sonore µRendu.  With that I used my MacBook Air with a Seagate 2TB drive using JRiver along to the µRendu in DLNA mode.  The power for the µRendu was provided by the 7Vdc from the LIO and the USB Cable Dongle was from P.I. Audio/TWL.


After things were set and sounding good we listened until 11:30 pm Friday night.  It was sounding so damn good and we were having such a great time it was hard to leave.  Oh, did I mention the food that was catered?!?!  Thanks Clayton!  Great company, food, music and suddenly all was right.  On Saturday, "goskers" and his buddy Nick arrived before us.  Basically we proceeded to play tunes and eat he same thing for the next 12 hrs giving them along with "Bob" from WPB, FL a chance to have the chair and play what they wanted.  We ended Saturday at 8:30 pm as a big storm was brewing for the mountains and it was important that Clayton be able to get home.  I flew back Sunday and figured that I occupied enough of Clayton's time so I didn't return on Sunday but instead got to sit at the airport for 5 hrs and watch football.  So the question is how do they sound, right?  Let me say that after living with the M3 Turbo S' for the past 10 months I really had no desire to change.  The M3's still to this day do more than most and certainly in their price range.  Quite frankly, I don't get how he does it but he does.  Being able to see the Spatial facility and see the process and the actual parts that make up the whole production line was fantastic.  I have even more respect for the company and products.  I should also add that Spatial is in an industrial park in Salt Lake City and not in a basement.  It's run like a real business and looks like it too.  Back to sonics.  So how do they compare?  They really don't.  That's where my problem lies.  As happy as I am with the M3's the X1's are just simply better in every regard as you would expect.  This is where things get a bit odd for me.  I went there thinking that the X1's would be good and I'd like them and that would be it.  I never thought I'd go there and listen to them and really think about replacing the $2800 M3's with the $10k+ (VR X1 Module) but they really do strike me in a way that hits home.  As you may know, I had GedLee Abbeys for years.  I loved them.  There was nothing they didn't do right IMO.  After a divorce and loss of listening space and quite frankly really wanting to simplify my stereo and life the thought of the LIO and M3's was refreshing.  After having them side by side I decided that I could be happy with this setup for the foreseeable future.  What I wasn't expecting was to have an audition of X1's that brought back some listening qualities that I've missed.  The shear amount of detail done with such finese of the X1's is simply jaw dropping.  I guess the way to put it is that the X1's are the well designed speakers that have that "it" factor while listening.  Along with the Vinnie Rossi LIO, the X1 and LIO combo still retains my simple setup and provides a listening experience that I prefer.  Whether it's for you or not; only you can decide.  It seems as though there will be plenty of pairs out there to audition in time but of course you can hear them at the Munich and LA Show coming in May and June respectively.  I have no doubt that if you wanted to take a trip to Spatial in SLC that Clayton would accommodate you too.  It's important to note that the room at Spatial isn't ideal.  In fact, I see that as a good thing.  If it was a purpose built top notch room you would then always question how they could sound in your space.  The advantage here is that you get to hear them in a real world environment and hear what a properly designed CD design can actually do. 

Thanks again to Clayton, Vinnie Rossi and the other guys.  It was a fantastic weekend for Audio Tourism (Tom's term). 

goskers

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Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #87 on: 13 Dec 2016, 02:15 am »
I came into this past weekend with a great deal of skepticism.  The two items that intrigued me most about the X1 design was the use of a waveguide for controlled directivity and the claim of a single compression driver being able to cover the range from 300Hz on up. 

I was the smart one that decided to drive to this meeting from Nebraska.  I picked up a former colleague of mine in Colorado along the way and arrived Friday night.  Made my way to Spatial for the proposed start time of 9AM Saturday morning.  It was then that I learned of what had transpired the day/night prior.  Vinnie of LIO fame had come in earlier to work on getting the crossover settings correct for driving the X1 with.  Clayton mentioned to me that they were able to get the compression driver +- .5db (1db overall) across it's passband with Vinnie's analog crossover.  This is a remarkable feat!  All good things for me as I care about measurements and stuff like that. 

When the rest of the guys arrived we made the proper introductions and got down to some listening.  I was informed of the late night session the night before so I figured that things couldn't be bad.  The one and only track that I requested to be placed on the 2TB of music was an early Rush track.  I listed to the first 2 mins of the 10 min track and knew that this was something special.  The rest of the day was spent with most of the latecomers, myself included, popping in, out and around the sweet spot.  The level of clarity experienced was such that I haven't heard before.  The X1's being ruler flat and using a single compression driver during the most critical bands gave a solid soundstage with no anomalies which I could ascertain. The bass was great.  Using an 18" woofer designed specifically for the duties asked of it makes a world of difference. 

I did not spend much of any time listening to the setup with the other DSP/amp options available.  My system goal has morphed as I have gotten older.  I want a clean, simple looking setup.  The sacrifice is typically that of the last 5% that we all chase.  The marriage between Clayton (X1) and Vinnie (LIO) seem to be a perfect match.  The design choices made by Clayton have been allowed to sing with the LIO.  We used the AVC tubestage as well as DHT during the day.  The differences between all were easily revealed with the X1.  One could consider the X1 a bit of a 'control group' as other speakers could be judged against them for many of the typical categories we tend to swoon over.

Many thanks go out to Clayton for hosting and the amazing food provided.  Special thanks to Vinnie for getting the LIO to perform with these they way it did.  How the X1's were able to play at more than plentiful levels with the internal amp providing 15w/45w is beyond me. 

The downside for me was that there is some work left to be done to get the X1 to production ready.  My reason for driving out was to be able to take a pair back with me if they turned out to be the real deal.  Well, these are the real deal.  I plan on these living with me when they are ready. The LIO will be performing all necessary silent system functions.

TomS

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #88 on: 13 Dec 2016, 03:07 am »
Jason and Joel already covered a lot of the experience, but here are a few of my own impressions.

Friday was indeed a "development" day, new drivers, new LIO XO and amp, tweaking the balance, positioning, really an all development effort. I live in that world myself, so no big deal, fun times. Vinnie managed to get the XO dialed in so the acoustic response was nearly ruler flat, at least on axis. The last couple of hours late Friday, after the move of the speakers ~2' further from the front wall, we listened more seriously, and they had really snapped into focus and started to strut their stuff. I could finally hear the potential and finished listening to the reference tracks very satisfied with what I'd heard on day 1, though dog tired from watching Vinnie and Clayton work their magic.

Saturday, with more break-in from running overnight, I felt they were even more spot on, wouldn't change a thing, sounding very, very good. I never felt strongly one way or the other on break-in effects, but they were clearly sounding better than when we left Friday evening. Clayton explained he sees significant measured differences in the drivers as they break in, now I’m a believer. They had great clarity, natural detail, and coherence top to bottom. Bass was solid and authoritative, with nice pitch definition, and mid bass balanced appropriately to the rest of the range. They seemed almost like a single driver system with all it’s goodness, but with the benefit of real power and extension. Unlike most OB's and dipoles I've heard and owned, which can sound somewhat diffuse/fuzzy and artificially reverberant, the X1’s locked individual details tightly in place all across the soundstage, without exaggerating. Outlines of instruments in space were very precise. Vocals were like point sources, and exceptionally coherent. A nice illusion of depth made it easy to place individual instruments in that dimension. Where there was actual reverberant field in the recording, it was all there, nothing artificial. Well done live recordings were breathtakingly real at times.

The brief M3 comparison showed that while the M3's are good on their own, there is a significant jump when you experience the X1's. The X1’s are definitely more revealing, which could be good or bad depending on your preferences.

At a personal level, I wanted to know if these could really play in the same league as the TAD Evolution One's I’ve enjoyed for the last 3 years. At resale prices <$15k, the Evo’s remain fiercely competitive with the latest round of “luxury goods” speakers, priced well into the tens of thousands. For me, their main strength and charm is the coherence and seamlessness of how the 5" magnesium mid and beryllium tweeter integrate together into the whole. It all sounds as one, which to me is rare for any of the typical 2.5/3 way full range designs. The TAD’s dynamic capability is also very good, and full range bass is beyond decent, but it's not SOTA like the 4 randomly placed and individually tuned subs I used to have (Geddes multi-sub setup). Still, the Evo’s are supremely good as a full range package, which you'd expect at their price point, with a few carefully chosen compromises.

So, how did the X1’s fare? The custom compression driver/waveguide seemed to be at least on par with the TAD mid/tweet combo, and could be better, particularly with ultimate transparency and staging presentation. Those are the TAD's main strengths, so this alone really surprised me and was quite amazing to hear. I suspect in the right room/setup, the X1 bass would exceed them in impact and extension as well. The AE 18” dipole driver is a beast, and handily took on every bit of pipe organ fireworks (thanks to the GAS reference disc!) and various percussion lines I threw at them. I’m certain they could easily pressurize a more typical listening space, which is something most OB speakers struggle to do and I find lacking. You do get the whole visceral feeling with these, without the box bloat. I measured some peaks ~95-100db at the listening position, with no strain, so they can definitely get up and boogie if you choose to. This was with “only” about 45 watts from the LIO X1 amp to the woofers. The combo had no problem at all dishing out more than we could stand. I seriously doubt the TADs could stay with them on that point, and would surely take 4-5x the power trying. The only way to know is to put them in the same room, but I’m fairly confident on this one. Bottom line is the X1's are a player at this level, at less than half the price.

In terms of packaging, the renderings don't adequately represent what's going on here. Seeing them in person, with hands on, I was impressed with the clever package, and its rock solid stability and sheer heft. It is thoroughly thought out and nicely executed, so kudo's to Clayton and David, his talented designer. I'm very excited to see them once the final few details are worked out and finishes applied. They just have a confident presence about them.

The biggest realization is when you step back and consider the value proposition. The Spatial direct model keeps the speakers under $12k in the US. Vinnie offers the LIO a la carte direct from ~$3k to ~$13k fully loaded with everything but a cheese slicer. One can put together a very high performance X1 based system with just a MiniDSP and 4 amp channels for well under $15k total. Step up to a moderately equipped LIO and you’re still well under $20k. A loaded LIO bumps it to ~$25k. I can’t imagine a total system solution from established manufacturers that can hang with this combo at this level of investment. And, it’s already turn key, completely integrated, no tweaking, no knobs to turn, cables to fuss with, etc. Overall, I think it’s a mind boggling value, where high quality separate systems run well into 6 figures these days. From what I observed, this will develop into a great partnership.

Thanks again to Vinnie Rossi, Clayton Shaw, and the entire Spatial crew for an opportunity to preview the Spatial X1’s and the Vinnie Rossi LIO X1 module. They were all gracious and open, answering every question without hesitation, with nothing off limits. We all learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and meeting the people there. Oh, and Clayton has a fantastic "caterer", who provided great food all weekend. You know who you are, so thanks so much!

Vinnie R.

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Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #89 on: 13 Dec 2016, 03:36 am »
All,

It was a pleasure to visit Spatial Audio over the weekend, and I'd say it was a very successful meet up!  As the others have mentioned,
Friday was very busy for us as we were working on the LIO X1 module's active crossover / EQ (all implemented in the analog domain).  From the frequency response plots that Clayton previously sent to me for the X1 drivers, I already had pre-production prototype PCBs made ahead of time.  The crossover part of it was already spot-on!  The other two things to get dialed in were:

1) The EQ'ing of the compression driver / waveguide to get the flattest response possible.  It actually covers a wide frequency range of 300Hz on up.
2) Setting the gain of the bass channels and treble channels.  As the compression driver is significantly more sensitive at 110dB,
the gain of the treble channels had to be lowered to match properly with the 18" bass drivers.

Regarding (1) above, after a morning / afternoon of hard work (and even Jason and Tom driving out to a local electronics shot to get me a resistor kit for values that I did not have on me), it all paid off.  I was able to get Clayton's waveguide to measure essentially FLAT
from 300Hz on up (+/- 0.5dB).  At first I didn't believe my eyes  :o, but we repeated this measurement a few times and on both speakers and confirmed it. 8)

Regarding (2) above, I installed a stereo volume control pot on the LIO X1 AMP prototype module so we could adjust the gain while we listened, and listen we did... all through the afternoon and evening until late hours!  :guitar:  Jason gets the credit for being DJ with his computer loaded up with track-after-track-after-track of excellent music of many genres... some well recorded and some not as well recorded.  Jason, Tom, Clayton and I were able to agree on what sounded best in terms of the gain setting of the bass / treble channels.
This will end up being the center (detent) position of the gain control, and I am going to allow for +/- 6dB or so of adjustment from there so one can really dial in the sound in their room.

LISTENING

jtwrace, goskers, and TomS have already posted detailed listening impressions that I find mirror my impressions.  I will add to this by mentioning how I found the X1 to compare to a speaker that many of you already have heard (or own) - The Spatial M3 Turbo S:

I found the X1 to be a significant jump in performance over the M3 TurboS in every possible regard.  Specifically:

- The quality of the bass was better in that it was cleaner and better defined.  It also dug deeper and with better extension, and more impact.  This was the best bass that I have heard from an open baffle speaker at this point.  The 18", dual-voice coil driver mounted on the solid X1 baffle is just KILLER!  I'm sure it mostly has to do with the quality of that awesome Acoustic Elegance 18" driver, but I also believe the X1's bass is cleaner because we sharply cut off at 300Hz via the active crossover, so the driver does not have to work nearly as hard as the 15" in the M3 (which I believe has a passive crossover point more than double this). 

- The compression driver + waveguide for me sounds much more open, extended, and refined throughout the band.  You can hear that it's response is much flatter over a wide range of the listening spectrum.  Compared to the M3, it is much cleaner to me at louder playback levels, but I also found that it has more magic at lower volume levels.  For example, Tori Amos' "I'm on Fire" vocal on that track was just a lot more seductive to me with the X1 and gave Bob goosebumps, and that was one of the tracks that we were not playing at loud levels.  Simply put, the resolution was outstanding! 

The X1 soundstage was definitely more 3D and holographic.  I know the M3s we used were not broken in, but I have also spent hours listening to Zybar's M3's (in his well-treated room), and we've played a handful of the same tracks at Zybar's that we also played on the X1s (e.g. cuts from Jason's RMAF playlists).  I've also had to opportunity to listen to the M3 at a few audio shows, so I feel I have a good handle on their sonic characteristics.  The X1's waveguide does a better job convincing me that I'm listening to real instruments and performers, and their sense of scale was more lifelike.  Many of the live recordings that were played sounded quite convincing!

Let me make sure it's clear that I think the M3's are "stupid good" for the money, and I know many who agree with this statement. Without going on and on, I'll say this:  I'm very confident that many listeners are going to be saying the exact same thing about the X1
+ LIO combo.   That is why I am very excited to be teaming up with Clayton at the LA Audio Show in early June (in a corner suite which will be larger than the standard room), where the X1 will be demonstrated in the USA for the first time.  We're aiming to deliver seriously good bang for your buck, performing way above the approx. $20K - $25K price point (X1's + LIO X1 Integrated, loaded with dac, DHT, X1 AMP, etc). 

Thanks again to Clayton for hosting this, his fiancee for catering the event, and especially for the attendees (Jason, TomS, Joel, Nick, and Bob) for all your time and providing your valuable feedback.  I believe that makes 14 ears in total - carefully listening, enjoying the music, asking questions and learning from each other.   :beer:

Vinnie

Folsom

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #90 on: 13 Dec 2016, 03:39 am »
Tom, you're wrong on my part. They looked heavy from the start; they're thick

Congrats on the great execution guys. (Don't spoil it with a MiniDSP, go LIO)

TomS

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #91 on: 13 Dec 2016, 04:15 am »
Tom, you're wrong on my part.
:scratch:

Folsom

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #92 on: 13 Dec 2016, 04:26 am »
As in I wasn't thinking they're anything but hefty, very much so! They look like you'd get nothing but sore knuckles and backs trying to test that factor. It's very important, I believe making the structure at that kind of level is one of the steps needed to take his speakers into a realm where people looking to spend double, triple, quadruple, the costs of the X1 should be looking at the X1 as a contender when you start getting to this sort of level of production and innovation.

jtwrace

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #93 on: 13 Dec 2016, 02:16 pm »
As in I wasn't thinking they're anything but hefty, very much so! They look like you'd get nothing but sore knuckles and backs trying to test that factor. It's very important, I believe making the structure at that kind of level is one of the steps needed to take his speakers into a realm where people looking to spend double, triple, quadruple, the costs of the X1 should be looking at the X1 as a contender when you start getting to this sort of level of production and innovation.
Thanks for the explanation and it makes sense.  Yes, they're very hefty.   :weights:

roscoeiii

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #94 on: 13 Dec 2016, 02:37 pm »
And I love having the DEQX option too. Greater control over crossover slopes and points plus more importantly the ability to keep things flat (or to your preferences) even at lower frequencies where the room is exerting its effects on unique ways.  IIRC some DEQX also use SMPS so conceivably those models could make use of a LIO as power supply, no?

jtwrace

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #95 on: 13 Dec 2016, 02:52 pm »
And I love having the DEQX option too. Greater control over crossover slopes and points plus more importantly the ability to keep things flat (or to your preferences) even at lower frequencies where the room is exerting its effects on unique ways.  IIRC some DEQX also use SMPS so conceivably those models could make use of a LIO as power supply, no?
I think having multiple options is great.  Whether it's the miniDSP, DEQX, DCX or the LIO they all will work.  The question becomes how much effort does one want to put in and at what cost.  Personally the LIO is the easiest and cleanest option out there. 

roscoeiii

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #96 on: 13 Dec 2016, 03:07 pm »
Agree that LIO is easiest and cleanest.

But it can't address room effects without help.  Normally the DEQX is big help above 300hz too but sounds like that may not be necessary (0.5db across the bandwidth? Wow.).  And likewise sounds like it's assistance in creating a steep crossover slope is also not as needed if at all. 

Speaking of steep, DEQX has a steep learning curve too.  :(

poseidonsvoice

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Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #97 on: 13 Dec 2016, 06:52 pm »
I don't mind the steep learning curve given the level of engineering in a DEQX and my current DCX. The implementation and execution of the X1 is divine. Given what I know what TomS, jtwrace, and goskers have owned in the past, their reviews speak volumes to me.

Looking forward to the X1 in a future 2ch setup  :thumb:

Best,
Anand.

Folsom

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #98 on: 13 Dec 2016, 07:08 pm »
When I was reading the replies, particularly about comparing to Geddes, I already thought... here comes Anand's new speakers!

roscoeiii

Re: SPATIAL AUDIO - X1 UNIWAVE INTRODUCTION
« Reply #99 on: 13 Dec 2016, 07:20 pm »
I don't mind the steep learning curve given the level of engineering in a DEQX and my current DCX. The implementation and execution of the X1 is divine. Given what I know what TomS, jtwrace, and goskers have owned in the past, their reviews speak volumes to me.

Looking forward to the X1 in a future 2ch setup  :thumb:

Best,
Anand.

Yeah, TomS's comparison to those incredible TADs sure got my attention. Damn.