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Industry Circles => Spatial Audio => Topic started by: Bingenito on 27 Mar 2022, 07:35 pm

Title: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 27 Mar 2022, 07:35 pm
Associated equipment
DAC/ Source: MSB Premier with Powerbase and network renderer or Jays Audio CDT2 MKIII
Preamp: Pass Labs XP22
Amp: Pass Labs X250.8
Interconnects: Acoustic Zen Absolute Copper XLR x2
Digital: Acoustic Zen Absolute 110
Power cords: Acoustic Zen Krakatoa on all gear except Pass X250.8 which uses Gargantua II
Speaker Cables: Acoustic Zen Hologram II
Subwoofers: REL Carbon Special x2
Room:18’x30’ with a ceiling that is varied height so over 6,000cuft total fully treated by GIK Acoustics


My Spatial Audio Lab X4s have 350hrs on them and within those hours have been driven hard with dynamic music. To that end I am fairly confident that they are broken in but if they somehow get better so be it but I am going to call it good where they are.

To cut to the chase, if you have a large room and can properly place these speakers paired with gear to set them up for success then you are in for a treat. With that out of the way who are these speakers for? My view is that they are for those who value a large open sound with dynamics.

OK great but define open and dynamic… Deep and wide soundstage with precise imaging, high resolution that is capable of delivering material contrast in quiet vs. explosive and do so effortlessly.

Can they scale and reveal system changes? I ran these speakers with Pass XP12 and then XP22. Denafrips Terminator II and then my current MSB DAC. Each time the change in sound was material so these speakers can really scale in any system.

Do you need subs? No you do not however I am using them due to the volume of my room to gain some pressure below 35hz. In my room the X4s alone measured with an F6 at 34hz and dropped off relatively sharp after that which I totally expected. Not many instruments generate bass below 40hz so I really debated adding subwoofers. When I A/B with and without I could live without the subs for 85% of music but I am not one to half ass anything so screw it…

As I have said before my favorite system to date was Magnepans with JL subs in a former setup (Pic below shows some former systems). I got out of this hobby and decided to get back in and found some great systems and speakers over the last 2 yrs. That said what I have in my room now is what I was searching for. It is the last word is resolution without harshness (if you set them up properly), soundstage is insane and the dynamics will freakin startle you if the music calls for it.

The pairing with the REL Carbon specials takes everything up a couple of notches as the stage gets even wider, well beyond the speakers and the foundation of the bottom octave from 16-32hz is there when it needs to be (confirmed with room measurements). Zero integration issues and no issues keeping up with the X4s. Standing in the room with 20hz test tones is not something that I would want to do for 5 mins.

Do I recommend the X4s? Hell Yes I do.


(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=238909)

(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=238910)

(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=238911)

(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=238912)

(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=238165)
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: consttraveler on 27 Mar 2022, 10:35 pm
Very nice!  You are in for a treat when you hit +\- 500 hrs.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Tyson on 28 Mar 2022, 01:47 am

Do I recommend the X4s? Hell Yes I do.

Pretty much sums up my feelings on my Spatial speakers, too!   :thumb:
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Daryl Zero on 28 Mar 2022, 02:40 am
Thanks for taking the time to write that up. Glad you are enjoying them.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 28 Mar 2022, 08:41 pm
Quote
Pretty much sums up my feelings on my Spatial speakers, too!

Yes sir! Sometimes saying less is in fact saying more. I am not wasting my time to write a long winded review. The pics show systems that I have owned and this is the best for my preference so that to me says enough. Now I got some music to listen to if you will excuse me  8)
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Desertpilot on 29 Mar 2022, 12:44 pm

Do you need subs? No you do not however I am using them due to the volume of my room to gain some pressure below 35hz. In my room the X4s alone measured with an F6 at 34hz and dropped off relatively sharp after that which I totally expected. Not many instruments generate bass below 40hz so I really debated adding subwoofers. When I A/B with and without I could live without the subs for 85% of music but I am not one to half ass anything so screw it…


I kept my two SVS SB13 Ultra subwoofers as well.  I relocated them to the back of my room because my X3s up front have built in subs.  After living with my X3s for several months, I ended up crossing them over to the subs at 40 Hz.  My room is well over 5,000 CF so I agree, the subs are helpful.  I also use my X3s for home theater so the LFE channel goes to the subs, of course.

Marcus
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 29 Mar 2022, 02:26 pm
Yes subs make sense for larger rooms. If my room was half the size I could easily go without them. The bass on the X4s with the Pass X250.8 is the best quality bass that I have ever heard. The subs just add the bottom end grunt to pressurize the larger space.

My HT room is separate but after I set this up in my music room I thought about merging the 2 systems which would be killer but then I have a fully treated room where my HT is that would be empty. Probably best for me to leave well enough alone and then I don't have to buy a projector and drop down screen.

Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 17 Apr 2022, 03:17 pm
Now at over 600hrs I have arrived at what I believe will be the final positioning of the X4 and subs. The main difference is pushing the speakers about 9" apart from their acoustic centers (9.5ft total) and using slightly less toe in. Subs are also angled with more toe in and crossover over at 20hz.

Instead of specifying toe in degrees I will say that using a laser level on the center of the speaker the beam is exactly 41" from the center of my head left and right and I am 10.5' away from the baffles.  In other words AMT centers are 114" apart and 10.5ft away the laser impacts 41" side to side for a total of 82".

With this new positioning and subs to the outside the soundstage is massive but not artificially inflated. Center imaging is locked in yet the stage extends well beyond the speakers. Tone is better and bass is mind-blowing. I did test the MSB DAC direct to Pass Labs X250.8 and it was close but I preferred the Pass XP22 in the chain by a small margin. If I bite the bullet and go for the MSB reference I would drop the preamp for sure as the Reference uses an analog volume control where the Premier that I have uses a hybrid.

On my front wall I have heavy drapes but on reference tracks I did notice some minor smearing of vocals so I snagged a few more panels from my office that fully treated for desktop near field and threw those behind the drapes + 2 more panels, 1 behind each speaker. That really improved imaging by a wide margin due to dampening the rear wave.

I bring these tuning/ tweaks up because I see that some of you chase gear to solve a problem caused by the room interaction and not gear. $300 in proper acoustic treatment can solve a problem that your $15k in gear chasing over the years could never solve.

As a side note I did have company over and tested some of the other speakers that I still own that are in the same ballpark on pricing. Everyone preferred the X4 due to the larger stage, more open and dynamic sound. When asked why the preference most said... because they sound real and the other speakers sound like really good speakers. Since real is what we are going for I will take it.

Don't ask me what the other speakers were because I am not here to declare brand is better than B. In my room with my system the Spatials just work better. If you are really curious you can figure it out.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: theclipper on 17 Apr 2022, 03:55 pm
That looks like an incredible setup and room you got there! How far off the front wall do you have the X4’s?
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 17 Apr 2022, 05:01 pm
Thank you!

5’ 2” from the front wall to the back of the speaker baffle. With the room being 30ft deep there is 14.5ft of open room behind me before the reflection off the rear wall.

Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Tangram on 18 Apr 2022, 03:12 pm
Now at over 600hrs I have arrived at what I believe will be the final positioning of the X4 and subs. The main difference is pushing the speakers about 9" apart from their acoustic centers (9.5ft total) and using slightly less toe in. Subs are also angled with more toe in and crossover over at 20hz.

Instead of specifying toe in degrees I will say that using a laser level on the center of the speaker the beam is exactly 41" from the center of my head left and right and I am 10.5' away from the baffles.  In other words AMT centers are 114" apart and 10.5ft away the laser impacts 41" side to side for a total of 82".

With this new positioning and subs to the outside the soundstage is massive but not artificially inflated. Center imaging is locked in yet the stage extends well beyond the speakers. Tone is better and bass is mind-blowing. I did test the MSB DAC direct to Pass Labs X250.8 and it was close but I preferred the Pass XP22 in the chain by a small margin. If I bite the bullet and go for the MSB reference I would drop the preamp for sure as the Reference uses an analog volume control where the Premier that I have uses a hybrid.

On my front wall I have heavy drapes but on reference tracks I did notice some minor smearing of vocals so I snagged a few more panels from my office that fully treated for desktop near field and threw those behind the drapes + 2 more panels, 1 behind each speaker. That really improved imaging by a wide margin due to dampening the rear wave.

I bring these tuning/ tweaks up because I see that some of you chase gear to solve a problem caused by the room interaction and not gear. $300 in proper acoustic treatment can solve a problem that your $15k in gear chasing over the years could never solve.

As a side note I did have company over and tested some of the other speakers that I still own that are in the same ballpark on pricing. Everyone preferred the X4 due to the larger stage, more open and dynamic sound. When asked why the preference most said... because they sound real and the other speakers sound like really good speakers. Since real is what we are going for I will take it.

Don't ask me what the other speakers were because I am not here to declare brand is better than B. In my room with my system the Spatials just work better. If you are really curious you can figure it out.

Thanks for the update. It is great whenever someone circles back and provides their final setup specs.

What benefit are the subs provided when crossed over at 20 Hz?
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 18 Apr 2022, 03:22 pm
Quote
What benefit are the subs provided when crossed over at 20 Hz?

A lot when the crossover slope fills in the bottom octave that the X4s cannot reproduce in my room! Crossovers are not a vertical wall they are gradual slopes so picture the X4 dropping off rather sharply in room at 36hz and the Carbon Specials filling that void but not adding or summing bass which creates bloat and muddy bass.

Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Tangram on 19 Apr 2022, 01:33 pm
Good point. Still awfully low. I'm surprised they are doing much but clearly they are otherwise you wouldn't bother. Do your subs have an adjustable slope and if so, did you experiment? What is the slope you use?
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 19 Apr 2022, 01:57 pm
Carbon Specials use a custom filter. Know that I shoot near field and listening position measurements so this is not at all guesswork.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Tangram on 19 Apr 2022, 03:06 pm
Carbon Specials use a custom filter. Know that I shoot near field and listening position measurements so this is not at all guesswork.

Congrats on putting together an incredible system. I have the M3 Sapphires but in a much smaller room: 13X20, so I haven't hooked my subs up and don't miss them. Unfortunately my room will always be the limiting factor on the sound I am able to achieve but I still thoroughly enjoy the Spatials. Clayton recommended the M3s for my room (I thought they would be too big) but the magic of open baffle bass means that they have very satisfying bass without overloading the room at volumes up to 90 db "C"-weighted.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Tyson on 19 Apr 2022, 03:55 pm
Congrats on putting together an incredible system. I have the M3 Sapphires but in a much smaller room: 13X20, so I haven't hooked my subs up and don't miss them. Unfortunately my room will always be the limiting factor on the sound I am able to achieve but I still thoroughly enjoy the Spatials. Clayton recommended the M3s for my room (I thought they would be too big) but the magic of open baffle bass means that they have very satisfying bass without overloading the room at volumes up to 90 db "C"-weighted.

The beauty of good OB speakers is that they really are the best approach to getting good sound in problematic rooms.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 19 Apr 2022, 08:52 pm
MSB Reference DAC and Puritan PSM156 ordered. Will post new impression in a few weeks after that. Pass XP22 is going on US Audiomart and I will be running DAC direct to the X250.8.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: TomS on 20 Apr 2022, 12:03 am
MSB Reference DAC and Puritan PSM156 ordered. Will post new impression in a few weeks after that. Pass XP22 is going on US Audiomart and I will be running DAC direct to the X250.8.
Congrats! The Puritan and Ground Master work very well for me. Of course, an MSB would be nice too  :thumb:
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 20 Apr 2022, 12:14 am
Thanks! Stay tuned :)
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: osullis on 20 Apr 2022, 12:25 am
I have the X5's in a room slightly smaller than yours.

It's very interesting that the component that's the "highest end" or at least most expensive (I think?) is the dac! How did you make the choice to splurge (the most) on that?
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 20 Apr 2022, 01:05 am
My experience (yours may vary and thats cool) tells me that the source matters most once you get to a good place on power amp and speakers. My DAC is my source and preamp so that is where I invest.

Others have a belief that they can buy into better sound with speakers and skimp on their source and or amp. That has not at all been my experience. So my rational is to put the most coin at process step 1 in the signal path because as good as the speakers are they cannot make up something in step 3 that was lost in steps 1 & 2.

Everyone spend your cash as you wish and so will I :)
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: rich121 on 20 Apr 2022, 07:41 am
My experience (yours may vary and thats cool) tells me that the source matters most once you get to a good place on power amp and speakers. My DAC is my source and preamp so that is where I invest.

Others have a belief that they can buy into better sound with speakers and skimp on their source and or amp. That has not at all been my experience. So my rational is to put the most coin at process step 1 in the signal path because as good as the speakers are they cannot make up something in step 3 that was lost in steps 1 & 2.

Everyone spend your cash as you wish and so will I :)

Agree...regardless what the source is, it is the most important link...garbage in, garbage out.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Tangram on 20 Apr 2022, 02:41 pm
My experience (yours may vary and thats cool) tells me that the source matters most once you get to a good place on power amp and speakers. My DAC is my source and preamp so that is where I invest.

Others have a belief that they can buy into better sound with speakers and skimp on their source and or amp. That has not at all been my experience. So my rational is to put the most coin at process step 1 in the signal path because as good as the speakers are they cannot make up something in step 3 that was lost in steps 1 & 2.

Everyone spend your cash as you wish and so will I :)

Cash isn't the only criteria for what works best. My amp is by far the cheapest part of my system and I will be buried with it.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Mr. Big on 20 Apr 2022, 04:51 pm
My experience (yours may vary and thats cool) tells me that the source matters most once you get to a good place on power amp and speakers. My DAC is my source and preamp so that is where I invest.

Others have a belief that they can buy into better sound with speakers and skimp on their source and or amp. That has not at all been my experience. So my rational is to put the most coin at process step 1 in the signal path because as good as the speakers are they cannot make up something in step 3 that was lost in steps 1 & 2.

Everyone spend your cash as you wish and so will I :)
[/quote

No one piece makes a good sounding system, look at it as a whole unit that has to work together. A good front end is important but then your preamp takes that signal and passes it on to the amp, then your amp has to be able to drive the speakers and their changing impedances and current needs. Then your room surrounds you and the sound that comes out of the speakers reflects and bounces around your room. Then speaker setup impacts the sound you hear at your seat. A great speaker in a bad room equals poor sound, good speakers in a good room and right room size works better than the more expensive speaker would. So look at your system as a whole being that gives you the total of its pieces, so balance out your quality throughout and fix your room which will be cheaper than changing gear in and out or spending more and more on gear and still not feeling satisfied. 
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 20 Apr 2022, 04:55 pm
I assume that you are speaking generally since the rest of my system and room is squared away.

My point is that assuming you have everything squared away and you are going to upgrade something, the source matters.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Mr. Big on 20 Apr 2022, 06:43 pm
I assume that you are speaking generally since the rest of my system and room is squared away.

My point is that assuming you have everything squared away and you are going to upgrade something, the source matters.

In general of course. You know a preamp matters it the traffic cop of any system. Impedance matching matters between preamp and amp. Starts at the source and can get screwed up along the way from a poor preamp.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: rich121 on 20 Apr 2022, 08:17 pm
I assume that you are speaking generally since the rest of my system and room is squared away.

My point is that assuming you have everything squared away and you are going to upgrade something, the source matters.

The source is the most important part of the chain...no matter what you put in rest of the system, the performance is dependent on the source.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: aniwolfe on 20 Apr 2022, 08:29 pm
@Bingenito

I bet that DAC is going to sound amazing. Source is very important. No doubt. Some people choose to spend money on components differently.

One thing to point out, that gets criticized and overlooked, is the quality of the outlets and powercord coming from the outlet to the source. Curous what you have for that?

Did you happen to try this ($50k?) Dac in your system before committing to it? I am assuming you have, but just curious.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 20 Apr 2022, 09:00 pm
Wow you just said that Cables Matter!!! J/K I have furutech outlets and Acoustic Zen Gargantua (power amp) and Krakatoa power cords (everything else including the subs).

As for trying the Reference DAC... Nope. I have lived with the Premier with the Powerbase now for 45 days and it is the single most transformational thing that I have ever done to my system. There is general consensus that the Reference gets your more information and not at the usual expense of brightness. Instead it is smoother, more natural and musical (hybrid DACs, power supplies, analog volume control, etc.). So based on what I am hearing I have zero concerns.

Keep in mind... I'm selling off a Preamp, ICs, Power cable and other gear from a 2nd system. Again to each their own... everyone do you :)

Underlying point here if anyone missed it is that the Spatials are that good.


Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 15 May 2022, 11:46 pm
Quick updates

1- I took the REL subs out and they are for Sale on US Audiomart. Now that the X4s are fully broken in I prefer the sound without subs. I learned a lesson that you can all learn here for free. Yes these speakers sound great out of the box but before you make a big or expensive move make sure that they have over 500hrs on them because now the bass is spectacular.

2- MSB Reference DAC should be only around 2-3 weeks out.

3- I just ordered a pair of Apollon Audio PNC1200 monos with Weiss op amps. My intention is to run them with another pair of speakers but will likely do a shootout on the X4s. Running a Pass X250.8 today and love it.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: birdyblabla on 29 Jul 2022, 09:48 am
Quick updates

1- I took the REL subs out and they are for Sale on US Audiomart. Now that the X4s are fully broken in I prefer the sound without subs. I learned a lesson that you can all learn here for free. Yes these speakers sound great out of the box but before you make a big or expensive move make sure that they have over 500hrs on them because now the bass is spectacular.

2- MSB Reference DAC should be only around 2-3 weeks out.

3- I just ordered a pair of Apollon Audio PNC1200 monos with Weiss op amps. My intention is to run them with another pair of speakers but will likely do a shootout on the X4s. Running a Pass X250.8 today and love it.

Any updates? ;-)
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 29 Jul 2022, 10:13 am
The MSB Reference has been here for about a month and is a solid step up from the Premier. Soundstage extends far beyond my walls which is ~4ft off the sides of each speaker, tonal balance and dynamics improved as well. The Apollon amps should arrive in the next 2 weeks (fingers crossed).

I will post a full update with photos once the amps are in and fully vetted.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: AndrewA on 31 Jul 2022, 10:02 pm
What would be the reasons for preferring the fully passive X4 over the X3?

With the X3 for only $500 more you get greater bass extension, higher sensitivity and higher impedance.  I know there are different models of drivers and no idea how they compare.
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Tyson on 31 Jul 2022, 11:15 pm
What would be the reasons for preferring the fully passive X4 over the X3?

With the X3 for only $500 more you get greater bass extension, higher sensitivity and higher impedance.  I know there are different models of drivers and no idea how they compare.

If you want to run low watt tube amps, there's no comparison, the X3 is much better. 

Mid to high powered tube amps would work well with the X4's, as would most SS amps.  The X4 is also smaller, and might fit better into small rooms. 
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 31 Jul 2022, 11:50 pm
Agree with Tyson on the amp comment.

I have a very large room and prefer high power solid state amps over tube amps. My system, room and use case dictated the speaker as there is no best... just best for the application and preference e.g. Framing hammer vs finish hammer... both hammers but for different applications.

I will say that I am a fan of bass and the X4s with some power strapped to them will shake the **** out of your entire house. Room is 30x18 and never have I said that I want more bass. Had 2 REL Carbon specials and when the X4 was fully broken in I sold them. New out of the box the Rels added bottom end but after I crossed 500hrs I tried it again and this was no longer the case.

Amps used so far have been, Kinki B7 monos, Pass X250.8, ATI NC525 borrowed from my HT room to test Class D, VTV Purifi with Sparkos Pro. Might loose my audiophile card but the Class D amps do a better job with the X4 in my opinion. Is what it is... I just call it as I hear it. The power and control just pays dividends.

Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: S Clark on 31 Jul 2022, 11:52 pm
... My amp is by far the cheapest part of my system and I will be buried with it.
Probably in a shallow grave in the back yard dug by your wife.  I fully expect my wife to bury me in one of my speakers.  :thumb:


(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=57075)
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 1 Aug 2022, 12:06 am
Quote
I fully expect my wife to bury me in one of my speakers.

Seems like a good reason to get a gym membership and bigger speakers man...  :thumb:
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: catluck on 3 Aug 2022, 01:53 pm
Bingenito's comment re: class D amps delivering the sonic goods is precisely my experience with M3's.  Yes, they sound amazing with 50 watts class A tubes but when I hooked up the 300 watt Bel Canto eRef 600's I was astonished at the sound quality.  Detail, resolution, transparency and tonal density to burn. But the bass, quantity, quality, texture, presence just stands out!  So I went from 100 lb. monoblocks to 15 lb. monoblocks with almost no discernible loss in sound quality.  If we lose our audiophile credentials so be it. We have the music to sooth us...  BTW, I'm still using tubes but I write for those considering class D - don't let circuit topology determine your options....
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Tyson on 3 Aug 2022, 03:11 pm
It's true, the X series does sound very good with high powered amps.  I'm not running Class D, but I do have a pair of Odyssey Kismet monoblocks and the sound is incredible. 
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: morganc on 3 Aug 2022, 04:08 pm
Yes to the high powered amp crowd.  I had a DAC Megaschino with my prior X-5’s and current X-3’s and loved it.  Amazing pairing and I would have kept it but for the lack of repair options with the
Asking of the manufacturer.   

Currently have a Don Sachs Pre and Amp combo and happy to have these tubes as well.  Each sounds better on different genres. 
Title: Re: Spatial Audio X4 official review
Post by: Bingenito on 3 Aug 2022, 11:24 pm
This is why I like AudioCircle... We respect each others preferences. Nice to see that I do not need to turn in my Audiophile card because I like Class D and solid state amps. Like others have mentioned tubes are cool as well. I just leave music playing 24/7 so have generally leaned to solid state.