Major Product Announcement - M4 Ultra

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Mr. Big

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Re: Major Product Announcement - M4 Ultra
« Reply #60 on: 6 Feb 2023, 12:40 pm »
Sockpit, per the new thread, I guess Clayton is isn't back yet  :( . I just got that impression after my communication with Clayton which was fast and efficient and he sent the tweeters out the next day. Sorry I assumed incorrectly but Spatial said they will be back in a few months.

Thanks Dave. Sorry this is so long but here it goes. Grab a cup of coffee for when you are bored:

I've heard only about 9-11 songs so far so the Rivals are really my early thoughts on them. Also, although they sound great (more below), I just put them where I had the M3s (which were positioned as perfect as I could find and they disappeared and sounded fantastic) but spaced them out another 1' and gave them a lot more toe in which I keep reading they require.

Also please keep in mind that I'm still somewhat of a newbie (but not new) and don't have the listening skills many here do. When I read some reviews here or audiogon I'm reminded of that.

First, I will discuss my take of my 18-ish months with the Sapphire M3s: The Rivals sound so much different than the M3s it is striking (edit- some aspects are similar - but the overall sound is much different). It also made me appreciate the M3s for what they shined at which was an audiophile sound which to me is an intimate evening with my favorite band and I’m in the recoding studio with them. Also, the separation of instruments along with precise imaging and a very nice sound stage that went outside my speakers which disappeared. They shined with all non-hard rock recordings I have from medium to medium loud and even loud volumes (this seems to be subjective as to what loud is even though I’m aware of the OSCHA chart, etc.). The cons were – playing hard rock at higher volumes and even some non-hard rock records where the tweeter and higher mids were a bit too sharp (sometimes bright, sometimes even a bit piercing) and also would lose separation (into a blended mess). Maybe my room needed even more treatment but the Rivals didn’t have this issue with the treatment I have. My takeaway is that what makes the M3 such a good speaker for most of my music at reasonable listening volume is also what hurts is (IMO) on certain recordings and volume level. Hey, you can’t have it all! Which is to say the M3s are quite amazing up to a point with most good recordings in my room. Also, even though I had the M3s 5’ from the front wall, I didn’t sense much depth or even height of the sound stage. I will rack that up to the fact that they needed further tweaking positioning-wise although they sounded so good there otherwise I couldn’t get myself to move them a mm. Oh, and I would get listening fatigue from the M3s after a “while”. Before they were broken in that didn’t take long at all but were much better after break-in.

The Rivals still have an audiophile sense about them for sure and even though I don’t have them positioned to disappear yet they have excellent separation of instruments, imaging and sound stage. Not quite a good as the M3 YET because again, I just “dropped” them in my room where the M3s were + 1’ apart with more toe in. But – what I have found is that I prefer the Rivals at low-level listening (which I do!) as the bass and low end comes through better.

On one of my problem child records for the M3s above 83 db, the Rivals handled with ease with no brightness or sense of harshness. However (!) on this particular record it did lack some of the “air” that the M3s had at lower volume. I didn’t sense this as much with the other records I played though and with the Rivals I do have the option of changing the crossovers for more or less tweeter and/or midrange. I won’t touch those for a while though.

Where the Rival really shines is where the M3s put you in the recording studio, the Rivals put you in the front row at a live concert. I wasn’t expecting or prepared to what happened when I turned the volume up to 11:00-ish, I guess that is “5”? (the max I played the M3s were 5-6). OMG. I lol’d more than a few times. Again I haven’t listened to many songs yet and even fewer LOUD (only 3-4) but it really did sound very, very real – like I was at the show. The standout of those 4 songs was "Where do the Children Play" by Cat Stevens. The acoustic guitars sounded as good as the M3s and there was air around them in this track – which was LOUD but then when the drums came in later in the song I may has well had a drum set sitting in my living room! It was and is unbelievable. Not just loud but C R Y S T A L  C L E A R and still very detailed and just – very, very real sounding. I’m still gobsmacked by the experience and can’t wait to repeat it again soon which will likely be tomorrow afternoon hopefully. Also, 0.00 listening fatigue although I admit I haven’t listened more than 30 minutes straight yet.

The Rivals are just the right of too much for me. :)  I can’t wait to get them positioned properly so they disappear. I do miss the M3s more than I thought though. Maybe someday I will be able to buy some back and have both (but will likely need to be single to do that!).

What you are hearing is what horn speakers do so well is sound live and upfront. Some like that sound and some don't. Klipish of course has been doing it for many, many years and they say their newer version can sound great with lots of toe-in.