Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers

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Desertpilot

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Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« on: 25 Jan 2022, 05:39 pm »
The Spatial Audio circle on AC is 99% technical: speaker selection, setup and associated audio gear.  This is very helpful for everyone, me included.  The reason we go through the agony of spending money on gear and subsequent equipment setup is achieving the goal of precisely reproducing music.  In other words, when we play music, are we getting the highest fidelity, robust soundstage width and depth, and an immersive emotional experience?  I'm beginning this thread for members to discuss an album, of their choosing, using Spatial speakers (and, if desired, associated equipment) that fulfills this goal of faithfully reproducing music.

Steve Guttenberg (Audiophiliac), recently uploaded a YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZDylt8F0fI&t=677s) asking viewers to audition many different speakers before making a purchase decision.  Probably good advice, but in the age of Covid, how do you accomplish this task?  Plus, the length of time (he admits, it could take years) is daunting.  So, maybe this thread will give prospective owners a "taste" of what to expect from Spatial speakers.

Each post should be about one album.  Add as many different albums as you wish, but use separate posts.  My goal in this thread is to provide each other and prospective owners what we value about Spatial Open Baffle speakers.  I'll try my best to keep this thread going.  I will admit, I do not have "golden" ears like many members here.  But, I know what I like and I will describe it as best I can.

Marcus

Desertpilot

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #1 on: 25 Jan 2022, 05:39 pm »
My music selection is primarily classical.  I also have some jazz titles.  Almost every morning, over coffee, I typically choose a solo piano album.  I have many to choose from and my most recent purchase is "Nox", an album of night music, played by Hannes Minnaar on his Chris Maene Straight Strung Concert Grand (recorded in June, 2020).  This is not lullaby music to help you drift off to sleep.  No.  The music portrays the darkness of night, the frustration of insomnia, and fear arising from nightmares.  Yes.  There are quiet passages as well demonstrating night's peace and quiet providing a measure of solitude.   When I listen to this album I am amazed by my own emotional reaction to unfamiliar territory (I'm a morning person).  An excellent album, expertly played, and it will challenge your listening.

The album includes play on the entire keyboard.  All three of my X3 drivers are involved at one time or another.  I never hear any issues as the music moves from one driver to another.  Each note is distinct with remarkable attack and decay.  The interplay of bass melodies with treble melodies is clear and unified.  The speakers never create confusion or smearing.  A concert grand should encompass the entire soundstage and the X3s reproduce this effect perfectly.  A truly remarkable aspect of the X3s is its ability to faithfully reproduce music at either soft or loud listening levels.  This is particularly welcome early in the morning.  Can I close my eyes and think there is a concert grand in my Livingroom?  No.  However, in my opinion, it is close to as real as I think a speaker can get.  I think the X3s are a superb speaker for reproducing piano music.

In case you are curious about straight strung grand pianos.  Here's the back story.  Chris Maene is a small piano builder specializing in "period" instruments.  Prior to Steinway inventing, what today is, the modern piano (with bass strings crossing over the mid range strings), all pianos were straight strung.  Several years ago, conductor & pianist, Daniel Barenboim asked Steinway to produce a straight strung piano.  Steinway referred him to Chris Maene (and provides logistical support).  Chris Maene created the piano for Barenboim and now it is becoming a very popular choice for concert pianists.  Here is a YouTube video (english subtitles) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktL33ZsSjrA.





I hope you enjoyed this first post.

Marcus
Room is 14 feet wide by 30 feet long, 14 foot vaulted ceiling (part of a great room)
Spatial Audio X3 speakers
Music Server via USB to exaSound S88 DAC
DAC via XLR to Parasound Halo A52+ amplifier
« Last Edit: 25 Jan 2022, 07:36 pm by Desertpilot »

RonN5

Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #2 on: 25 Jan 2022, 06:46 pm »
I'd like to make a suggestion.  In order for readers to relate what the poster writes, relative to their own systems and what they hear, it might be beneficial if each post starts with a very brief description of the room and of the equipment...and I mean brief meaning source, preamp, amp, speakers....no need to describe every wire length, gauge, termination, etc. in detail.

Desertpilot

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #3 on: 25 Jan 2022, 07:10 pm »
I'd like to make a suggestion.  In order for readers to relate what the poster writes, relative to their own systems and what they hear, it might be beneficial if each post starts with a very brief description of the room and of the equipment...and I mean brief meaning source, preamp, amp, speakers....no need to describe every wire length, gauge, termination, etc. in detail.

Done.  Thanks for the suggestion.

Tyson

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #4 on: 25 Jan 2022, 07:10 pm »
Good idea Ron!  I'll start.  My system is all digital and is in my less-than-perfect living/dining room area. 

Dedicated Roon ROCK server > iFi iDSD Pro tubed DAC > Custom TVC preamp > A bunch of different amps [such as Type 45 SET, 2a3 SET, 300b SET, EL84 PP, KT66 PP, 6C33C SET, First Watt Burning Amp-3, Odyssey Kismet Monoblocks] > X3s. 

One recording I find very helpful for showing what the system can do is the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by JS Bach, performed by Isabelle Faust:





The beauty of this recording is that it's very simple.  A solo violin in a nice open acoustic space.  With speakers lesser than the X3s, the acoustic space collapses a bit and can cloud her playing.  But with a speaker at the X3's level, the soundstage opens up behind her in a massive way and you can clearly hear her separated out as the primary source of sound, with the delayed echo of the church filling in naturally. 

The other reason I like this recording so much is because it will let you know how much emotional truth your system will let through.  The thing with Bach, is with a bad recording or a mediocre system, the music will sound flat, repetitive, and boring.  But with a great recording on a great system, you hear all the passion and subtle nuance that elevate this music to god-tier. 

Desertpilot

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #5 on: 25 Jan 2022, 07:32 pm »

... emotional truth ...


Yes.  Aren't we all searching for "emotional truth" when we listen to music?

Both Vol 1 (2010) and Vol 2 (2012) are available on Qobuz.  I am going to give them a listen right now.  Thanks Tyson!

Daryl Zero

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #6 on: 25 Jan 2022, 09:44 pm »
My system is in an office with shelves of files behind the speakers (X5s) and a half wall in the middle of the room. I recently purchased the Rogers High Fidelity 65V2 using the EL34 output tubes. I ripped all of my cds and they are on a computer. I feed them into a recently acquired MHDT Havana tube DAC which goes to a Schiit Heresy headphone amp and then via rca plug to the Rogers. I also have a cd player and bluetooth device.

I played in garage bands in the late 1970s and up through the mid-1980s and keep up on indie and alternative music though I have an appreciation for all kinds of music other than what's currently popular. In testing out the speakers and amp, I found that a great and unfairly little know English/Scottish band out of the 1980s (Lloyd Cole & the Commotions) sounds great with the speakers. They have catchy, jangly, and shimmering guitars with insanely clever songs wryly sung by Lloyd Cole. Their debut album is incredibly consistent and is called Rattlesnakes. 

Here's what Allmusic says about the debut:

One of the finest debuts of the '80s, and possibly the defining album of the whole U.K. indie jangle scene that also included Prefab Sprout, Aztec Camera, and dozens of other bands, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' Rattlesnakes is a college rock masterpiece of smart, ironic lyrics and sympathetic folk-rock-based melodies. The Glasgow-based band (Lloyd Cole on guitar and vocals, Neil Clark on lead guitar, Blair Cowan on keyboards, Lawrence Donegan on bass, and Stephen Irvine on drums) has a level of interplay remarkable in a group that had been playing for less than two years, and for all the attention given to Cole's hyper-literate lyrics, the album's finest moments are things like the slinky interludes between the wry verses on the Renata Adler-inspired "Speedboat" and Clark's glorious extended solo at the end of the album's finest song, "Forest Fire." Originally released in the U.S. by Geffen but reissued on CD as part of Capitol's acquisition of the Commotions in 1988 (with the original cover, which had been changed for the Geffen release), Rattlesnakes consists of ten perfect, or close to it, pop songs in just a hair under 36 minutes. Kicking off with the group's first U.K. single, the impossibly wordy, stream-of-consciousness "Perfect Skin," the album is basically a series of verbal snapshots of love gone wrong among the overeducated and underemployed. Cole's low-pitched and surprisingly soulful -- for a philosophy student from the University of Glasgow, anyway -- voice flits between earnestness, compassion, and arch derision ("Must you tell me all your secrets when it's hard enough to love you knowing nothing?"), while his lyrics sketch incisive character studies filled with smart and funny one-liners, near-obsessive name-dropping, and references to enough novels and movies for a semester-long pop culture class. The title track, for example, is based on a key image from Joan Didion's stark Hollywood novel Play It as It Lays, and its chorus compares the song's heroine to Eva Marie Saint's character in the film On the Waterfront. In less skilled hands, this would all be unbearably pretentious, but Cole's sly sense of humor and self-mocking wit keep things on the right side of ambitious. The German CD of Rattlesnakes (Polydor 823 683) will be of interest to North American Commotions fans. The disc not only contains the original versions of three songs Geffen had Ric Ocasek remix for the U.S. release (which are also on the Capitol reissue); it also features a unique version of "Forest Fire" with the guitar solo coda extended by nearly 40 seconds and four B-sides from British singles of the period: "Sweetness," the wry Warhol superstars portrait "Andy's Babies," "The Sea and the Sand," and the phenomenal "You Will Never Be No Good." In any incarnation, Rattlesnakes is a classic.

The guitars and the songs are what makes this album shine with these or any good speakers. Play the intro to "Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?" to see what I mean.

abomwell

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #7 on: 26 Jan 2022, 12:09 pm »
I have many to choose from and my most recent purchase is "Nox", an album of night music, played by Hannes Minnaar on his Chris Maene Straight Strung Concert Grand (recorded in June, 2020).  This is not lullaby music to help you drift off to sleep.  No.  The music portrays the darkness of night, the frustration of insomnia, and fear arising from nightmares.  Yes.  There are quiet passages as well demonstrating night's peace and quiet providing a measure of solitude.   When I listen to this album I am amazed by my own emotional reaction to unfamiliar territory (I'm a morning person).  An excellent album, expertly played, and it will challenge your listening.

The album includes play on the entire keyboard.  All three of my X3 drivers are involved at one time or another.  I never hear any issues as the music moves from one driver to another.  Each note is distinct with remarkable attack and decay.  The interplay of bass melodies with treble melodies is clear and unified.  The speakers never create confusion or smearing.  A concert grand should encompass the entire soundstage and the X3s reproduce this effect perfectly.  A truly remarkable aspect of the X3s is its ability to faithfully reproduce music at either soft or loud listening levels.  This is particularly welcome early in the morning.  Can I close my eyes and think there is a concert grand in my Livingroom?  No.  However, in my opinion, it is close to as real as I think a speaker can get.  I think the X3s are a superb speaker for reproducing piano music.


Thanks for this recommendation, Marcus! I added it to my library from Quboz and am listening to it now. Very realistic piano sound, indeed. And I agree the (X5's in my case) Spatial's reproduce piano sounds really well and this is a particularly well recorded example. The music and performance of Nox is haunting.  Excellent review!


abomwell

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #8 on: 26 Jan 2022, 01:06 pm »
Here is something perhaps a little different. My X5’s reproduce the most realistic, tightest and cleanest percussion (especially bass drum) sounds I’ve experienced from any loudspeaker in my room. This superb Reference Recordings CD of the Dallas Wind Symphony playing Lincolnshire Posy, and other works of Percy Grainger, is a perfect example. The bass drum whacks in Lord Melbourne in Lincolnshire Posy is stunning! Lincolnshire Posy is one of, if not the most, significant compositions ever written for wind band.

My room is a well treated den almost 15’ square. Music Vault server> DSPeaker Anti-mode X4 preamp> Benchmark DAC2> Various amps> X5’s.





ric

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #9 on: 26 Jan 2022, 02:41 pm »
Spatial (original) M3TS (upgraded jupiter parts crossover) VAC Avatar EL34 integrated, Nottingham Space Deck, Innuos Zen mini, Border Patrol Dac.
   I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I primarily listen to rock, jazz, world music on streaming and love the sound, but when it comes to classical music (chamber or orchestral) I HAVE to listen to vinyl. Dynamics, realism, soundstaging, naturalness, is just more there with vinyl (in general).
With technical talk, as mentioned, and the pursuit of what sounds best, vinyl wins, Mikey is right.
It may also be that vinyl is as foreign to you as reel to reel is to me, and if I heard it I would gush, but no tape for me, perhaps no vinyl for you.
   Just my two cents...

Desertpilot

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #10 on: 26 Jan 2022, 02:44 pm »
Thanks for this recommendation, Marcus! I added it to my library from Quboz and am listening to it now. Very realistic piano sound, indeed. And I agree the (X5's in my case) Spatial's reproduce piano sounds really well and this is a particularly well recorded example. The music and performance of Nox is haunting.  Excellent review!

I was listening to it again this morning and "haunting" is an excellent description, especially the Ravel tracks 10, 11 & 12.

Desertpilot

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #11 on: 26 Jan 2022, 02:54 pm »

It may also be that vinyl is as foreign to you as reel to reel is to me, ...


Source media is a personal preference and I get it that a lot of folks prefer to stay in the analog domain with vinyl.  I do not own any vinyl but I am sure a lot of our members do.  Maybe you could let us know the best vinyl album you have heard with your Spatial speakers.

morganc

Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #12 on: 26 Jan 2022, 03:57 pm »
I’m in a massive room, without perfect treatments, with lots of reflections and the following gear: Auralic Mini—>Audio Mirror SE DAC—>Don Sachs Pre—> Digital Audio Megaschino

Many Recordings sound great and some are Amazing. I know I can improve much of my system when time, energy, desire and funds all ,wet together !  For now, I am loving many albums.  I mostly listen to Rock, Jazz, and Vocalists. 

One of My Current Favorites is Beck’s Sea Change.  Talk about Emotional Appeal and in the room feeling….Golden Age, Paper Tiger and Lost Cause are Phenomenal.

Second Favorite of Late is a small band from Seattle Called Yaima.

Tyson

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #13 on: 26 Jan 2022, 04:33 pm »
Since my first rec was a classical album, I'll switch to modern pop for my 2nd rec.  Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever. 

Yes, it's completely constructed in a studio (ie, artificial), but the point is that it's WELL constructed.  They do all kinds of interesting spatial stuff with different sounds in the soundstage.  And I have to say that her singing is some of the most direct, heartfelt and naked I've heard from a pop singer in a long time.  Highly recommended.  And, it'll give your bass woofers quite a workout! 

jtwrace

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #14 on: 26 Jan 2022, 04:43 pm »
Yes, it's completely constructed in a studio
Well, in her "studio" by her brother Finneas O’Connell

https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/recording/finneas-on-producing-billie-eilishs-number-one-album-in-his-bedroom

Tyson

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #15 on: 26 Jan 2022, 04:54 pm »
Well, in her "studio" by her brother Finneas O’Connell

https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/recording/finneas-on-producing-billie-eilishs-number-one-album-in-his-bedroom

Right?  It's cool that the tools of production have been so democratized.

Desertpilot

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #16 on: 26 Jan 2022, 06:43 pm »

One of My Current Favorites is Beck’s Sea Change.  Talk about Emotional Appeal and in the room feeling….Golden Age, Paper Tiger and Lost Cause are Phenomenal.


I love Beck's "Sea Change" as well.  I happen to have it in surround which is quite a thrill.  Believe it or not, I'm not all classical and just listened to this album a few days ago.  The guitar is crisp and clear, the album does include orchestration which is full and dynamic.  At the time it was produced, a lot of artists really explored the surround format.  They made good use of the rear surround channels.  The novelty of surround has regrettably worn off and stereo CDs are back in fashion.

Here's another one I simply adore and play often:  Chris Botti - "Night Sessions".  I have it on SACD surround.  To hear Chris' trumpet, soft and mellow, through the X3s is a total joy.  This is smooth jazz but won't put you to sleep.  The album does make full use of all five speakers.  When you listen, you are in the middle with the band.  But, even in stereo, I am sure it will sound great.

Marcus
Room is 14 feet wide by 30 feet long, 14 foot vaulted ceiling (part of a great room)
Spatial Audio X3 speakers
Music Server via USB to exaSound S88 DAC
DAC via XLR to Parasound Halo A52+ amplifier


 

Daryl Zero

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #17 on: 26 Jan 2022, 08:56 pm »
I'm also a fan of Beck's "Sea Change."

Desertpilot

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Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #18 on: 26 Jan 2022, 10:18 pm »

... This superb Reference Recordings CD of the Dallas Wind Symphony playing Lincolnshire Posy, and other works of Percy Grainger, ...


Thanks Al, I got it on Qobuz and WOW!  Horns and drums galore.  My X3s played it wonderfully, especially the horns.

Marcus

RonN5

Re: Reproducing Music with Spatial Audio Speakers
« Reply #19 on: 27 Jan 2022, 03:40 pm »
My System:  Oppo 205 into  Belles 22a tube hybrid pre  into Digital Amplifier Co. 2Cherry  into Spatial Audio M3 Sapphires

My Room:  1200 sq. ft. 10 ft ceilings, open concept living, drywall, glass doorwalls, tile on concrete, rugs and furniture, no treatments

My Song Selection:  The Beatles, Abbey Road, the last song, "The End"

I was listening to "The End" this morning...absolutely stunning....20 seconds in, the drum solo amazing tone, the attack, pressurization- ears and body, the overall realism...just beautiful.  then a few more seconds in, the guitar rifts...wow, the bite, the scale...totally captivating.

A few more comments about the Sapphires; I have 400 hours on them and they are located 42" from the front wall. They are absolutely not overly analytical or bright,

They have a deep and powerful low end with great tone and they pretty much bring all music alive in a way I've rarely ever heard in a home system.  The soundstage; holographic, immersive, deep and often extending far beyond the speaker width.

I'm very tempted to say the sound is less like great hifi and more like live music...maybe the best word is realism.