Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?

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rcouch

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Gents and ladies,

Classical music reviewer and longtime audiophile here. Current system is exaSound e62 DAC, BAT VK-90 preamp and Rex 3 monoblocks. For many years I've favored von Schweikert speakers; currently I have VR-44s upgraded from the VR4 Gen III platform. I like the combination of delicacy, naturalness, spatial presentation, and full-range heft they offer. But I am thinking that both the SA M3 sapphire and X5 series have the potential to significantly surpass them in important ways. I'd love to hear them in a good system—especially the X5, since its controlled directivity is likely to yield a very different listening envelope than the von Schweikerts with their extremely wide power response, and the texture/blend produced by the Beyma AMT tweeter and 12" mid will be crucial to their character and suitability for my listening habits.

Are there any X5 owners in the Philadelphia or Wilmington, Del. areas who would be willing to host a listening session at a mutually convenient time? If so, please PM, and thanks in advance.
 

newzooreview

Re: Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?
« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 12:50 am »
I don't know if you've gotten any help yet, but Linear Tube Audio in Takoma Park, MD is two hours from Wilmington.

I listened to the M3 Sapphires there, and they were very helpful and happy to cue up the music files I brought.

I do not know if they have a pair of X series speakers, however. They've been exhibiting at audio shows with Spatial Audio using the X4s recently, but I don't know if those speakers are with them or back with Spatial Audio. You might give them a call or e-mail to check.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Linear+Tube+Audio,+7316+Carroll+Ave,+Takoma+Park,+MD+20912,+United+States/Wilmington,+DE,+USA/@39.3477079,-76.5580935,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b7c6269544c00b:0x2ecae9f71aaf406e!2m2!1d-77.006004!2d38.978567!1m5!1m1!1s0x89c70f185c46af6f:0x8516da5077308c00!2m2!1d-75.5483909!2d39.744655

rcouch

  • Jr. Member
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Re: Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?
« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 03:21 am »
Thanks, I will follow up with them. I should have included the X4 in my post as being of interest as well - it would have some advantages logistically in my setup. Ideally it would be great to be able to compare all three, but I recognize that may be difficult given the direct sales paradigm. So I'd still be interested in hearing the different models, even if in different places.

newzooreview

Re: Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?
« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 04:52 pm »
One thing I found when moving to the Sapphires is that open-baffle bass is as beneficial as treble purity when listening to classical music. The texture, timbre, and spatial cues in the lower octaves really bring a symphony to life.

So, even if it is hard to find a pair of X-series speakers to listen to, the Sapphires at Linear Tube Audio should give a fair indication of what the speakers can do. By reports, the X4s offer a bit more detail and perhaps more alacrity overall (especially in the bass where the new, more expensive drivers are supposedly a bit faster than the already excellent ones used in the Sapphires).

Good luck with it!

rcouch

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Re: Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?
« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 09:27 pm »
Many thanks for these impressions and good wishes, newzooreview. The texture, timbre, and spatial cues are precisely what attract me (in principle and by reputation) to the SA products, so I'd just need confirmation on those points. The three areas I particularly want to audition involve the tonal character/voicing of the AMT tweeter, the subjective depth of usable bass, and the differences in the "on-axis" and "outside the sweet spot" balance (between the M and X series, and from what I'm accustomed to with my von Schweikerts0. I don't expect them to be similar, but I want to be sure that I'm comfortable with how they'll work in my house, and which tradeoffs appeal most.

For instance, the rated low-end extension on the X4 is 32Hz according to the web site. I expect that Mr. Shaw is conservative, and I presume that rating is the -3 dB point. I expect the bass to be fast, tight, and tuneful. Is there usable bass down into the high/mid 20s or does it drop off sharply? I would want to be comfortable that the opening to the Mahler 5 or the last movement of the Saint-Saëns 3rd etc. have the appropriate perceived weight. Though I listen to all kinds of music, I don't need club-level electronica bass impact, but my von Schweikerts play cleanly down to 20Hz so I would want to evaluate the bass quality vs. extension tradeoff carefully. I probably listen to more baroque orchestral, all-era chamber music, and jazz than big Romantic orchestral, so I'm not fixated on one aspect, but I don't want to live to regret a limitation.

All else being good, I prefer passive rather than active for several reasons, some simply to do with power management in my listening room, which is my living room.

And I very much want to hear the Beyma AMTs as spec'd for SA. I have high expectations, but again want to make an informed evaluation for my space (very unusual shape) and listening scenarios.

Thanks again!

 
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 11:34 pm by rcouch »

RonN5

Re: Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?
« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 11:05 pm »
You should definitely audition the Ms and Xs. More than likely you will hear strong bass with great tone but you will likely not get the same type of pressurization as you get from a box speaker….But the overall sound will be big and very open…Also, I suspect that if you are only able to hear the Ms, you will be quite surprised by the tone and realism the sapphire mid tweeter is able to convey.

Good luck with your audition/s and please report back what you hear.

Mr. Big

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 330
Re: Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 11:35 pm »
Many thanks for these impressions and good wishes, newzooreview. The texture, timbre, and spatial cues are precisely what attract me (in principle and by reputation) to the SA products, so I'd just need confirmation on those points. The three areas I particularly want to audition involve the tonal character/voicing of the AMT tweeter, the subjective depth of usable bass, and the differences in the "on-axis" and "outside the sweet spot" balance (between the M and X series, and from what I'm accustomed to with my von Schweikerts. I don't expect them to be similar, but I want to be sure that I'm comfortable with how they'll work in my house, and which tradeoffs appeal most.

For instance, the rated low-end extension on the X4 is 32Hz according to the web site. I expect that Mr. Shaw is conservative, and I presume that rating is the -3 dB point. I expect the bass to be fast, tight, and tuneful. Is there usable bass down into the high/mid 20s or does it drop off sharply? I would want to be comfortable that the opening to the Mahler 5 or the last movement of the Saint-Saëns 3rd etc. have the appropriate perceived weight. Though I listen to all kinds of music, I don't need club-level electronica bass impact, but my von Schweikerts play cleanly down to 20Hz so I would want to evaluate the bass quality vs. extension tradeoff carefully. I probably listen to more baroque orchestral, all-era chamber music, and jazz than big Romantic orchestral, so I'm not fixated on one aspect, but I don't want to live to regret a limitation.

All else being good, I prefer passive rather than active for several reasons, some simply to do with power management in my listening room, which is my living room.

And I very much want to hear the Beyma AMTs as spec'd for SA. I have high expectations, but again want to make an informed evaluation for my space (very unusual shape) and listening scenarios.

Thanks again!

As far as the bass response for the M or X, it will be impacted by your room and its acoustics. Folks will say that a Quad Electrostatic speaker can go that low, well if you owned one in a well-treated room you would not say that low 30's and some output to 28Hz, but they would be a speaker you would not want to overdrive them and risk damage to the panels, but in most rooms, they would play as a loud as a given recording would need. Having said that I enjoy my M3s because I can just let them go without worry about volume levels even though I don't rock out with them, but if a sudden bass dynamics hit or say a trumpet recorded weel going off I don't have to worry about panel damage if a given recording increases it dynamics 2-3 fold in a snap, like Harry James Sheifield Lab recordings can. I call it peaceof mind, though I miss the Quads at times, no speaker can do what they do.

rcouch

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Re: Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?
« Reply #7 on: Today at 12:09 am »
Thanks, RonN5, I'll definitely report if I succeed in auditioning. My room's medium sized, roughly 17 x 18 x 10, but with a window bay and corner fireplace on the shorter wall, and a diagonal staircase cut and large arched doorway where the corner would be on the other side opposite. This results in a surprisingly-good sounding space because there's really only one proper corner and lots of leakage, so room nodes/nulls are pretty evenly distributed and low in amplitude. My listening triangle is offset from the long wall's center due to the fireplace cut and currently speaker drivers are about 54" from front wall, about 9 feet apart and 8.5 feet from midrange acoustic centers to my ears. Speakers are on Townshend seismic bars, which completely transformed their clarity on my sprung 1934 hardwood parquet floors. Behind the speakers is a 7' high by 10' wide fully loaded bookcase, with book spines pushed in from the front edge at irregular depths to create a kind of pseudo-Schroeder diffuser. All to say that I don't think I need a lot of bass pressure in my room, but big and open sounds just right (as at most live concerts I attend). When I heard Mr. Shaw describe the specs of the m3's mid-tweeter in Jason's 2hr + interview, I already knew what to expect in theory. So I won't be surprised at the quality, and the benefit of being able to cross it so low to the coherence of the sound. But that doesn't mean I may not be impressed to hear it in person! I'm likewise quite interested in this AMT, and in that comparison re tone/realism between the two approaches.
« Last Edit: Today at 02:31 am by rcouch »

rcouch

  • Jr. Member
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Re: Audition X5s in the Philadelphia or Wilmington areas?
« Reply #8 on: Today at 12:15 am »
Thanks, Mr. Big. You're right, Quads are very special speakers. I've heard many iterations over the years, and they do some things as well as anything I've heard. For my applications they just aren't versatile enough. I take your point about bass and rooms. I've described mine generally in my response to RonN5. I expect that if I move to SA speakers, some adjustments to placement and room treatment will be entailed.