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
, but we repeated this measurement a few times and on both speakers and confirmed it.
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!
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.