Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews

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SteveFord

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Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« on: 8 Oct 2010, 12:42 am »
Carver

AL-III Plus
 The Sensible Sound, Winter, 1990
http://carvermk2.com/reviews/Carver%20AL-III%20Plus%20review.pdf

ALS Silver
 The Sensible Sound, date unknown
http://carvermk2.com/reviews/Carver%20ALS%20silver%20review.pdf

Amazing Loudspeaker, Platinum Edition
 Stereophile, Feb 1990
http://stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/290carver/

Amazing Platinum Mk IV
 The Audio Critic, Spring/Fall 1991 (pg 12)
http://theaudiocritic.com/back_issues/The_Audio_Critic_16_r.pdf

Sunfire

Manufacturer's Website 
www.sunfire.com

CRM2
 The Absolute Sound, 2011 Editor's Choice
http://www.avguide.com/review/the-2011-editors-choice-awards-loudspeakers-1500-5000-tas-211?page=4
  Home Theater, May 2007
http://www.hometheater.com/compactspeakers/507sunfire/
  Home Theater and High Fidelity, Jan 2009
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/home-theater-speakers/524-a-secrets-71-speaker-system-review.html

« Last Edit: 24 Jul 2011, 01:46 pm by SteveFord »

martyo

Re: Carver Speaker Reviews
« Reply #1 on: 8 Oct 2010, 04:51 pm »
My old set until 3 years ago was the Platinums(serial # 0004) driven with a TFM-75. In those days I was trying to duplicate a Dead concert. It did a pretty good job in that regard. It did have that "head in a vise" mini sweet spot, and open and airy it wasn't, and the low end was a tad fat,   :lol: but it was fun for that application.  8)

FullRangeMan

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Re: Carver Speaker Reviews
« Reply #2 on: 10 Oct 2010, 08:56 pm »
IF any Carvar Amazing custumer need new woofers the place is this:
http://www.dynavox.com/product_info.php?cPath=31_67&products_id=5

As the Gilmore Audio planar speakers are a Carver Amazing clone, these Dynavox woofers will work too, but are not fancy Alloy frame though.
Regards, Gustavo

>Never go to a psychiatrist, adopt a cat or dog from the street. On the streets they live only two years average.


SLC

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Re: Carver Speaker Reviews
« Reply #3 on: 11 Dec 2010, 07:39 pm »

TNRabbit

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #4 on: 26 Sep 2012, 07:25 am »
Here's my own review of Carver AL-II speakers I wrote back in 2007 when I obtained a pair:

Carver Amazing Loudspeaker III

The model pictured iscustom finished in a bleached oak. The original finish was available in honey oak or black only.



Rear detail:


Here's a short video of these in action:


LENGTHY PREFACE: I purchased these babies on eBay in February 2007 for about $850.00 with less than 200 hours total use on them (claimed by the first & only owner). I attempted at that time to use them with a cheap Onkyo amplifier which failed miserably (it would heat up & shut down within 5 seconds of turning the speakers up to anything louder than conversational volume). For a while, I thought I there was a problem with the speakers. I checked them for continuity/resistance with a multi-meter & found no issues. They sat for a while until I acquired a Carver M1.5t amp which had the "oomph" to drive them better, but one channel began overloading (turned out to be shipping damage to the output transformers), so at that point I was really wondering whether I had wasted my money. My initial observations from the M1.5t amp session was that the speakers sounded somewhat "muffled" to me and had muddy sounding bass. Later experimentation with that amp on a pair of Klipsch KLF-10 speakers led me to the realization that the muddiness from the bass had been imparted by the AMP, not the speakers.

Fast forward to the purchase of a Sunfire Tube Control preamplifer & Sunfire 300x2 amp. This combination sounded LIGHT YEARS ahead of what I'd hear from these speakers to this point, although I still couldn't shake the "muffled" sound from the ribbons. I played this combo for about a month at relatively high volume levels and the sound began to open up & become more natural ("burn in" time). These speakers need god-awful amounts of power to really come into their own! That said, however; the more I played them the better they sounded at low volumes. This is one of the VERY few speakers I've found keeps its composure & flat response from very low volume levels to incredibly high volume levels.

I was still a little concerned about a perceived "boominess" in the lower bass of the AL-IIIs at this point & decided to go with jimmyneutron's Infinity woofer upgrade, but went one better and used the Infinity Kappa 10.1 Perfect woofers over jimmy's Infinity Reference 1030 woofer; I'd used the Perfects in my car audio system for quite a while & was extremely happy with them. In fact, the Perfect 10s share a closer sensitivity level with the original AL-III woofers, making them more suited for the correct match. The experiment worked out famously as i found the bass to be much more agreeable to my ear.

I've since replaced the SunfireTube preamp & 300x2 amp with a Sunfire Theater Grand IV preamp & 400x7 amplifier, which has the juice to really put a hurtin' on the AL-IIIs if you're not careful. I couldn't be happier with the AL-IIIs at this point. I've experimented with speaker placement a lot and found it to be CRITICAL to getting an impressive soundstage & is the difference between having the Sonic Holography sound weird or sound great.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Specific observations about the AL-IIIs:

- Use plenty of power to drive them. Remember when choosing an amp that these are FOUR OHM (overall) speakers. They have to be the most inefficient speaker I've ever heard, but when you run lots of clean power into them, they sound FANTASTIC!

- Allow for a relatively long, moderately-high volume break-in period (took me months, but consider the amp issues I had).

- AFTER BREAK-IN with a sufficient amp, the soundstage on these speakers is almost a religious experience. They absolutely require a moderately large room setting and proper speaker placement to get the best sound. Mine currently reside in a 11x12 room and it quite simply doesn't do them justice. These are LARGE speakers (a full 6 feet) and require "room too breathe." They were MADE for Sonic Holography; it sounds magical through them!

- The connection hardware on the back is of a nice quality & very robust. You can really crank 'em down on the connectors. It's also nice to have the option of bi-amping/bi-wiring with the four posts. There are separate 4-amp slo-blo fuses for ribbon/woofer, but use them mainly to keep from frying the crossover (the weakest link in the system).

- I wholeheartedly recommend the Infinity Kappa Perfect 10.1 upgrade. While you're at it, think about upgrading the wires inside the speaker/crossover (very small for a speaker capable of handling up to 600 watts continuously). The Infinity Reference 1030 is not a good replacement as it is too inefficient and drops the response off too much for my taste.

-You absolutely need to biamp these speakers for best effect. I'm currently running the ribbons thru the mains channel of my 400~7 amp and the woofers thru the Surround channels, with the inputs daisy-chained into the amp (read the amp review for details). This gives me 800 watts available power into EACH of the ribbons/woofers. MORE than enough to blow fuses!

- My personal preference/room required settings for the three potentiometers on the back of the AL-IIIs are as follows (your preferences/requirements may vary)

- Low: full maximum
- Midrange: one notch above "Room Average Flat" setting
- High: one notch below maximum

- Except for the very lowest of bass notes, the response on these speakers is outstanding. I've played around with a Klipsch RT-12d subwoofer below 40 hertz & it does help supplement the bass down to below 20 hertz. I've found there to be very little material in that range in most music. If, like me, however--you enjoy the impact from the occasional notes you "feel" rather than hear--it's a nice addition.

-Bela Fleck & the Flecktones bassist, Victor Wooten, plays some ULTRA LOW notes on the song "Flight Of The Cosmic Hippo" from their CD of the same name and these speakers really shine on that song. I wouldn't have thought one 10" woofer in a small, ported enclosure could produce the extension that it does, and generally without sounding muddy even at monstrous power levels (600 watts+).

- I own a complete Klipsch RF-83 surround system ($6,400.00 retail), and, while fantastic for HT and many music applications, I find myself doing my critical two-channel listening on my "old" AL-IIIs....

hibuckhobby

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #5 on: 26 Sep 2012, 01:28 pm »
Nice video!  I used to demo these in Minneapolis regularly, but between the room layout
and often (based on your comments) insufficient amplification, they never quite came to life
for me.  I've since looked for used ones several times, but they are hard to find...especially
in good condition.  Enjoy!
regards,
Hibuck....

Bill Baker

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #6 on: 26 Sep 2012, 05:07 pm »
Don't forget about his latest Amazing Linesource speakers which debuted in Jacksonville Axpona earlier this year. They will also be at RMAF next month.

Jazzman53

Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #7 on: 26 Sep 2012, 09:52 pm »
I heard Bob's ALS's in Jacksonville and was blown away... easily best in show, I thought.  And I'm wondering why I haven't seen more than a single published review, considering there must have been numerous reviewers there.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised... the audio mags have never been all that kind to the Bobfather.     

James Romeyn

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #8 on: 28 Apr 2013, 02:59 pm »
I heard Bob's ALS's in Jacksonville and was blown away... easily best in show, I thought.  And I'm wondering why I haven't seen more than a single published review, considering there must have been numerous reviewers there.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised... the audio mags have never been all that kind to the Bobfather.   

IIRC one of the outcomes of Bob's libel lawsuit vs. Stereophile was that Stereophile was forbidden to print Bob's name for X number of years.  Don't know if that's still in effect. 

Generally, I like Bob's designs.  Really, the old Sunfire amps are killer value and they are still among my favorite sounding amps...they just got way too costly.  Still think the original all-passive Amazing Ribbon is among my favorite all time speakers setup properly....all dipoles need huge space behind them to sound their best.  His current tube amps look luscious. 

 

FullRangeMan

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #9 on: 28 Apr 2013, 04:32 pm »
The life of Bob would made a dramatic hollywood movie, with this Stereophile challenge Bob proof magazine reviews are not so smart or golden ears are the readers would think.

IMO, the proper Amazing position in a room is not toe-in, but perfectly side by side= ---    ---
With the toe-in as use/recommended by Magnepan the sound stage is less good.
« Last Edit: 28 Apr 2013, 06:32 pm by FULLRANGEMAN »

SteveFord

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #10 on: 28 Apr 2013, 06:09 pm »
We'll probably be seeing more reviews once Emotiva gets up a head of steam.

James Romeyn

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #11 on: 28 Apr 2013, 06:25 pm »
Man, I talk with so many people I forgot who mentioned this, maybe 1-2 years ago...rumor was Bob was developing unique and interesting twist on Distributed Sub Woofer Array, which I sell and some readers may know I place above all other bass reproduction architecture except for more costly and more complex Double Bass Array (aka "CABS"). 

Bob was alleged to be working on ultra-super sub-miniature sub woofers (smallest ever by wide margin), employing many (well over the requisite 3-4) distributed throughout the room, to cancel bass mode effects.

Never seen any evidence of it so far. 

SteveFord

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #12 on: 28 Apr 2013, 06:28 pm »
I think the fellows at Emotiva have as they really stressed subwoofers from Bob being in their plans.

medium jim

Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #13 on: 28 Apr 2013, 07:09 pm »
I think the fellows at Emotiva have as they really stressed subwoofers from Bob being in their plans.

Sounds like something I need to investigate for the Bass Circle!

Jim

PMAT

Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #14 on: 17 Jul 2013, 11:33 pm »
I just picked up a pair of AL III's at a garage sale. I could see them from a block away at 6' tall. The guy who owned them had them hooked up to a tv. Problem was they had no jumpers so he was only listening to the ribbons. I snapped them up figuring I could always sell the ribbons to someone who needed them. Oh yea they were $100.   :o   I got them home and made jumpers. They work perfect  :o Holy cow is all I can say. So my fattest amp is a Sonographe by CJ at 125 real watts. This amp has been able to crush every speaker I've hooked up to it. Not "these" speakers. I am playing with placement an that is goin to take a while. Fun fun but I need some serious power on a beer budget. I mean like "cheap and cheerful" budget. Like wifey-don't-know budget.
Thoughts please.

PS I'm going to veneer the wings with something stunning. Not sure how. I want them to look incredible.

SteveFord

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #15 on: 18 Jul 2013, 01:34 am »
Yeah, they'll melt that Sonographe amp, ha, ha.
How about a refurbished Carver amp?  They have plenty of power and will be a good match with the Carver speakers, keeping  it in the family, so to speak.
Sunfire amps will probably overshoot the budget but would work better, I would think.

TNRabbit

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #16 on: 18 Jul 2013, 03:37 am »
Yeah, they'll melt that Sonographe amp, ha, ha.
How about a refurbished Carver amp?  They have plenty of power and will be a good match with the Carver speakers, keeping  it in the family, so to speak.
Sunfire amps will probably overshoot the budget but would work better, I would think.

What Steve said.  You need something with some @$$ to drive those monsters.  They'll take over 500 watts into 4 ohms.

I would suggest a Sunfire amp for best results--300x2 would be your cheapest option, but you're looking at @ $700-$900 for one.  Otherwise, one of the A series Carver amps would do in a pinch....like the A760.  That won't be cheap, either. 

Otherwise....you could shut down a lot of amps with those speakers.

I've heard some folks have tried Crown pro amps on them with success....
« Last Edit: 18 Jul 2013, 05:07 am by TNRabbit »

PMAT

Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #17 on: 11 Aug 2013, 03:15 am »
I've been looking hard for the smoking deal on a used Carver or Sunfire amp. I am patient but in the meantime I hooked up these AL III's to my Poor little Marantz 2252, and I've got some seriously beautiful sound coming out of it at lower volumes. Also the phono section still gives me goosebumps. TNrabbit was so right about these speakers having the magic at low levels. It is astonishing really. I was selling hi-fi in 1980 so this is not a new hobby for me, but I continue to get surprised and wowed by the synergy aspect. I simply don't have the power in any of my 7 amps to push these speakers at rockin levels. I am afraid of clipping the ribbons to death. I so want to do Pink Floyd at near concert levels. Does anyone know what the latest woofer upgrade is? Would the Peerless drivers that I like so much work with these Carvers? I don't want subwoofer thump as I have a wonderful Legacy sub for bottom octave. I want perfect bass pitch to go with the ribbons. My stock woofers are in very good shape and sound great but not tightly agile. This is the greatest hobby ever.

TNRabbit

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Re: Carver/Sunfire Speaker Reviews
« Reply #18 on: 11 Aug 2013, 03:45 am »
I find the OEM woofers do a great job above 40 hz.....I'd set your sub for that & use the stocker for 40-160 hz (stock crossover freq).