Judgement Day is coming!

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infiniti driver

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Judgement Day is coming!
« Reply #20 on: 22 Mar 2004, 12:50 am »
Thanks for the kind words reefus!

I am currently in session with an artist with Capitol records and we are doing the entire production ourself (visits there, proved our methods were more authentic to fidelity, our longest cable is 11 feet, their pre/power is over 200..sigh)

I want to legalize it all first, then release. Of course...if I give these away (and I said I would) it will cost royalties out of pocket. I may have to do a "Bob" and limit this to the first 20 customers...because it does cost about 90 dollars a CD to do this...but I really want y'all to hear how great the recording arts CAN BE. I gave reefus a taste...I think everyone deserves to know that we all have been fooled by the industry way too long...and frankly, lets blow the doors off speaker design and recording technology in one swipe. I must warn everyone, their are new ways to record and display production that are in the works and Bob already knows this...5 patents already finalized..and you simply ain't seen nothing yet...but just to listen to SP's on conventional recordings is fair game...since they finally display them properly.

I make no apology on my self serving ways. All of you deserve to hear it like it should be. NO MONKEY business at all.

Thanks Bob!

You GO!!

Horsehead

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Judgement Day is coming!
« Reply #21 on: 3 May 2004, 01:10 am »
Sorry it's been so long........ :oops:

REVIEW: SP Technology Continuum A.D. Reference Monitor Loudspeaker


Preamble:

I’ve been meaning to put into words my thoughts on these loudspeakers for quite sometime, but was waiting to spend some considerable time with them first. I was also waiting for some final equipment to arrive and set aside some time to write.  I promised some comments a while back and apologize if I failed to deliver them in a timely manner.  This hobby first and foremost for me is about personal enjoyment, fun, and something I really like, a continuing education and evolvement on advancing my system to the next level.  I love that “wow” feeling when I can hear an improvement after thinking “it can’t get any better, can it?”  

I enjoy the gear and the companies and people behind them as well. Customer support and product quality are equally important. In the end everything must sound good, but just like fine dining, it’s the overall total experience besides the good food that makes it enjoyable.  A while back I had a lot of overlapping gear and many system changes and it wasn’t fun anymore. I like to listen to one “change” at a time- for good or bad. I think evolving and refining a system takes some time and patience, and that is another reason I waited so long to capture my impressions of the Continuums.

I look back at many of the speakers systems I’ve owned along with all the electronics, and each change brought another level of enlightenment and knowledge either from a designer, dealer, another audiophile, or (more recently) selectively filtered articles or posts on internet forums..  It’s amazing how much I’ve learned over the years and look back and laugh at what I thought was “great sound”. I started with Definitive Technology, Magnepans (3.5s), and Martin Logans (SL3s and Prodigies) and never felt I had a great system. All missed the mark for me in some area or another. This was probably due to my own faults (ignorance) regarding system synergy and setup.  About two years ago I felt my Martin Logan Prodgies were not the ideal speaker for my setup and came across VMPS.  I had always remembered seeing the black and white ads for them in the now defunct Audio magazine- always looked impressive.  I ordered the VMPS RM40 unheard and once they arrived, I felt for the first time I was getting really “high end’ sound.  If part of this hobby is continually being educated, than the RM40 was my first “real” teacher.  These are truly fantastic speakers and served as a foundation for integrating other changes in my system.  I was about to move from the 40s to the RM/Xs, when I came across SP Technology.  I decided to move away from VMPS speakers for personal reasons other than sound quality.

I would personally like to thank Audio Circle member “JLM” for bringing SP Technology to my attention with his post back in October of 2003. Bill Roberts’ (a.k.a. “infinti driver”) review was also very intriguing (and accurate!) and left me with a new possibility other than VMPS.  I think that is the point of any review, just to serve as a catalyst for thought- it cannot and should not replace personal experience.

I contacted SP Tech and spoke with Bob Smith who made for some real nice conversation.  He also had a passion in his voice and belief about his products that gave me the confidence to try them out.  I expressed to him how “right" the sound of the RM40s were for me, and made known my concern that the Continuums would fall short of the 40’s magic. Since I had 30 days to try them out, with the only loss being split return shipping, I decided to go for it.

The speakers took considerably longer to manufacture than I thought, but some reasons were beyond Bob’s control.  In the end, Bob used the delays to continually refine the design and improve it until it was the best he knew how to do.  The speakers arrived about 2 months later than I expected, but it was worth the wait.  Packaging, build quality, and fit and finish were exemplary. The high gloss black baffles and maple veneers are gorgeous with no grill holes to ruin the overall appearance. These speakers are actually quite large and heavy- pictures make them appear much smaller.  They are extremely dense and the cabinet is SOLID.  They came with a real nice binder that included a theory section (same info as on the website) and setup pages.  Also included were individual measurements for my set of Continuums with respect to frequency response and distortion.

I used the SP Technology “G Ratio” stands for the Continuums, but modified them a bit with products from Star Sound Technology.  I filled each stand with four quarts of Micro-Bearing Steel Fill and used Audiopoints to couple the speaker to the top of the stand, and the stand to floor.  The speakers were set up in a dedicated audio/video room that has the following dimensions: 21.75 L x 17 W x 7.5 H.  The room construction is concrete block framed with wood and gypsum board (heavy insulation in walls and ceiling), and a solid concrete floor covered with padding and medium pile carpet.  The room is treated with multiple products from Eight Nerve and Echo Busters.  The room has very good acoustics and I have the freedom to set the speakers and equipment at their “best” locations with few compromises.  The speakers ended up about 54 inches from the side walls, 48 inches from the front wall,  92 inches between them, with my "sweet spot" about 10 feet from the speakers– all measurements taken from the tweeter. I used only slight toe-in, probably a little less than Bob recommends.  Set up and placement were no harder than any speaker- it just required some time and patience to get it exactly right for my “perfectionist” personality.

The Continuums were evaluated with the following equipment and music:

Equipment:
 
Amps- Four Jeff Rowland 201 monoblocks- two for each channel
Preamp- Aesthetix Calypso Tube Linestage
CD Source- Wadia 861SE with Statement Mods from Great Northern Sound Co.
SACD Source- Sony XA-9000ES
Power- BPT 3.5 Signature fed from dedicated 20amp line of JPS In-Wall AC Cable
Cables- All Sonoran Plateau with Silent Source HC Signature power cords on the 201 amps.
Platforms/Isolation- Critical Mass Systems, Timbernation, and Sistrum.

Picture of final setup-



Music:  I listened to a wide variety. This was some of the mainstay.

Eleanor McEvoy- Yola (SACD Hybrid)
David Grisman- Dawg Duos
Eva Cassidy- Time After Time, Live at Blues Alley, Imagine, Songbird
Jane Monheit- Come Dream With Me, In the Sun
Diana Krall- Live in Paris, Love Scenes, Stepping Out
Black Light Syndrome
Nickel Creek- This Side
Rush- Moving Pictures, 2112 (Remastered)
Blackhawk Down, Gladiator, Finding Nemo, and Moulin Rouge Soundtracks
James Taylor- The Best of James Taylor
Allison Kraus- Union Station Live
Natalie Merchant- Tigerlily
Miles Davis- Kind of Blue (remastered and SACD)
Norah Jones- Come Away With Me (SACD Hybrid), Feels Like Home
Michael Ruff- Speaking In Melodies
Frank Sinatra- Reprise- The Very Good Years
Toby Keith- Shock’N Y’All
Terence Blanchard- Let’s Get Lost

 Impressions:

I’ll do my best to describe what I hear and apologize in advance if something I’m trying to convey doesn’t come across with crystal clarity.  When I usually listen to a system, I usually get a “gut” feeling if it is good or bad right away. I can’t stand a veiled or “closed in” sound- I like open, clear, and clean. For me great sound can be achieved in a variety of ways, and great sound on one system will possess similar qualities of great sound on another system made up of different components.  The components must “work together” regardless of price or quality, and when the do the end results can be the same irrespective of how you get there. Just remember- these are my impressions with my gear, my music, and my room- pretty much worth nothing in the real world. :wink:

I feel most of audiojerry’s and infiniti driver’s comments on the Timepieces are spot on, and accurately describe what I hear with the Continuums.  The Continuums not only matched the “magic” of the RM40s, but took it to another level. Although these are “only” a two-way monitor with 8” woofers and a 1 inch tweeter, they are probably more full range than most large floor standing models. From top to bottom these speakers are extremely dynamic and low in distortion.  They not only capture the dynamics of drums better than any other speaker I’ve heard, they capture the dynamics of voices and other instruments exceedingly well also. For me dynamics translate into realism – the slam and driving force of the music. They play very loud and I don’t think I’ve come close to their limits.  They don’t play loud at the expense of nuance- they get all of the micro dynamics right also.  One also has the urge to keep tapping the remote because they remain effortless, coherent, clear, and listenable at high volumes- hearing beware!

The bass is downright awesome!  Deep, tight, articulate and most of all musical. With the right passages, they will definitely give you that “punched in the chest” bass- something I never had in my room before. Above all, the bass is fast which means detail- no blurring of bass notes. The ability of this speaker to start and stop means the bass is tight and full with no overhang, muddiness, or timing issues.  I’m hearing low frequency details that were simply masked before.  Bass notes also take on a solidness and identity, rather than being more diffuse- hard for me to describe.  The bass from the Continuums is pretty much the best I have ever heard. I had some initial placement issues with the Continuums because the bass was overloading the room at their first location. Sound was opposite of what I’m describing here.  Some time and patience and I found the sweet spot for placement in my room.

The Continuums are more than just dynamics and bass.  The midrange and highs are natural, open, and extended.  Vocals have an amazing sense of realism- one of the things the RM40 did so right for me.  It’s a cleanliness (clarity) and freedom from a “closed in” sound or veil that make it magic. Some highs were a little edgy at first, but less toe-in pretty much eliminated that anomaly.  The speakers give you what is on the recording, and certain recordings still suffered from some edgy highs- nothing terrible- but these speakers will not make every recording sound lush and soft on top.  I found it to be very recording dependent.  I don’t think speakers are “voiced” for a particular sound in terms of sacrificing one end of the musical spectrum for another.  They are very balanced and cohesive. Bob strives for a “flat” frequency response from top to bottom and I believe he achieved that.  Any dips or peaks will be the result of room placement and acoustics.

Imaging and soundstage are first rate.  Voices image from a solid, tangible, and tight area between the two loudspeakers- reach out and touch someone quality.  I’m getting a nice wide and deep soundstage that varies with the recording.  Within that soundstage, instruments and voices are imaging with lifelike clarity and placement.  Each instrument appears to occupy its own sense of space and it’s easy to “focus” in on a certain instrument in the recording.  Background vocals on choruses are easily heard instead of blending in.  What’s great is that the speakers simply disappear and I’m often left with wall to wall sound if the recording has a nice wide soundstage.  Sounds extend between, behind, and to the sides of the speakers with no hint of localization.  Standing up doesn’t change the sound at all, and off-axis listening is pretty good. I used the Continuums with the home theater side of my equipment and was blown away by the results.  

The Continuums will also retrieve all of the subtle details in a recording.  Singers taking their breaths, recording engineers turning off and on the singer’s microphones, the body of the guitar being tapped, air blowing into an instrument, feet tapping, stools creaking, etc. is all there in spades. I though they might fall short in this area, but have proved to excel in it.  I’m pretty sure the Wadia 861 is playing a role here as well by retrieving this information off the disc.  Point is, the Continuums are able to remain clear and focused and allow such details to be easily heard.

The Continuums are doing everything right in my room with my gear- mission accomplished.  I can’t comment on how they would sound with lower powered amplification as I had no other on hand except for the Pass X350.  I’m not sure if I would match them with “bright” electronics as I could imagine some bad recordings would sound worse.  The Continuums would serve as a great foundation to build a system upon.  I think their accuracy and top to bottom coherency would serve well in the process of selecting good upstream components.    

I tip my hat to Bob for putting a lot of theory into practice and making a fantastic speaker.  The Continuums have indeed taken my system “to the next level” by improving upon the 40s and actually saving me some cash in the end. I think we can add the Continuum to another “must audition” list of great loudspeakers from the talented designers/manufacturers right here on AudioCircle.  The Continuums might not be for everyone, but they sure sound right to me.

I made up a SP Technology Continuum “Demo Disc” of tracks that highlight some  
great music in terms of bass, dynamics, vocals, strings, soundstage, etc.  It contains 13 tracks and runs about 65 minutes.  If any other SP Tech owners want to test it out with their Timepieces or Continuums just let me know- it’s a lot of fun.

infiniti driver

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What a system!!!!
« Reply #22 on: 3 May 2004, 01:48 am »
Excellent review! I certainly hope the disc I am sending you is up to your expectations. :D  Just consider that I did it with budget constraints and some antiquated equipment, not to mention totally unorthadox methods of "getting it on the CD" Please don't be too hard on me (bass is probably more powerful in places than ever experienced :evil: ) but be critical. I want to "fine tune" :oops:  this CD some, using others comments.

What a system Horsehead!  :o Your head end equipment is state of the art and it sounds as though all your homework and dedication is paying off big dividens! I also love your music selections. Great stuff!

One more CD note, tape hiss from old masters, babies crying from live recordings and shock waves from bass drums being abused will be very audable so please calibrate with the tones starting with tk 14 (silence) and 15 at between 85 and 90 dB before you start track 1!!!

Fun had by all in High fidelity! I know how it feels and it is certainly worth all the time it takes to assemble a reference system. The only thing I can see now as an "improvement" is to go to a total computer source station. (give that a little time) They actually can be cleaner than some of the finest audio equipment around..., bypassing the CD player and the preamp in one jump....but what you have is ooooh la la! Sometimes the magic in the preamp can make that difference that makes it all happen so who am I to say what is best. You know your system and that is what counts.

Wait until you go vinyl... :idea:

Seriously nice review!

reefrus

Judgement Day is coming!
« Reply #23 on: 3 May 2004, 02:19 am »
Right on Horsehead! Thanks for the excellent review! I couldn't agree with you any more regarding both Timepiece 2.0 and Continuum AD in terms of accuracy, total balance and dynamic range. Especially from a two way speaker. It is truly awesome and simply stunning!
One month before we moved back to Denver, I discovered SP Tech and felt something very special about the design theory behind the company and decided to investigate further. Thanks to Bill (aka Infinity Driver ) who offered the audition opportunity and the rest was history. After I sold my RM40/TRT/FS, I was ready and seriously considering the RM/x once we move back to Denver. Now, I know how good the TP2.0 can perform and I can only imagine what the Continuum AD are capable of.
They are truly a "Heavy Weight" contender in a "slim" package, and I have no doubt comparing any speakers out there that cost many times more. Thanks to Bob for making these speakers into reality for audio enthusiasts.

zybar

Judgement Day is coming!
« Reply #24 on: 3 May 2004, 02:30 am »
I had the privilage of hearing Frank's system with the RM 40's + associated gear and with all the new gear + the Continuums -  I have to say that I preferred the sound of new system by a great margin to the previous one.  Now mind you, it was at Frank's that I heard the 40's and decided to go out and buy them (but that is a different story for a different post).

Frank is right on in describing the build quality.  The speakers are well built and beautiful to look at.  They are also the "biggest" monitors I have ever seen.  I told Frank in some ways they are more visually dominating to me than the RM 40's (I think I am just not used to seeing that big of a monitor).

As for the sound...the best to describe it is "clean and thunderous"!  If I was led into the room blindfolded, I never in a million years would have thought monitors were playing.  In fact, the 40's never produced such impact and clarity in Frank's room.  Now just b/c the bass was sooo good, don't think for a second that is all the speaker is good at...I also heard excellent extension at the other extreme and a clear, uncolored midrange.

If you like to play your music loud, these puppies can do it!  Of course it doesn't hurt to have four of the very excellent Rowland 201 monos powering things (one day I need to hear what the 40's can do with that setup).

As good as the Continuums were, I am not rushing out to sell my 40's.   8) Maybe it is me trying to justify my system, but I enjoy my system a little bit more.  In my room the 40's are more dynamic than they were at Frank's.  I also still think the midrange in the 40's might be a little more musical.  Anyway, I need another couple of listening sessions before I can be really positive about which I prefer.

For right now, I will simply say that Frank has done a very, very good job of putting together a system that meets his needs (most of which I agree with and look for) and sounds outstanding!!  As he stated, it's about "the system".  I have heard great speakers sound bad when not setup properly or when it is associated with the "wrong" gear.  It is very clear to me that Frank has put in a lot of effort and sweat to get things sounding this good.

Great job Frank!!  :beer:

Now you can just sit back and enjoy the muisc...

George

Horsehead

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Judgement Day is coming!
« Reply #25 on: 3 May 2004, 02:59 am »
Thanks George!

After I set everything up, George is my final test. He has a great set of ears and listening skills and always brings fantastic music with when he comes over.

I always break a cold sweat before he comes over, hoping my system passes this last hurdle. :lol:

We both sat there with our jaws to the floor when I played "Poem of Chinese Drums" of the Burmester CD III Sampler- talk about moving air!

I have to thank George also for turning me on to the Rowland 201s- his initial comments were right on.  The Rowlands are a fantastic match with the Continumms for providing the bass control, speed, and articulation.
I would certainly agree with the 40s sounding more dynamic in George's room than mine. Last time I was there his sound was sounding incredible- again all the magic and things I like- just a different way of achieving the same end results.

Aether Audio

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« Reply #26 on: 3 May 2004, 03:20 am »
Frank – everybody,

What can I say but…thank you.  I am humbled by your review.  All we ever wanted to do is offer folks a chance to have a taste of what many others, of far greater means, are free to enjoy without concern for cost.  We, in some small way, hope to make the world a little nicer place where the simple joys of life can be experienced by a wider range of people.  From your review, it appears that we may actually be able to do this from time to time.  Music to us here at SP Technology Loudspeakers is one of the most profound evidences of the divine spark and image of the Creator that we believe lies within all men.  It is an honor to be able to be some small part in elevating this art to a higher level.  Can we do this for everyone that enjoys fine music? - Probably not.  But it seems we have helped you to take another step up that ladder.  And now you have helped us more than my words can convey.  Excuse me if I wear my heart on my shirtsleeve a little here but…may God bless you and give you many days on this earth to enjoy what he has freely given.

PS. This is for everyone else:  Frank is probably one of the finest and most patient men I have had the experience of dealing with.  Even through the delays he never expressed any sense of disappointment or frustration.  Instead, he continued to encourage me to work onward without applying any hint of pressure.  In future reviews of others’ products, you can trust he will offer his honest opinion and treat the company/product with a true sense of fairness.  I just wish I had his goodies to play with! :mrgreen:

Take care all,
-Bob

Horsehead

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Judgement Day is coming!
« Reply #27 on: 4 May 2004, 01:13 am »
Bob- Thanks for your kind words and blessings. :notworthy:

Glad you like me so much, cause you ain't through with me yet :nono:  :lol:

We still have to discuss the surrounds remember? As good as your speakers are for two-channel music, they are a stunning partner for home theater with their clarity and dynamics. I'm dying to get the full SP Tech treatment with the surrounds.

One other small detail I left out of my review is the room compensation switch on the rear of the speaker.  The three positions are "FLAT", "BOOST", and "CUT" with their respective Pi symbols.
I found the "FLAT" setting to be perfect given my equipment and room acoustics.  The "CUT" switch took some air away from the highs in my room, and shifted the tonal balance ever so slightly, compromising the otherwise perfect top to bottom coherency. Again, this is probably room/equipment dependent, so it is probably a useful feature nonetheless.

I also must add that this level of performance given the current (or future) pricing has to make the Continuums one of the best buys in audio today. It's amazing how my last three pairs of speakers got cheaper and cheaper, but the sound got better and better- I love it when it works out that way!