Analysis Audio Omega Review

spiritofmusic

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The SoundLabs you listened to had the PX panels? Just to please my curiosity, can you tell me the electronics that were used in the other SoundLab auditions?

IMHO no electrostatic speaker will give you the energy of a top box speaker, particularly the energy density of the X2 series 2, XLF or the Alexia. The Apogee Duetta Signature managed to do it, but had a problem for me - they had to be played loud to become a complete speaker.


Micro, that's a major consideration. About 10 years ago, I heard the Kharma Exquisites, and these became the spkrs that I aspired to, and started to save twds. But each time I heard them, they had to be played loud to become coherent, and I turned away.
Years later, I decided to go Zu, and a major plus point of ownership is that they remain organic and pertinent even at low levels. I've made a concious decision that any spkr I settle on has to sound good first at low levels before I go loud.
The Cessaro Liszts horns I've heard twice in the last two weeks sound great at whisper levels as well as belting it out.
Will these Graz Advance 7s be the same, or will I always have to play at "realistic" volumes? If they need to be played loud to come together, they will be off my list.
 

TheMooN

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Thank you Lloyd, both myself and Richard have run Apogies in the past, Richard for several years, however he has only just recently moved to CLX's himself, I'm sure that he would be more than happy to elucidate next time you're circulating KJ.

In that Utopian Audiophile World I would love to have the logistics to run with several disparate TOTL transducers, Rebuilt Apogies amongst them.
 

caesar

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INTRODUCTION

On November 25, 2015, Peter Downs of Alternative Audio, located in a beautiful country house in a pleasantly isolated area with amazing fresh air, allowed me to audition the Analysis Audio Omega speakers, made in Greece by Tassos Hartzis. Peter was an accommodating and gracious host, picking me up at, and returning me to, the Taunton train station. Peter patiently played my LP track selections:

I played:

"The Rose" by Amanda McBroom, Growing Up in Hollywood Town (Sheffield Lab 13)

"Send in the Clowns" by Bill Henderson, Live at the Times (Jazz Planet Records/Classic Records)

“Landslide” and “Rhiannon,” by Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac (MFSL)

"First We Take Manhattan" and "Bird on a Wire" by Jennifer Warnes, Famous Blue Raincoat (Rock the House Records/Classic Records)*

"I've Got the Music in Me" by Thelma Houston, I've Got the Music in Me (Sheffield Lab 2)

*Yes, I know this is a digital recording.

When we took a break Peter’s wife prepared a delicious, home-cooked lunch.

Peter is an “old-school” dealer, carrying only the very few brands of products which he personally believes to sound the best. He believes in selling an entire system to a client, not just a single, random component.

Prior to the audition I spent a total of about four hours speaking on the telephone with Mike Kallelis of Analysis Audio USA in Charlotte, North Caolina. Mike is extremely knowledgable about the Analysis Audio speakers and has available for audition the four panel Analysis Audio Orion system (which is basically the taller Amphitryon (Analysis Audio’s largest single panel speaker) with an additional woofer panel (covering 80 hz to 25 hz) which stands next to the main woofer/midrange/tweeter panel). Mike was very patient explaining the history of Analysis Audio, the technical aspects of the speakers, passive and active crossover options and modifications he makes to the components of the crossover which have improved the sound qualities of the speakers. I hope Tassos realizes how lucky he to have someone as knowledgeable and as enthusiastic as Mike representing Analysis Audio in the USA.

As I am looking for the ultimate and last speaker system my personal interest is the four panel Orion. The Omega would have essentially the same sound as the Amphitryon and as the Orion, with the larger speakers extending lower in frequency response, taller in scale and more dynamic below 80 hz.

Peter’s associated components are: AMG turntable and tonearm, MM cartridge, NAT battery-powered phono stage, NAT battery-powered line stage and NAT 60w transmitter tube SET.

The room was on the small side, approximately 12’ wide, with the right speaker firing into a doorway in front of, and to the right of, the listening position (not ideal). I felt the listening position was too close to the speakers. Peter is in the process of building a larger, dedicated demo room on the first floor of his house.

My listening preferences: I have used planar speakers for my entire life: Magnepan MG-IIIA for a couple of years, followed by Martin Logan Monolith II and then Monolith III and then (and now) Prodigy. I feel like I “understand” dipole speakers. I would never publish a review of dynamic driver speakers because I feel I am unqualified to assess them.


THE SOUND

Lest my comments about construction quality below be misinterpreted as a criticism of the sound of the speaker I want to state at the outset that, for all of the sonic attributes I value most other than cone excursion impact -- transparency, openness, soundstage, detail and absence of artificial brightness -- the Omega was amazing and fully satisfying. Overall, the Omega provides a panel sound which is very familiar to me and which I naturally prefer: open, transparent, great depth, great height, complete detail, natural image sizes and good scale. It is, on my sonic priorities, except for significant cone excursion impact, one of the best speakers I have ever heard. Unless someone requires big woofers for cone excursion impact (for rock or deep house, for example), and unless someone simply does not like the open sound of planar speakers, focusing solely on sonic attributes, there is not much reason not to buy the Omega or the Amphitryon. Further, I believe a variety of subwoofers would work just fine to provide an Analysis Audio-based system with conventional cone excursion impact. I, personally, take as a given that all pure panel speakers should be paired with dynamic driver subwoofers. Due to my preferences, and subject to my explicit caveats, I do not know what else someone could want in a loudspeaker.

1) The Omega is just one shade less transparent than Martin Logan, and more transparent than anything I have ever heard other than MartinLogan. This is literally the first speaker which is not a MartinLogan for which I would be wiling to sacrifice that last bit of electrostatic transparency because the Omega makes that sacrifice small. Many people say that dynamic drivers can have “electrostatic-like” transparency but I have never quite heard that to be the case.

2) The detail was wonderful (lip smacks on Bill Henderson's Send in the Clowns; the delicate shimmer at the very beginning of Stevie Nicks' Rhiannon; studio decay from sibilance by Jennifer Warnes' Song of Bernadette).

3) I found the Omega to be amazingly coherent. Even with a crossover of 650 hz in the critical midrange I didn't hear any discontinuity between the midrange/tweeter ribbon and the woofer panel. (However, I am not particularly sensitive to driver discontinutiy, as evidenced by the fact that I lived happily for many years with MartinLogan Monoliths.)

4) I found this to be the most dynamic pure (no dynamic driver hybrid) planar speaker I have ever heard. While the hybrid MartinLogans provide cone excursions impact in the the bass region, my issue with MartinLogans is the lack of impact and oomph in the upper bass/lower midrange area. This was the first time I ever felt a little bit of cone excursion type impact from drums on a pure planar speaker! There was richness and “body” in the upper bass/lower midrange area which I have never perceived with pre-Neolith MartnLogans, and for which I have always longed with MartinLogans. The Omega did not have quite the "jump factor" and the transient response of the Avantgarde Trios.

5) I heard no artificial or annoying brightness anywhere.

Between the Omega and the hybrid MartinLogans, with the Omega you are giving up one shade of transparency and significantly more cone excursion impact in return for greater body and richness above 200 hz (the hybrid crossover frequency) and more bass detail and texture below 200 hz. Between the Omega and Magnepan MG-IIIA (I have not spent enough time listening to more recent Magnepan speakers, although I suspect I would adhere to this view even if I have), purely on sonic attributes and with Analysis Audio physical design and construction issues aside, I do not know why anybody would buy a Magnepan speaker (and I owned and I still like very much and recommend Magnepan speakers), instead of the comparable height Analysis Audio speaker, especially considering that you can drive the Analysis Audio speakers more easily (including with beautiful-sounding higher-watt SET amps). Of course lower price, and the comfort of a product with a long and extremely distinguished and awarded history, produced for many years by a stable and highly-regarded Midwestern USA company with a time-tested technology, and sold and serviced by a local USA dealer, rather than a product by a newer company in Greece, are perfectly valid reasons for preferring Magnepan. (I am not sure I can get over the Greece aspect myself.)

I did not experience with the Omega the Magnepan phenomenon of needing to play the speaker at a certain volume to kick it to “alive.”

I have not heard Apogee speakers recently, and I have never heard reconditioned Apogees, new (i.e., Graz) Apogees, GT Audio, SoundLabs or Sanders loudspeakers.


THE CONSTRUCTION

I believe the Omega sounds as good as it does in spite of not robust and reassuring structural design.

1) The speaker tilts backwards. According to Peter even Tassos agrees the speaker should be perfectly vertical but the base of the speaker is made out of MDF and is so lightweight that Tassos had no choice but to build the base so that the speaker tilts backwards a little bit; otherwise the speaker is in perpetual danger of toppling forward. So the further you sit from the speaker the more the speaker is firing above your head!

2) The perforated metal grill on the back of the speaker looks like it attenuates a third to half of the rear output of the dipole. I don't like this because I want the full rear wave to be emitted from the speaker to reflect against the front wall (yes, I know there is a variety of opinion as to whether the back wave should be absorbed, diffused, or allowed to reflect). In addition, the metal grill must cause some of the rear wave to be reflected immediately back into the front wave, which theoretically will slightly confuse the front wave, I would think. Peter thinks the metal grill on the back is there to provide some rigidity at the back of the speaker, or perhaps the metal grill supports the magnet structure.

3) When music is playing the entire frame vibrates.

4) Both Peter in England and Mike in North Carolina replace the components of the crossover with higher quality capacitors, resistors and inductors. There is no way to know how the OEM speaker sounds since these dealers modify the OEM crossovers as a matter of course.

5) Peter said that in experimenting with the speaker he found that it sounds better with the midrange/tweeter panel polarity wired the same as the woofer panel polarity, whereas Tassos builds the speaker with the midrange/tweeter panel polarity reversed. Speakers costing many thousands of dollars should not have to be treated like Heathkits!

6) The entire frame, including the parts of the support base, is plain wood. The speaker comes only partially assembled. You have to tighten screws to fasten the vertical frame to the perpendicular feet using self-grabbing hardware like you get from Ikea. The feet are too thin and too short to support the panel in the sturdy and robust manner I think the panel should be supported.

7) If you put your finger on the top of the speaker you can rock the top of the speaker forwards and backwards without the feet or base moving at all, just like a springboard.

I would like to see the ribbon and woofer panel suspended in a solid, sturdy, non-resonant corian or phenolic resin frame with a base which is large enough and heavy enough for the speaker to be vertically oriented with no rearward tilt.

The physical design and construction of the Omega is exactly what I was referring to generally when I wrote in a post about the MartinLogan Neolith that the manufacturers of panel speakers have been relying for far too long on the inherent superiority of their technology, and have given short shrift to issues such as rigidity and frame/cabinet resonance on which conventional speaker manufacturers have focused (e.g., Magico, Rockport, Wilson).

Peter agrees with several of my comments about physical construction. Both Peter and Mike have discussed a sturdier structure with Tassos. Apparently, Tassos believes there is no real problem because he thinks the speaker, as is, sounds just great, and he is not inclined to redesign the frame structure, adding significantly to weight and cost.

So, what to do? It is a perfectly valid view that the theory (of non-resonant cabinetry) does not matter and that the implementation (a not very rigid frame) does not matter, and that the only thing that matters is the resulting sound quality. To me, as a panel person, the Omega sounds fantastic, as it sounds extremely similar to MartinLogan with a shade less transparency but with greater upper base and lower midrange body and warmth (minus the MartinLogan hybrid conventional cone dynamics). That, to me, is a pretty killer combination, especially since you can add back the cone excursion impact with subwoofers.

If someone is buying a speaker based on sound quality per dollar -- on a value basis -- then the design compromises don't matter because such a buyer would prefer the reasonable price of the current speaker to a much higher-priced version in which these flaws have been fixed. This speaker, even with all of these design compromises, still sounds better in most respects that matter to me than everything else I have heard (except, again, MartinLogan still wins on ultimate transparency and the dynamic driver speakers still win on cone excursion impact). I suspect that going up to the Amphitryon and the Orion would only increase the Analysis Audio's margin of superiority over Magnepans and pure ESL MartinLogans in respect of low frequency extension and dynamics.

Great writing!
 

bonzo75

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Hi Ron, apogee will have more super slam. The difference is not in the degree of slam but style of slam. The cone impact sounds different and pin point compared to a panel with apogee it's a 7 ft high slam that comes to you in waves. In fact boxes are wimpy on slam in comparison. But yes, a stat won't do that. An amphi is next, and probably the Orion is high, but you wouldn't have got that with 60w on Omega.

It's like the bass horns, even though they have the best bass I heard, the style is different from cones.
 
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bonzo75

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Thank you Lloyd, both myself and Richard have run Apogies in the past, Richard for several years, however he has only just recently moved to CLX's himself, I'm sure that he would be more than happy to elucidate next time you're circulating KJ.

In that Utopian Audiophile World I would love to have the logistics to run with several disparate TOTL transducers, Rebuilt Apogies amongst them.

Those won't be restores, definitives, or advance 7.
 

bonzo75

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The SoundLabs you listened to had the PX panels? Just to please my curiosity, can you tell me the electronics that were used in the other SoundLab auditions?

IMHO no electrostatic speaker will give you the energy of a top box speaker, particularly the energy density of the X2 series 2, XLF or the Alexia. The Apogee Duetta Signature managed to do it, but had a problem for me - they had to be played loud to become a complete speaker.

I have heard two duetta sigs before, with much better electronics than there was on the full range. But the full range was a different beat, and more enjoyable, better midrange.

The soundlabs did not have the torroid transformer upgrade or hot rodding. Ypsilon CD player, ypsilon aelius hybrid 200w mono, ypsilon pre
 
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ddk

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The SoundLabs you listened to had the PX panels? Just to please my curiosity, can you tell me the electronics that were used in the other SoundLab auditions?

IMHO no electrostatic speaker will give you the energy of a top box speaker, particularly the energy density of the X2 series 2, XLF or the Alexia. The Apogee Duetta Signature managed to do it, but had a problem for me - they had to be played loud to become a complete speaker.

Francisco,
The Duetta & Scintillas are a much more difficult load than the Full Range and Diva so even with same electronics it takes more to get the smaller speakers come to life than the larger two. In reality the Full Range is a relatively easy load compared to other Apogees but you still need a capable solid state amp with enough power and guts to drive it competently. IME living with Divas and the Grands for years tube amps, even high wattage ones don't cut it. Sure they sound pleasant buy you're losing out on all the dynamics they're capable of. I would say the same of your A1s with the B1, with the right electronics they won't lack anything and have as much energy and density as the large Wilsons, even if a little different.

david
 

TheMooN

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Those won't be restores, definitives, or advance 7.

Just so, for my part original Duetta Sig's and a friends Scintilla's for the best part of a year, just as Rest, Def, Adv7 are not CLX's! disparate nuances abound, hence my previous last paragraph.
 

bonzo75

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The question is then Ron, maybe "super slam" is an artificial construct of woofers and boxes?
I don't hear it at live classical and jazz - here, the bass is a sort of amorphous underpinning and effusiveness, more of a swell of colour. Ribbons fine I'm sure.
At live rock, yes punch and deep extension is the order of the day, but again woofer bass that we hear at home probably doesn't have much in common.
I'm going to challenge myself to hear hopefully excellently-rendered non-box bass via Omegas and esp Advance 7s, and see if I can "wean" myself off what is probably a lifelong addiction to coloured box distortions from all the speakers I've deemed best up until now.

I've already made the paradigm leap from belt drive tt's/pivoted arms, to direct rim drive tt's/linear tracking arms, shedding a lot of my previously accepted analog colourations in the process - and now I can't go back. Similarly, lifelong acceptance of SS has been shed in the last 3 years going to SETs, again the reverse journey ain't gonna happen.

If I can really get a pair of ribbons in the form of the Advance 7's that are truly SET friendly, and have the kind of bass performance that will make me forget about boxes/woofers, they will become my one and only final leap component change. And I will have chosen a major tech change in tt, amps and potentially, spkrs.

For rock the bass has to stop and start on a dime. With Mahler you want waves of bass coming at you, unfurling. I think trio best bass. Marty's as good, which is why I would love a similar system with Dali Megalines instead of pipedreams, if Dali good enough. But slam factor of Apogee can still be higher.

I am not sure "not going back" is a noble principle or a stubborn principle, but I am sure a lot of TT experts will differ on that belt/direct drive. Anyway discussion for another thread.
 

LL21

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Hi Ron, apogee will have more super slam. The difference is not in the degree of slam but style of slam. The cone impact sounds different and pin point compared to a panel with apogee it's a 7 ft high slam that comes to you in ways. In fact boxes are wimpy on slam in comparison. But yes, a stat won't do that. An amphi is next, acc probably the Orion is high, but you wouldn't have got that with 60w on Omega.

It's like the bass horns, even though they have the best bass I heard, the style is different from cones.

I recall many reviews of old saying the Apogee Stages had great mid bass slam...they may not 'plumb the depths' of the super-low end frequency range...but the bass they DID have was powerful. Is that about right, Bonzo75?
 

bonzo75

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Ok, I had a lot of typos in that message of mine you quote. Waves, not ways, and 'and', not 'acc'

I thought the full range went low enough. The full range will be deeper than stages though. The bass did not have the detail of a bass horn or of JL subs well-crossovered. But the ease of bass and the slam coming down the room to me on Mahler was more than boxes.

ps: It's very tough to describe each nuance in writing. When you listen, you will hear some deficiencies in bass, some strengths. Sometimes the bass wasn't balanced and too thick. While reading this the impression can be harsher than intended, and people can sometimes jump on the negatives. Analysis better balanced. A Dali with a crossover to JL subs will probably give great bass and ribbon tone and extra large soundstage and more detail in the bass. But listening to the Apogees, despite their defects, helped clear my mind on why I did not so much enjoy the very recent demos I had on Spectral and MBL 9011 with MBLs, Spectral with Vivid G4, Spectral and Reimyo with Wilson sashas, Ypsilon Aelius on Vivid G1. Ypsilon on Soundlabs was better but still not there. I was happy listening to the Apogees, and think they need to get some things right, which the newer models or Analysis might correct. So it might not be the right approach to focus on one particular nuance and decide whether it is the speaker for you or not. These have a very different flavor from boxes in general
 
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Ron Resnick

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Hi Ron, apogee will have more super slam. The difference is not in the degree of slam but style of slam. The cone impact sounds different and pin point compared to a panel with apogee it's a 7 ft high slam that comes to you in waves.

It's like the bass horns, even though they have the best bass I heard, the style is different from cones.

I understand -- that all makes sense to me. And I credit you with our new term "cone excursion impact."

I am concerned that Lloyd, and maybe Marc, like the cone impact style of pin point slam, and will not be satisfied with the panel style of slam. I struggle with this too. I want to be satisfied with the panel style of slam (and get the high resolution, textured, detailed bass response of panels as a bonus) -- but I cannot help wanting to add Marc Seaton subwoofer towers (for the cone impact style of slam) to every panel speaker I hear!
 
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bonzo75

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I understand -- that all makes sense to me. And I credit you with our new term "cone excursion impact."

I am concerned that Lloyd, and maybe Marc, like the cone impact style of pin point slam, and will not be satisfied with the panel style of slam. I struggle with this too. I want to be satisfied with the panel style of slam (and get the high resolution, textured, detailed bass response of panels as a bonus) -- but I cannot help wanting to add Marc Seaton subwoofer towers (for the cone impact style of slam) to every panel speaker I hear!

That is possible. All I will say is that your 60w Omega slam is far removed from a 200w Omega slam, and big Apogee, Amphi, and Orion might be huge. You have waves of bass washing over the room. So you need to park that belief, while it may turn out true, till you hear the Orions. There is a Dali Megaline with subs set up in Cal, btw, so when you go back you can listen to it. BAT amps, valves.
 

spiritofmusic

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Bonzo, from what I gather from Peter, he remains adamant that the 60W/ch Nat SE2SEs w/GM70s are sufficient in his size of room at reasonable volumes. I think Ron pushed the wick up a BIT beyond what he listens at. He's confirmed that at those volumes, or in a bigger room, the 120W/ch Transmitters would have been more suitable.
Discussions on bass quality/impact/extension can be pretty frustrating. Bonzo is stating there are waves of bass from the Apogee and even AAs w/correct amplification. But this is not NECESSARILY the same as punch/visceralness.
I truly want to maintain an open mind on this, and having switched to technologies I initially stayed clear of many years ago which have a direct impact on bass (away from belt drive/pivoted to direct rim drive/linear tracking, and from SS to SETs), maybe I'm ready for panel bass.
 

bonzo75

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I worry we will get too caught up on words and phrases to describe bass
 

Ron Resnick

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I worry we will get too caught up on words and phrases to describe bass

I think your distinction between the cone impact style of pin point slam (cone excursion impact), and the panel style of waves of slam, is understandable and useful.
 

bonzo75

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'Bass' quality will be determined by the frequency response of your loudspeakers, and by their interaction with the room, if you acoustically measure your room, all will be revealed.
If your can by whatever method ( passive/active /combination of both) treat your room, you will have punchy clearly delineated bass .
Keith.

Morning, Captain Obvious
 

bonzo75

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I found a nice extract from Enjoy the Music reviews of the Analysis Omega and Amphitryon. I heard that one of the reviewers bought the Amphi around 10 years ago and still owns it.

"When folks ask me why I'm so enamored of large planar speakers, I try to emphasize two key points. First, dipole radiators couple energy to a room in a manner that more closely approximates a live acoustic instrument. It's a question of producing the most realistic soundfield at the listening seat. It has been known for many years that well over half the energy at the listening seat is due to reflected energy. A dipole midrange with adequate breathing space appears to provide the most immersive soundstage experience. By contrast, conventional box speakers give me the impression of being on the outside looking in. And unlike most box speakers, planars such as the Omega produce the illusion of live music even when I'm outside the listening room – clear on the other side of the house. That should be proof enough that dipoles sound more natural.

The other key ingredient is wave launch. While height information is not encoded in a recording, as microphones simply pickup sound pressure or velocity modulations in point in space, a planar woofer and line source ribbon can synthesize a wave launch that approximates the height and width of the real thing. I've never been interested in pinpoint imaging, which has been hailed by some pundits as a desirable attribute. To my ears, tiny focused "balls of sound" are artificial constructs that I've yet to experience during a live performance. Size matters. Live instruments do have breadth and height, and large planars do that far better than the competition. A good example of that is piano reproduction. Due to its large soundboard a live piano outputs a lot of acoustic energy over a large surface resulting in a low value of surface loudness density. A planar does justice to the original surface loudness, while conventional boxes seem to squeeze or birth a piano out of an 8 or 10 inch woofer. If such an image sounds painful, it is, and does not work for me. On the other end of the image size spectrum is the trumpet. It sounds piercing because it outputs a large amount of acoustic energy over a small surface area. The Omega also does that well, as the line source ribbon handles much of the trumpet's midrange and overtone structure."
 

bonzo75

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Obvious but seemingly you don't understand what sound actually is!
Dipoles produce as much energy from the rear as from the front, and very little off axis, not at all like the reproduction in a concert hall.
Keith.

Errr...you should sometimes go to one to sit in the center seat and then the corner seat.
 

bonzo75

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Guys the interesting thing is Sound Galleries Monaco, was a dealer (or distributor) for Analysis before he moved to the Trios. Great guy and great music tastes (oh wait same as mine)
 

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