Living Voice R80 OBX

metei

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Aug 25, 2022
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This is kind of a romantic movie style love story. I listened to R80's in High-End Munich 2023 and was head over heels. Among all the rooms I had visited, with all the lovely sound, this room was maybe not the "best" but made me fall for the most. I took pictures of everything, the names, the brands but a little bir broken heartedly hearing the supposed price range, which was above my limits back then. Time went by, things changed, got some unexpected extra cash and asked the distributor. He was also eager on importing one of the first ever commercial R80's and saved me from some cumulated gear through years and dices rolled. Mine is Serial number 10 and as far as I know, the second or third commercially available pair.
I also wanted to have the SJS 300B integrated along with R80's but the importing procedures, all the documentation, lab tests etc. was a big burden so the distributor proposed a Kondo Ovation PM2i along with it. First came the PM2i, used them with Harbeth 40.2 40th year specials, which sounded lovely. Then came the R80's. After the first days of euphoria washed away, I wasn't very happy with the sound I had. Talked to the distributor about it. Knowing I was in love with R80's, He proposed to return the PM2i without loss but due to economic restraints, could not cash back but only switch the amp with His brand gear and that was CH Precision L1 + A1.5. Once the CH duo arrived, I realized what was what.
These are the most transparent speakers I have ever heard. They play whatever is before and after them even the slightest change in the cabling and more importantly, the room and the positioning. With CH duo, I spent some time for speaker positioning and even changes in centimeters / fraction of inch made difference. Since this system is in a rented home, I didn't want to apply too much sound treatment on the walls. I found a solution of diffusers with stand alone feet. With all these the sound was very very good. But is was 'only' very very good because these are very transparent speakers and CH is known for their very transparency. What most people complain about CH gear came into life doubled; compared to system my ears are used to, this system sounded "lifeless". The system became extra revealing. Everything is there, like under a microscope but they weren't coming all together easily at all times. The main source had to be perfect to begin with and not all songs are recorded or distributed equally.. One more problem, I realized later as below was that the A1.5 power amplifier was under--working. Most of the time the power was 1 - 3 Watt due to relatively small (30 sqmt / 320 sqft) room and near (230 cm / 7.5 ft apart speakers) listening position and relatively high (92 dB) sensitivity of the speakers.
I evaluated my options. I thought I needed either a speaker with more "character of its own" or a more "romantic" tube amp. Was looking at both directions when I came across a pair of Jadis SE300B powers. 10 Watt, 300B sound (as the SJS 300B integrated I had listened during High-End Munich 2023). So finally this has solved my problem. I'm back with the lovely, warm, musical sound I fell in love with during the show at that room. I still have some work to do with the speaker positioning, some minor movement. The Jadis powers worked lovely with CH - L1. Might be a more "romantic" pre would do better but L1 is in a league of its own and L1 being revealing balances the total sound character of the system. The system makes me want to dance to the music (which I'm no good at) and sing along (which I'm terrible at).
So the speakers: repeat - summarizing above; as You can see from their web page, R80 is not under Atrium speaker family, it is a family of its own and I attest that. No regular bass drive, but two mid-bas drives and a lovely tweeter drive. Never was short of bass in my room, for my listening levels, not only in the listening position but throughout the room, never needed a sub. I went for the OBX (outboard crossover) model since this was once in a lifetime purchase. The crossover is designed bi-wire input and the jumpers for the inputs and between the OBX & the speaker are not included. LV leaves these to the listener to chose and tweak as per their taste. It fills my room easily with 3 - 5 watt daily listening level, 7 - 9 watt high volume with peaks of 12 - 13 watt (once or twice momentarily during months of listening) thanks to CH A1.5 digital power meter. They are the most transparent, most revealing, least forgiving speakers I have heard both before them (gear) and after (room & positioning). They love smooth sounding, low level output tube amps. With the Jadis, I realized that they perform better at low volume levels compared to CH A1.5. Most probably due to CH A1.5 wasn't "moving" (below 1 watt) with low volume levels enough due to high efficiency of r80's and Jadis perform better here. Also a final note for future buyers; R80's do prefer standing firm on the ground. So I recommend playing them with their original spikes before trying dampening feet for reference point. I tried Isoacoustics with them but luckily after I tried the original spikes and R80's didn't like them at all. Now they stand on the original spikes.
 

metei

Member
Aug 25, 2022
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Turkey
Here are the photos of the first set-up, with Kondo PM2i along with Lumin T2 / Whest PSRDT4.0 and old Esoteric X-03 sources and almost no sound treatment.
R80-05.jpeg R80-06.jpeg R80-07.jpeg R80-08.jpeg
 

metei

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Aug 25, 2022
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Turkey
Also tried an old Komuro 70 Watt 845 push-pull for the tube sound but those are also not so "romantic" sounding amps, they didn't differ too much from CH even with Accustic Arts tube Pre. Tried Accuphase DP-430 to check for reference since I know it works problem free both as DAC and CD Player.
R80-09.jpeg R80-10.jpeg R80-11.jpeg
 

metei

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Aug 25, 2022
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Turkey
Finally, the last steps. With CH duo, later some sound treatment applied with Lumin U2 connected to Nagra Classic DAC with PS as my main music source playing Qobuz over Roon, old Esoteric X-03 for CD's and Clearaudio Ovation to Whest PSRDT4.0 for vinyl. Finally with Jadis SE300B monoblocks keeping all els same.
R80-13.jpeg R80-14.jpeg R80-15.jpeg R80-16.jpeg
 

gramofonia

Member
Jun 22, 2022
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10
Being a LV owner of a cheaper model I would love to here these. I really like LV's sound. One thing I don't like with r80's is the veneer pattern on the side of the speakers. Looks really weird, like a repetitive pattern that doesn't match. I asked them about that but never got answer. How does it look irl? This is not a critique of your speakers just something I noticed.
 

metei

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Aug 25, 2022
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Being a LV owner of a cheaper model I would love to here these. I really like LV's sound. One thing I don't like with r80's is the veneer pattern on the side of the speakers. Looks really weird, like a repetitive pattern that doesn't match. I asked them about that but never got answer. How does it look irl? This is not a critique of your speakers just something I noticed.
One thing I had forgot to mention while writing a long message like that; all my photos are with mobile phone and not so good light conditions. In real life, they look way better than my photos and not as dark. Btw, I preferred satin over gloss lacquer.
LV can't answer that question because the cabinet is at least veneered outside, if not produced completely. As a hobbyist with my small workshop on wood, imho the situation is balance of win / loose / sacrifice. Ebony looks beautiful but is not such a wide body tree so the higher quality veneer achieved most probably can't be so wide hence the repetition and I think this kind of repetition looks better than non uniform pieces side by side. Choosing ebony look comes with the sacrifice of repeating veneer I guess. Front is no problem being narrow and with drives but as You say, it shows on the sides. That looks like an unsolvable problem to me until they change the veneer tree or switch to painting. e.g. Oak and walnut don't have this problem.
 

gramofonia

Member
Jun 22, 2022
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Ebony looks beautiful but is not such a wide body tree so the higher quality veneer achieved most probably can't be so wide hence the repetition and I think this kind of repetition looks better than non uniform pieces side by side.

This explains it. Thanks.

Enjoy your new speakers. :)
 
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exupgh12

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Jul 30, 2019
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The LV room at Munich 2023 was the highlight for me. I was captivated by the setup in the room, which undoubtedly provided the most musical experience during my time in Munich.
 
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metei

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Aug 25, 2022
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The LV room at Munich 2023 was the highlight for me. I was captivated by the setup in the room, which undoubtedly provided the most musical experience during my time in Munich.
Considering the Nagra room being a story by itself, the CH/Techdas room with Wilsons, the Magico room, the Stenheim room, the Marten room with their new speaker, the Japanese mega-horn room, the Chinese million dolar room, Kondo room and many more I can't remember (and I missed the Dan / Wilson room and a few) the statement We both made means a lot more..
That room was Kuzma XL Air with Safir & 4P with CAR 60 & CAR40, SJS Phono, SJS pre and SJS 300B power (edited from 300B integrated thanks to SJS reminder) when I listened.. Very musical, very addictive sounding..
 
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adrianywu

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Nov 15, 2021
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Congratulations for making an excellent choice. I know Kevin and Lynn well, having bought the VOX Olympian/Elysian about 8 years ago. Musicality is always the priority for Kevin, whether it is the top horn speaker or the entry level speaker. After a few years, I am sure you will be tempted to go for their horns !
 
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heihei

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Jul 24, 2017
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Congrats - great looking speakers. My father had a pair of LV's driven by an EAR V20 amp and I loved it.

I heard these speakers in Munich last year and thought they sounded great. However, at the Ascott show here in the UK I was disappointed - the bass was indistinct and wooly. Shows as always that set-up and room is everything!
 
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Juiced

Active Member
Nov 26, 2022
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Congratz!!

Great stuff,
Love seeing and reading about LV with different amp combos
 
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spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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So, why do these sound so good? Is it basically sound design engineered superlatively? Or some special sauce and unorthodox materials choices?
 

sjs

Member
Considering the Nagra room being a story by itself, the CH/Techdas room with Wilsons, the Magico room, the Stenheim room, the Marten room with their new speaker, the Japanese mega-horn room, the Chinese million dolar room, Kondo room and many more I can't remember (and I missed the Dan / Wilson room and a few) the statement We both made means a lot more..
That room was Kuzma XL Air with Safir & 4P with CAR 60 & CAR40, SJS Phono and SJS 300B integrated when I listened.. Very musical, very addictive sounding..
Thank you for your positive comments about the system in Munich last year, just to clarify the system had SJS phono, line preamp and 300B power amp, at the moment there isn't an integrated amp.
 
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metei

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Aug 25, 2022
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So, why do these sound so good? Is it basically sound design engineered superlatively? Or some special sauce and unorthodox materials choices?
When You visit;
https://www.livingvoice.co.uk/ You will se the R80 faq page with Kevin Scott https://www.livingvoice.co.uk/interview-kevin-scott-r80.html
- As a user with technical background - I can say that it is the gain / loose / sacrifice choice to be made. It is a small almost bookshelf / stand-mount speaker in terms of working parts. I guess the rest of the body is used as tone chamber as You would see in a violin or a classical guitar (hence not liking the dampening feet), so the floor standing body also does serve. Leaving those big woofer drives out of the equation means I guess You wouldn't be able to fill a big (50 sqmt / 500 sqft) room with it, as the two speakers being 4 mt / 13 ft apart from each other. I guess You would still hear good bass in the triangle between the speakers and the listening point but not throughout the room. Leaving big woofers out of equation means You don't have to work with high power / high current issues (in fact the speaker is 100 Watt maximum rated) and not have to worry about the vibration / dampening and other problems due to having those big drives inside the body. Which means You can concentrate on a more delicate music reproduction.
 

metei

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Aug 25, 2022
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Thank you for your positive comments about the system in Munich last year, just to clarify the system had SJS phono, line preamp and 300B power amp, at the moment there isn't an integrated amp.
Yeap thanks for the clarification. I also remembered that way and checked the Definitive Audio web page about the show but couldn't find the pre in my dark & blurry photo and mistook the power as the integrated. Really wished the power amplifier was Yours, but unfortunately customs bureaucracy doesn't care for the love of music :]]
 

metei

Member
Aug 25, 2022
25
37
20
Turkey
Congratulations for making an excellent choice. I know Kevin and Lynn well, having bought the VOX Olympian/Elysian about 8 years ago. Musicality is always the priority for Kevin, whether it is the top horn speaker or the entry level speaker. After a few years, I am sure you will be tempted to go for their horns !
Lucky for me that horns, ribbons and planars are not my taste :]]
I also value very much the British small & medium enterprises mentality. Many firms in many sectors in our case audio & HiFi are providing high quality products & services, who wouldn't survive in this mega-enterprise times, if it was not for this environment.
 

metei

Member
Aug 25, 2022
25
37
20
Turkey
Congrats - great looking speakers. My father had a pair of LV's driven by an EAR V20 amp and I loved it.

I heard these speakers in Munich last year and thought they sounded great. However, at the Ascott show here in the UK I was disappointed - the bass was indistinct and wooly. Shows as always that set-up and room is everything!
Thanks, took me a while to make them sing as I wanted them to, but was worth the effort :]]
As I have written, I believe these speakers are highly dependent on what is before and 'after' them. So not in all the shows they can get or treat a room as they wish.
Also in Munich, I realized that they had their own DC power supply system. I'm guessing they were charging it all night and using it all day to power the audio system cutting off from the very busy and most probably highly distorted AC of the venue. Which I believe also had a huge impact. Maybe this system wasn't there either.
 

metei

Member
Aug 25, 2022
25
37
20
Turkey
Congratz!!

Great stuff,
Love seeing and reading about LV with different amp combos
Thanks :]]
It wasn't my intention in the beginning, but life has its own plans :]]
 

adrianywu

Well-Known Member
Nov 15, 2021
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Lucky for me that horns, ribbons and planars are not my taste :]]
I also value very much the British small & medium enterprises mentality. Many firms in many sectors in our case audio & HiFi are providing high quality products & services, who wouldn't survive in this mega-enterprise times, if it was not for this environment.
That's interesting that you chose the R80 then. I found the R80 and the VOX cut pretty much from the same cloth. The R80 of course does not have the scale, the dynamics and the speed of the VOX, but tonally very similar and just as musical.
 

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