Love Is Always Better the Second Time Around: The Sanders Sound Systems 10e Hybrid Electrostatic Speaker

tmallin

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No audiophile I know listens with a reflective floor. They may mount the speakers on bare floors for leveling ease and stability, but the rug starts right in front of the speakers to catch any first reflection off the floor. A room with no central carpet is just an echo chamber. Fine for a filled-up-full-of-noise restaurant atmosphere, but not great for even casual conversation, much less audio listening. Audiophiles also don't listen with glass window walls behind the speakers, even if ads often show such set ups.

I don't doubt that if one uses enough diffusion that can work well. I did that with my Gradient 1.4 speakers. I had diffusion all around, even on the ceiling. The rug was the only absorptive surface. Mark Levinson (the man) did that in his NYC Cello Audio rooms, especially the room where he had his grand piano, where the wall and ceiling surfaces were more or less totally covered with RPG Skyline. Much less square feet of absorption--relatively thick stuff like the 4" I use, gets the same or better results with much less coverage and expense, at least in my small room.

Reflections are reflections. Even if delayed 20 ms or more, they still are not delayed enough to sound like a big concert hall. Even if your listening room is a small ballroom, it still is not the size of a concert hall and its second-venue fingerprint will be imposed on everything you listen to through your system. If you like that, fine, but I've found I do not like it and therefore use speakers and room treatments which minimize the audibility of my small room's reflections rather than trying to use those reflections to somehow "improve" the hall acoustics on classical recordings. I found this to be true with the Dutch & Dutch 8c's as well, even though the D&D's had very smooth, uncolored off-axis sound.

If it were really true that smooth off-axis reflections are conducive to the most natural audio system sound, we'd all covet MBL, Morrison, or other truly omnidirectional speakers and use them in highly reflective listening environments. But in my experience, at least in small rooms, such wide dispersion speakers are like nails on a chalkboard unless you heavily absorb reflections off the walls. Most MBL demos, even in large ballrooms, have heavy draping on the wall surfaces, I've noticed.

If what you listen to is primarily studio recordings where no real room acoustics are captured, it could be beneficial to add your listening room reflections for "sweetening" in the sense of creating a "they are here" sound. But that is a futile exercise with most small room system set ups. It works better in my small room with the Sanders' 10e speakers than with any other speakers I've had in here because the dispersion is so narrow that the reflections one hears at the listening seat are delayed more on average than with other speakers and thus do tend to sound like a somewhat larger room. But it's always the same somewhat larger room, and that's the almost instant cue that you are not listening to the recording, you are listening to the listening room.

Again, this is extremely personal preference. I'd rather listen to a dry recording than impose my small-room acoustics on every recording. For recordings which contain well-captured concert hall ambiance, the Sanders 10e's give me the full wondrous effect when I absorb a good deal of the back wave as I am now doing.
 

youngho

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Oct 28, 2018
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Tom, I enjoyed the strawmen (e.g. "No audiophile I know is a cannibal! If you like that, that's your personal preference!"), though I once read an interesting review of the D&D 8C (note floor and windows behind at http://6moons.com/audioreviews2/dutchdutch/3.html), also the Kii Three (note windows behind at https://6moons.com/audioreviews2/kii/3.html), as well as some comparisons of the two (https://pura-audio.nl/en/2019/06/17/to-dd-8c-or-kii-three/, note windows behind at https://pura-audio.nl/en/listening-sessions/). In theory, there might be rational discussion of how rugs are typically limited bandwidth higher frequency absorbers, how windows tend not to absorb the lower frequencies that are harder to address with room treatments, and how 4" of foam is actually not relatively thick.

I won't comment further other than to leave you with some more odd ideas from another guy: "As an aside, it is best to NOT absorb the rear wave from my speakers. Let it help energize the room for off-axis listening. That way the highs will be preserved off-axis...There is one perilous pitfall you need to be aware of with regards to delayed reflections in all speakers, even narrow dispersion speakers. This involves sitting close to a wall directly behind you, which is very bad. To avoid this problem, ideally you should sit in a chair out in the room away from the wall...If your room decor makes this impractical, then there are several options you have. First, you can put sound absorbing material on the wall behind your head" (http://sanderssoundsystems.com/technical-white-papers/147-dispersion-white-paper)
 
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DonH50

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Not absorbing the rear wave causes comb filtering that can create strange frequency effects (peaks and valleys in the response) and really mess up the image (e.g. a singer or instrument position moves as it goes up and down the scale). These issues are much worse in a small room. Listening (sitting) closer to larger panels provides an extremely immersive experience without the need for additional reflections from the back. I am not sure why the on-going attack on Tom's choice of listening preference...
 

tmallin

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There is a school of thought that at least some types of room reflections can help the perceived sound quality. Toole and Linkwitz seem to be on this side.

On the other hand, some listeners have concluded after trying many different types of set ups that if your goal is a "you are there" experience for classical music listening, then a relatively "soft" room with most early reflections absorbed or directed away from the listener is the best path, even for non-classical music recordings. Even with quite directional speakers like the Sanders, Dutch & Dutch 8c, and Janszen Valentina Actives, I've found my preferences in my small listening room clearly fall on the side of absorbing early reflections and/or minimizing them by redirecting them away from the listening position.

I fully realize that the way I have the Sanders 10e speakers set up in my room does not comport well with Roger Sanders general advice to users of his speakers. He even has said that he personally and many of his customers set the speakers up near the wall behind them since it's more room/decor/significant other friendly and since it takes so long for the back wave reflections to reach your ears that even such a set up does not result in image/staging-destroying "early" reflections. The picture of the speakers on Sanders home page shows such a set up.

All this means is that the Sanders speakers can produce wonderful results in a wide variety of set ups. That's great news for existing and potential customers. The narrow dispersion of the speakers opens up possibilities that would be immediately suspect with most other speakers, especially dipoles. Most dipole speaker manufacturers recommend that you place the speakers out into the room at least three feet, if not more for best performance.

Six Moons is a reviewing site known for its eye candy photos. If the photos show the actual set up, then all I can say is that even in such a bizarre room the speakers are so good at ignoring their surroundings that they sounded good to the reviewer. And I understand why they would sound good compared to all other speakers the reviewer ever heard in that room since the D&D speakers' dispersion is well controlled, the off axis response is smooth, and the cardioid midrange/woofer and wave-guided tweeter drop the amount of sound radiated to the rear toward the glass by some 20 dB compared to most speakers.

I imagine the Kii set up you linked to had the drapes open for lighting for the photo. For listening, I suspect the windows behind the speakers would ordinarily be draped, as is the side window. The first Pura Audio photo is clearly a product of Photoshop, but that doesn't explain the rest. I should not have made the blanket statement about audiophile listening rooms. But then, there is no accounting for taste. Most respected reviewers will tell you that large areas of uncovered glass are a no-no for listening rooms. Of course, again the Kii and D&D speakers are unusual in terms of having cardioid dispersion patterns above the deepest bass and will thus be less adversely affected by large glass window walls to the rear. Still, in my opinion and that of many respected reviewers, rooms with large expanses of exposed glass will tend to sound nasty bright and are thus not the best arrangement for high-end audio set ups. They may LOOK fantastic, but the ultimate sound quality is another matter.

As I've said, audio set up is personal, based on what the individual audiophile is looking for in terms of results. If you want a brighter, more reverberant sound from everything you play on your system, you may well opt for less absorption, more reflections, and even limited dispersive treatment. If you think, as I do, that most recordings start out as inherently over-bright, you may gravitate toward a "soft" decor, one with a lot of absorbing materials in the form of fiberglass, foam, thick pile carpeting, and overstuffed furniture covered in velour or velvet fabric. The visual aesthetic of the room may well be pretty important to some as well and may need to be balanced against its sonic qualities. I will again add that what works well sonically in a larger room (all the rooms pictured in youngho's links appear truly vast compared to my converted small bedroom listening room) may not work for a small room since the reflections heard from the listening position will tend to be stronger and earlier in a small room.
 

Hear Here

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Not absorbing the rear wave causes comb filtering that can create strange frequency effects (peaks and valleys in the response) and really mess up the image (e.g. a singer or instrument position moves as it goes up and down the scale). These issues are much worse in a small room. Listening (sitting) closer to larger panels provides an extremely immersive experience without the need for additional reflections from the back. I am not sure why the on-going attack on Tom's choice of listening preference...
I don't agree with this point of view - from first-hand experience. Panel speakers (I bought Martin Logan Expression 13As), are to start with inefficient, but the fact is that 50% of their energy is projected backwards and some of this energy needs to be salvaged. With the ML, the hybrid bass even has a back-firing driver. Designers expect these speakers to be placed typically 3-6 ft forward of the back wall and this is how they sound their most sublime.

I bought my MLs after hearing them a number of times at shows and showrooms, set up as you'd expect, with a wall behind them. All great and, together with favourable reviews, prompted me to part with a pile of cash. Installed in my room with effectively open space behind them (12 ft and 15 ft to an angled wall), they sounded poor. Anthem room correction couldn't even get them to match my 20 year old Avantgarde Unos. The MLs had to find a new home. Electostatics DO neen support from a wall behind them. How reflective this needs to be must depend on other factors but 100% dulling them can't be good for their potential sound.
 

DonH50

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I don't agree with this point of view - from first-hand experience. Panel speakers (I bought Martin Logan Expression 13As), are to start with inefficient, but the fact is that 50% of their energy is projected backwards and some of this energy needs to be salvaged. With the ML, the hybrid bass even has a back-firing driver. Designers expect these speakers to be placed typically 3-6 ft forward of the back wall and this is how they sound their most sublime.

I bought my MLs after hearing them a number of times at shows and showrooms, set up as you'd expect, with a wall behind them. All great and, together with favourable reviews, prompted me to part with a pile of cash. Installed in my room with effectively open space behind them (12 ft and 15 ft to an angled wall), they sounded poor. Anthem room correction couldn't even get them to match my 20 year old Avantgarde Unos. The MLs had to find a new home. Electostatics DO neen support from a wall behind them. How reflective this needs to be must depend on other factors but 100% dulling them can't be good for their potential sound.
I have owned Maggies since 1979, and heard many other panel speakers over the years (ESL, planer-dynamic, and ribbon), so do have some first-hand experience. But this is about preference so not really much to agree or disagree with -- it is all about what you like.

Comb filtering is not a point of view, it is physics.

As for the energy, above the LF region dictated by panel size, planer loudspeakers tend to radiate in a figure-eight pattern with equal energy (more or less) to the front and to the rear and much less to the sides, top, and bottom. Conventional speakers radiate over a much broader area from the front, dictated by their driver size and crossover frequency(ies). As a result, in general planar speakers emit more of their energy to the front than conventional designs, so SPL with distance rolls off slower -- there is more energy at the MLP. In a conventional design, more energy is lost to the sides, and of course the back wave is inside the box (either absorbed or sent through a port, the latter usually at lower frequencies). But dipoles in general tend to be much less sensitive than conventional designs (let alone horns) and so require more power to achieve a given SPL, even if that SPL does fall off less with distance than a conventional design.

There are other designs with controlled radiation patterns such as horn speakers, speakers utilizing waveguides (which may be consider a type of horn, or vice-versa), constant-directivity designs, and so forth. Their output also decreases less with distance than conventional designs.

In any event I just find it interesting that, in a thread about Tom's rediscovery of a speaker and sound he likes, it immediately attracts those who feel compelled to tell him he is wrong. I happen to agree with many of his points, based upon my experience, so am guilty by association, I guess. At any rate I have been warned to not provide technical jargon on WBF so will leave it to y'all.

Onwards - Don
 

tmallin

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It's hard to judge the sensitivity of the Sanders 10e speakers, but Sanders specs say 90 dB, which means they would require about half the power to reach any given SPL as typical cone & dome speakers with 87-ish dB sensitivity. Besides that, the incredible dynamic shifts of which the speakers are so obviously extremely cleanly capable--at least when driven by the Sanders Magtech amps top and bottom--allay any concerns about efficiency/sensitivity. The subjective cleanliness of the sound even at these instantaneous peaks--and that is just so OBVIOUS at first listen compared to how even other great speakers sound in this respect--has to be heard to be believed.

Assuming Sanders is correct about the way he has programmed the output level indicators on the dbx LMS device, even at the highest SPLs I'd ever want to listen even very briefly, the amps are loping along well below their output capabilities.

Sanders developed the curved panel electrostatic diaphragm technology used in the ML speakers, as you may know, and yet long ago abandoned using that design. He found it subjectively inferior since the wider dispersion creates unwanted room reflections and since a curved diaphragm is not as time coherent, as REG explains in his Sanders review. I suspect that the narrow dispersion contributes mightily to the overall perceived low distortion and the cleanliness of peaks. There is just less "blur" from room sound with these than with most other speakers.
 

dan31

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Given your experience with the Benchmark amp and the Sanders Magtech, do you feel the Benchmark could be a suitable amp for the Sanders speakers?
 

Hear Here

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In any event I just find it interesting that, in a thread about Tom's rediscovery of a speaker and sound he likes, it immediately attracts those who feel compelled to tell him he is wrong. I happen to agree with many of his points, based upon my experience, so am guilty by association, I guess. At any rate I have been warned to not provide technical jargon on WBF so will leave it to y'all.
I care less for technical-based arguments for or against any technology and more for how things actually sound.

I've expressed my theory as to why electrostatics don't work in my room, yet sound fantastic in "conventional" rooms with walls behind them. However, my involvement in this discussion started (posting #31) when the OP said:

"I thus began casting about for an ultimate room-ignoring speaker, especially in the mid and high frequencies."

I commented on the fact (perhaps it isn't) that electrostatics are probably the LEAST room-ignoring TYPE of speaker. From what you have described, I think we are on the same wavelength over this particular point. I went further to suggest that if this is his primary aim, perhaps he should look towards (at least home testing) horn speakers if his aim is as quoted.

I was trying to offer constructive suggestions, but as you say, it's up to the OP to find the best speaker (firstly TYPE of speaker) and then to look at how to get them to perform at their best. It struck me as odd that, given the remark quoted, he would go for electrostatics and then, having done so, he seems to want to kill the rear-firing energy of this type of speaker. But what do I know! :)
 

tmallin

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I suggest asking Roger Sanders about that. Many amplifiers do not take kindly to the highly capacitive load presented by electrostatic speakers. I believe REG's Benchmark amp comments (I'm referring to comments in his forum, not any official review of the AHB2) have mentioned the fact that it is particular about the loads it sees. I never tried a Benchmark amp with any electrostatic speaker. Obviously the Sanders Magtech amps are designed to be totally compatible with the load presented by Sanders speakers and REG's review suggests the Magtechs he used and I use as the perfect match for the Sanders 10e speakers.
 

Hear Here

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Given your experience with the Benchmark amp and the Sanders Magtech, do you feel the Benchmark could be a suitable amp for the Sanders speakers?
I've owned both though not at the same time. The Benchmark was bought with the hope that it would replace my SET amps to power my Avantgarde speakers. The Magtech was bought to power the Martin Logan Expression 13As that I'd bought with the hope that they would replace the ageing Avantgarde Unos.

The Benchmark has some great features such as adjustable gain, it is dead silent and measures well. However it’s the sort of amp that encourages you to turn down the volume rather than to turn it up! It’s sadly just DULL and nowhere near as good to listen to as the old SETs, or some of the other SS amps I home tested to replace the tubes.

The Magtech was bought to power the ML speakers but the MLs were not good in my room. The Magtech is a bit of a brute and possibly not particularly sophisticated, but it certainly sounds good with low-sensitivity electrostatics. I also tried the MLs with another great amp, the GamuT D200 Mk III. I'd be hard pressed to choose between the Sanders and the GamuT. However as neither of these amps was suitable with the Avantgardes, they too were sold.
 

kswanson27

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I've owned both though not at the same time. The Benchmark was bought with the hope that it would replace my SET amps to power my Avantgarde speakers. The Magtech was bought to power the Martin Logan Expression 13As that I'd bought with the hope that they would replace the ageing Avantgarde Unos.

The Benchmark has some great features such as adjustable gain, it is dead silent and measures well. However it’s the sort of amp that encourages you to turn down the volume rather than to turn it up! It’s sadly just DULL and nowhere near as good to listen to as the old SETs, or some of the other SS amps I home tested to replace the tubes.

The Magtech was bought to power the ML speakers but the MLs were not good in my room. The Magtech is a bit of a brute and possibly not particularly sophisticated, but it certainly sounds good with low-sensitivity electrostatics. I also tried the MLs with another great amp, the GamuT D200 Mk III. I'd be hard pressed to choose between the Sanders and the GamuT. However as neither of these amps was suitable with the Avantgardes, they too were sold. I'm using a Benchmark with Quad ESL 63's and I couldn't be happier. I'm running a pair of Entec 12-F20 subs with the ESL's so, obviously, that takes a load off the Quads but the combination of the ESLs, Entecs and Benchmark is just superb in my system.
 

kswanson27

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I'm running a Benchmark amp with Quad ESL63s and couldn't be happier. I'm using a pair of Entec 12-f20 subs so obviously they take a load off the Quads but the Benchmark drives the Quads beautifully.
 

picears

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Feb 4, 2022
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Thanks for your very extensive write-up of the Sanders hybrid.

Many years ago when Eminent Technologies (Thigpen) came out with their LFT-IV I gave it a go, but found it didn't work in the small space I had at the time. Now ET has gone the hybrid route. Have you ever tried the LFT-8b? It is very low cost by high-end standards, and with the money left over one could buy a DSP system (Trinnov?) to work the integration problems.

Oh, and on the chair, one thought that is a bit out of the box: my oral surgeon has some wonderful chairs in his operating rooms, much better than found in the typical dentist's office. Even with hard-core dental work going on I almost doze off in them! They have multiple adjustments for the head, etc. I've wondered if one could buy such a chair and have an upholstery replace the vinyl with something more suited for the home. With adjustable height, adustable arms, and fully 3-axis adjustable head rest I think it might make for an ideal listening chair! And unlike normal furniture makers I suspect the medical chair biz isn't having the same supply backlogs.
 

tmallin

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I have heard the LFT-8b at shows. It is indeed excellent for the price. You could do much worse and I don't think any better for the price. I agree with REG's review of the LFT-8b: https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/eminent-technology-lft-8b-loudspeaker

In my opinion, a proper listening chair should not have any headrest and not even anything behind your neck or shoulders. It should have a relatively low backrest, in other words. REG actually says a backless stool is ideal from a sonic perspective. I don't doubt that he is correct, but, for me, I need some degree of comfort and that means some back support. For my full discussion on ideal audio chairs, see this thread: https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/the-listening-chair.1578/
 
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tmallin

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Perhaps I should post the following information in my Lumin or Roon threads instead. But I'll put it here for now since it shows the context of how I listen to the Sanders 10e speakers in my streaming-only (okay, local file streaming plus internet streaming) system.


I do use an upgraded power supply for the Nucleus+. I have to admit that I never even listened to the Nucleus+ with the stock SMPS before powering it with an aftermarket linear power supply, so I can't offer any sonic comparisons about possible improvements resulting from the substitution. I never even took the stock SMPS out of the box. I use the Keces P8 to power the Nucleus+. I also use a Keces P3 to power both the EtherREGEN and the GigaFOIL V4.

While the Lumin App has a very fine GUI, Roon's GUI is even better, by most accounts the best streaming GUI. It is MUCH easier to find things via Roon than via the Lumin App or the Qobuz app. Most of the meta data is probably there via the Lumin App, it's just that Roon presents things in a manner that is much easier to access and navigate.

Roon could also act as an EQ device for you if a dedicated equalizer such as a DSPeaker X4 should fail. It can apply good-sounding parametric EQ filters which are totally user adjustable. I also think there is an interface between the Roon software and REW if you wanted to use REW to measure and automatically generate EQ filters for you.

Also, Roon offers core MQA decoding if you should have or would want to add Tidal to your streaming subscriptions in addition to Qobuz. Roon would thus do the first MQA unfold for anything you stream through Roon.

Finally, Roon offers the easiest way I've encountered to add Qobuz or Tidal recordings to your library if you hear something you like on an internet radio station. For many stations, if you click on the title of what is playing in the lower left corner of the screen, Roon will then show a blue link to the Qobuz/Tidal disc containing that song/program. Clicking on that link takes you to that album, with the song highlighted. You can then add that album or song to your library with a click. You can also start that song playing from Qobuz/Tidal to hear the higher resolution version of it, rather than the usually lower quality internet radio version. The sonic quality differences are usually quite obvious, especially through the Sanders 10e. This function is very handy for building your library. It doesn't work with all stations or even with some stations all the time, but when it works, it is a lot easier than other methods of adding that song/album to your library.

[Continued below]
 

tmallin

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On the other hand, I think the Lumin App sounds just a smidge better than Roon playing most programs. I think I can hear the sonic difference, but I've never done a blind test to verify that. Earlier in my Sanders comments I wrote that the Lumin App now definitely sounded better than Roon, but that was before I reconfigured my EtherREGEN switch to be optimal--with the Lumin X1 being fed by the "B" side of the EtherREGEN. Now, Roon again sounds very close in quality to the Lumin App.

The Lumin App has settings for enabling and disabling both its Roon Ready capabilities and AirPlay (which the Lumin App labels Lumin Streaming). The Lumin App supposedly sounds best of all when you disable all its optional functions including its Roon Readiness. But the sonic differences are very small indeed and I would not count on my hearing them in a blind test.

My first Lumin was the U1-Mini. I never even listened to that one in its stock format, immediately replacing its internal SMPS with an external SBooster linear power supply. I also never compared the sonics of the modified U1-Mini with the Lumin X1 I bought later.

If you intend to use a DAC other than the one in the Lumin streamer, the U1-Mini might be the way to go since it has no DAC and all the money is spent on the streaming functions. I used the U1-Mini with Benchmark DACs. Also, the U1-Mini has the most flexible digital outputs. For the Dutch & Dutch 8c speakers, it might be the best choice since the U1-Mini has an AES/EBU digital output which would directly connect to the 8c digital input without an adaptor. With the Lumin X1, I had to use a BNC-to-AES converter since the X1's digital output is on BNC connectors. Of course, if you are using the 8c speakers as Roon Ready endpoints as I did at the end, no such connection is needed at all: the Lumin, Nucleus+, and 8c speakers all connected via ethernet to my Uptone Audio EtherREGEN ethernet switch.

The Lumins have no Wi-Fi capability. They must be connected to the internet via an ethernet connection. I got around that for a couple of years using a $30 TP Link device which converted Wi-Fi to ethernet via its Client mode. After spending $1,000 to get an ethernet connection directly from my router to my audio room via a very circuitous 100-foot-long path, I found that connection to sound a bit better and have used it ever since. It sounds better yet cleaning up the ethernet signal via the GigaFOIL v4 and EtherREGEN. I'm not sure if they would make much difference with a shorter ethernet path, but they seem to add sonic quality with my set up.

So, to use Roon with the Lumins, in the Lumin App you turn on Roon Ready. Roon's default settings will then allow the Lumin App's volume control to continue controlling system volume. That's good because all the Lumins now come with Leedh DSP digital processing on their digital volume controls, allowing better sound (this is audible) at low volume settings. Both the Lumin App and Roon allow DSP upsampling/resampling. Only Roon allows DSP equalization, but that only applies when you are playing music from Roon.

The Roon Nucleus+ is not hardwired to the Lumin in my system. Both are connected via ethernet to the EtherREGREN ethernet switch. I now use the Lumin X1 in balanced analog output mode, both to feed the dbx LMS for the Sanders speakers and to allow the Lumin X1 to do full MQA decoding for Tidal. Roon does the first unfold, but the only way to get the final decoding is to use the analog output of an MQA compatible DAC, which the Lumin X1 DAC is. Since the Lumin U1-Mini has no DAC, it cannot do full MQA decoding like the Lumin X1 does but would still allow Roon to do the first MQA unfold.

The Benchmark DACs are not MQA decoders. Of course, you don't use Tidal, MQA capability is not currently a concern for you. However, I do sometimes find the MQA version of a given recording to sound a bit better than the Qobuz Hi-Res version. MQA can sound both smoother/less digitally tense and also clearer in the midrange. Other times, and probably most of the time, Qobuz Hi-Res sounds a bit clearer overall, but will almost always also sound at least a bit brighter than the MQA version. I certainly understand the controversy about MQA, even on a strictly sonic basis, regardless of what you believe about the processing itself. It definitely sounds a bit different from Qobuz Hi-Res. Whether the difference is "better" or "worse" is more difficult to determine and seems to vary with the recording.

Both the Lumin App and Roon have "native" functions for listening to internet radio stations. Lumin uses the Tune-In Radio app version of each station. Roon often gives you a choice of the available streams for that station and you can pick your default stream. Roon does have a non-defeatable resampling of all internet radio stations from 16 to 24 bits. With Lumin, you could choose to resample in that way if you wanted to. The Lumin Streaming/AirPlay function is only necessary to turn on when you want to stream non-free internet radio sources (such as Sirius/XM, Jazz Radio, and ZBS). With Lumin Streaming/AirPlay turned on within the Lumin App, the stream is playing through and from your iPad (or other system controller) and the volume is controlled via your iPad; most of the Lumin App's functionality is bypassed.

This is all fairly complex sounding, I know. It only becomes easier if you actually use the Lumin App and Roon. I could eliminate the Nucleus+ and Roon from my system and still listen to everything I currently listen to. I'm reluctant to do that, however, because the Roon user experience is indeed superior to anything else out there that I know about and the sonics are close enough to those of the Lumin App that usually there is only a smidgen of difference.

The question often comes up about the degree of sonic difference using a Roon Nucleus+ makes compared to using a general purpose modern computer as a Roon Core. I think I can hear a difference, but I think most people would not find the difference terribly significant as long as you are not stressing the CPU with a lot of upsampling/resampling. If you are just running streams with their native resolution up through 24/192, using a general purpose modern computer as a Roon Core should be sonically and operationally fine. If you get drop outs or slow operation, you will know that your computer is not up to the task.

For everything up through CD resolution, I really don’t hear any quality drop just using AirPlay straight into the Lumin streamer from my iPad, whether the stream is low res internet radio or the Tidal or Qobuz apps.That path bypasses the Roon Nucleus+ totally and, according to Lumin it also bypasses most of the Lumin app. Sometimes I even think some internet radio streams sound a bit better the AirPlay way. I've written a bit about using an iPad as a streamer at this thread: https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/ipad-as-a-streamer-into-benchmark-dac3.31468/. Benchmark also has an application note on the capability of an iPad as a streamer at this link: https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/ap...to-benchmark-dac1?_pos=1&_sid=695a9638a&_ss=r
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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More on equalization using the dbx Driverack VENU360 which Sanders includes as the Loudspeaker Management System (LMS) for the 10e speakers:

My respect for this unit and the app which controls it continues to grow. You can buy this unit separately for about $1,000. Not cheap, but I've used a lot of equalization devices and I don't think you'll find a sonically more transparent unit or one that is equally or more flexible for less than this price. The equalization functions alone are, I think, the best I've used in terms of the combination of ease of use, sonic transparency, and sonic results of the equalization.

Besides the very easy to use automatic equalization (AEQ) function, the dbx unit also offers manual graphic and parametric equalization. The unit can handle two- or three-way electronic crossovers with many choices of slopes and filters as well as time delay between drivers for time-aligning the drivers.

Even if you own a totally passive speaker system and just want to smooth out the bass response, this thing is killer at that. It comes with the required microphone and microphone clip and a long microphone cable to connect the mike to the unit. You only need to provide a microphone stand.

If you don't have one yet, I recommend this professional grade short boom stand from On-Stage Stands. I've used many mike stands in my time and this is absolutely top notch for this purpose for about $70. Yes, you can buy a boom stand for about half this much, but this one is much sturdier, more stable, and easier to adjust. This type of short drum/amp mike stand is what you need to put the microphone at the usual fairly low seated ear height. With a fairly low-backed chair, this stand will allow the stand to be placed behind your listening chair while leaving that chair in place. The boom will stick up above the chair back and get the microphone where the middle of your head would be sitting in your listening chair.
The boom will angle down away from the microphone, placing the microphone in maximally free air space with no obstructions to the rear.

Assuming you want to correct the sound for a single sweet spot, you do not need to move the microphone once it is set up. Once the microphone is in position and connected to the VENU360, you can leave the room and run the AutoEQ Wizard (AEQ) via the app from your iPad or other controller. The test tones take at most two minutes to run and then you're done with the microphone. No other measuring system I've used is this simple, quick, and easy.

I have measured the results of equalizing the Sanders 10e speakers with the separate individually calibrated microphone which comes with the OmniMic V2 measuring system I use. The AEQ system of the dbx unit produces measured results with are quite smooth sounding and smooth graphing when I look at the results with OmniMic V2 using 1/6-octave smoothing and 2 dB per vertical graph division. The AEQ graph results closely match what I see from the OmniMic V2 measurement results at all frequencies below about 1 kHz.

As I've explained in prior posts, Roger Sanders recommends zeroing out any corrections the AEQ system makes above 1 kHz. I totally agree with Sanders recommendations on this, at least as to the Sanders 10e speakers. The higher up corrections may be valid for other speakers which do not have the extremely narrow high frequency dispersion of the Sanders 10e. While the OmniMic V2 shows the high frequency corrections recommended by the dbx AEQ function as producing very flat and smooth highs from the Sanders 10e, they certainly don't sound that way. Rather, if those high frequency corrections are implemented, the high frequencies of the 10e sound very polite and rolled off, rather than "alive" and natural as they do when you follow Roger Sanders' instructions.

You have to be very careful equalizing high frequencies with any equalizer, and the VENU360 is no exception, particularly with the Sanders 10e speakers. However, the dbx device easily and accurately smooths out the lower frequencies with minimal effort and maximum speed.

The AEQ function uses at most 10 of the 14 available bands of parametric equalization. As I said the automatic results are subjectively outstanding.

However, like me, you may choose to further flatten the lower frequency response by carefully implementing up to another four bands of parametric equalization. I did this by placing the OmniMic V2 measurement microphone at the listening position and than watching the real-time OmniMic V2 measurement of the low frequency response of the 10e speakers. One at a time, I manually adjusted the frequency, Q, and amplitude of each of the four remaining parametric EQ bands.

I think that the degree of additional flattening of low frequency response is a further audible improvement,. However, even if you already own a real-time measurement system like OmniMic V2, only you can decide whether the effort and time (figure one or two hours to manually dial in the other four bands just so) is worth it. The AEQ really does provide outstanding results all on its own!
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
797
263
455
69
Chicagoland
Some may wonder how I have been able to conclude that the dbx Driverack VENU360 device is truly a transparent equalizer. It's not like I've been able to compare the transparency of this unit to some other LMS unit with the Sanders speakers. No, I'm just inferring that the dbx LMS is transparent from the subjective sonic results.

The first time around, with the prior Sanders 10c speakers, I did have the ability to mimic the crossover and EQ settings of the device Sanders then used as an LMS, the Behringer DCX2496, with another crossover/EQ device, the TacT RCS 2.2XPAAA, as modified by Maui Mods. That comparision was all in favor of the TacT unit. The TacT did the job noiselessly where the Behringer produced plenteous quiescent hiss from the speakers. The transparency of the speakers was obviously better using the TacT, and the crossover and equalization flexibility was even more outstanding.

But I heard definite problems with the Behringer unit even before I tried the TacT. I hear no problems whatsoever with the dbx LMS and neither did REG in his review, even though I, like REG, am using it in balanced-analog-in to balanced-analog-out mode, which injects an extra A/D-to-D/A stage into the signal path.

The 10e speakers sound supremely transparent using the dbx LMS in this mode, more transparent than any other speakers I've ever heard, revealing small, never-before-heard nuances in recordings without any excess brightness or forwardness. And different recordings sound obviously more different than they did before, again without any excess high or mid frequency emphasis.

The dbx unit offers a choice of internal processing, 24/48 or 24/96. The factory setting as delivered by Sanders is 24/96. That 24/96 internal processing seems truly transparent to what is going on upstream. For example, I can clearly hear differences between various high-res versions of the same recording which Qobuz makes available; for some recordings, as you may be aware, there are multiple high-res versions available, such as 24/48, 24/96, and 24/192. The same is true for multiple MQA versions available via Tidal.

I can also hear the subtle differences between upsampling/resampling through the Lumin App or Roon, versus listening in native resolution of any given program, as well as the "sound" of different levels of such processing, such as higher PCM rates versus DSD conversions. And I can hear the sonic differences between Roon doing only the first MQA unfold versus allowing the Lumin to do full MQA unfolding and decoding. Thus, I have every reason to believe that the dbx LMS unit is quite transparent indeed.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
797
263
455
69
Chicagoland
A brief summary of why I switched from the Dutch & Dutch 8c speakers to the Sanders 10e and some sonic comparisons:

As my earlier Sanders 10e comments say, I tend to switch speakers a lot. I tend to switch every year or two and it was that time. I still think the D&D 8c is as good as I said it was. Yes, stage depth was a bit of a problem, but just a bit, and then only in sighted listening. The D&Ds are a bargain, especially if you are looking for a less cluttered or downsized solution providing truly great sound that bests most everything else I've heard in terms of naturalness.

Some think the D&Ds, given the published measurements by various reviewers, must sound overly polite and closed in. But no one who has actually heard them or reviewed them think they are overly polite in any way. Tonally, they are one of the two very best balanced speakers on a wide variety of commercial recordings I have ever heard. (The other is the Sanders 10e.) There is no need to apply special EQ settings for particular recordings.

But the Sanders 10e is yet better and gets me closer to my current ultimate goal which I stated toward the beginning of my Sanders comments as:

My recent forays into high-end headphones have also convinced me that there is nothing like an electrostatic driver for low distortion and clarity of sound without overbearing brightness or etch. And, while the stereo imaging and staging presented by headphones is not generally as pleasing or natural as that from stereo speakers, totally removing the room from the equation yields countervailing benefits in terms of the lack of early-reflection-induced distortions/grit/edginess, and extreme stability of imaging and staging. Thus, moving toward speakers which interact less with the room seems a good move. That is why I had so much subjective success in my current listening room with such speakers: the Janszen Valentina Active, the Gradient 1.4, and, most recently, the Dutch & Dutch 8c. Ideally, I want speakers which combine the lack of room effects headphone listening provides with the pleasingly natural "out there" sonic presentation of speaker listening.

And that is exactly how the Sanders sound from the sweet spot. They are uncanny. Compared to the D&D 8c, the Sanders 10e also will play yet louder without any strain at all frequencies, are matchlessly clear and clean sounding, have fantastically large staging and precise imaging, and have whip-snap dynamics that must be heard to be believed. They give me "big" sound in all senses, even in my postage-stamp-sized listening room. Yes, from 58 inches away, they look like gigantic headphones, but that's the goal: they sound like headphones (no room effects and totally stable imaging and staging) but with the "out there" speaker presentation we audiophiles crave, plus the best envelopment/surround effects I've ever heard from a two-channel system on recordings where phase is manipulated. Even when phase is not purposely manipulated, the Sanders yield a more enveloping sound than any other two-channel set-up I've heard because they better reproduce hall ambiance and manage to get that ambiance to appear well beyond the speakers--behind, to the sides, and a bit behind you.

Of course, the Sanders 10e system I'm using is also $27,000 for the speakers and Magtech amps, versus $12,500 for the D&D 8c (which includes the amps, crossover, EQ, etc). Also, I'm using a $13,000 Lumin X1 front end which was unnecessary with the D&D's Roon Ready configuration. The Sanders 10e system thus adds four electronic box components to the system (two amps, the Lumin, plus the dbx crossover/equalizer), plus a bunch of interconnects and speaker cables. And the Sanders speakers are physically huge compared to the D&Ds. It is not nearly as neat & tidy or as compact a system as what using the D&D 8c's allows.

While I eventually got a somewhat claustrophobic feel from having the large Harbeth M40.2 speakers similarly close to my listening position, I'm not getting that feeling from the Sanders at all. For one thing, you can see right through the panel part of the speaker, which is what is at eye level. The massive part of the speaker is all at 27 inches or less from the floor and the woofer cabinet has a curve to it and thus looks less massive and squared off than the big Harbeths. The electrostatic panel part of the Sanders, while 42 inches tall and 15 inches wide, is only 1.75 inches deep, and even that depth is only because of the wood trim strips at the edge.
 
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