Apart from a few early DIY speaker projects 20 years ago, I’ve been listening to my music through Acoustat ESLs for a very long time. Hearing other systems never really made me want to change partly due to the fact I’d be getting something different but not necessarily better for the type of listening experience I was after … or thought I was after.
However having built the “ultimate” amplifier for them, realised the end of the road for the Acoustats had arrived – we’d spent a long time together. It was a great sound if the system was played loud but at lower levels, although it sounded good, it didn’t have the vividness, dynamics etc I was after at more sane levels.
In addition, the amplifier was just too impractical size and heat wise and in combination with the ESLs, took up too much room. If that’s what it takes to drive the ESLs properly and a direct drive amp (another possibility) would be no better then maybe a change is required.
I like a big open sound that has an aspect of “weight” to give some illusion of reality. I find small speakers give just that – a small sound. The only other speakers that have done it for me have been compression driver based to some degree. Rear horns and/or single driver “Lowther” or similar based systems while attractive within their limits, don’t usually have the bass or loudness I like.
As an ESL listener, it is easy to get addicted to the lack of “cabinet sound” and “wholeness” of the presentation however the dominant sound of a system, is for the most part, the sound of a particular speaker in a room driven by an amplifier. The rest of the system refines that basic starting point. Given that the speaker/room interface is the single most important thing, then cabinet issues (unless gross) fall back to 2nd or maybe 3rd order effects.
There has been a pair of 15″ Tannoy Monitor Gold drive units sitting round these parts for some time – a design I’d much admired over the years. If something could tear me away from the ESL experience, then this type of design could be the ticket. A quick and dirty listen on open baffles convinced me it was a journey I should go on.