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  1. #1121
    Wammer
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    Post imported post

    Thats a very brief praising by your standards solid?? Will we be getting a more thorough review later? I would expect, given that they've ended your speaker quest, they deserve a comprehensive review, including comparisons with your other favourites? i.e. Epos !

  2. #1122
    Wammer oldfogey's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Welcome to ATC-land, though I'm sad the Dali's have to be deprived of your company! Enjoy the new companions.
    TAG / ATC SCM50A / M&K / Esoteric DV60 AV system; Stello DA100 transport and Sig DAC, ATC SIA2-150, Geddes Nathan 10 two-channel.

  3. #1123
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    roll_with_it wrote:
    Thats a very brief praising by your standards solid?? Will we be getting a more thorough review later? I would expect, given that they've ended your speaker quest, they deserve a comprehensive review, including comparisons with your other favourites? i.e. Epos !
    My new year's resolution is to be lazier in this diary. You'll have to wait five months. Speaking of which my Xeros are crossing the six month mark soon and the next entry in this diary will be a close look at them.


    The Epos 'i' floorstanders at the dealer's too and I couldn't resist having a nibble. (Sorry, no further comments lest you drop your plans to purchase the M16i)


    Egads. The penultimate chord of the Funeral March in Mahler 5 has just thundered through the ATCs! Powerful.



    SS



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  4. #1124
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    oldfogey wrote:
    Welcome to ATC-land, though I'm sad the Dali's have to be deprived of your company! Enjoy the new companions.
    Thanks OF.What can I say? ATC engineering ticks all the boxes of this classical music connoisseur.


    SS









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  5. #1125
    Super Wammer tryant's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    God those are ugly. They won't ever win any beauty awards. Bet you get rid of them within the next six months.
    I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.

  6. #1126
    Super Wammer istari knight's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    SSM wrote:





    Who'd have thunk it ? SS with Naim & ATC .........I did read that 2009 is supposed to be a year of new beginnings but this is


  7. #1127
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    istari knight wrote:
    SSM wrote:





    Who'd have thunk it ? SS with Naim & ATC .........I did read that 2009 is supposed to be a year of new beginnings but this is


    ^ "Mother always used to say, it's important to try new things."

    Don't worry about my funding, all these sidegrades are paid for with flower money.Not a single drop of last and previous years' work bonuses has been touched. So even if the incoming Naims are crap, they could even be flogged off to the newspaper collector along with my old LaserDisc deck.


    I love my life.


    SS


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  8. #1128
    Super Wammer tryant's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    After all that foreplay and omphaloskepsis, how disappointing.
    I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.

  9. #1129
    Super Wammer Brown Bottle's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Congrats Solid, I await the full review with interest. There is a very flattering review of the Nait XS in this months Choice, it's definately wetted my appetite for hearing one.

    Enjoy the ATC's.

    Cheers BB

  10. #1130
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    Post imported post

    Ta very much BB.You are always around to extend well wishes without any envious twinge. Providence smiles on folks like you: Someday you shall have your perfect system too!:sorry:

    The HFN and HFC editions bearing the Nait XS reviews hasn't shipped to Tipoca yet but I'll be buying my copies. The Nait 5i I heard was impressive, I wonder how much more the XS can top that.


    cheerSS
    CONRAD-JOHNSON ET3SE, ICON AUDIO LA4 MKIII, NAIM NAP 100, 7 DACs
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  11. #1131
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    Post imported post

    I missed the new speakers. Good quality make used by many professionals, apparently.

    They are ugly but they are ugly in a "couldn't be bothered to make them look nice" way rather than an over designed and flashy way so they actually look OK.

    Here is a link about a visit to the ATC factory http://www.aes.org/sections/uk/meetings/a0707v.html
    Steepletone Rock One Jukebox



  12. #1132
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    Post imported post

    That is a really helpful link, NAC. I now get to see the other end of the superb ATC woofer units.

    For the record I don't find the SCM11s awkward-looking. They are better-looking in the flesh than captured in pics. The highly diffractive nature of the textured surface on the woofer is to blame. In person, they look most purposeful (in a Darth Vader fashion). I was preparing to get a pair of Spendor SA1s in gloss piano black finish before I heard the SCM11s, so the SCM black baffle still meets my aesthetic requirements for 2009.


    Happy Valentine's!


    SS




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  13. #1133
    Super Wammer tryant's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    SS, please forgive me for my rude and inconsiderate remarks about your new speakers. I look forward to your detailed review. Honestly.
    I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.

  14. #1134
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    SOLD: Musical Fidelity V-DAC (to another upstanding MFian)

    This was my little Xmas prezzie to myself and I enjoyed having it around. When I first started in this hobby, offboard DACs were fashionable then and I lusted after one sold by Audio Alchemy (can't remember the name now). It was a minimalist design which looked a lot like this V-DAC. So my purchase of the V-DAC is in a way a fulfillment of that unrequited Audio Alchemy wish.

    DACs have certainly made their way back into current audio fashion: the trend towards storing music on PC hard drives and needing to play it back through a decent DAC certainly have helped. Lots of wammers are keeping a "pet" budget DAC as an alternative voice to their main digital source. The little pet I had last year before switching to the V-DAC was the Voldemort mk 6/3.



    ^the oddest of bedfellows - the Tent and the B-DAC together

    It performs rather well given its modest price. The treble is smooth, almost vinyl-like, and bass is boppy in a toe-tapping way - meaning it takes to up-beat music like a duck to water. I rate it on par with a (£350) Marantz CD-7300 I had. The downside is: after the V-DAC has stepped into the picture, the Voldemort DAC's shortcomings are made apparent. Compared to the upsampling MF its soundstage width is quite limited and the treble lacks air and spaciousness. That cramped stage-width makes it falter when playing dense symphonies like Mahler's. Brass instruments blaring forth in unison have a really unpleasant phasey "honk" that is tonally inauthentic. I scarcely enjoyed acoustic or classical material with this DAC. Its output stage also falls below the standard 2.0V (see HFC tests Feb'09) and this shortfall doesn't flatter its small soundstage or my amps' dynamic abilities. Its limited talents are suited to pop music IMO. Still, it was a great bargain and a fun experiment. (And I just had to try it because the Tent's own Ginger Genius Alex_A had some input in this DAC's voicing:green


    I'm really shocked WHF rated it better than the V-DAC. And I'm not saying that just because I'm a MF loyalist. The V-DAC simply sounds bigger, weightier and airier. And in the best tradition of MFian digital tailoring, it is a natural with classical and other large-scale music. Tonality in the midband is richly variegated and massed strings seduce the ear. This DAC is a godsend for parsimonious audiophiles who need an affordable converter to do their classical music collection justice without having to blow the wallet on £1k-ish MF/Quad/Arcam spinners.

    One of my first-ever MF cdps was the Elektra E624 (an excellent £500 cdp in its time, and its innards were the same as the fancy-dressed X-Ray which was £800!). A direct comparison is impossible, but the V-DAC definitely pips the E624 for dynamic thrust and fullness of tone IMO. It is an indication of how much more nicely affordable last decade's mid-high end digital sound has become today.

    Here's a good thread on the V-DAC. A common theme runs through it: the V-DAC excels with acoustic and classical music. Page 14 features a review by an owner who also has ATC standmounts and Page 22 - a violin-lover's take on the V-DAC. The German AUDIO magazine's supertest also preferred it over the DACMagic.


    So why did I part with mine? Well, when there's a higher-spec'd MF source at solidschateau the V-DAC does seem middling in its abilities even though both share similar sonic traits. Also, although it added refinement when placed in the chain between my EVO cdp and amp, I missed the rawkin' visceral presentation of the PRaTy EVO spinner. So it's found a new home with another fine MFian and his X-150 amp.

    Meanwhile I have welcomed a new pet-DAC into my domicile this week!

    < Petite Pete meets my Darth Vader:green:


    Cambridge's Audio's DACMagic (£250). Golly it's like I have had my Azur 740C cd player sent back to me after a trip to the car compactor. Both have the same Wolfson DACs in the same dual-differential configuration. But the DACMagic has three selectable filters which I'm having fun playing with on dodgy recordings. I need the DACMagic more than the V-DAC because I'm fattening the piggybank for an upmarket amplifier that comes with XLR input sockets and the DACMagic will be a cost-effective way to test that XLR-is-superior malarky.


    Will prolly report back on the DACMagic in a month's time...


    cheerSS








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  15. #1135
    Admin hifiwigwam's Avatar
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    I thought you had a naim amp?

  16. #1136
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    HiFiWigWam wrote:
    I thought you had a naim amp?
    When did I ever say that?
    Still awaiting the descent of the XS on Tipoca.


    CONRAD-JOHNSON ET3SE, ICON AUDIO LA4 MKIII, NAIM NAP 100, 7 DACs
    GENESIS M60 & I60, ELICIT, A38, X-T100, X-A2, TA-F246E, K-5xeMP, QUAD 909

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  17. #1137
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    Dali Ikon 6 : the Moratorium
    (preceded at solidschateau by Dynaudio Focus 110, succeeded by ATC SCM11)

    It's been a rainy couple of days over here and the weather is causing me to miss the Ikon 6s a little. Memories of being coped up at home due to rain and listening to the Ikons with their thundercloud-coloured front baffles are being evoked thus.

    My lovely dalliance with the Dali Ikon range was an unpremeditated accident courtesy of a growing dissatisfaction with another speaker used before them: Dyn Focus 110 and its rose-coloured treatment of violin tone. Itzhak Perlman sawing away at his Guarneri is supposed to be all pyrotechnic fury and scarcely a model of smoothness, but besides slightly darkening Perlman's tone, the Foci's honeyed tweeter also smoothed off and sweetened his overall signature - papering over the Guarneri's occasional steely wiriness. This air-brushed treatment of violin tones brought Perlman a little too close to the style of that smoothest of violinists - Arthur Grumiaux. Don't get me wrong, I like Grumiaux too but I don't need Perlman sounding like him... Thinking an amp upgrade might rectify this problem, another trip was made to the Dyn dealers and a Roksan Caspian (125W@4ohms), a Myryad (250W@4ohms)and a Bryston(450W@4ohms) were tried out. Harnessed thus, the Foci repeated its inability to depict individual violinists' tones properly even with the Myryad amp - designed by ex-Arcam engineers and noted for its neutrality. The solution was pretty logical - get rid of the Foci and get something better. Enter a fellow Dane the Dali Ikon 5 with their dual tweeter modules. This is my first time using speakers with ribbon tweeters and the sheer amount of high-frequency information these were able to reproduce is amazing. It is all clean and forthright without any euphonic sweetening like the Dyn tweeter. Mr Perlman, warts and all, returned to my life and all was well for a while until I made the switch to the Ikon 6s. The larger size of the 6's main cones balanced out the output of the dual-tweeter module better than the 5s' smaller ones.

    I will always remember the Ikon 6s with a feeling of gratitude for they opened up an avenue of appreciation for a genre of classical music I'd previously struggled with - string quartets. Curiously, compared with symphonic or opera, chamber music is best savoured through floorstanders with good-sized woofers IMO. The Ikon 6s present a soundstage that is way more detailed and open than the Dyns'. With four 6.5 inch woofers and four tweeters as opposed to two tweeters and two 5-inch woofers the laws of physics can't be denied. They are also lightning-fast and the crisp response of the ribbon tweeters is almost electrostatic-like. Consequently, fingerwork on violin boards is explicitly revealed and when string players play pizzicato, the effect is thrilling. The Ikons are at the top of their game with baroque and string quartet music. I have a habit of demonstrating new speakers to non-audiophile house guests and none have impressed them more than these Ikons playing Baroque music. If your music collection consists predominantly of classical material with a large share going to Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Bach and Handel, a ribbon-tweetered Dali floorstander could be your gateway to audio heaven.

    The Achilles Heel of the Ikons' presentation is also to be found in their dual tweeters. They are always clean and forthright, never sibilant, but they don't gel well with rock music or raucous up-beat pop at all. A mag's lab test have revealed the tweeters to be some 2dB stronger than the rest of the band and this balance makes CDs like Chris Cornell's Carry On or Chris Daughtry's Daughtry jarring experiences. There are too many synthetic HF noises going on and the Ikon's tweeters revel in slinging them like missiles into your ears. Unless you have had your hearing sensitivity buffed-off by repeated visits to the discotheques, I cannot imagine how any rock lover can enjoy his music through the Ikons. These are speakers with a strong preference for acoustic instruments.

    The other foible of the Ikons is their bass. There is a bit of warmth in the higher mids. This helps imparts a pleasing silkiness but it can become sluggish when playing beat-driven pop music requiring iron control in the bass; if it's to get your feet tapping. It doesn't help that on my speaker timeline, the Ikons are flanked by two designs (Dyns and ATCs) that have superior bass tautness and real PRaT too.

    Besides the need for new speakers that are all-rounders, the other factor that made me bade farewell to the Ikons is the wood fibre cones. Blimey, I understand how wood pulp cones can sound different from plastic ones but does Dali need to use wood fibres? The fibres look like wood splinters stuck onto the cones. There is one piece that is particularly large and not fully embedded into the cone. I could finger and feel its texture, and have spent many an evening resisting the urge to use my nasal tweezers to pluck out this splinter. Unless you prefer to use Ikons with the grilles in place, the sight of those wood fibres on the cones is going to drive audiophiles with OCD (obsessive cleaning disorder:green up the wall!

    The Ikons are gone now. I don't regret their 13 months of residence though. Besides the musical bliss, they have been most instrumental in shaping the final destination of my speaker odyssey --- towards uncompromising monitors with a truly flat response (ATCs). I'll miss them every now and then whenever I need an extra dose of pizzazz in fast-paced baroque music.


    [line]
    Dali Ikon 6
    ... the last floorstanders I'll ever use

    : a wonderfully open and detailed sound with lightning speed in the upper range
    : simply fantastic with string quartets and Baroque music
    : silky midrange
    : strong tweeter response can aggravate with raucously-recorded pop and rock music
    : bass could be tighter and more rhythmic
    : visible wood fibres on the cones are an aesthetic blotch



    [line]
    Next stop in this diary: my Leema Xeros






    CONRAD-JOHNSON ET3SE, ICON AUDIO LA4 MKIII, NAIM NAP 100, 7 DACs
    GENESIS M60 & I60, ELICIT, A38, X-T100, X-A2, TA-F246E, K-5xeMP, QUAD 909

    TANNOY PRECISION 6.2, ELAC BS244, ATC SCM11, S3/5R, DM 2/6, XERO, Q 2020i

  18. #1138
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    Leema Acoustics Xero Miniature Monitors - under sscrutiny
    (preceded at solidsboudoir by AVI Neutron IV; unlikely to be succeeded for quite a long while)


    AVI's Neutron IV had served two years as my bedroom speakers for insomniac late-night listening sessions. It is a truly classy compact monitor provided it is not pushed to extreme volume levels. I'd rate it as being more musical over the long run than the showy presentations of the Epos M12.2 or Dyn Focus 110 I had. When I heard news that the improved Neutron 5 had been released as the IV's replacement, I sold the IV in preparation to update to the Neutron 5. A horrid surprise was in store at the AVI dealer's though. The Neutron 5 would not be available in Tipoca in deference to encouraging the sales of the active ADM9.1 That was that then. Bye bye forever AVI. I support traditional passive speakers and don't like to be swayed by any brands heading the "audiophile" AV-iPod route.

    Thus I wandered into the Leema dealer's and heard the Xeros powered by the Stream and Pulse combo. It was love at first sight, er hearing, and I bought a pair on the spot.



    ^ my little darlings

    Build quality
    If there is ever to be a mascot for this diary, the Xeros would be it. At just 25cm high and 15cm wide, they are the smallest monitors I own to date. Handsome and small, oooh yes! The overall build quality is excellent and the Vifa Tymphany tweeter and proprietary Leema 10cm woofer look particularly sauve, being mounted flush next to each other, with the chic wAm-like Leema logo on the bottom. The wood veneer is smooth and even but quaintly, the speakers don't smell of thick veneer laminate when I removed them from their box. Rather they smelt like those wooden alphabet cubes sold as children's toys. The screw-caps on the binding posts are the only disappointment. Compared to the excellent ones I was accustomed to on my Epos, Dyns and Dalis, the Leema's are woefully rattly and don't screw down firmly to provide a tight grip on bare cable ends I'm afraid. This is not an issue for me at all as my cables are fitted with banana plugs, but potential Xero buyers without 4mm or spade connections on their cables need to take note...


    Running-in
    I have owned and caned quite a few standmounts over the years, but these little terrors take first prize for taking the longest time to settle in. Their final sound doesn't manifest permanently until after about 300 hours of hard pushing. During the first month, I had the amp jacked up to near maximum but was sitting perplexed in front of the Xeros as the sound did not hit me at all. They sounded hollow and inconsistent. I reckon those tiny 9.5cm woofers needed a lot of pumping to break free of the prison they were held in by the stiff rubber surrounds. When they finally do, you'll know it... these sturdy woofers are miracle-workers when it comes to vibrating the air!

    btw, any sensible Xero-user will of course have taken room-size into consideration. For less than the Xeros' asking price, Monitor Audio, KEF and Q Acoustics all offer floorstanders capable of filling large living rooms better than the Xeros and thus sounding "better". To assess the Xeros' talents properly they need to be heard within their rightful playing field: they are monitors for smaller spaces and shouldn't be used in rooms exceeding 3.5x3.5m IMO unless you're using a subwoofer in tandem.


    Sound quality
    These Xeros are an improvement on the Neutron IVs. They dig deeper in the lower frequencies (50Hz) compared to the IV(60Hz) and this secure underpinning of bass notes presents the music on a greater scale. They also retain their composure at extreme volume levels and under dynamic duress (that 200W rating is for real). Unlike the Neutrons which turn ragged and bodiless when slammed with Mahler's 5th symphony Funeral March, the Xeros keep it all together. This is highly impressive considering their smaller physical dimensions.

    They are also quite the sonic chameleon. Unlike the Focus 110 or Ikon 6 which override their partnering amps with their brands' house sound to a large degree, the Xeros mould themselves to their partnering ancilliaries by underlining their traits. For they are a far more transparent design than either Dane. With the Stream and Pulse at the dealer's, they presented a sound of immense grace, full of fine detail and very "hi-fi" sounding. I thought the presentation lacked a little Nait-grunt though. Sure enough when I hooked them to my trusty Creek Evolution combo (which shares the same PRaTty traits as Naim's Naits), they really rocked out. The presentation is less pretty and detailed than the Stream/Pulse combo but the rhythmic drive is considerably more visceral. Guitar riffs on rock tracks were so vividly presented I found myself humming them in my head at work the next day. This is not a pairing for the faint-hearted though, but golly, can the little Xeros handle thrashing rock. I reckon they will serve Naim's Nait 5i combo better than the N-Sats. Their sense of timing is delicious.

    One thing the PRaTty Xeros do supremely well is percussive effects. This, allied to their immensely detailed midband, made for some eye-opening moments. I have a jazz track that begins with the drummer hitting two cymbals and two drums in quick succession in five seconds. I thought I knew all there is to this favourite music of mine but the Xeros had my mouth agape. The two hits on the cymbals were crisply struck yet resonated clearly in the air while the drummer went on to hit the drums. The whole effect was like a thrown stone making four ripples on the surface of a lake: I could discern the leading and trailing edges of the cymbals while the drums were starting to vibrate. And I could make out for the first time the different pitches the drums were tuned to. I have played this same five seconds through my Creek EVOs into several speakers: M12.2, NeutronIV, Focus110, Ikon 6 (and my system cabling remains unchanged) but none of them have offered the same insight into this seemingly simple five seconds of percussion. Was this musical information already present on the Creeks but masked over by those speakers? It does add credence to the statement made by some critics that speakers are the kingmakers in any system. Mark my words, these Xeros are extremely informative with percussion.

    Besides percussion, the other sound the Xeros excel with is voices. If you buy them just to listen to your singers, and not bother with rock or orchestral, they'd pay for themselves already. You'll be spending lots of time rediscovering your favourite crooners; these Xeros worship the human
    voice! When matched with amplification that also specialises in reproducing voices (like my tubed MF X-T100), the end result is top synergy. The X-T100 lags behind the Creek EVO for PRaT but it has excellent spatial imaging abilities. Harnessed thus, the Xeros are capable of shockingly holographic placement with singers. Celine Dion and Mariah Carey were practically standing centrestage and stage movements on live opera recordings seem to occur independently of the Xeros that you are led to wonder if they have anything to do with the sound reproduction at all! It's like I have lots of disembodied people moving around and singing in my bedroom. Of the three amps, the Xeros are heard to their best effect with the X-T100 IME.

    Failings? Yes, a couple. There is a mild raise to the upper part of the Xero's midband. This accounts for the incredible presence on voices but it is also a mild "road hump" that is audible on certain music. The top notes of musical instruments with a wide octave like the piano and cello will sound stronger than the lower ones. Likewise, operatic bass-baritones seem weaker when singing from A below their middle Cs. Baroque ensembles scurrying up and down over a two-octave range appear to have fallen off that midrange "road bump" into a ditch when they descend to the lower notes. My Dali Ikon 6 was more even-handed and smoother when playing this music genre. So don't use the Xeros if these music types are your favourite. With jazz and pop singers who have normal vocal ranges, the Xeros' midband projection is undetectable.

    I would sum these Xeros as a marriage of the best attributes of Spendor's S3e and my Dynaudio Focus 110. The S3e was on my shopping list in 2006, but it froze like a deer in headlights when playing high-octane orchestral music revealing its dynamic limitations. The Focus 110 had the dynamic power but lacked the S3e's tonal accuracy and affinity for classical music. So... the Xero is as musically informative as the S3e and shares the Focus 110's high power handling and to a good extent, its bass thwack too. For a miniature monitor having these abilities is just amazing. I love these Xeros.


    [line]: simply superb with voices and percussion
    : excellent dynamics and bass
    : huge soundstage belies their compact size
    : Vifa Tymphany tweeter offers near-perfect treble performance
    : mild midrange hump does not work with certain musical instruments
    : their utter transparency makes personalized system matching a must
    : insensitive(~84dB) so make sure your amp has enough muscle
    : don't insult their design purpose by using them in huge rooms
    [line]






    CONRAD-JOHNSON ET3SE, ICON AUDIO LA4 MKIII, NAIM NAP 100, 7 DACs
    GENESIS M60 & I60, ELICIT, A38, X-T100, X-A2, TA-F246E, K-5xeMP, QUAD 909

    TANNOY PRECISION 6.2, ELAC BS244, ATC SCM11, S3/5R, DM 2/6, XERO, Q 2020i

  19. #1139
    Acc shut see Purit North
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    Post imported post

    Good writeup SS These show their designers' studio background with their midrange accuracy, while the lower freq fall-off is largely a function of being so small. I've heard the floorstanding equivalents at length on Leema's own electronics and liked them very much indeed -

    and

  20. #1140
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Cheers for that, Earl. The Leema designers are ex-Beeb engineers so their speaker designs are their own take on the revered LS3/5a sound. Spendor and Harbeth now have another competitor in the accurate-monitor stakes.

    I'm a dedicated mini monitor-user so the Xeros' low bass performance is a compromise I have accepted. For the full Leema deal, the potential Leemarian needs to consider the floorstanding Xones of course, or augment the Xeros with a well-matched sub. Either option should secure excellent full-range sound.

    I am just delighted to have Xeros as my boudoir singers (the mighty ATC SCM11s in the main rig satisfies any performance parameters overlooked by the Xeros). They are a delicious luxury. I look forward to many Sat 1-3 am sessions listening to the Xeros purr opera music quietly whilst I'm lying on the bed pondering future plans to make my way through the galaxy.


    SS





    CONRAD-JOHNSON ET3SE, ICON AUDIO LA4 MKIII, NAIM NAP 100, 7 DACs
    GENESIS M60 & I60, ELICIT, A38, X-T100, X-A2, TA-F246E, K-5xeMP, QUAD 909

    TANNOY PRECISION 6.2, ELAC BS244, ATC SCM11, S3/5R, DM 2/6, XERO, Q 2020i

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