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Spatial Audio X1


jtwrace
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Not sure if you guys have heard of these or not but I flew out to Utah and met some other fellow audio enthusiasts to take a listen to them. I do own Spatial M3 Turbo S currently. AC member "TomS" has TAD Evolution 1 speakers. The other member "goskers" has had multiple designs including GedLee.

 

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Here are my thoughts from the visit that I've posted on AC.

 

I'm sure the others above will give more detail explained more eloquently but here's my take after an incredible weekend full of fun and long travel. I'm toast tonight.

 

 

I arrived at Spatial on Friday (12/9/16) at about noon along with "TomS". When we arrived Clayton and Vinnie Rossi were already doing their thing. We briefly talked about the X1's that were standing proud in the room. After a brief talk we listened with the Spatial demo equipment on hand at the time. It was a 2009 iMac > miniDSP > Red Dragon Amps. Basically as simple as it could really be. It certainly sounded good. After that the Vinnie Rossi LIO was installed and measurements were taken as "TomS" posted above. Vinnie and Clayton started to do what they do; and do best. I must say that Vinnie Rossi impressed me before this day after seeing the LIO back at RMAF with Tom back in 2014 (?) at its debut. To have the foresight and knowledge to pull something of that magnitude is no small feat.

 

 

Enter the Vinnie Rossi X1 Amp Module. What Vinnie did while we were standing there with iteration after iteration of tweaking on a board based on measurements and math was nothing short of incredible. The guy is by far the best I've ever seen with a soldering iron on a very small board with very small components where there is no room for error. He and Clayton pulled it off! After a bunch of measurements it was time to hookup some of the electronics I brought. We installed my Apple Airport Extreme that I put a static IP address on for the Sonore µRendu. With that I used my MacBook Air with a Seagate 2TB drive using JRiver along to the µRendu in DLNA mode. The power for the µRendu was provided by the 7Vdc from the LIO and the USB Cable Dongle was from P.I. Audio/TWL.

 

 

After things were set and sounding good we listened until 11:30 pm Friday night. It was sounding so damn good and we were having such a great time it was hard to leave. Oh, did I mention the food that was catered?!?! Thanks Clayton! Great company, food, music and suddenly all was right. On Saturday, "goskers" and his buddy Nick arrived before us. Basically we proceeded to play tunes and eat he same thing for the next 12 hrs giving them along with "Bob" from WPB, FL a chance to have the chair and play what they wanted. We ended Saturday at 8:30 pm as a big storm was brewing for the mountains and it was important that Clayton be able to get home. I flew back Sunday and figured that I occupied enough of Clayton's time so I didn't return on Sunday but instead got to sit at the airport for 5 hrs and watch football. So the question is how do they sound, right? Let me say that after living with the M3 Turbo S' for the past 10 months I really had no desire to change. The M3's still to this day do more than most and certainly in their price range. Quite frankly, I don't get how he does it but he does. Being able to see the Spatial facility and see the process and the actual parts that make up the whole production line was fantastic. I have even more respect for the company and products. I should also add that Spatial is in an industrial park in Salt Lake City and not in a basement. It's run like a real business and looks like it too. Back to sonics. So how do they compare? They really don't. That's where my problem lies. As happy as I am with the M3's the X1's are just simply better in every regard as you would expect. This is where things get a bit odd for me. I went there thinking that the X1's would be good and I'd like them and that would be it. I never thought I'd go there and listen to them and really think about replacing the $2800 M3's with the $10k+ (VR X1 Module) but they really do strike me in a way that hits home. As you may know, I had GedLee Abbeys for years. I loved them. There was nothing they didn't do right IMO. After a divorce and loss of listening space and quite frankly really wanting to simplify my stereo and life the thought of the LIO and M3's was refreshing. After having them side by side I decided that I could be happy with this setup for the foreseeable future. What I wasn't expecting was to have an audition of X1's that brought back some listening qualities that I've missed. The shear amount of detail done with such finese of the X1's is simply jaw dropping. I guess the way to put it is that the X1's are the well designed speakers that have that "it" factor while listening. Along with the Vinnie Rossi LIO, the X1 and LIO combo still retains my simple setup and provides a listening experience that I prefer. Whether it's for you or not; only you can decide. It seems as though there will be plenty of pairs out there to audition in time but of course you can hear them at the Munich and LA Show coming in May and June respectively. I have no doubt that if you wanted to take a trip to Spatial in SLC that Clayton would accommodate you too. It's important to note that the room at Spatial isn't ideal. In fact, I see that as a good thing. If it was a purpose built top notch room you would then always question how they could sound in your space. The advantage here is that you get to hear them in a real world environment and hear what a properly designed CD design can actually do.

 

Thanks again to Clayton, Vinnie Rossi and the other guys. It was a fantastic weekend for Audio Tourism (Tom's term).

W10 NUC i7 (Gen 10) > Roon (Audiolense FIR) > Motu UltraLite mk5 > (4) Hypex NCore NC502MP > JBL M2 Master Reference +4 subs

 

Watch my Podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXMw_bZWBMtRWNJQfTJ38kA/videos

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Very good. I have a pair of the M2 turbos that I really enjoy. To me they combine the transparency of a panel with the efficiency of a traditional box speaker. I think if I were going to Utah for speaker auditions I would also have to see if Eric at Tekton would be accommodating. He has some interesting new speakers as well.

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Very good. I have a pair of the M2 turbos that I really enjoy. To me they combine the transparency of a panel with the efficiency of a traditional box speaker. I think if I were going to Utah for speaker auditions I would also have to see if Eric at Tekton would be accommodating. He has some interesting new speakers as well.

 

Glad you enjoy the M2 T's. These are a big step up from my M3's.

 

I'm a big fan of Constant Directivity (CD) and at this point I wouldn't deviate from it.

W10 NUC i7 (Gen 10) > Roon (Audiolense FIR) > Motu UltraLite mk5 > (4) Hypex NCore NC502MP > JBL M2 Master Reference +4 subs

 

Watch my Podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXMw_bZWBMtRWNJQfTJ38kA/videos

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  • 4 weeks later...
The new design below. Looking forward to my black pair.

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]32221[/ATTACH]

 

 

 

"The entire spectrum above 300Hz is reproduced by a low distortion compression driver/waveguide assembly of the highest quality available. The Unity Wavelaunch 100mm diaphragm produces a near perfect phasefront with controlled radiation angle. The dipolar Uniwave driver's low mass and high acceleration deliver a realistic rendition of the music source across the entire 6 octave range without crossover networks or switching drivers, rendering conventional designs obsolete. Co-developed with Radian Audio Engineering."

 

http://www.spatialaudio.us/x1-main/

 

 

Spatial Audio refers to it as a waveguide but it looks like a horn and I don't think that you can get away with such a wide-range compression driver + horn combination.

 

I do wonder about the flatness of the frequency response in the upper mids and highs.

 

It is my understanding (from theory and experimenting) that horn speakers need more drivers since horns have a resonance frequency that will limit the lower knee and a frequency above which it will no longer increase efficiency.

They must be used band-passed and if you get too close to the resonance frequency the sound becomes coloured with a trombone-like distortion.

 

In my opinion, for a horn speaker with restricted low frequency reproduction abilities you'd need a large woofer and at least 2 horns (each compression+horn should not reproduce more than 2-3 octaves) depending on how low your first horn kicks in.

 

R

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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It is a waveguide. I'm very familiar with what a waveguide is since I come from the Dr. Earl Geddes camp. I've seen the measurements with my own eyes since I flew out to the factory to listen to them. You can read my and others impressions here. One guy has TAD E-1's...

W10 NUC i7 (Gen 10) > Roon (Audiolense FIR) > Motu UltraLite mk5 > (4) Hypex NCore NC502MP > JBL M2 Master Reference +4 subs

 

Watch my Podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXMw_bZWBMtRWNJQfTJ38kA/videos

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What is often left out of discussions of pros and cons of speakers is that in 2017 speaker building is a still engineering task of balancing compromises. This is true even in a $150,000 speaker system. So when people talk about the cons of a certain approach they often don't mention the cons of their approach.

 

With a multi-horn/waveguide system there are tons and tons of engineering challenges - lobing, phase, diffraction, etc. etc. A point source from 300 hz on up is a beautiful thing.

 

Based on my work with the Radian Neodymium Beryllium compression drivers I think this Spatial X1 is probably going to be a winner. I would say there is definitely EQ on the compression driver low end and most likely EQ on the high end. Big deal. With this approach there is probably more IM distortion on the low end. It is probably not quite as refined on the high end as the 3" Radian like what I have but look at alternatives in terms of cons. This pro driver is designed for lots of power, much more than in a home environment. That gives room for EQ at the extremes.

 

The modified and enhanced Radian 4" 951 looks to be a CD with an open back, to match the open baffle 18" woofer -- very interesting new tech there!

My system here

 

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What is often left out of discussions of pros and cons of speakers is that in 2017 speaker building is a still engineering task of balancing compromises. This is true even in a $150,000 speaker system. So when people talk about the cons of a certain approach they often don't mention the cons of their approach.

 

With a multi-horn/waveguide system there are tons and tons of engineering challenges - lobing, phase, diffraction, etc. etc. A point source from 300 hz on up is a beautiful thing.

 

Based on my work with the Radian Neodymium Beryllium compression drivers I think this Spatial X1 is probably going to be a winner. I would say there is definitely EQ on the compression driver low end and most likely EQ on the high end. Big deal. With this approach there is probably more IM distortion on the low end. It is probably not quite as refined on the high end as the 3" Radian like what I have but look at alternatives in terms of cons. This pro driver is designed for lots of power, much more than in a home environment. That gives room for EQ at the extremes.

 

The modified and enhanced Radian 4" 951 looks to be a CD with an open back, to match the open baffle 18" woofer -- very interesting new tech there!

I agree that all topologies have their own limitations and that ultimately one has to compromise somewhere, depending on our preferences and priorities.

Here the compromises seem to made in favour of the point source and imaging.

Imaging is not one of my top priorities, I prefer tonal accuracy, clarity and a clean decay.

 

My experience with open baffle speakers is limited to a pair of DIY-turn-pro model which incidentally also sported an open-back tweeter.

Unfortunately the tonal balance was totally off and the complementary system was far from adequate performance wise.

I need to listen to a good pair before I can take a stand.

 

R

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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Tonality of the Radian NeoBe CDs can be very good (I have a pair of Harbeth M40.1 speakers to compare them to). Impulse response is terrific. Clarity is at "wow" levels.

 

Closed boxes can degrade clarity and tonality. Multi-drivers can degrade clarity and tonality due to wave interactions.

 

As you suggest, it depends on implementation...

My system here

 

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