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Seaton Sound Catalysts arrive!

post #1 of 160
Thread Starter 
They're here! And they exceed all expectations (which were set very high)!

Some initial impressions:
Most apparent is how quick and responsive they are -- the active configuration and DSP make a much bigger difference than I had expected. They just feel so fast and snappy compared to anything else I've heard (including $100k+ speakers on $30k amps). With over 5,000 watts on my front soundstage now (for a total of 10,000W including sub and surrounds), the sound is HUGE and completely effortless! The Catalysts are incredibly nimble yet full of unrelenting, crystallized slam when called upon.

I played a few favorite music tracks and the Catalysts handled them with aplomb and dynamism. Acoustics instruments shine -- guitar plucks are crystal clear and cymbals shimmer appropriately.

In fact, that word keeps popping into my head as a descriptor -- CRYSTAL. The sound characteristic is crystalline beauty... at least until 120dB hits and melts your face (even at those levels it is still remarkably clear). I look forward to getting the stands for the Left and Right speakers to get them at an ideal height -- the tweeters are currently only 20" off the ground.

As a filmmaker, the center channel is my baseline. It is the heart of a system. Your HT is only as good as your center channel. In my quest for center channel perfection, I almost had JMLab-Focal build a custom center which was essentially a Grand Utopia BE flipped on its side. How crazy would that have been? Well, now I know that would have been a serious waste of money and space! The Catalyst center channel is my new point of reference. The gauntlet has been thrown. There's a new king of the hill.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was auditioning and seriously considering some of the best audiophile speakers on the planet. Boy am I glad I stumbled across Mark's designs!

Ok, back to work! I'll type out more detailed impressions soon... stay tuned!



post #2 of 160
Thread Starter 
Here are a few quick snapshots:



post #3 of 160
The Catalysts look really nice Peter, kudos to Mark and congrats to you. Is the CC built differently than the LR's?
post #4 of 160
Just curious, where's the tweater?
post #5 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by swgiust View Post

Just curious, where's the tweater?

Not sure what that is, but I was wondering where the tweeter is? I only see 2 midwoofers and 1 midrange driver. I was expecting a horn loaded design of some sort but I'm not seeing it in those pictures.

Fugueness, what all speakers (including subwoofers) are you running, and what are the prices on them? I'd love to hear some elaboration on your setup.

-Chad
post #6 of 160
Tweeter is coaxial with the midrange.
post #7 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by vantagesc View Post

Tweeter is coaxial with the midrange.

My guess is that it is behind the dust cap of the midrange?
post #8 of 160
Here is some info on them.

http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/p...ost?id=3044980
I think the tweeter is in or on the dustcover of the midrange. I think. Maybe Mark will chime in.

here is an older thread but it still has some good info.
http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/p...ost?id=2005875

Thirdeye, you can find prices for the Catalyst on the first link I posted. I think the SubMesive is still $1995. But if it is not higher
now, it will be soon.
post #9 of 160
I wish 2 things.

I wish I had a dedicated room.
I wish I could afford them.

That is all. I know these speakers must be simply amazing. Impactful, dynamic, etc etc.
post #10 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdeye11 View Post

Not sure what that is, but I was wondering where the tweeter is? I only see 2 midwoofers and 1 midrange driver. I was expecting a horn loaded design of some sort but I'm not seeing it in those pictures.

Fugueness, what all speakers (including subwoofers) are you running, and what are the prices on them? I'd love to hear some elaboration on your setup.

-Chad

Quote:
Originally Posted by vantagesc View Post

Tweeter is coaxial with the midrange.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProblemHouston View Post

My guess is that it is behind the dust cap of the midrange?

Hi guys,

First, thanks fugueness for the great pictures, as I know by your standards these are just "quickies." I look forward to further impressions from yourself and others after this weekend's little gathering.

To answer the questions about the tweeter, the Catalyst employs an 8" coaxial midrange and tweeter with a pair of customized 12" woofers. Both the 8" midrange and 12" woofers are in sealed enclosures. The dust cap you see on the 8" coaxial driver is a fairly open, rigid formed, screen cloth. The tweeter enters through the center pole vent of the 8" woofer.

The most significant benefit of the coaxial mid-HF is the on/off axis uniformity possible with proper crossover design due to the concentric orientation. The cone of the 8" woofer also forms a shallow waveguide for the high frequencies where the upper frequencies are attenuated, but still quite smooth, behind and far off axis of the speaker. When the woofers are mated carefully to the coax Mid/HF, they can continue this smooth on/off axis behavior to lower frequencies. This makes the speaker less fussy with placement in real, and even treated rooms, while also serving to better delivery consistent dialog intelligibility and clarity to full seating areas and multiple rows of a home theater.

As the Catalyst has fleshed out from it's more modest (but still very impressive) beginnings of the prototypes in Art Sonneborn's theater and on to the latest refinements I have been able to coax more and more from this coax (pun intended ). I expect the deceptively tiny Spark will likewise impress many of you at less than 1/2 the cost of entry, and rather surprising power from such a compact package. Of course the Spark is still a few months off from being readily available, and isn't quite as extreme as the much larger and more powerful Catalyst.
post #11 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Seaton View Post

I expect the deceptively tiny Spark will likewise impress many of you at less than 1/2 the cost of entry, and rather surprising power from such a compact package. Of course the Spark is still a few months off from being readily available, and isn't quite as extreme as the much larger and more powerful Catalyst.

My interest has been peaked........
post #12 of 160
what pre/pro is being used with these?
post #13 of 160
Thread Starter 
Integra DTC 9.8, previously the Halcro SSP-200.
post #14 of 160
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RMK! View Post

The Catalysts look really nice Peter, kudos to Mark and congrats to you. Is the CC built differently than the LR's?

No, they're all the same!
post #15 of 160
Thread Starter 
So I found some makeshift stand-in stands and got the tweeters up to 40"(around ear height). I then put a wide assortment of material through the Catalysts; they continue to astonish!

Speed
The speed and finesse on the mids and highs remind me of planars - a swift wall of sound that tickles the ear.

Immediacy
The Catalysts recreate the recorded soundscape with glorious scale and immediacy. The sound is full and leaves a lifelike impression -- they truly bring the "live" concert home.

Dynamics
The Catalysts can project staggering amounts of energy. You can crank them WAY up with no audible distortion. The visceral intensity can be electrifying. Your roof will come down before you need to reign these beasts in. Dynamics are an indispensable and often overlooked element for sonic realism. A movie does not truly come alive without the potency of dynamics. That's why mastering engineers call it "the breath of life."

Quality
How to describe the sound? Based on my experience in post-production sound on motion pictures, I will say that these are exceedingly accurate speakers. Transparent with a fantastical degree of detail and without superfluous color -- it is a very clean sonic palate that renders soundtracks astoundingly close to the original intention. Details that have eluded even some of the finest audiophile speakers shine through with crystal clarity!
post #16 of 160
Thanks for the update. I am sure they are as good as you indicate. If the quality of the sound is anything like the SubMersive, they should sound fantastic. Now if someone on the east coast would get some so I could check them out.
post #17 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by fugueness View Post

How to describe the sound? Based on my experience in post-production sound on motion pictures, I will say that these are exceedingly accurate speakers. Transparent with a fantastical degree of detail and without superfluous color -- it is a very clean sonic palate that renders soundtracks astoundingly close to the original intention. Details that have eluded even some of the finest audiophile speakers shine through with crystal clarity!

Be careful Peter, Stereophile will be calling to offer you KR's job.
post #18 of 160
If I ever get the nerve to get rid of my amps and go active these will be next.
post #19 of 160
Thread Starter 
Mark is sending the matching stands which should arrive tomorrow. In the meantime, check out these pedestals



post #20 of 160
more details please
post #21 of 160
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlfromcanada View Post

more details please

What details are you looking for?
post #22 of 160
ok, how would you compare them to the Triple 12 LF's? would it be fair to classify the Catalysts as a bigger, better version of the JTRs?
post #23 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlfromcanada View Post

more details please

Obviously Peter will have to comment if you are asking for more examples or further descriptions of what he is hearing, but if you are looking for more details, MikeDuke posted a link to my forum where I have posted more details such as dimensions, driver configuration, internal amplification, and operating range.

If there are other specific questions, I'll poke my nose in sporadically throughout the weekend in between building up more SubMersives and Catalysts.
post #24 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlfromcanada View Post

ok, how would you compare them to the Triple 12 LF's? would it be fair to classify the Catalysts as a bigger, better version of the JTRs?

Not even in the same league..but generally yes..toward that direction.
post #25 of 160
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlfromcanada View Post

ok, how would you compare them to the Triple 12 LF's? would it be fair to classify the Catalysts as a bigger, better version of the JTRs?

The T12LF's are highly impressive speakers as those who have heard them can attest to. They compare favorably against some of the best audiophile speakers available, and I believe a large part of that is due to the effortless dynamics that the T12LF's offer -- that absolutely essential "breath of life" element that truly brings the recorded environment to life. They are an amazing value, definitely the best bang-for-the-buck out there in my book.

The T12LF's are actually the "bigger" speaker physically. "Better" of course is entirely subjective. They are about equal in terms of dynamics. The T12LF's have a bit more mid-bass punch, and as such feel slightly more "in your face." Where the Catalysts really pull ahead are on the mids and highs. The speed and immediacy are in a different league, as they should be given the higher quality drivers, the active, DSP, tri-amped configuration, and the higher cost.

You can get T12LF LCR's for the price of a single Catalyst. Does that make the Catalyst 3x better? Debatable. Diminishing returns? Possibly, but boy are those returns sweet! Choose your favorite consumerist metaphor (cars, boats, wine, women) and insert here and it probably applies

Here is Mark's comparison:
The Catalysts will definitely be both more appropriate for use in a home for looks, and overall are more refined with the smoother front face and large bevel on the baffle edges making for noticeable sonic improvements. Overall my Seaton Sound designs are given much more attention to fine details of design as expectations are higher. The frequency response, phase response and subjective sound of the Catalyst is smoother than the JTR speakers. The fully active design allows much more attention to detail and creativity in crossover implementation than in the passive designs. Subjectively, the snap, immediacy, and effortless power of the Catalysts have few peers, while still having a very smooth behavior that other powerful speakers usually compromise in the process.
post #26 of 160
fugueness, those are mighty fine. Out of my budget but congrats to you and to Mark for creating such a great speaker. I opted for the trip8s with the updated compression driver and I think the new crossovers are being done right now. Thanks for sharing the pics and impressions. Feel free to post more if you get the itch.
post #27 of 160
It seems very logical to me that someone finally blends the best of the home and pro audio worlds and the Catalysts seem to be an excellent example of this. My guess is that while expensive as compared to the JTR's, the Catalysts are great value considering the amount of technology, build quality and of course the sound when compared to commercial loudspeakers.

I am still adjusting to the incredible dynamics and sheer SPL of the 12LF's as compared to my Revels (and all previous commercial loudspeakers). It sounds as though the Catalysts represent the next step in refining and tailoring pro-audio speakers for the home market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fugueness View Post

The T12LF's are highly impressive speakers as those who have heard them can attest to. They compare favorably against some of the best audiophile speakers available, and I believe a large part of that is due to the effortless dynamics that the T12LF's offer -- that absolutely essential "breath of life" element that truly brings the recorded environment to life. They are an amazing value, definitely the best bang-for-the-buck out there in my book.

The T12LF's are actually the "bigger" speaker physically. "Better" of course is entirely subjective. They are about equal in terms of dynamics. The T12LF's have a bit more mid-bass punch, and as such feel slightly more "in your face." Where the Catalysts really pull ahead are on the mids and highs. The speed and immediacy are in a different league, as they should be given the higher quality drivers, the active, DSP, tri-amped configuration, and the higher cost.

You can get T12LF LCR's for the price of a single Catalyst. Does that make the Catalyst 3x better? Debatable. Diminishing returns? Possibly, but boy are those returns sweet! Choose your favorite consumerist metaphor (cars, boats, wine, women) and insert here and it probably applies

Here is Mark's comparison:
The Catalysts will definitely be both more appropriate for use in a home for looks, and overall are more refined with the smoother front face and large bevel on the baffle edges making for noticeable sonic improvements. Overall my Seaton Sound designs are given much more attention to fine details of design as expectations are higher. The frequency response, phase response and subjective sound of the Catalyst is smoother than the JTR speakers. The fully active design allows much more attention to detail and creativity in crossover implementation than in the passive designs. Subjectively, the snap, immediacy, and effortless power of the Catalysts have few peers, while still having a very smooth behavior that other powerful speakers usually compromise in the process.
post #28 of 160
those sure look impressive. maybe one day i'll get to hear them
post #29 of 160
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pure-Evil View Post

those sure look impressive. maybe one day i'll get to hear them

Anyone who wants to hear these in action, I am hosting a meet this weekend. PM for details.
post #30 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by RMK! View Post

It seems very logical to me that someone finally blends the best of the home and pro audio worlds and the Catalysts seem to be an excellent example of this. My guess is that while expensive as compared to the JTR's, the Catalysts are great value considering the amount of technology, build quality and of course the sound when compared to commercial loudspeakers.

I am still adjusting to the incredible dynamics and sheer SPL of the 12LF's as compared to my Revels (and all previous commercial loudspeakers). It sounds as though the Catalysts represent the next step in refining and tailoring pro-audio speakers for the home market.

Thank you for the astute observation RMK. This is very much the path of evolution I have followed. The concepts started with a set of speakers I originally intended to build myself from kits, which prompted me to go to work bringing top quality pro audio to home theater applications while also getting involved more in the pro end of the audio world. The biggest stepping stone toward this result is seen in thebland's system which we assembled more than 5 years ago now, and later added some pro audio main speakers.

The JTR Triple 12LFs are priced very competitively considering what goes into them, and as you have seen offer a performance envelope which simply is beyond the vast majority of home audio loudspeakers. In the simplest terms, the priorities are very different.

The Catalyst adds some other priorities and isn't burdened by some others required by the pro audio market. Just in the amplification and DSP alone there is a huge value. Consider that each Catalyst contains two ICEPower modules capable of 1000W into 4 Ohms plus a single ICEPower module capable of 500W into 4 Ohms. These are supplied by a robust SMPS power supply and controlled with a 24-bit/96kHz DSP with a wide band transformer isolating the balanced audio input. Check the prices others charge just for that much ICEPower amplification without the DSP and using conventional power supplies.

The Catalyst is a more expensive solution, but you get some serious meat & potatoes on the plate for that investment.

I'm looking forward to more pictures and impressions from fugueness & others who have some time to hear the system.
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