Yesterday, Bill (RX-8) and his awesome dog Scooter, graciously invited me into his beautiful home for what I can only describe as the most in-depth and eye opening demo of his spectacular all Seaton 7.2 setup. I cannot begin to thank you enough Bill. You were ever so accommodating with any of my requests and you even opened up my inexcusably limited musical brain to some spectacular concerts, CDs, SACD and more. He even gave me a ride home at 1am after at least 9 hours of demoing. What a guy!
His Cat12C LCR and dual F2s were perfectly spaced behind his 10' wide Seymour XD AT screen. We sat about 15' from the screen with four Cat8s handling side and rear surround duties.
To give you some background on my setup, I currently have a simple 2.2 channel setup featuring 2010 JTR T8HTs (no updated crossover or CD) and a pair of custom dual 12" subs with Peerless XLS drivers from Funk Audio. In the past, I have heard a huge variety of setups including Paradigm, B&W, Martin Logan, Wilson Audio, and many more. I am a film critic for some local papers and I am very passionate about sound mixing and reproduction as a whole, and I'm always learning. I also regularly attend screenings at The Bell TIFF Lightbox Theater in Toronto, which probably has the best speaker setup of any theater in North America. Each room was designed to replicate a mixing studio. Mind you, the bass could use some work.
I got to Bill's place at 2:10pm and we started at around 2:30pm.
To start we threw in some movie demos. Included were Star Trek, Iron Man, LOTR, The Incredibles, Tron: Legacy, Terminator Salvation, Flight of the Phoenix, War of the Worlds, The Avengers, and Master and Commander.
I'll briefly say that the F2s are such amazing subwoofers. Whether it was asked for snappy bass or to dive deep into the sub 20hz abyss, it always sounded fantastic. I found the sound very similar to my subs at home with music, but with the F2s demolishing mine in clean output and obliterating them in digging down below 20hz for movies. TKO. No contest. At one point, we hit 120db at the listening position.
However, I was really there to focus on the Cat12Cs, so that's what I did. A lot of the movies mentioned have great bass, but also some of them have great mixes in the main channels with details that can be tricky to handle.
For example, the opening battle on Fellowship of the Ring is a very detailed mix with a lot of sharp high frequency energy. On my old Paradigm Studio series setup, I could not turn the volume up without applying a steep house curve or my ears would be in pain. My JTRs do a better job with this scene, but as I get closer to reference, I have to start attenuating the treble to save my ears. This is one of the areas that the Cats had me grinning goofily from ear to ear. Bill had his EQ set to flat, as I remember seeing, and also had his Dayton OmniMic and laptop beside me so I could check the frequency response and levels on the fly. All of the detail, some of which I had never heard before, was present, but without my ears crying out in pain. This is a huge deal! They did the same in the pod emerging scene from War of the Worlds, where glass is breaking at multiple points. On most every system, it's either piercing, or rolled off so all the detail isn't present. This is the first time I heard so much detail at reference without my ears hurting.
I have really good hearing, tested and measured regularly to 18khz, so I'm pretty sensitive to higher frequencies compared to most people. While I'd still run a slight house curve for long listening sessions with these speakers, I had little to no issue with any pain whatsoever. I love that they sound so flat. It means you can tailor the sound to your liking without having to worry about the speaker's ability to handle your preferences.
Dialogue in every demo was incredibly easy to understand. Very smooth delivery as well. With my JTR T8s, the midrange is almost as good, but the high end is nowhere close. The Cats are very detailed throughout its entire range at all levels in a way that I've never experienced before.
By the way, the Cat8s are brilliant surround speakers. I'm sure they're more than anyone would need for movies, but what's this hobby without a little overkill.
For music, I have a fairly limited collection and extremely limited knowledge. Needless to say, Bill was shocked at how little I knew... and rightfully so. I've spent all of my time learning about movies and staying within the little shell of music I know. Mind you, I do enjoy listening to different kinds of music; I've just never actively seeked it out... Until now.
I brought my go to discs, including Queen Rock Montreal DVD, Nora Jones Live at Austin City Limits DVD, Michael Jackson's This Is it Blu Ray, Cake: Comfort Eagle CD, and Jason Mraz: We sing We dance We steal things CD.
The Queen Rock Montreal concert DVD is one of my favourites. However, Freddie Mercury has a LOT of sibilance in has voice that can be very painful when the volume is pushed. This was not a problem for the Cats. His brilliant voice cascaded over me perfectly. Another thing the Cat12Cs did that no, and I mean NO other speaker has ever done was made me feel the snare drum on this disc. This actually shocked me because I've listened to this concert on at least 7 systems and I just thought the impact wasn't in the recording.
The same thing happened during the Nora Jones concert with regards to the snare drum. In fact, I mentioned to Bill that there probably wouldn't be any snare on this disc as the drummer used a fan/brush stick (I don't know what they're called). We start the disc and what do you know - SNARE! This is huge for me as it's a sound I like and has always been lacking in my systems and others I've heard. Way to go Mark! Nora's voice was also very smooth and I could actually feel her voice resonate through my body – Also a first.
The rest of my music sounded great and after it was finished, I gave Bill free reign on the music to open up my listening library. He started with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon SACD. WOW! 'Time' is a really special track in five channels – So engaging. The track I wanted to hear was 'Money', which sounded so good, I didn't want it to stop. This is where having the Cat8s really pays off.
Next he played The Eagles Farewell Tour Blu Ray. Again, I had never knowingly listened to The Eagles, but knew some of their songs from movies. Sadly, that's where most of my music knowledge comes from. I don't know the artist, but I can usually remember the movie I heard the song in. The Eagles sounded great with tons of detail from the multitude of instruments and voices. The fact that we were listening in two channel mode was just crazy. The image thrown by the Cat12Cs was massive and enveloped me completely.
He then played a Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame 2 disc Blu Ray featuring various artists like Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck (awesome!), Aretha Franklin, U2 and others. It all sounded wonderful.
My favourite of his demos was an Eric Clapton Sessions for Robert J DVD. The 5.1 DTS mastered recordings of him and other musicians in a large recording studio are nothing short of exceptional. That was the most realistic playback of a drum that I've ever heard. Every instrument and vocal was perfectly recorded and played back through the Cat12Cs and the 8Cs. I'm definitely getting a copy of this disc.
The last thing he played for me was the beginning of Art of Flight on Blu Ray. Insanity is the best was to describe the attack of the sound track. Another one I'll have to buy. Although, I don't know how anyone can play that above reference.
I had an ear opening experience with the Seaton speakers. They delivered sound in a way that I've never heard before. After 9 hours of spirited listening, Danley and JTR will have a tough time pulling me away from Mark's phenomenal Cat12Cs. But we'll see...
Thank you again Bill for giving me such an amazing demo until 1am and for the extremely generous ride home after (I live a good distance away). Personally, I don't know how you get much done with those incredible speakers at your helm.Edited by Dbuudo07 - 4/29/13 at 7:14pm