Since we are on the topic of quality ribbon tweeters, I have some very impressive information to share about the tweeter in the MA Platinum's.
A few pages back in this thread there was some speculation that the tweeter in the Platinums looked like a Fountek unit. We weren't far off from the truth, but there are some significant differences I recently discovered.
I approached none other than the Technical Director, Dean Hartley, at Monitor Audio and asked him about the tweeter in the Platinum's.
Here's what he said:"The resemblance to the Fountek ribbon is not a co-incidence. I worked with Fountek for about 18 months to achieve a tweeter that was consistent to +/-0.5dB and one that could 'reliably' work down to 2.5KHz. All the platinum speakers are measured one by one in our anechoic chamber using our Klippel QC measurement system, so we are measuring to R&D tolerances with platinum, not standard production tolerances for our other ranges with are +/- 1dB (or +/-1.5dB with BR and RS series)
My original design and prototypes used the Fountek ribbon. We bought a batch of Fountek ribbons and found the consistency to be only in the region of +/- 2dB, which was not good enough for a range such as this (or perhaps any range of marked quality). This was apparently the best Fountek could offer us. So, we took on the task of replicating the Fountek tweeter and now have it assembled in a small high-tech factory in Asia (who also make the bass and mi-drivers for us). We improved the ribbon material, moving to our C-CAM material which we have to free-issue from Japan. There are some other changes to the magnetic circuit, transformer and of course the die-cast front plate."
So you can see that MA is not playing around when it comes to the design and QC over the Platinum series. There was some serious engineering effort put into this speaker line. I mean this is the first that I have heard of a company making the effort to test every driver in an anechoic chamber to within 0.5dB tolerances! As Dean put it, this usually reserved for reference quality R&D purposes. Pretty impressive.
And I can attest that in my original audition and now in my home the treble of the PL300's is effortless and imaculately detailed without crossing over into brightness or edginess. Even recordings that I thought were just recorded with too much treble and sibilance now sound much more listenable than they ever have, yet recordings with proper treble balance don't sound lifeless and smoothed over. I didn't think it was possible, but ribbon tweets in the MA Platinum's are smooth yet detailed at the same time. And not just acceptabley detailed, but more detailed than the best dome tweeters I have heard.
I know you guys are hungry for my impressions of the PL300's in my room with my system, so here's a bit more. I think the comments above cover my feelings about the treble quality, but one of the things I really get excited about is the ability of a speaker to produce an expansive soundstage when called upon to do so and their ability to convey a sense of space—the wrap-around effect. The Platinum’s impress me in a big way here, and running just in stereo no less. (I'm still searching for the right mounts for the rear speakers, so no Lexicon Logic 7 for me right now.
Tonight, rather than sit down and listen to the typical audiophile stuff, I put some of my electronica in for fun.
Now of course with this sort of music you can’t expect to evaluate the speaker’s ability to convey a sense of realism, but the stuff I listen to is great for getting a feel for bass extension, bass dynamics and soundstaging. Towards the end of the disc I was spinning tonight, the artist plays with phase on the vocals. With speakers that image well, the effect should sound like the vocals are out into the room and even slightly behind the listener. If the speaker doesn’t get it right, the vocals just sound like an indistinct blob of sound between the speakers. I’m sad to say that looking back on my previous speakers (you know who your are) with this track I initially thought there was something wrong with the recording. However with the Platinum’s, there was room-filling, wall-to-wall, wrap-around sound. It’s like pyrotechnics for the ears! Good stuff.
And you want to talk about effortless. I kept creeping up the volume until I got to –5dB from reference level, which I believe is just around +100dB and there was no strain, or compression, or hardness, or anything.
Ok, so now for the bass. In the track just before the one I described above, in the middle of the song there is a fade-down of most of the instrumentation and then there is a massive “wash” of bass energy. If bass were like water, there would have been a about a 6 foot wave of it coming out of the speakers and flowing right through my room. More good stuff. Just to see how the bass quality and quanity of the PL300’s stacked up against my Velodyne DD15 on this track, I switched back and forth between an 80 Hz crossover and running the PL300’s full range. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the PL300’s sounded as good if not better than my sub. Part of it has to do with the location of the PL300’s and the sub, with the sub having a slight disadvantage, but I could seriously see retiring the DD15 to being used for just an LFE channel on movies.
Well, that’s it for now, and I promise to report back on the quality of audiophile approved music as soon as I can
, but I’m just having too much fun right now.