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post #1 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Best Imaging Speaker You've Heard?

Way back in the 70s you could spend all weekend listening to very high end equipment in any number of hi-fi shops in every major city. On one such excursion I had the surprise privilege of hearing Duntech speakers, designed by John Dunlavy and produced in South Texas, later in Australia. After listening to lots of then the "best" speakers, Klipsch cornerhorns and JBL monitors come to mind, the store clerk flipped on the Duntechs and it was as if all the other speakers didn't count anymore. We were listening to symphonic music at the time in a very large listening room, typical of the era, and when the Duntechs were turned on the entire orchestra unfolded horizontally across almost the entire room and vertically from front to back. You could pick out orchestral sections and individual instruments sitting everywhere. The effect was stunning. I didn't get the Duntechs because I was on a student's budget at the time and I figured you just wouldn't get the same effect in an apartment. Eventually they left the US market as did the opportunity to own them; and the priced sailed from hundreds to tens of thousands over the years. But I've never forgotten the clarity and 3 dimensional expansion of the sound. What speakers today do the same thing? Which ones have you heard that allow the group, or even an entire orchestra, to spread out in your room and recreate a really 3 dimensional sound stage to the degree that you can pinpoint the arrangement of instruments as if they were there?
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post #2 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 02:05 PM
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I built a set of DIY Sound Group Titan 615LX two years ago, and it is uncanny how expansive a sound stage they throw yet still have pinpoint accuracy in placement. I've owned various other speakers the past 25 years including Meridian DSP 5200/5000/5500, Ruark, KEF, B&W, Mission and Boston Acoustics, and never experienced that kind of imaging. Maybe it's the horns, or that only now I have a fully treated room (acoustic design by Shawn Byrne), or something else about them, I don't know. I now feel done, completely content, with speakers.
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post #3 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbissett View Post
Way back in the 70s you could spend all weekend listening to very high end equipment in any number of hi-fi shops in every major city. On one such excursion I had the surprise privilege of hearing Duntech speakers, designed by John Dunlavy and produced in South Texas, later in Australia. After listening to lots of then the "best" speakers, Klipsch cornerhorns and JBL monitors come to mind, the store clerk flipped on the Duntechs and it was as if all the other speakers didn't count anymore. We were listening to symphonic music at the time in a very large listening room, typical of the era, and when the Duntechs were turned on the entire orchestra unfolded horizontally across almost the entire room and vertically from front to back. You could pick out orchestral sections and individual instruments sitting everywhere. The effect was stunning. I didn't get the Duntechs because I was on a student's budget at the time and I figured you just wouldn't get the same effect in an apartment. Eventually they left the US market as did the opportunity to own them; and the priced sailed from hundreds to tens of thousands over the years. But I've never forgotten the clarity and 3 dimensional expansion of the sound. What speakers today do the same thing? Which ones have you heard that allow the group, or even an entire orchestra, to spread out in your room and recreate a really 3 dimensional sound stage to the degree that you can pinpoint the arrangement of instruments as if they were there?
Well, you can still get a pair of Dunlavy's, which I have heard and were quite impressive. A pair of SC- V's on Ebay.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dunlavy-SC-...QAAOSwZP9dbp5l
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post #4 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 03:04 PM
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in my home has been the maggie lrs. in the past was some expensive martin logans.
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post #5 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shivaji View Post
Well, you can still get a pair of Dunlavy's, which I have heard and were quite impressive. A pair of SC- V's on Ebay.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dunlavy-SC-...QAAOSwZP9dbp5l

That's quite a find. Never would have thought to look on Ebay. Have you heard them or any other of their recent designs?
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post #6 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shivaji View Post
Well, you can still get a pair of Dunlavy's, which I have heard and were quite impressive. A pair of SC- V's on Ebay.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dunlavy-SC-...QAAOSwZP9dbp5l

I owned a pair of Dunlavy SC-V's for many years and used them for my work as a recording, mixing and mastering engineer. I had to sell them when I moved to a smaller house. These days I prefer Revel loudspeakers due to the neutral on and off axis response and wide dispersion thanks to the waveguide technology. The flagship Salon2 is an exceptional loudspeaker, but the entire product line shares the design philosophy based on the work by Dr. Floyd Toole.
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post #7 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 04:22 PM
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Best ones I've heard are Polk SDA.
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post #8 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 04:44 PM
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post #9 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbissett View Post
That's quite a find. Never would have thought to look on Ebay. Have you heard them or any other of their recent designs?

I wouldn't call any of the Dunlavy speakers, of recent vintage. They have been around for quite some time. They still get high praise though and reviews can be found of these and the other SC models on the web. Even Rex used to own a pair for mixing duties back in the day.
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post #10 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 04:53 PM
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post #11 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 07:20 PM
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paradigm......unreal soundstage
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post #12 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 07:37 PM
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For me it's the VMPS 40's if you take the time to get them setup right...

But if you want all the gold without any of the setup hassle... it goes to my BIG SDA SRSTL'S...
Just throw them up against the back wall, give them some room to the sides and plug in the SDA cable... sit back and your off to the races.
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post #13 of 36 Old 09-29-2019, 07:56 PM
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Martin Logan CLS IIZ..... don't remember the subs that were used..... awesome sauce..



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post #14 of 36 Old 09-30-2019, 04:05 AM
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I have 90s vintage Mordaunt Short MS3.20's in a 7.1.4 setup.

When I switch from surround mode to stereo I can hardly tell the difference. The first time I did that, I had to physically get up and stick my ear next to my surrounds to double check they weren't playing. It even sounded like my front heights were playing too.
Can't get much wider soundstage than that
I think a lot of it is to do with the room and speaker positioning as much as the speakers themselves ??

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post #15 of 36 Old 09-30-2019, 05:19 AM
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KEF Blade or Blade 2.


Like nothing else because they're designed like nothing else. Quad force-cancelling woofers on each side of each speaker, and a single coincident tweeter & midrange forward with no flat surface for diffraction.

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post #16 of 36 Old 09-30-2019, 05:57 AM
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Are we talking about "imaging" or "wall of sound"...?

It sounds like some are confusing the two...

For a wall of sound speaker I'd say that Mirage M1 or Mirage OM-5 (I'm talking about the big boys with built in "true" subs) would be my pick...

These speakers can fill a room with very spacious sound...!
Ian Paisley was an awesome speaker designer and really understood omni directional designs.

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post #17 of 36 Old 09-30-2019, 07:54 AM
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A long time ago, in a world filled with good AV vendors that no longer exists, I listened to a pair of Gradient loudspeakers. Not sure what the model was but they were perhaps 4' tall and looked like miniature Washington Monuments. My wife thought they looked like trash bins. But those things could image. It seemed so solid you could almost walk on the stage. Never owned a pair as they were way out of my price range at the time but it left a lasting impression.
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post #18 of 36 Old 09-30-2019, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niterida View Post
I have 90s vintage Mordaunt Short MS3.20's in a 7.1.4 setup.

When I switch from surround mode to stereo I can hardly tell the difference. The first time I did that, I had to physically get up and stick my ear next to my surrounds to double check they weren't playing. It even sounded like my front heights were playing too.
Can't get much wider soundstage than that
I think a lot of it is to do with the room and speaker positioning as much as the speakers themselves ??

I get the same experience from my Revel F208's and C208. In stereo mode the center image is amazing, sounds like the center channel is on. I attribute that to the wide dispersion and tweeter waveguide. Ultima2 Series (Salon2 and Studio2) have a zero diffraction front baffle that makes them image even better.
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post #19 of 36 Old 09-30-2019, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WOKNROX View Post
Are we talking about "imaging" or "wall of sound"...?

It sounds like some are confusing the two...

For a wall of sound speaker I'd say that Mirage M1 or Mirage OM-5 (I'm talking about the big boys with built in "true" subs) would be my pick...

These speakers can fill a room with very spacious sound...!
Ian Paisley was an awesome speaker designer and really understood omni directional designs.

I think I am talking imaging - I get distinct instrument sounds coming from far left or right and even top left or right - not just the same sound all across the front.



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post #20 of 36 Old 09-30-2019, 07:47 PM
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Danley SH-50's. I had the opportunity to listen to them at another AVS forum member's house. I liked them so much I bought them. Thanks Beast !!

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post #21 of 36 Old 10-01-2019, 06:24 PM
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post #22 of 36 Old 10-01-2019, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Anderson View Post
I get the same experience from my Revel F208's and C208. In stereo mode the center image is amazing, sounds like the center channel is on. I attribute that to the wide dispersion and tweeter waveguide. Ultima2 Series (Salon2 and Studio2) have a zero diffraction front baffle that makes them image even better.
+1 on the Revels F208's. With the right setup / gear / room / source material they can be amazing. Not taking anything away from the Gradients with that comment since I haven't listened to them in... well, maybe 25 years. But the Revels don't look like trash cans.


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post #23 of 36 Old 05-17-2020, 08:43 AM
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Maggies are pretty special, The Kef R105/3 was phenomenal, beethovens..actually every quality speaker pair did, with attention to placement. The very BEST, speakers that didn't just make the front wall disappear, but the whole room went bye bye were the Meridian dsp 8000. few passive speakers come close.

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post #24 of 36 Old 05-17-2020, 09:44 AM
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Maggies are pretty special, The Kef R105/3 was phenomenal, beethovens..actually every quality speaker pair did, with attention to placement. The very BEST, speakers that didn't just make the front wall disappear, but the whole room went bye bye were the Meridian dsp 8000. few passive speakers come close.
Best ones I've ever heard for that...KEF Blade 2. I'm sure the Blade (1) does as well, but my dealer can't bring them in...too big for any of their rooms.

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post #25 of 36 Old 05-18-2020, 07:54 AM
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I got to hear the Blade and the LS50 back to back at a show in 2012 when they were new. I thought the LS50 imaged a little better than the Blade. The Blade imaged very precisely. The LS50 did too, but it also threw a bigger soundstage, even though they were placed a little closer together than the Blades.

Pretty much any small two-way stand-mounted speaker with mid-woofers in the 4-5.5" size range will image very well. The best I've heard for that are probably the Raidho D1. The best I've owned in that size range are the Focus Audio FS-688. The original Totem Model 1 with 5" Dynaudio woofer was also in the same class as the Focus Audios. I've also been impressed by the Penaudio Cenya Signature, Joseph Audio Pulsar, Harbeth P3ESR, and Paradigm Atom.

A lot of 2-ways use 6.5-7" woofers, and it seems to be a little more difficult to get top-notch imaging with woofers of that size. But one that impressed me a whole lot was the Wilson Benesch Vertex, which I owned for a while. Dynaudio C1 is another. Among floorstanding speakers, two of my favorites are the Magico S1 and Dynaudio C2. I've owned the C2s for 12 years and have no desire to upgrade them. They really excel at providing a big, expansive soundstage. The Magico S1s don't throw as big of a soundstage, but the micro-details around the images of instruments was very impressive.

Omnis are worth a mention because they can create a soundstage that remains stable as you move around the room. When done well, it's an uncanny effect that makes you feel like you can walk around and in between the performers. Usually, the imaging is more diffuse with omnis, but one exception was a show demo of the MBL 126. That was a wow moment. My wife was floored and encouraged me to buy them, but they were too expensive and too bright to my ears.

On the other hand, I've generally been less impressed with dipoles, possibly because room and setup is so critical. I've only heard Maggies a couple times, and not in a good setup. People say they can produce life-sized images, but I haven't had the chance to experience that. I did hear the top of the line Wisdom Audio planar magnetic loudspeakers in a very large hotel suite powered by Simaudio and augmented by subwoofers. That setup produced the biggest soundstage I've heard, and projected larger than life images into the room. It was very impressive, but somewhat unnatural.

I have more experience with electrostats, but my impressions are mixed. I've heard very good imaging from Martin Logans, but only in the sweet spot. If you move a foot left or right, it breaks down. Planar electrostats like Sanders and King Sound are even more finicky. If you want to be constantly moving your head around chasing their elusive and micro-sized sweet spot, those are the speakers for you. One electrostat that really surprised me was the Quad 988. They're designed with stators arranged in concentric rings, with delay lines to emulate a point source. So I expected them to sound more omni-like, but I was very wrong. They did have a wider sweet spot than other electrostats, and the images were precisely positioned, but the soundstage was smaller than I've ever heard from any other hi-fi speaker. It was like listening to a hamster orchestra.

Finally, I'll just say that I've rarely been impressed by the soundstaging abilities of large three-way speakers, even in really good rooms.

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post #26 of 36 Old 05-18-2020, 08:28 AM
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The original Totem Model 1 with 5" Dynaudio woofer was also in the same class as the Focus Audios.

I wonder how the new(er) Signature 1 would compare to that legend?

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post #27 of 36 Old 05-19-2020, 05:28 AM
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Herb Reichert of Stereophile reviewed it and compared it to his own pair of Model 1 Sigs.

I never got a chance to hear the Model 1 Sigs, just the original Model 1. I liked the Model 1, but they were just a bit tipped up and I liked the Focus Audio 688s better. But the speaker that really blew me away circa 2002 was the Totem Mani-2. It was above my price range at the time, and I didn't have enough amp to drive it, but DAMN, it was probably the best speaker I had heard to that date.

Another very good imaging speaker I heard around the same time was the ProAc Tablette. I forgot to mention it before.
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post #28 of 36 Old 05-20-2020, 08:34 AM
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Ducati, My experiences mirror yours, sigh those D1 that sounded soo amazing at the show until Lars? told me the price was $27,000.
My dealer has a pair of persona 7f's that he tries different components with and I was startled at the difference changing components made and the opposite of what I expected. he had a 400wpc class ab stereo amp pre combo that presented a precise soundstage with sharply defined images within that exposed everything, impressive but fatiguing. the next visit there's a pathos 50wpc integrated connected to the same speakers making the most organic, enjoyable music ever. The ultra tight imaging was a little more vague, but way more believable and it made a pair of speakers that were initially a curiosity a serious contender.

Setup is important, but I think the more complex the speakers get the harder it becomes to get the best out of them.
With my modest integrated I can probably get better sound from a $5k speaker than a $25k speaker.
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post #29 of 36 Old 05-20-2020, 06:31 PM
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I enjoy my PSB Synchrony Ones, but best imaging are my dad’s NHT 3.3’s.

Some folks said they only image well between the speakers, but I have found many recordings that also seem to expand that soundstage seemingly outside where the speakers are physically.

I have not heard many speakers from today that match their performance.

Yup, I got stuff...
LG OLED65C7P, LG 55EG9100
Marantz SR6012, Classe Sigma Amp5, Oppo BDP-203
PSB Synchrony One mains, Synchrony two center and surrounds, 2x SVS SB12-NSD
XBox One X
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post #30 of 36 Old 05-20-2020, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhelliott2 View Post
Best ones I've heard are Polk SDA.
The best I have heard!!! They had to kick me out of the room at RMAF last year.
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