Bruce from Victoria decided his aging Acoustats were due for retirement, this is his story.
Bruce also decided he would ask Gary to build his cabinets.
Review of ER Audio ESL IV Electrostatic Loudspeaker
Cabinet Constructed by Gary
I have been an audiophile since my teenage years. When I met my wife I had some nice JBLs and when we were married I had some Gales (the wooden ones, not the chrome-end ones). Then along the way, at a HiFi Show, I heard some Quad 62s and fell in love with electrostats. Thirty three years ago I purchased a pair of Acoustat Spectra 22s, when I received them I took everything that moved inside of them out and got them gold plated and my father in law French polished their wooden bases. Purchased a Quad 606 to drive them. From then on every speaker that I heard was compared to the ‘Spectra 22 gold standard’. And all along my wife, though not an audiophile, was incredibly supportive.
For the last six or eight years I had contemplated a major HiFi upgrade (like most audiophiles!). A key part of that was some new electrostats. Along the way I corresponded with Rob from ER Audio (here is the link: http://www.eraudio.com.au/index.html) who was always so helpful and informative. Neither of us can remember when that correspondence began though! Then I noticed on the ER Audio site that there was a guy named Gary who was constructing custom cabinets for Robs electrostat panels. Here’s the link: http://www.eraudio.com.au/DIY_Speaker_Kits/ESL_IV_Kit/Gary_s_ESL_IV/gary_s_esl_iv.html.
Before continuing my electrostat story let me digress briefly. A couple of years ago I decided to get my Thorens TD 125 restored and upgraded, so I contacted Ben the HiFi Guru who I had met at a HiFi show. Ben did a great job, here is the link: https://hifiguru.com.au/projects/bruces-thorens-td125-upgrade-with-custom-iridescent-electric-blue-plinth/. The most pertinent thing is that Ben painted the new custom plinth in gloss IRIDESCENT ELECTRIC BLUE and it came up a treat!
So, when I contacted Rob and Gary, naturally I wanted the speakers in gloss IRIDESCENT ELECTRIC BLUE! It was not a problem for Gary – in fact, nothing is a problem for Gary! He also gave me the carpet footers and the grey speaker covers that I wanted! I duly placed my order and was first in the queue after the overseas export order. Gary kept me in the loop every step of the way. Here is a picture of the finished painted cabinet which he sent me. Yeah, the colour came up a treat as well – at least to my eyes!!!
When it came to shipping them down from Queensland to Melbourne they arrived in less than twenty four hours!! Massively over packed they arrived in perfect nick. Just to give an idea of Gary’s attention to detail he supplied special audiophile grade (ifi) power supplies to energise the panels!
I had my carpet marked with tape for my spectra 22s and I used this a guide for positioning. You can see the tape in the picture. When I can tear myself away from listening I am going to experiment with moving the speakers a little further out into the room. But really they sound great just where they are!
For those who are interested in my test tracks I am listing them below. Have had people photograph my test CDs so that they can get their own copies – but they are (mostly) pretty obscure and probably hard to find. Here they are anyway!
Kenny Vance & the Planotones, Acapella, track 11
Reunion, Street Corner Singles, track 15
The Four Quarters, A Pocket Full of Change, track 17
Goose bump songs
Katie Doherty, Bridges, track 10
Johnny Cash, America VI, track 4
Gentleman’s Rule, The Walk, track 1
I sent Gary an email the next morning giving my impressions,
sort of nicely sums things up:
I am through with my special ‘test’ tracks and am now listening to favourites!
My expectations are exceeded!
I am expecting things to get even better as the speakers run in!
Then things will get even better again when I get my Sugden amp and am able
to use balanced cables.
Lots to look forward for.
As I reflect on the sound improvement here are some thoughts.
The mid-range is great. I guess that is why I use acapella music to test out speakers.
It is like there is even more mid-range!
There is no doubt in my mind that the mid-range is way better than on my
spectra 22s. I am able to, as it were, dig down deeper into the recordings.
I am able to hear the individual singers voices much better than before.
The highs are good - think they are a bit better than on my spectra 22s.
The speakers don’t seem as directional as my spectra 22s.
I moved them further away from the wall, maybe 6 inches, but did not notice
any difference. You can see the tape on the floor in the pictures.
Up until now I had never heard a speaker better than my spectra 22s. And, I think that
I have heard every electrostatic except the Janszens and the SoundLabs, As well as
ultra-expensive horns and actives and everything between.
I take my acapella ‘test’ CDs to the HiFi shows and I am always amazed
at how poorly some of the big name ultra expensive speakers sound!!
Still remember how I asked the guy running the ’H’ room (with his $25K+
big name super well reviewed speakers) if he could play a track.
He was utterly embarrassed as he returned the CD after playing my track!
I have never, ever heard anything better than your speakers!!!
I am not a sound stage guy but these speakers do a great sound stage!
Bass wise I think they are on a par with my spectra 22s but would expect
the bass to improve as they run in.
As I am listening now I continue to be amazed at the clarity and detail of
tracks that I have heard a hundred times. It is almost as though I had previously been
listening with ‘waxy ears’ and now the wax has been washed out!
Or, as they say, a veil has been removed, bit of a cliche but it is true.
I feel that the speakers just fit my music room perfectly! A little smaller than the
spectra 22s but that is not a problem. And!!! So much more beautiful!!
I am enclosing a few pictures.
Hope you like them. …
Ahh the detail!
Big thanks to you and Rob for providing me with some beautiful speakers.
Beautiful in both sound and looks!
Here is the reality, the pictures and my descriptions don’t really do the speakers proper justice! But they do give a starting point!
Hope people find this helpful.
Height comparison to the Spectra 22s.
Up until now I had never heard any better speaker.
Hey I have already had two offers to buy those spectra 22s and I am not even offering them for sale!
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