I have been living with the ESL IV’s for over a year so an update may be in order.
I noticed the Onkyo TXNR474 5.1 receiver was occasionally having a bit of trouble with the load presented by the speakers and would shut down in protest. I decided to replace the Onkyo with a Yamaha WXC50 pre-amp/streamer and an Emotiva XPA2 two channel power amp. The Emotiva has plenty of grunt at 550 Watts per channel, way more power than needed. However, I believe a solid state amplifier should always be driven well below its rating so there is no chance of horrible distortion on peaks. This combination works very well.
Rob advised a new power board with protection circuit was available so I swapped my old boards for the new boards, the only cost to me being postage. How’s that for service! I suspect the Onkyo would be ok with the new boards as they have an added input resistor.
A few months ago I noticed one of the bottom panels was down in sound output. After an email exchange with Rob and much head scratching Rob suggested I returned all panels for a check-up. Rob discovered flying insects in two panels causing diaphragm damage. Rob suggested replacing diaphragms in all four panels to preserve sound uniformity. Rob refurbished the panels promptly at very reasonable cost. The lesson here is not to power up panels without covers in place. Powered up panels make excellent giant fly zappers!
I modified the frames to improve rigidity and added a back brace from frame top to back of base and replaced castors with solid rubber feet. These mods resulted in a noticable sound improvement, including useful output down to 30Hz.
I have owned many quality speakers over the years, from makers such as Goodmans, KEF, Wharfedale, B&W, Vifa, Jamo etc. all these box type speakers sounded quite good even on not so good recordings. It could be difficult to tell recording quality. Not so with the ESL IV’s. Play a well recorded and well engineered track and the speakers come to life and are clearly in a different league to any box speaker I have ever heard. The sound is smooth, crystal clear with good attack. Voices on a good recording can sound startlingly real. Bass quality surprises me. It is not like the pressure waves that hit one from a large cone driver, but it is all there and the IV’s do a decent job with AC/DCs Thunderstruck.
I often sit down to listen to a couple of tracks and end up listening for hours. Sound stage is particularly impressive and can take some getting used to after listening to box speakers that tend to have a poorly defined stereo image unless listening in a near field position. This is due to room acoustics causing reflections to muddy the stereo image. The ESL IV’s have a much more controlled high frequency dispersion that minimises sound bouncing off walls etc. this gives a wide and accurate sound stage, almost like a headphone effect but still with enough room ambience to give the music life. Even sitting at the back of the room, about 8 metres from the speakers, there is still a good stereo effect.
Support from Rob has been superb. Rob clearly wants all customers to have the best experience.
My main music source is streaming from Spotify Premium. I find sound quality generally excellent, audibly identical to a good CD player. I have tried more expensive lossless streaming services but I find no improvement in sound quality.
Try these tracks:
Buy Myself Some Freedom - Cassie & Otis Taylor The Well - Jennifer Warnes The Holy Grail - John Fogerty Babes In The Wood - Mary Black Tiptoe Spider - Ray Bonneville After Midnight - Hanne Boel Call Me The Breeze - John Mayer Voodoo Child - Angelique Kidjo California Dreamin’ - Diana Krall Fat Cry - Yello Coyote - Mark Knopfler Claire Cadillac - Malia Love Is The Drug - Grace Jones All I Need - Air Arlington - The Wailin’ Jennys Jah Work - Ben Harper Back To The Middle - India Liberty - Anette Askvik Cold man cold - Karen Lovely
Try this for bass test
Fading Sun - Terje Isungset
The ESL IV’s are terrific value compared to other ESL’s of similar top quality.
Australian customer Geoff has been using his ESL IV’s for in excess of a year and was moved to contact us with an update on the performance of his speakers.
He mentions an issue he experienced with a couple of rather juicy moths getting into the works causing some damage. Fortunately this was simple enough to repair but highlights our comments about using the speakers without grille cloth.
The grille cloth is there for two reasons, first it provides a barrier to dust and insects getting in the works, secondly the grille cloth provides damping at low frequencies which, in some rooms, may be necessary to prevent excessive bass.
ESL’s have high voltages applied to the diaphragm and stators so any foreign material between the diaphragm and a stator is likely to create a high voltage leak leading to reduced performance levels. While we endeavour to design our products to be as reliable as possible we also have to make them so they deliver the best possible performance. This means we are reluctant to house the panels within their own micro-environment behind more screens and covers which generally compromise the sound quality.
To allow the best possible sound quality to be experienced during serious listening, we have several clients that have made the front grille cloth removable leaving the rear cloth fixed in place. The rear cloth still provides adequate damping but there is no impedance to the sound from the front of the speaker. When the speakers are playing just for background or are switched off the front grille cloth remains in place.
Geoff’s update is below but first a few notes from Rob.
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