Final .3 Electrostatics... _WOW_!!!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by DaViD Boulet, Nov 20, 2001.

  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Ugh...Typos...
    I meant Final *.3*s (administrators feel free to change the subject accordingly if you want)...
    They're in my system.
    Final is a Netherlands based company ( www.final.nl ) that makes Electrostats. I read many reviews (all indicating they they are superior to Martin Logans) and since the US - contact Bob offered me a 30-day in home trial I figured I couldn't go wrong (nOrhs and AVReality 3-Ds are/were my other possibile new speakers).
    I've been living with a pair of Dynaudio Contour 1.8 mkIIs for a while and just haven't been happy. I've got a B&K AVR 202 receiver (don't laugh) which sounds astonishingly good and has enough high-current gusto to drive the dyns. I've heard my dyns on other gear too (like plineus) and just decided I was ready for a change. Bob assured me that the Finals would be fine with my B&K gear (they have a 4 ohm load).
    Digital front end is a Pioneer CLD-52 transport, with Audio Alchemy DTI Pro32 (set to 18-bit resolution enhancment...what I think sounds best) feeding my AA 3.0 DAC. Cables are some audiophile Tara stuff that I can't remember the details on.
    SOUND
    In a word: REVELATION. I have never heard music like this ever. Not on the Dunlevy, Genesis, Wilson, Martin Logans, Dynaudio, Proac, B&W (I used to sell all the above) or any other speaker.
    MICRO DETAIL and imaging are outstanding. I didn't believe that CDs contained this level of information. I'm hearing detail and imagine that sounds like LP. These speakers sound exactly like what goes in. One CD sounds smooth an analog (like one mastered on tube gear from the 60s). Another flat and hard (like a DDD from the 80s). It's like when you play your DVDs on a reference projection system and you suddenly realize how bad some of those transfers are...but at the same time you see detail and resolution you didn't know existed on those transfers. The Rennasance (sp) "Ashes are burning" made me swear I was listening to an LP. I literally COULD NOT BELIEVE I was hearing a CD in my system. Gordon Light-foot, same way.
    Truly a revelation.
    Oh, they can rock too. Mike Oldfield "songs from a distant earth" was yet another rediscovery. WOW. Boston, Toto, and even a bit of techno sounded great.
    Imaging goes up 3 or 4 feet above the speakers and a few feet past each outer edge. They are VERY sensitive to placement...an inch or two forward, out, or a few degress angling them makes an very audible difference. But it's not the nightmare I thought it would be. It only took me a an hour or so to get them tuned to where the music was very satisfying. I have them a few feet away from the rear wall and a foot away from the side-walls (about 2 yards apart). Not ideal but my next music/HT room will allow for better placement.
    I listened to the Doobie Brothers "Black Water" last night and heard guitars doing things I never heard before. Every CD I play is like hearing it for the first time. This is NOT an exageration. I played music for 2 hours straight until I fell asleep in my chair!!!
    Everything up stream makes a difference with these speakers. I changed the dither from none to 18 to 20 (on my pro 32) and heard clear differences. Straight 16 bit digital sounds good...but the midrange is flat. It's not the speaker's fault...they're just being accurate. When I switched to an HDCD disc (theoretically 20 bit decoded) the midrange became audibly more round and lush. The 18 bit dither makes standard CDs more listenable (I don't like the 20 bit setting...too "nasaly" sounding).
    Which reminds me. Do any of you have a recommendation for an affordable resolution enhancer? Camelot technologies has a 24/96 upconverter. Just hearing the (to my ears dramatic) difference that the 18 bit dither and HDCD decoding can make...I'd love my next upgrade to be the digital front end of my system. Any suggestions for an affordable audiophile combination let me know!
    BASS
    Is not as deep or extended sounding as with my Dyns, but it's TIGHT as heck and is possibly the most defined and realistic bass I've ever heard (there's a dynmic driver for the bass...these are hybrid speakers). The bass driver is also almost pefectly integrated with the electrostatic panels...you will not hear a crossover point and you will not hear any obvious anaomolies with the sound as the driver takes over the lower frequencies. AMAZING. The bass imaging is superb...I never thought of bass as being "imaged" before but these speakers image it!!!
    They will definitely benefit from a sub for the deeper bass. If Final can such an incredible job with the realistic bass from these drivers I will gladly get their sub to compliment the system.
    They have faults...they are certainly bright. Or a better way to say it is that they'll show you how bright the rest of your system is without any politeness. However, the highs are so open, airy, and "feathery" you almost don't mind...again...I didn't know CD could do highs like this. It's VERY LP sounding. If you can tame the brightness in your system prior to the speakers then you'll have an incredible system that will cause your jaw to hit the floor.
    I'll post more later but I wanted to get this up before I'm off for thanksgiving. Just wanted to share with you all what I'm experiencing. It's been several years since I've heard a system that caused me to want to rediscover my music collection all over again...and now that system is in my living room!
    -dave [​IMG]
     
  2. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Yes, they are mostly nice speakers, but you need to keep your head in a vise because they have a very small sweet spot.

    If you can leave with these being a one person set of speakers they are a nice piece of sonic bliss, especially for the asking price.

    Regards,
     
  3. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Dave,

    Thanks for the review.

    Can you post the prices if you have them,the website seems list it in Dutch Gulden,or something else,I'm not familiar with.

    Thanks!
     
  4. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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  5. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review. I really like these "alternative" speakers. I hope you continue to have good results with these speakers. [​IMG]
    Jon
     
  6. MatthewJ S

    MatthewJ S Supporting Actor

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    how do they sound in relation to bolander-graebner?
     
  7. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    John,
    Yes, they have a very focused sweet-spot. All speakers that image this well do. That focus, while it keeps you from playing musical chairs in your listening room, also keeps you transfixed in amazement as you "see" the micro-detail of musical recordings as lucidly as a 70 mm IMAX film in front of you. WOW.
    I was surprised, however, how acceptable they sound for home-theater despite this one-man sweetspot. Sitting off to the side on the couch during a movie I was still able to hear a natural stereo "spread" ... and still able to hear sounds coming from the speaker farthest from me. I don't have my Dyn Center channel operating right now (obviously) and so naturally the center image shifted over to the nearest speaker...but even dynamic-driver speakers do that.
    I think that once the center channel is in place that movies will fine...especially since the listening position of the couch in the HT room (yet to be put together) will be farther away from the speakers than where my music chair will be.
    Mike,
    What a super-cool music club!
    Yes...I will definitely get a sub to flesh out the bottom end. I think that the bass these speakers is so astoundingly tight and defined (like 6-pack abs, it's just amazing) that I can get their sub sight-unseen without any fear. With a musical sub to fill out the bottom end the sound will be virtually perfect (yes John, for the lucky person sitting in the sweet spot [​IMG] )
    Question for you Mike, since you're familiar with these speakers, I'd love to hear your impressions of what kind of gear sounds best driving them (I'm just drooling thinking of what a tube-based preamp would do) and cables that you might think work well with them. I remember that someone around here was really anti "cables" so if that's you please don't take offense by my asking. It also looks like that Perceptual technologies DAC you reviewed might be my next weakness. My AA Dac is very musical, but I think a bit overly "warm". Have you had the chance to hear that AA 3.0 DAC to compare against the Percept. Tech. you reviewed?
    I'll write more of my impressions after I've had a chance to break them in some more. I also gotta say, besides the awsome sound, these things are drop-dead gorgeous and the craftsmanship is flawless.
    -dave
     
  8. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    what are we looking at for costs etc on these speakers? Owning maggies I know exactly what you mean though about imaging and thier benefits in HT's
     
  9. Ian Wilson

    Ian Wilson Agent

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    Costs are listed at the web site. They offer a variety of packages - 5.1 system lists at 6,000 euros approx 5,000 USD.

    Ian
     
  10. MatthewJ S

    MatthewJ S Supporting Actor

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    e-marketing?
     
  11. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    Header edited, as requested.

    Sounds interesting! Might be a good option for a music room.

    Are they so tight to sweet-spot that two chairs with a table between don't image well?

    Mike
     
  12. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Ian,
    right now there's a big sale on the inventory in the Netherland wharehouse. I think a pair of .3s can be had for about $1,300 sans shipping. Email [email protected] for details if you're curious.
    Mike, as far as imaging goes, they really are for the audiophile sitting in his dedicated "sweet spot", but for casual listening, as long as you're a reasonable distance away, both off-center listeners would still get a satisfying "stereo spread". Of course, despite what some people may want to think, NO 2 channel system will image properly when your seated off-center. The center stereo image will always shift towards the speakers you're closest to no matter what speakers we're talking about.
    the finals are forgiving enough that as long as the couch is a reasonable distance away and you're using a center channel, H.T. applications should be great. We watched The Empire Stikes Back (laserdisc, PCM) last night in unprocessed stereo and even with two people watching with no center channel (next on the list) it was a lot of fun.
    -dave
     
  13. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Matthew,

    While I've heard both, and own BG driver based speakers, I've yet to have the Finals in my own system for an extended listen.

    David,

    Your comments are reasonably accurate, but speakers like Martin Logans CurviLinear Source Technology, or Sound Labs' hemi-cylindrical faceted panel, or the old Acoustat Spectra technology, Bohlender-Graebener's 60 degree dispersion are all efforts to combat the miniscule sweet spot that flat panel planars exhibit.

    That the Finals are a one person sweet spot speaker is exactly the point. Sure it's enjoyable wherever you sit, but other speakers (including the ones I mentioned, plus most dynamic speakers) have a significantly wider sweet spot.

    I'm sorry you have a problem with my statement. Can you please point out the inaccuracy?

    Regards,
     
  14. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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  15. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Dave,

    My point was not intended to be dismissive, merely a consideration when making a purchasing decision. If you have to satisfy more than 1 listener in a stereo environment, these probably aren't the right speakers.

    I'm currently working with some dynamic speakers which are going to force me to do some work to improve the imaging I'm getting with my own speakers. It's also why I'm very tuned in to image focus and size of the sweet spot these days.

    Regards,
     
  16. Will

    Will Guest

     
  17. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Will,

    If you sit off center in a two channel system, the center image will not remain "centered" between the speakers, but will shift towards the speaker closest to you. Doesn't matter what speakers you use. Now, the sound may still sound pleasing, which is what many people refer to as the "sweet spot", but your *imaging* will not be accurate (what my post was about).

    John,

    This was my big fear with the finals as well...could they do double duty for dedicated solo listening and multi-peopled HT listening. Even without a center channel I've enjoyed a week of movies with friends and I've sat everywhere from that choice sweet-spot to far off center on the edge of the couch...I haven't found the off-axis listening to distract. On the contrary, even sitting far off axis I keep finding myself amazed at the airy realism of many soundtracks. I can only imagine things getting better when I do get a dedicated center channel and if it's this satisfying (not ideal, but satisfying ) already.

    Bottom line is that I agree that dynamic drivers would produce a wider (and more satisfying) off-axis listening sweet spot, but the compromise doesn't seem to be bad enough to overcome the positives in my case.

    -dave
     
  18. Will

    Will Guest

     
  19. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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    Never seriously listen to music with another person. If they even just sit beside you they mess up the imaging, plus...what if they talk? [​IMG]
    Serious listening is a single person adventure...the tighter the sweet spot the better....just my opinion.
    Mike
     
  20. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    He speaks the truth!

    My S.O. is *very* jealous of the time I spend listing to music. "You love your stereo more than you love me" is heard often.

    BTW, I don't know why people just don't do the obvious when they *do* want to enjoy music with their friend.

    Sit in front of each other.

    When I want someone to hear the stereo I plop them right down in the sweet spot and give them the quick lesson about imaging. Then the lights go out and I plop right down on the rug in front of the couch...on the floor in front of my guest. Imaging is preserved and the floor is really quite confortable.

    -dave
     

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