I chose the line stage first because it is the heart and common denominator of the system. The comparison's results were inadvertently derived in two stages; first with the Frankenstein/Monitors, playing by themselves, and then full-range, with the Dragon/Subwoofers also being played. There was one other unique and important factor involved with this first comparison; the Statement line stage was already utilizing a CST power cord, but it was only in length. The replacement Statement power cord was also 2 foot in length. It was thus only natural to ask whether there could be audible differences between two quality power cords when both of them were only 2 feet in length? These are the results I observed:
Of all the Romantics, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley were the ones most interested in science and most aware of new scientific developments in their age. Shelley was intrigued by chemistry as early as his student days at Oxford, and showed so much promise in the field that the great philosopher of science, Alfred North Whitehead, was led to write: “if Shelley had been born a hundred years later, the twentieth century would have seen a Newton among chemists.” Both Shelley and Byron were fascinated by what was happening in astronomy and cosmology in their day — a fascination that is reflected in the cosmic speculations that appear in poems such as Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound or Byron’s Cain. Shelley and Byron took a special interest in the emerging fields of geology and paleontology, and in particular kept up with the latest theories about the prehistoric creatures that came to be known as dinosaurs. This kind of scientific development fed the religious skepticism of Shelley and Byron, and above all their tendency to question the Biblical account of creation. Well before Darwin’s time, Shelley and Byron were taking cues from modern science to suggest in their poetry that man might not have been created perfectly by a benevolent God. The evidence thus suggests that the Romantic poets, although they certainly had their doubts about certain aspects of modern science, did not condemn it out of simple ignorance or jealousy, but had instead entered into a genuine dialogue with the science of their day. If Shelley and Byron are any indication, the Romantics were not simply willing, but quite eager to listen to what contemporary scientists had to say.
of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus ..
Speakers are, of course, the most difficult of all components to evaluate, even in the best of circumstances. This is because they are the least perfected of all the components and that doesn’t even take into account room requirements and sonic priorities. In my case, I also have the added burden that two of my main contributors are (or were) speaker manufacturers, some of whose products you will see as References below. Other associates are distributors of speaker lines. Accordingly, I made the only decision I could: What I say to those who question my objectivity is; please closely read the rest of the References first to see my consistency and sensitivities, before making judgements on the few choices you may be understandingly skeptical about. Any final and true judgement concerning these (or any) specific components requires a personal listening session with them. If this list inspires such an event, it has been a success, no matter what the ultimate result. This is the component category in which I believe that I am most "behind the curve". While I am very confident that all the speakers that are included deserve to be there, I am just as confident that there are at least an equal number of others that are missing. I have heard some of the "missing", but I haven't yet made the in-depth evaluations and comparisons that are a requirement for their inclusion. Important Distinction: In my "Priorities and Distinctions" section within the main Reference file, I emphasized the primary importance of musical "low-level information", which must be reproduced if a component is to be included in this list. I also used the word "accurate" before that expression. I feel this component category requires a further distinction and an exception, because of its unique nature. All components, except speakers and cartridges, are generally accurate; at least when focusing on timbres and phasing etc. They have other problems; like losing information, dynamic compression etc. That's the reason for my choice of priorities. However, speakers have much more serious problems than the other components, which means you can't even assume that their basic timbre and phasing are natural and accurate. Accordingly, for many audiophiles, getting the timbres correct (accuracy) will be their first priority within this category, while "completeness" will be secondary, though still very important. I generally agree with them. There are a growing number of loudspeakers, usually large and extremely expensive, that require the use of large, costly, complex and inferior amplifiers to help overcome their problems of design. These models are either downgraded or not References at all. Almost every speaker I have ever heard that has low sensitivity, and a difficult impedance, has the same problems; they sound "dry, mechanical and compressed". Playing these speakers unnaturally loud, with the use of (usually very expensive ) high-power amplifiers, which usually have the same sonic problems, is a "solution" that actually compounds the problems. The only "beneficiaries" of this "strategy" are those who build, market and sell these expensive and usually (grossly) overpriced components. If all that wasn't enough, they also have a serious problem with retaining the desirable sonic quality of "cohesiveness", which one reader described as the characteristic of the entire frequency range "being cut from the same cloth". This is very difficult to achieve with multiple drivers, crossover points etc. In reality, these products are actually designed for people looking for "prestige", rather than the accurate reproduction of music.
There are only two full-range choices in this class at this time. There should be 4 or 5 speakers in here. The Pure Reference Extreme (PRE) is the finest speaker I have ever heard overall. It replaced my former 10+ year "reference", the . These two speakers are very similar in basic design philosophy, though their execution is quite different, mainly due to a decade's worth of improvements in (dynamic) driver technology. The PRE is also unusually "practical": It is "flexible" in the choice of both amplifiers and listening rooms. Since I obviously don't change my references very often, I feel it is necessary to discuss my basic philosophy on speakers. This will include the long-term history, and evolution, of my personal speaker references, plus the specific and detailed reasons why the Coincident Pure Reference Extreme has achieved its current status. Note- The lengthy review/essay on this speaker can be found in the dedicated . This is simply the finest horn loudspeaker we have ever heard, and we've heard plenty of them over the years. Amazingly, it isn't even their top-of-the-line model. Their best model, according to the manufacturer and distributor, is the Trio. Sadly, the Trio wasn't at the 2004 CES, so we'll have something to look forward to another year. The Duo is the first horn loudspeaker I've heard that doesn't have horn colorations. It also disappears as well as any horn speaker in my experience. The dynamic gradations are state of the art, just like other well executed horns, but that's not a surprise. It's sense of immediacy and transparency are amazing. It's simply "alive" sounding. We tried to find its "fatal flaw", but we failed. It passed a number of tough tests: massed violins, various voices, piano, woodwinds. Most impressively, it did this with digital sources, transistor amplification and ($1/ft) generic interconnect and speaker cable. If that wasn't enough, the listening room was mediocre. Despite all this, it provided the best sound at the show. I've only heard one other speaker in my life sound so good with so many obstacles to overcome. My associate agreed with my assessment, and, if anything, he was even more enthusiastic. The retail price is in the $ 17,000 range, which is expensive, but it obliterated most of the speakers that cost more. There are two serious caveats:
1. The sound that impressed us so much came from the manufacturer's room, and not the distributor, which had various problems. It's obvious that setup is critical and there was only one listening seat that was optimum in both rooms.
2. Neither of us was even close to being happy with the bass integration, which is the major weak point in the design. It wasn't really "bad", but it was still noticeably UN-seamless. This could be a serious (disqualifying) problem for some listeners. The Trio's lower horn goes 70 Hz (170 Hz Vs. 100 Hz) deeper into the bass, which should seriously reduce this problem. (On the other hand, a 3-way horn is inherently less cohesive than a 2-way horn.) The Duo (and the Trio) has its own built-in bass amp and crossover, so that avenue can't be changed for the better. They also make a powered, horn subwoofer called the "Basshorn". They are supposed to be incredible, but they cost around $ 27,000 a pair. The extra (stock) bass modules, used in the distributor's room, did NOT help to alleviate this problem area in our opinion.