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Old 01-22-2010, 10:19 AM
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M Jarve M Jarve is offline
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Infinity Quantum 3

What follows are my initial impressions of what Infinity considered, at one time, the "... third-best speaker in the world."

I don't think it's necessary to get into the lineage and intricacies of the Quantum series or the evolution of the Quantum 3, as this information is documented elsewhere by people much more knowledgeable than I. I will say that the Quantum 3 is a vastly scaled-down version of their erstwhile TOTL Quantum Line Source (QLS-1), and, while it uses all the same drivers, it uses less of them (save for the woofer and mid-bass coupler). The hallmarks of the Quantum series were the use of the then revolutionary EMIT tweeter (a planar tweeter), and the Infinity-Watkins "dual-drive" woofer. Further, the upper echelon of the Quantum series utilized phase-aligned driver placements, and simple 1st order crossover networks designed to maintain proper time alignment.

In any event, these were supposed to be the proverbial bee's-knees among speakers, maintaining the performance of the QLS-1, but in a package and price that was just over half the cost.

When I got this set home, I discovered, to my horror, that one of the mid-bass couplers was not operating. Knowing, as I did, that the L-pads in the crossover had seen much better days (and indeed, were more or less corroded beyond redemption), I bypassed the L-pad (as I had done for the EMITs in the other speaker), but found that the coupler was still not outputting any sound. Further investigation found that the driver did indeed have an open voice coil. However, I was undaunted and looked to another set of speakers I had on hand that used a very similar driver as a midrange unit. The other driver, unfortunately, was a 4Ω unit, as opposed to the 8Ω version used in the Quantum 3. I put in the call to the seller, knowing his propensity for having spare parts for everything he owns, to see if I could beg another mid-bass coupler from him. He did not have one though, but offered to make it right by reimbursing me for the cost of another, should I find one.

Having not much left to loose, so to speak, I worked out how installing the 4Ω unit would affect the crossover points. Thankfully, Infinity made my job easier with the addition of many series resistors- what would have been a drop from 8Ω to 4Ω was going to be a more benign 13.5Ω down to 9.5Ω. This meant that the bandpass crossover would narrow its bandpass, but only by a little: from 200-600Hz to ~250Hz-550Hz. This, coupled with the gentle 6dB slope, meant the harm from changing the driver would be minimal.

I mention this mostly because it I think it will have changed the performance (and thus my analysis) of the speakers, but perhaps not to a large degree. I will say that, when I had one speaker configured with the original (working) mid-bass coupler and the other with the substitute, the difference between them was not too great, but it was noticeable. I did replace the mid-bass couplers in both speakers with the ones I had on hand so as to maintain balance between speakers.

So, on to the initial listening. As usual, what follows are just my first impressions, and my opinion is likely to change with further critical listening and the eventual replacement of the mid-bass couplers with the original, correct part.

For the past year (more, actually) I had been using a set of IMF TLS-50's, which are the speakers by which the Quantum 3's are judged. Right off the bat, however, they seem to possess greater similarities than differences. Both offer extended low-frequency response, as well as adequate high-end extension, and both offer smooth, balanced midrange. Where the differences lie are in the details, and when comparing both directly, each holds an edge over the other in certain disciplines.

The first noticeable difference is that the Quantum 3 seems to have some amount of coloration in the midrange. This has the effect, when compared to the TLS-50, of implying a more "boxy" sound. As of right now, I attribute this mostly to the substitute driver I'm using, as this coloration lies right in the range that it is operating in, and the sound is that of the mid-bass coupler not smoothly blending with the dome midrange driver. Aside from that, the midrange region is quite good, with lively, but not hard vocals and strings. The midrange is slightly more forward than it is with the IMF's, but this is most likely due to having to have the L-pads turned up all the way (or nearly so) in order for them to pass sound. Once the L-pads are replaced, and I am better able to dial in the sound, I'm certain that any issues of midrange forwardness will be resolved. As it is, it is only just noticeable and does not distract from listening.

The high-end of the Quantum 3 and the TLS-50 are very much comparable, each possessing very smooth high-frequency reproduction. Where the Quantum 3 has the edge is in the very top-most air. This is a region that the TLS-50 can play into, but it does not seem to impart the same sense of effortless and infinite extension that the Quantum 3 does. Where the TLS-50 holds its own, and indeed outperforms the Quantum 3 (at least in my room) is in giving a sense of space. The Quantum 3 does provide a fairly good L-R soundstage, better than I anticipated given that they are not mirror imaged, it does lack the sort of depth that I've become accustomed to. In that regard, though, it is in good company with other very highly regarded speakers. It's not that they do not give a sense of depth, but rather that I have yet to hear a speaker (aside from properly setup Maggies) that can compete with the TLS-50 in that regard. Further, the dipole, rear-facing tweeter of the Quantum 3 could be a liability in my room, as one just fired down the length of the basement, while the other hits a wall not more than a foot behind it.

Bass performance is where the two systems are most different, and indeed, each covers a performance metric better than the other. Bass from the TLS-50 is exceptionally deep, sonorous, and tuneful. It sounds best with pipe organ, bowed or plucked double-bass, and synthesized ELF bass. What the TLS-50 is deficient in is mid-bass impact, speed, and upper-mid-bass (100-200Hz). The Watkins designed woofer of the Quantum 3 does perform exceptionally well in the lower registers. It very nearly matches the TLS-50 in extension, in my room. Further, because of the sealed cabinet design, the roll-off the low-end is gentler than it is with the TLS-50, giving the impression, on passages where mid's and high's are subdued, that it can play as low or even lower. Where the Quantum 3's really shine, by comparison, is in bass energy. The bass performance is subjectively flatter, and does not have the peculiar mid-bass dip that handicaps the TLS-50 in that range. Nor does the speaker seem to have the more typical bass hump at around 50-80Hz that many speakers use to imply energy or extension. For this, it has superior performance in rock and some high-energy orchestral works, and offers excellent performance elsewhere. Unlike the TLS-50, it does not rattle the walls with a 20Hz sine-wave input at only a watt; it requires 3 or 4 watts to do the same.

One fear I had regarding the Quantum 3 was that I would have to use a different amp. I have grown to really like my Yaqin MC-10L II, and while I have some very good gear "in the stable", they don't possess the utter sonic bliss of the fully-tubed Yaqin. Infinity speakers, especially those with the Watkins licensed woofer, have a reputation of being very difficult to drive speakers and are colloquially known as "amp killers". It would seem, however, that the reputation is worse than the reality. While undoubtedly the Infinity is a difficult or unusual speakers to drive, the Yaqin seems to have no issues with it, provided that I keep the volumes sane, and use the appropriate 4-ohm tap. Indeed, the pairing is more synergistic, I might say, than the amp used to demo the speakers (a highly reputable amp). While certainly the combination will not be winning any SPL competitions, at volumes I normally listen at, and volumes I consider to be quite loud, the pairing never seemed to lack for power. Credit for this I give to the Quantum 3's moderate sensitivity. It seems, on the whole, to be at least 6dB more sensitive than the TLS-50, and I would not be surprised if it were even more sensitive. It is not, however, as sensitive as the JVC zero9, and it would easily take 50 watts of input to accomplish what something like a K-Horn would do with one.

And so there are my initial impressions, handicapped as they are with substitute mid-bass couplers and more dirty pots than your favorite greasy-spoon restaurant. As usual, more listening will bring more comprehensive and fully formed opinions, and I look forward to getting another original mid-bass coupler so that I can more accurately judge the midrange performance.
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Old 01-22-2010, 11:53 AM
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motorstereo motorstereo is offline
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Thanks for the in depth review and comparison. Only thing that I might add is that the quantum 3's are very very picky about placement. I had mine on a knee wall for a while as it was the only place I could fit those monsters. They sounded bad enough that I thought of selling them. They're directly on the floor now and they're not going anywhere. A major change for the better. Once you have your proper mid bass driver installed you may change your thoughts for the better about them as well. Of course those dirty corroded pots don't help and I'm sure a recap would be nice in these 30 year old speakers as well.
Another thing I might add is there are few things that I dislike worse than carrying mine up or down 2 flights of stairs which I've done several times. Damn those things are heavy and awkward. Good luck in finding your mid bass unit.
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Old 01-22-2010, 03:02 PM
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Quite right about placement- I think they're even pickier than any Maggie I've had down here. It's taken the better part of an hour and a half, all told, of minor nudging and what not to get them to focus as well as I have.

I also have a bit of an update. I managed, through deft use of a soldering iron and a razor blade, to salvage the bad mid-bass coupler. As it turns out, the tinsel lead was only being held in place by some glue- it was not making contact with the VC, hence the open circuit. I managed to carefully solder the two ends together and now have functioning, original mid-bass couplers in each speaker. Based on the brief amount of listening I've done since, the difference is quite apparent, and for the better. The boxiness I indicated initially is gone, and the blend between the drivers is much better. I'll have to put on some of my "spooky-good imaging" music to see just how far the improvements have carried through.

Probably expect an update later this afternoon after I've listened for a couple of hours.
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Old 01-22-2010, 05:01 PM
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Hey that's great news that you were able to salvage the mid bass driver Good for you. Glad to hear it made an improvement as I thought it would no doubt. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in my thinking that they're picky on placement. I just could not believe the dramatic difference in mine when I set them on the floor. For a while I even had them on their sides. Don't waste your time trying that one. Right now I'm running mine on a 350 watt carver t amp but I still prefer the much lower powered tube amps powering them. What I really wish is that I had a decent room for them. I've had mine in 4 different rooms and none of them did them justice due to placement issues. These are very nice speakers no doubt but I think they need a big open room with space to open up.
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Old 01-22-2010, 05:33 PM
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Thanks for the informative and very diplomatic comparison M_Jarve. Your TLS-50's have the reputation for being a first class example of transmission line design and it's nice to hear that the Q3's stay with them by comparison. I've never heard either but hope to someday.
BTW, there were two of the original Philips drivers produced that are interchangeable for mid-bass use in the Quantums, the AD5060/W8 and the AD5062/W8. Pete_B wrote an interesting post in another forum about them, here...
http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/I...showtopic=4320
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Old 01-23-2010, 07:20 PM
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Hi all,

First thing I did to my QLS-IIIs was R&R the L-pads while the woofers were being re-foamed at MillerSound. Mine were corroded but not bad (a bit of dried spilt beer in one). They cleaned up nicely. I don't see how they could be toast. There are not much to them. A good clean and re-lube with FaderLube and they were back to formal glory. Sound mighty fine and dig down REAL deep, listening now to .... Balkan Beat Box.... say it again. Got mine paired with some DQ-10s in a wall of sound stage. QLS-IIIs on the outside with the DQ-10s in between with a sub in the corner. I've got tremendous sound and.. well danceable. It's my shop setup (more dance floor).

It's all good.

Cheers,

Bob
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:00 PM
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Some more time in...

I have some more time clocked in listening to the Quantum 3's, as well as having cleaned up the L-pads, and taken care of some other issues.

First, the L-pads, as bobbrown indicated, were not a completely lost cause. Of the 6 in use (3 in each speaker), only one was actually beyond redemption. Fortunately, I had a spare on hand that had been used in an old tube O'scope I had in the garage. The big problem part was the center disc in each of the pots. I have a suspicion that they may have been silver plated, as they were completely black and non-conductive (in most areas) before I cleaned them up- after they had a very silvery luster and conducted perfectly well. The one lost-cause one had an issue where the wire coil had corroded through in one place. In any event, all the pots got cleaned up.

After that, and I had them all back together, I was listening and there seemed to be an issue in one channel. The upper midrange was very subdued and the sound-stage pulled hard to the opposite side. Playing a mono recording produced the same results. I thought for sure I had swapped polarity on one channel when I reconnected the speakers, but found that was not the case. All the same, the results were similar to such an occurrence. On the channel where I thought the problem lie, I switched speaker polarity only to find that the results were not entirely dissimilar. I was getting pretty cranky at this point, ready to stick them in a corner and live with the ugly, but eminently musical IMF's. Loaded up on coffee as I was, however, I simply started tearing things apart. First I looked at the wire polarity going to each driver (easier said than done for the front and rear EMIT's, as anyone who has worked on these speakers can attest to). Everything was correct. I then looked at the crossovers. Aside from the fact that there were some different components in each speaker (for instance, one speaker having three caps for the tweeter instead of two, or three resistors for the midrange instead of one) they all worked up to the same nominal value. I then followed the signal path for each driver (again , it's a mess in there), and compared both to the schematic I found on Klaus Pohlig's Infinity Classics site. Apart from neither speaker matching the official schematic, I found nothing particularly wrong. Double-checking, I came upon one piece of the puzzle- like the woofers in one channel, the leads at the crossover for the EMIT's in the "odd" channel were crossed. Swapping them around, and that channel's upper midrange suddenly reappeared and sounded great. The channels also now balanced with each other.

From what I understand, the above is unfortunately typical for earlier Infinity, with numerous changes made during production, and parts substitution run amok. It is also something, however, that would endear the company to me, as I know exactly how that works.

So more listening I did- now with the proper mids in place and all the connections nicely dressed and all the L-pads sparkling clean. The speakers would now stand or fall for what they were, not for what 30+ years had done to them.

First of all, I want to reiterate that using the correct mid-bass couplers, as one would suspect, did wonders for the tonal balance of the speakers. The tone is now very well balanced and without gaps throughout its entire range. The coherence is also very good, with it being difficult to tell, from my listening position, what ranges each driver is reproducing. In terms of tonal balance and integration, it ranks among the best speakers I've heard.

Dynamics, sense of speed, and guttural, primal power are all massive bullet-points for this speaker. With the Yaqin as the power, the Quantum 3 matches or nearly matches the zero9 in terms of power and impact. It also outclasses the TLS-50 in this regard by an order of magnitude. Particularly with a very high-definition recording of a fireworks display, the sense that there were colorful mortars going off in my listening room was rather amazing. One could actually feel a shifting of the bowls and a rattling of the brain within the skull. Oddly, neither the amp or the speakers seemed strained for power during the performance making me wonder what I could do with 5 times the power that the h/k 775's could afford me. The Quantum 3 further impressed me, as the TLS-50's do, in that such sounds emanated as a single coherent wavefront from the speakers and not as a pop followed by a poof followed by a thud and rumbling that other speakers with less attention to time alignment produce. That little adventure also helped to aleviate the last of my fears about using the Yaqin as the power amp- It did not seem the least bit troubled (sonically) by the unusual and complex load presented by the Quantum 3. As I turned up the volume, it simply reached a point where it quit getting louder and began to gently compress the loudest passages. It also reinforced the observation I made when I brought the amp down to the Cities for Ron's get together and the Yaqin made an awesome showing with the infamous test CD provided by NumbDiver. The transient and peak power response of the Yaqin is quite incredible.

Imaging is very difficult for these speakers in my room. Indeed, I almost gave up on proper imaging as a completely lost cause, and even now, after hours of millimeter adjustments to position and angle, it is only just acceptable- there are, indeed, several bits of masking tape on the floor, lest further tweaking make things worse. The largest offender is the center image- vocalists and the like. Putting on a mono recording of Alice Babs, one would get the impression that her mouth were somehow 3-feet wide. Applying some various (easily reversed) tweaks all managed to exacerbate the effect. Finally, I caught on to the fact that the more severe the tow-in, the better the center imaged. Ultimately, the axis of the midrange domes were crossed just at my head. This turned out to be the best compromise between having an expansive, side-to-side image and a properly proportioned center image.

The depth of the soundstage improved markedly once I had the center properly focused, but I still don't think the IMF's are in any danger of being bested in that discipline.

Off axis, around the basement listening also brought out some interesting contrasts between the Quantum 3's and the TLS-50's.

First, when listening to the Quantum 3's off axis, as I am writing this, there is no doubt that you're listening to a speaker- specifically a box speaker. Not a bad box speaker, by any stretch, but a speaker no less. The TLS-50, by comparison, has a very natural dispersion and radiation pattern that works to very effectively hide the fact that it is a speaker. The Quantum 3 can also seem to accomplish this, but only when you're on-axis and within the 1-foot sweet-spot. The unusual driver arrangement of the TLS-50, which attempts, with success, to emulate a point source works to its advantage.

Cabinet resonance has also reared its head with the Quantum 3. Having gone from the "unresonatable" JVC zero9 (in its Jarve-Falkowski incarnation) to the inherently well braced TLS-50 (with a box-less Magnepan thrown in the mix) I had nearly forgotten what a cabinet resonance sounded like until I heard the very low-level (nearly benign) resonances from Mark B's Infinity Delta system. If the Delta's resonances were benign, however, the Quantum 3's resonance modes are downright lively. There is effectively no bracing internally, and the cabinet is made from robust (but still unbraced) 1-inch thick particle board. The resonances are most apparent from the top of the cabinet, and are strong enough to make a quarter dance across the top if the speaker is fed sine waves of the right frequency; I've found that 230Hz and 460Hz produce the strongest vibrations. Indeed, it is to the point where I would not be totally surprised to see the Quantum 3's get the same treatment the zero9's did (and mirror image them while we're at it... ). These resonance modes might even be strong enough that they could be the source of the center image smearing when the speakers are not severely towed in.

That all said, I'm fulling willing to concede that I may be a little bit pickier about the resonance issue (and the imaging issue) after having used speakers that were so superlative in those regards that anything else just cannot fairly compete. And, as for the imaging, I could still be adjusting myself, as they do seem to focus better the longer I listen and subtlety tweak their position.

So, I do think that the Quantum 3 will make a suitable substitute for the TLS-50 as it undergoes further restoration. It may, with time (and proper adjustment, and a better (read "bigger") room) become a permanent part of the stable. Further, it is such a good foundation for a speaker, and such a good concept that I cannot help but wonder of about the possibilities of mating this solid foundation with the sort of unparalleled cabinet building skill that Boy Wonder possesses. It could go from being a great speaker to the level of "Oh my God" that something like the TLS-50 has achieved. Indeed, it is quite a complement to the Quantum 3 that the only real advantage the TLS-50 holds over it at the moment is its far superior imaging ability.
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:34 PM
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Great stuff once again Mike. I'm surprised to learn that the 3's aren't mirror imaged like the 1's and 2's, guess I should've known by now. I would think that certainly has some effect on their imaging ability as you say.
Box resonance is common to all of the larger Quantums I presume and is next on the to-do list for my QLS1's as time permits.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts here for the rest of us!

Jim
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:43 PM
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Thanks for sharing Mike. I always like your coverage of such events.

How about some pictures of the beasts?
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:57 PM
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Ah man, the more I hear these reports the more I desire to move up the infinity chain.
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:55 PM
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Interesting....my Quantum 3's are mirror imaged. But I've seen others in the Quantum line that people owned that weren't mirror imaged, either. I'm sure "left" and "right" designated boxes got to end consumers wrong on occasion. It happens/happened. I love mine. Unfortunately, since life has changed and I'm back in college at 43, I'm not getting to enjoy them now where I'm living since I sold my house in TX last summer. But, they are with my best friend and in his "sound room" ran off *my* Soundcraftsmen stack of gear (A5002 @ 250wpc...recently rebuilt and suh-weet). Mine love power and you can drive them reasonably hard, if so desired, and they just convert that power very, very well. They will be a pair of speakers that remain with me for a long time. I mean, when you only give the price of what you can buy a double cheese burger at Mickey D's from the original owner and in practically perfect condition, how can you go wrong?!?!
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:57 PM
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Great write up. Thanks for taking the time to do that and post it. Glad to hear you got the miss wired emits corrected. You're right it is a maze inside the q3's.
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Old 01-26-2010, 04:23 PM
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yes, thanks for the writeup and especially the objective comparisons. i'm not surprised by what you're hearing. here are my two cents as a former QLS1 owner:

your substandard imaging is being affected primarily by three things: lack of mirrored drivers, variations between L-pad/pot DCR's with dial in same position (this was causing a shifted vocalist in my case), and need of an XO rebuild. the latter is probably having the biggest effect, which is ironic because you bought them to stand in for your IMFs during their rebuild.

i'm not exactly sure why, but the bigger Quantums all benefit BIG TIME by at least replacing the caps. you can ask everybody that's heard a pair before and after. depth, solidity, and subjective reality of the soundstage improved drastically in my case. now, with the taller tweeter line source and full midrange line source, the QLS1 is always going to image differently than the Q3, but you should be able to improve things a lot if you do decide to put some money into them.
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Old 01-27-2010, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejfud View Post
Thanks for sharing Mike. I always like your coverage of such events.

How about some pictures of the beasts?
Thank you indeed.

I would not necessarily describe them as beasts, per se, but they do seem imposing. Their dimensions are actually not too bad, and they weigh only about 90-100-lbs each. The interesting thing about the cabinet design is how shallow the cabinets are in proportion to their width and height- only about 11-inches deep; it increases to 13-inches if you include the grilles and grille stand-offs. The overall appearance is reminiscent of the black monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but in a woodgrain finish.

The lower opening on the rear is not, as one would suspect, a port opening for the woofer, but rather the terminus of the mid-bass coupler's transmission line.

All the same, here are some pictures:





Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_2716_ak.JPG (131.9 KB, 506 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_2717_ak.JPG (139.3 KB, 502 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_2720_ak.JPG (134.5 KB, 504 views)
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:37 AM
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Those appear to be in very nice shape. Don't you just love those screwball grills though? Everytime I remove mine it makes me wonder what the heck were they thinking of when they designed it.
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