These great looking little wonders have been making big news on the Audio Show Circuit. How couldn’t they be with someone as enthusiastic and welcoming as Mr. Wei Chang demonstrating them, but it takes more than enthusiasm to make a real buzz. It takes something you can really hear.
My first opportunity to hear this demo was at the 4th California Audio Show in August. The EnigmAcoustic demo setup was the same as at the Newport show. The Sopraninos were mounted above the Magico V3s. The rest of the system consisted of Pass Labs electronics, the Light Harmonics Da Vinci DAC and an Apple Mac Mini. One thing for sure: a very revealing system.
The demonstration was as simple as could be; they would play a selection on the system without the Sopranino super tweeters and then with them. The difference wasn’t difficult to hear, no so called “trained ears” were needed. I’m not new to super tweeters; I lived with and loved the Murata ES103a Spherical Super Tweeters for several years. I used them with the Audio Note AN-E speakers and the Ikonoklast speakers and with the same Wavac EC-300B amp I have now. I loved how my system sounded better with the Murata. It sounded more like music, and it sounded clearer, yet the super tweeters did not make the system brighter. They did not add sparkle to the top-end, and they did not make my system sound super-detailed or etched. So, I arranged to get the Sopraninos in to review with several different speaker.
EnigmAcoustics refer to their super tweeter as the SBESL or Self-Biased ElectroStactic Loudspeaker. This refers to its being the first, according to them and as far as I know, purely passive electrostatic tweeter with no need of external bias. In other words, they don’t have to be plugged into an electrical outlet. The method invented by EnigmAcoustics makes it possible to permanently implant charges on a non-conductive film with special molecular structure serving as charge holder. They have come up with a way to implement the theoretical idea of replacing the diaphragm of an electrostatic speaker with a permanently charged film, culminating in the complete eradication of the costly and power hungry active bias circuitry. Though with this first product I don’t see where they saved much money, it is nonetheless quite an achievement and I would love to hear a full-range electrostatic speaker using this new technology.
There is more to the new design than just not having to plug them into an AC outlet. It is absolutely critical to maintain a minimum openness and thickness on the stators surface when allowing sound waves generated from the vibrating diaphragm to penetrate through them. The rigidity of stators is required to be kept to a minimum in order to lessen any undesired vibration that would result in distortion. Also, the effective area of stator surface must be proportional to the exerting push/pull electric force on a diaphragm. All of these factors are constantly in conflict with one another, which adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the overall performance of the ESL.
EnigmAcoustic says their new technology deals with these issues by making the stators out of a fiberglass substrate for optimal balance of rigidity and thickness. To finish it off, the substrate is covered with copper for best conductivity and for maximum openness, while maintaining strong and sustainable electric force.
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