I first heard Inner Sound electrostatic speakers, the predecessors to Sanders Sound speakers, nearly a decade ago at an audio show. I was immediately impressed and each successive year at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest I made a point of listening to them, often bringing friends to do the same. At last year’s RMAF I spent hours in the Sanders Sound room, and asked designer and proprietor Roger Sanders whether I could review the speakers. He graciously agreed.
I recently conducted an interview with Roger, to which I direct those readers who are interested in Roger’s views, philosophies, and approaches to audio. To avoid redundancy, here I will touch on just a few main points.
Roger has been designing and building electrostatic speakers for forty-plus years, and published his first article on electrostats in Speaker Builder magazine in 1974. This and his subsequent articles can be found on Roger’s homepage under “Audio Related Articles.” Roger favors electrostats for their speed and transparency, but recognized early on that the panels could not “move enough air” to provide realistic bass response. Accordingly, his speakers are a hybrid design, in which the electrostat panel is paired with a cone woofer, about which I will have much more to say later. In 1980, Roger described a curved electrostat panel, but immediately rejected it as being inferior to flat panels. Coincidentally — or perhaps not — in 1981 a new company came onto the scene, featuring an electrostat with a curved panel. To this day, that company uses curved panels in their entire product line. In 1993, Roger’s “Electrostatic Loudspeaker Design Cookbook” was published, so it can accurately be said that Roger wrote the book on electrostats. Since that time he has continued to refine the design, the culmination of which is the subject of this review, the Sanders Sound Model 10.
As mentioned, Roger’s designs were originally sold under the name “Innersound.” Roger left Innersound in 2004, and started Sanders Sound Systems, LLC in 2007. Innersound went out of business in 2008 but out of concern for his previous Innersound customers, he continues to provide service and support for Innersound products. All Sanders Sound products are designed and manufactured in Colorado, USA.
For this review, I anticipated receiving one or two large crates, and assumed I would need help from one or more friends to get the speakers into my listening room. Unbeknownst to me, Roger has devised a clever means of simplifying shipping. Instead of a large crate, what I received were two boxes each with a woofer cabinet, one flat box, and two long tubular containers. To assemble the speakers, Roger provides instructions that are truly the epitome of simplicity. First, one removes the woofer cabinets from their cartons. These are the heaviest of the cartons, but are easily managed. Following Roger’s instructions, one positions the carton so as to not damage the driver, then removes the carton from the woofer cabinet rather than vice versa, thus avoiding any heavy lifting.
Second, one removes from the tubular container, four vertical supports. One support attaches to the left front of the woofer cabinet, the other to the right front. Each support is held in place with four supplied screws. The supports have Velcro on them, which is key to the simplicity of the rest of the assembly.
The flat box contains the left and right electrostat panels. These, too, have Velcro on their left and right sides both front and back, for reasons that will become clear at the later steps, so one simply aligns them with the top of the supports, and applies some mild pressure. The instructions make clear that it is not a problem if the panels do not go on straight; simply detach them from the support, and re-align them.
The next step is to snap together the electrical connector, one per speaker, one half of which is on the panel, the other on the woofer cabinet. In the penultimate step, one puts on the woofer grills. These also have Velcro on them, both front and back, so one aligns them beneath the electrostat panel, and applies gentle pressure.
The last step is to add the decorative vertical slats, which match the woofer cabinets. These too — you guessed it — have Velcro, and are attached to the Velcro on the outer surface of the woofer grills and the outer surface of the electrostat panel.
As is the case for all electrostats, the Model 10’s must be plugged into a wall socket, which allows a static charge, thus the name, electroSTAT, to be placed on the membrane.
The first panel took perhaps fifteen minutes to assemble, the second about five; assembly is that easy. Moreover, should a panel or woofer fail, both have life time warranties, and failures are extremely rare, one need not replace the entire speaker. The design of these speakers is not smart. It is very smart.
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