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Sanders Sound Model 10 Electrostat Speaker Review

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Sanders Sound Model 10 Electrostat Speaker

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.

Background

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.

Intelligent Design

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.

13 Responses to Sanders Sound Model 10 Electrostat Speaker Review


  1. Dean K says:

    I have owned the 10c speakers for a couple of years and continue to enjoy them. I obtained a replacement audio output board for the dcx 2496 that simplifies the circuit, uses better opamps, and also uses a remote control to vary gain…it can be used as a system volume control. A board is also available to replace the digital input / clock circuit. All I can tell you is that I wish Roger would offer this as part of his 10c system, it elevates the transparency, removes grundge, and just makes the speakers better. Contact Ward Maas at Pilghamaudio.com for more info.

    • Mark Maloof says:

      Roger does not believe op amps make a difference (he used very inexpensive ones in the Innersound crossover amp, and told a friend of mine who is an op amp guru that “they all sound the same”). I replaced five of the op amps at my friends advice and it made a TREMENDOUS difference. I’m very much a fan of science and like much about objectiveness, but while I was once a “doubter” of some of the tweak nature of high end audio, I’ve come to find over time that numerous things I used to mock I could hear differences in if I gave it a chance and a bit of an open mind. Yes, there is snake oil crap, but there are other things that I have noticed making an improvement (like cables, ha ha ha! Yeah, I used to be in the “all sound the same unless poorly designed” camp, and mocked the cable swapping crowd. Then I stopped mocking and started listening more….)

      • Mark Maloof says:

        The op amps I was talking about above (that I replaced) are in the Innersound (now Sanders Sound) crossover amp, not a Behringer unit, just to clarify. Have heard the DCX2496 at shows in Roger’s room, but have not tried it yet in my system).

  2. vdorta says:

    Thanks for both reviewing a great speaker and interviewing one of the great pioneers in high-end audio. I would like to listen to a pair of Model 10s with a DEQX HDP-4 instead of the Behringer. The DEQX would serve as digital crossover with very steep filters (maybe lowering the crossover point below 172Hz significantly), it would correct both speaker and room, and even seamlessly integrate a pair of subwoofers at any reasonable frequency. Let me just dream.

  3. Rick Tomaszewicz says:

    Glad someone in audio review tells it like it is WRT what live music actually sounds like. Having had subscription series to symphony orchestras and listened to more live jazz than most people, I can tell you that imaging is an pot of gold at the end of the audiophile rainbow. Now, that’s not to say that pinpoint imaging doesn’t have its own visceral enticements, but it’s not what real live music sounds like. So, perhaps we need to abandon the notion that audiophiles must pursue “the closest thing to live”. Maybe we should recognize different tastes and expectations for different audiophiles and leave it at that. Personally, I’ll spend my extra money on live music and more vinyl rather than more exotic gear.

  4. Chris B says:

    Lots of active crossover options listed here (both analog and digital)
    http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/HW/ActiveCrossover.htm

    Has anyone tried a 48dB/oct analog crossover with the model 10s such as the Marchand XM44 and compared with the Behringer?

    • Phil N says:

      Chris B
      48dB/oct is the standard setting. Roger crosses at 172hz at 48 on both sides.
      vdorta
      I am test driving a Deqx Premate at the moment, with my 10c s. I am told a HDP4 [ 3 way] has a tweeter x-over that does not go low enough, so you are throwing away a crossover. Save money and buy the 2 way Premate. I have yet to ponder that info. and purchase.

      • Phil N says:

        6 weeks later…I have bought the HDP4. For $500 more, you get better transparency and thus imaging. This must be the linear power supply. I saw inside both machines. Anyhow, I thought it no contest in the end. This is so far ahead of my Behringer set up of dcx2496, deq2496 and src2496. I am a happy chappy.

        • Phil N says:

          Oh yes…the included asynchronous usb input is truly excellent. I surpasses my Audio-Gd DI V3. I think it injects I2S directly into the digital receiver. I play [a] from a netbook via usb and JRiver,[b] Squeezebox Touch with EDO mod to usb from a SD card [c] cd from Oppo 95 [d] vinyl via SOTA/SME and AQVOX balanced phono stage.

    • Mark Maloof says:

      Roger once told me that in order to get the crossover slope that is used in this instance with these speakers, it can only be done in the digital realm to get it low enough. The crossover point in the bass panel amp on my Innersound Eros III amp (his speaker company before Sanders sound, but it’s basically the same speaker), is 310 HZ, higher than what can be done with the DC2496. So that would rule out any analog crossover like the Marchand.

      • Mark Maloof says:

        Do you have an active crossover amp, or one of the rare passive crossover Eros models? I have the crossover amp (actually, it’s an Innersound Kaya amp, better transformer and 330 watts at 8 ohms). I have a friend who is an op amp expert, and under his recommendation, I replaced five cheap op amps better (and much more expensive) ones and it made a notable improvement to the sound. I had thought about trying the DCX2496, but afraid the cheap nature of it might ruin the sound (plus I listen to tons of vinyl, have over 3000 lps, so do prefer the idea of not “digitizing” the signal). There are the replacement boards by Pilgham audio mentioned in the first post, so maybe I should pick up a DCX2496 just to try and see if the lower crossover point wins out over my “hotrodded” Innersound crossover amp. If not, I can return the unit. If it shows promise over my crossover amp, then try the upgraded boards mentioned. But….your mention of the Marchand intrigues me. The price is a bit steep (compared to the DCX2496), and I don’t know if Marchand has a return policy, but I do see they sell a board unit only of the crossover which of course is much cheaper. Hmmmm…wonder if it could be installed in my Innersound crossover amp?

  5. Chris B says:

    I purchased both a Behringer DCX2496 and a Marchand XM44 to try with my Eros MKIII.5. Both tuned to 48dB/oct at 172Hz with the equalization as specified by Roger in his DCX setup manual. They both made the lower midrange much more transparent. There was a “hollow sounding” coloration with the stock crossover. However…. The Behringer obscures microdetail which the Innersound are known for. I preferred the stock crossover for its natural detailed sound despite the lower midrange coloration. Then came the Marchand XM44 with the same tuning as the DCX. The stock Marchand was better than the Behringer for sure but i still felt it was slightly “hifi” sounding. After lots of research, I ordered some dual OPA627 and DEXA discrete opamps from Partsconnexion. I put a pair of DEXA in the input section. I ended up using the OPA627s in the high pass section only since the stock opamps are a little punchier in the low pass. Bingo! This combinations sounds amazing! The lower midrange is seamless now, the bass dynamics and articulation much better, the microdetail is still there, and as an added bonus the high frequencies sound much more extended. Somehow the stock crossover was making the Eros sound muffled. These were always awesome speakers, and now sound even better.

  6. Dennis says:

    I have the new 10Ds and I have a modded behringer done by Audiosmiles in the UK and it is truly amazing.

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