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Boppin’ Down Memory Lane: Floor Standing Speakers

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Of all the speakers I have reviewed, none have caught me off guard like the Ikonkast3 from an almost unknown speaker designer, Warren Gregoire. He hand-builds a Single Membrane Coherent Line Source tweeter and pairs it with a magnificent, ultra low mass Mid/LF driver. He claims the underlying key to the superlative sonic realism is his use of a 3/4-wave transmission line enclosure for the Mid/LF driver. He feels his advanced technology of back-loading the system does what many loudspeaker designers would consider impossible. It enables a lightweight, moving system midrange drive unit (only 7 grams mms) to operate all the way down to 30Hz with power and accuracy that defies its diminutive 5.25″ size.

The Ikonoklast speakers have zero crossover components. The Tweeter’s unconventional piezoelectric motor automatically rolls off frequencies below 2kHz, while the Mid/LF driver exhibits a complementary, automatic high frequency roll-off. The output of the two drivers is thereby effortlessly blended, using absolutely zero crossover network components. This, combined with physical arrival time compensation in the mounting of the tweeter and Mid/LF driver, results in a more stable and convincing stereo image, and an engaging realness to the sound of voices and instruments than I was prepared for.

The Ikonoklast3 has an average room sensitivity of 95dB and an average impedance of 16 ohms, giving you a speaker that is really easy to drive by a SET amp. Warren designed the Ikonoklast speakers to sound clear and engaging at very low sound pressure levels; but don’t mistake this for a lack of dynamics. He refers to this concept as “downward dynamic range”. Their ability to let you listen to an orchestra’s low-level information at realistically low levels creates quite a startle factor when it goes from ppp to ff.

The Ikonoklast3’s are the most beautifully detailed speakers I have ever heard. Remember I just told you how I cut my teeth as an audiophile on Quad 57’s, and had lived for four years with the unbelievably transparent and detailed Audio Notes. Not only are the Ikonoklast more detailed, but also the detail is of a significantly higher quality and more natural than any speaker I have ever listened to. This can easily be heard on the spoken voice, a stand up bass, a piano, a violin, or a guitar.

Then, in 2007 I discovered Teresonic loudspeakers. This was a special treat in that I had long wanted to hear Lowther speakers in my own system. The first few Lowther-based systems I listened to had just too much shout, but the Teresonic designs ingeniously deal with this, not with electronic filters, but with Helmoltz resonators built into the cabinets, the result, especially in the top-of-the-line Ingenium Silver, is remarkable. I have spent a lot of time with all of their speakers, but the one I fell in love with was the unbelievably alive sounding Ingenium Silver, with their Lowther DX4 silver drivers.

Maybe they aren’t as delicate in their detail as the Ikonoklast, neither do they float the same relaxed soundstage up and behind them, and neither are they as amazing at really low levels. In comparison to the Audio Note AN-E, the Teresonics don’t go quite as low or are quite as extended in the top-end. They also don’t have any of the overhang in the bass that the Audio Notes and all ported speakers have.

What they do is play music like music. Guitars are in the room with you. You can easily tell the difference in one guitar from another. Likewise, play a piano recording and they let you enjoy the emotions of the performance. It’s hard to listen to them and think about things like detail, speed, soundstage, and stuff. It’s much more likely you’ll want to talk about how can he play the drums like that, or “what a voice.”


Like the QUAD 57, the Ingenium Silvers open the window on the performance, but they are much more full of life. What the Teresonics do is allow a musical event to come to life emotionally and musically in my room. It’s almost unnerving because it’s such a sensual, and emotional experience. They draw you in and take your mind away from the things that were occupying it.

You’ve got to hear a big pipe organ on these speakers. It is really a transforming experience. I love to hear a really big pipe organ played live, but I’ve most often found it to be such a let-down in my home. I think we misunderstand what it takes to reproduce a pipe organ. Who cares if your system can play down into the low 20Hz range. That’s not what organ music is all about. It’s about air, lots of moving air. It’s about dynamics. It’s about hearing the hall the organ is being played in. Hearing an organ played well is an emotional, auditory, and tactile experience; and that’s exactly what I experience with the Ingenium Silver’s in my room.

In my review I said, “the Ingenium let you experience all the textures and harmonics of live music. They let you hear how the decay of instruments and acoustical environments sound. The music blooms and feels much more like real music. The whole listening experience becomes about the sounds and feelings of the music in a way that transcends an electronic listening experience.”

When Jim Hannon of The Absolute Sound came to write a blog on the Teresonics in my system, he said, “Indeed, the Ingenium is the most natural and tonally balanced Lowther-based loudspeaker I have ever heard. The Lowther driver is allowed to perform optimally, letting its amazing single-driver coherence, lightning quick transient response, and breathtaking clarity shine through without obfuscation. The result is a loudspeaker that has an immediacy and transparency that are of reference quality. The window on the soundstage is so transparent that you feel like there’s nothing between you and the performers.”

I surely look forward to the next five years of reviewing great speakers!

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