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Eminent Technology LFT-8b Floorstanding Speaker Review

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Eminent Technology recommends use of the Sound Anchor stands designed specifically for this model. I concur, as the bass is muddier when the speakers rest on the skinny metal rod “stands” supplied with the speakers. This really should get fixed. It’s the only element of the speakers that looks ghastly and performs marginally. Such a shabby appearance would only foment negative WAF. I cheated and used hard rubber hockey pucks under the skinny supplied rails. They worked well; as they lifted the speakers up off the thick carpeting in my listening room, the low-end sharpened up immediately. If you really want to tick off the significant other, get some hockey pucks. If you have any mercy for your spouse, tell her you’ll get the real stands. Or, you can build a dedicated sound room. Let’s see…$10k for a room versus $230 for stands. Not a tough decision.

LFT-8B Comment 4: It would be much to E.T.’s advantage to get together with Sound Anchors to offer the option of a pair of them with LFT-8B’s. I believe the earlier LFT-8A was offered in a package with the Sound Anchor stands for $1,699, but I do not currently see information or links to Sound Anchors on E.T.’s website.

I have always enjoyed the sound of the ET’s. They combine technical precision and audiophile sensibility. I especially appreciate their speed. The planar elements having Mylar with etched aluminum sandwiched between two arrays of magnets are to my ear faster than the Magnepan 1.6 drivers with aluminum wires glued to the Mylar in front of one set of magnets. I know that’s a subjective observation, but in continuous listening tests the ET’s were exceptionally vibrant, reflexive, taut, fast sounding, which is a quality planar people like. They will easily sound like they can keep up with whatever upstream components you use.

“Do not skimp on amplification for the LFT-8A’s or you will be shortchanging your listening experience.”


This is not to say that the E.T.’s are the most energetic speakers on the planet. They will not play as loud or with as much force as larger dynamic speakers, but for all but the most hard-boiled listeners they will be plenty involving. At 83db sensitivity they are tougher to drive than most, and the manual suggests a minimum of 75 wpc. I adjure you to spend money on plenty of quality watts for these speakers. Do not skimp on amplification for the LFT-8A’s or you will be shortchanging your listening experience. Bruce indicates that with 225 watts the speaker’s limits can be reached on some program material.

You simply will not get the best from these speakers if you use weak or lower quality amplification. Moving to clean, powerful watts will give you a wholly different experience with the E.T.’s. I have used Monarchy Audio’s SM-70Pro mono blocks as well as the Pathos Classic One MkII, both sporting approximately 70 wpc. They did the job, but the E.T.’s were not opened up full throttle. It took twin bridged Classic One’s at 270 wpc into 4 ohms, or Channel Islands D-200 mono blocks at 325wpc in 4 ohms to make the speakers sound authoritative.

What’s amazing is how the hybrid design is so seamless in the bass. Mating a magnetic planar midrange to a dynamic bass driver is tricky business, fraught with potential for distortion. Bruce explained that it is much more difficult to achieve a good transition between a cone woofer and planar driver if the crossover frequency is above a few hundred Hertz. In the LFT-8A the midrange panel has a very low resonance frequency – 90 Hz – so that the transition is smoothed. In disc after disc, I strained to hear a fault line, a demarcation of division between the planar and dynamic drivers.

At times I felt it existed, not so much a breach between frequency blending of the two drivers but a manifestation of the different ways in which the two drivers produce sound waves. Especially on acoustic bass such as Brian Bromberg’s 2006 reissue of Wood, as the higher and lower notes cascaded, I could hear the sound oscillate ever so slightly between the planar and dynamic driver. This was not a wholesale jumping of the sound from one to the other, but a hair’s breadth of a physical shift in the emanation of the sound waves from lower or higher. Chalk up one advantage of the Magneplanar design, which uses the full sheet of Mylar to reproduce the bass frequencies. However low the 1.6 does go, the elevation of the image will not waver.

Is this issue significant enough to concern the average listener? Likely not; for most program material is not solo bass loaded, and it’s neigh unto impossible to detect this effect when an orchestra is in full swing or while listening to contemporary jazz, pop, or rock music. Even when I could isolate it, I still enjoyed the overall sound of the E.T.’s hybrid bass. Acoustic Jazz fans may want to audition the LFT-8A’s on trial from the company prior to purchase, but for most this will be a non-issue.

LFT-8B Comment 5: One of the remarkable effects of introducing the advanced tweeter has been the disappearance of this lower/higher bass phenomenon. The vertical vacillation between planar and dynamic drivers had virtually disappeared! I attribute this to reduced high end emphasis, allowing me to more easily focus on the lower mid frequencies critical to blending the two drivers.

Still, it is uncanny how seamless the LFT-8A’s are! On Bromberg’s afore mentioned Wood, turn up track 3, “Come Together” (yeah, the Beatles song) and your speakers will divulge if they can or can’t do bass well. The woofers speed along with the planars so well that if you put the grills on the front you’d never think that there was a dynamic driver inside. With every flick of Bromberg’s fingers on track 8, “Straight, No Chaser,” my head bobbed intuitively while the piano and acoustic bass had excellent pace, weight and flow.

“… I’m amazed at the strength of the bass output from the twin 8” drivers. At higher listening levels they are capable of producing waves which are felt.”

That’s not to say a sub(s) wouldn’t enhance the low-end of the LFT-8A’s, but it’s not necessary for individuals who listen at lower levels, play mostly chamber or solo instrumental, or are in a smaller room. The low-end is definitely not weak. In fact, I’m amazed at the strength of the bass output from the twin 8” drivers. At higher listening levels they are capable of producing waves which are felt. This does not mean that LFT-8A’s are ideal for reproducing live concert levels. These speakers are not built to recreate a night club sound. With sensible decibels they can sound more substantial than most small floor standers.

The bass is strong, but it is not completely effortless. I would describe it as earnest, not in the sense of a 5” driver bottoming out with lower frequencies, but an intensity which multiple bass drivers avoid. The LFT-8A’s low-end is not subdued, but rather “in your face, dude!” It’s clean and powerful, but not laid back. Push them to higher levels than conversation permits and you’ll hear them working to produce the bass demanded. On program material with intense low-end at higher levels you’ll hear the effect, “POW, POW, POW!” of the woofer as it punches out the notes. Some people love this slam effect, while others like a completely effortless “pow” effect. At moderate volume this punchy quality is greatly reduced and I did not find it distracting but rather displaying the same “intensity level” as the rest of the drivers.

LFT-8B Comment 6: Here lies one of the most intriguing aspects of the upgraded speaker – the perceived improvement of the bass due to a tweeter replacement. The tweeter was the only element replaced. I should point out that the at-home repairs and upgrades for these speakers are designed to be downright simple (another thing that makes Bruce clever!). Predominantly screwed and bolted together, the woofer box and metal components of the planar framework are elementary. Absolutely clear instructions and visuals on the replacement of the tweeter pretty well make the job a no-brainer. In making the tweeter exchange, aside from using screws and nuts to mount it, one only has to snip a single wire – no soldering is required! Even the most non-technically oriented person can do this upgrade.

Continuing, the perception of the bass was one of the most mystifying and satisfying aspects of the upgrade. With the new tweeter, the punchy “POW” effect all but vanished! In a rather unintuitive turn, the bass now retained every bit the authority and gained a velvet-like texture previously unheard. Indeed, both the midrange and the bass seemed as though they had been upgraded as well. This is testament to the policy of speaker makers offering upgrade drivers and the overall gain in satisfaction.

I’m about to say something that sounds contradictory, but isn’t. Let’s just call it an audiophile quasi-heretical truth. Here it is: These speakers will pound with the best of them. They are capable of plenty of “storm surge” pounding waves of sound. Though I am well aware that planar elements cannot pressurize a room like dynamic speakers, I still experienced plenty of presence from them in my 13’x23’ room. The waves created by the LFT-8A were every bit as powerful to my ear as, say, the Von Schweikerts. Remember, I’m listening with the aim of keeping my hearing well into retirement. If your goal is to recreate “live event” sound, all bets are off.

17 Responses to Eminent Technology LFT-8b Floorstanding Speaker Review

  1. Niyom Ratbamrung says:

    I need to know power and preamplifier match to EMINENT TECHNOLOGY LFT-8B.

  2. charlie mathews says:

    OHHHHHhhhhh…. a great review. I often think Doug just kinda skims over products (ie DACS) but I really think he has done an exceptional job of reviewing these speakers! I have to admit that I am tempted to buy a pair of the new LFT 8B’s and compare them to my very wonderful 1.6 Magnestand’s. Doug you done good!

  3. irenee Grand says:

    I own a pair of LFT 3 from 1987 and have upgraded the crossover and cabling.
    I use a Wells Audio Innamorata amp (200wts in 4 ohms) and it is plenty to drive them to very realistic levels. No preamp apart from the level preamp built in my Benchmark DAC 2.
    Still very hard to beat, sound wise.

  4. Charlie, irenee,
    God’s Peace,

    Charlie, I had to laugh a bit when you said I skim over products like DACs! If you knew the hours I put in on extra exploration of a product, especially opamp rolling the Eastern Electric DACs! It could be a second job! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the LFT-8 review.

    irenee, you should have a lovely combo with the Wells amp and Benchmark DAC2. If you haven not, spend some time working with various power cords, interconnects and speaker cables, as this will reward you.

    Douglas Schroeder

  5. Gary,
    God’s peace,

    I do not know whether there have been any running changes to the speaker. That is a question best placed with Bruce Thigpen of ET.

    Douglas Schroeder

  6. Gary,

    Bruce has notified us of a forthcoming response in a few days. Stay tuned.


  8. Jim Allen says:

    Hi, Doug and thank you for a GREAT review. I was wondering if you have had a chance to compare the Maggie 3.7i to the LFT 8B. Are they in the same ball park? Is the bass better in one or the other. I know the 3.7i’s cost three times as much. Thanks!

  9. Jim,
    God’s Peace,

    I appreciate your appreciation! Thank you for the complement.

    No, I have not compared the 3.7i to the LFT 8B. My expectation would be the 3.7i would seem much more impressive, as the radiating surface is much greater, and he sense of “wall of sound” would be more pronounced. The bass would be more widespread, but it is not as deep. It seems the 3.7i reaches a loose spec of “35Hz”, which may be closer to 40Hz +/- 3dB, pretty weak. The LFT 8B in comparison reaches 25Hz +/-4dB, or about 29Hz +/- 3dB.

    Single sheet drivers get sloppier with higher listening levels, and my understanding is that there is no double magnet array in use in the 3.7i, as opposed to the LFT 8B. I would expect the LFT 8B to sound cleaner with higher listening levels. Importantly, the tweeter of the LFT 8B is able to be tuned in terms of output. That makes for much better matching potentially with any given system.

    Essentially, it comes down to scale and coherence, with the 3.7i winning in those respects, and the LFT – 8B winning in terms of frequency extension and likely, cleanness.

    Douglas Schroeder

  10. Thanks for the Great Review!
    I live in the Tampa Florida area, and just bought a pair of LFT 8 somethings, used. Bruce thinks they are LFT 8A’s, but needs the serial numbers to be sure. I go pick them up tomorrow afternoon. I will most likely upgrade them to the LFT 8B. I feel so lucky to find a used pair! You almost never see any for sale that are used.

  11. Chris,
    God’s Joy,

    You did well! There are precious few speakers that carry as much sound quality per dollar as the LFT-8 series. Well worth upgrading! They deserve the best electronics you can manage. Play around a lot with placement and toe in. You will love them.

    Blessed Christmas,
    Douglas Schroeder

  12. Derek says:

    Hi Doug. I’m hoping you can provide me with a comparison between the ET LFT8b and the new Maggie LRS +. Clarity (lack of veil), emotional engagement and dynamics (quiet to loud transients with gradations) are my priorities.l Yours thoughts and observations please.

  13. Derek,
    God’s Peace,

    Not having used the LRS, I can’t comment on direct comparison. Having used the .7, I was not impressed by the speaker dynamically. I thought it would be a cool model to use for my Landscape Orientation, but it was like driving a brick, pretty lifeless without ridiculously high power. If the LRS is in the vein of the Maggie house sound/tech, then I would not expect it to be a very lively speaker dynamically. In that regard, I suspect the bass of the LFT-8B would be more impactful.

    As to clarity, I would focus on the components and cabling versus getting hung up on the speaker’s “clarity”. All speakers put out only what the components and cables deliver, and imo in a comparison such as this the components and cables will dominate the result. The Maggies are said to be SO clean, clear, but in my experience they are not all that, at least in the lower end of the line. A speaker like the PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn1 in direct comparison was cleaner/clearer. So, perhaps don’t be over-awed by dipole technology as though it’s the end all, be all.

    One option is to save your money and work toward a speaker like the PAP Trio15 10″ Coaxial and you’ll have the best of both worlds in dynamics and cleanness. It’s a lot more $ but worth it.

    Emotional engagement depends on how well the system is built. I can make nearly any speaker sound emotionally engaging or meh. So much is dependent upon the level of gear and skills of system builder. Here’s a tip; never dump detail/resolution for warmth. There is no such thing as too much resolution, and if you think the system is too resolving, it is almost always a tonality issue to address.

    Don’t get the idea I hate Maggies, as I do not. I have owned the 1.6QR and the MMG, and use the surrounds for my HT. It’s a bounded technology and they are simply not built closer to a cost-no-object fashion, which hinders their performance. Also, with a sock over the panel, they are quite compromised, as is easily heard when listening to a dipole where you can remove the grill, such as the Kingsound King III electrostatic. For that reason alone I likely would hesitate to own a Maggie today. Same with Vandersteen with fixed grill. A lot is sacrificed pushing a wave through a grill. That would be one reason I wouldn’t be surprised if in direct comparison I thought the LFT-8B was cleaner/clearer than the LRS. This is conjecture as a direct comparison has not been done.

    I have zero interest in arguing with any hard core Maggie fans. A long time ago I was one of those dipole newbies and arguing they were the best speaker, blah, blah… Wow, I was so inexperienced. A very nice system can be made with either LFT-8B or LRS, but such doesn’t come together magically. It would take a lot of adjustments, tuning, etc. to achieve it, likely at a minimum 8-10 system changes including cables, components, etc. You shouldn’t expect to simply drop any speaker in a rig and for it to be optimized. To that end, an optimized LRS might seem more emotionally satisfying than an LFT-8B, or vice versa.

    Douglas Schroeder

  14. Robert Struzinski says:

    As someone who has taken on building or assembling my own idea of what a speaker could or should sound like, I have found the process takes time and patience to even get started. I’m 2 years into my build and I have been challenged every step as I proceed. The materials used are the biggest part of how things look as well as how they work for assembly. A single change of 1 wire can be an all day project.

    I have found that combining ascetics with ultimate over all sound is the one aspect that seems to become the largest issue. The overall sound has to come first or you’re just compromising the project and limiting the final objective. There’s no simple way to make some of the parts and keep things looking like they came from a million $ company that has the ability to make dies and molds to form plastic parts drawn in CAD for a one off design. There is an understood acceptance to see some roughness and unrefined parts used when the need for strength and rigidity is required.

    When you think in terms of money sometimes the obvious choice is the only option since it has been proven to work. Simplicity is something that’s rarely demonstrated now. The idea recently is to make things so they can’t be upgraded or fixed by the end user. My hats off to Bruce for trusting his buyers to do upgrades and for planning ahead by making the changes be as simple as possible.

    Of course we all know for most other speaker makers, they will void your warranty if anything was touched.
    When you make a product that has the build quality and is made to perform at levels far beyond most comparable models, especially when you know that the chance of burning up drivers or other parts is not part of the equasion, the mention of warranty becomes nothing but words. Taking care of each buyer on a one on one level is more than a warranty, there is a connection directly with the maker that brings a level of assurance in the speaker that cannot be found when dealing with a large company.

    This is also something rarely found in this day and age. Anyone who is looking at buying these speakers for the dole reason of price and performance needs to put all of aspects behind. There cannot be a wife running the show, the fact that there is an unrefined exterior is part of the allure. Wrapping any speaker I’m a sock and hiding everything is the easy way out. I have considered that myself. I’m a firm believer in screws. I have recently become a fan of hot glue to hold electrostatic panels in place.

    When you’re assembling a speaker that uses 14 panels per side you have to be open to things you may have counted out previously. Hot glue has 1 very nice quality in that it is impervious to rattled, it lends a damping at the contact points and is invisible when applied correctly.

    My speakers would not be good for shipping and would never be something I would expect anyone to be able to assemble. That’s another point that Bruce has been able to overcome. These things take time and can end up costing more. It’s rare to find a hand crafted speaker with the emphasis on producing higly accurate sound at a reasonable price. I have about the same cost invested in my speakers plus a few years worth of planning and work.
    I don’t own a set that can compete with mine and I have owned at least 100 pairs of speakers made by the big names of speaker makers.

    I can’t say how loud they go since I wasn’t interested in that end of the rainbow. Realistic levels are easily achieved and sonically true reproduction of any content at any level is what was achieved. There is a slight difference between good recordings and bad recordings as expected but there is a cushion that seems to bring things in a listenable realm. Of course I’m not using the best amps available, wires are left over 12 ga from a competition car stereo build in 1999. At least the wire is actual copper strand, which is almost impossible to find now. My cables are all XLR pure copper strand again the cables were made in the early 1990s and all custom made by myself. Amps all AB analog, output at 4 ohms is 350 watts 2 ohms 700w. Bi-amped 2 way design using an active crossover.

    The blending of the panels with the woofers was the one aspect I did the most testing and I have found that the common way of thinking (sharp slopes and low frequency points) was the one thing that kept the blending to be seamless. I found an overlap of 100Hz aimed directly at a point where both drivers had a drop in attenuation was the target. That point has to be found and not simply chosen arbitrarily by any math or psuedo guessing. Only real-world plots could show that specific point. The best way to accomplish this was to find the rolloff of the panels. Then find woofers that had a drop around that same point. I was lucky and found a combination after testing only about 50 drivers and 100 combinations. It might be easier to study manufacturers plots to try and find the perfect match. That didn’t work in the real world as far as my tests results showed.

    The overlap is under table. The strange thing is I can reverse the polarity of either driver and see no loss or gain, I attribute that to the natural down points not being forced by a sharp slope. I had to use a 3 way active crossover and not use the midband to achieve this. Sometimes the path to success is not the proven one but rather the unexplored.

    Once again, I have much respect for Bruce’s work and the way he has chosen to make a great sounding speaker available at a fraction of the cost of others.!

  15. Ken Schwarz says:

    Thanks for the Great Review!
    I live in the Tampa Florida area, and just bought a pair of LFT 8 somethings, used.

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