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Raven Design Studio Ebb Floorstanding Speaker Review

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Raven Design Studio Ebb Floorstanding Speaker


The appearance of the speaker is quite pleasant, though unorthodox. Imagine an ovoid shape with slightly bulging sides and tapered ends, like the classic hand drawn caricature of an eye but with blunted corners. Extend the shape three dimensionally into a cylinder and you have an approximation of the Ebb’s cabinet, with one exception. Like a book which has the spine twisted fanning the pages on an angle, the front baffle of the Ebb is slanted inward. When the speaker is placed perpendicularly to the head wall it will have a built-in toe in. This adds to the unusual appearance of the speaker and its aesthetic appeal, as well as prohibiting parallel surfaces internally in the cabinet which could contribute to unwanted resonances.

The curvature of the cabinet is inspired by a microphone’s cardioid waveform which is intended to reduce room pickup or feedback. The cabinet is said to assist in the elimination of room anomalies causing obtrusive sonic characteristics. Internally, it is very heavily braced with multi-layered Birch plywood slabs 1.5-inch thick assembled with non-parallel internal surfaces. Consequently, long frequency waves inside the speaker are broken up and allow the cabinet to have low resonance. In my room the speakers were placed finally 45 inches from the head wall and 20 inches from the side. Larger-than-normal 2.5-inch machined aluminum spikes raised the cabinet well off the thick Berber carpeting in my room. The cabinet dimensions without spikes are H 32” x W 10.5” x D 20”.

The speaker is available in Maple, Mahogany, Walnut and Black Lacquer finishes. An alternative to these more traditional finishes is the “Strata,” which shows the end grain of birch plywood under clear lacquer. Rather than terrific slabs of fairly boring prefab materials glaring at the user, the thinly sliced bands of the plywood have subtle interplay which nearly made them appear from a distance as bands of a tree trunk. I quite enjoyed the eco-trendy mood of this finish, which would be welcome in the home of those who are modernist or minimalist as well as persons looking for high WAF, or equipment with a high degree of earthiness to it.

Baffling Effects

Returning once again to discussion of the front baffle of the Ebb, it is perfectly vertical, though flared to the inside gratuitously. This allows the speakers to be placed parallel to each other with the driver sets aimed toward the listener. There is a very pleasing aesthetic quality to this arrangement; the eye enjoys the neatness of it and the ear enjoys the immediacy of it. As the eye surveys the four full-range drivers it appears as if there is a smidgen more space between each one moving toward the bottom. There is, as Kimon has placed them asymmetrically so as to combat comb filtering, which in simple terms is the effect of multiple sets of waves striking the ear at a given frequency at the same time muddying up the sound.

During our time together Nick had toed-in the speakers such that their direct wave launch crossed well in front of the primary listening position. I have had other manufacturers such as Bill Dudleston of Legacy Audio set up speakers in similar fashion. I typically do not toe-in speakers to that degree. I find that the center image, while huge, is not as focused as when the drivers are aimed directly at the left and right ears respectively, that is, left speaker to left ear, right speaker to right ear. While alternative positioning may work well in other rooms, in my room the classic “aim for the head” method works the best. We both agreed that in my system the “direct” approach to the setup was superior.

Well into the listening sessions I felt it was time to address the height limitation of the speaker. The Ebb is not considered a horn speaker; the tweeter is housed in a wave guide serving to time align the tweeter, increase its efficiency and prevent wall interaction. The angle of the wave guide is 150 degrees, which is wider than a normal horn driver. This allows for more predictable performance of the driver through all frequencies as it interacts with the room, and is more generous in terms of width of seating arrangements.

The last morning session of approximately two hours, I brought up the thought I had almost immediately upon seeing the speaker: I wanted to raise the front and thereby introduce a backward slant to the baffle. It is not uncommon for speakers to have a rearward pitch on the front baffle in order to physically effect time alignment. Though I did not hear anything noticeably out of sorts, I wondered what the effect would be to experiment by placing the forward spikes on hockey pucks. The speaker’s spikes are not adjustable, so it was a logical option for checking out the speaker’s performance with a faux “time aligned” positioning system. As I gently suggested this, I was taken aback by Nick’s casual response, “Oh, I do that with my pair at home.” It turns out that Raven has been contemplating a rake back of the front baffle and the second iteration of the speaker was sent along with two additional sets of spikes for the rear. One set is a full inch shorter and the other a half inch shorter than the front spikes, allowing owners reversibility in experimenting with the baffle tilt.

I found the backward cant of the speaker to be highly beneficial to its overall performance. In fact, I would not run these speakers without it. The soundstage was nicely elevated once the speaker was tipped back. The generous dispersion of the Raven tweeter did not lose a significant amount of detail, something that most tweeters cannot claim when heard off-axis and a testament to the ingeniousness of the widely flared wave guide. The four full-range Focal drivers were now nearly as equidistant to my ears as the tweeter. The entire sonic picture while being enlarged was more precisely rendered. The Ebb went from sounding like a small bookshelf on a too-low stand to a moderately sized floor standing speaker… or perhaps something in-between.

One Response to Raven Design Studio Ebb Floorstanding Speaker Review

  1. Ken Mason says:

    I want to see compared this to a Heil Blue Ox AMT tweeter, nothing sounds better, lets see how the Raven tweeter compares.

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