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Sound Lab Majestic 645 electrostatic panel loudspeakers Review

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The Majestic 645, the subject of this review, was auditioned in my main sound room, which measures 17.5 feet wide and 24 feet long with a ceiling that rises from 9 feet high at the right wall to 15 feet on the left wall. The review system comprised three phono stages alternated in the auditioning, namely the Pass Laboratories Xs Phono ($48,000), the Van den Hul The Grail SE ($28,000) phono stage, and the Clearaudio Absolute Phono ($15,000). These fed the Pass Labs Xs Preamp ($35,000) in the analog playback system, which consisted of the Clearaudio Master Innovation turntable system ($28,000), AMG 12J2 tonearm ($4,500), Top Wing Suzaku coreless straight-flux cartridge ($16,500), and Stealth Helios phono cable ($10,000). The Aurender N100SC ($3,300), Esoteric K-01XD ($23,000), Bricasti Design M21 DAC ($19,000), Audio Research DAC 9 ($8,500), and the $153K Audio Note UK Fifth Element/Fifth Force 24/96 DAC rounded out the digital front-end. Acoustic Sciences Corporation’s TubeTraps, a PS Audio Direct Stream Power Plant 20 ($9,995) and a whole $70,000 worth of A.R.T. cables augmented the system.

Initial impressions informed me that the Sound Lab didn’t suffer from micro misrepresentation, a problem manifested by rendering midget solo instruments, such as violin or flute, out of proportion. All reputable large multi-driver speaker systems attempt to dole out impressive dynamics in large spaces while maintaining a delicate sonic footprint for rendering small instruments, but it’s a balancing act and results often differ from speaker model to speaker model. The Sound Lab Majestic 645 is the first one to mimic the Destination Audio Vista horns in the areas of dynamic agility and sweeping tonality. The difference of scale between a lone flute or solo piano and a full-scale orchestra with a hundred-member choir reproduced by these panels is the most truthful and realistic I’ve experienced in speakers. To more fully probe the capabilities of the vast panels, three monoblock pairs were rotated through the system: the $45,000-per-pair Pass Laboratories XA200.8 pure class A monoblocks, the $30,000-per-pair Bricasti Design M28 class AB monoblocks, and the $12,000-per-pair Margules Audio U280-SC Black tube stereo amplifiers switched to monoblocks and running in triode mode.

The Sound Lab’s ability to recreate the sound stage as intended by the recording engineer is uncanny. Instruments located far from the center, on the far left or right, emerged as peripherally located, originating seemingly near the outer edges of the panels, and in wholesome body no less. The electrostatic panels were radiating sound via the highest degree of individuality I’ve heard, vertically positioned. This is beyond extraordinary and seems to support the argument for the wide surface radiating area of the speakers.

Point-source speakers with multiple drivers require certain distances between the speakers and the listener for the sound of the drivers to integrate cohesively at the ears, and the fewer drivers, the more complete and coherent the integration can be at shorter distances. Yet, pressurizing a large listening space with point-source speakers requires separate drivers to achieve satisfactory sound pressure. My experience with the Destination Audio Vista Horns informs me of its ability to pressurize a room such as mine with its oversize midrange horn and compact tweeter horn as one of the most satisfying transducers ever created. Line source speakers require no such conditions. The entire surface of the Sound Lab M645 radiated concordantly, in the pattern of a line straight up and down.

At the 2019 California Audio Show, the Sound Lab speakers were demonstrated with the Bricasti Design M21 DAC and M28 monoblocks in a standard room measuring 18.5’ x 13.5’ x 9’. Dr. West is a strong proponent of putting the taller panels in rooms large enough to accommodate them, and no bigger. If a customer had a room 12’ x 12’ x 7’, Roger would recommend the six-feet high 645 model from either the Audiophile, Majestic or Ultimate Series to give a proper Sound Lab experience. Where we thought we were limited to using smaller point-source speakers for proper driver integration in smaller rooms, we can now enjoy full-range performance from line source speakers. Ladies and gentlemen, here is the perfect solution for listening rooms both large and small.

Spanning nearly three feet in width, six feet high and arced gracefully in a 45-degree angle left to right, the vast panels produced the most spectacular soundstaging in the arrangement where I would be sitting inside the equilateral triangle near the tip. Thus situated, the panels measured 116 inches apart inner edge to inner edge, and 182 inches apart at the outer edges. The second step in optimal positioning saw the toeing-in of the panels so that the inner quarter panel would be closest to the listening position. This locked in a radiating pattern relative to my ears to the effect that the space between the panels was filled spectacularly with onstage activities.

In a manner similar to the $95,000-per-pair Destination Audio Vista Horns, the 645 approximated the physicality of instruments in both height and depth. The vertical dispersion characteristics of the Vista Horn as facilitated by the large horn mouth lends itself toward recreation of height and depth, and the Sound Lab panels achieve a similar result by virtue of six feet high vertical dispersion, albeit requiring considerably more powerful amplification.

The panels’ ability to not only differentiate and delineate the tones of instrument groups at the highest definition I’ve experienced, but also to reenact the contrasting dynamics of those groups with startling realism, and to do so concurrently without missing a beat, was simply awe inspiring. At thirty-four inches wide and stretched in a 45-degree arc, the width of the panel enforced a unique radiating pattern in which the top-to-bottom performance of the panel began at the inner section and spread out to the outer edges.

The result was immensely interesting and realistic. Never before had another pair of speakers accomplished both the uniformity of a line source and the spread of the soundstage as did the Sound Lab. The sitting or standing position at the tip of the equilateral triangle in relation to the inner edges of the panels made me gasp at the sound arriving concurrently from the outer edges. This spatiality of the Sound Lab 645 was jaw dropping. For it is a super being in deciphering out-of-phase sonic effects from movies with the highest degree of definition, startling me on sonic effects onscreen coming seemingly out of thin air and not from the panels. Out-of-phase effects in movies are meant to be experienced in a 5.1- or 7.1 surround sound setup, but the Sound Lab surpassed all speakers I have experienced in its rendition of mixed down stereo. In addition, the tonal transparency was such that there was never any trace of a dominant tonal tendency. Succinctly, the panels delivered the most transparent and truthful sonic effects, and to my ears the panels delivered the most faithful cinema experience as intended by the producers and sound engineers. The ease of speed and immensity of scale as produced by the Sound Lab cannot be overstated. The panels’ spatial definition was simply uncanny, and it is simply the greatest listening experience achievable in one’s own home.

5 Responses to Sound Lab Majestic 645 electrostatic panel loudspeakers Review

  1. Kent says:

    Mr. Soo

    A cogent ingredient to the discussion would have been that Mr. Somasundrams excellent listening room with the Soundlabs panels is diminutive by any standards and very irregular in shape. That said the mismatch if indeed there is one, would be strictly visual.

    • Mr. Kent,

      Thank you for your readership and comment. I neglected to caption the picture for clarification. All pictures of the panels are of the Majestic 645 in my house. The following caption is now added: “Sound Lab Majestic 645 left panel, in my listening room and slightly toed-in.”

      My apology for any confusion.

      Incidentally, one of the drafts of the review positions the review as Part 1 of 2 with the following title, “The Midget and The Giant,” with the Majestic 645 being the midget in the Sound Lab family line. “The Giant” is the Part 2 on a pair of bookshelf speakers of another make.

      But I later felt such title could take away the focus on each review. Hence axed.

      Review on the bookshelf is nearly completed. Stay tuned.

  2. Evan says:

    After nearly a year with the 645s, do you ever wish you’d gone with larger panels per Roger’s recommendations?

    • Evan,

      Thank you for your comment and readership. August 2021 shall usher in the 25th month of my ownership of the Sound Lab Majestic 645, and I am planning to upgrade to the M745 very soon. The M745 uses the same crossover electronics so it’s just a matter of swapping the 645 panels with that of the 745. I could get the M945 now but I’m so curious about what the 745 and 845 can do for the comparative pittance the company is charging against others, that getting the colossal, nine feet tall 945 now would probably put a period in my large speaker reviews as well as be a disincentive for me to review the 745 or 845, or anything afterwards.

      The sound of the electrostatic panels is the most realistic and accurate I’ve experienced; the only drawback is the sheer physical size of the panels as necessitated by laws of nature. There is simply no way around this. All speakers utilize capacitors and resistors to suppress characters of the drivers of a speaker in the amalgamation of a cohesive whole, but at least the Sound Lab is an electrostatic line source from top to bottom with an incomparably fast and vast radiating surface.

      For readers with the space and budget, having various makes and models of large speakers in the same room is great fun. But if only one pair can be had on a more restricted budget, the Sound Lab M645 at around $25,000 the pair is the most definitive design that I know of.

  3. Evan says:


    I’m on the fence and trying to decide whether to go with 645s, which suit my eye better (and make accessing the records on the shelf behind the speakers easier) or the 745s. I heard U-745s last week and love them, but they are SO BIG, especially in my modest room. Your room is quite a bit longer than mine (18′ I think for your room and mine is 14’5″), but similar widths, so your move to yet larger panels makes me wonder even more which way I should go!

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