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The Beatnik’s Five Desert Island Speakers

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I have recently read several reviews of the Harbeth M40.1 speakers, a speaker I have only heard at shows. I especially enjoyed Art Dudley’s review. In his conclusion of the review he mentioned that with the addition of the Harbeth M40.1s there were now fourteen speakers he could live with but he did not name them. That got me to thinking, what speakers are out there that I know I could live with and why? So I thought I’d share with you a short list; five came to mind. The only one on the list that can’t be driven by my Wavac MD300B is the Quad 57, which almost kept it off the list, but it sounded so good with a modded pair of Quad amps, the original Electrocompaniet amp, or the Bedini 25/25 amp that I had to include them. So here it goes.

1. Shindo Latour

In the past 40 years I have had the privilege of hearing some of the world’s best speaker systems. For years, only a handful were really good, but nowadays with the aid of computers in the design stage, it seems that most speakers are fairly good. Still, only a handful can allow recorded music to come to life in your listening room. At the top of that short list is Shindo’s Latour field-coil speaker system. It was the first speaker I have experienced that brings music to life, is truly transparent and is really full-range.

The Latour is a simple two-way design; personally I have not found a speaker more complicated than a two-way that doesn’t mess up the music somewhere. The Latour uses a compression driver in a horn for the mids and highs. For the bass it uses a 15″ stiff paper, short-throw woofer. The Latour is truly SET friendly at 100 dB efficient. These speakers amaze me because they are very large speakers and yet they just disappear. Not only do they disappear they are almost as coherent as a single-driver speaker, and even though they have a 15″ woofer they have very fast bass with great slam, attack, decay and air.

2. Teresonic Ingenium Silver

These are the speakers I own and listen to most often. They only fall short of the Latours in two ways. They are not as extended and they are not quite as smooth throughout the frequency range. The Ingenium Silvers may be more immediate though and are even more efficient. While their bass does not go as deep as the Shindo Latours, the Ingeniums Silvers’ bass seems quicker and seems to equal the Latours in decay. If I could afford the Latours and that they would fit in my room, I would own them, but I can’t and they don’t. So the Teresonic Ingenium Silvers are close enough to give me a totally emotional and satisfying musical experience.(Review)

3. WGA’s Ikonoklast Model 3HO

The latest version of these little floor-standers is just remarkable. With no crossover and their wonderful Ohm type tweeter, they play music so pure and sweet that I could easily live with them as my reference speakers. They still play better at low levels than any speaker I have ever heard. I have reviewed both the Model 3 and the Model 3HO, and the 3HO sounds even better and play louder with greater ease. These speakers are one of the best kept secrets in audio. (Review)

4. Audio Note E and J

Dagogo is full of reviews of different versions of these incredibly conventional looking and truly musical sounding speakers. It is remarkable how musical the Audio Note E and Js sound and I could easily live with them the rest of my life. Even though I lived with a pair of the E for several years, I think if I were to buy a pair today I would go for the top model of the J. I like the fact that their bass is slightly quicker even though it does not go quite as deep.(Review)

5. Quad 57

Last on the list are the truly historic, original Quad Electrostatic Speakers or as they are now known the Quad 57, because they were introduced in 1957. These are the speakers that got me into high-end audio and I thought that maybe my memory of them might be better than they really were. A couple of years ago I was visiting Ken Askew in his New York City apartment and he had a beautiful Quad 57 setup and I was shocked at how they held up to the test of time. They were truly a window on the performance, just as Peter Walker had wanted them to be. Yes the window was a little further away, and a little more forgiving than I’m use to, but it was wide open, clear, and most of all they still sound like music.

Well it’s been fun, keep on Boppin’

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