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Thread: Tesseract, an overview from an Avalon insider's perspective

  1. #1

    Tesseract, an overview from an Avalon insider's perspective

    In the recent thread where I introduced myself to this forum I was asked by LL21:

    "...tell us about the Tesseract please. There is not as much written about it as other SOTA, reference level speakers. In particular, it certainly seems as if Avalon has gone through great lengths above and beyond its other speaker designs...i just don’t know what those things really are.

    Can you explain the key design elements/innovations of the Tesseract that Avalon are most proud of...and what they do to the sound that it can reproduce?

    Thanks for any insights here."


    I am very happy to oblige and share some technical insights here as a company insider as well as relate my own personal listening experiences. There is no way for me not to gush about this product…so if it seems over the top, I apologize…but I’ve heard the Tesseract and if you get that opportunity I bet you’ll have a tough time holding back when describing it as well.


    Overview:

    Tesseract is much more than the flagship speaker from Avalon…in my opinion and experience, it sets a new standard in not only in transducer design, but in what any audio component in the chain can contribute to music reproduction. For me, it’s so far beyond what I have heard any other component in the chain do to take things to a new level, that it’s almost like a new vocabulary needs to be developed. Since I’m a pretty simple guy, I’ll just stick to the vocabulary I have…it’s unlikely to be sufficient to do this speaker any justice but I’ll do my best. I’ll describe some of the important technical details and goals, as well as my own sonic impressions and observations. Truthfully though it’s no easier to describe Tesseract to someone than it is to describe the Grand Canyon...it simply needs to be experienced. Photos don’t do it justice and my words will not either. What I can say though, with absolute confidence is that those lucky enough to hear Tess in a properly optimized room will have a sonic experience that will stick in their memory for a lifetime.


    Technical design goals:

    I've spoken with Neil at length about the design process for Tess (probably barely scratching the surface). Neil had many specific goals when he embarked on the journey of developing Tesseract. First of all it’s no easy task to develop a necessarily large speaker that will convincingly play full-scale music at concert levels AND have it disappear in the listening room. This goal most certainly was accomplished and in my opinion that alone is a major breakthrough. Beyond that Neil insisted that the design would respect and preserve the humanity and emotion that is music! That charge was carried very step of the way, it was always at the core of the thinking. Beyond these weighty and noble challenges, there were also numerous technical goals like “No Phase Errors” , “No Group Delay Distortion”, “Minimal Intermodulation Distortions” , “Sharp Image Edge Definition”, Maximum Ambience Retrieval” , “Low Noise Floor”, “Maximized Dynamic Headroom”, “Maximized Transient Speed”, “Constant Q”, “Smooth And Even Polar Response”, “Purely Pistonic Motion Throughout The Pass Band”, “Symmetrical Overall Impedance Curve For Ease Of Drivability”. I think we can all agree that these were some lofty goals and now are incredible accomplishments.

    Physical description:

    From a technical standpoint I think its probably best to start with the basics. Tess has an upper cabinet and a lower cabinet.

    The lower cabinet houses (4) 15” custom low Q, high force factor sub-woofers…two front firing from the sub cabinet, and two behind those internally in an isobaric transmission line array. The Sub cabinets also house the 3.2 Killowatt amplifiers (for each channel). These are special custom Class-A/B MOSFET designs with switch-mode supplies. The powered sub cabinets handle 100hz and below and do not affect the load given to the amplifier that is driving the upper cabinets from 100hz and above. The Sub cabinets also house some control circuitry such as photo sensing power on/off (by waving your hand over a sensor on the back) and a unique transient speed control for the lows.

    The upper cabinet houses the 11” Ceramic/Honeycomb mid-bass, the 4.5” Ceramic mid-range, and the .78” Diamond tweeter. The upper cabinet also houses the crossover system.

    The upper and lower cabinet designs alone would take me 5 pages to describe properly so I’ll just touch on a few particularly interesting things. With the large number of facets it wasn’t going to be reasonable or possible to do a wood veneer skin on this product. I’m pretty sure every single person involved with building/finishing cabinets at Avalon would have walked out the door if that was required ☺ Just not realistic, so given the fact that these were going to be painted (any color BTW), it gave an interesting opportunity…each cabinet is sprayed with a special combination of carbon fiber and fiberglass before it is sanded and then painted (a many step process itself). This technique offers some interesting benefits such as incredible cabinet damping and giving the entire cabinet an RF shield due to the conductive nature. It’s an opportunity to completely ground the cabinet. Like other Avalon cabinets the whole process of manufacturing is analog...no CNC machines...all done by the hands of some of the most talented and dedicated craftsment/wood workers I've ever met. No detail is too small...nothing is right until it's really right. No shortcuts.

    Basic Specifications:

    Frequency Response: 16 Hz to 50k Hz +/- 0.5dB (anechoic) or +/- 1 dB in room (typical).
    Efficiency: 93.5 dB (1 watt@1 meter)
    Impedance: 6 ohms nominal, 4 ohms minimum (at 80 hz).
    Recommended power: 15- 500 watts (you only drive from 100 Hz on up)

    Sonic description:

    Tess is capable of not only playing large scale musical events with uncanny realism and staggering dynamic contrast (as you would probably expect), but just as importantly, smaller scale music is reproduced in absolutely proper scale. In the past I always felt that really large speakers not only didn’t completely disappear (not even close usually), but the scale of the music was often blown WAY out of proper proportion. Tess accomplishes realistic image sizing without frequency dependent exaggeration. For a large speaker like this to disappear completely like Tess does, is quite an engineering feat. Most really large speakers make it sound like there are two refrigerators in the room in front of you.

    The best way I know how to describe what Tess does sonically is to explain the effect a listening session with Tess had on me recently. Long ago I resigned myself to the fact that I will never in my life hear Jimi Hendrix play live…nor will I hear Miles Davis play live. Some of you may be lucky enough to have had those experiences, but I did not…until I listened to Tesseract. In a recent listening session I had with Neil I put on what is probably my personal “stranded on a desert island and can have only one disc” recording … Band of Gypsys. Recorded live December 31st 1969 and January 1st 1970 at the Fillmore East. I’ve listened to this recording a lot and in a huge variety of systems over the years. Always have I felt that I got a glimpse on that recording into what it must have been like to really (pardon the pun) "experience Hendrix" at his best. Musically that disc never fails to move me with it’s cool/funky/bluesy vibe. Hendrix’ guitar playing on it is a face melter. Ok, I’ve heard it a few hundred times….but only when listening to it on Tess did I really FEEL that I was hearing the Band of Gypsys play for me….like I was at the Fillmore at that time. I was able to get such a sense of that recorded space that I sat there dumbfounded with a huge grin on my face…probably drooling, for all I know. I was hearing Hendrix live for the first time and the emotional feeling (pure joy) I had was overwhelming. It happened again with Miles Davis when we played some of that. The fact is we are so fortunate to have good recordings of so many artists (some sadly gone) that we can enjoy. The degree to which I could experience these recordings and the artists intentions/expressions was a true revelation. I’ve been involved on a daily basis in hi-end audio for 30 years now…never have I had an experience so profound.

    It’s just not that useful to describe Tess in conventional audio terms. People just need to hear it and experience it for themselves to understand what has been accomplished by the vision, dedication, and hard work of Neil and the team of true craftsmen at Avalon. I know I’ve been changed by having heard it and by having some very meaningful behind the scenes views into what it took/takes to build something like that. It’s just a stunning accomplishment.


    Conclusion:

    If I might, I’ll finish with a strong opinion (what would the internet be without those!); it’s my belief that Tesseract is the most advanced and highest performing loudspeaker system that has been made…and I really don’t think it will be surpassed in the future. Bold statement? Sure, but the fact is that Neil Patel is without doubt one of the best speaker designers the world knows (the very best in my opinion, with 25 years of groundbreaking design experience) and he dedicated himself completely to designing and refining Tess for a period of 4 years. I just don’t believe that Neil or any other highly talented and driven speaker designer will go through such a thorough and painstaking 4 year process again on a single loudspeaker design. Of course we do have the fruits of that exhaustive labor as a production product that can actually be purchased by a lucky few, but beyond that it’s exciting to know that a lot of the thinking and technical innovation from Tess’s development will find it’s way into other Avalon transducers that will be able to be purchased by a much wider audience.

    I hope this basic overview and my descriptions of what the Tesseract has accomplished on a number of levels is helpful and interesting to the Avalon fans and followers on this forum. I’m happy to answer questions if this generates more questions than it did answers ☺

  2. #2
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    Great stuff, Steve. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Yes, i did ask for it, and i thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of it. As you rightfully hinted...a few follow up questions!

    1. Audiophiles sometimes enjoy learning about some basic design elements (even if frankly many of us (including me) appreciate that these individual elements do not in any way guarantee a good loudspeaker...) Nevertheless:

    - How does this speaker handle damping of such incredible bass vibrations in the cabinetry? Any non-proprietary insights would be appreciated. Some speak of panels that perhaps have less force required than a heavy cone, others of aluminum, others of special laminates/bonded materials and still others of monocoque construction with materials.

    Would like to understand a bit more about the panels, facets of your speaker cabinet.

    2. Regarding amplification...that is a pretty attractive seeming load...particularly since it is only 100hz and up. anything unusual in the total impedance load, phase, etc that would cause this to require a particularly powerful amp?

    In fact, what do you recommend...or if recommend is the wrong word for a manufacturer, what personally do you like with the Tesseracts? mid-powered tubes, SETs, high-current behemoths?

    3. In terms of basic size/proportions, they do seem huge and no doubt we could look it up someplace on the net...but exactly how tall, wide (at the base) and heavy are each speaker?

    4. Anything particularly special in the crossovers in terms of materials?

    5. Any kind of adjustability in the speaker for users?

    all for now...thank you!
    Speaker Wilson X-1/SLAMMS / Velodyne DD18+
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  3. #3
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    Thank you you Steve for the Posting--now the most crucial factor --

    the RRP please

    BruceD (Previous Ascent ll and Eclipse Owner)

  4. #4
    Site Founder And Administrator Steve Williams's Avatar
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    There's a pair on higherfi.com for $299K
    Steve Williams
    aka oneobgyn
    There's ALWAYS another Steve Williams BUT there's only "oneobgyn"
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Huntley -Avalon View Post
    In the recent thread where I introduced myself to this forum I was asked by LL21:

    "...tell us about the Tesseract please. There is not as much written about it as other SOTA, reference level speakers. In particular, it certainly seems as if Avalon has gone through great lengths above and beyond its other speaker designs...i just don’t know what those things really are.

    Can you explain the key design elements/innovations of the Tesseract that Avalon are most proud of...and what they do to the sound that it can reproduce?

    Thanks for any insights here."


    I am very happy to oblige and share some technical insights here as a company insider as well as relate my own personal listening experiences. There is no way for me not to gush about this product…so if it seems over the top, I apologize…but I’ve heard the Tesseract and if you get that opportunity I bet you’ll have a tough time holding back when describing it as well.


    Overview:

    Tesseract is much more than the flagship speaker from Avalon…in my opinion and experience, it sets a new standard in not only in transducer design, but in what any audio component in the chain can contribute to music reproduction. For me, it’s so far beyond what I have heard any other component in the chain do to take things to a new level, that it’s almost like a new vocabulary needs to be developed. Since I’m a pretty simple guy, I’ll just stick to the vocabulary I have…it’s unlikely to be sufficient to do this speaker any justice but I’ll do my best. I’ll describe some of the important technical details and goals, as well as my own sonic impressions and observations. Truthfully though it’s no easier to describe Tesseract to someone than it is to describe the Grand Canyon...it simply needs to be experienced. Photos don’t do it justice and my words will not either. What I can say though, with absolute confidence is that those lucky enough to hear Tess in a properly optimized room will have a sonic experience that will stick in their memory for a lifetime.


    Technical design goals:

    I've spoken with Neil at length about the design process for Tess (probably barely scratching the surface). Neil had many specific goals when he embarked on the journey of developing Tesseract. First of all it’s no easy task to develop a necessarily large speaker that will convincingly play full-scale music at concert levels AND have it disappear in the listening room. This goal most certainly was accomplished and in my opinion that alone is a major breakthrough. Beyond that Neil insisted that the design would respect and preserve the humanity and emotion that is music! That charge was carried very step of the way, it was always at the core of the thinking. Beyond these weighty and noble challenges, there were also numerous technical goals like “No Phase Errors” , “No Group Delay Distortion”, “Minimal Intermodulation Distortions” , “Sharp Image Edge Definition”, Maximum Ambience Retrieval” , “Low Noise Floor”, “Maximized Dynamic Headroom”, “Maximized Transient Speed”, “Constant Q”, “Smooth And Even Polar Response”, “Purely Pistonic Motion Throughout The Pass Band”, “Symmetrical Overall Impedance Curve For Ease Of Drivability”. I think we can all agree that these were some lofty goals and now are incredible accomplishments.

    Physical description:

    From a technical standpoint I think its probably best to start with the basics. Tess has an upper cabinet and a lower cabinet.

    The lower cabinet houses (4) 15” custom low Q, high force factor sub-woofers…two front firing from the sub cabinet, and two behind those internally in an isobaric transmission line array. The Sub cabinets also house the 3.2 Killowatt amplifiers (for each channel). These are special custom Class-A/B MOSFET designs with switch-mode supplies. The powered sub cabinets handle 100hz and below and do not affect the load given to the amplifier that is driving the upper cabinets from 100hz and above. The Sub cabinets also house some control circuitry such as photo sensing power on/off (by waving your hand over a sensor on the back) and a unique transient speed control for the lows.

    The upper cabinet houses the 11” Ceramic/Honeycomb mid-bass, the 4.5” Ceramic mid-range, and the .78” Diamond tweeter. The upper cabinet also houses the crossover system.

    The upper and lower cabinet designs alone would take me 5 pages to describe properly so I’ll just touch on a few particularly interesting things. With the large number of facets it wasn’t going to be reasonable or possible to do a wood veneer skin on this product. I’m pretty sure every single person involved with building/finishing cabinets at Avalon would have walked out the door if that was required ☺ Just not realistic, so given the fact that these were going to be painted (any color BTW), it gave an interesting opportunity…each cabinet is sprayed with a special combination of carbon fiber and fiberglass before it is sanded and then painted (a many step process itself). This technique offers some interesting benefits such as incredible cabinet damping and giving the entire cabinet an RF shield due to the conductive nature. It’s an opportunity to completely ground the cabinet. Like other Avalon cabinets the whole process of manufacturing is analog...no CNC machines...all done by the hands of some of the most talented and dedicated craftsment/wood workers I've ever met. No detail is too small...nothing is right until it's really right. No shortcuts.

    Basic Specifications:

    Frequency Response: 16 Hz to 50k Hz +/- 0.5dB (anechoic) or +/- 1 dB in room (typical).
    Efficiency: 93.5 dB (1 watt@1 meter)
    Impedance: 6 ohms nominal, 4 ohms minimum (at 80 hz).
    Recommended power: 15- 500 watts (you only drive from 100 Hz on up)

    Sonic description:

    Tess is capable of not only playing large scale musical events with uncanny realism and staggering dynamic contrast (as you would probably expect), but just as importantly, smaller scale music is reproduced in absolutely proper scale. In the past I always felt that really large speakers not only didn’t completely disappear (not even close usually), but the scale of the music was often blown WAY out of proper proportion. Tess accomplishes realistic image sizing without frequency dependent exaggeration. For a large speaker like this to disappear completely like Tess does, is quite an engineering feat. Most really large speakers make it sound like there are two refrigerators in the room in front of you.

    The best way I know how to describe what Tess does sonically is to explain the effect a listening session with Tess had on me recently. Long ago I resigned myself to the fact that I will never in my life hear Jimi Hendrix play live…nor will I hear Miles Davis play live. Some of you may be lucky enough to have had those experiences, but I did not…until I listened to Tesseract. In a recent listening session I had with Neil I put on what is probably my personal “stranded on a desert island and can have only one disc” recording … Band of Gypsys. Recorded live December 31st 1969 and January 1st 1970 at the Fillmore East. I’ve listened to this recording a lot and in a huge variety of systems over the years. Always have I felt that I got a glimpse on that recording into what it must have been like to really (pardon the pun) "experience Hendrix" at his best. Musically that disc never fails to move me with it’s cool/funky/bluesy vibe. Hendrix’ guitar playing on it is a face melter. Ok, I’ve heard it a few hundred times….but only when listening to it on Tess did I really FEEL that I was hearing the Band of Gypsys play for me….like I was at the Fillmore at that time. I was able to get such a sense of that recorded space that I sat there dumbfounded with a huge grin on my face…probably drooling, for all I know. I was hearing Hendrix live for the first time and the emotional feeling (pure joy) I had was overwhelming. It happened again with Miles Davis when we played some of that. The fact is we are so fortunate to have good recordings of so many artists (some sadly gone) that we can enjoy. The degree to which I could experience these recordings and the artists intentions/expressions was a true revelation. I’ve been involved on a daily basis in hi-end audio for 30 years now…never have I had an experience so profound.

    It’s just not that useful to describe Tess in conventional audio terms. People just need to hear it and experience it for themselves to understand what has been accomplished by the vision, dedication, and hard work of Neil and the team of true craftsmen at Avalon. I know I’ve been changed by having heard it and by having some very meaningful behind the scenes views into what it took/takes to build something like that. It’s just a stunning accomplishment.


    Conclusion:

    If I might, I’ll finish with a strong opinion (what would the internet be without those!); it’s my belief that Tesseract is the most advanced and highest performing loudspeaker system that has been made…and I really don’t think it will be surpassed in the future. Bold statement? Sure, but the fact is that Neil Patel is without doubt one of the best speaker designers the world knows (the very best in my opinion, with 25 years of groundbreaking design experience) and he dedicated himself completely to designing and refining Tess for a period of 4 years. I just don’t believe that Neil or any other highly talented and driven speaker designer will go through such a thorough and painstaking 4 year process again on a single loudspeaker design. Of course we do have the fruits of that exhaustive labor as a production product that can actually be purchased by a lucky few, but beyond that it’s exciting to know that a lot of the thinking and technical innovation from Tess’s development will find it’s way into other Avalon transducers that will be able to be purchased by a much wider audience.

    I hope this basic overview and my descriptions of what the Tesseract has accomplished on a number of levels is helpful and interesting to the Avalon fans and followers on this forum. I’m happy to answer questions if this generates more questions than it did answers ☺
    Even taking into account your professional relationship with Avalon your "bold" statements/conclusions seem to me way over the top. First of all, there so are many top of the bill or 'statement' speakers available that it is nearly impossible for anyone to listen to them all under 'controlled' circumstances. Did you ever experience the top of the line speakers of eg Nola, Von Schweikert, Genesis, Magico, etc, let alone these kind of speakers that were set up perfectly? I know for a fact that you have never heard the Tidal LA's. Secondly, claiming that a certain audio component is the best in the world seems to me rather futile. There is no such thing as we all hear differently, prefer different aspects in sound reproduction, etc. Lastly, the idea that a certain component cannot or will not be surpassed somewhere in the future seems rather odd to me, in particular from an audio professional. It is rather hard for me to believe that Avalon has stopped or will stop its research activities in order to create better products, including a new/better top of the line loudspeaker, (somewhere) in the future.

    But probably I take your "bold" statements/conclusions way to seriously and should I label your comments just as somewhat (over)enthusiastic.

  6. #6
    Member Sponsor Senior Member Marcus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LL21 View Post
    Great stuff, Steve. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Yes, i did ask for it, and i thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of it. As you rightfully hinted...a few follow up questions!

    1. Audiophiles sometimes enjoy learning about some basic design elements (even if frankly many of us (including me) appreciate that these individual elements do not in any way guarantee a good loudspeaker...) Nevertheless:

    - How does this speaker handle damping of such incredible bass vibrations in the cabinetry? Any non-proprietary insights would be appreciated. Some speak of panels that perhaps have less force required than a heavy cone, others of aluminum, others of special laminates/bonded materials and still others of monocoque construction with materials.

    Would like to understand a bit more about the panels, facets of your speaker cabinet.

    2. Regarding amplification...that is a pretty attractive seeming load...particularly since it is only 100hz and up. anything unusual in the total impedance load, phase, etc that would cause this to require a particularly powerful amp?

    In fact, what do you recommend...or if recommend is the wrong word for a manufacturer, what personally do you like with the Tesseracts? mid-powered tubes, SETs, high-current behemoths?

    3. In terms of basic size/proportions, they do seem huge and no doubt we could look it up someplace on the net...but exactly how tall, wide (at the base) and heavy are each speaker?

    4. Anything particularly special in the crossovers in terms of materials?

    5. Any kind of adjustability in the speaker for users?

    all for now...thank you!
    6.....

    Since there are more and more audiophiles that use Entreq or Tripoint grounding devices, it would be interesting to know if Avalon is considering grounding terminals for this new generation speakers (Tess, Sentinel, Saga...)?
    Source: Kuzma XL DC, Kuzma 4Point 14 inch, Benz Micro LP-S MR; Phono: Zanden 1200 Mk3; Tuner: Magnum Dynalab MD-108T Signature; Line Stage: conrad-johnson GAT S2; Power amp: conrad-johnson ART; Speakers: Avalon Time; Grounding: Tripoint Troy Signature & Thor SE; Interconnects: Cardas Clear Beyond & Clear Rev1; Speaker cables: Cardas Clear Beyond; Power cords: Cardas Clear Beyond; Stands: Finite Elemente Master Reference & Master Reference Heavy Duty;Acoustics treatment: Svanå Miljöteknik (SMT);

  7. #7
    [Industry Expert] Addicted to Best! DaveC's Avatar
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    So when's the tour / listening session? I'll bring beer.
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  8. #8
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    Properly set up, most big speakers I've heard definitely do not sound like there are "two refrigerators in the room". The large Wilson's and the large Rockports are two that quickly come to mind. They completely disappear and music seems to emanate from a stage.
    Regards,
    Steve

  9. #9
    VIP/Donor [WBF Founding Member] ack's Avatar
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    I enjoyed reading the write-up, but also could have skipped the Conclusion - an unfortunate summary. Let's just say, it will be surpassed and I am sure you know it, and you might as well simply have said that Avalon is pushing the envelope so hard that it might be extremely tough to surpass this speaker. Specs, graphs and other measurements would also be nice. Welcome to the forum.
    Sources: mod. VPI Aries 3;mod. JMW 10.5i/Ortofon A90;mod. Pass XP-25;Spectral 3000SL xport/mod. Alpha DAC;mod. Magnum Dynalab Etude;mod. Revox B-77II Amplification: Spectral DMC-30SV/DMA-400RS Speakers: Heavily mod. MartinLogan (custom Mundorf xover, cabling, woofers; structural mods);mod. REL Cabling: MIT Oracle 50ic,MA-X/Oracle 90.1 Power: MIT Z-Strip, Magnum Z-Trap; Shunyata Black Mamba CX HC cords, Typhon Tweaks: EAR Isodamp c1002 References: Live unamplified music
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  10. #10
    Thanks for the follow up questions and comments guys.

    Easy question first...US retail is $325k for a pair. It's probably obvious that it takes quite a bit of time to build a pair of these (two months minimum) so in North America there are no more than two pairs made available per year. The others go overseas. So they are a highly exclusive offering not only from the price standpoint but from the availability standpoint.

    If Higherfi.com has a pair listed then I would be highly suspicious...we certainly know exactly where every pair is and they don't have a pair, it's that simple. Nor do they have access to them through us or our distribution partners.

    Regarding my admittedly bold comments/statements...it was of course only based on what my personal experiences are and have been. I think it's obvious that I have a bias and I assume people just take it as an opinion of one person (with an obvious bias). My comments (raves) weren't intended as all knowing blanket statements. My apologies if I didn't put it in clearer context. I stand by my comments though from the perspective of my personal experiences.

    Ok, onto the other questions:

    Damping of cabinet vibrations. With the huge amount of bass energy capable of being produced, it absolutely needs to be dealt with in a serious way from the standpoint of cabinet design. There are a number of things that had to be been done on Tess that aren't as necessary on other Avalon cabinets...at least not to the same degree. Some specific things are the fact the faceted front Avalon cabinets have the panels and bracing mitered for all joints...no butt joints. An Avalon cabinet would stay together without any of the glue used simply by the fact that all the joints are so tight and the cabinets are assembled using fire hose presses with extremely high pressure. A typical speaker cabinet would crush to pieces under that pressure. Glue is used mainly to seal the joints in terms of minor air gaps...only partly to hold the cabinet together. I doubt an Avalon cabinet could be pulled apart even without glue. Anyway, thats one important feature. Another is the fact that the Woofers have extremely stiff baskets and that the front woofer is coupled (bolted) to the pole piece of the woofer behind it. That one is constrained and damped to a heavy center brace. Multiple materials are used where needed, different thicknesses of material are constrained, etc. Also the Tess cabinets are designed somewhat like a geodesic dome concept where each facet/panel transfers energy to the adjacent panel and all the energy is dispersed across the entire structure. I could go on and on about the structural rigidity of these cabinets (and all Avalons for that matter) but I think you get the idea. The structure is quite sufficient and rigid for the challenging application of minimizing and controlling/tuning resonance.

    Type of load presented o amplifier. The amplifier will see a completely non-reactive load, it's a very resistive load. Tess is extremely easy to drive.

    What amps or design topologies of amplifiers do we like with Tess. At the risk of sounding overly diplomatic on this, it really is up to the listener. Basically the function of an ideal amplifier is to provide infinite power in an infinitely short period of time. Since no amplifier realistically does that, it's a matter of choosing one that either has the fewest compromises in accomplishing that or that has a sonic signature that you personally want imparted on the sound. We certainly hear the merits of using an amplifier with incredible transient speed (Spectral is a perfect example). However great sound can be attained using an 18 watt triode tube amp...really whatever flavoring you want to choose. Power ratings really aren't that helpful in determining what an amplifier will deliver musically into a load. A 1k tone into a 8 ohm resistor really has very little with what an amplifier is doing when driving a musical signal into a transducer. A lot of variables at play to say the least.

    Dimensions of Tess. Height is about 7' 3". Maximum width of speaker itself is 2' 5". Maximum depth of speaker is 2' 8". The base is only slightly deeper and wider than the widest/deepest points of the Sub cabinet. Each Tess weighs in at 827 lbs out of the crates. The pair of speakers are shipped in 4 crates and the subs have a built in dolly system to get them out of the crates, basically down a built in ramp. Two strong guys can install a pair of Tess once the crates are in the room.

    Special crossover materials. Indeed there are. The custom designed wiring alone in a Tess costs a small fortune. Probably 30-40% of the crossover parts in Tess are specially developed parts that most closely resemble the ideal of that type of part. All Avalon inductors are very carefully hand wound using special custom wire, capacitors were developed specifically for the needs within a speaker crossover...special materials and manufacturing techniques were required. Probably 30-40% of the crossover parts for Tess were either newly discovered or custom made. The benefits of these efforts to find the perfect parts will be made available in other Avalon models going forward. The current Indra Ceramic and Diamond in fact include this technology now.

    Adjustability. There are two user adjustable controls on Tess. One is the master gain which adjusts the balance in output of the sub and upper cabinet. This would typically be set to zero but there are 1/4 dB steps in either direction to a maximum of 2.5 dB plus or minus. There is also a Speed mode/Extended mode switch. This can be useful if a room is not fully treated for low frequency control with helmholtz resonators, traps, etc. Basically the switch changes the Q from .4 in speed mode to .5 in extended mode. The benefits of this would depend on the room, the content, and the desire to maintain bowel control :-)

    Grounding. On Tess the cabinet is indeed grounded to the ground terminal on the AC input. I'm not sure if a separate grounding post might be employed in future products but I will bring that up for sure.

    I don't think I'll get drawn into a debate about my opinions or conclusions. I will do my best to stick more to facts in the future though as I'm sure thats more valuable in this context.

    Respectfully,
    Steve

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