Adding The Swarm/DEBRA System to a CH & Magico M3 stereo.

Folsom

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A friend that Mike L. introduced me to (we’ll just call him V) was showing me some changes to his stereo after Stirling Trayle came and did his magic. The M3's placement was without a doubt the best, by far. It was very apparent when they were locked in just right. He did a bunch of other stuff as well, but I can't recall everything. He's very exhaustive in the work he does, and it takes a few days. I suggesting checking out the link on his name for more information.

During our discussion I talked some about The Swarm from AudioKensis, and how it creates an immersion quality that nothing else has been able to do for me thus far, in the way that it works. Well an interest was sparked with V and awhile later when everything could be arranged between events in town, holidays, etc, James Romeyn arrived with a new set of subwoofers in black. Originally Duke (AudioKensis) was going to be producing them but the wait would have been longer. Duke works with James on different audio projects, attending shows, etc. He calls it the DEBRA system (Distributed-EQ Bass Reflex Array), and reshaped the boxes in a taller but slimmer profile that worked out really well. Duke flew in as well, and they integrated the system in. I was gone while that happened but the next day we got to hear the Gina speakers that were brought along for some extra fun to sample something else. I think they're an excellent evolution of Duke's work. I can see why Steve (WBF Steve) liked them at T.H.E. show, they're nice speakers! They also brought what they call "space generators" that are a new variation on something Duke has had in multiple iterations of speakers before, and I think the new ones show some promise with a little tweaking.

After the Gina demo we got back to the M3's. The system starts with an MSB-DAC to CH-L1 to CH-M1.1. I'd fill you in on the streaming details if I knew any of them, maybe the fellow who set it up could give details if he's registered here. While the M3's on their own are some very nice speakers, that "defy physics" (Duke's words), the bass vs the rest of the range has always been interesting. If you had a higher feedback amp it probably sounds smaller, as some have noted. But if you have a CH M1.1 amplifier you can adjust the global feedback 0-100%. Prior to the subwoofers addition, setting the GFB to 0-20% gave the best deep bass like you'd want. The more you climbed, the more the bass got tight but smaller. Climbing the GFB did some good things in other frequencies, but the bass was a ruling factor (I actually think tube amps without feedback could be a great match, too, VAC's sounded pretty good on them previously). Well once we started listening it was immediate that the immersion was next level. If we turned the sub amps off (they run off the CH L1, it has extra outputs) you start to feel like you're not "there" as much, and you're looking onward towards something that doesn’t involve you as much. Then you turn them back on, and you're much more involved with the experience. It might all be in the mind of the listener, but across the board everything seems better.

Just to give Duke and James a hard time, I will say I did a small tweak of their settings and the bass on one of my favorite bass tracks came in better and from there on out we didn't touch the subwoofer amplifier settings. We did however get to bump the GFB on the CH M1.1 up to 40% without suffering negative consequences and it gave a little extra life that actually generated some finger snapping by V. I think the M3's strengths besides bass bloom show a bit better that way, with a bit more GFB; so when they're augmented in the real low registries by a surprisingly affordable system you get a nice and whole presentation that wouldn't come from just swapping speakers.

The placement of them wasn't too difficult in this room. The pictures should show how non-invasive they were to the room.

Thanks to Duke and James for coming up.





 
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ack

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So can you clarify, you liked the M3s with subs better than without? And the difference was being there and not being there?
 

Folsom

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Calling them just subs underscores the effect they have. I think all stereos would be wise to implement a distributed subwoofer setup.

The difference can be described like "being there - not being there", but that's just one way to describe it. The easiest is to say the immersion factor is extensively higher. You're more involved, all the sound means more to you. It's a fascinating effect.

The CH had an extra benefit of adjustable GFB that allowed a combination that otherwise wouldn't happen. The M3's simply sound best when the control of the woofers is left to the very impressive cabinets and custom drivers, more so over the amplifier when they're by themselves - with no augmentation in the lowest registers. As others have noted not all amplifiers are best fit combinations, or they simply haven't learned that just yet. But a setup like this changes factors that let you get even more out of them (with a CH M1.1 amp).
 
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ack

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Thanks. I have come to the conclusion that the M3s need subs, and at the local leader's, I am pretty sure the reason I don't like them as set up is because the lower end is just plain missing. I bet if they took the time to turn on and blend in the S-Subs, I would end up loving the combination. Right now, I hear an extra-ordinary amount of information out of the M3s, with no real involvement.
 

Folsom

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What amplifier did you hear them with?

I can tell you V had the S7 previously and while they could get a lot of volume in the bass, they also could not pair as easily between SS/Tube. I think while the M3 is more particular, it funny enough opens up more options. The S7's simply had synergy with Spectral, but the combo wasn't quite on the same level as CH and M3.
 
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Duke LeJeune

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Thank you very much Folsom for connecting V and me. That weekend was a very educational experience for me. I got to hear some of my stuff in a very well set-up world-class system. I could hear the M3's doing things better than my speakers... more body to the upper bass/lower mids, and a wider soundstage.

Very gratifying that the multisub DEBRA system made a worthwhile net improvement to your ears and to V's and to the ears of... what shall we call the other person... VV?

That variable global negative feedback feature of the CH amplifier was quite interesting. Years ago I had a Berning amp with variable global negative feedback, and there seemed to be a "sweet spot" with the speakers I was using at the time, as I recall it was closer to the low end but not all the way there. Too bad more amplifiers don't offer user-adjustable feedback.
 

Folsom

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Having adjustable feedback isn't easy to do, and only works with some designs. It would be nice if it were as easy as a dial, or setting on everything but alas it's not so simple!

I'd love to hear your speakers again, play with a few different components with them. I wouldn't say the M3's are strictly better, but they are different for sure. They certainly are designed for soundstage, and do that very well. Their drivers going to the floor give them a pattern for midbass that prevents the comb problem that occurs with 2 ways and such. That's an annoying problem that is very hard to get around in the industry, for everyone.
 
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Duke LeJeune

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Calling them just subs underscores the effect they have. I think all stereos would be wise to implement a distributed subwoofer setup.


Thank you, Folsom and Ralph.

Giving credit where credit's due, the Swarm uses Earl Geddes' idea, with his permission. All I did was appreciate the implications of his idea and become an early adopter.
 

Folsom

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The thing with Geddes is he never made any real attempt to have a brand, or to sell speakers. He did sell some, but it was such a sad attempt. He spent more time creating alienation than getting out there to share his work. So no matter how you try to give credit for origination, the fact that you're doing the opposite is where opportunity and appreciation come from.
 

Duke LeJeune

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Geddes... spent more time creating alienation than getting out there to share his work.

Imo Earl offers us a wealth of knowledge, but there is a price tag attached. Earl is genuinely tail-end-of-the-bell-curve brilliant, and we are everso lucky that loudspeaker design is one of his passions, BUT when they were passing out innate social skills, Earl was standing in a different line.

Here is the price we have to pay for access to what Earl offers: We have to waive our right to take offense.

Anyway once we are willing to pay that price, Earl's posts and writings and lectures are like finding buried treasure.

In my opinion.
 
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PeterA

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Just found this thread. Fantastic read. I love the look of the room and system. Congratulations to the owner. I have not seen a curved cut carpet like that in an audio room before. Very clever. As a Magico owner, this system with its swarm sub woofer solution is very intriguing. Were my room dedicated, I would certainly be considering this option. In my present listening room, I really doubt that I could install four subs without lots of pushback from the rest of my family, but boy would I like to hear the result.
 
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CKKeung

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Duke LeJeune

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I'd love to hear your speakers again, play with a few different components with them.

I'd love to hear your amp on the Ginas.

I wouldn't say the M3's are strictly better, but they are different for sure.

Thank you. I thought I was hearing the Ginas being competitive in some ways, but I had/have too much at stake to hear without bias. It would be like me judging the talent show that my little girl is in.

The M3's are designed for soundstage, and do that very well.
Indeed they do! I'm still mulling how to narrow that gap. The M3's (particularly in V's room) set the bar very high.

Their drivers going to the floor give them a pattern for midbass that prevents the comb problem that occurs with 2 ways and such. That's an annoying problem that is very hard to get around in the industry, for everyone.

I didn't notice the midbass floor-bounce dip on my speakers until they were side-by-side with the M3's... and then, there it was. Sweet... now I have an excuse to do something that uses more big midbass cones!
 

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