Love Is Always Better the Second Time Around: The Sanders Sound Systems 10e Hybrid Electrostatic Speaker

Hear Here

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I have never even thought of a tube amp for the Sanders. First, the Sanders speakers were designed with the Sanders amps in mind.
Are you sure? Isn't it the other way round - Sanders designed the amp to suit his and other difficult electrostatic speakers?

I must say, I found the Magtech pretty good with my Martin Logan Expressions, but no better than the GamuT D200 Mk III I also had at the time. The Magtech was more powerful on paper, but the GamuT seemed to offer equal volume at comparable preamp settings and I found the bass was better defined by the GamuT. However, all that stuff was sold a couple of years ago..

Early electrostatics, for example the Quad 57, were always powered by tube amps as that's all there was at the time. The Quad II amp was first choice for most electrostatic users back then.
 

tmallin

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I'm not sure it makes much difference as to which was designed first since Roger Sanders has been designing and building hybrid electrostatic speakers and amps to drive them since at least the 1970s. Surely the current Magtech amps predate the Sanders 10e speakers since I also owned Magtechs to drive my earlier (first time around) Sanders 10c speakers a decade ago.

I'm not saying that the Magtech is automatically the best-sounding solid-state amp for use with the Sanders speakers. But how the Gamut amp sounds relative to the Magtechs on Martin Logan speakers is neither here nor there. The MLs are designed by a different Sanders--Gayle Sanders--and that company has no affiliation with Roger Sanders' companies.

However, I have read that Roger Sanders holds the patent on the curved electrostatic membrane used in ML speakers. I'm not sure about the patent, but Roger Sanders claims to have invented the curved electrostatic panel. See this Sanders Dispersion White Paper. However, Roger Sanders decided long ago that, in his opinion, the flat membrane sounds better because it has narrower horizontal dispersion and thus produces less reflections off the room walls. This is discussed in the Dispersion White Paper. I don't think Roger Sanders has ever marketed a curved-diaphragm electrostatic panel.

As to Quad electrostatic speakers and the Quad tube amps, you are of course correct that when the Quad 57 speakers were designed, tub amps were the only type available. Quad back then also only made one type of speaker--"full range" electrostatics. The cone and dome Quad models only came out decades later.

Thus, as in the case of the Sanders amps/speakers, one would expect the Quad tube amps of long ago to make the Quad 57s sound good. The phenomenal reputation of those Quad speakers was built mostly on their use with Quad tube amps, at least in the early years. Thus I'm sure that Quad made sure its tube amp could easily handle the high capacitance of the Quad 57 electrostatic speaker. That was back even before stereo recordings were in wide use (1957 saw the release of the first commercial stereo vinyl albums) and a Quad tube mono amp and one Quad speaker were the core of a dandy "high fidelity" monophonic system as long as it was played at modest-by-modern-standards volume levels.
 
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tmallin

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I'm really not sure where to put this, but I'll put it here since I first noticed the sonic effects in my main audio system built around the Sanders 10e speakers.

My systems are built exclusively around streaming. Some music is streamed from local sources--ripped CDs transferred to music files via dBPowerAmp software to files on my computer hard drive or to files on USB sticks plugged into the USB ports of my Lumin X1 or Roon Nucleus+. Much of my listening, however, is via internet streaming from Qobuz, Tidal, or various internet radio stations and other streaming services which provide less-than-Redbook CD quality--e.g., SiriusXM, Jazz Radio, or Spotify. I have no CD or LP players.

I've learned over the years that the quality of sound one hears from streaming is at least as dependent on the wiring of your connection to your ISP backbone as it is on rippers, modems, routers, switches, and even streamers. It's not just that the cable connection can literally fail or be transmitting data so slowly that the streaming program stops. No, there can also be an insidious continual degradation in the quality of the sound you are hearing from streaming sources either as a result in deterioration of coax RG-6 wiring used between your house or inside your house, any ethernet cables you have in play, and PARTICULARLY the connections between runs of RG-6 or ethernet.

You usually won't notice anything amiss until you start getting intermittent streaming. The program will stop for no apparent reason and may restart on its own or you may have to restart it manually. But what I've found is that once your streaming signal path is that "bad," you won't be hearing the best sound of which your system is capable even when the streamed program is playing apparently as normal.

A few years back, after repeated self-help troubleshooting and service calls by Comcast/Xfinity (my ISP) I finally corrected an intermittent internet connection problem. All the RG-6 cable and connections in the house up to the modem/router had been first replaced, to no avail. I finally got consistent service when a higher-level technician replace the RG-6 run from the backbone line high up on the telephone/electrical poles in front of my house to the internet service entrance on the outside wall of my home. I was told at that time that that run of coax appeared to be at least 15 years old since it was not the type of cable in current use by Comcast/Xfinity. The technician speculated that intermittent internet connections could be caused by water from rain/snow/ice leaking into the cable due to a deteriorated cable jacket.

Not only did the intermittent internet connection go away, but I noticed immediately that the TV picture color and detail improved and the sound quality of my streaming sources got in instantly noticeable uptick. The sonic change was not particularly subtle. Sound improved across a broad range of criteria and this was clearly noticeable in the first few moments of listening. What I discovered after that fix was that the varying sonic qualities I thought I heard before from various high-end after-market modems and routers vanished. All of a sudden, the stock Comcast/Xfinity modem/router sounded at least as good as any of the others. Since then, I have used all Comcast/Xfinity internet and video components. They perform fine and Comcast/Xfinity does not charge for service calls or equipment replacement as long as you are using their equipment, whereas you are pretty much on your own if you suspect a problem with any after-market unit.

All was well for a few years until the last few months. All of a sudden, my TV picture started pixelating at random times, not constantly. This happened on all channels and all TVs. I did all the routine system restart, system restore, and other recommended fixes, but nothing worked. It also seemed that Comcast/Xfinity often couldn't connect to my TV boxes or modem/router to diagnose the issues, but this was sometimes fixed for a while when a restart was performed.

I finally got a technician out to look at it; he saw the intermittent problem and confidently stated that that sort of pixelation is almost always caused by poor connections at the ends or RG-6 runs. He replaced a few connections he found to be faulty (both by measuring equipment and visual inspection of the terminations. The problem seemed totally fixed for about a week, but then came back with a vengeance. About that time I also noticed that my internet connection, which had seemed fine before, intermittently slowed way down, sometimes to such an extent as to drop streaming programs or prevent pages from loading on my computer for many seconds. Then the connection would be fine again for at least an hour, then the problem would repeat.

This time I undertook self help. I remembered that one of the connections the technician had not touched, since it involved a clearly modified wall plastic wall plate which once contained just an RG-6 connection, but now houses both an RG-6 and ethernet connection, had a bit of a loose coax connection since it lacked a nut on one side of the wall plate. When I looked closely at that female-to-female connector, the threads showed sign of wear and/or cross threading. I went to Ace Hardware and purchased some new Monster female-to-female coax connectors, replaced that connector and created a very solid connection from the RG-6 behind the wall to the RG-6 on the room side of the wall by cinching up the nuts on both sides of the wall plate. This RG-6 cable came from the cable service entrance and then, via a Comcast/Xfinity splitter, fed both my TV cable box and my modem/router. Thus it was probably a key connection for both my TV and internet service.

Bingo, big time! The intermittent internet went away, as did all pixelation of my TV picture. The TV pictures also now have greater detail, color saturation, and 3-D image quality.

But the best part has been the uptick in the sound quality from my Sanders 10e speakers. More solid bass, yet more three-dimensionality of staging, more solid and stable imaging, more high frequency smoothness, and even less high frequency "trash" yielding a yet clearer, more detailed, and seemingly lower in distortion presentation. Not a "just noticeable difference," at least not to me. This was a significant sonic uptick across the board.

All this was the result of replacing a single coax-to-coax connector, a $3 part.

Even when my "1 GB" Xfinity internet service was intermittently having problems, when all seemed fine it regularly showed speeds of 700 mbps or more via Wi-Fi in my listening room, and 900 mbps or better via the ethernet connections used by my Lumin X1 and Roon Nucleus+. In the analytic graphs from, for example, SpeedCheck, the consistency of the download and upload speeds was not as exemplary as they are now. Now, after the fix, I regularly get consistency rated at 99% or better on both download and upload speeds. Before the fix, the consistency ranged from high 80s to high 90s from test to test.

Maybe there is test equipment which can reliable show deterioration of your wiring connections before problems become obvious. Barring that, I would say that big hints are when neither the self-testing apps you can use via your smartphone nor your ISP can reliably communicate with your cable boxes or router/modem. The Xfinity support person would say something like, "I can't seem to connect with your device to run a diagnosis," or "your device seems to be showing some errors." It seems to me that if your ISP CAN reliably communicate with your devices, your network is probably in good shape, at least up through your modem/router.
 

tmallin

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As it turned out, while the above fixes stabilized my high-speed internet connections, it did not eliminate the occasional pixelation/ripping/tearing/breakup of my cable TV picture. While it was fine for a week or more, suddenly that problem returned without any noticeable effect on my measured internet speed or speed stability.

I THINK I've now eliminated that problem as well. Comcast/Xfinity worked on its head-end, and that seemed to help a bit. But I think the real ticket was to install another $3 part, a second Belden MoCA filter on the incoming cable line at the spot in my basement just before the splitter which feeds my router and TVs.

Xfinity had already replaced the Belden MoCA filter/integrated ground block at my "service entrance" at the outside wall of my home with a new one. But in my particular installation there is a long outside cable run along the side of my house after this "service entrance" before the incoming cable feed actually goes through the wall into my basement. My thought was that perhaps this long exposed cable run was somehow picking up interference from neighbors' MoCA-based internet installations. I have the MoCA functionality of my own router disabled, but you can never tell what your neighbors are using. Even if you ask them, MoCA to most people may as well be Greek; most people rely entirely on professionals to install their internet network.

Installation of the second MoCA filter took less than 10 minutes and makes my TV pictures appear yet more color saturated and detailed and has eliminated (hopefully, for good this time) the picture breakup I was experiencing. Internet speeds seem unaffected, but the speed stability is further enhanced. The sound from my Sanders 10e speakers is at least as good, with perhaps a minor improvement in image stability. All to the good, in other words.

I've recently heard many people complaining about such picture breakup on their cable TV pictures. One of the acknowledged problems from unfiltered MoCA signals is picture breakup on affected TVs. Perhaps MoCA filters properly placed would help many people. With older homes like mine with plaster walls and horizontal wood fire stops within the walls, wireless reception can be tricky and running new ethernet cables can be nightmarishly difficult and expensive. Using existing coaxial wall receptacles originally used for antenna-based or cable-based TV connections can be a Godsend since it can provide yet-better speeds and stability than mesh Wi-Fi systems. Unfortunately, anyone who sets up a MoCA-based home network potentially can cause interference with their neighbors cable TV reception and internet speed and stability. Thus the need to filter out the MoCA signals both at their sources and along any sensitive lines in your own home.

The Belden MoCA filter I recently installed is one of these sold as a five-pack on Amazon.
 
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tmallin

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I'll end this seemingly endless and misplaced rambling about my Xfinity X-1 TV problems in this thread. I'll admit that all my above speculations and supposed "fixes" above are just band aids.Sometimes the service works fine for extended periods and sometimes it doesn't.

It's also not clear whether reports from Abt Electronics salesmen can be believed. They told me that many folks experience such pixelation and ripping/tearing picture problems with the Xfinity X-1 service and that this is just par for the course. While the Xfinity internet service is the best in our area, Abt said, the TV service is not so good. When I told them both my TVs were 15+ years old they laughed and said the average life of such TVs is about 8 years. Of course, it's at least somewhat likely that the Abt salesman just wanted to sell me new smart TVs. Like a fool, I took the bait, buying two very nice Sony Bravia OLED screen smart TVs which use the Google TV platform. The picture is great, for sure, much better than that on the old sets, when the Xfinity TV service is working correctly.

Yes, using apps like Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV to "cut the cable" eliminates all the picture problems I had with the Xfinity X-1 service. But the Comcast/Xfinity X-1 GUI can't be beat and the number of channels and apps available via the X-1 cable TV service may well be worth the extra cost of that cable TV. In terms of ultimate picture quality, if that matters to you, Hulu is usually the best and YouTube TV the worst (often pasty looking on faces, kind of like an old-fashioned standard resolution TV picture, but not to that extreme) with the X-1 picture usually in the middle in my judgment of picture quality, with superficially the most detailed picture, but grainier with less color saturation and less black blacks (the Sony OLEDs are great at gradations of black and deep black).

Also, I can report that the ScreenBeam MoCA adaptors I bought do in fact work, at least with my Comcast/Xfinity 1.2 GB internet service. The Xfinity router for this service allows you to enable or disable MoCA at the software level. I turned it on and then just used one MoCA adaptor at the end of the coax cable which previously was feeding the Xfinity X-1 TV signal to my smaller Sony Bravia smart TV. While I am able to get strong enough Wi-Fi signal in this furthest-from-my-router room to use Hulu + Live TV in that room with the new smart TV, the signal strength was occasionally only "Fair" according to the built in signal-strength meter in the TV. Thus I tried the wired-via-coax connection using MoCA. It worked with no problems at all. Rock solid Hulu app responsiveness and even better picture quality from this screen.
 

tmallin

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Now back to the Sanders 10e. A warning, at least for now: If you are using an iPad to run the fantastic and wonderful dbx VENU360 app which acts as a GUI for the VENU360 hardware, don't upgrade your iPad software to iOS 16.1. If you must try iOS 16.1, be sure to back up your iPad to your computer or the cloud BEFORE you upgrade to 16.1!

This 16.1 version of iOS only recently became available for iPad. I've never had trouble with Apple iOS upgrades before (lucky, i guess). While the VENU360 app worked perfectly on iOS 15.7 (the prior version), it does not work correctly on 16.1. All other apps I have on this iPad seem to work fine on 16.1; it appears that only the dbx VENU360 app has a problem. The display is horizontally squeezed and the bottom of the display is cut off. Thus, only some of the app controls are usable and the display is not so nice. I wrote to dbx about the problem, but since the "current" version of the app is from 2018, I'm not holding my breath for a fix from their end. Perhaps the problem will go away with future iOS updates. We'll see.

For now, I managed to downgrade the iOS software on my iPad back to 15.7. Since I didn't have an iOS 15.7 back up of this iPad, this was not a simple process. I won't go through how I did it. Just remember that downgrading is only "simple" if you first back up your iPad to a computer or the cloud while the iPad is still running iOS 15.7 or some other pre-16.1 version. The reason is that a back up of the iPad made after you upgrade to iOS 16.1 is not compatible with iOS 15.7. Thus, you will not be able to restore the data on your iPad from backup once you downgrade to 15.7 if the only back up you have is from iOS 16.1.
 

tmallin

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Less than a day after notifying Harmon/dbx of the app problem with iOS 16.1 noted in my prior post, I received this response from a Harmon engineer: "Engineering is aware of the scaling issue with the new iOS. We do not have an ETA on the fix from them." Sounds like Harmon is planning to fix the problem. That's good news for both Sanders 10e owners as well as for others who use the dbx VENU360 for managing other speaker systems.
 

tmallin

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No, they were Sony Bravias of the pre-smart-TV era. I have two new Sony Bravia smart TVs now. The larger, 65-incher has a picture that has been called the best ever by some reviewers. See, for example, here and here.

I have nothing against Samsung TVs. They have long looked very good in displays at Abt Electronics. But I've always been a Sony TV guy, dating back to a 17" Sony Trinitron my first wife and I purchased as our first color TV in 1977.
 

marty

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The reason I asked is because there is a long standing issue about Xfinity/Comcast incompatibility w some Samsing models regarding the HDMI handshake between the TV and the cable boxes that cause loss of signal constantly. It's a well known problem. All the threads on Samsung or Xfinity have been closed because it's insolvable. Samsung blames Xfinity and vice versa. I have one of the Samsung models that is affected and I've delayed replacing the TV or going w Xfinity streaming for that unit.
 

tmallin

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Interesting. But if your are willing to use the Xfinity internet service to stream TV you will not need any HDMI cables between your router and your TV. You can avoid using the Xfinity X-1 set-top boxes and just use Wi-Fi, ethernet cable, or coax cable with a MoCA adaptor. I've used all three now with my Xfinity internet service and there are no picture problems like I was experiencing before using Xfinity's TV service. You just need one of the newer "smart" TVs to get around using the Xfinity TV service and use the internet service instead.
 

vucubaquix

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Hey Tom, did you notice any degradation in the sound of the 10e's when you started to play around with the dbx settings beyond the as delivered setting for the cross over point?
 

tmallin

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I have not changed or even experimented with the as-delivered crossover point. As delivered, however, there are many other settings that Sanders includes in the as-delivered set up. Many I leave alone, such as the specified delay for the panel relative to the woofer and certain foundation equalization settings which boost the bass output of both the panel and the woofer.

What I have "played around with" are the Auto EQ (AEQ) settings and parametric EQ (PEQ) settings to get the sound maximally to my liking. Running the AEQ function adjusts 10 parametric filters. Four more are available for use and there are more filters available through the PEQ function. I use a few of those to slightly adjust high frequency output. I have a preset which can insert the "BBC dip" filter which can be helpful for some classical recordings, particularly large scale orchestras and chorus. That one is set for minus 4.2 dB, centered at 3 kHz, with a Q of 3.

I have also fiddled with the gain structure settings to further reduce audible hiss from the panel--I hear no hiss at all now, even with my ear within an inch of the panel.

Changing the setting of the dbx VENU360 does not seem to change its transparency in a degrading way. Adjusting the gain structure properly actually increases transparency by lowering audible noise.

Of course, I ignore and/or turn off all unneeded processing options, such as compression and notch filters for squelching feedback in PA systems. Those are there for using the unit in live sound amplification but they have no place in a high-end home audio system.
 

eslguy

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I have not changed or even experimented with the as-delivered crossover point. As delivered, however, there are many other settings that Sanders includes in the as-delivered set up. Many I leave alone, such as the specified delay for the panel relative to the woofer and certain foundation equalization settings which boost the bass output of both the panel and the woofer.

What I have "played around with" are the Auto EQ (AEQ) settings and parametric EQ (PEQ) settings to get the sound maximally to my liking. Running the AEQ function adjusts 10 parametric filters. Four more are available for use and there are more filters available through the PEQ function. I use a few of those to slightly adjust high frequency output. I have a preset which can insert the "BBC dip" filter which can be helpful for some classical recordings, particularly large scale orchestras and chorus. That one is set for minus 4.2 dB, centered at 3 kHz, with a Q of 3.

I have also fiddled with the gain structure settings to further reduce audible hiss from the panel--I hear no hiss at all now, even with my ear within an inch of the panel.

Changing the setting of the dbx VENU360 does not seem to change its transparency in a degrading way. Adjusting the gain structure properly actually increases transparency by lowering audible noise.

Of course, I ignore and/or turn off all unneeded processing options, such as compression and notch filters for squelching feedback in PA systems. Those are there for using the unit in live sound amplification but they have no place in a high-end home audio system.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for all your expertise on the Sanders ESLs and sharing that. I think we are in agreement that this is one of the best speakers ever made. I have a long history with ESLs and Sanders in particular with an100% positivity rating so any comments that could be construed as negative should be ignored. There is zero negativity only observations. Roger published articles in Audio Amateur and Speaker Builder magzines in the late 70's early 80's on building ESL's. Having developed a love of ESLs I contacted him and he graciously mentored me thru doing a build. These "home builds" served me well for over 20 years of listening. It may sound a bit presumptuous, but they were better than any commercial systems I heard. So how did they compare to the 10e. Firstly ESL panels - first iteration as totally homebuilt rubbing filings into mylar and iteration 2 basically Eros panels. They 10e panels are vastly superior. Superior isolation, frequency response, durability - no contest. Bass was another issue. The home builts used 2 towers per side - 7 ft tall with 12 inch Dynaudio drivers and 6.5 Dual Dynaudio drivers feeding 8 to 2 foot transmission lines. Most incredible bass of any speakers I have ever heard. That the 10es can even come close with a single aluminum driver in a short transmission line is a miracle. It is a bit of an unfair comparison as these units were definitely so huge no commercial systems were likely to adapt them.
My systems used built from kit Marchand electronic xovers. These were (and probably still are ) great xovers. The current DBX units are a huge step up. Besides a xover they incorporate so many features to tailor the system with adjustments in almost any domain. Most "tweekable" options of any system I am aware of. If Had to have just one speaker system this would be it.
If you will permit some perhaps some different observations unrelated to the 10e's.
I started building ESLs as I loved them and this gave me road to enjoy what I couldn't afford. I have been fortunate that life has been kind so my options have changed so have the luxury of multiple systems. So a few observations. To me the question is are you an audiophile (where you need to pick the slightest aberration you percieve) or an audio "lover" where you can sit back and enjoy the music. I am sympathetic to both camps but probably fall in the latter. I love You Tube with its crappy audio and video and am happy to have it over my Monsoon desktop speakers or can listen on 10es. Your speakers basically dictate your listening experience- amps, preamps. DACs cables not so much.
 

eslguy

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I'm not sure it makes much difference as to which was designed first since Roger Sanders has been designing and building hybrid electrostatic speakers and amps to drive them since at least the 1970s. Surely the current Magtech amps predate the Sanders 10e speakers since I also owned Magtechs to drive my earlier (first time around) Sanders 10c speakers a decade ago.

I'm not saying that the Magtech is automatically the best-sounding solid-state amp for use with the Sanders speakers. But how the Gamut amp sounds relative to the Magtechs on Martin Logan speakers is neither here nor there. The MLs are designed by a different Sanders--Gayle Sanders--and that company has no affiliation with Roger Sanders' companies.

However, I have read that Roger Sanders holds the patent on the curved electrostatic membrane used in ML speakers. I'm not sure about the patent, but Roger Sanders claims to have invented the curved electrostatic panel. See this Sanders Dispersion White Paper. However, Roger Sanders decided long ago that, in his opinion, the flat membrane sounds better because it has narrower horizontal dispersion and thus produces less reflections off the room walls. This is discussed in the Dispersion White Paper. I don't think Roger Sanders has ever marketed a curved-diaphragm electrostatic panel.

As to Quad electrostatic speakers and the Quad tube amps, you are of course correct that when the Quad 57 speakers were designed, tub amps were the only type available. Quad back then also only made one type of speaker--"full range" electrostatics. The cone and dome Quad models only came out decades later.

Thus, as in the case of the Sanders amps/speakers, one would expect the Quad tube amps of long ago to make the Quad 57s sound good. The phenomenal reputation of those Quad speakers was built mostly on their use with Quad tube amps, at least in the early years. Thus I'm sure that Quad made sure its tube amp could easily handle the high capacitance of the Quad 57 electrostatic speaker. That was back even before stereo recordings were in wide use (1957 saw the release of the first commercial stereo vinyl albums) and a Quad tube mono amp and one Quad speaker were the core of a dandy "high fidelity" monophonic system as long as it was played at modest-by-modern-standards volume levels.
Having played with electrostatic speakers for over 30 years. Amps can be an issue. The capacitive loads are demanding. I have had amps that just can't do it and basically just packed it in. The Magtech's were designed for this and are very able. I have a long history with Bryston amps and they are very much up to the task. I have had communications with a company that does "new generation class D amps" that indicate they are compatible. I would recommend if you are contemplating a new amp contact the manufacturer to ensure abilities. ESLs are demanding so check it out upfront.
 

tmallin

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Thanks for your perspective. I do not pretend to be objective or to be reporting the gospel truth about the Sanders 10e or any other equipment I comment on. These are just my personal experiences and observations through the lens of my 55+ years of experience with my audio and music listening hobby.

I, too, tend to balance things tonally and otherwise so as to make a wide variety of source material more listenable/musically enjoyable. Unlike many audiophiles, I listen to a LOT of internet radio stations of a very eclectic variety and streaming quality. I do NOT limit my listening to my finest music files, Tidal, Qobuz, MQA, or Hi-Res streaming. I adjust things so that even source material which is not "the best" sounds very fine indeed through the speakers.

I also strongly favor near-field listening and have for the past few decades. I prefer a speaker set up which mimics gigantic headphones to as high a degree as possible, except for the extreme crosstalk cancellation headphone listening provides. The Sanders 10e, listened to, as I do, from about 55 inches from the panels with the panel back wave absorbed as much as possible with thick acoustic foam, gives me this gigantic headphone effect in a listening room to a greater extent than any other speakers in my experience. I'm sure this is not Roger Sanders' preference for setting up the speakers, but that's how I personally find them to sound most to my liking.

Set up as I have them, I have found measurements via OmniMic v2 can be most helpful in tuning the sound to my preferences. I know Roger Sanders does not approve of using such measuring systems to make adjustments to the balance of the speakers. But then I also know he also doesn't believe in absorbing the back wave to the extent that I do. Again, I admit that my set up and tonal tuning are purely a matter of my personal preference.

But set up as I have them, I find that adjusting the response via the dbx VENU360 unit so that the response measures maximally flat at the listening position (OmniMic microphone facing forward at the listening position) from 500 Hz up, allowing roll off above 8 kHz sounds best to me on most material as long as this is combined with a bass response that ramps up from 500 Hz on down,, reaching 6 or 7 dB above the 1 kHz reference level from 80 to 100 Hz on down to 25 Hz, below which I don't try to push the bass, but allow roll off so that by 20 Hz the bass is at the 1 kHz reference level.
 

tmallin

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Rules of Thumb: These may not be obvious to everyone. They certainly were not obvious to me for the first few decades of my serious audiophile explorations.

1. "They Are Here" vs. "You Are There". Whether they realize it or not, some listeners strive to assemble a system which creates a more immediate sound, one which triggers a reaction that the performers are in the listening room with you. Others want to be transported in time and space back to the recording venue so that they can suspend disbelief and believe they are in the original recording venue, at least for recordings which could reasonably have such an original venue, such as unamplified classical music played and recorded in a concert hall. You really can't have it both ways. Decide which camp you are in and pursue that sort of reproduction. I strongly favor pursuing a "You Are There" experience/illusion.

2. "You Are There" is more difficult to achieve than it may seem, simply because even most classical music recordings are not made in such a way as to allow the absolute sound of the original recording venue to come shining through on the recording. Most recording engineers don't believe most listeners really want to listen at home to recordings which when properly reproduced sound like you are listening to a concert from an audience seat. Thus, while the recording engineers know how to make such recordings, they don't usually make them that way. Also, most recordings are made with the assumption that the listening room's acoustics will make some sort of positive contribution to what the home listener hears. Recording engineers do not assume that home listeners are listening in anehoic chambers, in other words. Unfortunately, the nature and amount of the assumed contribution of one's listening room acoustics is not specified in any determinable way. There is no listening paradigm one can match for any given recording, much less across a wide range of recordings.

3. "They Are Here" pursued maximally involves getting the focus on your home listening room's acoustics, or at least not suppressing your listening room's acoustics. Techniques for doing this include listening in the far field (10 or more feet back from your speakers), not toeing in the speakers toward your listening seat, not applying absorbing material to your listening room surfaces (use, at most, diffusive acoustical treatment), and using wider dispersion speakers. If you use dipole speakers, don't damp the back wave; you can still move the speakers far from the wall behind them to add a more spacious feel to all program material.

4. "You Are There" pursued maximally involves suppressing your home listening room's acoustics to at least a fair degreee. Techniques for doing this include listening in the near field (say, six feet or less from the speakers), toeing your speakers in to point them directly at your ears, damping the listening room surfaces with absorbing material, and using speakers with narrow dispersion, at least in the highs and cardioid bass dispersion also helps. If you use a dipole speaker, maximally damp the back wave's mid- and high frequencies. Basically what you want to do is maximize the acoustics encoded on the recording and minimize the audibility of the "second venue" acoustics of your listening room.

5. I like the Sanders 10e speakers so much because listened to in the near field, aimed at my ears, with the back wave maximally suppressed, their extremely narrow dispersion maximally suppresses what I hear from my home listening room's small room "second venue" acoustics. To my ears, they produce a "You Are There" illusion better than any other speakers I've used in my listening rooms. Yes, with this set up the Sanders 10e sound maximally like gigantic headphones, but without the extreme inter-aural crosstalk cancellation you get via headphone listening. I find this sort of reproduction extremely pleasurable. I don't mind the resemblance to listening in an anechoic chamber, that some recordings sound too "dry" without very much listening room acoustics contribution, or that outside the sweet spot the sound is rolled off a lot in the high frequencies. I listen only from the sweet spot and don't really care what the speakers sound like from elsewhere in the room. The Sanders 10e provide a really sweet sweet spot when so set up--in terms of my personal listening preferences, that is.
 

godofwealth

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2022
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I listened to an early version of the Sanders hybrid electrostat with the powered subwoofer about 25 years ago. As a long time Quad owner, I was naturally interested in how it sounded. After a couple of weeks or so, I returned it to him thanks to his full refund and home audition program. Not sure if he still offers that. The design was then a work in progress. The crossover was not very good. In the middle of my auditioning, he sent me a new one that was much better. What eventually killed it for me was the complete incoherence between the bass unit and the electrostat in terms of directivity. If you went off axis, you heard the bass unit and the stat completely rolled off. Peter Walker in designing the ESL 63s went to great lengths to ensure the directivity changed very slowly, never more than a unit per octave. He knew that otherwise the sound would be incoherent. That makes the ESL 63s far more satisfying to listen to off axis. I eventually ended up with the 63/Gradient SW63 combo, which to my ears was a far more satisfying hybrid as the directivity of the subs matched the Quads.

Now I have the Quad 2905s that are full range and don‘t need subs. I do have a pair of massive REL G1 Mk2s, which go down to 15 Hz, but rarely hook them up. I find them too colored sounding and they pick up way too much subsonic data. Harry Pearson would have loved them. Back then, in his TAS reviews he was always talking about speakers that would let him know the direction in which the subway train was heading in Kingsway Hall Decca recordings, LOL!
 

kswanson27

Well-Known Member
Nov 22, 2018
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ESL 63s and the right subs can be just about unbeatable. I have a pair of 63s with a pair of Entec 12-f20 subs, both completely rebuilt and upgraded. I've had two pairs of Magicos, a pair of Focal standmounts with various JL Audio subs and a few Meridian DSPs here and nothing comes close.
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
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Portugal
Firstly, I would like to thank you for all your expertise on the Sanders ESLs and sharing that. I think we are in agreement that this is one of the best speakers ever made. I have a long history with ESLs and Sanders in particular with an100% positivity rating so any comments that could be construed as negative should be ignored. There is zero negativity only observations. Roger published articles in Audio Amateur and Speaker Builder magzines in the late 70's early 80's on building ESL's. Having developed a love of ESLs I contacted him and he graciously mentored me thru doing a build. These "home builds" served me well for over 20 years of listening. It may sound a bit presumptuous, but they were better than any commercial systems I heard. So how did they compare to the 10e. Firstly ESL panels - first iteration as totally homebuilt rubbing filings into mylar and iteration 2 basically Eros panels. They 10e panels are vastly superior. Superior isolation, frequency response, durability - no contest. Bass was another issue. The home builts used 2 towers per side - 7 ft tall with 12 inch Dynaudio drivers and 6.5 Dual Dynaudio drivers feeding 8 to 2 foot transmission lines. Most incredible bass of any speakers I have ever heard. That the 10es can even come close with a single aluminum driver in a short transmission line is a miracle. It is a bit of an unfair comparison as these units were definitely so huge no commercial systems were likely to adapt them.
My systems used built from kit Marchand electronic xovers. These were (and probably still are ) great xovers. The current DBX units are a huge step up. Besides a xover they incorporate so many features to tailor the system with adjustments in almost any domain. Most "tweekable" options of any system I am aware of. If Had to have just one speaker system this would be it.
If you will permit some perhaps some different observations unrelated to the 10e's.
I started building ESLs as I loved them and this gave me road to enjoy what I couldn't afford. I have been fortunate that life has been kind so my options have changed so have the luxury of multiple systems. So a few observations. To me the question is are you an audiophile (where you need to pick the slightest aberration you percieve) or an audio "lover" where you can sit back and enjoy the music. I am sympathetic to both camps but probably fall in the latter. I love You Tube with its crappy audio and video and am happy to have it over my Monsoon desktop speakers or can listen on 10es. Your speakers basically dictate your listening experience- amps, preamps. DACs cables not so much.

Nice to read from an electrostatic builder in WBF. In your experience what is the more durable and consistent resistive coating currently available to DIY electrostatic builders?

I learned a lot from his books and articles, but unfortunately Sanders has many white papers on its site, but none on resistive coatings.
 

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