What is the most highly resolving speaker you have ever heard?

SCAudiophile

Active Member
Sep 11, 2010
806
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Greer South Carolina (USA)
TAD Reference Ones. The beryllium mid and tweeter are unmatched imo.
Dave,

Definitely agree with speaker due to its extremely accurate bass and the beryllium mid-tweeter concentric driver; never heard anything like it regardless of price point!
 
May 25, 2010
515
18
18
Jersey Shore- waterside
It would be wrong for me to comment in this regard on Marty's system because he is much more qualified. With regard to Iverson's Force Field, I am happy to give my two cents as I am guessing Marty will as well. There was a third member to the visit Steve Smith, a close friend who probably contributed to my meeting Iverson, plus Mel Schillilng of MAS fame from Willow Grove, PA and Woodland Hills, CA. It was at Mel's MAS store in Willow Grove where I first saw the fabled ARC SP 3A and Magneplanar Tympani 3A's which enabled me to set up the visit. I am not sure that Steve reads this forum, but if he does, I hope that he will chip in so you can compare each of our perspectives since relatively few people actually heard this invention.

For more information about John and his death check out:
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=104043.0

First, let me set the scene. We all arrived at the same time to the non-descript business park in northern Orange County, CA. When we entered, it was even more ramshackled than any of us expected for such a fabled product, although in retrospect considering other previous meetings with Iverson, this is exactly what we should have expected, since he did not care about what others thought of him.

The speakers were approximately the size of Dayton Wrights seemingly somewhat randomly set up, although they had to be, from a phase perspective, very carefully setup. There was a crappy chair in the listening position (about 15-20 feet from the speakers/transducers) with a patched large hole in the wall behind the listening position where allegedly the speakers blew a hole in the wall. There was a power supply about 30" cubed connected to the speakers with a huge (1-2" diam) power cable that was allegedly directly tapped into the facility's custom large electrical transformers.

I was the first to listen to some of Iverson's records played through a custom Iverson preamp/phono stage driven by his Electro Research power supply and another similar power supply driving a Panasonic Strain Gauge cartridge. I do not remember the turntable other than it was incredible.

The beam of sound was just that, a beam with incredible reduction of power even an inch off axis. In the beam was something I would expect had I been abducted by aliens, meaning it was unworldly. It reminded me of my memories of being under the influence of ether when 5 years old for a tonsilectomy, an experience I also remember as if it was yesterday because of the weirdness of the feeling. John claimed that even the deaf could hear the sound when sitting where I was, which led me to believe that I was sitting in a high RF field, also supported by the size of the power supply and its power cable. This also helps explain why I was neurologically very wrong the next day, suffering from a 2 day receptive aphasia where although I could understand words spoken to me, I was unable to put them together in a reasonable manner to make sense of their combination. I was a second year psychiatry resident at the time and made the mistake of going to work the next day, where my co residents thought I was psychotic when I relayed this story to the point that I had to run out or have possibly been committed. On my way home I almost caused an accident when I turned in front of an oncoming policeman that I did not see. Fortunately I was able to get off because I was an "overworked resident at USC)!

I will use a term that is way overused on this forum and throughout audio, but I have no alternative--it was like "being there" with an extra sense that the entire experience was somewhat "velvety", while "melting" around the edges. I know this sounds strange, but I am just reporting what I remember. We listened to many cuts, with me listening way more than Marty and Steve who spent more time talking to John. Of the cuts I listened to was one that only a few have ever heard because it was a Ken Kreisel test pressing of his grandfather singing in an ice rink with the rink organ playing in the background, called Grandpa Sings. It was like doing drugs and listening to music, only to hear it later and realize that the difference was me. I still have that pressing and periodically listen to it to realize how different (plain) it sounds on my fairly substantial system.

I truly believed I was there, until I moved out of the beam and realized where I was. I conducted this experiment several times with the same results. John realized that something weird was going on with me and started questioning me with great enthusiasm, I suspect because he realized that I was truly letting myself go and thus less skeptical about his achievement.

I tried to shift the conversation to the military aspects of his amp and the force fields, but he became visibly very scared and then angry and told me that as much as he would like to talk about these subjects, he could not and was also fearful about doing so. (I swear he said this and no, I am not psychotic).

I do not remember much more probably for the following reasons-- I believe that the system was emitting high levels of RF which is known to cause temporary neurologic problems like what I experienced.

I hope that Marty and Steve offer their perspectives on this very strange night.
 
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LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,905
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Wow...crazy. I'll take the Alexandria + JL Gothams!
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
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Hi Mobiusman,

I think you mean Orange County--so do you happen to recall the Two LP tracks John always played when Demoing the setup?

Interesting experience

BruceD
 

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,335
220
63
Far Hills, NJ
With regard to Iverson's Force Field, I am happy to give my two cents as I am guessing Marty will as well.....
I hope that Marty and Steve offer their perspectives on this very strange night.
Wow, you are asking me to provide details of something I heard 4 decades ago. To be honest, if it weren't for the fact that it was a singularly unique event in my life, I probably would not comment. To begin, the speaker was not unusual in its physical size- it was roughly the size of a pair of original Quad electrostats and not very deep. But in fact, it was extraordinary for a number of reasons. To begin, the sound that Iverson managed to reproduce was extraordinary and in some ways, the best I ever heard. it was holographic in a true sense, however several limitations were obvious. First, it was not full range to the extent that we have come to know modern systems with subterranean bass. Bass extension was limited to approximately 30 Hz. Second, it could not play at very loud SPL; it probably went to 85-90 dB tops, but certainly not capable of realistic orchestral levels w >100bD peaks. Fourth, it was impractical to operate. It had a power supply the size of a small refrigerator and Iverson told us that the operating costs were in excess of $1000/mo (with part time use). But the sound? OMG. Extraordinary by any standard then or now. To this day, I've not heard anything replicate its authenticity.

Now for some quirky and weird factoids.

Iverson said the speaker system was basically one that operated as a heterodyne microwave transmission line that operated around a carrier frequency of 450 Megahertz. He felt that the microwave radiation that was subsequently processed to the audible frequencies were able to be perceived by the auditory system not only by the ear mechanism (through the ear canal to the inner ear to the cochlea) but also directly by the 8th cranial nerve (auditory nerve) directly. For this reason, he fully believed the speaker system would never be approved for consumer use by the FDA as he said it had the capability of increasing the core temperature of the brain and would be considered dangerous to consumers. Based on the noticeable after effects we all had the next day with cognition and general behavior, I would not dispute these claims. I've heard a lot of great hi-fi rigs played at loud volumes. None of them left me loopy the next day. I have no idea what the hell Iverson did or how he did it, but it was not ordinary by any means. John also told us that when his cat sat in the listening position for an extended period of time, he became essentially comatose. Hmmm....

Two other claims were made by Iverson that were even more preposterous. He insisted that one could use such a loudspeaker as a weapon system to knock out missiles from the sky In fact he said his intent was to get the government to agree to let him build 5 of these units on a bigger scale to place around the Pentagon as a defensive weapon system. Keep in mind that the ElectroResearch 75 amp that John manufactured was first commissioned by the Navy for use on our nuclear submarines, so who am I to argue about wacko claims about the system being able to knock out missiles from the sky?

Think we're done? Not yet. Iverson absolutely insisted that with a slight modification (he didn't specify), the speaker could be used to transport objects through time. He swore that he witnessed that small bugs and flies flew into the speaker (sort of configured like an electrostat with plate like panels) and never came out again. He was convinced they left our temporal dimension and were transported to another time (but did not specify if it was backwards or forwards.) Seriously folks, you can't make up stories this good. The guy was totally bananas and brilliant, but at the same time, was either most likely in need of major medication, or was taking major medication! Possibly both. But again, there was no denying that what we heard was memorable to this day.

And finally, my favorite part. Most of us keep our records cleanly stored and carefully wrapped in "audiophile" anti-static record sleeves. Not Iverson. His records were strewn about on the floor, mostly without jackets or covers of any kind. It was like, "wait 'til you here this" and then he would pick up "Chet Atkins in Hollywood" from a naked pile of loose records lying on the floor, blow it off with his mouth, wipe it on his shirt sleeve and then plop it down on the turntable. If you would have told me that was I was about to hear was Chet Atkins play as if he were in the room, I would have never in a million years believed you. But it was true. No idea why or how. All I know is what I heard. And I think it is fair to say that even back then I was a critical listener. it was absolutely mesmerizing, that's for sure.

I remember the night ending about 3 am as we headed to an all night diner because John was hungry. We were beyond exhausted and he behaved as though he had just consumed about 10 cups of coffee (with no evidence of cocaine use or other drugs to the best of my knowledge). The guy was just non-stop. I remember we drove back to LA in silence, trying to wrap our arms around what had just happened. Bottom line, I'm still trying to figure out what happened, even today!
 
Last edited:
May 25, 2010
515
18
18
Jersey Shore- waterside
Wow, you are asking me to provide details of something I heard 4 decades ago. To be honest, if it weren't for the fact that it was a singularly unique event in my life, I probably would not comment. But in fact, it was extraordinary for a number of reasons. To begin, the sound that Iverson managed to reproduce was extraordinary and in some ways, the best I ever heard. it was holographic in a true sense, however several limitations were obvious. First, it was not full range to the extent that we have come to know modern systems with subterranean bass. Bass extension was limited to approximately 30 Hz. Second, it could not play at very loud SPL;it probably went to 85-90 dB tops, but certainly not capable of realistic orchestral levels w >100bD peaks. Fourth, it was impractical to operate. It had a power supply the size of a small refrigerator and Iverson told us that the operating costs were in excess of $1000/mo (with part time use). But the sound? OMG. Extraordinary by any standard then or now. To this day, I've not heard anything replicate its authenticity.

Now for some quirky and weird factoids.

Iverson said the speaker system was basically one that operated as a hetrodyne microwave transmission line that operated around an carrier frequency of 450 Megahertz. He felt that the microwave radiation that was subsequently processed to the audible frequencies were able to be perceived by the auditory system not only by the ear mechanism (through the ear canal to the inner ear to the cochlea) but also directly by the 8th cranial nerve (auditory nerve) directly. For this reason, he fully believed the speaker system would never be approved for consumer use by the FDA as he said it had the capability of increasing the core temperature of the brain and would be considered dangerous to consumers. Based on the noticeable after effects we all had the next day with cognition and general behavior, I would not dispute these claims. I've heard a lot of great hi-fi rigs played at loud volumes. None of them left me loopy the next day. I have no idea what the hell Iverson did or how he did it, but it was not ordinary by any means. John also told us that when his cat sat in the listening position for an extended period of time, he became essentially comatose. Hmmm....

Two other claims were made by Iverson that were even more preposterous. He insisted that one could use such a loudspeaker as a weapon system to knock out missiles from the sky In fact he said his intent was to get the government to agree to let him build 5 of these units on a bigger scale to place around the Pentagon as a defensive weapon system. Keep in mind that the ElectroResearch 75 amp that John manufactured was first commissioned by the Navy for use on our nuclear submarines, so who am I to argue about wacko claims about the system being able to knock out missiles from the sky?

Think we're done? Not yet. Iverson absolutely insisted that with a slight modification (he didn't specify), the speaker could be used to transport objects through time. He swore that he witnessed that small bugs and flies flew into the speaker (sort of configured like an electrostat with plate like panels) and never came out again. He was convinced they left our temporal dimension and were transported to another time (but did not specify if it was backwards or forwards.) Seriously folks, you can't make up stories this good. The guy was totally bananas and brilliant, but at the same time, was either most likely in need of major medication, or was taking major medication! Possibly both. But again, there was no denying that what we heard was memorable to this day.

And finally, my favorite part. Most of us keep our records cleanly stored and carefully wrapped in "audiophile" anti-static record sleeves. Not Iverson. His records were strewn about on the floor, mostly without jackets or covers of any kind. It was like, "wait 'til you here this" and then he would pick up "Chet Atkins in Hollywood" from a naked pile of loose records lying on the floor, blow it off with his mouth, wipe it on his shirt sleeve and then plop it down on the turntable. If you would have told me that was I was about to hear was Chet Atkins play as if he were in the room, I would have never in a million years believed you. But it was true. No idea why or how. All I know is what I heard. And I think it is fair to say that even back then I was a critical listener. it was absolutely mesmerizing, that's for sure.

I remember the night ending about 3 am as we headed to an all night diner because John was hungry. We were beyond exhausted and he behaved as though he had just consumed about 10 cups of coffee (with no evidence of cocaine use or other drugs to the best of my knowledge). The guy was just non-stop. I remember we drove back to LA in silence, trying to wrap our arms around what had just happened. Bottom line, I'm still trying to figure out what happened, even today!
Wow, after your 4 decade disclaimer, pretty good, if not extraordinary recollections, which I now remember with your assistance. The only addition I could make is that when John offered me speed, I said no, but he indulged to the tune of about 6 pills!
 

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,335
220
63
Far Hills, NJ
Wow, after your 4 decade disclaimer, pretty good, if not extraordinary recollections, which I now remember with your assistance. The only addition I could make is that when John offered me speed, I said no, but he indulged to the tune of about 6 pills!
I never knew that! Well, that certainly clears up a few things.
 

sbo6

Active Member
May 19, 2014
797
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Round Rock, TX
Toss up between the Wilson Audio Alexandria XLF at RMAF and Rockport Arrakis. Vandersteen 7s come awful close. But most musical and most cohesive mids / highs - TAD Evolution 1s. I would guess the TAD ref 1 or CR1 bring it all together..
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,905
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Toss up between the Wilson Audio Alexandria XLF at RMAF and Rockport Arrakis. Vandersteen 7s come awful close. But most musical and most cohesive mids / highs - TAD Evolution 1s. I would guess the TAD ref 1 or CR1 bring it all together..
Big fan of XLFs whose cohesive presentation made me think, in comparison with my older X, of just a more solidly built, more strictly designed speaker. Really 7 generations of improvements. As for the Arrakis for a 2-tower speaker, I honestly do not think i have heard its equal. Yes, different rooms, different systems...but in all the years i have been listening to Wilson Xs in different rooms and different systems, i have never heard the sense of scale combined with such ease, macro/micro dynamic nuance. I remember first hearing the big Genesis 1s and thinking 'makes a Wilson X feel like a Sasha'...and on the Arrakis, it was 'makes a Wilson X feel like an Alexia'.

That is far from scientific, but there are very specific tracks i played where elements of that track have not reproduce-able on the other big rigs (Focal Grande EM, X/Alexandria/XLF, etc) which i have tried.

As for TAD Ref Ones, i still think of how well Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations came through that system (Pioneer Plaza in Japan which was TAD's showroom with an all-TAD system). It did not have the scale of the bigger XLF or Arrakis (which matters to me), but yes, I agree a remarkably great speaker.

Never had the chance to hear the new Vandersteens.
 

es347

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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Midwest fly over state..

sbo6

Active Member
May 19, 2014
797
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Round Rock, TX
Big fan of XLFs whose cohesive presentation made me think, in comparison with my older X, of just a more solidly built, more strictly designed speaker. Really 7 generations of improvements. As for the Arrakis for a 2-tower speaker, I honestly do not think i have heard its equal. Yes, different rooms, different systems...but in all the years i have been listening to Wilson Xs in different rooms and different systems, i have never heard the sense of scale combined with such ease, macro/micro dynamic nuance. I remember first hearing the big Genesis 1s and thinking 'makes a Wilson X feel like a Sasha'...and on the Arrakis, it was 'makes a Wilson X feel like an Alexia'.

That is far from scientific, but there are very specific tracks i played where elements of that track have not reproduce-able on the other big rigs (Focal Grande EM, X/Alexandria/XLF, etc) which i have tried.

As for TAD Ref Ones, i still think of how well Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations came through that system (Pioneer Plaza in Japan which was TAD's showroom with an all-TAD system). It did not have the scale of the bigger XLF or Arrakis (which matters to me), but yes, I agree a remarkably great speaker.

Never had the chance to hear the new Vandersteens.
Very good point, X2 on the Arrakis. That sense of scale and effortlessness I've heard with very few systems, maybe the Scaenas at RMAF. But I believe it has a lot to do with the room size too.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,905
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Very good point, X2 on the Arrakis. That sense of scale and effortlessness I've heard with very few systems, maybe the Scaenas at RMAF. But I believe it has a lot to do with the room size too.
Yes, very fair point. Room matters so much. That said, the room size and ceiling height were not too different between the Arrakis room and one of the big Wilson/XLF rooms. And the Arrakis had such a sense of effortlessness on MAJOR and micro dynamics (ie, on a single guitar pluck) that REALLY seemed far beyond what i had ever experienced before. No matter how loud I play, where I stand, or what other system I try...i have not heard a reproduction of that single guitar pluck with the power, might and EASE as with that Arrakis system in Hong Kong that day. It made it so effortless, if you were not playing a test CD I have heard so many, many times, I would absolutely have assumed nothing of it...and that other systems would no doubt do the exact same thing. But because i 'knew' what to expect from that opening track, i was deeply impressed by what the Arrakis had instantly wrought that day on that note. (Norah Jones - Feels Like Home).
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
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Greater Boston
The original question for the thread cannot be answered in isolation, without system context. A speaker will only be as resolving as the electronics and room allow it to be.
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
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I'm of the opinion and concur with Mobiusman the Iverson Force Field + Neutral Density Bombarder and Bridged A75s is still by far and away the most detailed and layered transducer setup so far ever attempted.

I still feel there is some catching up to do to that presentation even today--but fearfully with the now PC world the powers that be will snuff for those that would partake of the experience.

Re the question I asked previous "what two tracks we played usually first up" when folks came to listen.

The answer was: Over my Head -Fleetwood Mac and Morning has Broken - Cat Stevens.

RIP John,


BruceD
 

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