I’m a sucker for panels. If a room had a big panel, I was in. Perhaps the best overall sound I’ve heard from a hybrid ESL could be found at Sanders Sound Systems. Roger was showing his 10B ($12,995), a hybrid that incorporates a 10” woofer in a transmission line, which comes with active crossover and 600wpc bass amp. For the ESL part of the speaker, he was using his ESL Amp (designed specifically to drive stats). It’s an improved version of the amp formerly produced by Innersound, a design that garnered very good reviews. The ESL amp ($3,995) puts out 400wpc into 8ohms, 760 into 4ohms, and as a mono mode, 1,000 watts into 8 and 1,800 into 4.
The sound was very faithful to what was on the recordings. Listening to Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughn (how did he know I was from Texas?), the vocals were extremely compact and smack dab in the middle of the sound stage. It was some of the truest sounding vocals I heard. Most panel and line source systems will make the singer sound abnormally large and too diffuse, like they had a mouth 10 feet wide. It might sound cool, but it’s not right. The 10B’s performance was exemplary in this regard. Even at relatively high outputs, the voice stayed solid and compact. Meanwhile, the acoustic space stretched beyond the outside boundaries of the speakers, doing an excellent job of recreating the acoustic space.
Roger surprised me with a recording he made of Saint-Saens Organ Symphony (How did he know I had French relatives on my father’s side?), which did a good job of showcasing what the TL woofer can do. I could definitely feel the fundamental bass frequency. The acoustic space was realistic and frequency balance was first rate. Though I was there for a short time, I don’t think there are any integration issues with the woofer and ESL element.
The system had a wide useable sweet spot, with good impact and speed, could play big, and managed to minimize the sound of the room. The electronics were tube-like with the impact and noise level of transistors. Roger will be sending the 10B to be reviewed by DAGOGO. Based on what we heard, we are looking forward to that!