November 2011 issue - Page 3

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November 2011 issue
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I am happy to say I received my pair of Eminent Technology LFT-16 loudspeakers on the same day you got the new review pair. They were delivered by Darren Hatcher of A&D Audio. The fit and finish does leave something to be desired. There were loose screws in both treble units, one that had no wood behind to fix to. Some glue or other material is evident on the midrange units and the wood has a small crack above one unit. Having said this the boxes are heavy and feel sold. They certainly pass the knuckle wrap test. Initially I was underwhelmed by the sound, it was a little muddied and veiled. The speakers were initially on low heavy spiked bases tilted backwards and angled inwards. The system they are in consists of a Benchmark DAC 1 pre amp, Channel Audio D200 power amps an Xtreamer digital source and Michell GyroDec with Hadcock 242 arm Benz M2 cartridge and Benz Micro PP1 phono amp. All connected with a mix of Van Den Hul The First interconnect and Odyssey 2 speaker cable.

The speakers were run in with a burn-in CD from a rival magazine for 48 hours (source: an X Box). After running in the sound opened up a little, sounding more transparent with good front-to-back depth. They did however still seem a little dull to me. I experimented by putting the treble on the high (0 dB) setting. This was not successful and made them sound a little phasey on some material.

Having spoken to Darren he suggested the speakers be raised so the treble unit was at ear level. The speakers now reside on Atacama SL400 stands. These are sand filled, very rigid and not prone to ringing.

I have liked the bass on the LFT-16 from the beginning. It is very tuneful and fast, no doubt due to the sealed box. However, on the stands it takes another leap forward and integrates with midband seamlessly. The speakers are far from being dull as I first thought and are very well balanced. They don’t shout the midrange or treble, but there is no lack of detail or insight. Tonally, I have never heard instruments more convincing. As for the sound stage there is space and air around each instrument and a real sense of height. I am genuinely hearing aspects of recordings I have not before, such as dubbed instruments and room acoustics.

The speakers are understated but dynamic, it is this ability to reproduce dynamics that gives the realism to the music. Records I have previously found difficult to listen to, such as the Sundazed reissue of MC5’s ‘High Time’ (Sundazed make the best of a poor original recording) now have more body and atmosphere that allow you to concentrate on the music for what it is. It is enough to say I usually combine listening with reading a hi-fi magazine or two, but since I have had these speakers I just find myself putting it down to listen. Thanks for a great magazine.

Kevin Foster


Eminent Technology LFT-16 - not so much a loudspeaker as a labour of love for many!


Hi Kevin - that was a timely and interesting e-mail. I have only measured our second pair and even with the tweeter at ‘high’ the ‘speaker barely makes 10kHz – see our graph. Moreover, this was the best it could do over a narrow forward angle, so there is little treble energy going into the room and it will sound dull, exactly as you say. The speaker must be pointed at listeners for strongest treble. As you note though, the loudspeaker still offers fabulous results, quite different from cone loudspeakers and much better. I wondered whether the originals were the best loudspeaker I had ever heard at the price. NK


Kevin replies -

I am so glad that you agree with my ears. I did not realise that much treble was missing, but cymbals and high hats, etc., do sound recessed. Despite this they are solid and lifelike. I have lived with Monitor Audio GS 100 for some months and a speaker based on the Loki dual concentric drive unit, both of which are more brightly lit and forward, but neither have the presence or realism of the LFT-16. Darren had told me the speakers were delayed because a crossover component was not available. Could a wrong value item in the crossover be the problem? Or perhaps it is a different tweeter unit? I do think the bass is very tuneful and well integrated. At ear level and pointed at me, the speakers now seem well balanced but a little dull, I shall try the high treble setting again. Presumably we shall get some feedback from the manufacturer; he seems an approachable man. I do hope that a solution to the treble fall off is available as these are great speakers that are getting better each listen. Once again many thanks for replying. I may see you at Whittlebury Hall if you are there, Darren promised me a couple of tickets!

Kevin Foster



I am in need of some guidance regarding the common problem of an upgrade path. This has never been a problem, given I’ve always known what I wanted but now able to take another step and am confused which way to go. My system consists of the Usher CD1 and Northstar design CD players, Goldpoint SA1 passive pre and a pair of Usher R1.5 power amps in bridged configuration. My cable loom is made up of the Atlas Titan Al Cu interconnects and Ichor speaker cables. Power leads are Russ Andrews Sig and Oyaide Black Mamba on the CDP and Oyaide Tsunami gpxr on the power amps. Speakers are the JBL TL260 towers.


The problem I face is that my taste in music, as in how I listen to music, is changing. I don’t listen to it as loud as I use to and my music is a touch more laid back than energising. I like everything that my current system does but am needing that bit extra to really grab my attention. My room is 8m x 6.5m; it’s softly furnished with hard floors and heavy drapes. As for upgrades, whatever is recommended will be looked at in depth. Price wise or budget would be relative to the rest of the system. As I am in Australia hopefully it’s available nearby!

Renee Barker


Castle Knight 5 is well finished and has a smooth soound.


Hi Renee. JBL TL260 loudspeakers are not the subtlest of performers yet the Usher power amplifiers are good and will drive just about anything you choose. I suggest you try and listen to the latest Castle Knight range of loudspeakers, which I know are distributed into Australia and New Zealand. They are deliberately engineered to offer a more sober and more truthful approach to reproducing music than is common. I also rather like the Kingsound electrostatic range of loudspeakers. Manufactured in Hong Kong they are likely to be available in Oz. NK



In your last edition you gave the Audiolab 8200DCQ a great review, but no mention of the ancillaries it was tested with; what power amp was used? What amp was used when used as a CD transport? You are usually very good at this sort of stuff, so I was a tad disappointed, as at that price and with those facilities, a great sounding system could be had for a relatively small outlay, do you not think? Also, I have seen pics of the Audiosmile advantage active speakers that augment the Kensais, but still no review! I think I saw it mentioned around the end of last year in the “next month we have section”, but still no joy??


Also, I found the mod projects available for the Rega (Inspire Hi-Fi) and the SL1200 (from Sound Hi-Fi) both very interesting. The Timestep Evo looks amazing and also sounds well worth investigating.


I would love to see a review of the Audiomods take on upgrading the Rega tonearm, ideally on both of the above; would the Inspire mods not warrant such an arm, bearing in mind the price of each item??


As I said before, thanks for a great mag. I look forward to hearing your views on the above. Keep up the good work!!



Hi David - sometimes we have to miss out our ‘Reference System’ panel on the grounds of space; the pages get too crowded and it becomes impossible to fit it in! Basically though, we all run fairly consistent reference systems from month to month, so if in doubt look up the name of the reviewer, and find another review of his with the ‘Reference System’ panel shown; that’s about 95% accurate! If there’s something special or unusual about the systems/ancillaries being used, then we’ll always mention it in the text, anyway. As far as the Audiolab 8200CDQ was concerned, I ran it in several systems, but primarily with a Musical Fidelity AMS35i integrated amplifier (using the CDQ as a CD player, via its balanced outputs, as I remember) and of course my Yamaha NS1000M loudspeakers. I also tried its preamp capabilities into a World Audio Design K5881 power amplifier.


Regarding our ‘Next Month’ page, I have to periodically remind readers that I say “here’s what we hope to bring you”. Note use of “hope”, for hoping is all a poor editor can do when promised lots of tasty new kit that’s “just a few weeks away” by the manufacturer or PR, and then it never materialises for any number of reasons – often beyond the control of even the manufacturer! So please take this almost as a “wish list”; what yours truly would like the Santa Claus of the Hi-Fi World to deliver down the World Towers chimney before the next issue is done...



TimeStep's SL-1200 Evo from Sound Hi-Fi - just one of many fine vinyl mods packages on the market ...


We’ve been amazed by the range of mods packages for, variously, the Technics, Linn, Rega and Garrard 401 (and indeed this issue has two more superb variations on the theme); it’s almost the case that the modding world is more interesting than the new turntable releases right now, and they’re certainly superb value. We’re lining up an Audiomods review for you very soon, along with a supertest of all these modded arms to get some sort of perspective. Watch this space... DP


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