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Eminent LFT-16 (2)
Sound quality
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Clarity, speed and timing are cliched necessities of audio and to get them, just raise the upper midrange; everyone else does it. What I love about the LFTs is that they don’t do this and yet I’ve never heard such breathtaking clarity, sizzling speed from cymbals and metallic percussion instruments and, given both, it is hardly surprising that the LFT-16 is right on the mark with its timing. Tambourines in Sade’s ‘When Am I Going To Make A Living’ were sparklingly vibrant and pin sharp clear on both sides of the stage, they stood out like bright beacons. There’s some upper treble emphasis, that’s for sure, treble has a sting, but the LFT tweeter is super clean so it mattered little.

Eminent make a good enough job of the bass chamber; it keeps up with the planar magnetic midrange unit, playing bass lines with enough expression to make the whole picture plausible, more convincingly than most Martin Logans. The repetitive bass line in Sade’s ‘Hang On To Your Love’ rolled along nicely, propelling the song in firm fashion. There’s no deep bass but what is there gets on with the job, giving even handed treatment across the bass scale. There’s the expected small sense of box warmth and thrum, a slight tubbiness, but this at least adds some bulk to the bottom end.

With the bass unit connected out of phase the LFT-16 as delivered sounded balanced but there was obviously a gap between bass and the rest caused by the suck out we measured. You might be surprised to learn though, that the LFT-16 planar drive units are sufficiently spectacular in their own right that this did not dominate the picture.

eminent_lft-16_rear You want insight, detail and clarity like few other loudspeakers can manage? The LFT-16 has them in spades, so much so it is frightening. Just like the larger LFT-8b, the small LFT-16 sets a standard few loudspeakers can match in these areas. I’ve always admired magnetic planar drive units since living with Leak 3090s; their Isodynamic treble unit I’ll never forget: it delivered definitively smooth treble, nothing came close. The LFT tweeter is more prominent, very prominent in fact, but it spills out a stream of fine detail with chiselled perfection.

The LFT-16’s sound stage stretched linearly between the loudspeakers, neither throwing the sound forward nor back. Yet images hang upon an open canvas with infinite space behind them. I’m not sure I have ever heard Duffy sound so convincing singing Warwick Avenue; she was intimately present and exquisitely expressive in the way Duffy can be, because of the way she modulates her voice. There was plenty of midrange dynamism, at least with our Icon Audio MB845 MkII power amplifiers, so Duffy had convincing body.

So did Jackie Leven singing ‘Boy Trapped in a Man’, although the box added in some warmth and thuddiness to bass. Jackie fairly yelled out though; solid midrange dynamics again making these loudspeakers a lively listen, more so than most methinks and here they are a nose ahead of electrostatics. The twang of plucked guitar strings on ‘Desolation Blues’ jumped at me as Jackie crooned about ‘winter in Kilbride’. The LFT-16s pulled me in very close; it was like sharing the singer’s experience; they’re almost frightening.

With ‘Extremely Violent Man’ the crashing guitar chords had real bite but were also richly textured, much more so than I am used to from spinning this song through innumerable loudspeakers in for review. Hand drums staked out a steady, compulsive beat and Jackie sung threateningly centre stage, his deep resonant tones tumbling out at me. It was a great performance, one of the best.

In the same way the LFT-16s brought Jackie Leven close, they lifted Nigel Kennedy playing Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ into a joyous occasion. The lightning speed and deftness of playing that Kennedy manages was illuminated in no uncertain way, again the LFT-16s injecting a sense of dynamic resolution that made most rivals sound timid. I will point out again though that this is a strength of our MB845 MkII valve amplifiers, being revealed by a good loudspeaker. Use a transistor amplifier of questionable ability and you may just get a horrid screech – don’t blame me!
As Massenet’s ‘Meditation’ slipped gently past me the LFT-16s illuminated every little nuance of Nigel Kennedy’s sensitive interpretation. His violin was full bodied and richly detailed too, with not a hint of the wiriness and phasiness so common with conventional loudspeakers, especially those with poor dome tweeters.

With larger orchestral performances like Holst’s ‘The Planets’ the LFT–16s were convincing, with lively kettle drums pounding away in Mars to give a sense of power to the piece. The drive units resolve timbral signatures of individual instruments with alacrity, horns were fruity and rich yet hard etched and clear and cuttingly fast. With volume cranked right up to very loud the LFTs sounded unstrained and in perfect control, even kettle drums sounded tight and in time with all else.

As a test of real life use I chose to push the LFT-16s with Lady Gaga and saw 50 Watts come up on a power meter with Bad Romance, SPLs toping 95dB on an SPL meter where I was sitting: the speakers were chewing up power, yet sounded relaxed and in control. So these loudspeakers rock but they need a muscular amplifier. I used the LFTs with our Musical Fidelity AMS50 pure Class A transistor amplifier and was pleased to hear less of a difference against the Icon Audio MB845 MkIIs than with many loudspeakers. Curiously, upper treble sounded more muted and there was less midrange depth, but then this is usually the case. Some of the loudspeaker’s drama left in a huff and I would choose to use a high quality valve amplifier with the 16s. As they need high quality and high power, unless volume is kept in check, the loudspeakers are demanding in this respect.



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