Floor-standing Speakers

Final Sound 1000i ST Full-Range Electrostatic Speakers and S220 Subwoofer

ARTICLE INDEX

 

The Sound

I tested the 1000i ESLs with a Denon DVD-5900 DVD player, Theta Casablanca III SSP, Classé CA-5200 five-channel power amplifier, and Final Sound 400i ESLs for the center and surrounds. Cables were Nordost. I played music in Matrix (surround sound) and in stereo (two channel). I used the Toslink output from the Denon to the Casablanca to let the SSP handle the decoding.

I placed the speakers about 10 feet apart, toed in towards the listening position, several feet out from the side and rear walls. The subwoofer was placed between them against the wall.

Final Sound 1000i Speakers Music Handel Water Music Product ReviewsHandel's Water Music (Virgin 0-94639-13342-0) is some of the greatest music ever written, and a perfect test for the 1000i.

What struck me most was not that the oboes were so distinct from the violins, but how transparent the whole orchestra sounded. This is characteristic of ESLs because they are dipoles.

Also, the instruments sounded very natural, rather than having a characteristic due to an enclosure. Remember, ESLs don't have an enclosure as such. They are not in a box.

Final Sound 1000i Speakers Music Brahms Requiem Product ReviewsEin Deutsches Requiem, by Brahms (EMI 0-94636-53932-0), is very somber, as Masses tend to be. But it is beautiful music.

What I listened for here were the soprano voices in the choir, against the violins.

Wow, what a sound! So sweet. So clear and transparent. No harshness. It filled the room.

Final Sound 1000i Speakers Music Haydn 88 Product ReviewsHaydn's Symphony No. 88 (EMI 0-94639-42372-9; 2 disc set) is a much different kettle of fish than the preceding two CDs. Here the music is light, airy, powerful, and is not for background listening.

Several octaves of violins sounded like the several octaves rather than mush (they would have been mushy if there were a lot of IM distortion).

The flute and oboe in among all those violins were easy to pick out.

Bass was nice, even when the subwoofer was not on, but the S220 added to the effect. Even though the 1000i is a full range ESL, you definitely want a subwoofer.

200 watts per channel seemed to be quite enough. That does not mean you should not have a bigger amplifier though, just for special transients.

Final Sound 1000i Speakers Music Tchaikovsky Swan Lake Product ReviewsSwan Lake (EMI 0-94639-32432-3; 2 disc set) is not just music, it's a ballet, and the complete ballet takes up two CDs.

One of my favorite pieces is the waltz in Act I. I was truly amazed at how the 1000i was able to separate the triangle from the flute. Sometimes, a triangle can sound a little strange if the tweeter is not first rate. Well, having played in an orchestra myself (OK, it was the high school band), I know what the triangle actually sounds like, and the 1000i reproduced it perfectly.

The 1000i sounds pretty good off axis too, and that is difficult for a large planar speaker to do. Part of this is due to reflections from the rear side of the ESL off the wall.

There was no hole in the middle. I could place each instrument along the sound stage from one side to the other.

All in all, I was very happy with the sound of the 1000i ESLs, particularly with the mids and highs. Some planar speakers have disappointed me in the past in this area, so I really looked forward to seeing if the 1000i would perform better in this regard. It did.