I placed the 400is 10 feet apart, and 4 feet out from
the rear and side walls, toeing them in at about 300. The reason
for the large toe in angle is that ELSs are very directional, with a narrow
sweet spot. Some manufacturers curve the front panel to widen the
dispersion, but this can cause smearing, since frequencies from one part of
the panel are farther or nearer to you than other parts of the panel. Final
Sound has alleviated this somewhat by making the panel narrow.
Other equipment included a McCormack transport and DAC,
a Yamaha universal DVD player, BAT VK-5i preamplifier, and McIntosh MC-1201
power amplifiers. Cables were Nordost. For surround sound, I used a Lexicon
MC-12B SSP and Classe CA-5200 power amplifier. Additional Final Sound ESLs
were used for the other channels.
Full chorus and orchestra is a good
test for a speaker's ability to keep instruments and voices
separate, such as this new Telarc SACD that includes Motets by
Copland (Telarc SACD-60654).
Such accomplishments are a hallmark
for ESLs because the driver (the membrane) is so lightweight. In
fact, the 400is were especially so because of their relatively
Ray Kimber produced this IsoMike
SACD (7-26441-55591-5). IsoMike is a recording procedure where
the microphones are very close together, but separated by
Track 1, "Drum Kit Practice", has
some snare drum and cymbal work that has plenty of transients.
Again, the 400is did very well here because of that lightweight
The bass was not deep due to the
small size, so I used some Velodyne subwoofers to bring up the
bass drum kicks. As I mentioned, deep bass is not a forté
of ESLs, so a subwoofer is almost universally needed.
Here is another IsoMike recording
produced by Ray Kimber in 2006 (7-26441-55802-2), but instead of
just test tracks like the previous disc, this one is a jazz
Joe McQueen is 86 years old, and
still knows how to rock. Sax, bass, drums, and piano make for
fast paced sound, but the 400is kept up.
This is the first time I have used
small ESLs in the front, and I have to say that their small size
gives them an extremely fast sound. Detail is incredible. You
just need those subwoofers for the bass. As you will see in the
bench tests, the 400is roll off steeply at the low end.
|I watched The Constant Gardner, using
Final Sound ESLs all around, and although ESLs are notoriously
directional, I did not notice much attenuation off-axis. This is
because the Final Sound design is narrower than most ESLs out
there. These ESLs are tall and thin.
I was surprised at how
loud the 400is could play. I think this is due to their new
driver technology. And, it did not take much power to drive
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