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Product Review

 

Equinox Jupiter Floor-Standing Speakers

November, 2002

David Wurtz, Editor-Australia

 

Specifications

Frequency response: 25 - 20,000Hz +/-3dB
Efficiency: 96dB 1w/1m
Impedance: 2 Ohms
Phase response: +/- 30 Degrees
Power rating: 90-400W RMS
Crossover: 450 Hz - 4.5 kHz
Drivers: 4 x 210mm 2 x 110mm 1 x 25mm
Input: Triple binding posts
Dimensions: H 1550mm x W 320mm x D 700mm
Weight: 155Kg ea.
Cabinet: 32mm MDF (Baffle: 60mm MDF)

MSRP: $6,500/Pair AUS ($3,500/Pair US)

Equinox Loudspeakers

 

http://www.equinoxaudio.com.au

Introduction

Equinox Loudspeakers, established in 1994, is a small speaker manufacturer based in the western suburbs of our magnificent capital city, Sydney, Australia. They deal one-on-one, direct from their factory, and generally don't advertise in order to help keep their overheads low. They currently produce eleven different models of speaker from bookshelves to floor-standers, center speaker models, and subwoofers. Each speaker is hand made from scratch, so the same quality processes that they have in place apply to all models. When I first saw the Equinox “Jupiter”, their flagship model, I was astounded by the $6,500 AUS (about $3,500 US + freight) price tag. A speaker with this many drivers, with the obvious high-end build quality evident, had me guessing that it cost twice that price and is testament to their low overhead philosophy. Anyway, let's see how they performed.

Hardware Details

Very large and aesthetically appealing, the Jupiter is built like the proverbial “brick outhouse”. The bases of the speakers have a 2" MDF molded piece to increase stability. All cabinet walls and internal bracing are made from 32mm MDF. As you can see by the photo, no expense has been spared in the cabinet’s construction. The baffle is made from 60mm MDF and has a unique concave curve to which all seven drivers are mounted.

As quoted from the Equinox literature, "The baffle is curved to form a Focus Time Aligned Array, which smoothly time aligns the drivers without nasty diffraction effects." This alignment is stated to be at its optimum 3.5 meters from the speaker. [Notes by Colin Miller: Diffraction effects have to do with how the baffle surface, including the edges of the driver, create secondary waves "bounced" off of uneven surfaces and sharp transitions due to quick changes in the air's impedance. In other words, delayed arrivals caused by non-flush tweeters and sharp corners. The diffraction effects do cause comb filtering and degraded transient response, much like would occur with mis-aligned drivers that operate with a high degree of overlap, but the above manufacturer statement stretches the use of the word "diffraction".]

The two 4” midrange speakers (Audax HM100Z0) and single 1” dome tweeter (Audax TW025A10 which has a fabric dome, double damping, cast chassis, and a copper clad aluminum wire coil with braided wire) are housed in a separate compartment to the four 8” bass drivers. The bass drivers are Audax HM210Z12 which use Aerogel cones, cast frame, rubber surround, and flat wire on a Kapton former. The tweeter is recessed by about 20mm compared to the mids and is surrounded by damping in the configuration of a 6-pointed star to eliminate diffraction from the baffle.

The crossover is a 1st and 2nd order electrical 1st/order acoustic. The inductors use flat wire (5mm x 1.4mm) equivalent to 3mm round wire. The crossover is finished with multiple paralleled ME polypropylene capacitors. [Notes by Colin Miller: All drivers have 2nd order acoustic roll-offs with responses that mimic a 2nd order electrical crossover. The electrical crossover may be of the 1st order variety, and if it's implemented far above/below the driver response limits so as to make their
roll-offs irrelevant (which is difficult with 1st order system) then the crossover may be a 1st order system acoustically as well.]


All this gives each loudspeaker a total weight of 155kg (340 odd pounds).

The loudspeakers supplied for review were finished in a Beech veneer, which is quite popular these days, but are available in other finishes. The high gloss piano black is quite stunning but you have to have the right decor for it.

On the rear, triple binding posts are supplied. I could only bi-wire them in my tests, so the listening was done with half the bi-wired speaker cables connected to the bass section and the other to the mids and tweeter (which were paralleled by a heavy gauged shorting straps).

The Jupiters also have a nominal impedance of 2 ohms so, their minimum would be lower than that. High quality amplification capable of driving low impedances must be used, so maybe leave the tube amp in the cupboard. Equinox recommends and uses the Australian designed and built ME Amplifiers, particularly the ME850. I was loaned an 850 (and ME24 preamp) from ME to use with the Jupiters but also used my Redgum Reference Mono-blocks, driven by the Consonance R1.1 tube preamp. Other equipment I used for the tests included the Perpetual Technologies P1A/P3A combo and cables from Analysis Plus and Osborn.

Placement Problems

There could be dozens of words to describe the size of the Jupiters, but I’ll throw the Thesaurus away and say they are “just bloody huge.” Being such a large speaker, the Equinox Jupiters were personally delivered and installed by owner/designer Rick Stadelmaier. Let me tell you it was an effort and a half.

My listening room is 4 meters x 5 meters and was probably not 100% adequate to fully appreciate the virtues of such a large speaker, but we had to make do with positioning them as such. This may also account for some of the little issues or negative comments I will bring up next because I believe these speakers needed to be in a bigger room. The speakers were placed 3 meters apart, about 500mm from side walls and about 300mm from the rear walls. Since the Jupiters are a massive 700mm deep, I could not possibly bring them any further forward (which they probably needed). Forget about moving them in or out when I wanted to use them either. Where they were placed was where they stayed.

The Sound

As you may have already gathered by the justification I presented in the last paragraph, I was not 100% happy with the Jupiters, although probably due to the room size. Overall, sonic presentation of the upper end was very forward. These were like a pair of wild horses raring to go. As I wound the volume up, the sonic performance definitely improved. Having such a large area and number of speakers, the soundstage was also very large by default. It was like having a wall of sound coming from the left and the right sides of my room. Just how loud do they go? I did not get within a bull's roar of finding that out, but suffice to say, I don’t think you could run out of “headroom” with these. At 96 dB @ 1 watt each, this could constitute about 120 dB @ 120 watts for the pair (without the room loading adding any!) and they are specified to go louder than that. I can tell you right now, they were not driven that loud in my presence.

Rock, metal, and popular music were all easily handled by the Jupiters. Plenty of bass, mids and highs, as detailed and dynamic as you would expect from a speaker in this price range/quality listening to this type of material. It was a real eye-opener how cleanly they pushed out big drum sound. These are very, very good speakers for people who like their rock music loud.

The Jupiters filled the room with energy unlike anything I have heard before. Bass drums/guitar from the acid jazz of the band “Mother Earth” were big and dynamic. Female vocals from Tina Arena were natural and well presented. Soundstage and dynamics were massive. High frequency was well quite well focused and extended, but seemed a little more forward than I am used to.

OK, so they are excellent with loud rock music I hear you say . . .

On the classical side of things, Rutter’s "Requiem" was reproduced with a large soundstage as I expected from the “wall-o-speakers” but the overall accuracy of the soundstage seemed a little blurred when it came to pin-pointing positions within the orchestra. Double bass and the lower octave piano notes from Rebecca Pidgeon’s “Spanish Harlem” seemed a little less accurate compared with I was used to. This could be due to the room as I mentioned earlier or possibly because of another theory that I did discuss with Rick. I suggested that a lower crossover point might be advantageous for the configuration. I also have “issues” with more than one driver in the same internal air space. To my way of thinking, if the Thiel/Small parameters are even slightly different between any of the four drivers in the one cavity, their correct alignment will be compromised and therefore produce a slightly boomy sound. The designer stated that this has never been a problem in his experience for this speaker, so again, I reiterate the room and/or placement may have been the real issue.

Other than the problem previously mentioned, the only other qualm I had was their ability to resolve detail at low sound pressure levels. Once this level was brought up to a moderate or average listening level, the Jupiters really "woke up".

At these higher levels, the Jupiters performed admirably with all male/female vocal tracks that I threw at them, and of particular note, solo guitar worked very well. The natural decay of each note from tracks of Tommy Emmanuel’s “The Journey” were tonally delightful and seemingly quite accurate. Spatial recordings from the likes of Steve Davis’s “Sounds of Silence” were nicely presented, again, slightly lacking pinpoint accuracy.

Conclusions

The Equinox Jupiters are a lot of speaker for relatively not so many dollars. If you have the room and want a speaker that you can drive extremely hard without compromising sound quality, I would definitely recommend and audition of these speakers. They are definitely not for everyone though. The WAF may be low, seeing they take up so much room, but may be high if your spouse likes big beautiful cabinetry. I could really see these babies in a “studio” style apartment/bachelors pad rocking the place. At lower background levels I thought they were a little flat and lifeless, but get them to an average (or above) listening level, the resolution increases and these things will rock you! Perhaps it is not so surprising that the Jupiters are made to crank. If you want background music, get a couple of bookshelf speakers.



- David Wurtz -

Manufacturer Response: The Jupiter's curved baffle is mainly to highlight the time alignment, and in conjunction with the other treatments, eliminates diffraction.

In regard to the way the crossover does its job in the Jupiter, the roll-offs are well within the driver's natural roll-off, and are acoustic 1st order in the important crossover region.

Rick Stadelmaier
Equinox Audio - Australia

 

Related to the article above, we recommend the following:

Speaker Primer

Misunderstood 0.1 LFE Channel

Nature of Equipment Reviews

A Big Dig into Bass Reflex

What we Hear

Big Bass in Small Places

High Fidelity

Equalizers

Accuracy, Distortion, and the Audiophile

 

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