Open Baffle speakers

I wanted to see how many people own, like or have heard open baffle speaker designs. Pro and cons.

Spatial and Emerald Physics come to mind.

This may not be what you are thinking, but I always liked the phase coherent, open design of the Dahlquist DQ-10. The first speaker I herd which truly imaged.

I have yet to have the chance to listen to any open baffle speakers. I like what I read about the Emerald Physics and Spatial speakers, but with no dealers to audition these before purchase. Most speaker companies don’t make open baffle speakers.

I hope Paul chimes in or does a post on this.

I have a pair of Spatial M3 Turbo S. Great mid to highs, big sound-stage, can play really loud but I always find the bass to be less articulating and lacks the thrust in my room. A pair of subs crossed low around 50Hz can easily fix it but I am yet to get to them. Haven’t sold it yet in the hopes that one day I will integrate with the right sub.

Recently I heard the X1 Uniwave in the LAAS 2017 paired with LIO integrated 4-channel amp in a mid-sized room. It sounded very good but I felt that the speakers can do a lot more with more power.

Dev, great subs for the money are the SVS SB-13 ultra. Worth every Penny. I have a pair I may sell, mint condition.

I’ve heard the Emeralds at Axpona the last couple of years, and another brand this year I can’t recall - may have been Spatial. Some people love them - I think they’re the sort of thing you have to spend some time with yourself to see if they’re for you (as with any speaker, I guess). They often get reactions like “impressive”, which I think has to do with their size, price and unique design. I’m not entirely sure to what degree those traits are coloring one’s perception of the sound. Pretty sure in the right room and setup they would provide great bang for the buck.

Like Elk, I got my first taste of OB from the Dahlquists at a dealer. I could not have told you what OB meant or that I knew that was what they were at the time but I was impressed. Then came my first encounter with Magnepans and I’ve not been the same since. I now have and entirely open baffle system (OK, the subs are a stretch- an extended port design that gives a wide range output).

So, OB designs have serious drawbacks but, set up in the right room, they can do magic. They need space, particularly behind them, or diffusion to sound their best and most require substantial power to get higher SPLs. Bass integration can be difficult with box woofers/subs and the selection of music is critical. If you like rock and roll or heavily compressed pop you probably will be disappointed with the sound. I listen to rock in the car. Even though the system is far inferior it just sounds more involving than on the OB system. Acoustic music of all sorts and well recorded, dynamic music of electronic instruments sounds fantastic. When set up right, vocal imaging can be very convincing.

Second hand Maggies are readily available if you want to get your feet wet without breaking the bank. Emerald Physics also fits this bill. I don’t think that I have heard the Spatials. Linkwitz Labs’ OB designs are exceptional and can be DIY if that is your pleasure. Martin Logan electrostatics are exceptionally quick sounding speakers and have integrated woofers.

You might be interested in browsing my thread: Frodes system

Or use Google: Norwegian HiFi Forum

I have never been a fan of OB speakers myself - though to several people’s points I have heard the Emerald Physics with their DSP correction at shows sound good. I just wouldn’t be interested in owning a pair. They’re pleasant like Revel speakers are pleasant and Sonus Fabers are pleasant - enjoyable - but none have bottom end or resolving power, at least not to my standards.

Funny thing. I was reading through some comments of people posting about older Infinity and Genesis loudspeakers and several people hated them because they were “bottom end” heavy and the bass was just too much for them.

I guess we all come from different camps. I don’t consider speakers adequate without being full range. Few are. I also don’t want to own speakers that don’t resolve differences in electronics.

I am either all in or all out. In my home, I have acquiesced to a background music system which I can only tolerate at low levels. When Terri turns it too loud it’s awful. But that’s the kind of compromise we often have to make. What works for me doesn’t work for her. Now, if I can manage to put both together in a package, I’d be happier than a clam. Just never seen it done before.

I guess when open baffle is mentioned currently, I think of the Emerald Physics - a baffle with the unboxed drivers hanging out the back. Basically a dynamic speaker without the cabinet. I had (well, still have sitting around) DQ 28’s, but they have boxed mid and low drivers. Time aligned drivers are a good thing. Maggies and the like I wouldn’t think of as at all the same sort of thing as the Emeralds.

Another brand to check out is pureaudioproject, they offer options of different full range drivers with their standard sub drivers (that look the same as the Spatials). I was looking at the m3 Turbo S, but I don’t have the room to pull them out significantly from the wall and especially don’t have the room for subs with the Spatials (since I do love bass). It’s good to know Dev says the mids and highs are great since some are scared away with the reported glaring sound of compression drivers. People with OB subs are hooked tho and claim they will never go back to the boxy sound of enclosures, but at this point I’m looking for any full range system that doesn’t take up too much floor space and can fed by one amplifier (internal sub is ok).

Paul, if you can figure out what makes a clam happy designing speakers should be easy!

I am thinking that open baffle speakers to sound great in the room, I assume it really needs the room to be perfect. And how many people have that? I have never heard a pair, I don’t know of any dealers within 150 miles of me who sells them either. However I do have a local Martin dealer…

darrenv1070 said

I am thinking that open baffle speakers to sound great in the room, I assume it really needs the room to be perfect.

Perhaps. They certainly require careful placement.

I recognize few of the OB arguments that are mentioned herein. Maybe some updating is in order…?

I have heard the Pure audio project with Voxativ drivers and driven by Psvane electronics in the CA audio show couple of years back and it didn’t draw me into it. Perhaps it was the electronics but I can’t tell. The Spatials are far more compelling speakers and their new M25 compression driver is really very coherent. In my room, I find it more difficult to place boxed speakers than OB and in my experience box speakers need more space from the front wall than OB. The Spatials are point source with controlled directivity (even their bass driver) - though it limits the sweat spot to some extent, the placement of these are bit easier. If you stand behind them, you wouldn’t feel much music wrapped around as with the box speaker. Sometimes full range box speakers need the help of back and side wall for the bass reinforcement, not so much with the Spatials. Being OB, they also have comparatively less influence on the room acoustics.

All I can say is they sound a bit different, perhaps because they are less influenced/colored from the cabinet artifacts that most box speaker suffers - its true that most of the time our ears and brains are more tuned towards liking these artifacts but honestly I haven’t spent enough time with them. Another point is though they are highly efficient and you would see lot of folks driving them with low power SET, they truly shine when you feed them with quality power.

Over the Christmas holidays I purchased the Emerald Physic’s 4.7’s replacing my Gallo ref3’s. The Gallo’s were great but the 4.7’s take it to several levels higher in performance in every way. I’m lucky, I have a dedicated music room allowing me to move the 4.7’s out into the room. The 4.7’s are uncanny with the placement of instruments throughout the room.

My system consist of a P5, a pair of Emerald Physics EP 100.2 SE’s. One SE drives the low end the other SE goes to a crossover for the mid and high’s. And finally a Directstream DAC/Bridge II Roon combination.

My plans are adding another amp and a 2.8 digital crossover.

Paul McGowan said

They’re pleasant like Revel speakers are pleasant and Sonus Fabers are pleasant - enjoyable - but none have bottom end or resolving power, at least not to my standards.

Paul, have you ever heard the Sonus Faber top of the line Aida? Being a $120k speaker, I think it has two or three 12" woofers, still no real bass? It's the kind of speaker I will never hear in Milwaukee, and I don't get to any of the shows. I can understand the polite top end, but I would hope for that kind of money they could get the bass right. So any insight would be good.

No and I must admit my bias against Sonus Faber is based (stupidly) on only a few models of their mid priced lines which were nice but uninvolving. I absolutely adore their cabinetry, their attention to detail, the whole feel of the company. I was very sad when Fine Sounds bought them. Sucked the soul right out of the company from what I can see. It’s a great brand and I’ll bet the higher end models are wonderful.

Reading badbeef’s comments made me realize that I got a little off track with terminology. Open baffle woofers do not need a perfect room. In fact, they are ideal for many homes because they excite the room evenly and are relatively insensitive to placement (given a reasonable space from the wall behind). Bipolar mids and tweeters, OTOH, are persnickety about placement and are the ones that need plenty of breathing room, especially behind (Maggies, Logans etc…). Depending upon the speaker’s overall configuration, they may not suffer from this but also may not offer the full bipolar experience.

I pulled the trigger on a pair of Spatial Audio M3 Turbo speakers. I should have them late next week and am looking forward to setting them up.