Last year I was approached by a previous customer who was interested in having his pair of 2.7’s modded. I agreed, because at the time I was un-aware that they were a 3 way. I assumed, incorrectly, that they were a 2 way because they have a QR tweeter and not a ribbon but I was not long in discovering my error. The 3 way factor troubled me, more specifically the fact that there are separate mid and bass wires, because that has been the real stumbling block to doing my XO on the 3 series, not the fact that it has a ribbon.
I decided to go ahead with it anyway, as I figured he’d still get the benefit of frames and at least better XO parts if we had to use the stock configuration. It took a good week or two of back and forth with my XO guy until we agreed on a design parameter which finally copied the shared design I have been implementing on all the others to my satisfaction. At this time I am not going to reveal what we did or how we did it, but we were able to make a 2 way out of it without removing anything. (in other words every wire is still attached and playing) If time proves the design faultless I’ll go into it in more detail.
The frames were made out of Santos Mahogany, which is not a true mahogany but a member of the pea family. My 1.6 is next to it for size comparison. (yes, they finally just got finished) Nothing different or unusual happened in the build process. Click the pics for larger images.
The effect on sound that happens as a maggie gets bigger has been well documented, and this becomes far more pronounced after all this modding is done. In short they highlight each individual sound event more and more as size increases, but at the loss of over all musicality. Some like this trait, and some don’t. I expected a modest increase in this regard with the 2.7’s as well as more bass. Now the bass went as expected. With modded 1.6’s I have the Swarm turned down a bit, and even then there is the odd track where it’s too much. They have to be used prudently, but they still get used. On the 2.7’s I found them entirely unnecessary and did not use them.
As for the highlighting issue, I have owned IIIa’s and heard modded 3.6’s and stock 20’s so I thought I had an idea what it was all about and what should be expected, but what I got instead I was absolutely unprepared for. These 2.7’s ripped the soundstage to pieces, literally and ruthlessly. It was a complete deconstruction and reconstruction done in a manner I have never before heard. Music literally gets gutted and rebuilt to a new vision, or perhaps it would be more correct to say “proper vision”. There is no other way to explain it.
First off, every sound has 3 dimensional form and 3 dimensional placement. (like the absolute best cone drivers) I mean that in the most literal and tactile sense possible, you can feel the space being taken up to such an extent it is almost creepy. This is especially true of vocals. It’s as if it were no longer sounds, but a physical entity taking up space. Taken further, the location of many sounds often no longer matched my memory of where they should be in the recording. On any given song, we tend to find most of the musical event along a certain plane. This location may be forward, or recessed, and there will be events that spring ahead or behind this plane, but generally we find most of the content there and it will emanate at different heights in this plane. The location of it however is generally easy to “visualize” and the this gives the music a general cohesion.
With the 2.7 that has been cast away. There is stuff anywhere and everywhere, and in places you never heard it before. (and yes, the polarity is correct) If you saw the first tomb raider movie when Lara throws the clock and it breaks apart and all the pieces hang suspended in three dimension, exposed to view in the air, that is what listening to the 2.7’s is like. Every other speaker shows you a clock, the modded 2.7 shows you the clock part by part, arranged all over the place and with a microscope on them.
This trait resulted in making many of the more deliberately well produced tracks I have no longer sound like the songs I remembered at all, and in many of those cases my feeling was that magic had actually been removed. I can only attribute this to the fact that when the tracks are getting recorded and produced in the studio they use monitors which are not playing back the event like this, they play back the event like speakers human beings use and own do. So when they make a track sound a certain way, “certain way” means being played back on this same kind of speaker. No one imagined or anticipated anything else. The fact is those effects can get deconstructed by the 2.7’s to such a degree that the mastering intent changes. This isn’t always the case, but when it happens the song gets entirely inside-outed. Whether it is worse or not I cannot say because I didn’t have these things long enough to determine, but my initial impression was a little remorse in this regard. Yet even as that played out other aspects of the song that were never before heard were now being revealed, and I was being dumbfounded by that fact. It’s quite a lot to absorb when it happens. There is no doubt that even if you aren’t sure you are liking it, the 2.7 is a heady brew to drink from.
On the majority of songs that still sounded basically the same, there was far more going on than I ever experienced before. Voices become HUGE (and physically round, like a ball). It also made some of the albums that I would have considered more ordinarily recorded sound as if they had acquired a depth of realism and life that was stunning. Nothing sounded bad, and the pure revelation being exposed to you as you sit there and take it all in was one of my more memorable audio experiences, almost as if God granted you a private audition into some deeper meaning.
There is also another odd effect these things brought to the table. The ability to alter the decibel output of the various parts of the performance. Yes, the dbl level of reproduction "inside” the performance alters. I have never experienced anything like this before. It may be actual or just perceived, but sound events that are of equal decibel on every other speaker no longer are on the 2.7
With other speakers, (box or planar) as you turn the volume up they uniformly get louder. There is a not uncommon problem that there can be some songs where you like a certain specific part (a vocal, a particular instrument) and while you’d want to turn it up and enjoy that louder you usually don’t because there is another instrument part that gets too annoying when it too gets louder. In other words you turn it up, everything gets louder. This seems like the rational thing to expect, and indeed the only possible outcome. That does not happen with the 2.7’s however.
Instead, songs are taken, broken down to each individual part, those parts are blown back up and fleshed out, a decibel level is set for them, and they are placed “somewhere” in the room. If some cymbal is in the back and quieter, it stays in the back, and it stays quiet. Somehow those parts we would want to gain in volume do, while the accompaniment stays back just enough to accompany. It doesn’t overshadow, or get overshadowed. The balance of the musical event always stays perfect, even if the musical event doesn’t sound quite like you are used to it sounding.
I was able to examine this further when they left as I then had my 1.6’s, I then took a step down and listened to a just modded pair of 12’s, and then my SMGa’s so I got to hear the entire family top to bottom. What I discovered is this phenomenon seems tied into the “musicality” aspect mentioned above. The smaller ones are more musical. In other words they present the music as “a package”. When you turn up the volume of that package, it all goes up evenly. I was able to discern that as one increases the size, and this musicality diminishes for detail, this decibel altering ability does begin to happen. I had not noticed this before but now that I am aware of it and specifically listen for it, I can hear how the 1.6’s do some of it and the SMGa’s do not. (and the 12’s kind of do) None are even near the level of the 2.7, but this is something that is going on thru the line.
I had these things only 4 days, but I stayed up to 3 am almost every night listening because I could not digest what it was I was experiencing, or get enough of it. It was a very wild ride, and I’m not sure if I prefer it or not now that it’s over. The first thing that came was the shock of sticking the 1.6’s back in, and finding all that expansive detail gone, and myself not liking what I was hearing at all. (like going from a real girl in your lap to a Playboy centerfold) However after an hour of re-acclimation I began to realize and appreciate those things that were being lost thru the 2.7’s. That one caveat of audio, “you can’t have it all” still seems to hold water.
How much all of it matters anyway I don’t know. I think only two of these speakers were ever made and Mart has the other pair so I don’t foresee a lot of people wanting the info to mod theirs. What does matter is I am discussing the result further with my XO guy and we now think there is the possibility to do the same thing with the 3 series and their ribbons, which was my eventual hope from this. That however will require some time to look into it, and a guinea pig to provide the speakers
It’s all about the music...