Aerial Acoustics 10t opportunity...too little, too late?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Michael Tomlin, Aug 12, 2019 at 11:58 AM.

  1. Michael Tomlin

    Michael Tomlin Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    76015
    After watching the local market for many years for these, a set of the later generation 10t's has become available. The asking price is on the high side compared to what I generally see them going for ($1500-3000), but according to the seller they are very clean with minimal cosmetic imperfections (very slight cracking of the composite mid/tweeter cabinet) and have the walnut (rather than black) woofer cabinet. Also, they do not have the sound anchor stands. There is no opportunity to listen to them set up properly, but I will be able to play music through them to confirm all drivers function. My question to those out there who may be equipped to answer it is this...for someone who owns (or has owned) some rather exceptional vintage speakers (Infinity QLS-1, Altec 19, JBL L250, Acoustat Spectra 22, Magnepan MG-IIIa, Klipsch Chorus II with Crites mods) and used them in a dedicated listening space that has extensive and carefully executed acoustic treatments and with a variety of decidedly better than midfi upstream gear (Threshold, Aragon, Rega, ARC, flagship Schiit) will the 10t's offer me anything I haven't heard already? I think the high water mark for me so far has been the Altec 19's, but they fell a little short of the QLS-1's when it came to size of sound stage (the line source, IME, is the king of sound stage scale) and couldn't offer the sort of sound stage depth that the big Maggies could deliver...but in virtually every other category of fidelity they absolutely excelled. So fond of the the 19's was I that I couldn't dismiss the consistent opinions of others that the duplex was more of the 19 but with better imaging and sound stage resolution...so I grabbed a set of 604-8g's and all the parts to built Markwart crossovers and proceeded to do absolutely nothing with them for the past five years because I couldn't find cabinets for them. That changed a few months ago when I got my hands a pair of 620 cabinets (very cosmetically challenged), but a lack of free time has prevented me from putting everything together and that's not likely to change any time soon. So, my concern is this...I understand the 10t's are exceptional speakers that offer a level of hifi that has earned them serious and enduring respect in the hifi community at large...but I've yet to see them discussed in the same sentence/context with some of the best vintage flagship speakers ever manufactured. And given what I've had the great fortune of owning/experiencing will they be able to "wow"me? For sake of comparison, the most recent jaw dropping experiences I've had with a pair of loudspeakers has been with the GR Research NX-Treme (a dipole line source with open baffle servo controlled subs) and the Volti Vittora. Can anyone here contribute to that discussion, please?

    I should add that I will have two listening spaces available, a 16x20x8 dedicated and acoustically treated space and a 16x34 (vaulted ceiling) lightly acoustically treated listening space where the 10t's and another set of speakers from the above list (except for the stats and JBLs...they're gone) will be able to reside.

    Michael
     
  2. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    The Aerial speakers used a kevlar midrange. Kevlar has an innate trouble area at certain frequencies that has been discussed in some forums. It is relatively narrow in area; the problem. Kevlar sounds really good (mostly). Clean is its best characteristic, but some people swear they can listen blindfolded and tell they are listening to Kevlar, it is not the most characterless of materials.

    The Quantum Line Source I have always wanted to hear. I remember their full page ad for it when it first came out. They urged people to go down to their local Infinity dealer and hear it. Their recommendation in their ad as to the popular music LP to listen to it on, was Fleetwood Mac (self titled). Unfortunately if you had an Infinity dealer near you, chances were about 80 to 90% that he didn't stock the QLS. Harry Pearson former editor of The Absolute Sound, after praising the ultra expensive IRS V, later when on to say that the original Quad electrostatic sounded more like real music.
     
  3. Michael Tomlin

    Michael Tomlin Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    76015
    Interesting about Kevlar. That some have found it to have a colored sonic character is new to me, but I’ll make note of that.

    As far as the comments about the Quad sounding more like real music...I can only see that being the case under certain conditions (such as the types of instruments in the recording). I’m not prepared to say the QLS-1’s present music as a perfect recreation of the real thing, but they do so many things exceptionally well that you find yourself just engrossed in the music rather than being overly critical of minutiae.
     
  4. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    Yes, on certain music, I couldn't imagine the Quad 57 taking on the IRS V or even your QLS. I think he meant that the Quads are less colored by a cabinet enclosure, faster and more seamless because they are an electrostatic and do not use a crossover and maybe they have better depth because there isn't wood behind the drivers to interfere with the sensation of depth by causing early reflections. Electrostatics are hard to beat for purity also. However with most of them, there isn't a visceral low end or realistic dynamics. If they do sound more like real music overall, it is a case of simpler outperforming complex, as the IRS was a very complex speaker system setup.

    I have a few speakers designed by Michael Kelly owner/designer of Aerial Acoustics. One is a pair of Era Design bookshelf speakers which he designed for them and a pair of dbx speakers from when he worked for them before Aerial. I like them both. According to the Zaph (spelling?) forum I was reading, it seems that Kevlar has a breakup mode within the midrange within a narrow band of frequencies. Many speaker companies like Usher have tried combining Kevlar with other materials in the same cone. If you are looking vintage I would consider a speaker called the Eggleston Andrea, which came out in the same era as the 10t. Also there is a guy in Ohio around Cleveland who builds Walsh drivers, which are supposed to be superior to cone or dome drivers. The Ohm model A and F which used full range Walsh drivers,were probably the best speakers of the 1970's and would still compare favorably with much exotic stuff today. I think Ohm Walsh speakers made today are not the full range crossoverless designs of their past, but there may be an exception or two somewhere in their line. I don't keep up with everything.
     
  5. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    Spell Check took my correct spelling and did its usual thing. The Eggleston model is the Andra not Andrea.
     
  6. Michael Tomlin

    Michael Tomlin Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    76015
    Thanks for all the info. I happened to be looking at a review for a B&W model that uses a Kevlar mid range driver and it was mentioned that the Kevlar did add some coloration to the presentation...so now I’ve seen it mentioned more than once.
    Those Andras are impressive, but maybe a bit out of budget. I’d love to hear a pair and will certainly be on the lookout.
     
  7. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    A series I pair of Andra's which are excellent should go for far less $$ than the series II. I have seen the series I being offered used for around $4,000. The review of them that I read in a major publication of the series I, the reviewer said that they reproduced the sound of the piano more accurately and real than he had ever heard and they did nothing wrong that he could hear on anything.
     
  8. Litejazz53

    Litejazz53 Enjoying the Beauty of "Crystal Clear" Digital

    Continue your search for the Aeiral 10T, it's Michael Kelly's finest speaker and biggest seller. To this day, no speaker has exceeded the sales of the 10T. The Kevlar midrange driver was the secret of it's amazing sound, everyone loved the Aerial 10T, including me, as I have owned a pair for many years. You will not do better than a set of 10T loudspeakers. Over all the past years I have owned them, I have never heard any speakers I liked more, yes, they are that good. Good luck in your search, if you find a set of walnut 10Ts with the correct stands at $3,300.00, buy them quickly, you will not be sorry. So you will know, the Sound Anchor stands have three small steel ball bearings that the actual speaker sits on, the contact spots are minimal, and isolate the speaker cabinet perfectly. :righton:
     
  9. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    I second this opinion. Aerial 10T speakers are about the very best speakers I have ever heard. I have owned a few models of large Aerial speakers, KEF, Avalon, Theil CS3.7, B&W Matrix 800, Magnapan, Apogee, Acoustat, Audio Note, ... all of which are some of my favorites. The 10T was right there with the best of them, better than one of the "best" B&W ever made, and less fussy about finding the right amplifier than the best Theil. And none of these others can be found for under $5000.
    P.S.:They are kind of ugly, though, compared to those others. :magoo:
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019 at 6:06 PM
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  10. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    Some peoples radar is not as sensitive to "coloration" as others. There was a nationally respected Audio Salon not far from me which premiered many classic components of the past, and the owner said that one person after another thought their speakers were perfect, until they brought them in and compared them with a modestly priced speaker he carried. I personally sat there and remembered how nasal they made speaker after speaker sound. The response was usually a half embarrassed "OH". Coloration is often something you Don't realize you have until you hear something with less. My comments above are about kevlar (which "overall" I actually like), not about the Aerial speaker in question, which I have never heard. I have heard (own) some of Michael Kelly's other work though and I have been impressed. I am a high purity, low coloration, even frequency response fan.
     
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  11. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    It's all a question of priorities, isn't it? I mean, if you spend time with a loudspeaker in a given system (taking into account variables like associated equipment, which can make a huge difference if not optimized --ditto the room and placement), you'll invariably hear the weakness(es) in some areas where the illusion doesn't work quite as well. Especially on a range of program material.
    My go-to early on was the Quad Loudspeaker, which taught me how to listen. I still have the pair I bought in 1973-4 (recently restored). I can enjoy the hell out of them, and forget about the machinery making the music, but as everybody acknowledges, they have some grevious shortcomings.
    I used to spend a lot of hours listening to a friend's system that had big Duntechs (Sovereigns, I believe). They were amazing in delivering not just the scale of the performance, but acoustic bass had the correct height. But, I never had an issue going home and firing up the Quads back then, using a pretty high level of associated gear, despite their severe limitations.
    My main system is far more involved, costly, impressive in some ways, but I can and do still spend time listening to the Quad (now that they are restored and set up again in a different system/room than the main system). Part of it has to do with expectations as well. (I was very disappointed on the only occasion when I heard the original Wilson WAMM; I've heard the IRS sound great and no so great).
    I have no experience with the speaker under discussion.
    PS: I agree that you only know when something is colored when you've heard the absence of that coloration. That's happened to me time and again.
     
    Michael Tomlin likes this.
  12. Litejazz53

    Litejazz53 Enjoying the Beauty of "Crystal Clear" Digital

    I just never had any problems with the design with the Novalith heads, they are like two marble blocks. Michael is charging $11,000.00 for the little 7T, can you imagine what he would NOW charge for the 10T, I would guess at $16,000.00 if they cost a penny! The 10T had the remarkable cabinet made in Denmark, yes, those were the days.:agree:
     
    Michael Tomlin likes this.
  13. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Everything in high-end audio is going up in price faster and faster. The prices of turntables, anything made by Audio Research, any large hi-end speakers made by anyone... have doubled and doubled again, just within recent memory. It all makes Audio Note (which had a reputation of being expensive just a few years ago) bargain priced by comparison, because their prices have risen very little for the same model designs that have also change very little, year after year. Because AN's models stay the same with very minor upgrades along the way, their cost of manufacturing has not risen much. And Audio Note's newer models are filling in more toward the low-end and middle of the HiFi catagory.

    Above all, the VERY high-end of older equipment is REALLY a bargain now. And this is the VERT evident situation with used turntables, used Audio Research, and used state-of-the-art speakers, such as the Theil CS-3.7 and Aerial 10T.
     
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  14. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    A lot of the stuff mentioned above including the Aerial 10t, Eggleston, Audio Note etc. came to my attention from the fairly short lived audio review magazine called Fi. They mailed you their issues for free, probably getting your name/address from some mailing list and they hoped you would get hooked and eventually subscribe. They gave the 10t a great review and the Eggleston a great (or even greater?) review. They reviewed the Audio Note Kegon mono block tube power amps which cost $125,000. They said the Kegon sounded like every other amp they ever heard had an electronic rain in the background and with the Kegon it sounded like for once the rain had stopped, and that if offered a whole new level of playback realism. I still got back issue laying around. They had some great interviews with Herbie Hancock, Jackson Brown, Paul McCartney, Michael Tilson Thomas etc. The magazine survived for less than 5 years I think. A lot of people would read it at everyone's favorite library; Barnes's & Noble.
     
  15. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    A speaker that resembles the 10t visually on top is the KEF 107. I heard it way back, when and it sounded like it did everything superb. It came out a little earlier, toward the late 1980's. I wonder how it would compare to the 10t. Used ones on ebay seem to go for between $900 and $1400. Most everyone says it sounds better without the KUBE.
     
  16. Michael Tomlin

    Michael Tomlin Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    76015
    Really enjoying the comments, guys. As you can see from the (partial) list of speakers I own/owned, my experience is primarily with vintage models, and usually something that was pretty high up on the food chain. But when it comes to electronics, I prefer “new vintage” and use Threshold, Aragon, ARC along with modern stuff that’s in my budget such as Rega, Musical Fidelity and Schiit. I’ve listened to a handful of modern speakers and have been impressed by a few (Devore Orangutan) and a little underwhelmed by many (I owned LS50’s for a few months). But, having said that, the rooms and set ups weren’t always ideal, and I typically withhold any final judgements for when conditions are favorable for the model...such as when I can hear something in my dedicated and acoustically treated listening space. I’d like to experience the capabilities of modern tech and materials in a more recent offering than what I’ve been listening to, and it sounds like the 10t would be an excellent choice.
     
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  17. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    I think a KEF speaker called the R3, (not the R300) recently won speaker of the year in the U.K. I have read at least a few people on the forums say they like their old vintage KEF R107 more than their newer LS50. They do not go into detail as to why. Back in the 1980's Hi Fi News & Record Review pretty much said the R107 was the best dynamic speaker on the planet. Never heard anyone say they didn't like it. Rarely have heard anyone say they weren't keen on the Aerial 10. One guy for example said he thought they were too sharp in the midrange. Kevlar can sometimes be like that. It is a strong material which does not flex easily or much, (driver flexing is one of the major causes of driver distortion). I have about 4 different Kevlar midranges. My favorites are Eton, (made in Germany) and that brands drivers were often used in Avalon speakers, which by the way is another vintage (and non vintage) brand to consider. I am not someone who needs a bunch of sub 40 hertz bass. I think if I had 3 or 4k to spend on speakers I would just be tempted to buy a new pair of Proac D2's or the ATC speakers with one of the best most famous midrange drivers of all time. There is a Harry Pearson video interview on YouTube where you can see an ATC speaker behind him in the background.
     
  18. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    Another thing is; very few speaker companies make their own drivers. They source them from companies who usually do not make their own loudspeakers but only drivers. Most of these companies like Audax, Scanspeak,Shas, Vifaa etc. make a whole line of drivers. Usually starting at around $50 a driver and going up to hundreds of dollars, even thousands per driver. In a speaker pair that has a retail price of say $5,000 you are not getting these driver companies most expensive highest performing drivers. At that price you might be getting a midrange and tweeter that is fourth from the bottom.At that price you are not getting $600 each midrange drivers or $200 tweeters. That is why some people like to try building their own speakers. Drivers from these and other companies are available to the public through mostly mail order outlets.
     
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