Thanks to this forum and specifically thanks to the generosity of Richard Allen of EB Acoustics with whom I struck a very agreeable deal, as of last Sunday afternoon I'm now the proud owner of the WHFSV? demo-pair of EB2 loudspeakers, personally delivered to my home on the Fylde Coast by the man himself and his delightful long-suffering OH.
Richard ably assisted with the installation on my tatty-but-functional old Apollo 18" speaker-stands, and after a scary moment where the LH channel didn't work because some pixie had mysteriously disconnected one of the speaker cables from my amp overnight (it was working fine the day before, and nothing had been moved except the MS10i's), we were up and running.
One of the qualities which Richard was keen to demonstrate was how crisp and fast the speakers are with transient sounds like drums and percussion, so we queued-up a live recording of Cozy Powell via Spotify. Must admit, I was damn impressed. I don't know enough about physics to argue, but Richard's explanation that these qualities are facilitated by the speakers' sealed infinite-baffle design makes sense to me. They exhibit none of the blur and waffle I've become accustomed to from ported designs. In fact I think when one's listened to ported speakers for so long, one becomes deaf to those kind of distortions until someone comes along and takes them away. The soundstage was deep and wide and even at reasonable volumes there was no lack of impact or drama.
Other reviews have praised the speakers' open and revealing midrange, which is especially flattering to vocalists. A quick listen to Shelby Lynne's well-recorded clear close-miked vocals (again via Spotify) confirmed this to be the case. These speakers are easily as insightful as the Mission 794s I sold in September, but without ever straying into the harshness which sometimes made listening to the 'wrong' material painful.
Continuing to enlist the services of Spotify, we dialled-in some modern electronic dance courtesy of Will.i.am. When required, these speakers can certainly pump the air, without ever a sense that their bass is a one-trick pony. This is in contrast to some speakers that are carefully tuned to give a satisfying whoomph at the all-important 80-100Hz range but have nothing to speak of either side of it.
The speakers are more than capable of lifting their skirts up. A lossless rip of Chris Rea's "Let's Dance" from "The Journey" album had toes a tapping (yes literally) with Rea’s guitar soaring through the mix without sounding too tiresome or shrill.
With wife and kiddies now away to visit her relatives in Scotland, last night I had chance to run through a couple more choice test tracks/albums that I don't play when she's around because she doesn't like them. One of the first I always fly-to is Vangelis's "China" album. Recorded on a mix of electronic synthesizers and acoustic instruments including grand piano, timpani and various Chinese flutes and plucked string instruments, virtually every 'test' you'd expect a pair of speakers to pass is condensed here in 41 minutes of music. The speakers didn't disappoint. With the front covers removed the soundstage they produce is huge and impeccably textured (ever so slightly narrower with the covers in place). Slam is there when it's called for but there's never a hint of upper-bass bloom. The detailed but sweet treble was there again to ice the cake.
Finally I found time so try another system-testing favourite/tired old chestnut: Dire Straits' "Private Investigations". Never, in my house at least, have the footsteps and bottle-smashing at the end sounded so realistic in such a deep (artificial) soundstage. Even the cat woke up and took notice, which I reckon is equivalent to a rating of at least Three Wives, maybe four.
These speakers are so fast and crisp that the realism on leading edges and transients can be uncanny, and sometimes it's the most unusual things which demonstrate it. I was watching the final nine holes of the Masters golf tournament late on Sunday night, and as Bubba Watson tee'd off with his famous pink driver, the 'clap' against the ball and even the slight post-impact 'ring' had such sting and realism that it sounded like he'd tee'd off in my own living room.
However I think it's also worth noting that the sound from these speakers will not be for everybody, nor for everybody's systems. If you're used to speakers that have an upper-bass bloom, your initial impressions might be that these speakers are bass-light. The real truth is, they're most definitely not bass-light: they can produce a bass that can tingle your testiculars, providing it's there on the track. What they won't do is artificially add the upper-bass bloom (like a mild loudness switch) that leads to what's often called a 'one note bass'. This can sound incredible on dance and drum’n’bass tracks, but leads to instruments such as double-basses dropping in and out of a mix depending on what note they're playing. Another consideration is that systems which are already bright will not do these speakers any favours. They benefit from a system with a neutral or slightly warm presentation to leave them sounding balanced and involving rather than over-analytical.
So in short, these are highly recommended. Many thanks to Richard and his wife for bringing them up, I know I am going to have an enjoyable time rediscovering a lot of my old music again.