Infinity Servo-Statik 1 loudspeaker Page 4
It also had another quality that we have noticed in large horn systems: it seemed to produce absolutely astounding dynamic range from music that should indeed have very wide dynamics. We suspect that this is because the fortissimo passages in large-scale musical works are comprised largely of energy in the so-called "presence" range (2-5kHz), where many modern direct-radiator speaker systems tend to be a shade deficient.
Outside of these two aspects, though, the resemblance between the SS-1 and a horn-type system ceases, for the SS-1 had very much wider and smoother response than we have ever heard from any horn system. The only conceivable advantage that a horn-type system could offer would be higher efficiency.
We do not know how much power it would take to overload the SS-1's midrange panels (its least-efficient element), but there were times when our DC-300 was clipping at listening levels below those obtainable from a large horn system at about 1/100 the input power. Nonetheless, with the DC-300 we were able to reproduce in a fairly large living room the kinds of levels one might hear from a Row-M seat in the concert hall, although it was not possible to reproduce piano at anything approaching actual in-the-room volume, if you should happen to want to do so.
We would estimate the SS-1's efficiency to be around ½ of 1%, which makes it a bit less efficient than an AR-3 (footnote 2).
We mentioned the SS-1's ability to reproduce brass instruments, not because it does less well on other instruments but because it does them so much more justice than any other American electrostatic we have heard. In fact, it does not seem to favor any instruments although, as mentioned, the amplifier used to drive the treble elements will determine to a great extent how the system will reproduce the sound of loud, massed-violin passages.
All comparisons aside, though, the word that best describes the sound of the Infinity SS-1 on large-scale choral or orchestral music is "stupendous." It is a long time since anything we have heard has, literally given us goose bumps, but the SS-1 did it time and time again, until we found ourselves re-listening to recordings we haven't pulled from the shelves for years, just to enjoy the sound of them.
In short, we feel the Infinity Servo-Statik 1 to be one of the two best home- type loudspeakers that money can buy, and the other isn't a dynamic system either: it is four KLH Nine panels. They are priced competitively with one another, but there is little to compare sonically. They sound quite different, yet both are unsurpassed in realism of a certain kind, the Infinity for a neutral perspective, the Nines for a more distant perspective.
After much anguished soul-searching and vacillation, we finally concluded that we preferred the SS-1 on 90% of recorded material. We would have bought our test sample had we been able to scrape up the necessary bread, but finally had to let it go. We still feel rather as though a member of the family has passed away.
Footnote 2: Since this was written, we heard an SS-1 employing new, 8dB more-sensitive midrange panels, which allow one to use a lower-powered amp on the midrange or to get absolutely ear-shattering levels from the system with a midrange amp like the DC-300. Several people who have listened to the system with the new panels for some time have reported that they seem to provide better woofer/tweeter blending than the original ones, but we were unable to hear the difference on a brief listen to them.