Acoustat Spectra 11 loudspeaker

666acoustat11.jpgI wish I could be enthusiastic about the Acoustat Spectra 11—an electrostatic/dynamic hybrid selling for $999/pair. At first glance, the Acoustat Spectra 11 looks like a good deal. They could almost be called knock-offs of the Martin-Logan Sequels—they're about the same size. As with the Sequels, there are moving-coil bass cabinets below, electrostatic panels on top. The Spectra 11 cannot be bi-wired and does not come with spikes. Tiptoes are recommended, and I used them. I let the speakers run in for about 24 hours before doing any serious listening.

First, the good points. The Spectra 11 is non-fatiguing, non-irritating, and forgiving. The sound is smooth through the midrange, if not particularly detailed, but the speakers sound as if cropped at the top. And while they sound spacious—what you'd expect with electrostatic panels—I found their imaging not particularly precise. I couldn't always pinpoint instruments.

The bass didn't integrate well with the midrange and treble. In my room, I found it not just murky but muddy—like the old Carnegie Hall if you sat in the first few rows. Worse, I found these speakers to have the same dynamic limitations as the MartinLogan Sequel II—I couldn't get them to open up, dynamically. And this when driven by a Krell KSP-7B and KSA-80!

This is not a technical write-up, so I have no idea whether or not there's some phasing problem between the bass cabinet and the electrostatic panel—something which I suspect to be the case with the Sequel II. But the lack of dynamics, coupled with the surprising lack of transparency from the electrostatic panels, resulted in what I consider a lackluster overall sound.

Mind you, the Spectra 11s are not terrible—not by any stretch. Aside from the bass, they're free of colorations. And they're listenable—no midrange or treble nasties. At $999/pair, there's just so much you should expect from a pair of speakers. Sonically, you shouldn't expect to get MartinLogan Sequel clones, and you don't. What you do get, I'm afraid, despite the size of these speakers and the sophisticated technology, is just average sound for the money.

I'm shipping these speakers to Santa Fe. Perhaps they'll fare better in a different listening environment—be less boomy, for instance, or more dynamic.—Sam Tellig

Acoustat, Rockford-Fosgate Corp.
Brand no longer in existence (2014)