Acoustat Spectra 1100 loudspeaker Review System

Sidebar 1: Review System

My system remains basically unchanged from that described in my review of the Ensemble B-50 Tiger in the May 1991 issue (Vol.14 No.5). The manifold in the ET2 arm has been replaced with one specially designed to complement the higher pressure of the Wisa air pump. A Monster Genesis 2000 cartridge has replaced the 1000. Navcom "pucks" have replaced the springs in the VPI HW19. These upgrades and changes to my analog front end have noticeably improved its ability to provide authoritative and captivating sound.

When I play CDs (and I must honestly say that as I continue to improve my analog source, I play them less often for enjoyment), I use the CAL Tercet Mk.III. TARA Labs' Temporal Continuum interconnect carries the signal from phono and CD to either the Ensemble B-50 integrated amp or the Counterpoint SA-5000 preamp. I discovered the Spectras were quite sensitive to the amplification source, so I tried several power amps in addition to the Ensemble B-50. They included Quicksilver monoblocks, a pair of Rowland Model Ones (bridged and bi-wired), and a Muse Model One Hundred (bi-wired). AudioQuest Lapis Hyperlitz carries the preamp signal to the amps.

Several brands of speaker cable were used in the course of this review, including Ensemble Hotline, TARA Labs' Temporal Continuum and Space & Time, Linn, and 4AG Kimber. Such was the revealing nature of these speakers that the selection of cable for use with them became a sort of mini-review. They "liked" certain cable better than others; I ended up using the Linn cable with the Ensemble B-50 and Kimber 4AG with the component amps. The speakers were placed just over 3' from the rear wall and 18" from the side walls. My listening seat was 8½' from the speakers, which were toed-in slightly, a little more than was the case with the Model Twos. I was pleased to discover that the "window" for the sweet spot was not as narrow with the 1100s as with the Model Twos; I was able to listen without remaining cataleptic.

Several of the new, flat Room Tunes were arranged around the room, with Echo Tunes placed at intervals along the wall (at ceiling height) and Corner Tunes placed, spider-web fashion, in the room's upper corners. At one point in my preparations, it looked like the Spectras had given birth to sextuplets. The use of these products helped measurably in controlling slap-echo and standing waves. They also enhanced the dimensionality, especially front-to-back layering, of the performance soundstage. Once the speakers are plugged in, a break-in period of at least 20 hours is recommended by Acoustat. I concur, but would recommend serious listening be postponed until at least the 50-hour mark has passed. You'll notice more efficiency, better dynamics, and increased dimensionality after this break-in period.—Guy Lemcoe

Brand no longer in existence (2014)