ENIGMAcoustics Sopranino electrostatic supertweeter Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Linn Sondek LP12 turntable with Lingo power supply, Linn Ekos tonearm, Linn Arkiv B cartridge.
Digital Sources: Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP universal player; Apple 2.7GHz i7 Mac mini running OS10.7, iTunes 10, Pure Music 1.89; Auralic Vega, NAD M51 D/A converters; Ayre Acoustics QA-9 USB A/D converter.
Preamplification: Channel D Seta L phono preamplifier, Pass Labs XP-30 line preamplifier.
Power Amplifiers: MBL Corona C15, Pass Labs XA60.5 (both monoblocks).
Loudspeakers: Joseph Audio Perspective, Rogers BBC LS3/5A.
Cables: Digital: Kubala-Sosna Elation! AES/EBU, AudioQuest Coffee, Belkin Gold USB. FireWire: AudioQuest FireWire 400 (prototype). Interconnect (balanced): Kubala-Sosna Elation!, Transparent, AudioQuest Wild Blue. Speaker: Kubala-Sosna Elation! AC: Kubala-Sosna Elation!, manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Celestion 24" speaker stands. Target TT-5 equipment racks; Ayre Acoustics Myrtle Blocks; ASC Tube Traps, RPG Abffusor panels; Shunyata Research Dark Field cable elevators; Audio Power Industries 116 Mk.II & PE-1, APC S-15 AC line conditioners (computers, hard drive). AC power comes from two dedicated 20A circuits, each just 6' from breaker box.—John Atkinson

11 Chrysler
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 340-7590

remlab's picture

..around an inch long. The distance of the super tweeter's center looks to be several inches from the main tweeter's center. Relatively speaking, it would be like placing a subwoofer a hundred feet from the mains(Kind of). It seems like the potential for destructive interference due to timing variations would be pretty bad. For this reason, off axis measurements/w main speaker would have been interesting.
Another thing, regarding show conditions, is that if you are not sitting perfectly on axis with these supertweeters(90% of show listeners usually aren't), what you are hearing from it is probably just your imagination, or destructive interference at the crossover point.

dalethorn's picture

"There was a sense of loss every time I disconnected the supertweeters, the imaging losing some of that addictive palpability."

That's the key I think - that direct comparisons don't reflect the full difference. I've learned that inserting a component that improves the sound in this subtle way doesn't make quite the impression that removing said component does, once the listener has accomodated to it.

hnipen's picture

John, I do have asthma too, suddenly I realize how this may bee a good thing, thx for info John :D

Catch22's picture

If I start smoking, can I get asthma too?

remlab's picture

So there is no way for me to stay in the sweet spot long enough to hear any benefits anyway..

hnipen's picture

@Catch22, Asthma is allergy related and has to do with a narrowing of the airways, due to these allergic reactions, smoking can reduce your lung functions and make other problems with your airways, but it can't give you asthma.... as far as I know (I'm not a doctor, though)

When I was younger I also had asthma when exercising, but as far as I know, it's always allergy related, but potentially being more disclosed when you exercise, but still it's allergy that's always the core reason, I believe

remlab's picture

..catch22 and I were just trying to be funny(out of insane jealousy, of course).

hnipen's picture

Geir Tømmervik, master chief of Oslo Hi-Fi center has a supertweeter that goes to 200KHz for his Audio Physic Medea (well, the medea seemingly has been replaced with Kef Muon) .... He wholeheartedly claims that everything gets better when he employs the supertweeters, even the bass!

Geir is a person that always proves what he says, so I don't believe this to be rubbish.....

remlab's picture

Would sound even better!

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

I wonder how much of such improvements is the result of things like the McGurk Effect, wherein what you see affects what you hear. Could a double blind test help in determining actual improvements?

See the following for an explanation.


John Atkinson's picture
Rick Tomaszewicz wrote:
I wonder how much of such improvements is the result of things like the McGurk Effect, wherein what you see affects what you hear.

Always a possibility with even the most experienced listeners. But then how would you explain that I detected that one of the supertweeters had stopped working properly, something I confirmed by measurement?

Rick Tomaszewicz wrote:
Could a double blind test help in determining actual improvements?

As I wrote in 1997, following my experience as a listener in many double-blind tests organized by others - see www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/407awsi/index.html - "double-blind comparative listening tests [are] the last refuge of the agenda-driven scoundrel."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

as Remlab suggests, your recognition of the failed super tweeter was related to the sudden absence of additive or subtractive effects within the audible range of that channel.

As an avid reader of Stereophile and its sister publications, I'm familiar with the ongoing debate concerning double blind testing. Both points of view have been eloquently argued. Mikey F. has also commented on the need for educating one's ears prior to making judgements. I note Philips provides an online tutorial to help in this regard.


I acknowledge that you and your writers likely have among the best educated ears around. However, I do not understand why audiophiles should be exempt from the same rigour most other technical fields subject claims to; namely, double blind testing. It's for this reason I admire Mikey's blind listening polls to compare gear. (I don't think one has to have an agenda or be a scoundrel in order to seek such objectivity.)

I've suggested before that an interesting annual feature could be for you and your writers to blind listen to gear in differing price ranges, and rank all in absolute terms and then rank based on cost ratio. For the 99.9% of us, that last category would be most valued. Because, in the end, it should be about the music. And the closer we can get to the artist at the least cost, the better. (The wealthy can buy gear to impress friends, but perhaps some of them would value exposing "emperors without clothes".)

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

I forgot to express thanks for the restraint of your conditional commendation. Such measured and sober assessment is rare among reviewers of glamorous high end gear.

Also, from a marketing POV, was it wise for the creator of such expensive gear, at the edge of perceptive benefit, to include the word "Enigma" in their name?

dalethorn's picture

I explored the Philips Golden Ears test/challenge, and found that while it's interesting, the cancellation** factors between their proposed 'colorations' and colorations of the devices you're listening with can lead to dubious conclusions. While I believe that the subtractive effect of switching from the 'better' component to the lesser component, and hearing the loss of resolution that incurs usually reveals an important difference, it isn't always that simple. Sometimes you just have to spend a lot of time trying different things.

**i.e., the source has an emphasis at 'x' khz, while the speaker has an equivalent recess at 'x' khz.

remlab's picture

..just be from destructive and constructive interference at the relatively low crossover point? If it is simply meant to extend the response of a loudspeaker, wouldn't it make more sense for it to to start at 20khz if the mains tweeter is more than capable of getting there itself? I'll bet that you would have a much more difficult time guessing wether it was in or out of the system in that case.

JRT's picture

If the loudspeaker performance is so poor that this bandaid fix may improve that performance, I would suggest getting better loudspeakers.

The MSRP of these supertweeters is $3690.

For $1499 from KEF-Direct, you can get a pair of KEF LS-50 satellite stand mount monitors.

The little KEFs need a subwoofer system for full range response. Some might argue that a subwoofer system is a bandaid fix, but I would counter that using sepatately located sources below the Schroeder frequency can provide a better solution to smoothing Eigentones in the modal response of the listening space. That woud be a better designed solution, not a bandaid fix.