105 Minutes with Linkwitz Lab LX521

February 22nd 2013, Dr. Frank Brenner, who offers parts and kits for the LX521, kindly hosted a demo of the new SL dipole for me. There was no LX521 material to look at, but this was not the purpose of the trip anyway.

Frank also owns Orions but they were not setup for auditioning. If I had known that earlier...maybe one day ? This is still of particular interest for me because with Aristoteles I go through the same work that lies between Orion and the LX521, only slower obviously.

So it was a Friday in 2013 when I saw and auditioned the first genuine SL product in my life.
No reason for excitement, though and as always, I try to be unbiased and neutral in the following text.

The room has an estimated average RT60 of approx. 550ms and thus is a bit less life sounding than my own living room (mostly due to differences in size).
The speakers were setup a little over 1m (~1.1m) from the sides and they were 2.4m apart. We started with a pretty close listening distance of 1.6m and a slight toe in (~20°) of the panels so that the tweeters would just pass the head instead of aiming into the face. Later I shifted the seat a bit back and we played a little with the toe in.

Unlike in my listening environment, there was virtually no front wall (~5m away) and much more space (~4m initially) behind the demo seat.

First song first tacts from Roger Waters' "Amused to Death" with Qsounds...familiarity and comfort from the first second on.

We then went through a mixture of songs that I brought and from Frank's NAS, roughly 75% well recorded Jazz. Now why Jazz anyway ? First of all, we simply seem to have some common ground in terms of musical taste and secondly I pick Jazz because the mic placement is pretty transparent. With a trio e.g., it is fairly easy to judge how well a spatial context has been captured as the placement of instruments (and mics for the same matter) follows a repeating and simple pattern.

Now more about the speakers:
What I was most amazed of, was the similarity in presenting the AS compared to Demokrit-T ! The AS with the omni is only a little wider. On my way to Frank's I was asking myself how a dipole would sound compared to the omnis that have accompanied myself for quite some time now. I was kind of expecting a bit more focused and distant sound, but no ! I account the "absence" of the front wall to that impression.
Anyway, the imaging / AS was really fine and stability as always depending on the program material/recording. Most of the picks produced nicely stable phantom images that allowed moving the head and the upper body without making the AS collapse too early.

Details in the AS were produced nicely clear at a level that I am rather used to but a dash clearer than Demokrit-T (please don't read this as comparing apples to whatever...the little omni is currently my reference because I listen to it daily and thus know it very well). For example the folding up from right to left of the AS at the very beginning of "So Far Away" (Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms) or the change over from one harp at the left side of the stage to another harp on the right and back later in the piece from Deborah Henson-Conant's "Under The Bed" (Just For You).

The tonality was very neutral and "grey". Personally, I would try to cut a dash back in 4KHz...14KHz region but just a bit and way below 1dB. According to my experience this makes the sound a bit "blacker", maybe a little more shiny and in total a little more life-like. But I can only speak for the room where the auditioning happened. So the speaker in another location might turn out differently.
(After the visit I have heard that one can switch the DSS filter on and off in the LX ASP. So it seems that I have auditioned the speaker without the down shelve. I might have preferred it with the filter on in that room).

Short and sweet I would say the LX521 is a well executed and neutral dipole design with no issues that I could hear. This form of AS representation lies well in the direction where I see my own dipole as well.

Now was it all "MAGIC" ??? I'll pass you a wink and a smile ;-) :-)

Thanks, Frank for your kind hospitality, really appreciate it !

End of March 2011 I had the wonderful opportunity to Visit Andi from Gainphile blogspot. I auditioned his S16, S15, and the Pluto clone.
One thing was clear already upfront with all of Andi's speakers: The value is extremely good for the money. One has to consider that many things in Australia are very expensive compared to Europe and the US, although speaker drivers cost some money in Europe as well.
My observations of how the speakers sound, are pretty much in line with what Andi describes himself. So I will only report additional observations or with a different emphasis.

We started with the...
S15 Econowave:
Good bass and good highs, although not the softest and smoothest in the world. During the time of the visit I could not find a clear preference regarding the foam plug for the compression driver (i.e. with or without it).
If you can speak of weaknesses at all with this speaker then I'd say the mid range was not quite (very subtle) in line with the rest. But that is certainly a matter of the Eminence Beta.
What really didn't work for me personally, was the auditory scene that this type of speaker produces, regardless of the nice looking polar response. And this was clear within the first 10 seconds of unbiased listening to the speaker. It is like looking and hearing through a pretty sharp rectangular window that sits in some distance between listener and speaker. Crossing the speakers in front of the listener changed and smeared the representation a bit but did not remedy the impression altogether. Actually for a few minutes the crossing even sounded somehow confusing and unnatural until the brain adapted (we started with this setup).
So my long standing plans to build something with a bigger waveguide are on ice for an undetermined period of time. But thanks for refreshing the experience, Andi ! This proves to me once more that constant directivity alone is not enough. It only demonstrates its full potential and beauty if it goes hand in hand with wide dispersion (in regular small rooms).
We did not test the SPL capabilities of this speaker but I’m convinced it can go really loud.

At that time it used the same compression driver as the S15 in a different WG accompanied with a backfire tweeter. I liked this WG/driver combination much more. In a split second the room was full with music and I could take a nice bath in it. Tonality, timbre etc. all really good. The tweeters felt a little bit like as if somebody would aim a laser pointer at you, more direct than a conventional dome; clear. Crossing their rays in front of the listener worked better for me than with S15.
So in total, this is a very pleasing speaker ! With the WG, the stage has only a notch less depth than Aristoteles. However, the integration of mids and highs was not 100% "smooth". But a regular consumer would never have noticed it as it was very subtle. We both conclude that it has most likely to do with the backfire tweeter, which is off set to the compression driver and has some pretty wide radiation within its operating range.
Anyway, for me it is a clear winner over the S15.

Pluto clone:
Apparently as everybody else listening to that speaker, I had to walk up to it after the first few chords. Little bastard :-) Andi has equalized it down to 30Hz, yikes ! The little mid woofer was working quite hard and thus preventing it from a real loud listening level but it certainly has a fun effect and we had a good laugh. As expected, it really takes a long walk into the direction of any of the pipes until the sound collapses into the closer one.

In my opinion, Andi clearly achieved his goals: Life-like reproduction with cost well under control (to use my own words). This proves, that the polar response (in combination with the room) is the main actor on the scene.
It was a great day and a superb experience at Andi's and I enjoyed it a lot !

Last updated 03-Feb-2019