I always have an agenda. It’s true. I follow the rules set by Alec Baldwin — ABC: Always Be Closing. I don’t think I’m rare for this, but rare in that I’m open about my want to convince people, test my ideas, and get people thinking or second guessing themselves.
One of our new writers — Dave McNair — at Part-Time Audiophile was shadowing me for a few hours at Capital Audiofest, but had prior professed his lack of excitement for or belief in open-baffle loudspeakers. To Dave open-baffle speakers can’t produce bass, are wonky with imaging, and probably should stay in the realm of DIY’ers who don’t know how to build enclosures.
First stop on the menu — Spatial Audio, with their new M3 Sapphire ($4,200 pr USD) open-baffle speakers that were — conveniently to my point — being pushed by only 12-watts per channel of Linear the Tube Audio (LTA) Z10 Integrated’s available power. At the top of the system, a LampizatOr Amber 3 DAC being fed by an Innuos music server.
The total system cost was listed at $9,995 and that alone isn’t a worthwhile story — it’s easy to get good sound for under $10K. But what is special and noteworthy is assembling a system within the four figure guidelines that can sound as authoritative and refined as the combined Spatial, LTA, LampizatOr, Innuos, and Anticables system was sounding at CAF 2019.
The new Spatial Audio M3 Sapphire is a 2-way drynamic-driver dipole open-baffle loudspeaker with a rated frequency response in the bass down to 32Hz, with a 4-Ohm impedance and sensitivity of 92dB. The construction is sleek and modern with fine veneer finish and subtle accents that do a lot to adorn and confuse me with the price point. These speakers look like they should cost $10K on their own.
As we took seats in the room, I reached out to Clayton Shaw (founder of Spatial Audio) who was hosting the room, and told him to dazzle us. As Clayton fired up the tracks, and the volume knob reached higher into the gain, I could see the tiny follicles of Dave’s cleanly shorn head rise with excitement.
Dave is listening to Spatial Audio’s new M3 Sapphire open-baffle loudspeakers and having a moment. I can see it. The bass is rich, fast, and balanced. Open-baffle bass starts and stops on a dime. It’s nimble and there’s nothing like it. The high-frequency driver is brilliant and smooth at the same time, the pair shine like stars in an otherwise dark and silent sky.
Myself? I’m grinning ear to ear, because I’m a few seconds away from informing Dave that it’s only a total of 12-watts that’s available from the LTA Z10 Integrated’s amplifier section.
by Eric Franklin Shook