EOSS Musiko System.
Source: Manufacturer loan
EOSS is a new company, formed to build and market the impressive SoundPoles speakers. These rather unusual speakers are just over 6 feet tall on sturdy, silvery aluminum 13-3/ 4" square bases. Viewed from the side, the bases arch 3" from the floor for both visual appeal and to allow room for wiring. The cast aluminum base is 1-1/ 4" thick where it touches the floor and 1/2" thick at the top of the arch. The speaker attaches to the center of the base. The SoundPoles are visually unobtrusive because they are light gray square columns that are only 3-5/16" on a side. The combination of SoundPoles and two associated woofer units is called the EOSS Musiko system. The system price of $4,990 includes the four speakers and two, two-meter lengths of 12-ga. cable to connect the SoundPoles and woofers.
The SoundPoles operate from 180 Hz to 21 kHz, hence the need for the left and right woofers, which fill in the gap down to a rated 35 Hz. The separate woofer enclosures are each 11-1/ 4" square x 28" tall on their 3" tall cone feet. Interestingly enough, EOSS does not classify these woofers as subwoofers. Dimpled metal discs for under the cone points are supplied to protect wood floors. I taped the metal discs to the cones to make sure they didn't slip off while moving the speakers around. Since the cones are threaded into the enclosure, bolts could be substituted. The 8" Kevlar composite woofer is downward facing on the enclosure bottom, where it shares space with a 2" diameter port. The downward firing woofers provide an omni directional quality to the output that blends well with the SoundPoles. The sound level can be adjusted on the woofer amp to compensate for carpeted floors. The woofer cabinet top is gloss black lacquer with black cloth covering all sides except for the portion of the back where the 150 watt amplifier / crossover is mounted. Phase can be set at zero or 180 degrees to match different speaker locations in a room. The crossover point and the output level are variable, and worked best in my room both set to the 11 o'clock position in their respective rotation ranges. A plastic cover is provided to discourage tampering or prevent accidental changes once these controls are set. Fit and finish of SoundPoles and woofers was of high quality. Each SoundPole weighs 28 lb. and each woofer 60 lb.
The woofer amplifier has a two-year warranty, with five years for the remainder of the system. The 11 page owners manual contains unpacking and assembly instructions, addresses placement and connection options, adjustment tips and has a troubleshooting section. Warranty and contact information are at the end of the manual. SoundPoles sensitivity is given as 88 dB.
My first task after unpacking the speakers was assembling the columns to their bases, which involves fitting the four threaded posts on the speakers into holes in the base and putting on wing nuts. Assembly was easy for one person with the columns laid across the shipping cartons. There are four gold plated binding posts on each base. The inboard two posts are horizontally mounted in a recess directly behind the speakers and the outboard ones are near the top of the arch. I fed the two wires from the speakers through the base and inserted their banana plug ends into the bottoms of the inboard posts. Gold plated straps connect inboard and outboard posts under the base. The inboard posts are for amplifier connection. The woofers can be connected to either the outboard posts or to the preamp output.
The SoundPoles each contain seven 2" x 3" EOSS designed, Kevlar composite cone drivers and one ribbon tweeter mounted in a column enclosure, 1/16" thick. The baffle is surrounded by a grille of expanded metal, and topped off by a 2" tall square cap with the EOSS logo. The SoundPoles have an unusual radiation pattern to enhance the stereo experience. It has long been known that stereo separation is decreased when each ear hears the sound from both speakers. The left ear hears the right speaker a fraction of a second later than does the right ear and vice versa. This is called inter-aural cross talk. This cross talk can be decreased by sitting very close to, and exactly between, a pair of speakers. There have been numerous acoustical and electrical designs over the years to address this situation. In the case of the SoundPoles, the driver arrangement with specially designed chambers generates a virtual point source at the back of the poles. The SoundPoles use drivers to excite chambers in the enclosure to control the overall radiation pattern. The maximum output is from the inside rear corner area of each of the SoundPoles. Front and back radiation is essentially a modified dipole (front and side waves 180 degrees out of phase), but the sound level in front is only about a third of the level from the inside rear corner. Radiation from the outward facing sides is only about 10 percent of that from the inside rear corners. The radiation pattern, relative sonic intensities, phase differences, and speaker orientation (positioned to face the listener) combine to project a sound stage with palpable width, depth and height.
The EOSS manual recommends aiming the SoundPoles directly at the listening position and 3 to 10 feet from the wall behind them. The SoundPoles are not using the back wall to reflect sound. The left and right virtual point sources re-creates the sound stage as the recording engineer intended it to be. As shown in the manual, they can be placed quite far apart and provide good sound and imaging to several people at once. In fact, my experience showed that one can sit in front of one speaker and still hear the other. The woofers can be placed where they will work best in a given room.
After experimenting, I located the SoundPoles 6-1/2' apart, 4-1/2' from the wall in back of them, with each 9' from the listening position. The nearest side wall was 7' away. Interestingly, when I moved the speakers to 6' in front of the wall, music sounded just as natural, but in a larger space.
My stereo system has a Parasound HCAIOOOA power amplifier with Bryston BP25 preamp. Other speakers were Mach One model M-Two 2-way on stands and a pair of NHT SW3 subwoofers. The subs are placed asymmetrically and are driven by an NHT SA-3 power amplifier with electronic crossover. The M-Twos were ran full range. Interconnect cables were by Mach 1, Gotham, WireWorld, and Monster Cable. Speaker cables were Mach I cables to the NHTs and Kimber 4PR alternated with parallel runs of eight sets of twisted-pair cables. Monster Cable flat 12-ga. wire, provided by EOSS, connected the woofers to the SoundPoles. Sources were a Sony CDPXA20ES CD player, a Denon TU767 tuner, and a Thorens TD320 Mark III turmtable / Sumiko Blue Point cartridge.
An initial distortion problem with the EOSS woofers turned out to be caused by a fault in the phase control circuit op amps in the woofer amplifiers. The pair of woofers I received were pre production, but were the only ones available at the time the SoundPoles were shipped. EOSS founder and speaker designer Ed Onglao and EOSS sales manager Chris Field were kind enough to personally deliver replacement production woofers, which have functioned as their designer intended. In addition to the corrected op amp, the production woofers have improved drivers. Ed's research found that the earlier drivers' resonant frequency changed with time, altering performance.
Woofer output adjustments were straightforward. I found it easiest to adjust the woofers alone and then add the SoundPoles, using pink noise and a sound level meter at my chair as a final check. The SoundPoles by themselves had little output below 150 Hz, and the woofers blended seamlessly. The four speakers integrated into a single, wide sound source with plenty of depth. The SoundPoles highs were smooth and extended, sloping downward gradually from about 8 kHz to 20 kHz. The woofers extended down to about 30 Hz with taut and controlled sound. I often listen at low volume levels and would have liked greater sensitivity in the woofer power-on switch that is triggered by the presence of a signal. I found that a sound level of at least 60 dB from the SoundPoles at the listening position in my room was required for the woofers to be activated.
Soundstage width and depth was greater than with most speakers I have auditioned, but were not unrealistically presented. Soundstage height was about eye level for a seated listener and performers were of believable size. Because of the height of the SoundPoles and the vertical array of drivers, there was no discernible sound difference with pink noise between seated and standing listening. Nor was there much difference in the stereo sound stage or tonal balance as I moved from left to right between the speakers. In fact, stereo soundstage was evident even when I was slightly to the outside of either left or right speaker.
The SoundPoles sounded just fine by themselves, but music with substantial bass content was definitely enhanced with the woofers in the system. Both male and female voices sounded very natural. Julie London's "Cry Me a River" from the Riiino/Capitol Timefor Love CD (R2 70737) was portrayed with the full richness of her voice. The Mach I/NHT combination, which I'll call M/N, represented the recordings a little differently. Julie's voice was more forward with a little less spaciousness because there is no enhancement from a reflected back wave. The M/N might be labeled a bit more accurate in this regard, but not always as pleasing. The combination of the virtual point source and the radiation pattern of the SoundPoles enhanced the spaciousness without sounding artificial, and provided a wide listening area.
Ray Charles from his Ray Charles Live LP (Atlantic SD 2-503) sounded like Ray Charles, with a centered image and good depth. M/N went a bit lower in the bass and had a wide spread with a shallower soundstage. Voice reproduction was about the same.
Orchestral presentations, such as Beethoven's Symphonies No. 6 and 9 by Walter Weller and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (MHS 532476Y), benefited from the three-dimensional effects and deep soundstage because of the virtual point source and the radiation pattern of the SoundPoles. The woofers added a strong low register foundation. Dynamics were handled quite well with no evidence of congestion or limitations. Instrumental timbre seemed accurate on both sets of speakers. The M/N offered more precise performer location with deeper bass. The sound of an orchestra with the SoundPoles merged and blended a little more than with the M/N, much as would be heard from about the 20th row or farther back in a concert hall. The M/N handled dynamics equally well.
Piano, whether Chopin's "Ballade No. 3 in A flat" played by Vladimir Ashkenazy (TimeLife CMD-04B) or "Blues for Kathleen" by Dick Conte on his CD Yesterdays (DC Jazz DCJ13) had the realistic tone, range, and dynamics of live piano.
Conclusion: I found the SoundPoles and their accompanying woofers to be a pleasing and sonically well-integrated combination. The only change I would like is for the woofers to operate at sound levels softer than 60 dB. In comparison to the M/N, the SoundPoles present a more spacious sound because of the implemented radiation pattern. This can have the effect of making a recording sound more pleasing, particularly a dry one with little recorded ambiance. I didn't experience any situations where this effect was detrimental to the sound, as it wasn't exaggerated. The M/N located performers with more precision in many cases, compared to the merging with the SoundPoles, especially with orchestral works. Both sounded fine, but different. I enjoyed all types of music through these speakers. EOSS plans to offer a choice of different speaker colors to match a buyer's decor. The silver and black of the review samples was very modern looking, but the visual effect could be very different with other color combinations. The SoundPoles appear to be solidly constructed and of high quality. I listened for hours at a time and just enjoyed the music, which is really what sound systems are all about.
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|Author:||Frane, James T.|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2002|
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