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AXPONA 2015: Emerald Physics

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It’s hard not to be a big fan of what Emerald Physics is trying to do. Big coaxes? Big woofers? An amp on every driver? Digital crossovers customized to work in your specific room? Open baffle loading to really use that room right? If they can pull it off, it’s a game changer.

If they can pull it off.

Let’s start off with the basics. Sources here were either a W4S MS-1 music server ($2,000) or a Marantz CD-5004 ($349 when availible). Both fed into a DSPeaker Anti-Mode Dual Core 2.0 ($1200) that wrangled dac and preamp duties while also twiddling the room correction bits. A quick shot of EP front-man, Mark Schifter’s laptop gave a good estimate of how effective that twiddling was. Westin room problems? Smashed with a digital hammer.

From there, the analog signal fed into the ADC input of an Emerald Physics DSP 2.4 crossover per side ($850 each, included with a speaker), which split analog out into one amp channel per driver. A PS Audio Bascom King Signature amplifier ($7,500) drove the midrange cones, while Emerald Physics own EP100.2SE Class D stereo amps ($2200 each) drove everything else in the EP-2.3 speakers ($7,795 as shown).

At this point, I’m only willing to kinda-sorta-maybe say that Emerald Physics pulled it off. If the promise is a powerful, impressive, dynamic sound that works in your room, they’re there. If the promise is universal appeal, they’re not quite ready for prime time. The most noticeable issue is that the amps still bring their own flavor to the table. Please understand: I have an almost visceral reaction to most Class D amps, and their trademarked steely precision was fully in evidence here. My biggest regret was that I didn’t hear this system with the PS Audio amp pushing the compression drivers. That’s just about the only reason to complain, mind you. Since I actually get paid to obsess about how amps sound, I’m actually grateful that I’m not yet wholly obsolete.

After all, what else could you complain about? Was the sound too lean? You can probably fix that with a new filter. Were the mids given short shrift? New filter. Are you stone deaf in the treble? New filter. The setup in this room is too much of a chameleon for a quick visit to even approach getting a handle on it. Was I listening to what it could do, or was I listening to one guy’s preferred sound? The answer: neither. I was too busy listening to the future.

This isn’t a stereo so much as a stereo toolkit that can be customized to your tastes. I figure there are a lot of people looking for exactly what this offers.

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