In 1987, Alain Wacquet introduced the third and unfortunately last installment of his EA series of electrodynamic panels.
He would later introduce a "Transparence" upgrade, but this product never became a proper commercial reality. I understand Alain still have a few pairs of these magic panels. If anybody is interested, let me know via our "Contact Us" page and we will put you in touch with Alain.
But back to the EA 16 now!
Alain sent me a copy of a review of these products in HIFI Video, June 1987 issue, and I will try to extract the useful information out of it for you in English. I will also give you access to the original text.
So, it is confirmed, as I have suspected from day one, that EA 16, stands for 16 drivers, which implies that the EA 11 and EA 12 had, guess how many, 11 and 12 drivers respectively...
We also get confirmation that all the drivers are in a single vertical line, and in the EA 16 at least, the midrange and tweeter are further back from the woofers. From the impedance curve, we can derive that the panel has its main resonance around 70Hz, which correlates well with the lack of rock-bottom bass. However, because of the small diameter of the drivers, the 94dB/1W/1m efficiency, and the proper time alignement, the impulse response and the dynamic range are second to none.
I have found recently that the AUDAX WTF12 is the main driver. Its efficiency is 90dB/1w/1m and its free air resonance 87Hz, which confirms the above, and which shows up in the impedance curve below.
Even the best electrostatic panels have difficulty to compete with the EA16s, not a mince feast. The closest I have found are actually the Magnepan panels.
Alain is a jazz music guru, and these panels are certainly very well equipped to properly render the small jazz ensembles and the intimate venues that are usually associated with them.
I don't think I have ever heard percussions, and primarily skins rendered with such accuracy and realism.
The EA 16 compare in size with the Martin Logan CLX and the KS-10 from KingSound (out of Honk Kong) at 90cm wide by 140cm high (vs 178.6cm × 65.4cm for the ML and 196cm x 76cm for the KS)
To emphasize that the balance, dynamic range and impulse response are more important to the auditive result than a perfectly flat and extended measured response, it is interesting to note that this is the case for the EA16s.
A slight emphasis in the 200 to 300Hz region improves the subjective impression of enough bass, specially when teamed up with a dip in the midrange and a controlled cut-off in the treble (the curve below may not be accurate in the treble due to the large size of the panel and the positioning of the measuring microphone, however it correlates well with the listening experience...)
These were expensive speakers at the time and also because of their size would sound best in a large room where you could have them well away from all walls, but then you would be rewarded by one, an extraordinary wide, stable and accurate image and two, a dynamic range and timbral accuracy second to none.
The reviewer at HIFI Video concludes: "The system has the efficiency and energy of a compression speaker, the tonal balance of the best electrodynamic system and the "finesse" of an electrostatic panel."
The best of all worlds then? Maybe not, but certainly one of most rewarding listening experience in my book!
see original review below.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.