Sanders Sound Model 10e Electrostatic Speaker Preview
- Electrostatic Speakers with 1) aluminum bass driver and 2) revised transmission line.
- Magtech Amplifier
- New LMS (Loudspeaker Management System) includes digital crossover with a Room Correction System, Digital Signal Processor, and Real Time Analyzer
- Speakers and Electronics are manufactured in Conifer, Colorado.
Electrostatic speakers have never been the most popular speaker design in high-fidelity audio, because they have traditionally had many disadvantages such as: challenging load for amplifiers, large and in need of significant stand-off distance from walls for good sound, can be fragile, limited dynamic range, can require maintenance after so long, anemic bass reproduction- to name some of their weak points. However, the sound quality was always so outstanding that their adherents were always willing to deal with their shortcomings. So while the design was never extremely popular, there has always been a number of electrostatic speaker manufacturers from which to choose from and devoted audiophiles that would buy them. Fortunately, the technology has made progress over the years, and the new Sanders Sound 10e system addresses many of these traditional disadvantages while keeping the intrinsically superb sound electrostats are known for.
First among the problems that the 10e system solves is that of anemic bass. The 10e supplements the electrostatic panel with a Transmission Line bass cabinet loaded with a 10” aluminum woofer. This allows for much more powerful bass performance than electrostatic speakers have traditionally had. The special characteristics of the Transmission Line enclosure give the bass the ability to match the high sound quality of the electrostatic panel, and a 48/dB octave DSP crossover insures that its bass sound is seamlessly joined to the electrostatic panel sound at 170 Hz. Another problem dealt with by the 10e is the reliability issues electrostatic panels have had in the past. Uneven insulation in past electrostatic panels can lead to a variety of problems that are caused from electric charge leakage. The 10e uses a greatly improved insulation that eliminates these defects. Sanders Sound is so confident in this solution, which they call the “Ultrastat ESL”, they offer a lifetime warranty, and they claim that they have never had a failure of this type with their Ultrastat ESLs. Regarding the problem of the heavy load that electrostatic speakers can present to amplifiers, the standard 10e package solves that by providing one of their heavy-duty Magtech amplifiers which are especially suited for the stiff electrical demands of electrostatic speakers, with the option to add a second Magtech amplifier for full bi-amplification. The 10e speakers need two amplifiers per speaker; the bass section needs separate amplification from the electrostatic panel. Sanders provides one amplifier for each bass cabinet in the $17k/pair price, and they can also provide additional matching amplifiers if you want to power the ESL sections for an additional $4,500.
These solutions which Sanders has deployed to deal with weak bass, fragile panels, and difficult amplification loads all combine to address one of the long standing complaints of electrostatic speakers concerning their historically low dynamic range. Sanders Sound claims that the 10e can be cleanly driven to “ear bleeding levels” if desired, and have no problems recreating live sound dynamics. Exhibitors at AXPONA are not permitted to drive their systems to ear-bleeding levels for good reasons, so we were not able to witness that feat from the 10e. However, with two 900 watts/ 4 ohm stereo amplifiers and a 94 dB sensitive speaker which is able to cope with that much amp power, Sanders’ claims of extreme dynamic range are certainly plausible.
Simple Setup Packs Lots of Tech
One new feature introduced in the Sanders Sound 10e is automated room correction equalization. The 10e system can tame room modes and smooth out the frequency response at the listening position with an onboard real time analyzer and an included calibration microphone. With such a suite of features, including a high performance DAC with state-of-the-art digital signal processing, automatic room correction, heavy-duty amplifiers, and that superb electrostat sound, the 10e system only needs a source and possibly a preamplifier to unify multiple sources, and the system is complete. And if your source is simply a PC or digital music server with remote control, as is often the case these days, the preamp would contribute very little to a Sanders 10e system. The Sanders Sound Model 10e is not inexpensive, but so much is included and of such high quality that it becomes a high value proposition, especially considering its lifetime warranty, and most especially for anyone who is looking for amplification and room correction features along with high-fidelity speakers.
The Model 10e can be bought direct from the manufacture Sanders Sound, and also from dealers worldwide, and is priced at $17,000 for a package which comes with a single amplifier where you can provide your own amp for the panel section, or $22,500 for a fully amplified system.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.