Associated Equipment:
Analog
Front End
Digital Front End
Amplification
Loudspeakers
Cabling
The EgglestonWorks Rosa Speakers

Marshall Nack

11 October 2000

Specifications

Serial Numbers: 187, 188
Frequency Response: -3dB @ 31 Hz to well beyond 24,000 Hz.
Efficiency: 87dB/1m/1W
Impedance: 8 Ohms nominal, 6.3 Ohms minimum
Tweeter: One 1" cloth dome
Mid-Bass: Two 6" polypropylene, double-magnet drivers with 3" voice coils
Bass: Two 6" woofers in a dual-ported, vented enclosure
Power Requirement: 80 watts minimum
Net Weight: 210 pounds each
Footprint: 10"W × 18"D; the height is 37.5"
Warranty: 6 years on parts and labor
Price: $9900.

EgglestonWorks:
435 South Front Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Telephone (901) 525-1100
Fax (901) 525-1050
E-mail ewgroup@ix.netcom.com
Web: http://www.egglestonworks.com

Sales, Marketing And Technical Support:
Jim Thompson
Director Sales and Marketing
(901) 525-1100

"I had been under the impression that my electronics were the system’s strong suit, and the speakers, the weak link. Now I have the reverse impression—the Rosa's performance strongly suggest that they can resolve more information than my current electronics can provide."

Right up front, let me say these speakers redefined my home audio experience. They represented a massive upgrade in my system's performance. The Rosa’s arrived in imposing boxes (reinforced corrugated, measuring 23 x 22 x 45") looking rather like small refrigerator boxes. The task of uncrating appeared more daunting than it turned out to be. At first glance, the very heavy boxes inspired fear, both in myself and my doorman. It wasn't easy. Just take it slow and definitely have 4 hands available. Once inside the apartment and out of the boxes the speakers can be gently shimmied or rocked into position.

The Look Of Luxe

Very impressive—the finish is a beautiful black Italian granite that looks better in person than it does in pictures. The Rosa’s may not call attention to themselves sonically, as they tend to disappear when you're listening, but visually, it's another story. Their stunning appearance makes a lasting visual impression. The small physical footprint is about the same as that of many stand-mounted monitors, but the quality of the finish and craftsmanship surpasses any speaker I've seen in this price class. This craftsmanship and quality account for much of the purchase price.

The internal parts used are among best that money can buy. For example, the tweeter’s crossover is as simple as can be, consisting of a single Hovland MusiCap and 2 Vishay resistors. Internal wiring is manufactured by Transparent Audio. The damping material is Acousta-Stuff, which doesn’t require support and will not settle. It's obvious that cost containment was not the designer's primary goal. A single pair of overbuilt Cardas rhodium binding posts is standard. Bi-wire posts are available on request, but bi-wiring is not encouraged. Even the floor spikes are impressive. These steel weapons fit into matching metal coasters (supplied upon request) so you won't puncture your neighbor's ceiling. After you've found optimum placement, you screw the spikes into the 4 black plastic feet that are attached to the base. The supplied grill attaches via hidden magnets, but like a true-blue audiophile, I never used the grills during the audition period.

We're Playing In The Major League Now

Right out of the box, the Rosa’s sounded dark and boomy, with excess reverb. Sounds lingered too long. But so much else was good that I breathed a sigh of relief. The advance press had me worried. One review said there was an uncontrollable brightness. Other word of mouth had it that the product was analytical. They were neither.

Placement was easy following the manufacturer's instructions and using my ears. Within a day or two the aforementioned boominess, darkness, and reverberation were brought into balance by careful repositioning. The Rosa’s must have a supporting wall to contain the bass. Situate them close to a side or rear wall. I put them 1/3 into the room from the front wall, my usual placement, and the outside edge of the cabinet 14 1/2" from the side wall, which is closer than usual. Toe-in was almost directly towards the listener, with just a little bit of the inner cabinet visible. Just imagine the line of the speakers crossing about 3 feet behind your head and you're in the ballpark. The boominess was tamed by proximity to the side wall and the extreme toe-in. As explained in the setup instructions, the ROSAs can be spread wider than most speakers without compromising the center image. With this setup I got the widest and deepest sound stage I've ever heard in my room.

The Sound Of Luxe

After four days of living with the Rosa’s I suddenly realized how much mental compensating I had been doing. Low-level detail had been present before, but you had to fetch it up and flesh it out. Now it was there in full bloom without any effort on my part. The vague sounds I previously filled-in were replaced by music! So clear was the presentation of notes that I bet you could do score notation from listening sessions.

These speakers entice the listener to participate actively, just like at a concert. Listening has become intensely visual. Visitor's eyes dart all about, following the different voices—quite unlike the silent, vacant stares you often see people sport at these sessions. In real life, when you hear a directional sound, you instinctively turn your head to determine its source. I find this happening all the time now. The stage is so vivid that the auditory-brain is fooled into thinking there's something real there when a cymbal crashes, a trumpet blares, or the cellos make an entrance.

Similar to the Harmonic Tech Magic PC, the frequency range gets extended with a greater span between the low and top frequencies for a solo instrument musical phrase. This is something that's hard to describe but is immediately audible. It's related to what we call having more "body" or "flesh", but it's more. You can get body by adding a subwoofer. But what the ROSAs do to a flute, for instance, is give you more midrange undertones that are below the fundamental. Without these undertones the sound is more transparent and thinner. I find the weight adds to a convincing reproduction. This is a major difference between the Rosa’s and my reference Magnepans. The Maggies lack this body. My guess is reality lies somewhere between the two. Another difference is in the free-flowing dynamic presence that makes the Maggies seem so intimate and live. The Rosa’s exert a lot more control. You don't get the same sense of immediacy or presence, but that control is what allows the Rosa to reveal so much more info.

While we’re talking control, the midrange uses 2 Morel drivers that have 6" cones and 3" voice coils, that are wound with heavier-gauge wire than is typically used. "This makes for a much stronger motor, and, assuming the proper current level, much greater control—greater ability to stop the cone from moving in the opposite direction. The stronger the motor, the more control you have over the extremes of excursion," according to Eggleston. The midrange drivers are run without a crossover and are connected directly to the output of the amplifier. The bass section uses two more 6" Morel drivers that are identical to the midrange units, but employ a crossover. A single Dynaudio Esotar tweeter handles the treble. The drivers are arrayed in a conventional time-aligned slope with the tweeter at the top and further back.

There is nothing new about the design of these speakers. How's that for a refreshing change of pace? There are no patents pending or other revolutionary engineering employed, just extremely well thought out implementation of time-honored, tried-and-true speaker building concepts.

The Benefits Of Redundancy

The mid and bass drivers are doubled up because the designers found that most speakers can clip on a raucous solo piano if just a single driver is used. Less excursion is required of each cone when the input signal is shared. Shorter excursion means quicker recovery, less distortion, more control over each driver, and greater fidelity to the input signal. Each mid driver has its own independently tuned transmission line, while the bass drivers are mounted in a common enclosure. The shared bass enclosure doubles the air volume and, hence, lowers the resonant frequency, allowing the speaker to extend further down into the bass region.

Are the Rosa’s analytical? Only in the sense that each musical voice has integrity and can be followed discretely. They separate instrumental lines so you feel you're reading the score. This clarity is a byproduct of the control noted above and the elimination of cabinet resonance and driver distortions. The whole design, from the doubling up on the mid and bass drivers to the granite exterior, and, of course, the weight, was selected to control all these speaker anomalies. Furthermore, keep in mind there is meat on those bones. Soundstage images are fully fleshed-out and even rich, with the tonal balance on the warm side. These are hardly characteristics that are associated with analytical speakers.

Just adding the speakers to my system had the amazing effect of improving stereo separation. It was as if the apparent separation had increased by one third. I thought I knew my components capability so this was a shock. But be careful not to overdo the separation thing. You can move the speakers further apart than usual and still retain good imaging, but when the soundstage becomes spotty—so that you lose the seamless continuity across the width—you’ll know you went too far.

The Rosa’s are at their best with complicated, dense passages. Massive blocks of sound don't ruffle their composure. They don't distort and musical lines are kept intact. On La Valse by Ravel, with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA LSC1984), the final moments present the disintegration of the waltz theme. A few notes are spoken by the upper strings, which are immediately countered by a blast from the horns. This section never made sense to me before. It used to sound like a general cacophony. Now I can hear what Ravel had in mind and can appreciate how well the piece is scored.

Initially, I thought, "Wow, these speakers have a nice bottom!" The articulation in the bass is such that even minor chords and fifths within inner voices are clearly audible in the lower strings. It was only when I compared them to a serious full-range contender, the Talon Audio Peregrine monitor, that I became aware of a shortfall in this area. The Rosa’s don't go down to the depths, and some notes in this subterranean region lose their definition. Indeed, this is the major difference between the Rosa’s and the top-of-the-line Andra’s, with their dual 12" woofers. The mid and treble drivers are the same as in the Andra. Reminder: these drivers were two thirds of the reason the Andra’s were chosen Stereophile's Speaker of the Year in 1997.

Clean, distortion free, smooth and grainless, warm, a little dark, powerful, dynamic. These speakers move a lot of air. They handled every volume level I played without showing any strain. The recommended minimum power is 80 watts, but there is no specified maximum, because they were able to handle everything the manufacturer threw at them, provided the watts are clean.

Spatial cues are resolved better than with anything previous, especially things like reverb trails. For example, on the "Portraits in Ivory and Brass" CD (Mapleshade 02032), track 2 is an interesting piece for solo trumpet, played by Jack Walrath. (Yes, I do own a CD player, which sees very occasional use.) The first time I heard the track last year, I thought, "What bad taste to add such obvious fake reverb. Shame on Mapleshade (a purist label)." I could never tell what was creating the reverb trails around the horn. It sounded like it was recorded in an echo chamber, or mixed in at the console. Then I heard it on Clement Perry's system. It became clear that it was coming from the piano. I guessed it was closely miked piano strings sympathetically resonating. With the Rosa’s, I have confirmed that this is the case. This is a great test for resolution. Try it and see if you get the reverb trails sounding distinct from the horn, since they are produced by a different instrument, and see if the trails remain centered on the stage.

Prior to the Rosa’s, the trail faded off to the left, and indicated an imbalance in my room acoustic. The Rosa’s hold the decay in its proper place. I checked with Pierre Sprey of Mapleshade, who gave me the lowdown. The trumpet was indeed blowing into the exposed piano strings while the sustain pedal was depressed on a particular chord—so sympathetic resonances lingered. The knocks on the piano soundboard were done by Jack's girlfriend, under his direction. They call the effect "Mapleshade Reverb." The introductory blast that sounds like a ram's horn is in fact played with just the trumpet mouthpiece, without the trumpet itself. (For those who want to know, it was recorded at 3 o'clock in the morning.) Pierre says two mikes were used, and if you have the playback fine adjustment dialed in just right, the piano bass notes should be slightly to the right, treble and midrange slightly to the left.

Burn-In

The drivers are burned in for 100 hours on the bench at the factory. Then after assembly they're given another 50 to 100 hours. When they leave the factory they have at least 150 hours on them, which gives approximately 90% of full burn in. I would like to commend the manufacturer for the evident consideration this extra step of factory burn-in shows for his customers. Burning in for 150 hours in my apartment requires at least 3 weeks of daily noise and electric consumption. This scores points with me, and other consumers I've spoken to. Thank you, Eggleston!

Tweaks

I used a set of Argent Room Lens, and a Shakti Stone. Period. Anything else proved to be overkill and detrimental. The speakers veer a little to the warm side; hence, accessories like the Bybee stuff, the TDS passive enhancer, the Quantum Symphony are not needed. For my listening tests, I used the Ensemble ECCO integrated amp, rotating with the Legend Audio LAD L-2 preamp and the BAT VK200 amp. Also, I should mention that the recently-arrived Accuphase PS-500 AC conditioner made a major difference. The speaker had no problem with any of the amps I tried, but the best results were had with the Ensemble ECCO using MEGAFLUX FSF speaker wire.

Conclusion

I had been under the impression that my electronics were the system’s strong suit, and the speakers, the weak link. Now I have the reverse impression—the Rosa's performance strongly suggest that they can resolve more information than my current electronics can provide. Comments most often overheard during listening sessions: "These speakers are fun to listen to; I didn't think anything could sound better than those Maggies." Well, the Maggies have now been sold. These are Class A speakers that will impress the most jaded audiophile, and also cause smiles to appear on the faces of musicians and casual listeners alike. What could be better than that?

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EgglestonWorks Rosa Speakers