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SP Technology Mini - Speaker Monitor Review
Old 18th December 2008
  #1
Here for the gear
SP Technology Mini - Speaker Monitor Review

SP Technology is a high end manufacturer of state of the art speaker systems geared for the recording industry and high end audio.

I bought the entry level Mini's:

Welcome to SP Technology!


Bottom line:

These little guys are the most accurate, live sounding, dynamic, coherent, enjoyable, small monitors I have encountered. They serve up electrostatic detail and clarity, while being very dynamic and live sounding. The tonal balance is fantastic.

Vocals, and instruments, lock into place before you, in a 3D way I have not heard on speakers before. Think SET amp 3D.

The low crossover point of 800 hz, due to the tweeter waveguide, is undetectable and totally seamless. Zero box colorations. They image like crazy, and completely disappear.

Quite frankly, don't let the small size fool you, these serve up music in the most realistic, true to life manner one could possible expect from a small monitor.

Very, very, glad they are a part of my life.


Other Reviews of SP Speakers:

I know most of you have not heard of this company as it is small and somewhat underground. But make no mistake, these are state of the art.

Many high end audio geeks have set aside very top shelf speakers for SP's.

Minis replaced, or held their own to:
- Karma 3.2s $20,000.00
-Merlins Forget what they cost.
-KEF Reference 201/2 $5,000.00



Here are what others have said about SP Speakers.



SP Timepiece 3 replacing Von Schweikert VR4SR Mk2's and owns Focal Twin 6 BE in his studio.

"The sound? My god THE SOUND. I have heard the angels sing. Never before have I heard a speaker play this good right out of the box. Bob has created something very special with this speaker. They are the most natural sounding speakers I have ever heard. The imaging is insane! They are seamless and reproduce everything perfectly (perfectly of course if it was recorded that way). If your tunes were recorded bad, you'll hear it. These speakers should be permanent fixtures in recording studios and living rooms everywhere. It just doesn't get any better than this. If it does, I'd like to hear it. I don't feel a need for a sub with these speakers. I can't see finding anything that will best them, honestly, and I've heard some good speakers. Like I said before, I have heard the angels sing.

They are very revealing, but in a very natural musical way. I get absolutely no listener fatigue no matter what CD or album I listen to. I'm beginning to hear things in recordings that I never heard before. Once you hear the 3.0's, you're going to want to own them. I'm done buying speakers. This is the real deal."


SP Continuums. Here is another happy camper.

"My background in music and audio is primarily as a musician. I have played in many different genres which have taken me from small bars to concert halls and everything in between. I have also worked in some very nice recording studios and have a small home studio of my own.

My main reference recording is the Sheffield labs drum test disc. If a system can reproduce all the nuances of a well recorded acoustic drum set it will be a good performer. For verification of what I hear in the recordings I can play the drum set that is in my studio - so I have the Sheffield disc and the real instruments right there. To get to the point, when I cranked up the Sheffield drum test disc through the SP Tech speakers I was blown away. It sounded like my drummer was in the room with me playing his kit. Every nuance was present - and the soundstage had every piece of the kit in its proper place so that when I closed my eyes I got an immediate 3D image of the drums being played. Several drummers and other musicians, as well as non-musicians, have heard these since I bought them and the comments have all been "that sounds live" and " I have never heard music sound so real". The dynamics, clarity, and speed of these speakers are such that I find the music playback sounds, and feels, exactly as it does live. I have also listened to a huge variety of other recordings from Bach to Zappa and everything that is recorded well sounds phenomenal. When listening to the recordings of Annar Bylsma playing the Stradivarius Cello from the Smithsonian collection the depth and sonority produced by the centuries old wood of the instrument is reproduced in a way I have never heard before. The best way I can describe it is that Annar is in the room with me, I am sitting directly in front of the cello, and could reach out and touch it. When I open my eyes I find that the virtuoso cellist and priceless Stradivarius are not really there after all."


Conclusion:

I could post many more similar reviews, but don't have the time. As you can see, this speaker line is something very special. Very special.

I am in no way associated with the company. Just a happy customer who wants to let the word out on some fantastic speakers.




Speaker Details Regarding the Low Crossover Point:

This is from a email I received from Bob at SP.

"The reason we can crossover so low is that the waveguide adds significant acoustic gain at the low end of the tweeter's response. We're talking about a broad (low "Q") peak of about 15dB centered at about 1.5kHz, that
gradually drops back to unity at about 10kHz. Above 10kHz, the tweeter receives no "assistance" or added gain from the waveguide at all. Of course, that would sound terrible if left untreated so we attenuate the peak
with a filter having the inverse response. That brings the output back to "flat," but since we use a true "band-reject" filter that increasingly passes energy on either side of the center frequency... the very low-end
boost provided by the waveguide doesn't get attenuated by the filter.
Therefore, we end up with a flat tweeter again but now its response is extended down to about -3dB at 500Hz (depending on model/size of waveguide). Oh... and the reason the waveguide doesn't "sound" like a horn is because of the gradual gain reduction above 1.5kHz. From about 5kHz on up is the area where most horns provide unnecessary gain and literally distort the air
itself. Air can be over-compressed and when that happens, distortion results. It's above 5kHz where horns do all their damage and drive you nuts

Also, there is also a separate "high-pass" filter that is then used to roll-off the low end of the tweeter and it performs the "crossover" function at 800Hz. You add it all together and our tweeter/waveguide is -6dB at 800Hz (acoustic L-R alignment) with a flat response from there on up to the upper limit. If you do the math, our tweeter mounted in the waveguide is receiving 1/32nd the drive power at 1.5kHz that the same tweeter would have
to have mounted on a flat baffle to produce the same SPL. Essentially, that little diaphragm is barely moving at power levels that would destroy most any other tweeter. Since most distortion in any driver is directly proportional to cone excursion, our tweeter is producing far less distortion at high power than most others are producing at even moderate to low levels.

In calculus, the distortion reduction would be the integral of the "area under the curve" over the entire range of acoustic gain provided by the waveguide. When you add it all up...that's A LOT!!!

Oh... and above we're only talking the distortion resulting from cone excursion. This doesn't even include the time-domain improvement resulting from a virtual elimination of diffraction artifacts. THAT's why the Minis
"disappear" so well. Get rid of enclosure edge diffraction and the speaker becomes acoustically invisible. When you add it all up, our stuff is so "revealing" that a lot of the guys don't realize just what they are listening to. They
are really hearing what their equipment REALLY sounds like for the first time."



Rocket_Ronny
Old 18th December 2008
  #2
Lives for gear
They Look like Dr Earl Geddes Oblate Spheroid waveguides. . . if so you can check out the inventor, and why he thinks that fabric domes are not ideal for his waveguide here:

GedLee LLC go to the page marked summa, tons of white papers and studies posted there and published in the AES.

When I get the cash the summa's will be what I get. I heard them an RMAF a while ago and was blown away. . . .
Old 18th December 2008
  #3
Here for the gear
Hi Ryan:

Thanks for the comments. I too was very interested in the Gedlee Summa's as well. In my investigation here is what I found on the matter.

I asked one manufacturer what he thought the Summa's sounded like at RMAF two years ago, and I trust what he says cause he calls it the way it is. If it sounded good he would tell me.

"Well, I really don't want to take anything away from Mr. Gedlee. I think he is a brilliant man, but my impression of the speaker wasn't real favorable.

I heard it at the RMAF last year, or was it the year before? It might have been the year before last.

I was cruising some of the rooms with a few colleagues. They had gotten ahead of me and were coming out of that room as I was going in. They all told me at the door not to waste my time with this one as it was horrible. Regardless, I still wanted to hear them. They were right. It did sound pretty bad. I hate to say it, and if it were great, I'd say they were great.

However, Mr. Geddes was demonstrating that one didn't need all that high end gear and fancy cables to get great sound. He was using a cheap CD player and a receiver or something. All cables were generic Walmart type stuff. Unfortunately is sounded just like all the gear. It sounded like a radio from a car and the highs sounded like they were playing through a rolled up sock.

I am sure those things can sound a lot better than what I heard, but from what I heard almost anything at the show would have gunned them down before they could get their guns out of the holster."



Then I asked Bob at SP Tech if he plans to make a high eff. speaker like what others are doing. This was his reply.

"High efficiency is a tough nut to crack while maintaining TRUE fidelity. Engineering is all about trade-offs. Depending on how its achieved, as efficiency of a driver increases, control over its motion can decrease. If it's a function of greater magnet strength... then that's not necessarily so and the opposite can be true - at least as far as voice-coil control goes.

The problem is that even using the latest magnetic materials, due to the necessary geometry there's a limit to how much coil gap, field-strength can be achieved in a design. Once that has been optimized, the only way to increase efficiency is to use lighter voice-coil, diaphragm and suspension materials. Those inevitably translate to less rigidity and more diaphragm/suspension break-up modes and resonance within them.

That is then compounded by the fact that the highest efficiency is produced by using short voice-coil/long gap drivers so that the area of greatest magnetic flux is concentrated in the smallest possible area. That then means that in order for the coil to stay in its linear region of magnetic flux, it can't travel very far back and forth (low excursion). In such a design, large cone excursions translate very quickly to much higher distortion. Therefore, the only way to limit excursion while maintaining the ability to achieve the desired SPLs is to use large cone areas. Large, lightweight cones are far more susceptible to resonant break-up modes and due to their larger size, they shift those modes down to lower frequencies. Lower frequency modes are inevitably greater in strength and much harder to dampen or control. In the end you have a large paper-cone woofer and/or midrange driver and a system that is more or less good for one thing - PA systems. You can tweak and "finesse" the design all you want, but the final system will still have more in common with a PA speaker than not. That's why you see most of the high efficiency audiophile systems and the DIY crowd using PA drivers in their designs. There's really no other way to "skin the cat."

If there's a way I can get around those issues or greatly minimize them, then we will do a high efficiency design. Otherwise, if I'm going to design the equivalent of a PA speaker... that's what it will be marketed for use as. I'm just not into putting a PA speaker into an audiophile "dress" and parading it around as a true, reference-level system designed for ultimate fidelity. To me, that's almost deceptive and doesn't really do anything to further the state of the art. Besides, there are already plenty of others doing the same thing and virtually none of them have anything to offer that's significantly superior to the rest. They've all hit the engineering "glass ceiling" and have virtually nowhere else to go with regards to
improving performance.

So... how's that for a dissertation on the subject. Do me a favor will ya?
Don't get me started :-) "



Here is how Geddes describes how his speaker sounds on DIY audio.

"I'm proud to say that my speakers are "colorless" and perhaps even dull or "drab". Thats what I am after. It may take some getting used to, many say this, but in the end, after you do, everything else is just too colored to be pleasant. The color is in the music, not in the speaker."




Well, when you get your Summa's could you let us know how you like them. Like I said, they were on list as well. Hard to buy this stuff without hearing them. One has to be quite a snoop dog and do a lot of investigating. That's why most people just buy from the most recognized companies. They are showcased better. That is why I started this thread. To let people know of a killer speaker manufacturer that I see runs ahead of the pack.


Rocket_investigative reporter_Ronny
Old 1st January 2009
  #4
Here for the gear
News year bump. Happy new year to all.

I am again logging in many hours on the Sp Tech. Mini's, and am truly blown away by their musicality. I don't normally listen near field for enjoyment, but these guys have me sucked in big time.

I wished more people knew about these because they are truly top shelf.

Have a great new year.


Rocket_Ronny
Old 30th January 2009
  #5
Gear Addict
 
spenceroo's Avatar
 

Hey Rocket_Ronny,
I'm the guy who you quoted in your first post with the Timepiece 3.0s, and I'm still hearing the angels. These are magnificent speakers. Too bad Bob doesn't have an advertising budget. So for now, very (lucky) few know about them. I'd like to see Bob develop a pair of active speakers. I'm still using my Focals too. They're total workhorses.
Old 30th January 2009
  #6
Here for the gear
Thanks Spence for chiming in.

To help us better understand the speakers, could you describe the sound of the SP and Focals for us? Their strengths and weaknesses.

I have logged quite a few hours on the Mini's now and I just love how accurate and musical they are.

Rocket_Ronny
Old 31st January 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket_Ronny View Post
Thanks Spence for chiming in.

To help us better understand the speakers, could you describe the sound of the SP and Focals for us? Their strengths and weaknesses.

I have logged quite a few hours on the Mini's now and I just love how accurate and musical they are.

Rocket_Ronny
Well hello there. I'm surprised I missed your post back when, so- a belated welcome to the club' -what are we now, three or four out of about ten thousand around here.

Quote:
If you do the math, our tweeter mounted in the waveguide is receiving 1/32nd the drive power at 1.5kHz that the same tweeter would have to have mounted on a flat baffle to produce the same SPL. Essentially, that little diaphragm is barely moving at power levels that would destroy most any other tweeter. Since most distortion in any driver is directly proportional to cone excursion, our tweeter is producing far less distortion at high power than most others are producing at even moderate to low levels.
Thanks for that. It was one piece of the engineering/reasons why pie I didn't understand about the head room -understanding where the low cross over, point source and time coherency come together was easy.
Anywho.. I jumped on Continuum's earlier on (they go from near field to full mains' duty in my room), thank dog before they got pricey.
Minis here now too. Nice add -and now I don't have to scoot' to go nearfield'.

Everything he said is true guys.
Old 1st February 2009
  #8
Here for the gear
Hi Wayne:

Thanks for sharing.

Can you describe the difference between the Mini's and Continumms?

What amps are you running with each one?



Rocket_Ronny
Old 1st February 2009
  #9
Gear Head
 
mozartkaan's Avatar
 

seas components ?
Old 1st February 2009
  #10
Here for the gear
Hi Mozart:

Good shooting.

Yes, the woofs are the excellent Seas. The tweeter is not. I think that is a military top secret.

Then there is a lot of work that goes into the crossover to make the speaker very flat in response which is why they have such great tone.

Rocket_Ronny
Old 1st February 2009
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
ThetaAlpha970's Avatar
 

yup.

great monitors.


I've wondered often how the Timepieces would stack up against the Barefoots.
Old 1st February 2009
  #12
Here for the gear
Me too Theta. Would love to hear the Barefoots.

Here is what PLUSH said about the Barefoots on this thread.

K+h o300 vs barefoot

"I have not been impressed with the Barefoot monitors. The sound that is offered up is an exaggerated version of the program material. It emphasizes too much in the midrange.
While initially impressive this is eventually tiresome and inaccurate.

I would never term changing from 0300 monitors to Barefoot monitors as a "step up."

There is a lot of serious engineering and testing done in the development of the Klein and Hummel monitors. The test equipment involved costs many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Does Barefoot have these same resources?

I'm totally for real and I don't always drink the GS/Vintage King kool-aid that says Barefoot is nirvana."

Still, would like to hear the Barefoots and the K and H 0300 so I could come to my own conclusions. I do appreciate Plush sharing though.

Rocket_Ronny
Old 1st February 2009
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket_Ronny View Post
Me too Theta. Would love to hear the Barefoots.

Here is what PLUSH said about the Barefoots on this thread.

K+h o300 vs barefoot

"I have not been impressed with the Barefoot monitors. The sound that is offered up is an exaggerated version of the program material. It emphasizes too much in the midrange.
While initially impressive this is eventually tiresome and inaccurate.

I would never term changing from 0300 monitors to Barefoot monitors as a "step up."

There is a lot of serious engineering and testing done in the development of the Klein and Hummel monitors. The test equipment involved costs many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Does Barefoot have these same resources?

I'm totally for real and I don't always drink the GS/Vintage King kool-aid that says Barefoot is nirvana."

Still, would like to hear the Barefoots and the K and H 0300 so I could come to my own conclusions. I do appreciate Plush sharing though.

Rocket_Ronny
Then I don't know why all those famous User Testimonials have good \ great reviews! Barefoot Sound MicroMain 27 3-way nearfield/main/mastering monitor | VintageKing.com
Old 1st February 2009
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 212121 View Post
Then I don't know why all those famous User Testimonials have good \ great reviews! Barefoot Sound MicroMain 27 3-way nearfield/main/mastering monitor | VintageKing.com
Hello. Yes, which is why I tread very lightly here. Those that have been 'side by side' with this stuff 'know, and I prefer stating right up front- that disqualifies me.

I run a modest part-time home project studio and personally, while I'd love to have the experience of hearing both of these (who wouldn't!), at this point 'speaker issues' -ok, aren't in my weak link' things to do' list.
I have I believe good reason to see SP's fitting well in mix, perhaps mastering settings, then there is also the fact that 'Continuum's for example now exceed the cost of Bear Foot's three-way actives. Yikes.

Ronny, to your previous questions- nothing particularly high end here- (well, SP..)
Sonar out, RME ADI-8ds (x2), Central Station, Coleman switcher, Adcom GFA555, and a slightly dated Sony XA20ES cd on one of the alt lines' (nice enough but even the ADI8 is clearly better.
As far as the Mini's I'd say they do the same 'no hype tight as the Continuum's, a little lighter. Frankly the mini's are sitting where practical' rather than optimum and I haven't even dealt with placement, as such I'm not settled on 'what's real' in the lower half. The Continuum's are fairing much better in that regard, sounding flatter, with weight and extend down low. Room/placement factors are way bigger, and known.
Wouldn't mind messing with some more head room on the amp side- (for that matter let's just cut to 'Slutz chase mode-
JBL/Tad' 4-way. -right.
Otherwise good to go.
FWIW, I drag them around in my sig's, which I figure works re' my humble spread the word' place in the world picture.
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