Running the risk of talking too much about my new toys, I thought I'd give a more thorough rundown of my new toys. I've had 'em a couple weeks now so I thought I'd share.
Rather than cut and paste, for the tech info on them click HERE.
Really, it's tough for me to accurately describe these. As I've said before, I've heard or owned speakers that, individually, exceeded the performance of the AR-9's in a particual fashion. For example, the DQ-10's were more holographic in the mids. The SDA's, obviously, throw a much wider soundstage. The Carver's dug deeper. The AL-III's (and Maggies) more transparent. However, in EACH case, the AR-9 isn't bested by a lot. However, a more complete speaker, I don't know if I've encountered.
True, the upper registers ulitmately lack SOME air however the smooth rolloff does make some recordings that include a lot of tape hiss more palatable nor does it detract from the enjoyment of, say, Paganini's Violom Concerto #1 that LIVES in the upper registers. That particular recording can EASILY become harsh and fatiguing but the AR-9's soften it just enough to really enjoy.
The premise of the acoustic blanket is to improve imaging. Without getting into the tech mumbo jumbo, I'd say it works in spades. These things image like nobody's business. Precise and not very placement critical. While I would say the Carver Amazings probably convey the presence of an entire symphony better, again, I'd say not by much and precise localization within the symphony is maybe just a tad better with the AR's. The 1812 Overature by Telarc is a good example. The Carver's had better scale but the AR's have a little better micro dynamics within the frame of the orchestra.
The AR-9's are far and away the flattest speakers I've ever heard in my living room. The way the drivers are crossed over is said to counteract resonances within the speaker to give it flat response. Dahlquist addressed this by other methods and was successful, IMHO, until the bottom end. The woofer never integrated, IMHO, as well as the other drivers. The overall sound while not as transparent as a planar design appears as seamless and coherent as any I've heard except maybe a true full range electrostat. Rossini's overatures, particularly William Tell, have a lot of dynamic range and it's easy for a speaker with an emphasis in one range to let that portion dominate the music, however, I've yet to encounter that with the AR-9's. The bass as good as it is (think of the William Tell finale), doesn't seem to obscure the rest of the performance.
Now, as good as the bass performance is on the AR's, which is DAMN good the best part, for me, is the layering and soundstage depth. I've yet to hear a speaker that projects depth front to back as good as the AR-9. On single mic'd recordings (VTL - Josh Sklair) I'm actually hearing things BEHIND me. No ****, behind me. I've got sound projecting, I'd swear, yards, behind the speakers. The size and scale of the sounds correspond precisely to the distance relative to the front of the soundstage. Eerie, I tell you.
Well, that's about it for now. I'm going to stop short of saying these are my all time favorite speakers because I just don't know. Too much to factor in plus there is the element of sentimentality. I think it is fair to say that they will not be embarrased in any department by any speaker at any price and that's pretty damn good.
Sources: Philips DVD963SA (primary), ARXA TT, Jolida JD100, Polk XM tuna
Preamp: Sunfire Classic Vacuum tube
Amp: Classe Model 25