Hologram M3

M3 Turbo S User - New September 02 2016

I will start by telling you that after break-in, these speakers are amazing. They were great from the start but they are like a high end acoustic guitar they get better with age and time on them. I am very happy with my purchase. I have been around audio all my life since my father taught me electronics and audio technology when I was a kid. I have sold high end audio in the past and have never heard speakers that have all the attributes that these do. They handle everything with clear ease and develop a sound that just makes them a joy to listen to. I am running them with a Pass labs 150.2 am, Nuforce preamp, and a PS Audio DAC off my Windows 10 PC with Fidelizer, and the sound is amazing. I would be proud to be a demo for you in the Springfield MO area if you do not have any demo areas around here yet. I have a degree in Marketing and have always dreamed of working in high end and if I can help with your endeavors with your company at all,  I am in. I love the sound and would love to be a demo point in this area. Just let me know what you think, You are a great American designer and seem to know the real sense of what Music sounds like and for a price that is great for every day people. I thank you sir.

Doug Moore  Springfield MO

 

M3 Turbo S User - New August 22 2016

    To Clayton Shaw,

           A good day to you sir. I have an early opinion; no reviewer, no other opinion from any other music lover, can ever say one bad or negative
           remark about the utter remarkability of your Spatial M3 turbo S loudspeaker. I've listened to and owned many truly remarkable loudspeakers in
          my lifetime. A true long time audiophile friend who is also an electrical engineer holding a Master's Degree from Rutgers University who has designed many           crucial designs in audio has had the opportunity to own many beautiful loudspeakers at ten times the cost of your speaker design, has also remarked highly upon   listening to your M3.
         So, it is now my honest opinion, after extensive listening to the Spatial M3 loudspeaker, that I've never heard any other loudspeaker at any other price or any      other design, that can achieve the musicality, the transparency, the layering of front to back dimensionality, the height and width of soundstage or the gorgeous tight bass and mid bass, the midrange or the high frequencies that your loudspeakers exhibit.  

         These opinions that sound so gracious, aren't from an uninformed opinion. They come from a long time no bull crap music lover and secondly from, and as, a     long time audiophile. Your Spatial M3 turbo S loudspeaker will not achieve a classic loudspeaker designation...it already has. It's very simply, one of the baffleless loudspeaker designs, that play any music genre as beautifully as any loudspeaker I've heard.

         Congratulations Mr. Shaw.

         Rebecca & Roger Crane

M3 User Comment on Audio Circle Forum

I have been very reluctant to post about the M3 turbo S's for the very reasons you bring up. I don't want folks to think I'm a shill or the typical newbie audiophile excited about his new toy ready to extol it's virtues only to have it up for sale a month later. I've been biting my tongue waiting for the initial excitement to wear off...It hasn't. I'm almost 3 months in at this point and believe the speakers are well broken in. I can only speak about them in the context of my room (17x24x10) and my setup (6 feet out from the front wall with them about 32 inches on center from the side wall) with my electronics (Vinnie Rossi LIO loaded feeding Odyssey Kismet monoblocks with Acoustic Signature Wow XL turntable, Ortofon 2m black and Bluesound Node 2 as sources). This is what I'm hearing from them:
1. An extraordinarily natural presentation that never tips toward aggressive or grating yet remains dynamic enough to maintain your attention.
2. Excellent dynamics and pace, rhythm, and timing.
3. Fully developed tonal palette.
4. Excellent soundstage width and depth that does not feel overly tall/wide/short etc...
5. Bass in my room that is mind bogglinglingly (I know it's not a word) clean, articulate, detailed, natural, and extended (no sub needed in my room).
6. Midrange cleanliness that is revealing of upstream components and highlights that power tubes or euphonic upstream components are identified for what they are. The speakers do not need components that soften, cover up, or editorialize the presentation to sound fantastic. It doesn't punish you for those choices but is capable of elucidating high caliber upstream components.
7. Sweet treble that simply does not get aggressive but feels fully extended and natural and neither brittle/bright or syrupy.
8. A very uniform presentation that has an excellent crossover and speaks with a single unified voice.
   I've been trying to come up with a shortcoming of them...I am yet to really come up with anything. Most importantly, some systems and components have a quality that suck you into the music and turns off the analytical brain. The Spatials do this as well or better than any component I've ever owned. I wish I could tell you why...I can't. 
   Does this mini review seem a little over the top or a little unbelievable? I have certainly read so many reviews like this on the threads that I generally roll my eyes at them and discredit almost every one that I read...I wouldn't blame you for doing the same with this review. So here is my litmus test for a speaker:
1. Would you consider this a destination end game product?-Yes
2. Do they represent value at their retail price point?- I would dare say they may represent the best value of anything I've purchased in the hobby new or used and in my opinion offer so much value it's hard to believe.
3. Do they have universal appeal that should transcend most audiophiles proclivities and discrepancies in taste like Klaus'(Odyssey) setups every single audio show- Yep
   In the end it's just my opinion: nothing more, nothing less. Remember that opinions are like a$$holes...everyone has one and they usually stink. That being said, I certainly encourage you to at least try to listen to them at the next audio show and compare them to anything at any price point you hear at the show. Decide for yourself.
David S.  Atlanta GA USA

 

M3 User Comment via email

I’m just sending a note to let you know how pleased and impressed I am with my new M3s. Last night I had one of the most amazing audio listening experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve spent the past week burning-in the speakers (40 hours or so), and trying out different positions, EQ tweaks, etc. Last night I got everything dialed in perfectly, and the result left me shaking my head in amazement. 

The sound is just what I’ve been seeking – natural, full, balanced, and warm, with great detail and musicality. What is even more impressive is the sound stage. It is huge, airy, and perfectly located. The speakers truly disappear and the vocals and instruments are each in their own space, and also large and lifelike. The center voice is full, precise, and located directly in the middle of center stage (unlike some other speakers I’ve heard where the vocals seem to be placed back behind the plane of the speakers). 

The tonal qualities are just right. I can hear every detail, but they aren’t too bright, and certainly not thin or sounding like they’ve been DSP processed. I’m convinced that listening fatigue will never be an issue with these speakers. They’re just so natural sounding and easy to listen to – it’s hard to get me to stop listening!

Clayton, you’ve designed an amazing product. As word starts to spread, I have to believe your speakers are going to be in high demand. I’ve listened to almost every competitor out there over the past six months, and these win hands down. 

Wes C.  Cedar City Utah USA

 

HOLOGRAM M4

M4 Turbo S User Post - Steve's Audio Blog

I received my M4's about a month ago. They are Turbos (not S) so I have the new Xvr with the older compression driver. I alternate between my Vinnie Rossi LIO's internal mosfet amp and the LIO as preamp only with my (also new) Red Dragon S500. The RD has superior bass slam and control, slightly edging out the mosfet. Eventually I will rotate in my EL-34 tube amp. 

After 100 hours I can confidently say these are the best speakers I've owned. Not perfect, but the best of a very good lot. I have a lousy listening room (10' by 10') and regardless of sound treatment, speaker type, placement etc. the room has always been a huge negative. Until now. The dispersion characteristics of the Spatials (very little in the vertical plane and easy to tame in the horizontal) makes the room much less of a factor. Sonically, the speakers are very well balanced top to bottom. The bass is outstanding and clear without boom. Midrange is prominent and detailed but not too forward. Highs are almost "delicate" with incredible detail and spaciousness but not harsh or in your face. (I collect mostly small combo jazz and vocals. Trumpets and cymbals are a joy to listen to). It all adds up but, for me, the single factor that makes them keepers is soundstage. The musicians are arrayed in a realistic 3D space curving behind and to the sides of the M4's. They make nearly all recordings sound as if the musicians are performing in a real venue that opens up where the front wall of my sound room used to be. Instruments sound very real and the overall sound has great "density" without out any artificial thickness. These are the kind of speakers that compel you (or at least me) to listen to every LP and CD all the way through.

Bill O  San Marcos CA USA

 

 M4 Turbo S User Post - Audiogon Forum Post

I received these speakers about three weeks ago and with a bit of run-in on them, maybe 75-100 hours, I am prepared to say that they are simply stunning speakers.  I have a bit of a bind in my room in that I only have 2-3' from the rear wall to position them, which is about what Clayton Shaw from SA said would be workable.  I heard his former design, the Emerald Physics OB speakers, at an audio show a couple of years ago and was very impressed with them, but was waved off when I learned that the AP speakers needed 4-5' of clearance to perform their best.  Clayton now has his own company and the Holograms incorporate major design improvements from his earlier designs for Emerald Physics, not least of which is their performance much nearer the back wall.  

Most notably, these do not sound like any speakers I have ever had and I have had a nearly a dozen over the past decade in my room.  I listened to them with a pedestrian SS amp to break them in (note:  don't form any opinion of them until they have a least 50 hours on them) and then swapped them for an excellent 6L6 tube amp with 6 wpc.  With the tube amp (and my tube preamp), these speakers just simply blossomed with a huge soundstage and a very warm liquid sound.  There is no question that the speakers mate very well with tube amplification.  I then swapped my venerable CJ MF-80 SS amp into the system thinking that they might lose the holographic soundstage and warmth, but as it turns out, the CJ amp provides a bit more control on the LF response and gives up only a bit of the warmth and liquidity that the tube amp provided.  So, my take is that they respond very well to both tube and SS amplification, but with good gear, reveal provide much better performance.  

The M4's have such an effortless, uncongested sound to them that seems very coherent from the LF to the HF.  They are neither forward nor laid back, they just make the music sound tonally correct and realistic.  If I had more room for placement, I might consider the M3's, which go down to 32hz whereas my M4's go pretty flat to 45hz.  No worries with the M4's, I am very happy with the LF response and if I get motivated, I might hook up my REL sub to catch that lower octave.  No doubt due to the open baffle design of the speakers, I sense an openness to the sound that I haven't ever experienced in any speakers I have had.  They are very detailed, with a clarity to the spittle sound of Miles' trumpet and a palpable leading-edge attack to Ron Carter's  double bass that just is simply amazing.   The sound from bottom to top with these speaker continues to astonish me the longer I listen to them.  If think they might tend to a bit warmer presentation, to my ears, but only slightly so.  Overall, they are very balanced.  

Clayton has a generous no-hassle 60-day trial with these speakers because it is a fair bet that few buyers will not be very happy with them.   I am just a guy who has loves jazz and have been in the quest for great sound in my system for the past 45 years so that is my point of view in this review.  I am not going out on a limb in saying that I think Clayton has significantly moved the ball ahead, from technological design and production standpoint, with his Hologram speakers.  I simply marvel at the pure enjoyment I am hearing with these speakers... just such pure enjoyment.    

For $2K for the M4 Turbo S version, I can't fathom a more fulfilling audio product than Clayton's speakers.  I urge my music-loving friends on this forum to think outside the box (speaker) realm and consider what Clayton has created with his well-engineered and beautifully-constructed  line of of Hologram speakers.  At least, seek out his room at the next audio show and give them a listen.  Cheers, Whitestix  (Mark S. - Sacramento CA)

M4  CUSTOMER INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

I would say I am inching up on the twenty-four hour mark with the M4’s at this point. I have done a little bit of tweaking with the positioning. I have them angled in at about 23°, as you suggested, and so far I think that’s best.

Thus far, as I said to you on the phone, I am very positively impressed. I’ve owned an embarrassing number of speakers over the years, so I am quite familiar with how things sound in my listening room. And even in a barely “warmed up” state, the M4’s are sounding great. High points:

  • Tone – the M4’s seem to nail the tone of instruments and voices. Well recorded wind instruments like trumpets and saxophones sound like the real thing. Well recorded singers sound like the performer is singing for you in the room – it sounds like a real person. Also, the voicing is VERY even and smooth from top to bottom.
  • “Bigness” – the M4’s offer up a large-as-life sonic picture. It is shocking (in the best way) going to this kind of presentation from the small monitors that I am used to.
  • Ease – maybe it’s the lack of “boxy colorations” that reviewers talk about, but everything sounds open and relaxed – the music is just “there,” and not “coming out of” a pair of speakers.
  • Dynamics – again, nothing sounds compressed or constrained. And as I mentioned on the phone, I think that they are the most honestly specced speakers I’ve owned in terms of sensitivity. My 8 watt 300B SET sounds positively muscular!
  • Holography – the M4’s present what may very well be the most stable, “solid” center image of any speakers I’ve owned. Additionally, I am finding the sweet spot to be surprisingly wide. I can move my head 12 inches or more from side to side in the center image doesn’t budge, which is pretty remarkable!
  • Soundstage – I like the fact that the M4’s don’t artificially inflate the width of the presentation, unlike an omni-directional radiating speaker that I owned a number of years ago that tended to place everything in a large, nebulous soundstage with rather vague imaging. If the recording has a “dry,” tight, immediate quality, the M4’s will present that. But if the recording engineer has captured space or reverberation or phasey effects (whether natural or artificial) the M4’s will give that to you to a breathtaking degree. I was listening last night to the Joe Jackson album “Body and Soul,” in which the basic tracks were recorded with minimal microphones in a large, reverberant church space. The way the M4’s rendered all that acoustic space was pretty mind blowing.
  •  Bottom end – In most cases, it’s very good. In some cases, it can sound a bit lean – for example, synthesized or “hip-hop” style bass lines can be somewhat thin, and closely miked kick drums can also sound a little “small," but I understand that you don’t consider the speakers to be really broken in until they got about 100 hours on them, so I am giving that more time. I do believe that I have heard the bottom end fill out somewhat since I have been playing them. I also wanted to confirm in my own experience something that you mentioned about the quality of open-baffle bass. On one particular tune from the Donald Fagen album “Morph the Cat,” there has always been a bass guitar line near the beginning in which a couple of notes sounded louder (unpleasantly and unnaturally so) than the other notes, which I take to be the dreaded “boomy” box speaker bass exciting a room node. But with the M4’s, all the notes sound nice and even, as they should.    Steven F.  Austin TX USA

 

HOLOGRAM M2

M2 Customer Comment:

I can't stop listening to this system. I didn't comment on the looks of the speakers in my last post. They are gorgeous. Modern looking, expertly finished, and unimposing. If Clayton were to distribute these via retail chains, I suspect every other speaker manufacturer would sh*t their pants. Their WAF factor is off the charts. When you factor that with the fact that they punch WAY above their price point the rest of the industry has much to be nervous about. While everyone else is regurgitating the same design from the beginning of speaker development, Clayton has revolutionized speaker design. After listening to my M2's for a few hours I concur that box speakers are now obsolete. Do NOT audition these speakers if you have no intention of buying them. They will make it nearly impossible to go back to your conventional speakers. The open baffle lends to a diffuse sound with plenty of air between instruments and textured vocals, yet the imaging is still pin point. You get that live sound, but are still able to identify clearly where the singer is placed along with the band. This is not a subtle effect that will be lost on anyone. Listening to "Billy Jean" by Michael Jackson earlier I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. His voice sounded pure, textured, and authentic. "Jam" also from MJ is incredible via these speakers as is "Black and White." I highly recommend listening to these three tracks through the Spatials. "Jam" is just fun through my M2's. "Black and White" opens with a son listening to music late at night and the father yelling at him to turn it down. A few seconds in the father bangs on the son's door and a few seconds later bangs on his door again. Both times the door banging is utterly realistic and fun. Keep in mind that I am powering these speakers thru a $600 tube integrated that generates a mere 10 watts per channel. I have not turned up the volume past 1/4 so far and it is plenty loud with reserve current available. Total system cost came to roughly $5k. Plenty of money, but I have auditioned systems that used speaker cables costing more. I can't think of a system I have had more fun listening to than this one currently and it is only a few hours old. The best is still to come. There is no thinking with these speakers, it is all about enjoying. You completely forget that you are listening to a "system" and just listen to music. In the end, isn't what this hobby is supposed to be about? To be able to get there at the price offered makes these speakers hands down the best value on the audio market right now IMO.

From a posting on www.audioshark.org

I own a pair of Spatial Audio Holograms... the M2s. Those are the ones that Steven Stone of TAS awarded ''best sound (for the money) '' at the Axpona Hi Fi show in Chicago. Given my experience with these speakers I can see why he did. 

But mine are different than the ones Mr. Stone gave the award to. Mine are the the M2 Turbos which are said to be significantly better than the non turbo version. I cannot confirm or deny this. I can only report on the ones I have and those are the M2 Turbos. 

I live in an area where I can play my system all night long as loudly as I wish, I was able to break them in doing just that... 24/7 and very loud until I hit the 500 hour mark. I have had them for well over a month now so since they have broken in, I have had ample time to be able to listen, assess... and be awed. 

Here are my impressions: 
As I am writing this I am listening to some renditions of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos and the first word that comes to mind is ''realism.'' These are easily the most true to life speakers I have ever heard. Spot on timbres, extremely wide deep holographic sound stage, very high resolution, incredible dynamics... these are the hallmark characteristics that I hear in the M2 Turbos that make this realism possible. 

Not only am I a musician, but I live in a small Tuscan hill town. Music is very important here and concerts are given all the time. These concerts for the most part take place in small venues where amplification is unnecessary. 
Therefore I get to hear live acoustic music on a regular basis in a wide variety of settings... in our local and very acoustically accurate theater; in small chambers; in yet smaller rooms (a good friend who lives down the street from me is a concert pianist. Before a concert he invites a few of us in to listen for a private concert in his very small practice room), in churches, in piazzas out in the open, etc. So I have a pretty good sense of what most instruments should sound like. The criterion by which I judge any component is its ability to reproduce the sound of real instruments. And I am not exaggerating when I say that I am blown away with the timbral accuracy of these speakers. 
All instruments are reproduced very accurately. Pianos are out of sight good. Drum and cymbal reproduction... which is one of the holy grails that I have been chasing... is so true to life that when I play certain drum tracks that I have (The Big Solo and Kaos from Steven Rochlin's THTST Album) I, and others, feel as though Rochlin and his drums are actually in the room with us. Cymbals are metallic and bursting with sheen... no white noise here whatsoever!

A lot of speakers I have heard get accurate timbres in the midrange. But where the M2s really shine is in the accuracy of their bass. My understanding is that this should not be the case because open baffle bass is hard to control. This is why in his previous designs (Emerald Physics) Clayton Shaw used bi-amping and DSP to control bass interaction with the listening environment. But with the Holograms, he has somehow solved the bass/room issue so you get the advantages of extremely fast open baffle bass which makes for taut, timbrally accurate, tuneful bass without the need for any correction. And the M2s bass is the most accurate and most musical that I have ever heard. 

Prior to the M2s I was running Gallo Reference 3.5s as my main speakers. If you know anything about them, you know that they are known for their very good midrange, high resolution and a great 300 degree dispersion tweeter which allows them to completely disappear in a wide, deep, holographic sound stage (I loved that holographic sound stage disappearing act). But the one area which I felt could be improved was the bass. It was relatively accurate and powerful, so I wasn't really dissatisfied. But I had the feeling that even more accurate bass was possible. I wanted to hear ''real'' cellos and bass fiddles. I wanted to hear the hollowness of the instruments bodies and the deep growl of the bass fiddles when they are bowed. I wanted to hear more of the harmonic overhang of low drums... bass drums and kettle drums, etc. 

I did not think that for the money I could do any better than 3.5s and I was worried about having to give up that incredible 3d sonic field, so I was convinced that I would never change. I had had the chance once to briefly hear a pair of Emerald Physics speakers doing deep bass fiddle rifts and, wow, did it sound accurate. At the time I thought, ''If only the Gallos sounded like that they would be perfect.'' And that is when I seriously started thinking about open baffle because I couldn't get that bass sound out of my mind. 

Then Clayton came out with the Holograms which are ''plug and play'' (needing no bi-amping nor DSP) and are priced so affordably and I just had to give them a try. 

But while i was hoping for more accurate bass (and I was not disappointed) what I wasn't prepared for was their being so superior to the Gallo 3.5s in every other performance parameter bar none... including the Gallos' forte, sound stage and holographic imaging. There was no loss at all... just gain. 

Unbelievably, the sound stage they throw is much wider and deeper than that of the 3.5s. The images are more holographic and are better sorted out in the sound stage. And due to the greater holography, the M2s disappear every bit as completely as did the Gallos. 

The sound stage almost always extends well beyond the walls... laterally and behind the speakers... of my room. And the imaging is really stable. When moving from side to side in my room I find very little change in the soundstage and when I stand up there is no lowering of the image height whatsoever. The Gallos also have pretty good lateral stability, but when I stood up, the trebles would fall off and I would end up looking down at them because the sound was coming from down there. Dynamics are much better. Resolution is much better. Attacks, rise times, decays... all much better. Microdynamics are superb. Tone color is dense and saturated... not thin or washed out. Ambience retieval and the sense of presence is uncanny. I am in the concert hall with full orchestras which are spread out wide before me. I am in small chambers with the baroque chamber orchestras and the quartets and quintets. I am in the club with the jazz ensembles... or they are in the room with me. Classical guitarists are in my living room and sounding very very real. (For ten years I was a classical guitarist and I made my living teaching and playing. It is an instrument I know intimately). Vocal reproduction is soooo much better. Male and female singers are in my room and singing only to me. i can hear the nuances in their musical interpretations. And I can suddenly understand lyrics that with the Gallos I was struggling to understand and not succeeding. Now I can understand almost everything. If I needed any definitive proof that the improvements I hear are real then this would be it because I could not imagine myself into understanding lyrics that I previously could not understand no matter how much I tried.

The Gallos go down to 34 Hz if you are using only the 1st voice coil. I was running them with the Gallo SA sub amp powering the 2nd voice coil which brings their bass response down to 22 Hz... true subwoofer range. The M2s are only rated down to 43Hz but the only advantage that I can perceive the Gallos as having is that of overall power. But I don't care because for me the sheer timbral accuracy and the taut fast musical bass reproduction of the M2s is more important. Please don't misunderstand, the bass of the M2s, while not as powerful as that of the Gallos, is still plenty powerful. On certain tracks (like the above mentioned drum tracks) and in certain passages, I can still feel the kick drums' and the bass fiddles' vibration in my body... just not as strongly as with the 3.5s... but it is definitely there. 

Another thing that is amazing to me is how balanced and even (linear) the sound is throughout the whole frequency range. The Gallos were very well balanced. Three years ago I purchased Spatial HD and Clayton did the room correction for the Gallos. My son, who is also an audiophile, came from the States and stayed with me for a few months and he kept marveling with respect to how balanced and even the sound was. And it was... for the most part. But there were some tracks in which, despite the room correction, the Gallos would sound somewhat bloated...too much boom, if you will... in certain low frequencies. The M2s, so far have not demonstrated any such bloat on any track whatsoever. And this is without any room correction as of yet.

I am going to let Clayton do the room correction, but to tell you the truth I am not sure these need it. While I am hoping they can be further improved... and I will be very happy if it happens... I will also be very surprised if it happens.

The last thing I feel compelled to mention is how room friendly these speakers are. They sound great no matter where I put them in my room. Moving them seems to only affect the sound stage. It does not seem to affect bass performance, resolution, linearity, etc. etc. 

Peter Borelli   Cortona Italy