This Review was written by David Robinson, editor of Positive Feedback Magazine. If you want to contact Positive Feedback for subscription or other information you can get in contact with them the following ways:

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Every now and then an audio product comes along that doesn't change the world. It doesn't drop any jaws. (Which is good; judging by the number of "my jaw dropped open/hit the floor" reports from reviewers, sore jaws and bruised chins must be rampant among some audiophile reviewers anyway.) It doesn't "set new standards of audiophile performance for the XXX product category." It does what it's supposed to do, and does it very well. It doesn't cost a fortune. And it's just a heckuva of a lot of fun.

I'm glad to say that this is the case with a very fine product from Bruce Thigpen and the creative folks at Eminent Technology. At last: they've filled the gap in an area that could stand some real work: a decent multi-media sound system for your computer. ET's new LFT-11 (Linear Field Transducer) multi-media speakers are an audiophile computer user's dream-come-true. Let me explain . . .

Those of you who've read Positive Feedback for a while may remember the ravings of "Jack McMadd" a few issues back. Seems that "Jack" was excited about the notion of tweaking his desktop computer's multi-media sound system so that it would sound halfway decent. He claimed that he had done so, and talked about the layout and mods for such a project. Of course, some people have the skill, the inclination, and the time for such a project, and some don't.

For those of you who don't, Eminent Technology has put together a package that will definitely improve the sound of your computer's audio system. The LFT-11 is "something completely different," as the blokes at Monty Python used to say. It's a planar speaker for computers, boys and girls! Yes, that means that it's shielded so that it can be placed right next to your computer monitor at need - and yes, there are those of us who don't have enough desktop space to place them anywhere else. Measuring only 6.25" wide by just under 10.5" high by 3.5" deep, the LFT-11 is compact enough for just about any workspace. The stands and speaker frames are done in a very solid and attractive blond oak frame, with a black grill cover. All in all, the ET LFT-11's leave a very fine visual impression right out of the box.

"Right," you say, "but who give a rip?! It's just a damned 'puter, David; nothing even halfway decent is ever going to come out of the thing!"

As a computer professional with more years of experience than I'd care to think about, I'd say that's a fair comment. I'm very ambiguous about the possibilities of anything like audiophile sound coming out of a computer. That's because I know how many infernal compromises are made in the average computer: the horrendous power supplies, the lack of shielding/isolation from neighboring/online EMI, the abominable cabling and interconnects used, the weird conglomeration of electro-mechanical devices that are stuffed into the CPU willy-nilly. And that's not to mention the fact that just the sheer noise of a computer - especially if you are running a SCSI hard disk system, as I do - is enough to discourage the most committed audiophile interested in his multi-media system.

And so the typical response of your 'phile 'puterist is to patiently endure the pretty crappy dynamic speakers - with or without the super-duper subwoofer - and put up with the poor sound. I definitely avoided listening to CDs.

So I was doubtful when good friend Ray Chowkwanyun recommended that I look into these for review, but had a good exchange with Bruce Thigpen and decided to try it. (Lord knows, the Sony computer speakers had to go!) The complete ET multi-media system includes the LFT-11 speakers, an impressive subwoofer system with dual 6.5" Audax HM170G0 speakers and crossover network (crossover at 200 Hz), and an Optimus STA-300 integrated amplifer (15 Watts RMS per channel). Setup was simple, and inside of 30 minutes I was cooking.

Anyone who has listened to a properly set up pair of Bruce's excellent ET-VIII speakers knows that Eminent Technology specializes in delivering an incredible amount of bang for the buck. The same is true with the LFT-11's. Eminent Technology has successfully implemented a true push-pull planar speaker, using "a powerful, precisely aligned magnet structure on both sides of the diaphragm." A frequency response of 35 Hz - 20 kHz 4 dB is claimed; nominal impedance is 8 ohms.

The Optimus integrated amp is compact, handles a number of source options (unlike anything you'll find on your typical multi-media board), and gets the job done. The tone controls allow you to adjust the sound to taste - perhaps not the "audiophile thing to do," but very handy when you're living with the compromises of a computer in an office setting. It sits very nicely under a strong oak frame that allows you to place your monitor directly on top of the Optimus, which both saves space and looks good, too.

The sound is what really impressed me, though. I had to experiment a bit, but I finally found that placing the LFT-11's about 18 inches from the back wall sounded best in my office. They are toed in lightly; about 10-15 degrees did it. One of the best things about these speakers is that the planars are actually mounted on pivots, so that you can tilt them upwards for a direct line to your ears. No more weird sound from dynamic speakers aiming at your abdomen!

For the first time, I got to hear music while working at the computer that made me want to listen to music while at my computer. Planars excel in their ability to project a soundstage, image well, and impart a feeling of transparency and air to music. The LFT's do this better than any computer speaker that I've heard, bar none. No comparison. End of story, muchachos. And the subwoofer section puts an astonishingly powerful foundation under it all; again, no comparison to anything I've tried in computing.

What else can I say? At $899.00 MSRP for the complete system, this is absolutely the best thing that the long-suffering audiophile computerist can do for him or herself. Especially those who have invested in the higher quality sound boards for their computers (e.g., Turtle Beach, Creative Labs AWE-32, etc.) should give immediate consideration to rounding out their investment with the Eminent Technology LFT-11 multi-media system.

It's simple, really: you can either follow "Jack McMadd"'s ideas - or you can get in touch with Bruce Thigpen at ET and order the LFT-11.

Me, I'd get in touch with Eminent Technology . . . .

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