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:
Positive Feedback Magazine
2939 N.E. 155th Avenue
Portland, OR 97230
(503) 257-2002 (Editorial Office)
(503) 256-1300 (Business Office)
(503) 254-3866 (FAX)
email@example.com (Editorial Office)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Business Office)
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
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,
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
Me, I'd get in touch with Eminent Technology . . . .