The Sensible Sound LFT-11 Review

The $ensible Sound Helping audiophiles and music lovers to spend less and get more. Excerpted with permission from Issue #64, July/Aug. 1997, of The $ensible Sound. Subscriptions to The $ensible Sound are available for $29 per year (6 issues) by check to 403 Darwin Drive, Snyder, NY 14226 or through Visa/MC by phone (800-695-8439). You may also purchase a set of all available back issues (currently 45+ issues) for $89.00,

Better sound for >$400 The Eminent Technology LFT-11:

Let me start this review by telling you that despite one nit to pick, Bruce Thigpen's LFT-11 is superior to any other multimedia system I have had the opportunity to audition. It is also the most expensive system I was able to find when I searched the ComputerSelect CD-ROM database. At its suggested list price of $899, the system includes two planar speakers (6.3 W x 10.5H x 1 D), a stereo subwoofer (8.5 H x 15 W x 10 D), a Realistic Optimus STA-300 digital stereo receiver, and a solid wood monitor stand that allows the user to place the receiver beneath his monitor. I have read elsewhere that the system was available with out the receiver for $749, but I neglect ed to ask about this option in my most recent con versation with the designer. For those who have had the pleasure to see or own any of Bruces other audio creations, those qualities that make his products somewhat unique are here in the LFT-11 as well. The speakers and subwoofer are hand-crafted in solid oak, the subwoofer and speakers themselves weighing more than they appear to by simply looking at them. The finish is outstanding. The system almost beckons one to set it up from the very first moment, and, after doing so, rewards one with sound approaching that of a quality audio system. I will tell you that your weakest link will be your computer, should you decide to spring for the LFT-11. There simply isnt a CD-ROM in any computer I know of that can provide a signal good enough for the planar speakers. Given that statement, I believe the best approach would be to forego your computers CD, and connect a high-quality CD player to the tape inputs of the provided receiver (connecting your computer to the AUX inputs, of course) to listen to your music CDs. You can always switch back to your computers sound output with a push of a button whenever its time to use a multimedia CD. The supplied Optimus receiver might not be the best choice of amplification I briefly connected my own NAD receiver and found it smoother and not as bright but it did a good job when playing music through my Carver SDA-490t CD player. The affluent audiophile might even consider the AMC CVT-3030 integrated amplifier as a workable alternative to a run-of-the-mill receiver. The LFT-11 rivals many speakers audiophiles revere, especially above the 200-Hz crossover point from the woofer. The planars are electrostatic-like, and far more transparent than any others in the survey. Given the listeners proximity to the speakers on his desk, they reveal more of the brightness in CDs than they would if they were placed further from the listener (the manual suggests a distance of 30inches from the listener to the speakers). Of course this would not be in keeping with the primary uses of a multimedia system, and may deter from the near field design of such speakers. Given the hazards of a typical computer system in my case, a big Sony 17 inch monitor staring me in the face the LFT-11 offers an image with depth and width that surpasses all of its competition. Listening to Corellis Concerti Grossi (Harmonia Mundi 901406.07), I was taken by the systems ability to present a wide and deep soundstage. Even though the speakers were less than four feet apart, I noted their ability to present the illusion that real people were playing those instruments in real space. My only nit to pick is the LFT-11s subwoofer, which does not appear to mate with the planar speakers as well as I would have liked. I had difficulty in finding a suitable spot under or near my desks that allowed it to blend as I hoped it would. No doubt, the crossover point was chosen because of the limitations that the small size of the planars present. Given their accuracy overall, the LFT-11s represent the closest approximation to a real musical event of all the multimedia systems I tested. For what one gets at the purchase price, I can overlook the subwoofer nit, as some users may not encounter the placement difficulties I experienced. - Steve Baird


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