22029 Parthenia St., West Hills, California 91304

Reprinted, with permission, from Volume Number 3&4. The Audio Observatory is published ten months per year . Subscriptions are $15 per year. Overseas subscriptions are available for $30, while Canadian subscriptions are $20, payable in U.S. funds. No part of The Audio Observatory may be reprinted absent the direct permission of the publisher.

LFT-VIII Loudspeaker

Eminent Technology

225 East Palmer Street

Tallahassee, FL 32301



Sound Anchors

2835 Kirby Ave. #110

Palm Bay, FL 32905

Speakers are very difficult. Nowhere else in audio do we find such constant and seemingly inevitable distortions as we do in speakers. If the ongoing debates between single-ended and push-pull, and solid state and tubes aren't enough for you, try diving into the debate on the merits of metal domes versus soft domes, or ported enclosures versus sealed boxes. But. If you are really spoiling for a fight, tell the designer of a really good dynamic speaker that the best music you have heard comes from a planar. Be prepared, however, to defend yourself against physical harm.


Though one of the oldest techniques of reproducing sound, the planar magnetic gets shoved toward the rear of the audio bus by the dearth of box speakers and that most alluring of transducers, the electrostat. The poor planars are often left alone and forsaken. Not enough sex appeal of flammability for the electrostat folks, and not dynamic enough for the fans of the dynamic.


Lest you are too tended toward the dismissal of the planar magnetic, enter Bruce Thigpen with a very different kind of planar magnetic (PM hereafter). Now, as TAO regulars know, I generally leave the technobabble for the devoted technobabblers. However, in the case of the LFT-VIII some discussion of the remarkable Linear Field Transducer (LFT for short) is in order. You see, everyone loves a planar for what it can do, that being start and stop moving very quickly. Compared to dynamic drivers, PM diaphragms are quite nearly massless. The PM,s problems start in the realm of excursion, or the ability to travel very far. As the common PM moves forward, it is moving away from the magnetic field that controls it. So on the very loudest dynamic peaks, the PM driver has the least control. Seemingly a fatal flaw, no? No in fact…


Along comes the LFT. Here's a PM driver that has magnets both for and aft. So when the music gets a hopin' the LFT driver remains under the control of one magnet or another. Even better, the LFT driver is scads lighter than common PMs because it employs an aluminized mylar that is etched away , leaving a grid of conductivity, much like a circuit board, rather than comparatively heavy wire that is simply glued to the mylar as in a less progressive PM diaphragm. Great, you say, let's get this puppy up and barkin'!


Hold on there just a minute. First you've gotta put these speakers together, something that merits comment in itself. The LFT-VIIIs come in no fewer than three very large boxes. The midrange-tweeter come in long skinny boxes while the two sealed woofer enclosures come in a single heavy and bulky box. Something that should be noted in the otherwise comprehensive and excellent Owners Manual is the fact that you'll need two to tango with the ETs. The challenge comes in attaching the deceptively heavy midrange-tweeter panel to the woofer box. Even with two people, its less than fun. With one, be prepared to hurt yourself, the LFT-VIII's or both.

Once assembled, the ETs are a real sight. They are large speakers, let there be no mistake. Still, their thinness and narrow profile make for a visually interesting device that makes the average box speaker look a tad pedestrian in comparison. Be ready for comments and looks of genuine wonder. These speakers are visually impressive, and perhaps a touch imposing.


Before I get to the tunes, let me say that you will be needing some watts to drive your new ETs. This is a speaker that makes your typical current-making amp look like a Sanyo. The sensitivity is quite low, the average impedance quite high so you're looking for volts (watts) rather then amps. I found life just grand with an unnamed tube amp of some 125 watts a side or the always hip and groovy Muse Model One Hundred Sixty. As a practical matter, I'd put the minimum amp power at 100 watts for the ETs to happily do their thing.


And what exactly is their thing, you ask? The ETs do what I'd come to believe was impossible. The truly have all the finesse and deftness of the finest planars, yet slam enough to simply crush some dynamic pretenders. Put on the new Sheffield Lab Gold release of Romeo and Juliet (Sheffield Labs 10043-2-G) and be prepared. The sound toward the end of the first section is massive, with the lower brass carrying the weighty melody of "Dance of the Knights." The ETs are utterly fearless of such potentially daunting dynamics, sailing through complex and extreme sections with an ease that I have not previously heard in my listening room. At the same time, one becomes aware of what must be considered one of the Achilles' Heel of the ETs, that being that the images are always quite large; a wonderful trait when the music is large, less so with smaller works.


Still, the ET does its magic well with a wide variety of music. Todd Garfinkle's Immigrant's Dilemma (MA Recordings M017A [cd]) is a record that I often use to test a speakers ability to do two very important things: First, to get the tones and timbres of a variety of acoustic instruments correctly and second to see if a speaker can maintain the essential character of the recording venue, in this case a large and empty auditorium. It was at this point that I added two very crucial elements to the ETs. First, I installed the newly developed Sound Anchors platforms (the ones that the rocket scientist over at Audio Advisor picture installed backwards in their adds) and then I added the internally bi-wired pair of Cardas Hexlink 5C. I note the cable switch because it allowed the ETs to perform consistently and better than any other cable that I used with the VIIIs. Why, I don't know. What I do know is that the 5C significantly sharpened the focus of the VIIIs , allowing the ETs to do much better at following and maintaining the proper size of the music being played, and maintaining all of the ETs considerably low frequency impact and power. But it was the Sound Anchors that pushed the ET LFT-VIIIs to greatness.


Deceptively simple, The Sound Anchors replace the ET-s mild steel rails that extend to the front and rear. The Sound Anchors are a U-shaped device that screws to the bottom of the ETs woofer box. The result is that the ETs and the Sound Anchors are physically mated together and function together as a system. In effect, The Sound Anchors enhance and smooth the ETs transition from the midrange panel to the woofer. In essence, the stands and the ETs function as a team that will challenge some of the most costly and exotic speakers on the market in terms of musical versatility.


Lacking faith? Drop your stylus onto John Hiatt's Bring the Family (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 1-210 [LP])(what, you say you haven't got a copy yet? Get a move on man!). Try "lipstick Sunset." What you'll hear is the sound of Hiatts voice tightly defined, but naturally haloed by ambiance and the soaring and climbing guitar of Ry Cooder above it all. The ETs render it all so naturally, so easily, that it truly does allow you to forget, though ever so briefly, that you are listening to a mere record. There is no higher compliment to give to a speaker.


I hope that none of you are put off but what could be perceived as a description of a speaker that demands a lot of attention to detail. What's important to bear in mind is that the Eminent Technology LFT-VIIIs are the founding member in what I dare say will be a very exclusive fraternity of speakers that perform so far beyond their price that they challenge the legitimacy of speakers costing more. At well under $2000 including the dedicated (and really mandatory) Sound Anchor stands the ET LFT-VIIIs have no peers. Highly recommended.