By AudiocRaver on Jan 5, 2019 at 2:21 AM
  1. AudiocRaver

    AudiocRaver Senior Admin
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    Emotiva Airmotiv T2 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeaker Review

    Manufacturer & Model:
    Emotiva Airmotiv T2 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeakers
    MSRP:
    $999.00 per pair
    Link:
    https://emotiva.com/collections/airmotiv/products/airmotiv-t2
    Highlights:
    Passive design, a 3-way tower loudspeaker with dual 8-inch woofers, Airmotiv folded-ribbon tweeter, and Minimal Acoustic Signature cabinet that is handsome and practical.
    Summary:
    The Airmotiv T2 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeaker represents Emotiva’s penchant for offering studio-quality products at truly economical prices. With a seemingly magical ability to sonically disappear in a room while pushing thunderous bass with ease, the T2 Tower is a value marvel that will satisfy the finicky listener and the tighter budget with no compromises.
    [​IMG]

    Tower speakers often play a prominent visual role in an audio system. They can stand tall and be visually arresting, making a listening room or home theater unforgettable. Generally, they have to be large to include drivers that can accommodate bass with smooth response and minimum distortion and tweeters held at ear level. Some tower owners try to hide them behind an acoustically transparent screen or against the front wall of their room or home theater. Too bad, because they will never sound their best. I insist on placing the mains for uncompromised sound, often 4 to 6 feet out into the room - and leaving them there for movies and 2-channel music, proud of their appearance and placement and their influence on the system’s performance.

    But for all this techno-beauty, one characteristic that excites me even more is the ability to become acoustically invisible (from the perspective of the listening position or LP), to disappear in the soundstage, disconnected from the audio and offering no sonic clues that they are the source of that sound. This is a notable occurrence because so many other qualities of device and room have to be “just right” for it to happen.

    It is an unusual occurrence, sadly, but is not inaccessible to the average listener, and thanks to the introduction of the Emotiva Airmotiv™ T2 and T1 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeakers, it can be achieved quite economically.

    This review of the Emotiva T2 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeakers includes mention of their little brother, the T1. I evaluated a T1 pair last spring. That event quickly lead me to the conclusion that the T1 was among the most readily-disappearing loudspeakers I had ever worked with, and sparked my anticipation as I looked forward to working with the T2. The T2 pair did not disappoint, disappearing on cue as though they had the gift of some superpower, even delivering a completely unexpected gift of their own before the evaluation was over.

    No Rough Edges
    [​IMG]

    (Emotiva) The T2 features a 25×32 mm Airmotiv folded ribbon tweeter.

    The T2 is a 3-way design, 91 dB efficient, with dual 8-inch woven-fiber cone woofers and a 5-1/4 inch woven-fiber cone midrange. For comparison, the T1 uses dual 6-inch woofers and is 88 dB efficient. An Airmotiv™ folded-ribbon tweeter handles high frequencies. The folded-ribbon tweeter, has been enhanced and renamed many times over the years since its introduction as the Heil Air Motion Transformer (AMT) in 1972, and operates on a different principle than a cone or dome driver. Picture the folds of an accordian being squeezed and expanded at a rate of 5000 to 10,000 times per second (with a sonically more pleasing result.) The squeezing / expanding motion takes place on a much larger surface area than a typical tweeter, so range of motion is vastly decreased and so is distortion, while horizontal dispersion is enhanced by nature of that motion.

    The folded tweeter as a type is one of the best things to happen to high frequencies in the last half century. As a student of tweeters and tweeter materials and designs, it ranks in my mind as a nearly-ideal approach to reproducing those frequencies, and has become economical enough to employ that I sometimes wonder at the engineering choices calling for other tweeter types. With exceptions, of course, they simply sound better. “No rough edges” is one way of putting it, clean, transparent, even, smooth, invisible, and could be used in most designs that run $300 / pair and up. There are better tweeters, to be sure, but they get expensive fast.

    [​IMG]
    (Emotiva) A look at the 5-1/4” woven fiber cone midrange driver.

    The T2 (and T1) cabinet’s Minimal Acoustical Signature™ design reduces edge diffraction, improving impulse response, imaging, and contributing to their disappearing act. The 25mm milled HDF front panel, also designed to be acoustically inert, is lacquer coated and looks just grand with its grille removed. Sides and back are coated with a tough but handsome vinyl coating, so no annoying reflections come from your movie screen. The finish and the shaping of the front panel edges results in a ruggedly handsome appearance for the T2 Towers.

    [​IMG]
    (Emotiva) Rear terminals accommodate bi-wiring or bi-amping.

    Terminals allow optional bi-wiring or bi-amping using the T2’s separated internal crossover sections. Weighing in at just under 57 lbs unpacked (40 for the T1), each T2 is a hefty armful, but not at all unreasonable considering added weight from internal bracing - a vital piece of the puzzle for a disappearing loudspeaker, front baffle, and quality drivers. A 4-ohm design, the T2 can handle 200 W continuous and 400 peak (150 / 300 for the T1).


    Placement
    [​IMG]

    Placing a speaker in a room (like the T2) is likely to prompt one to wonder what all the speaker setup fuss is about. They were set up and ready to play in Cedar Creek Cinema when I arrived. Sonnie’s approach had been to use our tried and true “sweet spot” as a starting point. The result was excellent, although we did try them at a number of locations through the room.

    At some spots, the disappearing act was somewhat imperfect. Bass response varied as well, always the case and a result of room modes and wall reflections / cancellations. Wider spacing made the center image fall back a bit and lose focus. The dimensions of our final location are given below.


    Listening Tests, Day 1
    [​IMG]

    (Mutemath/Wojtek Records)

    Dirac Live on, Subs on with crossover at 80 hz
    Mutemath: “Stroll On,” “Break The fever” and “Achilles heel”

    There is so much space in the soundstage, room for lots of detail that would most likely go missed in the average soundstage, and Mutemath really put a lot of detail into their recordings. Such a smooth high end, you can push it and it never becomes harsh or pushes back. There is body to the sound, thickness and solidness without bloating.


    Dirac Live off, Subs off
    Mutemath: “Everything’s New”

    With Dirac turned off, there is a powerful, really sharp vocal image, and a thicker sound, a very pleasing voicing, very listenable. This high end is so pleasing, so easy and transparent. There are thicker, darker tones that are kept from overwhelming other sounds, everything has its place.

    Janelle Monae: “Screwed”
    Bass is just a bit heavy, bordering on a little bloated. Individual hand claps are well spaced. The T2, like most towers are not completely immune to room effects. The high frequencies are very unobtrusive, I love a tweeter that you can not hear at work.

    “Americans”
    The midrange is VERY smooth, and the highs are wonderful. With the T2 adjusted to a more open listening angle, the center image is a little recessed, pulled back, not as present.

    Here Come The Mummies: “Tightrope Walker”
    The center image is still a little recessed, pulled back, not as present as I would like but still VERY clear and tight.

    The Tubes: “Tip Of My Tongue”
    As though mixed for these speakers, there is no bass bloating with the T2.

    Paul Simon: “Late In The Evening”
    Another mix that is a bit light on bass, just right on T2s. On some speakers, the horns can be biting, but they are very even here, even a bit reserved. Rhythm sounds have good depth acuity and PUNCH. The ring of the cymbals is very present, strong, they have body and punch.

    Electrocution 250: “Fletcher The Mouse”
    The T2 with some ringy room mode effects almost can not keep up with the speedy bass, but the guitar tone stays bright, true, accurate.


    Dirac Live on, Subs off
    Michael Buble In Concert - Bluray

    There is a midrange quality to Michael’s voice that equates to a harmonic richness, a warmth that is presented with honesty and accuracy, not emphasized, not held back, and it is the core of his sound. With Dirac turned off, the T2s still sound excellent with this voice and the band behind him, although the vocals and centered instruments are drawn toward center of the soundstage and a little recessed without Dirac. After a few minutes, it is easy to completely forget that Dirac is off, but with it turned back on, he steps forward and pushes the notes a little harder, spreads out the band, and out of the T2s roll those wonderfully warm Buble vocals. On the higher or harder tones, the T2s allow a bit of a bite into that sound, while remaining clear and accurate.

    Many speakers let you find a sweeter imaging spot by shifting forward in your seat, but with the T2, there is no change for a couple of feet, where the soundstage finally starts to fall apart. This is true with and without Dirac active.

    Walking to the back of the room, the soundstage softens but clarity and tonal evenness remain accurate.


    Listening Tests, Day 2
    [​IMG]

    (Universal Pictures)

    Starting with the T2s on our sweet spot points, we adjusted the toe-in for on-axis listening angle, aimed directly at the LP. Imaging was softer with this orientation. Except with a controlled-directivity tweeter design (a horn-loaded tweeter, for instance), this setup, still suggested as the ideal by many manufacturers and “experts,” has never delivered tight imaging in my experience.

    With the listening angle adjusted back outward, we took acoustical measurements with Room EQ Wizard and physical placement measurements with a laser distance measurer.

    Position:
    • L 57.0 in to L side wall
    • R 57.5 in to R side wall
    • L 77 in to front wall
    • R 77 in to front wall
    • C to C spacing 115 in
    • L Front to LP 94 in
    • R Front to LP 94 in

    We set up two fresh Dirac Live calibrations, one flat and one with all but the lowest bass frequencies unboosted for use with subwoofers.

    We finished off the evaluation with two movies: Michael Jackson’s This Is It and Jurassic World. Subwoofers were turned on and Dirac Live was active most of the time but was switched of several times to compare. Dialog was clear and easy to pick out, imaging and soundstage were excellent with and without Dirac, although wider with, and the T2 gave a stellar performance throughout.

    The clean unobtrusiveness of the high end with the T2s gives the impression that the upper mids and high frequencies were rolled off somewhat, but measurements proved that they were not. This supports my belief that an especially smooth (on- and off-axis), clean high end can be run flatter than is often suggested by industry experts.


    The Gift Of Thunder
    [​IMG]

    At one point during Day 2, while Sonnie listened to a Yellow track with thunderous kick drum and LF effects, I was in the seating row behind him working on my notes. At one point he turned the system volume to maximum. The T2’s were shaking the seating stage and my chair. It felt like the seat was being kicked from behind in time to the music. The T2’s pulled this off without bottoming out, with no rumbles, rattles, distortions, or complaints of any kind, except for a rattle from one of the grille covers until we removed it.

    Once the volume came down, I had to ask, for sake of thoroughness, if the subwoofers had somehow been turned on. They were not. We had several discussions through that day about other tower speakers we had evaluated over the years and the ways we had stressed them and the ways they had complained or failed, and had to agree that none of them had handled such loud, deep bass with grace and clarity like the Emotiva Airmotiv™ T2 (not attempted with the T1).

    Conclusions
    At AV NIRVANA, reviewers resist the temptation to make comparisons between models and brands, reviewing each sample on its own merits. That said, one cannot help but encounter personal favorites. In this case, I have secret a mental short list of favorite models retailing under $1,000 per pair, speakers that are utterly transparent and refined and stand out as a value purchase that is practically guaranteed to please. The Emotiva T1, and now the T2, have joined that mental list. It is hard to imagine a listener being other than delighted by the performance of either, especially the T2 with its higher efficiency and bass handling ability. From the thunderous bass to the smooth, even midrange to the invisibly transparent high frequencies and the superpower-like ability to disappear within a wide, deep, natural, cohesive soundstage, the Emotiva Airmotiv™ T2 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeaker is a tremendous value, a design achievement that will please the most particular listener in a two-channel or cinema room. The T2 Tower can be evaluated risk-free in your home for 30 days. I seriously doubt Emotiva gets many pairs of them shipped back for refund, so do not plan on being able to extricate yourself from their spell.

    I heartily recommend the The Emotiva Airmotiv™ T2 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeaker as a value-priced performance monster of a speaker that will enhance practically any home cinema or listening room and delight the most particular listener.


    [​IMG]


    Airmotiv™ T2 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeaker Specifications
    General

    • Configuration: Three-way floor standing tower loudspeaker.
    • Cabinet tuning: Rear port
    Driver Complement
    • High frequency driver: 25×32 mm Airmotiv™ folded ribbon tweeter.
    • Midrange driver: 5-1/4” woven fiber cone.
    • Low frequency drivers: 8” woven fiber cones (2).
    Electrical Specifications
    • Efficiency: 91 dB (2.83V/1m).
    • Power handling: 200W continuous / 400W peak.
    • Recommended amplifier power: 100W – 500W / channel.
    • Nominal impedance: 4 ohms.
    • Frequency response: 35 Hz – 28 kHz (+3/-3 dB).
    • Crossover (midrange / tweeter): 3200 Hz, 12/18 dB / octave.
    • Crossover (woofer / midrange): 350 Hz, 12 dB / octave.
    • Dual speaker terminals for bi-amping or bi-wiring.
    Mechanical
    • Dimensions: 42-1/16” high x 10-11/16” wide x 12-1/4” deep; 47-1/2” long x 15-3/4” wide x 17-1/4” deep (boxed).
    • Weight: 56.9 pounds (unboxed); 71.3 pounds (boxed).
    • Mounting: Removable, adjustable spiked footers or rubber feet (both included).
    • Grille: Black cloth over a rigid frame; attaches securely with powerful magnets for easy removal.

    Airmotiv™ T1 Floorstanding Tower Loudspeaker Specifications
    General

    • Configuration: Three-way floor standing tower loudspeaker.
    • Cabinet tuning: Rear port.
    Driver Complement
    • High frequency driver: 25×32 mm Airmotiv™ folded ribbon tweeter.
    • Midrange driver: 5-1/4” woven fiber cone.
    • Low frequency drivers: 6” woven fiber cones (2).
    Electrical Specifications
    • Efficiency: 88 dB (2.83V/1m).
    • Power handling: 150W continuous / 300W peak.
    • Recommended amplifier power: 75W – 350W / channel.
    • Nominal impedance: 4 ohms.
    • Frequency response: 37 Hz – 28 kHz (+3/-3 dB).
    • Crossover (midrange / tweeter): 2700 Hz, 12 dB / octave.
    • Crossover (woofer / midrange): 275 Hz, 12 dB / octave.
    • Dual speaker terminals for bi-amping or bi-wiring.
    Mechanical
    • Dimensions: 37-5/8” high x 8-3/8” wide x 11-5/8” deep; 42” long x 14” wide x 17” deep (boxed).
    • Weight: 40.1 pounds (unboxed); 53 pounds (boxed).
    • Mounting: Removable, adjustable spiked footers or rubber feet (both included)
    • Grille: Black cloth over a rigid frame; attaches securely with powerful magnets for easy removal.
     
    t3t4, Jack and Todd Anderson like this.

Comments

Discussion in 'AV Equipment Reviews' started by AudiocRaver, Jan 5, 2019.

    1. Todd Anderson

      Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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      Great review, Wayne. I think this will turn quite a few heads!!

      I heard the T2s in a show setting and wasn't all that swayed by their sound. BUT, the environment I heard them in was waaaaay less than optimal. Not good at all. I wish I'd been with you and Sonnie to hear them properly setup in a good space.

      I particularly think your comment about wanting to know if his subs were on (or not) speaks volumes about how well you had integrated speaker (and how well it was performing)! My curiosity is certainly piqued all over again!!

      Do you have any comments on the vinyl exterior finish of the speaker? Is delicate and prone to marks and scratches?
       
      #2 Todd Anderson, Jan 5, 2019
      Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
    2. Grayson Dere

      Grayson Dere Moderator
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      Nice review! It's always a pleasure to see great speaker designs that don't break the bank in doing so. Do you plan to try the bi-wiring option in the future to find out if that makes a positive difference in sound?
       
    3. Matthew J Poes

      Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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      This is great Wayne. Thanks for sharing your review and experience with us. I remain in awe of your way with words!

      I would like an opportunity to hear these in my own space one day.
       
    4. Sonnie

      Sonnie Senior Admin
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      Beautiful review Wayne... as expected from you. I know I've told you several times already, but I thoroughly enjoyed your visit.

      The song that was shaking the room is Takla Makan from the Touch album. There have been quite a few speakers in my room that cannot reproduce the lower bass portions of that song and/or attempting to do so bottoms the speakers. The T2 simply delivered... and at a surprisingly high volume level.

      The T2's are absolutely remarkable, especially when you consider the price, which is crazy low for what you get. The entire setup we were listening to, the T2, T1 and C2, makes an incredible package that won't break the bank and will provide seriously good sound for movies and music. With a little bit of placement flexibility they rival speakers costing several times their price.
       
    5. Craig Chase

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      Excellent review - They look to be a "poor man's version" of the Legacy Audio Classic HD's, which are north of $4000 per pair. Unlike most speakers in the $1000 range, the Emotivas have an elegant, sturdy look to the fit and finish.
       
    6. Sonnie

      Sonnie Senior Admin
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      Agree Craig... these look really nice... no disappointment in any way at all.
       
    7. AudiocRaver

      AudiocRaver Senior Admin
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      Thanks all.

      The finishes - both the lacquered front panel and the rubberized finish on the sides - are designed to provide practical, attractive protection. Neither appeared susceptible to fingerprints, smudges, or dings with normal handling, even an accidental bump on a door frame or item of furniture. The rubberized finish appears smart and tough, not at all unattractive to my eye.

      I have tried bi-wiring a few times and have yet to hear a difference. I imagine that having separate amplification for the two crossover/driver sections makes double the power available to each, and that they can be driven harder that way, as the theory suggests, but have no data or measurements or listening experience that supports the notion. We will add it to our list of experiments for the next visit to Sonnie's place, priorities allowing.
       
    8. Sonnie

      Sonnie Senior Admin
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      And that doesn't need to be too long from now. :T
       
    9. AudiocRaver

      AudiocRaver Senior Admin
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      Sonnie, those visits are always a pleasure!
       
    10. bkeeler10

      bkeeler10 Senior Member

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      Thanks for the review, Wayne. A very intriguing speaker, and lots of people like them too. But you always give a unique perspective by focusing on imaging/soundstaging qualities, which is great.

      Regarding the Heil-type tweeter vs domes . . . have you ever heard a dome that can keep up with or approach your most prized qualities of a folded tweeter? Do you consider there to be any downsides to a well-implemented folded tweeter?
       
    11. AudiocRaver

      AudiocRaver Senior Admin
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      One very positive thing I can say about domes is Beryllium. When I have heard a dome that seemed close to invisible, it always ended up being Beryllium. One speaker designer at last AXPONA agreed, and gave a pretty good explanation about how any break-up or stored energy effects ended up well above the hearing range.
       
    12. Matthew J Poes

      Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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      Hey Wayne, I too heard an excellent speaker at AXPONA using Berrylium tweeters. It was one of the most transparent and revealing speakers I’ve ever heard. It was from Jim Salk and designed by Dennis Murphy.

      In fact, now that I think about it, other speakers I loved included the Revel’s And TADs which all had Beryllium tweeters.

      I too want to hear these speakers, as I didn’t have the best experience with them at the AXPONA demo. I am not totally sold on this tweeter design but am open to having my mind changed.
       
    13. AudiocRaver

      AudiocRaver Senior Admin
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      Sounds like we need a discussion thread about your issues with the design. I am going on listening experience, are there theoretical sticking points that bother you?
       
    14. Todd Anderson

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    15. Matthew J Poes

      Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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      Kind of. I had a few raw drivers to test and they varied dramatically in quality. All of them had some little measurement issues that bothered me. Comb filtering from the faceplate and higher distortion at the bottom of their bandwidth. A less than flat response. In general they didn’t measure as good as other driver types. All of this is likely correctable and possibly inaudible.
       
    16. Todd Anderson

      Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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      "Often times it's not good to know how the sausage is made."
      - Unknown Man
       
    17. Matthew J Poes

      Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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      Until the sausage makes you sick
       
    18. Todd Anderson

      Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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      LOL. True. But if it doesn't make you sick, it could be one of the best culinary experiences of your life!

      (There are times I'm glad that I don't have the micro-level understanding that you guys have). ;-)
       
    19. Matthew J Poes

      Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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      Smoked sausage is delicious. Especially down around where Sonnie lives. They know how to cook the bad parts of animals!
       
    20. bkeeler10

      bkeeler10 Senior Member

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      Agreed - I'd be interested in a discussion on this, for my own education mainly since I don't know much about any possible issues.
       
    21. Matthew J Poes

      Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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      tesseract likes this.
    22. Tom L.

      Tom L. Member
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      Very nice, well written, review. I felt I learned something here.

      I like the "sound" of the folded planar ribbon speakers. I think early versions were somewhat fragile but that is not the case at this point. Modern planar ribbons, starting with Bohlender and Graebener (later BG Corp) brought innovations and improvements to the type making them much more robust while retaining that smooth, articulate, planar ribbon sound. Several manufacturers have adopted the Planar ribbon design using them as a tweeter, and some as a midrange as well (Wisdom Audio). Martin Logan, Adam, Golden Ear, Wisdom, Sunfire are the first to come to mind.

      I think the major advantages to the planar ribbon designs, besides a very neutral sound, are extremely good transient response and a dispersion pattern that limits floor and ceiling reflections.

      Wonderful review! I'm personally happy to see there may be affordable replacement alternatives should my BG Radia's ever go belly up that will keep me in the planar ribbon sweet spot :-)
       
    23. Allen Rumbaugh

      Allen Rumbaugh Moderator
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      Don't forget SLS Loudspeakers. They pioneered ribbons in professional PA systems and had a great line of 8" two way studio monitors.
       
    24. tesseract

      tesseract Senior Admin
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      Every audition I've had of the latest Emotiva speakers, at shows or in Sonnie's theater, proves to me that they have a good formula going the last couple of years with the sculpted baffle and driver choices. The cabinets are most definitely solid, I'd love to know more about the crossover work.

      Another excellent review, Wayne!
       

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