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.
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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
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(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.

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(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.

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(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
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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
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(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
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(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
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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.


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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.
 
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Comments

Jack

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This review is fabulous, thank you Wayne. I have been wondering about this for some time and now I think there is enough evidence to move on this.
 

danzilla31

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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.
Hey just wanted to say great review! I'm new to this forum but not to audio. Mathew knows me from Audioholics. I enjoy this site been wanting to join.

It's crazy you reviewed these because I'm in a dilemma that hopefully you can help.

I currently run 3 SVS prime towers as my front 3. I love them for all the reasons you mentioned in your review of them Lol.

But I have noticed a touch just a touch of peakyness in the highs on the tweeters that can cross over into just a borderline harshness I mean just an edge of that. It's very small but noticeable when they open
up.

I'm planning on upgrading this year. My options are 3 SVS Ultra Towers in the front 3 move the 3 prime towers to my surrounds and get one more. This is due to lowering my base 7 to base level. So I can get my surrounds down that are up high enough to mess with my heights

Know I hear the ultra Towers have a better tweeter. But I've always had issues working around traditional dome tweeter and metal tweeters.

Also I'm looking at cost 3 ultra's and 1 more prime runs me close to 3600 3700?

But I'm fascinated by the T2's and there tweeters. I want something that has the dynamics of the primes but an edge in the highs. And for 500 each I can buy 7 of them for 3500 and get there discount. That's 7 T2 towers which will help in my big space.

What I've been looking for is experienced owners or reviewers that have had hands on experience with both speakers you've reviewed them both.

My other option is the prime pinnacle but it's too soon to tell what that will become of this speaker it's not out yet. But if the T2's are a great speaker that's a huge deal at 500 a pop.

Are the T2's a better direction to go? Any feedback you could give me would be great and very very appreciated

My room is big 8500 feet cubed the Dual SVS PB 4000's are near field behind the couches the Elan Theaterpointsthp650sl surrounds are elevated above the seating and my 4 heights are the RSL C34E's.

Here's some pics

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20181210_004831.jpg


20181210_004748.jpg
 

JStewart

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Hey Danzilla31, @AudiocRaver did a review here not long ago on the SVS Prime Towers so he's a good one to answer your question.
I've never heard the prime towers but have used a prime center for the past few years. Never noticed or measured anything off in the highs. Difference between the towers and center, the room, or our ears? Who knows?
Does Emotiva have a good return policy on those towers? Kind of a pain even if they do, but a side by side in your own space is always the best way compare.
Have fun deciding! :ponder:

Oh, and Matthew Poes did a write up on the different types of tweeters in the last couple of weeks that was really informative. https://www.avnirvana.com/threads/what-is-the-best-tweeter.3932/
 

danzilla31

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Hey Danzilla31, @AudiocRaver did a review here not long ago on the SVS Prime Towers so he's a good one to answer your question.
I've never heard the prime towers but have used a prime center for the past few years. Never noticed or measured anything off in the highs. Difference between the towers and center, the room, or our ears? Who knows?
Does Emotiva have a good return policy on those towers? Kind of a pain even if they do, but a side by side in your own space is always the best way compare.
Have fun deciding! :ponder:

Oh, and Matthew Poes did a write up on the different types of tweeters in the last couple of weeks that was really informative. https://www.avnirvana.com/threads/what-is-the-best-tweeter.3932/
Hey thanks for the reply I posted on this thread because I was hoping he could give me some insight I've read both his reviews both very excellent.

I don't want to put him on the spot in the review on his opinion of one product over the other and I don't know him very well yet to hit him up with a PM but I was hoping after introducing myself on this thread I might be able to get in touch with him and get his feedback

The only hitch to me not ordering some right now is that you pay return shipping. On the Emotiva's so I'm hoping for some more guidance or insight from a person with hands on experience of both these speaker lines before I decide which road to haul.
 

AudiocRaver

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I am a little hesitant to make direct comparison between these two directly competing models. Let me sleep on it. I will PM you with a few thoughts at the very least.
 

danzilla31

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120 inch fixed frame custom built screen
I am a little hesitant to make direct comparison between these two directly competing models. Let me sleep on it. I will PM you with a few thoughts at the very least.
Yeah I didn't want to put you on the spot like that I just didn't know you yet to PM you. I'm new to this site. Sonnie and Todd have giving me some good help on a thread I started on this. If you look at that thread but feel any insights you have might be helpful please feel free to PM me. Otherwise I just want to thank you for awesome reviews on both speaker lines. Your speaker reviews are excellent I always enjoy when you come out with a new review. And I also wanted to say hello and formally introduce myself. I'm looking forward to getting to know you and everybody else here on this forum.
 

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I just ordered Mutemath's "Play Dead" album on vinyl thanks to your review.
 

AudiocRaver

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Very nice! I had fallen in love with Vitals and streamed Play Dead the night it was released and did not care for it, was disappointed. Then I tried it again the next day and was blown away, really love it. Weird.
 

thrillcat

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Very nice! I had fallen in love with Vitals and streamed Play Dead the night it was released and did not care for it, was disappointed. Then I tried it again the next day and was blown away, really love it. Weird.
I had picked up Odd Soul years ago when I was an emusic.com member and really enjoyed it. Not sure why I had never followed up with an of their newer releases.

A note, the LP arrived from Amazon, but I had to send it back and have a replacement sent, as Side 4 was pressed off center and there was way too much audible warbling to be listenable. Replacement arrived the next day and it's mint. Really enjoying this album a lot. I'm hooked on Hit Parade.
 

AudiocRaver

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Great! There is lots to love!
 

t3t4

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I wish I could sample these, I've always been a fan of 3-way's! If you have a tweeter and a 4 you don't need more, but 5" or 6" absolutely benefits 3-way or by/tri-amp'ed. I have never heard a ported speaker without the port noise or the loss of control at upper volume levels. I probably hate ported speakers, (it's a me issue) which is why I went with my Bic Americ's because they are all sealed aside from the rear surrounds. I literally shoved two old shirts into the ports of the rears before I tuned them, like every ported speaker I have ever heard, I can't stand the boom, the blah, the mud that they all seem to produce.

Did you really not hear any of this while testing the T2's?

I know the room will make a world of difference, but once you hear the port noise you can't stop hearing it. Did you hear none? Maybe try stuffing the ports and give a listen? My Bic's use passive radiators, similar solution with no port noise. I'm curious as to your thought's here.

Thanks.
 

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Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
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Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
Stuffing a port will profoundly affect the bass response of a ported speaker, as you no doubt are aware. Not sure how to isolate port noise and only change it by that method.

I have heard port noise with some ported models, far from most or all, though, and not with any Emotiva speakers that I have evaluated.in any detail (T1 and T2).

You might have a hightened sense for it though.
 
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t3t4

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Aug 13, 2017
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41
Location
Pennsylvania
Stuffing a port will profoundly affect the bass response of a ported speaker, as you no doubt are aware. Not sure how to isolate port noise and only change it by that method.

I have heard port noise with some ported models, far from most or all, though, and not with any Emotiva speakers that I have evaluated.in any detail (T1 and T2).

You might have a hightened sense for it though.
I really wish I could listen to or sample these T2's, nothing is that local for me. In my state I'm sure to find a distributor, but too many hours away for any critical listening. Which is why I would ask you to test. If you are willing? You could test real easy, but I should ask before I say any more, do you own these T2's or are they samples?
 

Tony V.

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Apr 14, 2017
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Edmonton, AB, Canada
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX RZ920
Main Amp
Samson Servo 600
Additional Amp
QSC MX1500
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Panasonic 220
Front Speakers
EV Sentry 500
Center Channel Speaker
EV Sentry 500
Surround Speakers
Mission 762
Surround Back Speakers
Mission 762
Subwoofers
SVS PB13u
Video Display Device
Panasonic AE 8000
Remote Control
Logitech 1100
Other Equipment
Denon DT 625 CD/Tape unit, Nintendo WiiU, and more
I've never heard any port noise from a speaker that's designed well and is not driven past its specifications. Port noise is usually a result of driving them full range rather than crossed over above their lower limit.
 

AudiocRaver

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Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
798
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
The T2 pair I reviewed is part of Sonnie Parker's setup on Alabama.

Sorry, if they were accessible I would give it a try.
 

t3t4

Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
41
Location
Pennsylvania
Yeah no worries, I just thought if ya had them you might try a couple things to see what sounded good/better or no different to you. The room often makes the biggest difference. Like my rear surrounds for example are ported, but because of the room layout I have them tight into the left and right corners. This is a really bad thing with ported speakers, doing this will amplify the port activity making everything from about 1khz on down, well, just extra extra. For me, I have to stuff the ports and cross them over at 200hz just to partially get them under control. And they're still too bassy, but better stuffed then un-stuffed and sound pretty good once you get used to them. I have had them cold dead and lifeless already, and believe me that sounds worse then a little too much bass.

Anyway, thanks for letting me know.
 
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