Dear EJ Jordan
The speakers are assembled and have been running for more than a week now. I decided to wait before sending you my listening impressions, so that I can get to know the speakers better. I’m a slow listener.
I haven’t been particularly familiar with wide-range speakers and starting a DIY project was most definitely out of my comfort zone. The reason I chose to build the Eikona DCRs is primarily due to owning the 47 Labs Model 4717 amp (aka Shigaraki), which proved to be a transformative experience for me. I fell for its exceptionally unobtrusive way with music. So much so that maintaining this “unobtrusiveness” became my top priority in terms of system building. From a technical point of view, using a crossover-free design therefore made a lot of sense. Plus, as you know, the commercial version of the VTL, the Konus Essence became the reference speaker of Junji Kimura, the designer of 47 Labs, and that also gave me confidence that the Eikonas are the way to go. And I think it’s healthy to get out of your comfort zone occasionally.
When I finished the speakers, I first placed them more or less at the same spot where my two-ways used to stand. I switched on my amp, played some music and listened. Then I got worried. I’ve tried my best not to expect anything particular, but what I’ve heard in the first few minutes was underwhelming for the most part: small, grey and closed-in sound.
I’ve figured that these drivers might indeed need some play time to get them going. I went to sleep, dreamt about speaker placement, driver break-in and wiring issues and woke up very early in the next morning.
I left the system on to play some music while I was preparing my breakfast. When I returned, something was different: I felt that the presentation became a touch cleaner and noticeably more effortless. And the music still didn’t sound right, and in particular, the soundstage was very diffuse. I’ve figured that this was obviously a placement issue, so I’ve started fine tuning front wall distance and toe-in. My first aim was to lock the vocals in the centre of the soundstage. A tiny increase of toe-in solved this issue. This surprised me. First, the proportionally huge effect of that tiny toe-in adjustment; second, the way it messed up the mixes of my records.
Vocals were perfectly centred now, but I’ve also heard them way more forward as if the instruments were all mixed down a few dB-s compared to the vocals. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. However, at this stage it was pretty clear that all these speakers need is very careful placement.
So I’ve experimented and I’ve soon learned how these speakers react to certain changes. This was again fascinating: these speakers are incredibly well-behaved and predictable if you pay attention to them and learn to “speak their language”. After a few more minute changes (we’re in the millimetre range here) everything just clicked. Again, a new experience for me.
Once I’d managed to find the right spot for the speakers, magic started to unfold. The way the Eikonas just let the music flow into the room is amazing. Finally, I don’t feel like a spectator of the musical event, but as someone who is truly experiencing it. The sound of voices and instruments are incredibly real and solid. When a cymbal is hit, it is not just a sound, rather it feels like a multi-sensory experience: I can sense its “metal-ness”, its movement, its surface roughness.
This brings me to the most valued aspect of the Eikona DCRs. Namely, that they are somehow capable of getting the very essence of music. And genre does not factor in. I’m a true musical omnivore, and so far I’ve heard these speakers playing a single acoustic guitar/blues, richly orchestrated pop/folk, classical, techno, experimental, reggae and metal. Yes, they’re truly stunning with vocals and acoustic instruments, but they’re also great with electronic instruments. I listened to two hours’ worth of deep house EPs last night, and I couldn’t stop sofa-dancing, because these speakers really get the groove. Should it go deeper? Sure, it would be the icing on a cake, which is already delicious!
Metal. Full-range speakers can’t do it, right? I think, wrong. I’ve listened to Pantera and it was the balls-to-the-walls fun, full-on adrenalin rush that it’s supposed to be. I’ve listened to Kyuss and their guitars plugged into bass amps were fully there with their buzzing presence. It was heady and heavy at the same time just as it should be. Again, would it be better if the speakers slammed harder? Probably yes. Then again, I’ve heard speakers that go deeper, slam harder, yet most of them failed to deliver as much fun as the Eikonas – seemingly – effortlessly do. In fact most of them sounded stiff and stuck-up, as if they were trying hard to pretend to be cool, but in the process they just make it obvious that it’s all faking. And if fun is gone, what’s the point?
Ok, I could go on and on, but as I look at word count, I already recall a quote, that I’ve read ages ago: “I’ve learned more about penguins from this book than I intended to “. I imagine you probably feel something similar by now. 🙂
One more thing: besides the great sound and presentation, I also love these speakers because it’s extremely rewarding to go home and listen to speakers that I’ve built and know inside out.
I also would like to thank you for your support! You really helped a lot with my build and actually you made me truly fall in love with the hobby. I think you’ve created a great vibe around the company, and a relaxed corner within the hifi world where it’s ok to ask, ok to experiment, ok to enjoy what you have. I’m happy to be a member of the Eikona owner family.
Best regards, Gergő
I’ve since added a subwoofer to my system, the B.K. Electronics XXLS400-FF specifically.
I’m using the high level connection and cross over at around 55 Hz. It mates with my DCRs seamlessly. Obviously the sub provides generous support at deep bass frequencies (some of my favourite music does require this), but it’s more than just added bass.
Interestingly, the sub enhanced the characteristics of the Eikonas, that are already great: the openness and size of the soundstage, the unimpeded forward momentum of the music, the transparency of mids and highs, etc. Since I’ve had precisely zero experience with subs, and even though I’ve read about this effect with regard to subs, hearing it is entirely different.
I’ve never seen it coming that a sub will make Skip James’s falsetto voice even more angelic, fragile and enveloping, but it did exactly that! So much so, that I know look at the sub as some sort of active acoustic treatment rather than a bass machine.