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Andy, one of my readers, shared with me a special moment that just happened to him: he got the speaker he's lusted after all these years, a pair of Acoustat 2+2. He shared that experience with me because he knew we're in similar situations: I have lusted after the IRS, he after the 2+2. We both have what we wanted.

My first pair of high-end loudspeakers I ever took home was a pair of 2+2 Acoustats, so I know well what Andy was after.

These electrostatic loudspeakers are tall. They are about the same height as the IRS, formed out of a stacked pair of Acoustat Fours. They go nearly floor to ceiling. When I got my pair Terri was initially ok with me taking over the living room. Well, not exactly. Let's just say she agreed to let me put a "pair of speakers" in the room. She had no idea of their size. I figured I'd get an agreement first, then share the details second. Terri loves music and wanted nothing more than to have a system playing great tunes in the house. I had other plans. I wanted the ultimate pair of speakers and would go to any length to get them.

These speakers were monsters. They took over the room. My lovely wife wasn't thrilled but because they were thin, light and had a nice white grille on them, she reluctantly agreed to their temporary placement and waited patiently for music to come out. Music did come out and there was peace in the McGowan household. Entire albums were played with great happiness.

I think we lived with them for less than a week before I became dissatisfied with the dynamics and bass response. The first weekend I started the painful process of moving the living room around to get better results. Everything and anything was fair game: the furniture, the speakers, curtains open and closed. You get the idea. A darkening cloud was hovering over my more than tolerant wife. I kept moving onward in search of the holy grail.

It was about this time I first got to know Arnie Nudell, founder of Infinity and later to be my partner in Genesis Technologies. At a dinner he and I were attending I happened to mention the Acoustats and how they did everything wonderfully, except bass and dynamics. Had he a suggestion? Arnie's answer was quick. "Sell them. Get a real pair of loudspeakers." Yikes!

The Acoustats were electrostatic. There aren't many forms of loudspeakers that are as quick and "window-like" in their presentation of music. Even today, when listening to a great electrostat like Roger Sander's or Roger West's creations, I am reminded just how quick and transparent these speakers are. But dynamic they are not and bass has never been their forte.

The problem with these speakers is their acoustic membrane's inability to move very far. To get either dynamics or bass, you need to move air. Lots of air. So either you get a huge amount of surface area (like the Roger West electrostats) or you just add a subwoofer for the bass and tolerate the lack of dynamics. I was not in the mood for either. Besides, asking Terri if I could add yet another box to the living room was probably going to get me nowhere. She was already happy with just having music in the house.

I kept asking around for what I might do the fix the problem of the 2+2's and finally hit upon a solution. Someone told me that part of the problem was the wobbly frame the membranes were stretched across. Sure enough, when you played music with bass or dynamics you could feel the frame move. If the frame is moving, the air is not. You're losing acoustic energy.

Determined to fix the problem, one fine weekend I had alone at home, I went to the lumber yard and purchased some 2x4's. I attached a couple of the boards to the wall behind the loudspeakers, running vertically. I then screwed another couple of 2x4" to the Acoustat frames and ran them back to the vertical boards on the rear wall. Attached to each other, this arrangement strengthened the frame in such a way that the dynamics and bass improved instantly. It didn't look great, but it sure sounded great!

I was so happy that when Terri arrived back home I sat her down to listen to the wonderful improvements my weekend's worth of work had wrought.

It probably didn't take more than a few hours before the speakers were for sale, the living room was back to normal and I was hunting for a pair of box speakers of considerably smaller size.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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