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Most of my long time readers know of my love/hate relationship with electrostatic loudspeakers. I've owned many but never kept one for too long. I am love with their clarity and window-like see-through qualities, but turned off by their lack of dynamics and their head-in-a-vice requirements. In particular their lack of dynamics. Electrostats haven't any magnets. Instead, they use the same forces that stand hair on end and balloons to stick to your skin. High voltages provide electromotive forces to move objects. In the case of an electrostatic speaker, the moving object is a large plastic membrane used to pressurize the air with music. Problem is, power amplifiers don't make high voltages, and this is where our old friend the step-up transformer comes into play. Electrostatic loudspeakers couple their plates through step-up transformers that raise the incoming voltages significantly. From small Quads to massive Martin Logans, transformers provide voltage levels similar to those that zap your finger on staticy days. Transformers are everywhere: almost as pervasive as the wires that connect our world. Transformers isolate, step up, step down, store, release, and couple anything and everything electric. My thanks to the men whose work brought us this marvelous device: Hans Christian Ørsted, Francesco Zantedeschi, Michael Faraday, Ottó Bláthy, Miksa Déri and Károly Zipernowsky.
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Paul McGowan

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