(*Mandatory fields)*Name*Email Address (must be valid to post review)
* Value Rating
(worth your money)
 
* Overall Rating
(money doesn't matter)
 
* How long have you used the product?    * Style that best describes you?

* What is the product model year?

* Review Summary

Characters Left

Product Image
Michael Green Designs Chameleon
5 Reviews
rating  4 of 5
MSRP 
Description: Variably Tunable Floor Standing Loudspeakers With Outboard Crossovers


Submit


Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating

Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by dochardee a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 1, 2002

Bottom Line:   
I'd like to be able to write a review. Been waiting a year on delivery. Be careful dealing with MGD in Nashville.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2001



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Tom Davis a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 26, 2001

Bottom Line:   
In reference to the four-driver comment below, the determing factor should be how they sound. The Chameleons are the best sounding speakers I have owned. It is difficult to decribe. They have a "presence" that produces musical realism better then any other speaker I have heard. The musical presentation is as real to live as I have heard in a home system. The SS is huge and deep. Detail within the stage is excellent. Instrument/vocal placement and tonal representation within the stage is spot on.

So much care is taken into the manufacture of these speakers. They are custom built to order. Michael Green personally supervises/participates in the voicing of each pair of Chameleons. He will not release a pair of Chameleons until it meets his personal standards. He considers the Chameleons "his babies". The cabinets are furniture quality.

At first glance the price of the Chameleons may look steep. However, on a price vs performance basis, they are a bargin.

Michael Green is often subjected to ridicule by the Audiophile establishment. His methods are so different then the commonly accepted audiophile practices. But his results are undeniable. I have done it both ways. I'm not going back.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $12000.00

Purchased At:   Michael Green Designs



Overall Rating:3
Submitted by ts a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: September 6, 1999

Bottom Line:   
$15,000 for four drivers total? You've got to be kidding me. MG might be a speaker designer, and even a good one, but he must be a marketing genius to sell these speakers.I'm waiting for Audio Advisor to carry these on "demo" or "closeout" trumpeting a 'regular' price of $15,000, and a one-time special deal of only $2000.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile



Overall Rating:5
Submitted by Jim Bookhard a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: September 6, 1999

Bottom Line:   
The Chameleon speakers, by Michael Green Designs, are difficult speakers to review because of the difficulty in finding the right words to describe the outstanding sonic characteristics of these speakers and (though, not quite as) the difficulty in describing their design principles. First, I'd like to get the design controversy of these speakers out of the way so that I can devote more time to it's performance. As probably most of you know, all of Michael Green's tunable speakers are designed in a manner which is contrary to every other dynamic speaker (that I know of) on the market today. Dynamic speaker design basically falls into two categories or camps. There are those manufacturers who believe that the way to design the perfect speaker is to reduce the resonance of every part of the speaker enclosure (and crossover board) to a minimum, with the use of dampening materials. Michael Green, on the contrary, believes in using the cabinet (and crossover board) resonance, in a synergistic way, to compliment the resonance of the drivers. This produces a sonic signature which is extremely neutral/accurate, but harmonically rich and very musical sounding. You can agree or disagree with either approach, but it's really the result of the final performance of the speaker which counts and both designs can produce credible results. In a word, the performance of the $15,000 per pair Chameleons is outstanding.
As I said, because of the difficulty to find words in today's "audiophile vocabulary" to describe the sonic characteristics of these speakers, I will first describe some of the design aspects of the speaker which lend to their "indescribably" good sonic nature. First the speaker enclosures are constructed using double veneered aged cherry pulp wood with rounded hardwood cherry borders around all edges. The Chameleons consist of four outer component parts -- the two tower enclosures with the mounted drivers and two outboard crossover racks (one for each of the towers) made of solid hardwood cherry. Speaker connections are made via metal screw terminals on the rear of the outboard crossover boards (no bi-amping nor bi-wiring -- Michael Green feels this is not the way to design a loudspeaker and is an unnecessary cost to consumers). Very thinly shielded umbilical cord-like solid core wires, from the crossover racks, then connect to the drivers inside the towers. The speaker consists of two drivers -- a modified soft dome silk tweeter and an 8" Kevlar driver. The overall dimensions of the speaker cabinet towers are 41"H x 17"D x 11 ½"W, resting on all solid hardwood bases which are 13 ½"W x 18 ½"D. On the outer side surfaces of each tower are four "tuning" bolts (two per side) whose functions I will describe later. "Inside" the cabinet there are two additional "tuning" bolts, again, whose functions I will describe when I talk about the speakers performance. Implementation in design of these speakers is consistent in all component parts -- not only do the cabinets have no dampening materials, but any dampening materials are also removed from the tweeters. The outboard hardwood crossover racks consist of two boards per rack with four support steel rods -- they look like miniature Michael Green Designs Justaracks, but the racks' hardwood boards are thin and the dimensions on mine are 18 ½ "D x 11 ½"W x ¼" thick . The overall height of the crossover racks is approximately 8" off the floor and have brass cone MTD resonance tuning devices for feet, steel support rods and brass caps on each rod protruding through the top board. The electronics are mounted on the lower board of the crossover rack and no hot glue (nor dampening materials) is used to mount the crossover components, just like the design of the towers.

The finish on the Chameleons is either Natural Cherry or Heritage (a dark cherry), at the purchaser's discretion. The fine satin finish (on both the cabinets and the crossover boards) is not overdone to the point where the wood is "totally" sealed from exposure to outside air to allow the cabinet to "breathe" and "age" properly. But, the cabinets are finished inside as well as outside. It's an interesting phenomenon to watch your speakers get more beautiful month after month, as the wood ages, and the grain comes through the wood more and more. This aging process adds not only beauty to the wood, but also richness and musicality to the harmonics as the aging process increases. Therefore the sonic performance capabilities of the speakers increase over time. Initial break-in is about two to three months to the point where the user can begin "tuning" the cabinets with the tuning bolts, but the speakers steadily increase in their performance and do not fully come into their own for about five years -- just like a musical instrument. In other words, this is one speaker which gets better with time. The "claim" to making their speakers like fine musical instruments is not just "words", but fact. I've owned a pair of their Studio 5's now for two years and I can attest to the fact that they sound better today than when I first purchased them -- they sound richer and more musical as time goes by.

The Chameleons, just like all of the MGD speakers, are voiced by ear ONLY from recorded music and are manufactured on a custom basis by customer. As a matter of fact, if you supply details about your room (building materials like wood, sheet rock, gypsum, concrete, etc.) and system, the speakers can be custom built to sonic preferences that you describe to MGD. And, I would recommend that anyone, interested in a pair of Chameleons, spend the time with their hotline discussing their listening preferences and providing details of their room/system. The Chameleons are also custom installed by MGD. Although I happen to have a fully tunable (racks, components, acoustical products and speakers) system designed by MGD, it is not necessary for anyone to also have a fully tunable system to appreciate these speakers nor think that they may not perform well in a system which is not fully tunable -- quite the contrary because of the variable tuning capabilities which are built into the design and allow system and room matching. The speakers are very efficient and are easily be driven by my 100 wpc Monarchy Audio SE-100 Delux monoblock amps.

During the initial break-in period, it is always best to break in any of the MGD speakers with the tuning bolts in the "open" (fully counterclockwise) position. This will allow the cabinet walls to "flex" and break in faster (and properly). You will know when it's time for fine tuning with the tuning bolts. Basically, the top most tuning bolts adjust the mid and upper frequencies and the lower tuning bolts adjust the lower bass frequencies. The two tuning bolts "inside" the cabinet actually reside inside a mass loading chamber, which may be mass loaded with five to eight pounds of lead shot or sand (I prefer lead shot because I think lead shot sounds better when used for mass loading, but that is a personal preference on my part). By adjusting these two tuning bolts "inside" the cabinet, it further allows you to adjust the mid bass (you can actually change the "pitch" like you would by tightening the skins on a drum) without adversely affecting the lower bass or the midrange/higher frequencies. Even after break-in, if it is necessary to adjust any of the tuning bolts, the tightening should be more on the "snug" side, at the most, versus "tight". Severely over tightening the tuning bolts can yield a "deadening" of the sound because you would be restricting the cabinet from resonating, which is one of the necessary principles of operation which makes for this speakers' outstanding performance.

I am truly am at a loss for words in describing these speakers performance because they do not develop harmonic structures like any other speaker that I've ever heard. I hate to use terms like "perfect" ( there is no such thing as the perfect loudspeaker or perfect component either), but that's what imaging, soundstaging, harmonic structures and overall coherence of sound appear to be in rendering a musical performance. The sound of these speakers is as close to live as I have ever heard from a home reproduction system.

Recently, I was in the piano department of a high end of a musical instrument store and although the sign said "Ask the salesman for assistance", I could not resist the temptation to strike a few notes. Upon striking a few notes on a $40,000 piano, what I noticed was the same quality of "sparkle", richness of harmonics, proper decay of notes and full development of the individual notes that I was also hearing on my Studio Chameleons at home. I also tried this same test on as many instruments as possible -- same result. This is why I said it's difficult to come up with words to describe these speakers. Since the age of 5 where I first learned to play the piano and had my first solo concert recital at the age of 6, I have been formally trained on four musical instruments, played in the orchestra throughout my youth only (regrettably today) to give it up because I wanted to play baseball, basketball and football more. But, every instrument in recordings (including commercial recordings, for the most part) is reproduced by the Chameleons in the same way that notes develop when you hear them live (or as close as can be reproduced in a home system environment). The harmonic structures are all in tact, the layering of instruments (as well as their individual ability to construct their different note structures) during complex musical passages is unsurpassed by anything I've heard in a speaker to date. But, let me add that I am not in the music nor audio industry, so I have not heard all the conventional speakers out there and I know there are many fine conventional speakers on the market and fine conventional playback systems. I think testimonies, in forums like this and others on the Internet, from everyday users can attest to just how far speaker (and component) technology has come and that there are many fine loudspeakers from many different manufacturers on the market. Whether the Chameleons are for you will be a personal choice. But, in order to give them a fair listen, I would suggest a trip to Michael Green Designs facility in Ohio and take a listen in one of their tunable rooms at their "Tune Villa" which is a state of the art facility which is being constructed to consist of a live amphitheater, a "variably tunable" recording studio (for any artists to use), tunable listening rooms, research facilities (for use by other manufacturers, reviewers, etc.) and manufacturing facilities for their loudspeakers. I am planning a trip later this month to gain more knowledge on system tuning, first hand. The Chameleon loudspeakers will reproduce cymbals, bells or other high frequency notes that will send chills through you with the sparkling harmonics that are reproduced. The midrange (voices and other instruments) is reproduced with naturalness and no mid bass influence nor chestiness in vocals. The deep bass, especially plucked or using a bow, is rich (and tight at the same time), sonorous and easy to follow bass lines even during complex passages. The speaker is capable of going down into the mid to low 20 Hz region. All I can say is that if you get an opportunity, have the funds and are looking for a top notch speaker that you will not have to "trade-up" for many years to come (if at all), I'd consider the Chameleons as a solid choice for the best of audio systems available, regardless of price. This speaker has my highest recommendation and, if anything, I've probably shortchanged it on any praise I've given it.

System Components:

MGD Modified Monarchy Audio SE-100 Delux Single Ended monoblock amps
MGD Modified Monarchy Audio 10A Silver Line Stage and Lehmann Black Cube Phono Stage
Oracle Delphi Mk. V w/SME V tonearm and Benz LO.4 cartridge
Parasound CD/X-88 CDP
Magnum Dynalab 101A analog tuner
Tice AC Branch Filter, Quantum Symphony Parallel Line Filter, Audio Prism Quietline filters
Kimber and MGD cables/interconnects
Tice PC-3 (amps) and API 313 (line stage) power cords
Michael Green Designs (MGD) Acoustical Pressure Zone Controllers
MGD Clampracks (clamping) for all electronic components except tuner
MGD MTD resonance tuning devices
LaserBase Component Stand For Turntable

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile



Overall Rating:5
Submitted by Jim Bookhard a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: September 6, 1999

Bottom Line:   
The Chameleon speakers, by Michael Green Designs, are difficult speakers to review because of the difficulty in finding the right words to describe the outstanding sonic characteristics of these speakers and (though, not quite as) the difficulty in describing their design principles. First, I'd like to get the design controversy of these speakers out of the way so that I can devote more time to it's performance. As probably most of you know, all of Michael Green's tunable speakers are designed in a manner which is contrary to every other dynamic speaker (that I know of) on the market today. Dynamic speaker design basically falls into two categories or camps. There are those manufacturers who believe that the way to design the perfect speaker is to reduce the resonance of every part of the speaker enclosure (and crossover board) to a minimum, with the use of dampening materials. Michael Green, on the contrary, believes in using the cabinet (and crossover board) resonance, in a synergistic way, to compliment the resonance of the drivers. This produces a sonic signature which is extremely neutral/accurate, but harmonically rich and very musical sounding. You can agree or disagree with either approach, but it's really the result of the final performance of the speaker which counts and both designs can produce credible results. In a word, the performance of the $15,000 per pair Chameleons is outstanding.
As I said, because of the difficulty to find words in today's "audiophile vocabulary" to describe the sonic characteristics of these speakers, I will first describe some of the design aspects of the speaker which lend to their "indescribably" good sonic nature. First the speaker enclosures are constructed using double veneered aged cherry pulp wood with rounded hardwood cherry borders around all edges. The Chameleons consist of four outer component parts -- the two tower enclosures with the mounted drivers and two outboard crossover racks (one for each of the towers) made of solid hardwood cherry. Speaker connections are made via metal screw terminals on the rear of the outboard crossover boards (no bi-amping nor bi-wiring -- Michael Green feels this is not the way to design a loudspeaker and is an unnecessary cost to consumers). Very thinly shielded umbilical cord-like solid core wires, from the crossover racks, then connect to the drivers inside the towers. The speaker consists of two drivers -- a modified soft dome silk tweeter and an 8" Kevlar driver. The overall dimensions of the speaker cabinet towers are 41"H x 17"D x 11 ½"W, resting on all solid hardwood bases which are 13 ½"W x 18 ½"D. On the outer side surfaces of each tower are four "tuning" bolts (two per side) whose functions I will describe later. "Inside" the cabinet there are two additional "tuning" bolts, again, whose functions I will describe when I talk about the speakers performance. Implementation in design of these speakers is consistent in all component parts -- not only do the cabinets have no dampening materials, but any dampening materials are also removed from the tweeters. The outboard hardwood crossover racks consist of two boards per rack with four support steel rods -- they look like miniature Michael Green Designs Justaracks, but the racks' hardwood boards are thin and the dimensions on mine are 18 ½ "D x 11 ½"W x ¼" thick . The overall height of the crossover racks is approximately 8" off the floor and have brass cone MTD resonance tuning devices for feet, steel support rods and brass caps on each rod protruding through the top board. The electronics are mounted on the lower board of the crossover rack and no hot glue (nor dampening materials) is used to mount the crossover components, just like the design of the towers.

The finish on the Chameleons is either Natural Cherry or Heritage (a dark cherry), at the purchaser's discretion. The fine satin finish (on both the cabinets and the crossover boards) is not overdone to the point where the wood is "totally" sealed from exposure to outside air to allow the cabinet to "breathe" and "age" properly. But, the cabinets are finished inside as well as outside. It's an interesting phenomenon to watch your speakers get more beautiful month after month, as the wood ages, and the grain comes through the wood more and more. This aging process adds not only beauty to the wood, but also richness and musicality to the harmonics as the aging process increases. Therefore the sonic performance capabilities of the speakers increase over time. Initial break-in is about two to three months to the point where the user can begin "tuning" the cabinets with the tuning bolts, but the speakers steadily increase in their performance and do not fully come into their own for about five years -- just like a musical instrument. In other words, this is one speaker which gets better with time. The "claim" to making their speakers like fine musical instruments is not just "words", but fact. I've owned a pair of their Studio 5's now for two years and I can attest to the fact that they sound better today than when I first purchased them -- they sound richer and more musical as time goes by.

The Chameleons, just like all of the MGD speakers, are voiced by ear ONLY from recorded music and are manufactured on a custom basis by customer. As a matter of fact, if you supply details about your room (building materials like wood, sheet rock, gypsum, concrete, etc.) and system, the speakers can be custom built to sonic preferences that you describe to MGD. And, I would recommend that anyone, interested in a pair of Chameleons, spend the time with their hotline discussing their listening preferences and providing details of their room/system. The Chameleons are also custom installed by MGD. Although I happen to have a fully tunable (racks, components, acoustical products and speakers) system designed by MGD, it is not necessary for anyone to also have a fully tunable system to appreciate these speakers nor think that they may not perform well in a system which is not fully tunable -- quite the contrary because of the variable tuning capabilities which are built into the design and allow system and room matching. The speakers are very efficient and are easily be driven by my 100 wpc Monarchy Audio SE-100 Delux monoblock amps.

During the initial break-in period, it is always best to break in any of the MGD speakers with the tuning bolts in the "open" (fully counterclockwise) position. This will allow the cabinet walls to "flex" and break in faster (and properly). You will know when it's time for fine tuning with the tuning bolts. Basically, the top most tuning bolts adjust the mid and upper frequencies and the lower tuning bolts adjust the lower bass frequencies. The two tuning bolts "inside" the cabinet actually reside inside a mass loading chamber, which may be mass loaded with five to eight pounds of lead shot or sand (I prefer lead shot because I think lead shot sounds better when used for mass loading, but that is a personal preference on my part). By adjusting these two tuning bolts "inside" the cabinet, it further allows you to adjust the mid bass (you can actually change the "pitch" like you would by tightening the skins on a drum) without adversely affecting the lower bass or the midrange/higher frequencies. Even after break-in, if it is necessary to adjust any of the tuning bolts, the tightening should be more on the "snug" side, at the most, versus "tight". Severely over tightening the tuning bolts can yield a "deadening" of the sound because you would be restricting the cabinet from resonating, which is one of the necessary principles of operation which makes for this speakers' outstanding performance.

I am truly am at a loss for words in describing these speakers performance because they do not develop harmonic structures like any other speaker that I've ever heard. I hate to use terms like "perfect" ( there is no such thing as the perfect loudspeaker or perfect component either), but that's what imaging, soundstaging, harmonic structures and overall coherence of sound appear to be in rendering a musical performance. The sound of these speakers is as close to live as I have ever heard from a home reproduction system.

Recently, I was in the piano department of a high end of a musical instrument store and although the sign said "Ask the salesman for assistance", I could not resist the temptation to strike a few notes. Upon striking a few notes on a $40,000 piano, what I noticed was the same quality of "sparkle", richness of harmonics, proper decay of notes and full development of the individual notes that I was also hearing on my Studio Chameleons at home. I also tried this same test on as many instruments as possible -- same result. This is why I said it's difficult to come up with words to describe these speakers. Since the age of 5 where I first learned to play the piano and had my first solo concert recital at the age of 6, I have been formally trained on four musical instruments, played in the orchestra throughout my youth only (regrettably today) to give it up because I wanted to play baseball, basketball and football more. But, every instrument in recordings (including commercial recordings, for the most part) is reproduced by the Chameleons in the same way that notes develop when you hear them live (or as close as can be reproduced in a home system environment). The harmonic structures are all in tact, the layering of instruments (as well as their individual ability to construct their different note structures) during complex musical passages is unsurpassed by anything I've heard in a speaker to date. But, let me add that I am not in the music nor audio industry, so I have not heard all the conventional speakers out there and I know there are many fine conventional speakers on the market and fine conventional playback systems. I think testimonies, in forums like this and others on the Internet, from everyday users can attest to just how far speaker (and component) technology has come and that there are many fine loudspeakers from many different manufacturers on the market. Whether the Chameleons are for you will be a personal choice. But, in order to give them a fair listen, I would suggest a trip to Michael Green Designs facility in Ohio and take a listen in one of their tunable rooms at their "Tune Villa" which is a state of the art facility which is being constructed to consist of a live amphitheater, a "variably tunable" recording studio (for any artists to use), tunable listening rooms, research facilities (for use by other manufacturers, reviewers, etc.) and manufacturing facilities for their loudspeakers. I am planning a trip later this month to gain more knowledge on system tuning, first hand. The Chameleon loudspeakers will reproduce cymbals, bells or other high frequency notes that will send chills through you with the sparkling harmonics that are reproduced. The midrange (voices and other instruments) is reproduced with naturalness and no mid bass influence nor chestiness in vocals. The deep bass, especially plucked or using a bow, is rich (and tight at the same time), sonorous and easy to follow bass lines even during complex passages. The speaker is capable of going down into the mid to low 20 Hz region. All I can say is that if you get an opportunity, have the funds and are looking for a top notch speaker that you will not have to "trade-up" for many years to come (if at all), I'd consider the Chameleons as a solid choice for the best of audio systems available, regardless of price. This speaker has my highest recommendation and, if anything, I've probably shortchanged it on any praise I've given it.

System Components:

MGD Modified Monarchy Audio SE-100 Delux Single Ended monoblock amps
MGD Modified Monarchy Audio 10A Silver Line Stage and Lehmann Black Cube Phono Stage
Oracle Delphi Mk. V w/SME V tonearm and Benz LO.4 cartridge
Parasound CD/X-88 CDP
Magnum Dynalab 101A analog tuner
Tice AC Branch Filter, Quantum Symphony Parallel Line Filter, Audio Prism Quietline filters
Kimber and MGD cables/interconnects
Tice PC-3 (amps) and API 313 (line stage) power cords
Michael Green Designs (MGD) Acoustical Pressure Zone Controllers
MGD Clampracks (clamping) for all electronic components except tuner
MGD MTD resonance tuning devices
LaserBase Component Stand For Turntable

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile




Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating