I've owned the Circe's for about 3 months now and am fast closing in on a final placement and appraisal. These speakers replaced a pair of Martin-Logan CLSIIZ's, which I owned for about 8 years. I dearly loved the CLS's for their transparency and ability to transport the listener into the concert hall or jazz club. But they lacked impact in the bass and midrange, which led to a deficit of flesh on the instruments, if you will.
Unlike the electrostatic CLS's, the Circe's are dynamic speakers. But like the CLS's, the Circe's are dipolar in the tweeter and midrange (but not in the bass). So careful placement away from walls is still required. I found that placement of the Circe's was almost as critical as with the CLS's and ended up with the speakers about 6 feet from the back wall and 3.5 feet from the side walls (in my 14 x 20 foot room), very slightly toed in toward the listening chair about 6.5 feet back from the plane of the speakers. Prior to installing the Circe's, my room contained 10 tube traps. In order to optimize the Circe's, three of ten tube traps had to be removed.
One of the Circe's major strengths is its midrange. Horns, singers, and guitarists just sound right. To my ears, the midrange tonality of the Circe's is just about perfect. There is also a great deal more flesh on the instruments than with the CLS's. Bass is excellent, maybe even a bit too generous. (I don't understand how a previous reviewer can claim that the Circe's have no bass. Quite the opposite!) Dynamics is also excellent, with trumpets having a very nice leading edge (while the CLS's tend to round everything off a bit and damp down the dynamics). The integration between the bass and dipolar midrange+tweeter is also excellent. Like the CLS's, these speakers are very transparent and instrumentalists sound like they are in the room with you.
In the negative column, the speakers are physically not as beautiful (IMO) as the CLS's. Image depth is excellent but not quite up to the standards of the CLS's (I can hear about 9 feet into the soundstage on test CD's, whereas the CLS's could discriminate between 9 and 12 feet). Whereas the Circe's sound phenomenal on LP's, they tend to show up the shortcomings of poorly-recorded source material more than did the CLS's. But maybe those shortcomings are just highlighted more in comparison with their exemplary performance on well-recorded material.
To summarize, I really like these speakers. But after only 3 months, I haven't yet developed the passion for the Circe's that I held for the CLS's. (In fact, the Circe's make me appreciate more what the CLS's could achieve at a much lower price). Nonetheless, I feel that the Circe's have a greater capacity to grow (with upgrades to source components and electronics) than do the CLS's.
Equipment used with the Circe's: ARC Classic 120 monoblocks, SFL-2 preamp, Discovery Essential triwire speaker cable, SW virtuoso interconnects.
I am basicaly a SE 300B tube lover. After years of Klipsch Scala's and Carry SE 300B listening and still loving it I decided to try a non horn system. I bought the Circe's and drove it first with the 300B's on the med and high and a Bryston solid state on the bass. I could not believe the tiny, lack of air and dead sound I got! Compare to the huge and lively sound from my Klipsch I was aghast! I first though that maybe it was due to the lack of power. So I tried driving them with the fantastic Audio Fidelity Nuvistor thinking that their 300w per channel would alive them. Not at all. Bass was more present but the lower mid to high were still thin. It sounded as I was listening to a mass market Technics gear! I discussed it with other audiophiles but to no conclusion. Seems I will have to get rid of them! Help!
I have been an owner of Circes for just a week but they are really speakers to die for, so I can't resist leaving a feed.
1. BASSES are better than very good. I have never supposed how deep basses are there on ELP albums. However, I don't tend to claim them to be "perfect." Anyway, forget a subwoofer purchase plan if you are going to buy this Alon product.
2. MIDS: I don't want to be pretentious but mid frequencies are really perfect. Have nothing to add. Period.
3. TREBLE: Excellent! I cannot imagine a speaker with better reproduction of high frequencies.
4. STEREO EFFECT is perceptible in the front of the speakers, up to 5 feet aside as well as between and even behind them.
5. LISTENING FATIGUE is very low if not absent at all.
6. Sound is absolutely TRANSPARENT: Earlier I had to contemplate where the musicians were located; now, with Circes, I have to concentrate to find the location of the speakers.
7. SOUNDSTAGE is amazingly wide: I've caught myself quite a few times that sounds come from the point up to 5 feet aside the speakers. Circes simply deceive my cat. When I play a piece with a quiet beginning, he cannot recognize where the sounds come from. He looks at the door, at the ceiling and only then at a speaker. How deep the soundstage is depends entirely on the speakers' location. The farther you move the speakers from the back wall the deeper is audio perspective.
8. RESOLUTION is stunning. I can discern nuances I have never been able to suppose existing on some recordings.
9. DYNAMICS in my opinion is superb. However, I did not try to break the walls using this kind of an air-moving device. What I can definitely say is that music sounds quite natural on both high volumes (so that it's completely impossible to talk) and low volumes (so that I can forget my headphones because I can comfortably listen to my favorite music even at 3-4 a.m. without hurting my neighbors).
10. Circes are SENSITIVE to week production. My current CD-player is equipped with a processor able to emulate a hall, a church, a stadium, etc., It seems now that I have to give up these features for nearly always the sound gets intolerable. Don't take me wrong. I was afraid to listen to Jefferson Airplane early tracks because the sound might turn out to be poor. Nothing of a kind! Sure 24 bit mastering is a lot better, but I can only say Circes are relatively revealing.
11. COMPARISON: Compared to Alon Circes Martin Logan Sounds like a boombox, ProAc Response 3.8 and Tannoy Edinburg recall shelf speakers... In brief, if you want sound reproduction similar to Circes (or better) prepare to pay trice as much.
This product is recommended for any music lover who can afford 12 grand. However, rap and heavy metal addicts can spare a lot of money by choosing something else.
I had the pleasure of attending HiFi '99 a few months back. Spent a lot of time there and listened to many of the products, but as I think back today only one experience remains quite vivid - listening to the Circe. On that particular day, I had the chance to listen to these speakers for some time with a wide variety of music and they blew me away. I've been an audio enthusiast of varying zeal for 15 years now. I've spent time at various dealers looking for the best I could put together within my budget. I've listened to Wilson Watts, Witts and Cubs, to B&W Matrix & Nautilus 801s, 802s, 805s, to Thiel 7s, 6s, 5s, 3s and 2s, to Aerial 10s, 8s, 7s, to Proac 4s, 3s, 2s, and the list goes on (all combined with superior equipment). I'll be the first to admit that I listened under different conditions, with different recordings, in different rooms, on different days, to different systems, etc..., but no system ever put me in touch with the emotional texture of the music as the Circe did, within that system on that day. Nothing has been even close. The same day I listened to the new Sonus Faber Amati Homage - fabulous speaker without a doubt. That day it could not do what the Circe could do. I can't afford the Circe, or the equipment I'd need to bring out their best. If I could, they'd be number one on the upgrade list. Now, I could talk about the bass, and the midrange, and the shimmering treble, but I'm no equipment reviewer. I'm just the average guy who loves music, and what I love about music is the way it makes me feel. The Circe allowed me to revel in that feeling better than any other speaker I've ever heard; they are all about the music. If they're within your price range, I would not buy another apeaker without hearing the Circe first.