Carver Audio ALS-III Floorstanding Speakers

ALS-III

2 way ribbon w/ 10in ported woofer, 48in ribbon

User Reviews (41)

Showing 1-10 of 41  
BernieD   AudioPhile [Sep 11, 2013]

Really, it's what you like that determines if these are the speakers for you.
For me - the bass is a bit overwhelming, the lower mids are outstanding, the mid range somewhat congested, and the highs are less than transparent and revealing. They are a little shrill, or even fizzy, but then roll off to early. This compared with much more expensive panel speakers, Quads, Martin Logans, higher end Magnepans, as well as good quality dynamic types, B&W, Proac, etc., so perhaps not fair. I only mention it because you read these rave reviews about the best speaker ever made, etc. and I disagree.
They don't have "pin point" imaging, but rather as alluded to in other reviews, more of a The Sound is Everywhere, type presentation. If you prefer that - great! If you prefer to be able to pick out where an instrument was in an orchestra, how far back or in front of the string section; that sort of thing - well these won't make you happy.
The image tends to be BIG and vague.
what they do right - One of the best lower mid range, and outside of the bass being disconnected from the ribbon in sound, are quite homogenous from low to high. Vocals are close to being right on in mass, but not quite open sounding on single vocals. Danny Boy on The Best Of Groove Note, for example is just not HER(Jacintha Abisheganaden), it's harmonically just slightly off. Jacintha Abisheganaden....what a vocalist!
What they do wrong - thumpy bass and they roll off too early. Pretty much your old poorly optimized bass reflex sound, and overbearing for dipole ribbon type panels.
The highs, despite all of the response shaping attempted by Bob Carver and his crew, were never very good. In fact, and imo, a good quality dome tweeter will be lower in distortion, smoother, faster, and more extended.
The upper mid range is also a little off. It's hard to be specific, but it's as though the response has some aberrations that have not been resolved, and also as though there are some time domain issues, the sort of thing that would show up on a waterfall plot. This comes off as a less than open and natural sound. See above comment about vocals.

Taken as a whole - they can be visually stunning(as long as you can't see the backs), they have a massive presentation, they are fairly accurate, and do a fairly good job in larger rooms. They are NOT a speaker for everyone, and really accomplished listeners may become annoyed by their shortcomings, even though they do some things so well. If you listen to mainly Rock, Hip Hop, etc. You'll be happy. If you listen to background type music, you'll be happy. If you listen to jazz Quartets.... You will likely want something else. Large orchestral works.. some happy, some not.
I give them a 4 star value, and a 3 overall. BernieD.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
sb6   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 23, 2010]

I bought these about 3 years ago and was awestruck when I heard them demoed. Between the clarity, spaciousness of sounds, clear articulation, and ample bass, it tool me about 10 minutes to fork over under $1,000 for them. Please be warned, they do require lots of power, but when you give them what they need, they sing like non other for the price point. Truly a steal that's rare to find nowadays!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jim and Tootie   AudioPhile [Jan 20, 2005]
Strength:

Best speaker for the money and one of the beat period that you can own.

Weakness:

Need strong clean amp and good sized room.

I have always been impressed by plannar speaker sound so when I stopped in at my local audio store they had the Carvers on sale and took my Paradigm monitors on trade for what I paid. So I only had to pay $1100 for a brand new pair in 1993.I agree with all the comments about these speakers. My electronics at that time were very high end. Audio Research D90B modified tube amp and a SP9MKII preamp. While this amp was only 90W/RMS it produced massive current due to huge capacitors and transformers. Theses made the Carvers sing. So better amps will only make them sound better. The bass is excellent. You do not need subwoofers. One more note. This product was named as one of the top 50 speaker designs of all time. So they are rapidly becoming collecters items. Currnet ribbon speakers are cost prohibitive and do not sound much different than the Carvers.

Similar Products Used: Dahlquist DQ10
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Anthony Luke   AudioPhile [Dec 09, 2003]
Strength:

pen natural sound. Great for classical to Heavy House Grooves. Plays louder than live and great for low level baroque pieces and jazz trios.

Weakness:

Moving the Suckers

great speakers. Hands down one of the best for the money. Paired up with good cables and a great cd player one is in sonic nirvana. The open natural sound is intoxicating. Martin Logans are only slighly better... but for a whole lot more. Oneis able to pick out each intrument and there location within the sinic field. Amazing!! Get kimber silver streak cables. They are a perfect match for the carvers.

Similar Products Used: tried 'em all.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jay   AudioPhile [Jul 23, 2003]
Strength:

Imaging. Presence. Vocal reproduction. Bass punch. Clarity. They have it all.

Weakness:

Size. Weight. Power hungry. Sound somewhat 'distant' at low volume levels. Hard to find nowadays ... no one wants to sell~!! Look for the new ALS 5's due out shortly from the newly reborn Carver, with Bob Carver back at the helm where he belongs~!!

I've owned speakers from a variety of manufacturers over the years ... Pinnacle, Polk, KLH, AR, Realistic, and so on. Never had an electrostatic or a ribbon, though I've heard Martin Logans and Maggies, and like their transparency, among other traits. Recently purchased a set of the ALS III+'s and all I can say is "wow". I read EVERY review I could find before deciding this would be my next set of speakers. I bought them without even hearing them based upon what I had read. There is very sound theory behind using a minimal number of drivers to cover the entire audible range. No phase shift between drivers. Smoother response. Less glare, etc, etc, not to mention the dipole radiation pattern gives a nature 'air' as it most closely approximates the way sound emanates in a live environment. All of it simply makes sense. In a nutshell: The Carvers are awesome. They're also hungry, feed them sufficient good clean power and they will reward you with the sound you've probably been looking for. They sing like angels. These ARE the real deal. I think I'm in love~!! (lol)

Similar Products Used: AR, Polk, Pinnacle, KLH, Realistic, etc.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Robert Glover, II   Audiophile [Dec 24, 1999]
Strength:

Best sound quality obtainable in this price range
Very wide soundstage

Weakness:

Power hungry (not a problem for me). Bi-amping is the ONLY way to do it!

I have owned these speaker for almost 3 years, and wouldn't trade them for the world! I just purchased another set for the rear channel of my home theater. I can't wait until they get here. What can I say about these speakers? They're tall, about 6 feet tall, with the longest ribbon tweeter ever built. The sound quality is uncomparable in this price range ($2000/pair). To be honest, you'd have to spend at least double that to approach the quality of these speakers. They have a very wide soundstage, with realistic tones. You won't need a subwoofer for a high-quality home theater, or audio sound. Trust me on that. Buy some spikes for them if you've got them on carpet, though. I'm running these speakers with two vintage Yamaha M-85 power amplifiers, into 4 ohms. Total wattage per channel (RMS) is around 500-650 watts. I'd suggest at least 300wpc. My suggestion: If you ever see a pair of these HAND BUILT speakers for sale, get them!

Similar Products Used: Martin Logan
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mike Alvarez   Audiophile [Mar 28, 2000]
Strength:

Extremely detailed sound, exacting sound stage imaging, airy tranparent colorless sound.

Weakness:

none

I have them bi-amped with 2 carver TFM15-CB power amps for a total of 400 watts; they will play quite loud with this but sometimes I wish I had a little more power anyway. I added a Sunfire sub but then the bass was ridiculous. I took it off. The ALIIIs don't need a sub. They sound better than headphones. Put in a CD and BAM! you're there in the performance, in the music, not the gear. I'm impressed.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Kevin   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 20, 2001]
Strength:

Imaging, dynamics, presence.

Weakness:

None

The ALSIII+'s were purchased 2nd hand out of the local newspaper. The original owner took obvious good care of these speakers and was driving them with a big Adcom amp. I had been using Vandersteen 2ce's for about 4 years but always wanted a dynamic/ribbon loudspeaker since hearing several of the Apogee line years ago. Don't get me wrong, I like the Vandersteen product line alot and still own 'em!

Like all audio 'types' we get the urge to move on and try new stuff. Well, sometimes used is just as good and this is what I have found with the Carvers.

Soaring vocals, sizzling hi-hats, fat tasty horns, articulate basslines and sometimes jaw dropping performances out of well recorded music. Of course, lousy stuff sounds lousy :) but it ain't the speakers fault! What many will not believe is the associated components now being used with the ALSIIIs:

Rotel 800 series cd player
B&K ST 140 amp!
B&K Pro? 5 preamp!
Onkyo tuner
Audioquest type '4' cables, bi-wired.
Audioquest interconnects (da cheep ones)

I listen to mostly alternative, brit, psychedelic, garage rock as well as modern jazz, a little classical and other modern stuff like Radiohead, REM, Maniacs, Cowboy Junkies, Oasis, Who, Stones, Beatles etc etc etc. As I said, well recorded music sounds great even on this budget system. Yes, if we rock out, the amp gets hot. But at low to moderate levels the little B&K holds up really well!

Find a pair of these 6' monsters and be prepared to be blown away. I am 110% satisfied. Nuf Ced.

Similar Products Used: Merlin, Vandersteen
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Richard Gathers   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 11, 2001]
Weakness:

I found no weakness in these jewels.

I was amazed by these speakers. I was not a Carver fan until I heard them. These speakers are very easy to power. You can hear every note, the instrutments being played individually, and together. I have a fairly large room where these are setup and they do the room justice. They are bi-amp with two 1962 1568 Altec-Lansing Vacuum Tube ampliers on the ribbons and a Carver TFM 25 on the bottom end. I did powered them with the Altec's(40 watts per ch)when I first got them. These amps had no problems powering them. Later on I got the TFM 25, so I bi-amp. Very pleasing sound from these speakers. Of all the speaker I've had these by far are best.

Similar Products Used: Klipsch corner horns, Kef 104's, AR 9's,Krell KSA 100 amp
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Scott   Audio Enthusiast [May 19, 2000]
Strength:

Clarity, Openness, Soundstage, Power

Weakness:

Room needed for speaker placement

After upgrading to the Lexicon MC-1, I had been in the market for a 3rd pair of ALIII+ speakers for the sides so as to benefit from the 7.1 Logic 7 capability of the MC-1. I finally found them. The only tough part on the sides was figuring out speaker placement. With a fairly narrow room I could not put them out from the side walls the 3-4 feet necessary. I have them slightly forward of the listening position and angled in at about a 35 degree angle next to the wall. This seems to be the best angle to get the side speakers to perform their magic. The front and rear speakers are about 40 inches out from the walls behind them. The ALIII+ speakers only have a sweet spot when they are not positioned properly. When positioned correctly, there is no sweet spot! When the sound sounds like it is coming from behind the speaker, then you have them placed correctly. When positioned correctly, the sound is everywhere! The front speakers are biamped with two Carver A-760x amps. The side speakers are biamped with two Carver A-760x amps. The rears are biamped as well, having an
A-760x for the ribbons and an A-753x for the woofers. The third channel of the A-753x powers the center channel. Also use a Velodyne F1800-RII though if you don't have a sub with these speakers it is not the end of the world. The ALIII+, I think, is quite good in the bass department. For center I currently use a Von Schweikert LCR-31 but have been looking for a ribbon center speaker that is better timber matched to the ALIII+. I have found it! All of you check out http://www.soundlineaudio.com/html/product_5.html I have not gotten to hear this speaker yet but am getting ready for an in-theater trial. I have powered the ALIII+ with an A-760x and in my opinion it was not enough power. When you biamp these speakers they come to life. You can't appreciate it until you hear the difference that bi-amping makes. I thought they sounded great with the one amp, but with two per pair, they sound better the louder they are played. I would put these speakers up against any out there at any price.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 41  

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