ESS AMT 1B Floorstanding Speakers

ESS AMT 1B Floorstanding Speakers 

DESCRIPTION

Floor Standing, front and rear firing speaker system

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 103  
[Apr 18, 2017]
Phil Clark
AudioPhile

Have had my ESS AMT's since 2004 and have gradually been improving due to some built in design flaws, most of which are bass driver and crossover related. First thing to go was the Bass driver...replaced by a taiwanese made kevlar bass driver ( 4 ohm design to match crossover values and also efficiency match to the Heils. This lasted a few months before getting stuck into the crossover and replacing with polyprops and also adjusting the values to close up the hole that exists at the crossover point. This obviously requires some calcs and common sense and blackmagic "feel for it" guesswork. I had better mention that mine are AMT1a's and don't have a passive built in and are ported instead. Final change thou is the one that really made some impact. Connected underneath each cabinet now is a subwoofer and crossover inside and the 2 x Kef bass driver ( total 4 ohm to match efficiency) and 2 x Kef passives in each lower cabinet with crossover at 150 hz - then the Taiwanese Kevlar bass driver does upper bass ( approx 200 hz up) and lower midrange to about 900 hz. The Heil takes off at about 1000 hz. Perfectly calculated 12 db crossovers are used throughout as have found any greater roll off removes too much dynamics no matter what...12 db is acceptable and the pros outweigh the cons. The upper bass cabinet with the 10 inch Kevlar is now a sealed cabinet and the damping material has increased so its almost full of damping wadding ( mix of poly fibre and wool now). One last mod thou is interesting and that is the standing wave effect of the shape of the large heil...I have placed thin felt, stick on panels to the front and rear 45 degree inner surfaces on the hanging Heil
(using bungee cord hanging from an alloy frame shaped around the heil - to eliminate microphony, forgot to mention earlier) ...anyway the thin felt panels front and back dampen the reflecting waves that would happen due to the hard reflective 45 degree surface. This means now that I run the heil on its max setting on the crossover due to reduced efficiency but the slight harsh hi end that is always there on all large heils has disappeared. This last mod is a fix that everybody who has a large heil should try out...also the hanging heil is another fantastic mod that should be looked at as well...After all this, the ESS cabinet can still have its cover on and it looks pretty much the same as it did when it came out the factory although all ESS 1's should be stand mounted as the speaker is just a bit too low on the floor by itself. Having the Keff loaded bass cabinet underneath raises speaker up to about the right amount...Have done 2 x set now to this spec and other friend and myself are very happy with the final product. All glitches with the original design are eliminated and these are sound like light at all frequencies now - not just the top end...
Thanks and hope that this helps other people to realise what these speakers are capable of.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 31, 2017]
Nicko
Audio Enthusiast

I grew up with AMT 1b's in the house and have never heard another loudspeaker that compares for music. I finally picked up a pair for myself (AMT 1a's) and could not be more satisfied with the purchase. As many others have mentioned, you'd be hard pressed to find a better speaker for the money and perhaps at any price.

These excell at creating a wide sound stage, are incredibly efficient and can play very loud with outstanding clarity. My old man fed these with a 70's Onkyo 60w/ch, I've used an entry level pioneer vsx822 av reciever and I currently use an old Yamaha M45 120w/ch. All were more than adequate. The system gets loud driven with just 1w and I have not been able to tolerate above 60w letting em stretch their legs.

While these provide satisfying, well defined, floor shaking, chest pounding bass; they don't have the low extension of a good powered sub in a modern system. Consequently, they're not as revelatory when listening to modern music with electronic bass engineered to kick the crap out of a sub woofer or av applications in my opinion. Outside this caveat, a wide range of electronic and all acoustic instruments are reproduced exceptionally.

Another consideration with the low pass is room acoustics. The AMT sounds great in every room I've listened in, however, the room can have a remarkable effect on the woofer/radiator combo. When I picked up the 1a's I was disappointed to the point I thought there was something wrong with them. After moving them to a bedroom with carpet and a mattress I was blown away by how much better they sounded. After buying a large heavy rug and some more furniture I've got em sounding great in my listening room. While you can coax some incredibly satisfying bass out of these, I have not dealt with such pronounced room variance with modern subs.

These are available today new from Ess for $4400 a pair with the classic styling or updated cabinets.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Apr 05, 2016]
1mooseknuckle
Audio Enthusiast

I recently met a guy on Craigslist that I bought a vintage Pioneer Reel to Reel from that mentioned that he had an old pair of ESS AMT 1b's that needed to be repaired and he might be willing to part with them in the future. He saved my number and low and behold he called about six weeks later. He said he was moving and needed to clear some space and wondered if I was still interested in the speakers, I said of course and how much did he want for them? He responded $150.00 for the pair. I was at his house before I set down the phone. Fast forward 3 weeks and a little elbow grease and some newly re-foamed speakers and radiators and presto! Like new speakers for less than $400. I placed them in my theater room that is walled with soundproofing for acoustic balance, plugged in the speakers, lit the amp, and put in a classic Van Morison CD and the magic happened. I do not profess to be an audiophile or be capable of explaining every little nuance, but I can tell you this... Listening to these speakers makes me want to rush home to listen to all my music again. And in many cases it's like hearing it for the first time. I guess having two subs supporting the low end may have an impact, but the base produced by these speakers is definitely distinguishable from the subs so together they make beautiful highs and lows with a clarity I've never before experienced.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 22, 2015]
Eduardo Pascuale
AudioPhile

I have used the ESS AMT 1b, ESS Rock Monitor, and ESS AMT Monitors since 1979. AMT tweeters are the HF driver to use in any serious loudspeaker and monitor designs. Many reviews here are very old. To update, have a Google at AMT/Heil tweeters to see how many manufacturers have seen the light. The revelation starts with how one has entered into the HiFi realm. If you were raised on a diet of dome, ribbon, planar, and compression horns your brain may not grasp the AMT's immediately. To see what you have been missing just refrain from listening for a 30 day stint, I would barely make it, and then begin to listen to a AMT equipped speaker equivalent to price range of your existing speakers to level the playing field. Listen to all your favorites that you know every nuance to for 30 straight days of dedicated listening. Most (without substantial hearing loss) will rediscover their music collection within the first two weeks. At the end of the 30 day all AMT listening, hook your non-AMT speakers back up and go through your music collection again. It will be readily apparent that so much is now missing when listening to your non-AMT equipped speakers. AMT's have immediate/instantaneous response, with a what is put in comes out. Keeping this in mind there are faults with the matching of woofers in ESS' original designs. SPL is one, as ESS did not mate a quality LF unit to the AMT with near the sensitivity or the transient response to match the AMT. Keep in mind that you only gain 1db loudness when amplifier wattage doubles, so when all say there is a definite difference when there is a 3db gap between drivers, they mean it. To match a woofer to the AMT look for a 8 to 10 inch driver with a Le of .35 or lower, and voila.....AMT heavens gates open up. Some here that curse the AMT with utterances of detail/accuracy, there is no more detail and accuracy than immediacy with the Heil AMT tweeters. I too once sought detail and accuracy. When I put together my Yamaha CX 1000 pre amp, MX 1000 amp, and NS 1000 speakers there were right ther in spades. Yet it only took a couple of days to realize this is not what I wanted. I ended up hating my music collection. It exposed all the flaws of recordings. Showed me that only the big names in music could be assigned/afford a sound engineer that could provide a truly good recording in the studio. Every audio enthusiast needs to introduce our younger generation to real HiFi instead of the LoFi, NoFi, and ChiFi that is out there today such as earbuds, Beats "Pill" etc. streaming horribly compressed music that in no way conveys emotion, meaning, or thrill of MUSIC. CES show planners should allow ALL children and youths in for free. These are the future of HiFi, consumers, researchers, and possibly even performers. Otherwise HiFi will die with the generations that know and truly appreciate real High Fidelity music playback. For now it is amazing to see so many manufacturers making and using AMT tweeters in their designs. I love the AMT tweeter speakers for all leisure/semi-critical listening, but still prefer Horn designs when I crank things up to concert levels. My 10 watt Air Tight Amp with the cornerhorns is still magical. All in all still buy with your ears, not your eyes. Everyone has different taste in music and preferences in sound of playback, so don't be swayed.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 19, 2015]
Roger
AudioPhile

I read every one of the reviews here, because on getting these speakers into the workshop for repair of the cone surrounds and passive radiators for the owner a friend, I was stunned by the detail of the Heils, and the firm controlled bass down to very low frequencies. I went looking for info on what exactly I had found. After listening some more and reading all those reviews to see if I should believe my ears I ended up buying them from the owner for $600 Ca. They are the 1B model which has crossover control via two pots one for midrange presence and the other for Brilliance. I found online ESS have posted the circuit diagrams for these crossovers and all the early AMT speakers using the Heils. Notably the new reformed ESS company is also building these speakers again almost 40 years later at a price of $4400 a pair with what appears to be essentially the same arrangement as the past. Go figure ! Replacement parts are also available to repair Heils and perished speaker cones and surrounds.

The vast majority of reviews here tell the story,these are wonderful speakers and if found used, worth restoring and then treasuring and listening to perhaps for the rest of your life as many of the owners here already are. .

For all the fussing audiophile people do with audio gear, turntables, amps, wires and CD players etc nothing can make as much difference to the end sound as a pair of really good speakers like these, properly placed in a good room. The fact you can still find these for a few hundred bucks should wake everyone up to the fact that an audiophile level steal is still possible.

The criticism of some good ears in the reviews here is that in really crowded music content there is a loss of detail in the lower mids due to the use of the Heil down at such a low crossover ( 800 Hz). Some claim there is a large frequency " hole " between the two drivers. but others contradict this. Numerous very serious audiophiles review and rate the Heil transformer as one of the very best tweeters EVER.

For myself Im just sitting back and enjoying all my music anew.

Thanks to this site for the encouragement !



OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Aug 28, 2015]
kirb marriott
Audio Enthusiast

Had a pair about a month, then found DQ 10 it was over. good speaker for its time.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
[Jun 24, 2015]
Shawn
AudioPhile

I own a pair of the original AMT 1's. Not the A, B, C, or D models with the 12" and passive radiator. Mine have 10" drivers in ported cabinets. Aside from that, the differences between mine and the A's and B's are minor.
These are some of the most honest speakers you're ever going to hear. The air-motion transformer on any AMT 1 is extremely clear and uncolored all the way down to 800 Hz. The complaint you often hear about the AMT 1 line is that the woofer can keep up with the air-motion transformer, which is true, especially for the models with 12" woofers. This is hardly a glaring flaw, however, and shouldn't be overstated as such. There is no such thing as a functionally massless woofer and that's what it would take to match the AMT. Bass is solid, balanced, and crisp overall. The models sporting the 12" gain lower bass extension at the cost of speed and accuracy whereas the 10" ported model drops off sharply below 45 Hz.
These are speakers I'd put up against the best names and find comparable, if not better. Numerous companies are making knock-offs of the air-motion transformer, such as Martin-Logan and hearing them makes the reasons obvious. If you're looking for a very honest speaker that lacks failings which relegate it to a select few genres of music, which is truly capable of reproducing a three dimensional sound stage, this speaker may be what you're looking for. I consider them vastly superior to B&W's middle weight offerings. In fact, I'd go so far as to say there are extremely few speakers at any price that use conventional drivers that can compare. That's a bold statement, but I think it's honest and I'd invite you to test that statement.
ESS is back at it, by the way, with a new and broadened product line.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 11, 2014]
Low Hertz
AudioPhile

I'm not really an audiophile, I'm a professional musician with very picky tastes.
I actually got these at a garage sale, the mother selling her son's speakers.
When I saw them the foam was missing from the speakers, I pointed it out,
and the woman said the foam was around there somewhere:-)

I bought them, get this, for $10. I immediately brought them to my electronic tech
guy that was great at reconning speakers. That was about 1995. They've been great
ever since.

I was running them off either a Proton 40 watt or better yet, my
Nachamichi 730. The Nachamichi appears to have been damaged by lightening
during a Florida hurrican 2004 and it's never been the same.

In choosing a new amp, the sellers said to find the efficiency to select an amp.
I came accross the ESS web site and see the ESS AMT 1B is still selling.

I professionally play upright bass, and know what a bass is supposed to sound like.
It is not a thump like so many modern systems have but a rich, beautiful tone with
harmonics way high. I've never heard a speaker with better, sexy bass.

And the heil air motion transformers are great for highs. I've never heard regular speakers
that were able to reproduce highs at all reasonably.

Best speakers I've ever heard, bar none.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Apr 12, 2012]
1PinkFloydAudiophile
AudioPhile

I first heard the ESS AMT-1B while stationed in Okinawa Japan. I compared the ESS to Bose 901s the low frequency response just was not there. I heard the speakers with top of line equipment at the time SAE amplifiers, Marantz 400 Watts. Fortunately we could bring albums and reel to reel recordings to the audio liseting room and mix an match components for one of the best true listening experiences. To bad food and drink was not allowed. I brought in a 10 inch reel to reel recording of various musicians, music formats from jazz, classical, R&B and classic rock from the era and spent an afternoon comparing all the equipment available at my fingertips. To this day, for the price range $800.00 I have not heard a better sounding speaker. I bought my second pair on line and reconed the speaker and passive radiator.

With lots of headroom a powerful amplifiers two Crown Comm-Tech 800 and Adcom GFP-1A preamplifier. I have a Sony TTS-3000 Turntable amzaing paid $60.00 at a vintage audio replay with Shure V cartridge.

The speakers provide surperb midrange and high ends are clean, crisp and clear. The speaker and passive radiator adds a nice punch to the lower frequencies with adequate response. I have two ADC SS-II equalizers totaling 24 frequencies to tailor the sound to my speakers.

The original ESS AMT-1B I have had the all speakers surfaces reconed, better than factory specifications (Go ATC Audio West Springfield, MA). I replaced the speaker tops with 1D models. I also placed felt pieces on each of the corners for a better fit, especially at high wattage. I am driving the ESS-1B with two Crown CommTech 800 amplifiers. I have two sets of speakers downstairs in my listening area.
I listen to this day with my Akai 635D reel to reel, put to same an CD produced over the past 10 years.

I recently applied new veneers to all four speakers and tops. Would not recommend that to the weekend carpenter. I matched all the veeneers on each side on the speakers and speaker tops. Applied tung oil and every week use lemon oil to protect the veneer and clean the speakers.

The only drawback is the footprint of the speaker. An advantage is the speaker can be placed within 3 inches of back wall.

I am still a huge tube amplifier advocate. Can not beat that warm rich sound from a amplifier. Some day will be able to buy Big Blue McIntosh amplifers, (last thing my better half wants to hear.

Bottom line: ESS AMT-1B/C models for the price range, to date have not heard a better sounding speaker. Keep in mind with high end equipment your listening experience will be enhanced dramatically. I only crank up the system when the kids are and wife are gone. My neighbor accross the street who is a drummer professionaly, enjoy hearing music filter his way.

I

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 03, 2012]
Nathaniel
Audio Enthusiast

All in all the old style of these cabinets does not suit modern decor. When people see my speakers they think i just popped out of the 70's. While i do not really agree, it's a common theme amongst all who see them. They truly are a sweet spot in my house listening wise. The new cabinets now for sale haven't changed at all i noticed. Too bad the company can't redesign anything from 35 years ago as they currently only offer this style of cabinet. Good old sound from good old speakers never hurt me one bit and i wouldn't personally trade them in for newer speakers but i wish something else was offered so i do a side by side comparison and look at possibly trading up "style" without trading in sound.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 103  

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