Infinity Systems IRS Epsilon Floorstanding Speakers

IRS Epsilon

User Reviews (17)

Showing 1-10 of 17  
UKMuso   AudioPhile [Dec 23, 2005]
Strength:

Superb transparency and detail from superb EMIT and EMIMs coupled real bass depth and solidity. Superb driver integration and overall coherance offer very natural presentation. Great build and finish. Planar-like soundstaging. A genuine reference standard loudspeaker.

Weakness:

To be expected with this type of speaker - very very heavy and large. Require space around them to perform optimally. Very power/current hungry. Unforgiving of system shortcomings.

This is a review of the Infinty Sigma speakers (not the Epsilons). The price stated is in GBP. I recently got my pair of Sigmas having been using Infinity Kappa 9 speakers. The Sigmas are so rare in the UK that I just couldn't resist when a pair became available, given that I've been a fan of the Infinity sound based on their EMIT tweeters for a long time. The Sigmas are certainly a large speaker but beautifully built and finished. They are as tall as the Kappa 9s but deeper and more substantial in build (and the Kappa 9s are very solidly built themselves). I have the speakers set-up with EMIT set to high (instead of neutral), EMIM set to neutral (instead of low) and the bass set to normal (instead of extended). The room I have is only 17ft by 14ft at longest dimensions and L-shaped. The speakers sit along the 14ft wall about 4ft in from the back wall and about 3ft in from the side walls. They sit on granite slabs and are toed-in very slightly towards the listening position which in my case is pretty nearfield. So how do they sound? Exceptional. The level of detail is a very significant step-up from the Kappa 9s which are incredibly detailed to start with. At the same time, the prestation is smoother, more refined and natural. There is even better integration than the 9s which again were excellent in any case. You can listen to the speakers for hours but the excitement is there in spades. The EMIT and EMIM drivers are superb giving fantastic transparency and sparkle and the integration of drivers top-to-bottom is excellent - no lumpiness of lack of coherance is noticable - the mid-bass coupler I think makes a bid difference in this respect in the same way it does with the Kappa 9s. As with the Kappa 9s, the soundstaging is like that of a great planar speaker (and I've had a few) - again the use of rear firing EMIT tweeter and open back midrange driver, in this case EMIM, offer the dipole qualities while the use of the sealed-box mid-bass and bass drivers offer deep but tight solidity and dynamics to complement the transparency. The speakers certainly need as much high quality power (current) as you can throw at them - I bi-amp with a pair of huge stereo 350wpc Conrad-Johnson EV-2000 valve-hybrid amps that deliver massive current and these can drive anything - they drive the Sigmas beautifully. I had heard them on audition at the dealer with a Sony's hi-end top of line SACD/pre/150wpc power amp combination and it was obvious the amplification didn't have the juice to control and offer punch for the speaker's bottom end but I figured I had the amps to do the job at home. I also use very fast and transparent Nordost SPM cables which seem to match very well. As with the Kappa 9s then, having sufficiently powerful amplification (and the rest of the equipment chain) of the highest quality is critical. I'd suggest not considering these speakers otherwise. Overall, I'm very very happy with the speakers. I was unsure if they really would provide a signifincant upgrade to the Kappa 9s given how much I loved those and the quality they offered, but thankfully, the Sigmas really are a big step-up and offer superb all round performance of the highest audiophile reference standard. Just make sure the rest of your system can deliver the goods to make the most of them and you have the room to accomodate them!

Similar Products Used: ProAc Response 3; Apogee Stage; Magnaplaner 2.5R; Apogee Duetta Signatures; Perigee FK-1; Yamaha NS1000M; Infinity RSIIIA; Inifinity Modulus; Infinity Kappa 5. Infinity Kappa 9
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
jygeqq   AudioPhile [Dec 16, 2005]
Strength:

great sound, sound stage.

Weakness:

no longer made. Infinity is not infinity any more. Woofer surrounds shoud have been rubber like on Mids

INFINITY REFERENCE STANDARD II. Tower speakers 1981 limited production .2 10" woofers' 3 5''mids.2 emit tweeters.1 Sound & soundstage amazing. Solid bass one of woofers is crossed over as sub woofer. great extended highs. Beautifully built solid oak defraction wing, separate part of enclosure for woofers. powered by 400 watt Acurus (4 ohm speakers) power amp with cx2 yami preamp. KNOCK your socks off sound.

Similar Products Used: started with University 2 ways (1960) KLh 6 Jensen 3 ways, Ar 2ax. Ar 3a.(BETTER but missing something) ADS 810 (too bright) Now for more than 20 years Infinity's( perfect) Had to refoam surrounds
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
beertje   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 23, 2002]
Strength:

Very open sounding, electrostatic-like sound (But with more bass than any electrostatic will ever be albe to produce.) The feeling of a live concert in Your own home.

Weakness:

You need some really good equipment to drive this babies. A lot of power is also welcome since efficiency is and imedance are low. Don't use cheap tranny-stuff!!!

This is about the Infinity IRS OMEGA, not the Epsilons. (There is no section for these.) I was lucky to purchase a pair of Omega's for a very low price. This is about my first experience, since I am not using them for a long time and they really need a long time to break in. What can I say? Well , They sure are marvellous in every way. Great dynamics, very real sounding voices and sheer musicality overall. I'm impressed. I'll write more about them later.

Similar Products Used: Infinity Overture, Prelude MTS, etc.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
ghostbit   Casual Listener [Feb 06, 2002]

Excellent sound!!!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Chris Seymour   AudioPhile [Feb 06, 2002]
Weakness:

having to split my review into 2

(continued from below) ...last bit of servo gain. But not now - I''m very happy with the sound. BTW, don''t try any inductive devices anywhere in the woofer/ servo/ amp loop to try to keep the ring out - it will shift the phase out of sync which makes the ringing much worse. The extreme of this effect is having the phase switch set wrong and being 180 degrees out of sync turns the servo circuit from a corrective one into a destructive one. I plugged in the Rev A unit to see if it performed better. First impressions were "yes." The servo roar was quieter, and I could dial in more gain on the pot in the back when set correctly (about -1dB versus -4dB on my original version). I expected that this apparently better performing circuit would yield better sound, but I was wrong. First off, my bass level needed setting much higher than the original version (+5.5dB versus +2.5dB) to get the same deep bass volume I''m used to. But this setting sounded too high in the mid and upper bass - too "thick." What I love about the Epsilon''s bass is that it''s tight, linear, perfectly pitched, and can go low enough to give you chills. To get chills out of this Rev A unit, I had to set the level too high, such that it ruined the other qualities. Back in the box goes the Rev A, waiting for emergencies or some future knowledge of something I can do with this circuit. My theory is that the Epsilons were so unreasonably demanding for those who under-powered the woofers, or expect too much, that on the Rev A they tightened the boundaries and maybe cleaned up a little of the circuit. This made it behave better for customers, but in my opinion it sounds like it''s been neutered. My Bryston 4B-ST keeps up very nicely. If there is anyone out there who has knowledge about the Epsilon system and its SCU; I would love to hear from you. I suspect I can tweak a little better more out of this wonderful speaker system. Chris Seymour Cseymour@watlow.com Seymour@elknet.net

Similar Products Used: My system: Infinity IRS Epsilon fronts Infinity Renaissance 80 rears Cary SLM-100 tube monoblocks Bryston 4B-ST THX woofer amp Harman Kardon Signature 2.0 6-channel preamp/ processor Rega Planar
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
chriscmore   AudioPhile [Feb 06, 2002]

This is an update to my previous review, where I have some experiences to share with you. I now have two of the Epsilon Servo Control Units; one marked “Rev. A” and the other not. The Rev. A unit has a sticker across the top plate of the unit near the back indicating the jack labels, which is meant to help you install the cables while hanging over the top of the unit. Also, on the bottom side where the serial number tag is, there is a sticker labeled “Rev. A.” The circuit board inside is also designated Rev A. What’s the difference between this unit and my previous one? The Epsilons faced some criticism and installation trouble for occasionally being unstable, or too demanding on a reasonable bass amp. For example, if the servo detects that the 12” woofer just isn’t reproducing a 20Hz cycle perfectly, and that a corrective boost of 17dB is needed, a typical 200W demand is translated into a 10,000W demand! This is obviously insane, so they set some boundaries, but four digit power demands per woofer can easily be achieved. The only issues I’ve had with my original SCU is a barely audible servo “roar,” a pink-noise type sound of the servo gain circuits. It disappears if the servo gain pot on the back is lowered, but so does the bass – it’s the whole point to the technology. The trick is to get it set perfectly. I optimized it per Cary Christie’s recommendations (see my earlier review), which said I would get within 1dB of perfect. I discovered that I was 1dB too high, because when a rapped my knuckles on various parts of the cabinet I could get a little ring out of the woofers. When I yelled into the woofers, it would have a little ring. Music-induced woofer movement wouldn’t produce ringing since the servo only compares mechanical movement to the music. But, acoustical feedback is error, and the servo would try to correct it – hence ring. Well, dropping the gain 1dB solved it. The ringing was prevalent only in the right channel, so what’s different about the two channels? My hypothesis was that since everything is analog inside the SCU, and analog components have tolerances, that there must be pots on the circuit boards that Infinity used to “sync” each circuit. I popped the top and there are indeed 3 pots per channel. Someday, I’ll play with this to see if I can reduce the ringing in the right channel a little so I can get that l

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
JIMMY TINEO   Audiophile [Jul 27, 2000]
Strength:

INCREDIBLE DETAIL, YOU HERE EVERY NUANCE OF SOUND. CLEAN AIRY .

Weakness:

ZERO

IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO JUST FIND THESE BABIES. THERE'S NOT MUCH INFORMATION OUT THEIR. MY PERSISTENCE FINALLY PAID OFF. THESE WERE IN STORAGE FOR 3 YEARS. THEY WERE TO COMPLACATED FOR THE ORIGINAL OWNER. THEY ARE BRAND NEW. GEORGEOUS TO SEE. EVEN BETTER TO HERE. ANYBODY WHO GETS A CHANCE TO HERE THE END OF A BRILLANT CAREER OF THE LAST OF THE TRUE HIGH END IS FORTUNATE. SINCE YOU WOULD HAVE TO GO WITH ARNIE NUDELL OVER TO GENESIS TO HERE ANYTHING CLOSE TO THIS.WELL THOSE ARE A LITTLE OVER MY BUDGET. I HAVE ALSO 4 HSU. SUBWOOFERS TO BLEND THE LOWER END WITHOUT STRECHING THE INFINITY'S. THE HSU'S GO DOWN TO 16 HERTZ. THE INFINITY'S TO 25 HERTZ. I'M ALSO TRIPLE AMPING. I HAD TO SINCE I POWER THE SUBS WITH A POWER AMP. BOTTOM LINE HERE IS AWESOME SOUND. EQUIPMENT KRELL AMPS PRE ALSO NUMARK AMP . ALL AUDIO QUEST CABLES AND INTERCONNECTS. CD KRELL .

Similar Products Used: BETA'S
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Chris Seymour   Audiophile [Feb 20, 2001]
Strength:

A beautiful final product from the historic Infinity planar designs. Thank you Cary Christie for closing this chapter with such a dignified product.

Weakness:

You will actually hear how poor in quality most pop recordings are. Your music collection will divide itself into the low-quality pop recordings for the car, and the high-quality recordings for the home.

I’ve taken a lot longer to come out with this review than I had anticipated, but the Epsilons have proved a more complex product than I assumed. Even to this day, I often wear the thoughtful face as I try to figure these things out. Technically, as an engineer there are many variables for me to balance. Not only are these speakers extremely flexible with their own controls: EMIT level, EMIM level, low bass contour, mid bass contour, and low bass level, but the transparency into the sonic window reveals beauties and nasties force you to not just think speakers, but the entire electro-acoustic system. While a beautiful product and the fact that I saved an amazing amount of money on these would naturally classify this as the sonic deal of the decade, I now have found out that I need a better preamp, bass amps, cables, tube monoblock modifications, vinyl, SACD, DVD-Audio, electrical service and a larger house. This deal is gonna cost me bigtime.

Tonally, there are certainly similarities from the 1995 Epsilon to the 1990 Renaissance series that established that the planar drivers should not be left open in the back. Up to the Rens, (like the Beta) the traditional method (after the “just stick them to a box” days) of mounting the planar drivers was to have free air behind them, so that they could radiate in their natural dipolar pattern. While this backwave deepens the soundstage, imaging precision, tonal accuracy, and acoustic placement suffer. Cary Christie (the last remaining of the original Infinity trio) discovered that if they left it open in the back, but absorbed the cavity heavily, the drivers could still breathe but locked in a more precise image and were more tonally accurate and less room-dependant. Read the reviews of the Ren 80 and 90s (I have an 80s review) for various points of view on the EMIM/EMIT sound, which for the upper midrange on up are nearly identical to the Epsilon - they add a second set of EMIT tweeters in the back for more “air.”

Besides the lovely, solid cabinet (3” thick HDF baffle! – 210 lbs.) the two fundamental technologies that represent the pinnacle of what Infinity had to offer, and plants the Epsilon squarely into truly world-class high-end audio is the impressive LEMIM lower midrange planar driver, and the servo controlled woofers. The Sigma doesn’t have them, and the old Beta (1988) has too many and more crudely implemented. The LEMIM offers a degree of resolution for the lower register sounds (male voices, guitars, upper bass notes, warmth) that is truly amazing. The integration to the servo-controlled 12” woofers is seamless and thoroughly musical. Getting clarity in the treble is relatively easy these days, but the clarity and authenticity of tone in the midrange down to the bass bests anything I’ve ever heard.

It’s confusing to describe what these speakers sound like, because the “color” of the sound varies so much with the electronics, room acoustics, and the recording quality. To me, this is transparency. If your electronics aren’t high-end enough to get rid of the nasty cheap-transistor sound, you’ll hear it. Got tubes (single-ended need not apply)? You’ll hear those groovy harmonics. Some of my favorite pop/rock artists enjoy generous processing, and you’ll hear the mostly disappointingly-harsh results. Play usually well-recorded jazz or classical, and you are in for one amazing experience. The Epsilons will not add, nor hide problems elsewhere in the equation. If you ever want to really hear what’s going on in a recording or piece of equipment, for better or worse, then here’s your speaker.

The Epsilons have been accused of lacking in quantity. Perhaps that’s true in that my room size, power supplies, and listening choices as I haven’t found their limitations so I don’t know where they quit. But I will say that even though the Beta’s 8x12” woofer towers may overwhelm the higher quality 2x12” woofers in the Epsilons, the Epsilons yield nothing in pitch, articulation, proper imaging, and tone. And getting these qualities down to the bottom is to me a hallmark of the Epsilons. The closest parallel in my mind is that the Epsilons present a very similar quality, although gut-wrenching in bass intensity and with a smaller soundstage as the big Maggies. From 22Hz to 45kHz, these are completely spot on.

I think that the planar path was a dead-end marketing path for Infinity. The mass market wants more efficient speakers, and the high-order crossovers required for the planars really dropped the efficiency. Also, using grids of expensive magnets, and heavy exotic hardwood cabinets cranked up the cost. I think they outgrew the path they were on, and while the $3k range that the Rens were at are in my mind a good value, I think that most people found $3k speakers that didn't reveal to them how crappy their electronics sound. They evolved towards Maggies, which while popular among audiophiles will never reach the masses with mainstream receivers. And what mainstream consumer wants speakers that mandate that they upgrade their electronics, or listen to more acoustically pure recordings? The final coffin nail was the Epsilon coming in at $14k. While magnificent, the market size and return on investment to development was no-doubt poor for a company of this size. Genesis is the size of company that has a low enough overhead to make small runs of high-end designs like this profitable.

What exists out there that in my opinion that gets us to that next level? While admittedly hampered by my electronics, the planar drivers do compress somewhat at high levels. No worse than most any cone design that I’ve heard, but I’m a huge fan of the effortless, scary dynamics that only compression horns can display. When the stick hits the snare drum, you flinch – that’s dynamics, and it’s what you’d hear if someone did that in your room right in front of you. While I haven’t heard them, I think the Avantgarde speakers yield tremendous promise.

As footnotes, I’m still sure that there are Epsilon owners out there who are short a Servo Control Unit, the cables to connect to the woofer sensors, and the knowledge of this fact. Feel free to email me, as I have (improved – more legible) electronic copies of the original 1/95 Stereophile review (a must-have for any planar/Infinity fan), and the manual (beware – large files). I have never experienced the stability problems that the Stereophile review had. I think this is due to their having a pre-production pair (their s/n 011, mine are 300s). Pointer for the day: to set the servo gain properly, turn the volume way down, slowly increase the gain pot in the back until a ringing is audible. Then back off appx. 3dB and you're there.

I would enjoy discussing technical issues or otherwise.

- Chris
Cseymour@watlow.com
Seymour@elknet.net

Equipment:
Cary SLM-100 tube monoblocks
MonsterCable M1500 interconnects
MonsterCable M2.5 cables (in the future for only the bass – Goertz MI-3 for mid/high)
Onkyo balanced-output CD player
The rest we won’t discuss.

Similar Products Used: Infinity Rennaisance 80
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Craig Zoltewicz   Audiophile [Sep 05, 2000]
Strength:

Sound quality, flexibility, looks, the list goes on.....

Weakness:

none, unless you don't set them up properly

I also purchased these speakers from UBID and can say It was a less than pleasant experience. I would like to extend my thanks to Chris Seymour for carrying the torch in this whole issue. In any case the negative experience was made up for in the positive experience in having these finally hooked up. These are truely incredible speakers! Initially I had my reservations about servo controlled subwoofers, but found I actually liked the ability to have full control over them. I guess thats why Ardie Nudell continues to use servos in all the Genesis line. The bass is extremely satisfying! The highs are crystal clear without being harsh. The Ribbon midrange provides a noticeable improvement from the Sigma's(which are the step down). The soundstage is superb, when placed properly usually with no toe-in. There is a downside in the sheer complexity in hooking these up properly, it is NOT for the novice. They absolutely have to be Bi-amped, the gains for the amps have to be equal(no easy feat if your using different amps with no gain controls). Other than that the work is well rewarded! These are the type of speakers you don't get rid of and don't get tempted to upgrade. If you have the means and are lucky enough to find a set, I can't possibly encourage you enough. If anyone needs a servo control for these speakers E-mail me at czolt@hotmail.com I have an extra.

Similar Products Used: Infinity Sigma's, Kappa 9.0's
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Chris Seymour   Audiophile [Aug 14, 2000]
Strength:

Potentially the deal of the decade.

Weakness:

uBid did not include everything. These speakers have to have the Servo Controller Unit (SCU or ECU), special cables, and the manual.

I'll be giving a full review once I can actually play these properly, but wanted to get more info so the other 17 people in the country who bought these from uBid can find out how to get the other critical components. I'm still working on it, but the best advise I have thus far is to fax your receipt and a letter stating that the Servo Control Unit (SCU or ECU), cables, and manual were missing from your shipment to:

Infinity, Parts
Attn: Tami Rojas
Fax: (516) 682-3528, or
Fax: (516) 682-3516
Phone: (516) 496-3400, ext. 1,6421

What stinks further is that uBid purchased some of these SCU boxes seperately and has sold a couple independant of the Epsilons. This is sheer lunacy, as these electronics boxes have some compatability issues when used with different Epsilons as well. Hopefully Infinity can get these SCU units back to send them to the customers who are without. uBid is being quite stubborn about the whole deal, but please email them stating your problem. Take the position with them that the 30-day warranty can't start until you receive everything, as you cannot play the woofers without these components. Actually you can hook up an amplifier, but the SCU unit has the crossover and the servo electronics to make it function to original specifications. Also, don't let uBid say that these were not advertised to be included with the speakers, as this is just wrong. 1) They were selling the Epsilons, which is a 3-box system, so unless they expressly say that the SCU box (with cables and manual) are not included, then they must be. 2) They advertise that the Epsilons are "servo controlled," which is only possible with the SCU and cables. 3) Infinity agrees with me, has stated on the box that these "are to original specification," and are trying to sort out the situation. If all fails, insist on returning these at uBid's expense, as they short shipped you. Suspend payment through your credit card company if you have to. Hopefully it won't get to that.

Please email me if you are in the same situation, and I will help you with what I find out. Also, I'll email you a scan of the original Stereophile review that fully explain the Epsilon.

Chris Seymour
cseymour@watlow.com
seymour@elknet.net

Similar Products Used: Renaissance 80
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 17  

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