Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test

Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test
The No.7 from Spatial Europe takes the 2-way dipole principle to the extreme. A special super speaker for 12,000 euros

 

Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test

narrow radiation, intensive musical experience

The unusual dipole sound converter with a double bass configuration made a lot of things different and yet really right. In any case, in terms of sound, this speaker opened a door to a special kind of listening for us. But the Spatial Europe No.7 presented here is technically/acoustically almost even more unusual; For that reason alone it would be worth writing about them. But there's also the fact that it just sounds amazing.

The special thing about Spatial Europe No.7…

... can be seen in part at first glance. Like all spatial transducers, it only consists of a very solid baffle. It is the antidote to the classic box design, where the cabinet prevents the forward and backward-radiated sound energy from canceling each other out. However, this phenomenon is only really relevant in the bass, because here the wavelengths are of sufficient size to bend around the baffle. The formula for this is: speed of sound in air (344 m/s) : frequency = wavelength. A frequency of 20 Hertz, for example, has a wavelength of about 17 meters, the well-known concert pitch A (440 Hertz) has a wavelength of 78 centimeters.

And now the question arises: How does Spatial Europe mastermind Robert Andorf prevent this physical peculiarity? Answer: not at all. But of course he takes this factor into account. In principle, dipole speakers produce less bass than classic loudspeakers, which - because the housing avoids an acoustic short circuit - can produce amazingly deep bass even with a small volume. But housings have relevant disadvantages: they rattle, they vibrate, they resonate, they boom and thus give the low tone a color that doesn't belong there. Even the best cases à la Magico, Wilson, Gauder or Stenheim are not completely immune to this.

Basically, the motto is: The best case is no case. Now one could also assume that such a baffle is susceptible to resonance. But not with the No.7: The slightly sloping panel is composed of two MDF layers, each 38 mm thick, additionally reinforced and dampened. The lush live weight of the N0.7 (44.0 kilos) is by no means just due to the bass.

Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test
image credit: Spatial Europe
The processing of the idiosyncratic clay furniture is flawless, the surfaces are attractive: The Spatial Europe No.7 is offered in five veneers as well as black and white as standard

However, the concept of the dipole radiator brings with it another special feature: while classic "boxes" have an almost spherical radiation in the bass, that of a dipole resembles the shape of a figure eight when viewed from above, the waist of which is the loudspeaker itself. These constructions have a club-shaped sound direction even in the bass.

Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test
image credit: Spatial Europe
Of course, the Spatial Europe No.7 is a sight to behold, especially from the side: the baffle thickness is 7.6 cm. 
Otherwise, only the powerful woofer basket, part of the AMT tweeter, and the discreet base plate with the crossover stick out


In the bass range, Robert Andorf uses a 38-centimeter woofer from the US specialist Acoustic Elegance. The parameters of this bass are designed for outdoor installation and, in a dipole construction, it generates a lot more low bass than classic hi-fi woofers could. Anyone who can admire the 38er up close will feel that a lot of knowledge and quality has been built into it. This driver is so good and low-resonance that it runs up to 2,000 Hertz despite its size. So it's no wonder that this gem is quite expensive to buy. If Andorf were to apply the classic hi-fi margins here, the No.7 would probably be a lot more expensive.

Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test
The woofer's protruding phase plug is used to cool the voice coil. The multi-folded bead is common in the professional sector and ensures even resistance even with larger lifting movements

The woofer is representative of a remarkable criterion from Spatial Europe: All models are inexpensive in their own way. The quality of the components, which Andorf uses out of inner conviction, would never be waved through by the controller of a large company. But Spatial Europe, with its loving hand-made production at Kreuzstraße 22a in Ingolstadt, can and wants to afford to act differently in this regard.


Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test
image credit: Spatial Europe
Many ingredients such as the baffles come from the immediate vicinity and are put together by a small team in Ingolstadt (right next to the Mach One store) 


This not only includes the corresponding component quality, but also a deep concept of sustainability: At Spatial Europe, little is thrown away and there is a lot of recycled material, especially in the packaging area. I was there for a day last year and found Andorf's concept absolutely convincing.

Because the visitor quickly realizes that nothing is built here by accident. All electrical components, basses, tweeters, but also capacitors, coils and even the resistors are selected in long listening sessions. In the case of the Spatial Europe No.7, there was not only this powerful professional bass, but also an efficient Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter (also from the US American professional range), which with a characteristic sound pressure of 102 decibels (1 watt / 1 meter) has sufficient reserves for EVERY level orgy. And a crossover was created that makes the connoisseur's mouth water.

The - of course - hand-wired 2-way filter is in the base of the dipole speaker and is not only exceptional because of the quality of the components; In this respect, Andorf usually always reaches for the top of the shelf. Andorf has developed one of the rare "serial" crossovers (by far the most loudspeakers in the world work with parallel crossovers). There is little basic theory about serial switches, but Andorf has a proven specialist at hand.

With the serial crossover, the woofers and tweeters are actually connected in series, the relevant filter components mainly work in parallel. The tweeter of the No.7, for example, is tuned to its operating range from 2,000 Hertz via a notch filter connected in parallel.

Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test
Only the finest: Jantzen copper foil wax coils, Jupiter Beewax copper foil capacitors, Mundorf Supreme resistors, Oyaide phosphor bronze spade connectors. Spatial Europe maker Andorf is so proud of the crossover that he puts it under glass


Practice


But what is this excursion into rather strange theoretical realms for? Andorf expects the series filter to produce a harmonic impedance and phase curve in the circuit. And he's right: Our measurements confirm his approach 100%.

Rarely have we had such a frugal loudspeaker in the measurement laboratory. And also a value that should make owners of small but fine amplifiers sit up and take notice: With 90.5 decibels (1 watt / 1 meter), the No.7 also has a pleasingly high degree of efficiency: The No.7 comes with not even 10 watts i.e. over 100 dB.

Only real killer levels were not possible. With a power amp like an SPL s1200, on the other hand, the No.7 caused a level storm in the listening room, which harshly relegated our maximum level measurements of 97 dB to the realm of over-caution: The flat dipole speaker can play very loud without causing any distortion would have been audible. In this respect, it is also worth considering this speaker: If I want to hear nice and fine, an amplifier like a 300B tube is of course enough. But if I want to let it rip, that's also possible. But then it should be 200 watts per channel.


Lineup: Sound bundling as a concept

The Spatial Europe No.7 is a dipole, which in principle emits the bass in a comparatively directed manner. We also have a huge mid-bass driver in the baffle, which, based on its dimensions alone, starts focusing the sound from around 350 Hertz and runs up to 2,000 Hertz. And we have a tweeter, which also bundles quite strongly because of the horn in front of it.

What are we to make of this? Just one thing: Here is the sound bundling concept. The Spatial Europe No.7 illuminates the room like a tall flashlight with several LEDs on top of each other: the cone is bright but narrowly focused. For most developers, a homogeneous, broad radiation is the measure of all tonal things. The No.7 also radiates quite homogeneously over the angles - just quite narrow. This must be taken into account when setting up.

After finding the optimal position, we quickly came to the conclusion that you can hear almost every degree with this speaker. We approached it in many steps, but in the end the exact alignment to the listening position in our listening room was just the right thing. Only then could the transparency be heard that one would expect from such a top speaker.

A second point: As a dipole radiator, the No.7 is a so-called "fast converter". Unlike classic "boxes" that produce the most bass in the corner of the room (where the sound waves have their highest sound pressure), a speed converter produces the best bass in the center of the room, where the wave has its highest sound velocity. So if you are surprised that a dipole like the No.7 on the wall produces atypically little bass, you should pull it further and further into the room to then determine that the bass is better, fuller and "more correct".


the distance between the front edge of the loudspeaker and the rear wall behind it is at least 65 cm, listening distance from 2.5 meters, listening room from 15 square meters. We tried the listening and minimum distance and yes: it works. But there is also a better way. In the end we definitely had 1.5 meters to the rear wall and a listening distance of more than 3 meters. With a distance of 3 - 3.5 meters, the sound of the No.7 becomes even more homogeneous. If you now add up the meter data, you suspect that this may not be possible in a 15 square meter room...

hearing test

Like the larger No.5 (in terms of the baffle), the No.7 also has a spectacular appearance because it is so springy. This is of course due to this slag-free bass, which is not restricted, amplified or tonally changed by any housing. It's pure punch. Listening to a live drum solo through this speaker is pure pleasure. Some hi-fi friends will complain that there is somehow a lack of bass. No: Reality does not know bloated bass.

Even the No.5 captivated us with its liveliness and precision. But unlike the slightly larger No.5, which is a real hit in terms of maximum volume and bass area, the No.7, which is equipped with the much more noble drivers, plays the finer, cultivated part. Both are fun, but the No.7 can In terms of audio quality (resolution, timing, precision) almost everything is better. The basses are even more powerful, a bit deeper and more believable. At the same time, the No.7 sounds more effortless, open and fine.

I remember hearing about the No.5 "The Rose" by the King Singers. Almost everything was right: the naturalness of the voices, the fine dynamics, but above all the great reproduction, which sounded very plastic thanks to the optimal positioning and the energy radiated to the rear.

Dipole speaker Spatial Europe No.7 Test
Such a fragile voice, such sensitive songs. And then, RUMMS, that piano lid being forcefully slammed shut on “Akne Vulgaris”. Super test for speaker dynamics and power handling (Cover: Amazon)

t's these small intervening noises, such as clearing your throat or a rustling sound, that bring recordings to life. The art of the No.7 is to draw even more of this finest information from this recording than the No.5 and therefore to sound even more authentic and light-footed. If you listen to piano music played dynamically with the No.7, you can only be amazed – it can sound so brutally impulsive. Still pretty much at the beginning of Tim Fischer's "Akne Vulgaris" (Album: Chansons Live/Lieder eines Armen Mädchens) pianist Friedrich Hollaender slams the lid of the piano shut. That's when the bass kicks in. We sat in the listening room and involuntarily recoiled – it sounded so real with this dipole. This is not only due to the qualities of the very finely playing AMT tweeter, but also to the fact that the No.7 offers a lot of energy and information in the middle.

Of course, there are those speakers that high-end circles like to refer to as "high-resolution", such as a large Wilson, the Grimm LS 1 be or the Audiaz Cadenza. The No.7 can't keep up with them, it can't offer that much transparency. Still, for me it's a small miracle. If you look at how much engineering skill other loudspeaker suppliers use to develop mid-range speakers that are as light as possible, then the sound quality that Robert Andorf conjures up from the comparatively heavy membrane of the 38 centimeter bass is more than astonishing.

A comparison with conventional loudspeakers is difficult because the installation locations are so different. It makes sense to compare the Spatial Europe No.7 with the dipole models from Magnepan or the full-range electrostatics from Quad. However, one can confidently assume that the Spatial Europe sounds a lot more dynamic and level stable. Compared to the slightly larger No.5, the No.7 does not reach the same level, but it plays a lot finer and more precisely.

The No.7 makes it possible to hear wonderfully loud. But in the end, that might not be her true destiny. After completing the listening tests, I reconnected the Luxman L550 AX Mk-II and just listened to music. The No.7 offers an incredibly authentic performance, especially with amps with such strong timbres, which makes a big band sound like a live big band even at medium or low levels. Very few speakers can do that.

Conclusion Spatial Europe No.7

If you had designed a loudspeaker from the point of view of an amplifier, something like the No.7 would probably have come out. We have seldom come across such an electrically good-natured sound converter. This 2-way dipole harmonizes well with every good amplifier - regardless of its power level. It's a superb addition to all the tube and class A amps that have gotten us so excited over the last few months and for which it's so hard to find the right speaker:

So: You need some space and a fine amplifier. If both are given, you can listen to music with the extraordinary Spatial Europe No.7 in an extraordinarily eventful way. An exceptional speaker as it stands in the book.

Pros And Cons

Pros

Impulsive, authentic, spatial sound with a wonderfully tight bass

 Great workmanship, many surfaces, ingenious optics

High efficiency, amplifier-friendly, fully suitable for tubes
Cons


Needs more space than classic hi-fi boxes, strong bundling

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