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This review first appeared in the June 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Silberstatic N°1 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Silberstatic - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: VPI Scout II, SME MS  12-inch, VPI JMW 9T, Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Zu Audio DL-103, SAC Gamma Sym, Luxman D-05, Logitech Squeezebox 3, Readynas Duo, HP Notebook, Benchmark DAC1 USB, NorthStar USBdac32
Amplification: Octave HP300 with phono, Electrocompaniet AW 180,  Denon PMA 2010AE
Loudspeakers: Ascendo System F, Thiel SCS4
Sundry accessories, cables and racks
Review component retail: starting at €7.990/pr

Dirk Jesberger, designer and owner of Silberstatic, recounts how his journey into panel speakers began with Magnepan’s Tympany. The Maggie encounter took place at a Wuppertal dealer during the late 70s. "Something like that you don’t forget." True enough. Apparently. A quarter century later—2005 to be precise—Jesberger launched his own outfit and since has held down a full-time job with just this type of speaker, first as supplier of kits and DIY accessories, then turnkey electrostats when such requests compounded.

The current catalogue shows four models, Silberstatic N°1 through 4. The numbering is chronological, hence N°4 is the newest—and smallest—speaker from this company based in Westphalia’s Viersen. The biggest ‘un is N°2, a barn door measuring 200 x 63cm. Today’s test though is about the pater familias numero uno. That’s medium sized in this scheme of things but at 160 x 50cm still cuts a quite imposing figure.

Electrostats work not with alternating static and electrically induced magnetic fields like electrodynamic or magnetostatic designs but as the activity between two electrical fields. There’s the central foil with its fixed high voltage; and bracketing it on either side the so-called stators which apply the varying music signal voltage. Another variant applies the music signal to the foil instead but not the Silberstatic N°1. To be different it trades the uniform stator grids for individual wires however. Why? Good question. It deserves a good answer.

Proponents of panel speakers delight in pointing out ultra-low membrane mass and evenly applied force to differentiate themselves from cones 'n' domes. The former explains an advantageous mass/drive ratio for good impulse response, the latter is one reason why breakup modes and partial diaphragm excitement don’t factor amongst prime concerns of panelistas.

Just so a panel aficionado really ought to question why one should bother with the electrostatic principle when a magnetostat gets the same job done easier, i.e. without the high standing voltages and high-quality thus costly transformers. The Silberstatic N°1 puts 3.200 volts on the foil and depending on volume from 0 to 3.000 volts on its stators. Those then were my speculative but thought-provoking questions I posed to Herr Jesberger whose answers were two-pronged.

One retort essentially amounted to "if light weight is the advantage, don't stop halfway". A magnetostat glues its voice coil to the foil mostly by way of aluminium traces. Those add weight. Electrostats don’t. Presto, better impulse fidelity. The second bit condensed to "electrostats, if designed as full-range speakers like Silberstatics are, become widebanders to make for a single diaphragm that covers the entire bandwidth without crossover segregation." Hmm. I’d never considered the Viersen panels widebanders before. Interesting.