This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Reviewer: Steve Marsh
Financial Interests: click here
Digital Source: Vecteur D-2 CD Transport, Audio Note DAC Kit 1.2 with upgrades (PS choke, tantalum resistors, Black Gate caps, copper grounding bars on digital chips wired to central ground, VTV silver foil/oil output coupling caps)
Analog Source: Nottingham Analogue Mentor turntable with 10" Anna tonearm, Roksan Shiraz cartridge
Preamp: Hovland HP-100 MC tube preamplifier, all updates except for recent power supply improvement, about which I just learned
Power Amp: Red Rose Model 2A Silver Signature tube amplifier (Mullard xf1 EL34s, RCA black plate 12AT7WAs for gain/inverter and Tung Sol black plate 12AT7s for driver, Studio Electric EA1+ hybrid amp [review loan]
Speakers: Audio Physic Anniversary (SLE) Step speakers, Audio Physic Luna active subwoofer, Studio Electric T3 speakers [on review]
Cables: Music Metre Fidelis digital interconnect, Harmony Audio interconnect, Stealth CWS interconnect, homemade twisted pair of mil-spec silver cladded multistrand speaker cables
Power Cords: Analysis Plus Power Oval (amp), PS Audio Mini Lab (preamp)
Equipment Rack: Michael Green Justarack
Sundry Accessories: steel shot loading in Audio Physic Step stands, Audio Point coupling discs under Step stands
Power Line Conditioning: PS Audio P300
Room Size: 29' long x 16' wide x 10' high (sunken living room with open floor plan, listening across width of room)
Review Component Retail: $7,900/pair

I first heard the Studio Electric T3 speakers at the 2007 Primedia Home Entertainment Show. Designer Dave MacPherson was on hand in a one-man demo, sharing a room with BenchMark Media digital products. It was difficult to get a good listen as there was so much chattering going on behind me at BenchMark's passive display table. Still, there was a purity and ease to the sound that was a relief from what I was hearing in many of the other rooms. Dave's unassuming nature added to the appeal and I revisited the room several times over the duration of the show.

Dave's show setup consisted of a Sony CDRW33 as a transport streaming into a Benchmark DAC-1, utilizing the latter's volume control as an attenuator. The DAC-1 analog output fed a MIDAS pro analog parametric EQ (only used to notch out any possible room bass nodes). The speakers were driven by the equally stylish Studio Electric Electrodyne EA2 hybrid amplifier ($6950), which is capable of producing 410 wpc into the 4-ohm load of the Studio Electric T3 speakers.

As a lover of mid-century modern furniture, I am a pushover for the aesthetics of the Studio Electric T3. I must confess that their visual appeal had as much to do with my interest in reviewing them as their sound. While the speakers might be a stretch in a Victorian home or among Early American antiques, they exude class and elegance in my modern home décor. Every visitor to my home commented positively on their appearance.

Dave obviously has an artistic flair. He does get a little help from his Salt Lake City neighbor, the audio artist/designer extraordinaire Josh Stippich. Josh does the welding and finishing of the gleaming stainless steel metal spheres for the mid/bass drivers. I could easily see these speakers featured in an advertisement in Architectural Digest. In fact, Dave says some of his easiest sales have been to owners of high-end modern apartments in New York City.

In an email correspondence, Dave wrote that "the T3 is based on the T1 which for all practical purposes is a monitor type speaker... in fact the 6.5" driver was first used in a studio monitor." Dave is a recording engineer by trade and his inspiration for the original T1 speaker design was to make a good-sounding monitor he could listen to without fatigue. He was tired of the brightness often found in studio monitors.

Removing the speakers from their cardboard shipping boxes was a breeze. After removing the padding on top of the sphere, you just reach in and lift the entire speaker up and out by grabbing hold of the aluminum support ring at the base of the sphere. There is no other assembly required. Simply connect the speaker wires and off you go!

A casual observer would assume the speakers to be a typical floor-standing three-way design. Not so! The speaker is really more of a two-way design with a built-in passive subwoofer. The midbass driver in the T3 sphere is in fact run over a large portion of the frequency range, achieving much of the purity of sound and lack of phase distortion of single driver speakers. Dave, like myself and a growing number of other audiophiles (Srajan included), have been drawn to the sonic attributes of widebanders.

This 6.5-inch mid/bass driver is sourced from Denmark and as Dave described it, in "cross-section it appears to be a two-layer material with a woven paper (backside) laminated with a material the supplier calls copolymer." This driver has no crossover on the low end and, "...still has decent output down to 48Hz and we just let it roll off naturally. At the top, there is a 6dB slope that starts at 3K but on the analyzer you still see usable energy out to nearly 4K..."

The low frequency driver is an eight-inch Morel-sourced unit and mounted to the side of the wood cabinet in mirror imaged configuration. Default
is to place the speakers with the woofers firing outwards. There is a "12dB slope low pass filter on this at 80Hz ...though with a bit of gel coat on the woofer we get it to start rolling off before that."

The tweeter is a 0.75-inch silk dome sourced from Audax. It is crossed over with a 24dB slope starting at 3.8 kHz. Dave added that "there is a 'feed forward' on the tweeter to allow a little more energy to get through in the 10kHz plus range." While the tweeter may not be a pricey ring revelator or other exotic bubba, it works extremely well with the design. After all, that's what it's all about; not trying to find ways to use the most expensive drivers to impress brand name sycophants. Dave hand-selects the tweeters and once you've heard them in the speaker, no apologies are necessary. I must heartily endorse Dave's practicality.

The half-inch thick aluminum base with exquisitely machined tapered aluminum feet provides excellent stability as well as a striking visual contrast to the light natural maple of the sealed bass driver enclosure. The polished stainless steel base also ties the appearance together with the opposing stainless steel midbass sphere. A half-round, torpedo-shaped walnut enclosure sits below the sphere's metal support ring and houses the tweeter, which is inset into the woofer's front baffle. It adds yet another point of interest to what is truly a striking design statement and one of the most refreshing I have ever seen in audio.

Supplied with the speakers is a two-page spec sheet/setup guide. Others may want more verbiage but I found the information largely adequate. Dave recommends six feet between the speakers for near-field listening (seat seven to eight feet from the speakers) and seven to eight feet between the speakers for more typical listening distances (i.e., greater than ten feet away). The best sound in my system was with the speakers eleven feet from my ears, seven feet apart (measured between the center of the midbass cones) and four feet off the front 'wall' (actually a bookcase).