Tale of Two Eggs
Updated: Mar 12, 2020
For over a decade I've been loving a magical set of 1989 Polk Audio 2.3TL speakers, originally powered by a pair of Sunfire-300 (Bob Carver) amplifiers. I must say, the Polks are absolutely wonderful to sit and enjoy. They disappear when you close your eyes, and have a low-frequency response that will make subwoofers jealous (12Hz measured!).
Sadly, as much as I love working on the Polks, I realized over time they lacked a bit of articulation and tightness in the bass around the kick-drum range. My breaking point was when I realized masters weren't correctly translating, even though my room at the time was lacking in some acoustic treatment. My room is treated much better now.
My first inclination was to shop for better speakers. This wasn't a totally calculated move, mind you. As with many of my major purchases, I get bored and seek out venerable and well-regarded (at least, in my mind) products/brands. Like the Wal bass I bought, it was a whimsical decision, but an amazing find! Super rare, especially in the U.S.
The Egglestonworks speakers were on that list of brands highly regarded, not just by me, but even louded by the likes of Bob Ludwig! I sought him out to listen to his Egglestonworks Ivy's, but unfortunately never found the right time. Regardless, I started shopping for Wilsons, B&W 801's, Egglestons, Focals, ProAcs, PMC, and others. Knowing a few engineers won Grammy's with Andra's I mostly browsed for the mainstay of Egglestonworks, not that a Grammy is any goal of mine.
A seller on Audiogon posted a listing for a beautiful set of Andra II's in what appeared to be perfect working order for a mere $5,200! Ok, I have never seen a pair before for less than $7,800, and those were in so-so shape! The good news about people selling audiophile equipment is, they typically don't waste time there trying to fool buyers with replicas or scams--certainly not like you might see with laptop computers or Xbox's, iPhones, or car stereos. More, it's not a deal until I hear 'em.
Traveled to a small town outside Tulsa, on an overcast day in winter. I love this time of year, after New Year's and when there's no commitments outside my own. I drove up the seller's driveway and immediately felt a sense of calm. What a nice house! This chap obviously makes more money than I do, so I can't fault him for perhaps fooling around with audiophile gear. Even his garage had a super-clean painted floor and rubber mats. He's a bit of a car-nut, too. Mind you, some amazing deals can be found in the humblest of places, so never truly judge a book by its cover!
The buyer explained his wife's desire to get these eye-sores (really?) out of the living room and go for a more subtle set of in-wall speakers. I know he must have been cringing at the thought. Nonetheless, he demonstrated the Andra II's for me, tossing the remote control to my hand. "Crank 'em up! Keep going!" Meh. "I'm never going to blast them that loud, like ever, probably.", I replied.
I can't say they were super impressive, but they had some stunning detail and clarity I've not heard before. Particularly in the mids, they really sang with a focus the Polks never truly exhibited. To be fair, they are completely different approaches to speaker-building, for sure. Needless to say, as many of you audiophiles would know and advise, there's no way to judge them truthfully in a room you've never set foot in before.
After a swift negotiation, we managed to get them bundled up into their original shipping crates, and loaded into my 5x8' cargo trailer. My trek back to the Nashville area was an 8.5 hour trip, but the roads in Oklahoma are pretty bumpy. Old Polks don't travel well on bumpy roads because of how the magnets are simply glued into position, and can easily break free and lock up the drivers. I was worried the Egglestons might suffer the same fate. Replacement Morel or Dynaudio drivers, which Egglestonworks uses are not cheap! The Dynaudio tweeters alone are over $600 each! No doubt, Egglestonworks knows how to source excellent quality!
Fortunately, they arrived home with no obvious issues. I hired some friendly help to dolly them up to the studio because these little bastards weight 215 lbs each! They're quite inert by way of cabinet resonance, but at a cost of weight. Having a truly non-resonating speaker cabinet is one of the most difficult accomplishments by any speaker builder. Egglestonworks used granite on the sides of these.
Once in place, I wired them to my Pass Labs X-350, using Goertz cables and powered the system up. Again, they really weren't very impressive, especially in the low end. Ok, so it must be my room. Still, as I walked around them something just didn't feel right. If I stood by the left speaker bass was pounding and full. As I walked toward the right speaker the bass pretty much disappeared completely! Ahhhhh, the price makes sense now! Lame! So, something is wrong with these puppies.
Under some investigation, and with every ounce of disbelief, I discovered the familiar polarity/phase issue you'd hear if one speaker was wired incorrectly. That said, it was hooked up properly. "Remove the impossible. Whatever is left, however improbable, must be the truth." -Spock
I grabbed my lab adjustable power supply to perform a polarity test on the speaker. After removing the speaker wires, then setting the power supply to 5v DC I placed the voltage on the rear "bass" terminals (the speakers can be bi-wired or bi-amped) of the left speaker to ensure the speaker (woofer) poked out when applied. Then repeated this test on the right speaker. Yep! The right speaker woofer driver sucked inward, demonstrating it was incorrectly wired, internally.
I uninstalled the bass driver, careful not to break or disconnect it, but so I could see both it and the other 12" bass driver behind it (isobaric pair of drivers, where one woofer is directly behind the other in a sealed space, which gives great low-end expansion in a smaller sealed box). Applying the power supply again to the bass terminals the discovered result was that the outer woofer was wired backward, but the inner woofer was wired with correct polarity. So, not only were the outer woofers of the left and right speakers canceling each other out, the right speaker was also compressing air against it inner woofer, which sucked out even more bass!
After resoldering the outer woofer with correct polarity, using some high-quality silver solder, I re-installed the right woofer. I retested the polarity with the power supply once again. Then I had the appropriate result. Check the sound. Voila! YES! We have BASS! Where I was slightly disappointed in bass response before, my jaw dropped at what I could hear after the repair! Needless to say, they are nothing short of stunning, and they have found a permanent home with me. The price was a steal! And....they translate well!