THE AHL TOLTEQUE ARE THE MOST COLOSSAL ELECTROSTATIC SPEAKERS SYSTEM EVER
have been made in an unspecified number of specimens, however less than twenty among the various versions
I was lucky enough to meet one of the few owners who bought them directly from the factory.
Unfortunately he had the opportunity to use them only a few months due to a serious illness. Last year his son decided to sell them. They was still placed in the original packaging in perfect condition.
The twelve huge cartons have crammed a Fiat Ducato entirely !!
They have been completely overhauled, cell by cell individually and all parameters have been verified.
In the mid-1980s the first full-range cold plasma loudspeaker was presented.
The producer was a French company the AHL (Aceiries du Haute Languedoq) exploiting the same acronym the branch dedicated to the audio was founded
Acoustic Holophonic Languedoq
The designer was a nuclear engineer Mr. J. C. Fourrière
the debut at CES in Las Vegas was disastrous for several reasons, first of all the physical dimension that exceeded in height that of the rooms of the show!
Secondly, the very low efficiency was a considerable obstacle since at the time the most powerful power amp were of the order of 300 watts channel.
The demonstration was painful at listening levels that did not allow to evaluate with certainty the real result.
Those few who were lucky enough to hear them at the factory speak of it as something magical, but the enormous complications led the company to abandon the project. From the ashes of the cold plasma model, however, an electrostatic loudspeaker was born without equal even today.
The authoritative magazine Nouvelle Revue Du Son writes during the test in 1991:
"this large electrostatic diffuser calls into question all the notions of fidelity, transparency and the level of dynamics that it was customary to expect from this type of transducer"
and this statement fully agrees with me
The Tolteque models produced in the early 90s were substantially three and differed in size
The Europa model was 250cm high by 140 wide and 80 deep
The USA (S) model here for sale had the same cells but the base was much lower and brought the total height to "only" 220 cm, identical to the other dimensions
the cost in 1991 was over 60,000,000 lire!
The model for the Japanese market had fewer cells and the size fell to 220 x 100 x 80
The Tolteques have a very ambitious goal, driven with adequate power, as we will see later, they are able to cover the range from 30 Hz to 40000 Hz in a linear fashion and do so with a very low distortion, more as electronics than speaker acoustic, without dynamic compression and with a record-breaking linearity.
The power needed to move these giants is at least 250-300 watts but if you want to take advantage of its potential, you should go further.
Moreover, the impedance curve is patically positioned on the whole audio band around 30 ohm and then down to 3 only in the acute extreme.
So: it is colossal, you need a stable amplifier on high impedances and very very powerful, it requires an environment of at least (but we are really at a minimum) 40 square meters and height not below our standard of 270 cm.
But, therefore, why should life be so complicated?
Simple: because they are UNIQUE.
No others speakers, regardless of price, offers such a wide range of sound qualities.
I thought for the first time to insert a complete listening test based obviously on my experience in listening to most of the planar products over the years. It is useless to point out that this is my personal opinion that may not coincide with yours but the Tolteques are the reproduction system that comes closest to multiple parameters to what should be the true "high fidelity"
Let's start with the analysis of this model with the usual scheme I use:
sound scene (width, height, depth)
Low range reproduction
high range reproduction
points of weakness
Resolution: the ability to extrapolate even the most hidden harmonic from the musical plot is amazing. Listening again to the most know songs, new details always emerge. Imagine a landscape enveloped by the morning mist that as the sun rises, it becomes clearer and brighter until it reaches an unusual brightness. But here I have to "invent" for the first time a new parameter concerning resolution: the ability to discern details regardless of the complexity of the musical plot.
I would like, if you allow me, to call it "complex resolution" and means the ability to maintain a maximum level of analysis over the entire audio band. It goes without saying that this parameter will be detectable only on systems capable of reproducing the deep bass.
I try to explain myself: if the piece we are listening to is relatively simple, acoustic, which I know for example a classic jazz quartet is just as simple for a traditional speaker which divides the frequencies according to the speakers suitable to reproduce these reconstruct without deviations what recorded, the tweeter will reproduce the cymbals and some sax or trumpet harmonics, the midrange will do the big job coming in some cases to reproduce the snare drum but will be responsible for a lot of energy in case there is a voice and in any case will have to offer you everything about wind instruments and a good part of the arched ones but it will still be relieved of all the medium-low and low.
This is not the case for an electrostatic Puro. The large membrane must vibrate for the bass drum but at the same time perform a female voice to the best possible extent.
This long preamble to highlight what I think is the greatest lack of pure electrostatics: the inability to deliver two extreme frequencies at the same time with the same quality.
The Acoustat X is a prime example. I don't want offend the worshipers of this speaker.
The low range of the X is remarkable in relation to the size, but take for example Arcoluz, Berimbass. Start with an amazing Fons grappling with .... well you know with what, then the guitar arpeggio comes in. Almost all full-range electrostatics go into crisis. The guitar "jars" in the sense that it emits in addition to the fundamentals and harmonics a certain amount of distortion probably caused by the membrane that has to reproduce too many harmonics simultaneously. The bass remains solid and natural but the rest gets worse.
The Audiostatics are another striking example of how a deep bass can be obtained at the expense of the articulation when the musical plot becomes complex.
Well, how do you solve the problem? In my opinion, in two ways.
Limit the descent on bass frequency
Increase the radiant surface
In the first case Stax and Quad (57) are teachers. Impeccable reproduction from 45-50 Hz up (ignoring the dynamic limits however present)
In the second case the great Soundlabs are the masters, but ..... they are monovia, a huge curved cell to reproduce everything. Very high polarization voltages (over 6000 volts) with some annoying effects given the size of the panel.
And then they, the Tolteques, which employ 10 large but not huge cells per diffuser, acceptable voltage, minimal excursions given the overall radiant surface (3 square meters each speaker), similar cells but different thicknesses of mylar to favor emission, but above all A brilliant system of cuts.
all the cells emit basses but some are cut at the top, in practice a part emits up to a certain frequency and not beyond. The one who emits the acute end is only the pair of central cells that are practically full range, the other eight cells are gradually limited at the top through a simple RC network that exploits the cell's own capacity combined with a resistance to perform the cut .
The result is the amazing ability to perform extremely complex musical plots with deep bass wind instruments, percussion, double-bass, but also stringed instruments, cymbals and anything else without "kneading" or losing resolution in parts of these
take for example
"If I tell you i love you" Melody Gardot
the piece opens with an acoustic plot, of various percussions and other instruments all to reproduce really deep basses, then Melody's voice is superimposed, interspersed with guitar and clarinet arpeggios.
Very beautifull. The Tolteques offer a performance of goose bumps, STREPITOSA
No hesitation, no yielding, no overlap, magnificent articulation despite the complexity of the piece.
To conclude the "complex resolution" of the Tolteques is primacy. Never reached by what has been heard so far.
Realism / naturalness: Stax's ESS6a so far have no rivals in this mid-range parameter. I am extremely torn. No, the Tolteques do not have the pinch of Japanese magic on the voices
feminine, but very little is left for the rest are at the same level.
At the deep bass there is obviously no comparison as the Stax stop much earlier
Dynamics: MONSTER on all frequencies. The speed of attacks and releases without queues amplifies the effect of silence between one note and another and consequently expands the concept of dynamics.
Dave Brubeck Castillan Drums in the Carnegie live recording
when the endless drum solo begins, the dynamic detaches make the chair jump, with the enormous AHL the effect is further accentuated. The sticks are lightning, without tails or halos. Like a lightning that remains imprinted in the retina but has already vanished.
Sound scene: if I said ample I would arouse hilarity, and I would like to see, with a sounding wall of almost three meters over the minimum meter and a half that you will have to leave between them. Let's try then to analyze the stage reproduced by the AHL: the term of comparison in this case is the Beveridge with their special acoustic lens, these are able if positioned correctly to shape the scene between the two speakers, but this is exhausted exactly where it begins the speaker, in practice the complication arises from the fact that the Bev cannot be spaced more than three meters between the lens and the lens, if you go further, the much-hated "hole in the middle" appears. The problem is less with the 3 that do not necessarily have to be leaning against the wall but with the 2 could be an insurmountable trouble if the room exceeds 3.5 meters wide. In fact in this case they must necessarily be close to the walls, if they are detached from them they lose in many parameters. In practice, it serves an almost custom-made room. However, the comparison is made with a state-of-the-art Bev in his better position. Well the scene between the two speakers is perfect in all dimensions but .... up to a frequency limit, beyond the high end it is quite attenuated, unfortunately.
And now we come to the Tolteque: the difference with the Beveridge mainly concerns the width of the scene, in this case limited only by the size of your room. If we have a back wall of six meters and a half we can put in place the ideal positioning leaving one meter on each side and one meter and seventy between them.
I would say that we can set the minimum width in 5.5 meters available with 60-70 cm on the sides and 150 cm between them.
With this type of set up, taking care to leave at least one meter (better 1.5) from the back wall to the panel you get a spectacular reproduction of the sound scene. Unlike the Bev the external limit is not the speaker but the right and left walls. It happens with certain tracks to identify some sound sources, for example triangles, bells or percussion instruments like tambourines or congas well beyond the external physical limit of the Tolteque that are able to reconstruct the scene as it was taken with all the instruments at heights right and correctly positioned in width.
The cells are arranged in an arc with the concave part turned towards the listener to favor the horizontal dispersion.
Unlike the Bev, the reproduction of the stage is linear on all frequencies from the bottom to the top end.
Attention: the AHLs do not like obstacles between them. Better to leave the area between a panel and the other unencumbered.
Bass reproduction: unmatched.
There is no loudspeaker of any type that has had the opportunity to listen previously to return this portion of the spectrum with the same naturalness, power, absence of halos, speed of attack and release, dynamics of the Tolteques. The reproduction of the double bass leaves you breathless. In Tok Tok Tok's song Have a talk with God there is a counterpoint between a double bass, sax, and the singer's voice. The double bass is made so realistic that it appears in the environment. Another impressive piece for realism is the version of Hallelujah played by Youn Sun Nah. The singer's splendid voice is enriched from a certain point onwards by a bass, in this electric, that leaves astonished for precision and depth.
It is difficult for me to explain how the bass of the Tolteque differs from a classic woofer, the definition that comes to mind most frequently is "cleanliness" but I would like each of you to have the chance to hear it.
It is an impact certainly different from that of a 4350 JBL just to give an example, it would not even be possible to reach the sound pressure levels of the latter with 87 dB of declared efficiency (but in my opinion optimistically) and 30 ohm impedance, but up to the levels within reach, and I guarantee enough for most listeners, the emission is as close to the original as I ever heard.
Reproduction of medium-low, medium and high range:
I combine everything because the quality levels are of absolute excellence. There remains the slightest doubt about the mostly female voices that seem to me even more clear on the Staxes, but I can't understand if this is due to the lack of fundamentals on the latter. The "Concerto pour 2 violons et viola de gambe en sol mineur RV578" performed by Jordi Savall is rendered with an almost violent medium-low dynamic range while maintaining absolute control.
Strengths: I would say that by reading above, all those that I consider the merits of this extraordinary loudspeaker system are widely listed. For the first time I found all the qualities I have always dreamed of combined in a single loudspeaker
Weaknesses: there is an important price to pay for touching on acoustic perfection. First the dimensions: the Tolteques are gigantic, one realizes how true it is only once seen live. Perhaps it is the one largest single system ever made. They need a dedicated environment of at least 50 square meters and I say dedicated because I fear that anyone who does not share your passion in the same way will find it difficult to live with these two black monoliths in an environment not exclusively dedicated to listening. On an aesthetic level, every effort has been made to make them elegant but the limits are objective.
Once inserted in the environment you will have to take care to space them at least one meter, better one and a half (from the panels) from the back wall, leave between 50cm and one meter for each side and a meter and a half between them. These spaces must then be left as clear of obstacles as possible. They are a pure dipole and we must pay attention to the reflected waves, especially in the low range. They should be left powered. The unpowered state for over 12 hours requires at least an hour to allow the cells to reach full efficiency once they are reconnected.
Shipping will be possible because there is all the original packaging
Delivery and installation will be possible in Europe, ask for quote
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