PART 2 - THE SHOOTOUTS

Panelists Abbreviations:

JP: John Prator  GD: Gary Dodd  MB: Marvin Bolden  AS: Art Smuck  RG: Russ Gates

 

ROUND #1

 

SHOOTOUT #1

Outlaw Bookshelf vs. Silverline

Outlaw Strengths

JP: Nice depth, large stage, nice imaging. nice musical speaker.

GD: Good overall sound, full bass, good extension

AS: Solid center image, long low kick

Outlaw Weaknesses

JP: A bit soft, recessed bass

MB: Slower pace, mids & bass disjointed

Top not as airy or refined, muffled, bass wobbly, not much I like about these

                                                                         

Silverline Strengths

JP:  Strong & quick bass, good placement of instruments, large stage

MB: Smooth highs, good pace, bass more musical

AS: Good tones, drums realistic-skins & sticks palpable, faster than speaker B, good depth & image

Silverline Weaknesses

JP: Starting to sound a little boomy. At first I liked it, but it started to sound slightly hollow

MB: Output limited

RG: Slightly hot top end, hollow low end, vocals compressed

GD: Thin, no musicality, veiled highs & mids, noise problem

AS: Image not as solid as B

VOTES

Outlaw:

JP, RG, GD

Silverline:

MB, AS

Outlaw favored 3 to 2

Everyone thought their favorite was “Clearly better”

SHOOTOUT #2

RAW HT-2 vs. Role Audio Kayak

HT-2 Strengths

JP: Nice decay, big sound, musical midrange, images well, I enjoyed vocals

MB: Good bass extension, clear highs, imaging good, good upper detail, mids open and airy

GD: nice mids, bass a little heavy masking mids & highs

AS: Big low end, better layering, larger stage, more forward, better body

RG: Clean mids, very pleasant top with a hint of sparkle, could be a good listening experience with sub

HT-2  Weaknesses

JP: Highs slightly rolled off

MB: A little slow

GD: Too boxy, very forward, too much bottom

AS: Top rolled off, kind of muffled/boxy

RG: Boxy bass, lacks some control, slightly congested

                                                                         

Kayak Strengths

JP:  Nice set up If a sub is added

MB: cymbal good without being tinny

GD: Pretty good mids, bass non-existent, more natural sounding, nice imaging, may be good with sub

AS: Open top end, stage recessed,

RG: Female vocal very natural, decent soundstage and image, stable top end

Kayak Weaknesses

JP: Sounds small & slightly boxy

MB: Small sounding, lacks detail throughout range, needs a sub for sure

RG: No real bottom end, lacks any real weight to the music

GD: Thin, no musicality, veiled highs & mids, noise problem

AS: stage narrower than other, sounds like Bose Acoustimass (small & weak)

VOTES

RAW HT-2:

JP, MB, AS

Role Audio Kayak:

GD, RG

RAW HT-2 favored 3 to 2

There was much discussion about this comparison and some uncertainty as to which speaker to favor. Everyone thought the Kayak’s virtues, other than the lack of bass and weight, were better than the HT-2’s. Some asked for guidance, but I told them to vote the way they thought best. Though the HT-2 won in a close vote, the feeling was unanimous that the Kayak with a well suited subwoofer would be a better choice. It is worth pointing out that the Kayak retails for $695 while the RAW is $999.  - Publisher

 

SHOOTOUT #3

HYPERION HWS-585 vs. XLS NINJA

HYPERION Strengths

JP: Decent detail but sounds slightly grainy. Soundstage well centered, decent depth

MB: good wide soundstage

GD: nice sound but a little congested, bottom a little closed in and boxy, image ok

AS: Realistic cymbals and vocals, good staging, depth & layering

RG: Great layering and depth, well balanced throughout, good bass control

HYPERION Weaknesses

JP: Smaller stage than other, a little dry and thin in comparison

MB: Pace is slow, drums not seamless, slow attack takes away from excitement

AS: vocals recessed more than other, low end not as full, narrower image than other

RG: vocals forward a tad, a little on the hot side of neutral

                                                                         

NINJA Strengths

JP:  Nice decay, big soundstage, good detail, Musical, my toe was tapping

MB: Highs lively & detailed, Good mids, image is good with pinpoint detail, more air around vocals, pace right on, more musical

GD: Very nice speaker, good image, depth, solid, very good low level details, very musical, easy to find placement of instruments , clean

AS: Good balance top to bottom, low end really solid, stage nice width & special cues, mids/vocals very nice

RG: Amazing low end, very deep and open, pleasant overall sound, good weight and size, no sub needed

NINJA Weaknesses

JP: Slightly tinny on top

MB: A little more midbass than I like

RG: Slightly recessed mid, slight edge on male vocals

AS: Thought it was more open on top, but as I listened more it was kind of bright, not as layered as other

VOTES

Hyperion:

None

Ninja:

ALL

NINJA favored 5 to 0

 

SHOOTOUT #4

 

LSA 1 vs. Unity Audio Inner Spirit

 

LSA Strengths

JP: Clean sound, open & airy, nice balance

MB: Good bass extension, nice full sound, good soundstage, good speed

GD: Good image, vocals good, fairly well balanced top to bottom, sounds like metal dome tweeter

AS: Balanced tone, nice stage width & layering Good detail, solid low end, nice air, cymbals on Lovett very real

RG: Well balanced bass & mids, punchy bass, energetic & lively, fun speaker to listen to – gets your toe tapping

LSA  Weaknesses

JP: A little hot on top

MB: maybe slightly boxed in

AS: Image a tad bunched up, maybe a little hot on top in places

RG: Slightly hot top end

                                                                         

Inner Spirit Strengths

JP:  Honestly, none compared to other speaker

MB: none

GD: Sounds like a single driver, maybe 4”

AS: None I could find, seriously….none

RG: It makes sound

Inner Spirit Weaknesses

JP: Flat sound, weak bass, recessed vocals, not much imaging or soundstage

MB: Very boxy, thin, needs sub

RG: it makes sound

GD: very thin and lifeless, not musical

AS:  narrow, thin, no low end, no depth

VOTES

LSA 1:

JP, MB, AS, RG, GD

Unity Inner Spirit:

None

 

SHOOTOUT #5

GINI LS3/5A vs. RAW RAV-1

GINI Strengths

JP: Decent detail, nice imaging, nice placement of vocals

MB: Pretty good detail, nice wide stage, good extension on high end

GD: Good imaging, highs are ok

AS: More open sounding, better air, good stage depth & layering

RG: Good bass weight & energy, strings and vocals pleasing & more real than other, balanced top & mids. Sounds like a British monitor (It is! – publisher)

GINI  Weaknesses

JP: Presentation seems a little thin, smaller soundstage, seems compressed

MB: Tempo drags a little, mids to upper mids a little thin (It’s that British dip, Marvin – publisher)

AS: Narrower stage, lowest bass missing, thinner throughout

RG: Soundstage slightly compressed

GD: Bass is a little h heavy, masking vocals making them slightly thick

                                                                         

RAV-1 Strengths

JP:  Nice placement, big sound & soundstage, musical, very open & airy

MB: Good attack, large stage with good imaging, depth good, smooth highs, great bass, good tonality

GD: Good overall sound, good image and depth, musical, easy to listen to

AS: Punchy bass, good space & layering, bigger sound, good texture on instruments – very musical

RG: Lush sound, on the warm side of neutral, full body & texture, expansive soundstage

RAV-1 Weaknesses

MB: Maybe a little more extension on the high end

RG: Bass a tad exaggerated and boxy on percussion, vocals sound thick & chunky

GD: Slightly light in lower bass

AS:  Closed in at times, but more open on vocal tracks

VOTES

GINI LS3/5A

RG

RAW RAV-1

JP, MB, AS, GD

RAW RAV-1 favored 4 to 1

 

This ends the first round – since there were 11 speakers,

the Epos gets a bye into Round #2

 

 

ROUND #2

The winners of round #1, plus the Epos, go head to head

Round #1 took 4 hours to complete – we broke for lunch to eat and clear our heads before round #2. Panelists also switched places for round #2 - publisher

 

 

RAW HT-2 vs. Outlaw Audio Bookshelf

 

HT2 Strengths

JP: Smooth presentation, good detail, very nice decay with slightly recessed image. This set seems well rounded and musical

GD: Excellent midrange & vocals, easy to listen to, better overall musicality than other

AS: Good stage depth & layering, natural sounding, good details but still sweet top end, imaging spacing better

RG: Natural balanced sound, clean bass extension though not terribly deep, outstanding vocals

MB: Width, depth of stage good, open mids, good musical presentation, clear, tight kick drums

HT2  Weaknesses

JP: At times, bass could be just slightly boomy, but this could be to seating alone

MB: Tempo drags a little, mids to upper mids a little thin (It’s that British dip, Marvin – publisher)

AS: Tad thin mids at times

RG: Lacks weight on some percussion, might pair well with a good subwoofer

GD: Bass could go a little lower

Outlaw Strengths

JP:  More laidback presentation, though still pleasant

MB: Nice, rich midrange

GD: vocals forward, soundstage very stable & solid

AS: Punchy bass, good space & layering, bigger sound, good texture on instruments – very musical

RG: Stable image & stage, laid back top end

Outlaw Weaknesses

JP: Limited bass, kick drums more muffled than other

MB: Maybe a little more extension on the high end

RG: Exaggerated bass, vocals slightly compressed or strained in comparison

GD: Slightly cloudy

AS: Bass sounds forward & overworked, less natural than other, not balanced top to bottom

VOTES

RAW HT-2

None

OUTLAW AUDIO BOOKSHELF

ALL

OUTLAW AUDIO BOOKSHELF FAVORED 5 -0

 

 

 

 

 

NINJA XLS vs.LSA-1

NINJA Strengths

JP: Nice centered presentation, full sound, well rounded. Hard hitting bass, Musical & pleasant

GD: Good bass extension, nice vocals, detail is good, image is high

AS: Good body & fullness, string low end, texture & naturalness vocals full, very musical

RG: Detailed strings, good image & stage, deep bass extension, Full range, full body & weight

MB: Wide stage, good extensions on extremes, imaging good, great bass

NINJA  Weaknesses

JP: Not a rock solid image with vocals, possibly slightly veiled

GD: Veiled vocals, slightly fat bottom end

AS: Bit recessed at times on highs, low end too forward at times

RG: Lacks weight on some percussion, might pair well with a good subwoofer

MB: Maybe a little too forward in the mids

LSA Strengths

JP:  Nice imaging, good soundstage, Placement of instruments good with vocals front & center

MB: Wide soundstage, very good details

GD: I could hear the fingers on the strings, great detail, very lifelike, smooth good balance, very nice vocal range

AS: Detailed & clean sounding

RG: Lively, stable image and soundstage

LSA Weaknesses

JP: For some reasons, the low end seems to be missing something for me

MB: Bass extension

RG: Top end a little hot, unrealistic percussion in comparison

GD: Slightly lacking in very bottom

AS: Thinner low end than other, narrower stage

VOTES

NINJA XLS

AS, MB, RG,

JP (noted very subtle differences)

LSA 1

GD

XLS NINJA FAVORED 4-1

 

Important note: According to the designer, the LSA One's were designed from the outset to be used in a bi-wire configuration.The user manual states this. Because all speakers were tested in a single wire configuration, these speakers were not heard in their best light. Having reviewed them myself, I can attest that they sound better when set up as specified - publisher.

 

 

 

 

EPOS 12.2 vs. RAW RAV-1

EPOS Strengths

JP: Smooth decent soundstage, more solid image than other, big sound, smooth vocals

GD: Good detail & image, more body to guitar, clean reproduction, full rich body

AS: Wide stage, smooth tone but still good on detail, good resolution on finger picking, better stage width than other

RG: Detailed yet lush, solid bass impact and weight, good overall soundstage

MB: Large, rich sound, good bass extension

EPOS  Weaknesses

JP: Doesn’t seem to dig quite as deep as other, slightly veiled

AS: Bit recessed at times on highs, low end too forward at times

RG: Slight compression in lower mids, hint of boxiness/chuffing on kick drums

MB: High not as extended, low mids cover up some high detail

RAV-1 Strengths

JP: Smooth with nice lows, I like the details, somewhat forward, mids more pleasant to my ears

MB: Full, rich sound with great upper mid detail, wonderful tonality, wide stage, tight clean bass

GD: Good overall, though a little thin

AS: Better lowest end, deeper layered stage, good inner detail without being overbearing, cleaner & more air, more natural

RG: Good bass definition, detailed top end, sweet vocals, realistic percussion

RAV-1 Weaknesses

JP: Not the most solid imaging

MB: Bass is tight but sometimes a little thin

RG: Soundstage not quite as wide in comparison

GD: Slightly tipped on top, a little thin

AS: Maybe a little grainy at some points, a tad tippy but not too bad

VOTES

EPOS 12.2

JP (very subtle difference, this had slightly better midrange)

AS (Subtle differences)

MB  (clear differences)

RG (subtle differences – more lifelike vocals and percussion)

 

RAW RAV 1

GD (Subtle differences - cleaner)

EPOS 12.2 FAVORED 4-1

THIS ENDS ROUND #2

The voting here, as should be expected, was much closer with several panelists

asking for more replays and more switching  - publisher

Winners go to semi-finals

Bear in mind that most of these comments are “compared to the other speaker” – publisher

 

 

 

 

Outlaw Audio Bookshelf vs. EPOS 12.2

Outlaw Strengths

JP: Laid back presentation, good on strings

RG: Impressive low end, warm sound

MB: Wide soundstage, full bass

Outlaw Weaknesses

JP: Somewhat muffled bass  - a bit veiled overall

AS: Veiled, bass not as good

RG: Lacking layering, hollow percussion

GD: Bass doesn’t sound as correct

EPOS Strengths

JP:  Nice detail with pleasing presentation, did well with vocals, solid image, hard hitting bass, more musical

MB: Wide stage with good imaging and detail, upper end clearer with tighter bass, more believable musical experience

GD: Good image and vocals in midrange, I like highs better, clearer overall sound, I enjoyed this speaker

AS: Detail good, image & stage good, more natural, solid & more musical

RG: Midrange, vocals, bass articulation & control, overall better presentation of vocals

EPOS Weaknesses

JP: Limited bass, kick drums more muffled than other

MB: Bass a little thumpy

RG: Subtle cues of brightness on top

GD: Slightly cloudy

VOTES

OUTLAW AUDIO BOOKSHELF

NONE

 

EPOS 12.2

AS (difference was clear)

MB (difference was clear)

RG (difference was clear)

GD (difference was very clear)

JP (difference was clear)

EPOS 12.2 BOOKSHELF FAVORED 5-0

 

 

 

Outlaw Audio Bookshelf vs. XLS NINJA

 

Outlaw Strengths

JP: Big soundstage with open sound, good decay, I really enjoyed the sax on this one!

RG: Impressive low end, warm sound

MB: Wide soundstage, full bass

AS: Deeper bass, better stage depth, smoother

Outlaw Weaknesses

JP: Slightly veiled

AS: Veiled, bass not as good

RG: Lacking layering, hollow percussion

GD: Bass doesn’t sound as correct

NINJA Strengths

JP:  Nice detail with pleasing presentation, did well with vocals, solid image, hard hitting bass, more musical

MB: Wide stage with good imaging and detail, upper end clearer with tighter bass, more believable musical experience

GD: Good image and vocals in midrange, I like highs better, clearer overall sound, I enjoyed this speaker

AS: Balanced tone, more detailed and cleaner, better vocals and more natural bass

RG: Midrange, vocals, bass articulation & control, overall better presentation of vocals

NINJA Weaknesses

JP: Limited bass, kick drums more muffled than other

MB: Bass a little thumpy

RG: Subtle cues of brightness on top

GD: Slightly cloudy

VOTES

OUTLAW AUDIO BOOKSHELF

NONE

 

XLS NINJA

AS (difference was clear)

MB (difference was clear)

RG (difference was clear)

GD (difference was very clear)

JP (difference was clear)

EPOS 12.2 BOOKSHELF FAVORED 5 -0

 

 

EPOS 12.2 vs. Ninja XLS

EPOS Strengths

JP: Nice detail

MB: Good detail and soundstage

GD: nice speaker, good image

RG: Good overall presentation, decent stage and image

EPOS  Weaknesses

JP: Bass shy in comparison

MB: Thumpy bass

GD: Slight weakness in bass

RG: Top end hot in comparison

                                                                         

XLS NINJA Strengths

JP: Nice and warm with very good bass, big sound with big solid soundstage

MB: Great detail, wide soundstage, open with rich tonality, good depth, open airy sound, good harmonics

GD: More full bodied sound, very smooth

RG: Good balanced sound, full, lush and liquid, involving with good presence & speed Soundstage blossomed.

How much? I might like a pair. Best overall image and presentation Russ, $995 from Skiing Ninja - publisher

XLS NINJA Weaknesses

None listed

VOTES

EPOS:

None

XLS NINJA:

GD, RG, MB, AS, JP

Everyone said the differences were clear or very clear

XLS NINJA favored 5 to 0

 

 

Take me to the measurements!

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