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Spatial Hologram M3 Turbo S modified for Europe

A man stands in front of a rack full of audio electronics. On the top shelf, a turntable. Next to it, an amplifier. Below that, a phono stage. The man pulls a record from its sleeve, places it on the platter and lowers the needle. This process is conducted with care and precision. Through the loudspeakers that flank this high-end audio system, we hear the needle find the record’s groove…

It’s a familiar scene – one that plays out time and again at almost every audio show around the world. However, we’re not at a hotel on the edge of town. We’re at a large apartment in the centre of Berlin. Think of it as an audio show with only one exhibit.

If this show were ‘all about the people’, I’d tell you that our host for the afternoon was one André Schwager, local representative of Mach One Classics who distribute Spatial Audio in Germany. But it isn’t all about the people.

If this show were ‘all about the music’, I’d tell you we listened to two cuts from the 2016 remaster of Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, two from Peter Gabriel Plays Live and two from Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine. But it isn’t all about the music.

No – this show demo was all about the audio hardware, specifically Spatial Audio’s Hologram M3 Turbo S loudspeakers. From within Germany, and recalling ELAC’s Eurozoned Uni-Fi range, these American open baffles have been tweaked aesthetically and sonically for the European market by Schwager and Mach One Classics mainman Robert Andorf.

The basic ingredients remain the same as the US model: a pair of 15” Eminence drivers – not off the shelf but built to Spatial’s specifications – with the uppermost housing a coaxially-aligned wide bandwidth compression driver.

The Hologram series are an everyman open baffle speaker: they’re more affordable; they connote and IKEA aesthetic and – most importantly – no geeking around is required for setup. Unlike Shaw’s previous active loudspeaker endeavour with Emerald Physics, Spatial’s Hologram M3 (and M4) require no outboard active crossover. Pretty much any amplifier gets us off the ground.

For the EU iteration, Schwager and Andorf have gone with a slightly modified passive crossover network. “I don’t know if Clayton (Shaw) changed it on the US version as well, you might want to ask him though”, says Schwager. I shall – when I see him in person in a few weeks.

All drivers are shipped to Mach One Classics directly from the Spatial shop in Ogden, Utah. The baffles are not. To side-step the hefty shipping costs of having two-layer HDF panels sent across the Atlantic, the European M3 Turbo S are made under licence in Bavaria but with three-layer MDF (30mm + 8mm + 30mm).

Mach One Classics’ woodshop is based in Manching, 10km south of Ingolstadt. Cutting, CNC-milling, MDF sandwich construction and veneer application all take place here.

Standard finishes (€4500/pair) are either black or white paint. A red version – this commentator’s favourite – is reportedly in the works.

After that come “special” finishes (€5000/pair): FENIX NTM, a nanoparticle based material which leaves no fingerprints; a wood veneer like Rose Oak; a SaRaiFo veneer like Apple Tree or Ebony or Santos Palisander, the latter seen in Schwager’s apartment.

Mach One Classics also have a metal guy, one Albert Lapp, who takes care of the feet and spikes, both redesigned for this Eurozoned version. Lapp and his €1,000,000 machine live in Neuburg an der Donau, 20km west of Ingolstadt.

Final assembly takes place at Andorf’s store in the heart of Ingolstadt. From there the loudspeakers are sent out to customers and/or dealers.

Schwager elaborates: “Starting in June, Robert will have (what he calls) the ‘First Ingolstädter Lautsprecher-Manufaktur’. The idea is to have people see and experience how the loudspeakers are assembled. We even had this idea of having a live-cam filming the assembly: say you order a red veneer version with a specific serial number; you then get a code to enter into the website and once assembly starts you can watch Robert and Oscar build your new speakers.”

How do they sound? I could tell you that I heard better extension in the top end but such an assertion is instantly robbed of reliability given Schwager’s unfamiliar (to me) room. Less debatable is Spatial’s ability to dynamically illuminate music at lower SPLs, just like the previously reviewed M4 Turbo S.

For a sonic assessment that readers can hang their hat (and wallet) on, an audio show report comes up woefully short, no matter how optimistic we feel about our ability to make a judgement call. Like any piece of audio gear, loudspeakers must be heard in a familiar room. A lounge or dedicated listening room. In my case, that’s the DARhaus. It turns out that my Neu-Bau apartment is a mere twenty minutes walk from Schwager’s.

Before the Euro-modded M3 Turbo S speakers land for review, we’ll be seeing Spatial Audio’s Clayton Shaw, along with André Schwager and Robert Andorf of Mach One Classics, at Munich High-End in a few weeks. From the floor of the M.O.C., expect to see further coverage of the European-ized Hologram M3 Turbo S as well as Shaw’s forthcoming active monsters, the X1 Uniwave.

Don’t expect shot-in-the-dark SQ evaluation or empty cliche espousal that it’s all about the music/people. It isn’t. DAR is not Pitchfork or Rolling Stone. Neither is it a country club. Music and people are both pleasant side dishes but they aren’t the main meal. That remains audio hardware.

Further information: Mach One Classics | Spatial Audio

Written by John H. Darko

John is the editor/publisher of DAR from which he derives an income from its ad revenues. John is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and lives in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR

11 Comments

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  1. Hi again John. Sounds like you are enjoying being nearer the hub of some exciting things in Berlin.
    I will be very keen to hear your thoughts after auditioning the euro-modified M3 turbos at the Berlin DARhaus.
    I’m curious to understand the reasons behind the modifications and what they are expected to achieve sonically.
    My dedicated listening room is nearing completion. And whilst Wilson’s Sabrinas might be an emotional and logical jump to current technology from my 20-year-old Watt Puppy’s, they do come at an eye-watering price The Spatials would seem to offer great value and performance for their money. But with a direct sales model to the UK, it would require a visit to Germany and/or funding the cost of shipment of a demonstration pair to the UK, to make a decision.
    I enjoy reading your dar.net posts, and look forward to your views on the new Euro-spatials.

    • Hey Phil,
      Robert would be more than happy to ship a pair to you. He has the exact same return policy like Clayton does in the US. Meaning: 45days minimum “listening time” at your dedicated listening room and go/no go decision after a maximum of 60 days. Sounds fair, right?

      I am pretty sure Robert will come up with a solution regarding the shipping costs.

      After the HighEnd Show Munich there might also be a U.K. based reseller … so shipping will get even more convenient.
      As always: It is just a matter of choice!

      Best regards and ears on the membranes,
      André

  2. Hang on a second… In order to “side-step the hefty shipping costs of […] two-layer HDF panels” they’ve actually made the speakers 1000 Euros more expensive by adding the European made baffles, thus nearly doubling the US price of the Spatials. Impressive move.

    • Indeed, that seems to be the case but I’m pretty sure that it’s more complex than a straight up currency conversion. Let this be the jumping off point for my conversation with Shaw and co. in Munich. 🙂

      • I’d actually truly appreciate that, as I fail to see the rationale behind this move. It’s also somewhat puzzling from a business/marketing perspective: it puts the M3 into a product segment where European customers can choose from top tier offerings of well-established brands like Harbeth (SHL5plus) or Audio Note (AN-E) – both of them are European made with proprietary drivers – and spend less.

    • Hey dexlerpoppe,
      First of, the discussion should be about how they sound and not how much they cost. Let me rephrase this: Value, not price. There is a huge difference in these two words and its meanings!

      Second of all: If you order a pair of SPATIALs to Germany you might end up saving less than expected. Why? Let’s do the math:
      US$ 2795 (speakers)
      US$ 800 (shipping air freight)
      US$ 153 (customs)
      US$ 674 (import sales tax)
      … which gives you a total of US$ 4422. This is roundabout € 4000. No easy return policies, no nothing included in here … not even a happy Robert. Trust me: You want him to be happy!

      Standard version starts at € 4500. So we are talking about € 500 of a difference here, not the above mentioned € 1000.
      The efforts Robert and I put into all the modifications are more than worth its price!

      Third of: Does it make sense to ship huge heavy boxes instead of to just ship the electronics and simply build the rest locally? Does it make sense to ship wood/HDF panels around half of the Earth, if you could source more regionally? Think global and act local!

      If you don’t believe in words, but sound: Be our guest at our booth at Munich’s High End Show!

      Listen carefully. I would be happy to get some (positive) feedback.

      Best, André

      • Thanks for the clarification on shipping costs, Andre. And yes, importing from the USA into Germany can be hard on the wallet. I know from repeated experiences these past six months that the Zollamt let nothing (nothing!) through without the appropriate duties/taxes being paid.

      • Hello André,
        Of course sound quality is of the highest priority, but as these speakers are also products which compete in a pretty fierce market segment for customers’ money, price does matter, and as such, is a valid discussion point.

        So let’s do the math. The M3 Turbo S is currently listed on the Mach One website for 3500 Eur/pair. http://www.machone-classics.de/lautsprecher.html
        That is my reference point.
        4500 – 3500 = 1000.
        Once there’s a EU distributor for Spatial products (you!), why would I bother ordering it form the US? That makes no sense.

        Yes, I know, the EU version is modified, and you say, it is better. I accept your opinion. But will I be able to (properly) judge it myself if it is better, worse, same or simply different? Highly unlikely. So could I ever possibly justify the price increase based on your “betterness” argument? No. I’m sorry, but this renders your claim moot _for me_.

        I’m glad you care about the environment, I do too. Of course, generally it makes sense to source materials from close proximity of manufacturing for a number of reasons, yet in complex dynamic systems (such as manufacturing processes) non-linearities can occur, and sometimes it means that seemingly counter-intuitive solutions are optimal. (Think post-WWII suburbanization processes in the US. First it seemed a very good idea to move people from crowded city centres to nice, green, suburban areas, then decades later came the ill-effects, we all know well.)
        All I’m saying is that, I’m not in the position to determine whether US or EU sourced panels have smaller carbon footprint. I don’t know where the wood is sourced from for the MDF slabs, how it is processed, what are the waste management policies and practices of the involved companies, how much transportation is needed, by what means, etc, etc, etc. I take your word, that it’s better for the environment this way. Moreover, I could fully accept that as a reason behind the price increase!

        • Hey dexlerpoppe,
          you are absolutely right! It says 3500€ on Robert’s website. I would get a pair if I where you! It is the best price in the EU you can possibly get! (And the only source since Robert is the distribution … haha.)

          Why wouldn’t you be able to judge for yourself? We simply need to find a way to make that happen. Join us at the show in Munich! What do you say? One beer is on the house (Robert or me). 🙂

          Of course, we can not see through the “mirror of “complex dynamic systems””. Just like you, we are customers of the different business partners making the “Euronized” M3 possible. We trust our partners. They all have top reputations, we know them in person and Robert of Mach One Classics has been doing business with them for some time now. Additionally we have Clayton to all the electronics, coming directly out of his factory to us. At the end: We as customers, have to trust the people behind their product – at least to some necessary extend. All I can say is that we do our very best to make beautiful audio equipment, like the “Euronized” SPATIAL M3 Turbo S. Trust me! 🙂
          See you at the Show in Munich! (Hopefully.)
          Best regards, André

  3. Beautiful finish on those M3’s. Looks like the new feet have the speakers tilting back slightly with just a little support in the front. Did they seem to tip forward easily? Although Clayton says they sell mainly the M3 turbo S, that model rolls off its highs compared to the smaller M4’s. I’d have to assume that it’s the crossover adjustment on these Euro modified versions that address that? I’m not sure how the tilting back would affect the frequency roll off because the compassion driver is already at ear height. Perhaps you could let us know after your review.

    • Hi Steve 21,
      Thank you! The finish on my SPATIAL M3s is a SaRaiFo veneer in the look of Palisander Santos / Bolivian Rosewood. Robert will bring some other beautiful veneer variations / options to the show in Munich. You are welcome to take a closer look there!
      Roll-off … I can’t hear any roll-off with these M3s. Maybe it’s my ears … or the crossover. 🙂 If you can, get a copy of AUDIO 5/2017. On page 35 you can find a diagram showing measurements on the frequency behavior. From my experience: Most of the time it is a matter of positioning the speakers in the room.
      Looking forward to seeing you at the show! (Hopefully!)
      Best, André

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