I absolutely love the NHT 3.3s, still among the very best dynamic speakers I’ve ever heard. The bi-amp mods I did made a small but noticeable improvement. Using Dirac brought things up another notch. The 3.3s are dynamic, have a tonally neutral balance, very clean and articulate bass, and can play very loud without strain. The imaging is very “they are here” rather than “you are there,” but has a remarkable precision which I attribute to excellent pair matching and (even more importantly) the Ken Kantor innovation he called “Focused Image Geometry,” which was a nice marketing term meaning “angles built-in to minimize interaural crosstalk when the speakers are placed in the recommended position with respect to the listening position.” I got these speakers in the early 2000s and have used them continually through five relocations and have no desire for a modernization or upgrade.
For all that, I miss the special sound of the dipole panel speakers I’ve used over the years. Many decades ago during my grad school days, I managed to scrape together enough money to get a pair of Magnaplanar MG-1s. Power hogs but with limited maximum volume, placement prima donnas, soft highs with complete treble cutoff for any standing listener taller than Verne Troyer, and relatively restricted bass. Loved them, but eventually yearned for something more dynamic and sold them off. Years later, I succumbed to the panel urge again and got some Quad ESL-57s. That was a passionate but short-lived affair: the strong points just couldn’t outweigh the weak points. A couple decades later, Acoustat 1+1 graced my living room. They had decent dynamics and took well to subwoofing. Eventually, though, the needed panel repairs were overwhelming (diaphragms tearing, wires breaking loose) and I had moved to one of a series of places where the ceilings were too low. So I went back to dynamics and started my M3.3 project. I lived with those happily for 20 years, but the panel itch was almost overwhelming at times.
I had always lusted after Quad ESL-63s- more dynamic than the ’57s, better imaging- but they were always either financially out of reach or the ones I ran into needed too much work. But I kept hope alive… and was just rewarded by a mint pair of ‘988s at a sweet sweet price. And now this is my listening area:
Next step: dipole subwoofers. Drivers have arrived. Stay tuned…