Pros: Air Motion Transducer is non fatiguing, extended and smooth. Seriously does not need a sub! Bass is tight, punchy and can go real low. Looks!
Cons: Burn-in process is a bit of a wait at 100-200 hours but usually an indication of a quality speaker.
So this is my first day impression of the Emotiva Stealth 8 speakers and I will be updating weekly untill I have come to the conclusion that I've finally made it through the burn-in process. Recommended burn-in time for these speakers are said to be at 100-200 hours so sit back and follow me through this process as we all know that there are not too many reviews about these speakers and being that there is non here on headfi makes it more interesting. Most owners claim to have reached the Stealths 8's full potential at a little over a month so the road to that audio nirvana is going to be a journey.
So I pulled the trigger for a pair of Emotiva Stealth 8 active speakers last week and I just received it today. Before this I was torn between the Stealth 6 and Stealth 8 speakers, I spent hours upon hours reading so what little review or comparisons there was between the two over and over like a mad man! I've also at times considered getting the Adam A7x but read to many bass issues about it, the KRK VXT 8, JBL LSR308 and the Genelec 8040a's but too pricey and honestly I think it's ugly, no offense 8040a owners. What lead me back to the Stealths was it's power and it's Air Motion Transducers, and I forgot to mention that B-2 bomber stealth look just simply catches my eye. Now what made me make the Stealth 8 decision was the thought of purchasing the 6's and forever keep wondering what the Stealth 8's would sound like and for just a few hundred bucks more I could of had had it. Plus it had power to spare and that low end extension would eliminate the need for a sub.
Now for my first day impression... let me start with Emotivas packaging. Like one reviewer mentioned...you could literally drop the package from a three story building and no harm will be done to the speakers. They come double boxed and the foam that surrounds the speakers are like mini bunkers or bomb shelters, well, not really but you know what I mean. There're real heavy as well and packaged separately for better handling. I think having both in one box will be too heavy for one to lift and dropping it at that weight won't be nice. After the unboxing I finally got a closer look and feel of the Stealth 8's and this I tell you right now that they look intimidating and stunning! The built quality looks and feels like it was made for the military, solidly built. They're also indeed very huge and not a good idea to be placing them on a desk because of it's sheer size, weight and the vibrations it will cause.
Sound quality...with the new Audioquest MacKenzie XLR cables and the new Stealths that needs burn-in and connected to an HRT HD DAC...right off the bat, I think it's simply AWESOME! Even without burn-in I'm simply loving everything I throw at these speakers. Dub-step, Electronic, Reggae, Pop, Country etc... these speakers have no trouble rendering all types of genres. The Speakers are dead quiet as well, no hissing when on pause. Imaging and soundstage is exceptional and will certainly change over time. Bass is deep and I feel a sub will absolutely not be necessary, perhaps because I have a medium sized room. The AMT's treble here is the most interesting one, I'm not not getting that scratching and piercing high frequencies I get from dome tweeters. I don't know exactly how to say it but the treble is there as if it's flowing through the air. It's just all around you and not pointed at you giving that piercing effect. But overall within the sound spectrum I still feel everything to be holding back still and should open up as I put in hours. I also have the Emotiva DC1 DAC that I will be adding to the mix so watch out for that. As of now I have the speakers being fed by an HRT HD DAC using the digital volume controls on iTunes, VOX and Fidelia music players and they go beyond normal listening level. Also, for alternate volume control I use the TC Electronics Level Pilot. Stay tuned for next weeks update as I should be in the 30th-50th burn-in phase. Remember, this is only my first day impression of the Stealth 8 and already it's a keeper.
A week and half into this at 35hrs burn-in time and things have gotten noticeably different, but before I begin I'd like to say that I did not expect the level of performance these speakers are capable of. For a medium sized room with the speakers on a pair of 35lbs. 27" steel stands filled with sand on spikes resting on spike pads its actually all I will ever need, anything else added will be overkill for me. First off, let me start with what I feel is its strongest qualities because I have no doubt in my mind I will never have to go through mentioning it ever again. Let me start with imaging, in this area I never fail to notice how instruments make the transition from one speaker to the next, I could easily tell left and right where everything is coming from, and this speakers simply does that with ease. Next is it's dynamics, this is the quality most obvious to me, because as soon as I hit play I immediately feel that power, energy and speed, especially when I go beyond listening level in which I only did once to see how these speakers can handle such punishment and to my surprise they did it with aplomb! Next is bass response, and as I mentioned before I absolutely do not need a sub and at this point of the burn-in process it seems to me like the bass is getting tighter. Kick drums, impact and punch are beginning to sound natural. Next is the AMT rendering the high frequencies, and as I mentioned earlier it is not sharp or piercing, I still find myself in awe at how the treble seems to be hovering around me, it’s airy and spherical, little has changed here at the moment but I feel the changes in the mid bass driver only enhances what I’m hearing on the AMT’s. Next is soundstage, and with all my experiences I think this is where your sources and cables make that magic. At the moment I have the HRT HD DAC which gives a wide musical presentation. I have the speakers 6ft. apart but vocals seem to be coming from the center and could tell where instruments are left to right and the space between them. At this point the speakers are barely broken in so hang on for the next coming weeks to find out what the speakers are truly like.
It's been three months since my last update and a lot has happened, including the long awaited complete burn-in process of the Emotiva Stealth 8 speakers and the cables in use. I've had a lot of things involved to get to where I'm at right now, and it will stay as it is. Within the three month period I've had auditioned different DAC Preamps, power cables and XLR interconnects, including the great Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC Preamp, one that I had previously reviewed here on Headfi and have not completed. You might be shocked to hear that I've sold my Emotiva Stealth DC-1 (to a nice fella in Denmark) and HRT Music Streamer HD, and now have purchased the HD once again. But this time it's a different beast, because now I've added the AQVOX USB Power Supply from Germany to the chain and with it comes a dramatic increase in performance, performance in which the DC-1 cannot match. It is much more dynamic, transparent and actually surpasses the DC-1 in every sound category besides all the connectivity the DC-1 possesses. Other DACS that I've auditioned are not even worth mentioning because it was either thin and cold sounding or just plain dull. As for power cables... I got a pair of Pangea AC9 Mll and AC14 SE MKll power cables, and here again one might be shocked to hear that I prefer the AC14SE MKll power cables for the Stealth 8's than the AC9MKll. Why, because the AC9 MKll was made for power amps and the AC14's are made for sources. But in this case it's the AC14SE MKll that performed the best for these speakers. Interconnects....Kimber Kable Hero, Zu Audio Misson, Audioquest MacKenzie and Yukon and the latter is the best sounding hands down.
So now here we are, the Emotiva Stealth's are fully burned-in and performing at it's full potential. One thing I've learned through out was that these speakers are extremely revealing of your sources, interconnects and power cables. These speakers like I mentioned before are dynamic, transparent and powerful. So it is complicated to describe how they truly sound because they're very revealing and truthful to what you put in the chain therefore they act as windows or mirrors to what ever you connect to it. It is simply spectacular! It is certainly a big speaker so they sound huge. I still do not need a sub for these as I've mentioned before.