Product Review

Final Sound 400i Full-Range Electrostatic Floor-Standing Speakers

Part II

February, 2006

John E. Johnson, Jr.


The Set-up

I placed the 400is 10 feet apart, and 4 feet out from the rear and side walls, toeing them in at about 300. The reason for the large toe in angle is that ELSs are very directional, with a narrow sweet spot. Some manufacturers curve the front panel to widen the dispersion, but this can cause smearing, since frequencies from one part of the panel are farther or nearer to you than other parts of the panel. Final Sound has alleviated this somewhat by making the panel narrow.

Other equipment included a McCormack transport and DAC, a Yamaha universal DVD player, BAT VK-5i preamplifier, and McIntosh MC-1201 power amplifiers. Cables were Nordost. For surround sound, I used a Lexicon MC-12B SSP and Classe CA-5200 power amplifier. Additional Final Sound ESLs were used for the other channels.

Full chorus and orchestra is a good test for a speaker's ability to keep instruments and voices separate, such as this new Telarc SACD that includes Motets by Copland (Telarc SACD-60654).

Such accomplishments are a hallmark for ESLs because the driver (the membrane) is so lightweight. In fact, the 400is were especially so because of their relatively small size.



Ray Kimber produced this IsoMike SACD (7-26441-55591-5). IsoMike is a recording procedure where the microphones are very close together, but separated by acoustic foam.

Track 1, "Drum Kit Practice", has some snare drum and cymbal work that has plenty of transients. Again, the 400is did very well here because of that lightweight membrane.

The bass was not deep due to the small size, so I used some Velodyne subwoofers to bring up the bass drum kicks. As I mentioned, deep bass is not a fort of ESLs, so a subwoofer is almost universally needed.


Here is another IsoMike recording produced by Ray Kimber in 2006 (7-26441-55802-2), but instead of just test tracks like the previous disc, this one is a jazz group.

Joe McQueen is 86 years old, and still knows how to rock. Sax, bass, drums, and piano make for fast paced sound, but the 400is kept up.

This is the first time I have used small ESLs in the front, and I have to say that their small size gives them an extremely fast sound. Detail is incredible. You just need those subwoofers for the bass. As you will see in the bench tests, the 400is roll off steeply at the low end.


I watched The Constant Gardner, using Final Sound ESLs all around, and although ESLs are notoriously directional, I did not notice much attenuation off-axis. This is because the Final Sound design is narrower than most ESLs out there. These ESLs are tall and thin.

I was surprised at how loud the 400is could play. I think this is due to their new driver technology. And, it did not take much power to drive them.

Click Here to Go to Part III.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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