Axpona 2014 show report from Part Time Audiophile

Walter Liederman of Emerald Physics ought to be pleased with himself. He’s managed to shepherd to market a relatively affordable,
reliably excellent, state-of-the-art audio experience in his Emerald Physics lineup.

The speakers are DSP-controlled and while that gets you in the ballpark of acoustically optimal more often than not, is still looked askance 
by many. But the perception of downsides are all just that. Perceptions. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And this is a tasty little dish.

The CS3 Mark 2 can sit as close as 2′ from the front wall. This is a controlled-directivity design, so sidewall, floor and ceiling bounce
reflections are simply not as problematic. The driver arrangement in the CS3 is a coincident setup, which create that point-source sound
8Ω, 45Hz-22kHz and 95dB, these are pretty nifty at $3,500/pair (in black) and do include the external DSP2.4 EQ/Crossover. That 
crossover also includes low-bass outputs for weaving in a sub. 

Shown here with the new $2,200 Emerald Physics EP100.2SE Special Edition 100wpc hybrid digital amplifier. This amp has an 
analog PSU, hence the “hybrid” label. A $1,200 REL T9 subwoofer handled the down-low. The $1,200 DSPeaker Anti-Mode Dual 
Core 2.0 was used as the preamp, DAC and room correction device. A Mac Mini sourced the files into the DSPeaker.

On the whole, this room was quite convincing. Walter was offering the entire system (minus the PS Audio DAC) at just under 
$6,000 as a show-special, trying to demonstrate how great sound doesn’t have to cost more than a BMW. I’d say he nailed it. 
The sound here was very dynamic, open and expressive.

The fact that this was one of the busiest rooms at the show says that I’m not alone in thinking this.

See the entire report at:

Positive Feedback ISSUE 70
november/december 2013

December 2013 Positive Feedback online review of the CS2P said:
The Emerald Physics CS2P and their amplifiers provide almost everything most music lovers want. A beautiful
open sound, spectacular dynamics, thundering bass, and pinpoint imaging combine to allow the listener to 
appreciate the heart and soul of the music. That this is all possible for around $5000 is amazing. The most 
negative thing I have to say about this system is that the speakers are large, and may be difficult to integrate 
and accept in some rooms. The size is unavoidable, given the open baffle design approach. However, the 
engineering design of the CS2Ps, combined with the judicious use of digital signal processing, is brilliant.  
It is possible to get better sound than this, but one has to spend thousands more to do so. I would say that the 
weakest part of the performance of the system is in high frequency detail and transparency. These are good, 
but perhaps not as good as some other aspects of the system. Emerald Physics can probably upgrade performance 
further by improving the digital processing. This speaker may not be for the most die-hard of audiophiles
– it's lacking some of the liveness, coherency, and rhythmic drive of the best systems – but it gets you very close 
to that ideal for a relatively small amount of money. I also want to single out the Emerald Physics amplifiers, 
especially the 100W amps. I'm not sure how they would do in a system with radically different speakers, but I 
found few shortcomings when used with the CS2Ps. They look pretty modest but they pack a wallop! The 
Emerald Physics speakers are only available for purchase  over the Internet. It is hard to audition them, 
except at regional audio shows or in the home of someone  who has purchased them. I strongly encourage 
you to take advantage of any such opportunity, or,  give Walter Liederman a call at Underwood  HiFi on Maui. 
You won't regret it. Michael Wechsberg

Read the entire review at:

The Emerald Physics CS3 Loudspeakers, Wyred 4 Sound mINT, and REL T7 Sub-Bass System A Seestem-atic review

"In fact, much of the time I spent listening to the CS3’s I spent marveling at how much of that time was spent NOT paying attention to the speakers. I mean—as big as they are you really cannot hear them out as sources of sound! It’s actually freaky at times. It’s just so liberating to sit down for a change, and feel like music is happening somewhere up there on a stage, and that those wooden panels are just kind of standing there for no apparent reason- because the sound doesn’t seem to be emanating from them. In this regard, it really is like listening to a ‘mini-monitor on steroids’- but without the artificial ‘laser pinpoint’ thing I find artifactual and distracting. Rather, even well-localized images are dimensional and physical—bigger and more realistic."

"One thing about the EP set up I especially loved was the way the Behringer frees you from the usual tedium of having to make tiny subwoofer crossover adjustments to ensure a sub like the Rel mates seamlessly with your front speakers. With the Behringer doing that kind of work for you, you need only position the sub well, then twiddle your subs volume control to taste. Easy! In point of fact, all told, it took longer to unpack and ‘assemble’ the CS3’s than to set up the entire system under review."

"I’ve definitely heard EP-like openness and depth before from the panels I’ve owned in the past (Soundlab Dynastats, Martin Logan’s, Maggies, Quad 63’s etc), but none of these speakers were doing the open ‘n airy dipole thing whilst serving up so much dynamic verve – carrying as big a set of Bowls-- as the CS3s. In this regard, the CS3s were revelatory."

"What I’m saying is, in terms of macro and micro dynamics the EP CS3s are more or less unrivaled in my experience. In fact, I came to think of them less as fragile ‘audiophile’ speakers and more as pro audio devices that tell it like it is, and are unbreakable in the process."

"In short, at times, it’s a lot like being there."

"In sum, I’d say I’ve heard some speakers do some things better than the CS3, but I’ve never heard a speaker do so many things so very well—and for so relatively paltry a sum. That last part’s pretty much unprecedented.

Here we have a high-efficiency dipole with balls to the wall micro and macro dynamics, spooky imaging, fuss free positioning/subwoofer integration and a flat in-room frequency response in YOUR room, which works and plays well with all manner of amplifiers.

What’s that kinda integration worth to you? How ‘bout $2,995.00 for the speakers and crossover ala carte."
Read the entire review at:

Most Recommended Speakers of 2011

Review quote from the Affordable Audio CS3 review:

"Overall though, I absolutely love these speakers. They image better than anything I have heard (including floorstanders that retail for $40K), they are relatively easy to drive (95 dB), flexible about placement, and they make most any other speaker sound "lifeless" in comparison. Sure, there are inconveniences here too. The best part about the speakers (the Behringer DCX2496 and its associated settings from Emerald Physics) also happens to be the worst part. Be sure that you seriously consider the practical limitations of this device (and even the system upgrades you might be considering) before committing to a pair of these. I can only conclude this review with a classic audiophile compliment/criticism that you see in so many classified ads for used Hi-Fi. You know the line...."I liked component X so much, that I immediately upgraded it to model Y from the same company". I feel the same way about these speakers.

I am so impressed with the CS3, that I now have my sights set on their top-of-the-line CS2.3's."

Read the entire review at:
Review starts on page 3

Emerald Physics CS3 Loudspeaker System ($2,995.00/pair): After only a couple weeks into our relationship, I was smitten by these rather unusual visitors from the future. The CS3 is the apartment-friendly baby of the Underwood Hi Fi managed/owned EP line, and consists of two flat panel speakers employing very high efficiency, large, concentric drivers, whose power handling stats fall just shy of Metallica’s touring rig. The system is designed to be used with a sub – kind of a must, as the main speaks hit bottom at about 70Hz or so. So now we’re talking ultra-high efficiency, super high power handling, large concentric drivers paired with a separate sub??!! Sounds like a mismatch in the making, right? And it would be—if you, my friend, were controlling how it all blends. Thing is, you aren’t. See, the crossover is external and completely digital and this processor also improves tremendously upon the system’s measured in-room performance, allowing for astonishingly flat in-room frequency response and ease of placement that would make a table radio jealous. But it all wouldn’t matter if… this system didn’t deliver punishing dynamics, the best imaging I may ever have heard from a pair of loudspeakers (it’s really uncanny at times!) and lightning quick pace. Yep—the computer-aided perfection extends to the tonality as well, making this system among the most amazing speaker systems I have yet to hear. Oh—I should probably add—at any price. (words by David Abramson: extra vote by Clement Perry, Editor)

Call me to discuss these amazing speakers


The following review quotes are from the original CS2 reviews. 
                                     All our current speakers are considerably better.

"And what of this giant-killer thing? Well, the Emerald Physics/Wyred 4 Sound combination retails for $6495 with these four channels of included amplification. Should you already have two channels of amplification of your own, the CS2s can even be ordered with an ART Applied Research Technology SLA2 professional amplifier that pumps out 200 stereo watts into the CS2s bass drivers for a paltry $400. And should you have four suitable channels of power already, their relative levels can be adjusted via the Behringer and you can make them work marvelously, too. The point is that this is one extremely flexible system and your options are just about endless.   It's extremely difficult to divide up a budget of $6500 (or less—way less) between a single pair of speakers and even a stereo amplifier and find another package that'll combine to outstrip this system under review in most of the criteria that I find important; full extension at the frequency extremes, transparency and immediacy, and dynamic articulation. In fact, I can't think of anything that comes close. So yes, if full-frequency extension, transparency, real-world dynamics and, most of all, truth are what you are looking for in a speaker system, then yeah, you owe it to yourself to hear these giant killers. John Potis

Read the full Positive Feedback review at:


In The Absolute Sound review of the original CS2 Robert Greene summed up with:

"I think of how little the Emerald Physics CS2s cost for what they do. This is the world of DSP as it should be. By comparison, the little boxes that people are sometimes paying the Emerald Physics’ price for—or even many times that price—seem like toys, unable to offer the power and scale, the dynamics, the top to bottom transparency and the sheer quantity of musical information that the Emerald Physics speakers produce, always with a feeling of complete ease and without demanding much amplifier power. After this, I would find it really hard to go back to little boxes, no matter how good the little box might be nominally. So will you, I think, if you have a vivid memory of concert sound. No speaker is perfect, and perhaps with price-no-object drivers and so on, designer Clayton Shaw could produce even more remarkable sound, albeit at a higher cost. But the Emerald Physics CS2 comes remarkably close to putting at your ears the literal sound of the recordings you play on it, via the all-important minimized interaction with your listening room. Good by any standard, at its price it is quite amazing. A wonderful achievement in speaker design."

Read the entire review at: 

End user feedback. Below are emails sent to us by Emerald Physics owners. These are the best comments that we can make on the speakers:

1) Walter, I just wanted to drop you a note. I received and set up my CS2.3s yesterday. Based on my conversations with you and Clayton, I was expecting them to sound noticeably better than my CS2s - which, would be quite a feat since, as you know, the CS2s were my favorite speakers I have owned in 30+ years of pursuing the quest for the illusion of live music. Within the first THIRTY SECONDS of listening I realized that I was wrong. Even without any break in, they are MUCH better. Jaw dropping, really. And my wife had the same reaction. She has a great ear, but she’s not obsessed with the quest. She was looking forward to the upgrade mainly due to the appearance of the CS2.3s. But after a few minutes she said that even if they didn’t look any different, the upgrade was definitely worth it. That was icing on the cake to me.

Some months ago I was considering purchasing CS1s and asked Clayton to compare the sound of the CS1 vs CS2. He described the sound of the CS1 as “majestic,” which intrigued me as a description. I’ve used a lot of superlative adjectives to describe my CS2s, but majestic never seemed to apply to them. As soon as the 2.3s started playing, I understood what Clayton meant by that word. As realistic as the CS2s sounded, the
2.3s are in another class. The best way I can describe it is to say that the sound is bigger and more saturated, but not in an exaggerated or bloated sense. In a revealing and realistic sense, the way the richness of color jumps out under good lighting. Even the space in between instruments and voices is more of a void. They are simply mesmerizing to listen to. Walter, I am already ecstatic with my choice to upgrade. I can’t even imagine how they will improve as they break in – but I sure am anxious to see! I’ll keep you posted. Thank you. Jay B

2) Walter, I had hooked up the CS2.3 (with the standard Behringer) and they sound incredibly good.  Smooth on the treble/mid range and superb on the bass.  They really bring classic Jazz to life!!  If the 2.3s improve the way the previous CS2 did after about a month of playing then they would be an absolute category killer. Congratulations

3) the CS3's are out of this world, I have been super pleased with the results in my set up. AM

4) Walter, I have owned and heard many high quality speakers in the last 30 years. I have owned
Isobariks, DSP6000's, Gallo Reference 3's, AV5140's active, couple of active AT's, Monitor Audio and Magnepan to name a few and i have had detailed experience with Keltik, Revel, Quad, Kef and Harbeth plus played with Wilson, Revel, B & W and JM Labs. I have always ended up being left wanting more from one speaker, a combination of attributes from several. Maybe i have found a speaker I can actually live with in the CS2.3, yes I think it is that no object although I could never justify 100k on a pair of speakers.
            Taking a direct comparison to the Meridian DSP 6000's, a very highly regarded speaker at around 20K. I loved the depth, weight and clean dynamics on that speaker. Image depth and focus was good and the acoustic space fairly wide, deep and stable. Compared to other speakers I found it lacking in certain areas so improvements were possible, but overall very competent. It shares a couple of key design technologies, DSP and active, both I have experienced to be sonically superior.
With the CS2.3 what I have heard over ALL other speakers I have tried is that in the sonic abilities have been taken to a new level, regardless of the cost of a comparison. When I first heard them I just said WOW....As did my daughter and her husband. The acoustic space is huge. The depth, height and width well beyond the room boundaries. The dynamic range incredible, the definition between quiet and loud notes was easily portrayed, an air of quiet and space around each instrument and performer. Bass is low, deep, effortless, powerful and clean. Highs are crisp, focused, stable, smooth, exceptionally detailed without grain, grit, spit or fatigue.
I have yet to find any fault sonically, not because it may not be there but because I have no sonic comparison of anything better. The speaker is like having the band in my home, on stage and full of fun and energy. As realistic as I have ever heard.
The size and design principals dictate the space and cosmetics but the finish now is very pleasant and certainly has a higher WAF than the CS2. Market acceptance is where I hope people will think hard. It is not easy to audition these fantastic and unknown beauties. Take the risk and hunt them down, they really are that good. If you want the best sonic high end audio in the world listen to this speaker, maybe a user group,
             So thanks Walter for finding a home for this exception speaker, my mouth is watering waiting for the new processor and treble/mid to become available, because if this speaker can sound better I have to have it. thanks Paul

5) kudos to you and clayton!!  no hype at all with the CS2.3s.  finally got everything wired up.  and i LOVE the behringer!  don't understand what the shortcomings are.  have everything dialed up so well, the Peachtree is on practically its lowest setting and it still splays me against the wall with the best soundstage i've ever encountered in a home environment!!  all the best, bruce

6) Walter, I had hooked up the CS2.3 (with the standard Behringer) and they sound incredibly good. Smooth on the treble/mid range and superb on the bass. They really bring classic Jazz to life!!

If the 2.3s improve the way the previous CS2 did after about a month of playing then they would be an absolute category killer. Congratulations to Emerald Physics.

7) the CS3's are out of this world, I have been super pleased with the results in my set up. AM

8) I have been listening carefully to the CS2.3 and going thru my 1500+ cd/sacd collection. This speaker is awesome.  The presence, the musicality, the imaging, and the lack of digital 'edges'  on the sound are all incredible. 
This speaker is way better than the CS2.  Congratulations to EP and to you.

9) Walter, i am already seriously over my budget on this and will have to phase anything new in over the next year. The CS2.3's are wonderful, probably the best speakers i have ever heard. They do so much fantastically well and at this point have heard no vices. The biggest problem you will have is market acceptance especially as they have a low WAF but significantly better than the CS2 whose WAF was poor. If KEF or B&W were building these things they would sell like hot cakes. They may evolve into a cult.

10) I hope the house and Emerald physics deals are going well. I just took my first listen to the CS2.3’s and all I have to say is wow. I thought the 2’s were a great buy but the 2.3’s are fantastic. The bass is tighter and able to render complex passages with no muddiness, the midrange in the vocal octaves where outstanding, the soundstage is larger with more definition. You are right these are not just better they are a tremendous amount better. Thanks for your recommendation to make to jump, it was well worth it. Clayton was able to give me about 40 hours of break in before shipping them to me so I benefited form his kindness during my first listening which lasted 4 hours after I got them set up and boosted the gain on the Behringer. Bruce

11) Son of a Beeeeaaaach!!!!! Stone cold out of the box (Everything) this system BLOWS away anything I have ever heard!!
I can't believe it!!!!!!!  Happy ass camper, Bob

12) The  Bel Canto sounds glorious on the CS-2's....I was able to borrow a few pairs of Kimber Balanced cables to get running...It all sounds excellent  even brand new! The Threshold and Quads are  S-O-L-D !  Now to pay off some of the bizillion credit cards i used!!  ;-)

Playing with position and dcx to taste, but they set up very easily and sound excellent with minimal fuss. You are correct about the sound of these surpassing the Quads, and in just about every regard! No BS!!  -Ken

13) Further to my initial impressions of the Emerald CS2 as "QUAD ESLs on steroids." The Emerald CS2s are transparent. As I walk about the listening room it is difficult to locate them as part of the soundstage more like they define a very large window on the performers.

The articulation of the LF drivers combined with the acoustic output easily reproduces the subtlety and strength of double basses, pipe organs and, not to be that modest, my recordings of a concert Steinway 9' grand.

14) I’m at 250 hours now. The soundstage stretches from wall to wall with every well-recorded song I play. The midrange is oh so perfect. Not sure how to describe it, but all the musicality is in this range. Each note is rich and powerful. The highs and lows of the speakers have wowed me, but the midrange has left me gasping . . . its left me laughing like a school girl at how good the sound is . . . and at times its just left me wondering if things could possibly get any better.
The lows have become even tighter and more powerful. Listening to Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin is just amazing. The drum solo is like walking through a bomb field in terms of dynamics. The bass sounds so natural and well out of the box . . . its amazing.

15) I’ve been trying to describe my CS-2’s to friends and other audiophools, and usually end up at a loss for words.  Now I can just guide them to JP’s review.
My only gripe with the review is his reference to “at their price” and the like.  Last week I was in El Paso, TX, on business and had the opportunity to listen to the top-of-the-line speakers from B&W and TAD.  I spent about three hours with them, and when I got home and gave a listen to the CS-2’s with the same music, volume, etc, I was very, very happy with my purchase.  To my ears, the CS-2’s are cleaner, more dynamic, and just as resolving as either of the well regarded, high priced speakers. I believe the TAD’s were + $50K and the B&W’s were +/- $24K. By the way, I preferred the TAD’s over the B&W’s.

16) Wally, So I spent a couple of hours at my local dealer's today,
just for fun. Rainy day in Connecticut. He's a good guy, and I've spent some serious change there
the last 10 yrs or so. He knows, that I now 'know'. If you know what I mean.

He just became a Magico dealer. I listened to these, fed by a ~$40k Krell kit.
( Diana Krall CD that I also happen to have at home ):  $25k msrp for speakers.

I drove home, about a 3 minute drive, and fired up the same music on 
CS2s. You already know the verdict. Love these speakers.

17) I've had my CS2s for a couple of months, and have been running
them 24/7 -- at low levels overnight of course.
Just want to say ... I've spent a lot of money ( a lot ) on audio gear over the last 10+ 
years, but not for the benefit I've enjoyed with the CS2s, not even close. 
18) ) I really enjoy the new CS-2 system. I turned the system on this evening. I couldn't believe what I was hearing in the sound stage. It was almost magical.... The sound is substantially better than my Kef 207's in almost every aspect. I find myself enjoying more of my discs and listening longer. I'm really looking forward to the change over the next 300 hours of break in. This system is amazing. To think I contacted you initially for a new player. I'm glad you introduced me to the EP and W4S combo. I'm looking forward to improving my system with more of your recommendations.
19) It's probably nothing new to you. Totally amazing. Sounded better than my old gear ($15,000.00 speakers / $6,000.00 amp) instantly. After a few hours its already settling in & singing with stock power cords and not plugged into my dedicated power so much improvement is still to come.

Any one who wants / asks you to have a listen you have them call me or whatever arrangements. I'd be glad to show them the giant killers.
I was not expecting too much as the system I heard at Bill's was a little better setup and positioned etc, and broken in also, but hey.
No kidding these are great.

20)  WOW!!!
I feel like my "former" system, with its Talon Ravens, may have stretched me into the outer reaches of the Milky Way and I just got teleported to Andromeda (read: another altogether other galaxy). SCOTTY!  WE NEED MORE DI-LITHIUM CRYSTALS!!!

I am struck by the openness and clarity of the sound.  It's like the entire wall is a speaker.  The Ravens, in comparison, feel like the sound was coming from tiny points.

I heard stuff I never heard before. And to think they are only going to get better. 
Man, alive, they sound superb.

21) I have been an audio lover for 30 years, and in that time I have enjoyed some pretty excellent gear, but this is the first time I have ever felt compelled to sit down and write a testimonial. As you know, I am referring to the Emerald Physics CS2s. Since 1980 I have owned exclusively planar speakers, including Beveridge 2SW-2, Magnepan 1.6, and Magnepan 3.6. I’ve listened to many high end conventional speakers in people’s homes and audio showrooms, but I kept coming back to the openness and transparency of the panels. But even as much as I loved the sound of my most recent system, I felt there was still a dimension missing, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The audiophile’s curse.

I have now been listening to the CS2s for two weeks. I am driving my wife, who is also an audio lover, a little crazy at times because I can’t pull myself away from them. Just one more song…and then just one more song…etc., into the wee hours. (Don’t get me wrong – she loves them “almost” as much as I do!) These speakers are REMARKABLE. I have never heard such a NATURAL, THREE DIMENSIONAL presentation of recorded music. No matter how many words I could add to the description, that is what I keep coming back to. Yes they offer exquisitely fine detail with no hardness or edge. Yes they deliver 20hz bass with no boominess or puffiness. Yes the midrange is full and vast. And yes, they can play surprisingly loud without losing any sense of dynamics or control – and, interestingly, without causing fatigue. But really, it comes down to just sounding more like real music than anything else I have heard. And in that I find pure joy.

So Walter, thank you for bringing this new realm of enjoyment into my life.

22) Walter, the more I listen to these speakers, the more I'm impressed. If I could sum it up in a sentence or two I would say; they have the best qualities of Magnepan's and Klipsch with a good subwoofer to boot. They are dynamic like Klipsch but pure and refined like a Magnepan with a ribbon tweeter. I can't believe how dynamic these things are. You can listen to them really loud without fatigue.

23) I am thoroughly enjoying the CS-2.3 speakers.  They have around 30 hours on them and they get better all the time.  This leaves me wondering how good they can be.  I am thrilled with the bass.  Also, the soundstage is addictive. I toed the speakers in a bit more and the stage stretches the width of my room.  Absolutely remarkable!

24) wally, managed to find some cables and get the CS-2.3’s up and running yesterday. even out of the box they sound really amazing and i'm sure they will get even better over the next week or so. thanx so much for all your help. – mike

25) I bought a pair of CS-2 speakers the day after I heard them at RMAF 2007 because I was so blown away with how they made speakers costing many times their price sound like boom boxes in comparison.  I have been very happy with them for the past two years.  During the time I owned them I upgraded the Behringer with the Cullen mods.  After the mods the speakers further improved in terms of clarity and dynamics (particularly in the midrange).  I always felt like the speakers excelled at dynamics and had fast tuneful bass.  I could have happily lived with them long term, but I wondered how much better the CS-2.3 speakers could improve on the virtues of the CS-2 speakers.

I decided to trade in my CS-2 speakers and get the
CS-2.3 speakers.  I have given them more than 150 hours of break-in and I think the character of the sound has settled in.  I am confident that they will continue to improve for at least another 300 hours, but the differences will be too subtle to notice with daily listening sessions.  I feel I have waited long enough to comment on the sound at this point.

So how do they sound?  In a word, spectacular!  They continue to excel in the areas that the CS-2 speakers shine, but improve in some other important areas.  Like the CS-2 speakers, they have the open baffle unconstrained sound and dynamics in spades.  They also excel in producing music that sounds very close to live music.  The midrange coherency improves because of the 3 way design.  The Alphas are cut over at 100 Hz and are now used specifically for bass duty and do not need to perform duty above 800 Hz like they did on the CS-2 design.  The bass response seems to go lower and have better separation, but is still tight and tuneful.  On top of the better sonic performance, the speakers look furniture grade and less industrial.

So in summary, the speakers look better and perform better than the CS-2 speakers which I consider to be an excellent performer for the money.  I am anxious to hear them after another 200 hours of break in to hear how the bass response sounds after they open up further. 

Just a word of caution, reserve judgment until you have at least 100 hours on them because they go through some awkward break in stages where they sound great and then you say WTF and then they sound great again.

26) Emerald Physics CS2.3 a Gift for the Audio God

Mon, 08/17/2009 - 18:39 — Michael Nelson
Have you ever slipped on a jacket that you haven't worn in a while and reached in your pocket and there was some money. It didn't matter if it was a 100 bucks or a few bucks you felt like you just got a gift. Well that is what the CS2.3 is once u listen to these speakers you feel like the audio God has just slipped something in your pocket. I have been an owner of Emerald Physics speakers for years, and have not heard anything better in its price range, or double for that matter. I worked for Dolby Labs, and I have listened to a lot of speakers. What Emerald has done is magical. I know that they were suppose to be an improvement, but these speakers are not just an improvement they are in another league. I know that no speaker is perfect but, this speaker comes so close to perfection that the big box companies need to go back to the drawing board. I'm surprised they don't offer Clayton a ton of money just to go away.
I had just set up the speakers and called Emerald Physics to ask a few questions (try that with Wilson.) I had not listened to the CS2.3 because I just sold my Mark Levinson CD Transport, and didn't have a replacement Transport to listen to. But like a kid on Xmas I had to hear them so I plugged my kids Apple TV up, got my iPhone out and pushed play. I couldn't believe my ears. These speakers just transported me to Boston to see Chris Botti perform live. They made a mediocre source sound fantastic. The sound is so good that I am not in a hurry to get a new CD  transport. I just got word that Clayton is developing his own Computer Audio product, so that is my next purchase. If his speakers can make a $200 Apple TV sound wonderful I'm scared to see what High Rez  will sound like. The music just floats in front of you, u can not only imagine the sound stage but for the first time I can place the location of the instruments on that stage. And this speaker doesn't just go deep, it has slam the type of bass that u feel in your core, with out feeling boomy and muddy, mind you I was getting this excited listening to an Apple TV.  I know that there are tons of speakers out there, and I was going to tell you if your are looking for a speaker in this price range you should blah blah. Forget all that if you are in any price range you should buy the CS2.3.
If u are in Vegas give me a shout so u can have a demo.
My Gear
Modwright preamp
Halcro amp for low
First Watt for hi
Musical Fidelity DAC
Apple TV

27) Walter had told me you are considering the Emerald Physics 2.3 speakers.  I am a long time Emerald Physics customer.  I started with CS-2 speakers after hearing them at the RMAF 2007 show.  I was blown away how they sounded so realistic that they embarrassed most speakers costing up to $30k.  At the next RMAF show I did not hear a single speaker that made me think of replacing my CS-2 speakers. 

As much as I loved the CS-2 speakers I wanted to hear what a 3-way Emerald Physics design would sound like.  I figured that crossing the woofer over at 100 Hz and adding a mid-range driver would improve upon an already excellent speaker.  I also liked the fact that they look more furniture grade than the industrial looking CS-2 speakers.  It was a leap of faith to upgrade since I was completely satisfied with my CS-2 speakers. 

After putting more than 250 hours on the CS 2.3 speakers I am so glad I upgraded.  The mid-range is even better than the CS-2 (and that is the CS-2's best attribute).  The bass is much more present and authoritative in the CS 2.3 speakers.  I attribute this improvement to the fact the woofers cross over at 100 Hz and are not used for mid-range duty from 100 Hz to 1 KHz.  To be honest the bass was one area I thought the CS-2 speaker could be improved and the CS 2.3 addresses that slight shortcoming.  The mid-range is so dynamic and realistic I feel like I am listening to a live event.  The speakers are balanced from top to bottom.

The one word I would use to describe the CS 2.3 speakers is "realistic."  They are transparent enough that you can easily hear differences in recordings and upstream components.  If the rest of your system is up to the task I believe these are the best transducers you can use to reproduce music.  Just be patient and give them time to fully break in because they continue to improve for up to 500 hours to hear their full potential.

28) Walter, I think you had the best sounding room at the show running away! I've never heard Livingston Taylor's; Isn't She Lovely sound as emotionally involving! I did see a beautiful set of $300k speakers on the Atrium Level. They sounded "bigger" but nowhere near as clean, clear and detailed. And from the rumblings I was over-hearing outside your room I believe there's many that agree with my perceptions. You were the "must-hear" room on the 10th floor and the standard for comparison for 2-channel ROI value in the bar.

I'm sure we'll be talking soon,


29) Walter, Speakers (CS2.3) arrived in great shape.  I was able to set them up Sunday and have been working my way through my CD and Record collections.  Best speakers I have heard period.  I didn't really think the bass would make such a difference but it sure does.  I will fine tune placement and work through frequency issues this weekend.  My listening room is on the minimum side of your recommendations 12/14/10.5 or 1760 sq-ft.  Any tips?

When the CS-2.7 upgrade is available please let me know.
Best Regards, Carl W

30) Right now the sound of the CS3 w/Underwood subs is simply stunning in my room. Imaging goes to another level when you add the second sub. Soundstage is expansive. I can’t imagine the CS2.3’s being better than these with the two subs. Have you tried this setup yet? I remembered you saying you were going to basically do the same set up. If you are compteplating I can vouch for this setup (CS3’s and two Underwood SE Subs). It’s awesome in a small room!!!  Full range with no compromises!!! 


31) Walter,   It took us much longer than expected to report back to you regarding our recent purchase of the Emerald Physics CS 2.7.  It's a long story, but we'll keep it short.  After multiple experiments with location, settings, cables, amps, tweaks ect. and 500 hours of break-in time, we are pleased to tell you that we love these speakers.  We feel we did a good job with associated equipment to play into their strengths.  With good recordings they not only sound live, but can feel live as well. The resolution is outstanding.  Imaging, transparency, soundstage, depth- all that "audiophile stuff" is all there. They sound beautiful and for hours on end without fatigue.  We are 30 year veterans of daily listening, so hopefully it means something when we say Thank-You for buying the company and keeping this product available.  We look forward to and appreciate them daily.
But the bottom line here is that the CS 2.7s are outstanding.  Every room is different for every speaker and it did take awhile to find the right spot, but it was worth the effort.  Same with amps and cables. And if possible, the in/out gain settings on the Behringer need to be set at 0 db.  Anyway, want you to know we're happy with the purchase.  If you ever get to Virginia come by and have a listen.

Thanks again,
Tom & Julie P

32) Walter, this system (CS2.3 speakers w/Spatial front end and Wyred amps) is effortless. it just doesn't strain. No matter what i throw at it, it just delivers the music, better than i ever heard it before. As i said in an earlier email, this system is so good it's ordinary.  Meaning, the music just sounds like music; real music. and we all know actual reality has a certain normalness to it, a banality almost, it's just there.....   well, that's how this system is.   It's just totally honest and simple, and unconstrained.....

i am totally spoiled now.....i have been to live shows where it didnt' sound as good as in my house....what'cha' gon' do?    Clay

33) CS1.3 with Spatial computer system, Steve was kind enough to allow me to crash at his house in Pound Ridge.  So I had the opportunity to hear his new HiFi, now pretty much broken in.

This is cutting edge digital technology, quite unlike my 1950’s approach to HiFi.  But I am overjoyed to report that it sounds FANTASTIC.

For the audio types among you, the soundstage is massive in width, large in height and appropriate in depth.  The tonal balance is remarkably neutral while not at all cold.  In fact the sound is remarkably warm for digital (I’m an analog fan) and it is not the slightest bit fatiguing.  There was plenty of detail but no harshness.  The timing of the musical delivery was excellent - something whose absence can only be appreciated when you first hear it done right.  Most importantly: the presentation is VERY convincing as being music.  And I mean VERY convincing, to the point where I was constantly doing double-takes.  I don’t believe I ever heard a better setup in any audio salon.

If Steve invites any of you, GO, and take your favorite music.

34) Just an update. Have about 70-75 hours on these and they are starting to sound INCREDIBLE!!!
While retaining the killer imaging, they are developing a bubble of super open sound that is all around the speakers rather than just coming out of them. Unreal dynamics as well, and that is just with my $160 reciever! Can't wait to get the new Wyred integrated. Keep you posted as they break in further! If they are this good now, I can't wait for the 500 hour mark!!! :o)  Bob

35) this is the first system I have ever had that will not fail before my ears fail.     all other systems ultimately failed trying to reproduce live levels of rich music....

this system is quite comfortable at the maximum level my ears will take....... which, unfortunately, is sometimes after i have listened for a while..........  then i suddenly realize, "wow, this is fucking LOUD!!" .   But it is so clear and effortless and physical that it is quite easy to turn it up.

quite something you have here, gentlemen.  
reality is actually not up to the standards of many serious audiophiles.
but I like reality.

you guys deliver.


ps: use any or all of this.  it's from the heart....

36) Let me know the status on the 2.3's. We, (the whole family) are loving the CS-3's!
I think I found a speaker I cannot fault in any area! Damn they are good!!!
I'm kinda scared to let them go! LOL!!! But, I'm sure the 2.3's are all that and a little bit more. I don't suppose I will even need the T-9 with the 2.3's??

37) Hello Walter,

I have the EP CS2 as you may recall and am now just comparing them to a pair of Golden Ear Triton Towers in same price point.
My system has not warmed up yet, but there is no comparison - EP wins.

Can i ask you what is the next logical step in the lineup with EP if i were to upgrade; and what are people saying about that speaker
once they move up, do they see a difference. Do you have any testimonials, etc.  


38) Just want to let you know that these are freaks of nature, most realistic, lively speakers I have heard at any price!!! They are truly Maggies on steroids but without the wall that most Electrostatics have that kind of puts the music on the left and right side like its painted on, but you need to be in the middle of the left and right wall of sound

Regards, Bill

39) (CS1.3 speakers) Steve was kind enough to allow me to crash at his house.  So I had the opportunity to hear his new HiFi, now pretty much broken in. This is cutting edge digital technology, quite unlike my 1950’s approach to HiFi.  But I am overjoyed to report that it sounds FANTASTIC.

For the audio types among you, the soundstage is massive in width, large in height and appropriate in depth.  The tonal balance is remarkably neutral while not at all cold.  In fact the sound is remarkably warm for digital (I’m an analog fan) and it is not the slightest bit fatiguing.  There was plenty of detail but no harshness.  The timing of the musical delivery was excellent - something whose absence can only be appreciated when you first hear it done right.  Most importantly: the presentation is VERY convincing as being music.  And I mean VERY convincing, to the point where I was constantly doing double-takes.  I don’t believe I ever heard a better setup in any audio salon. If Steve invites any of you, GO, and take your favorite music.

40) Hello Walter,

I still enjoy listening to my friend Tom Barnes' CS2, like an electrostatic on steroids, especially realistic low frequency presence, when it is available on the recording.

Cheers, Stephen

41) Walter:

Here they are in working order.  I had to buy another set of ICs ($695) and a power cord to the Behringer ($295 used) to make it work, but man o' man, does it "work."  Just....amazing.  I can't thank you enough - SO glad I stumbled on your page, Walter.  It's's "almost live!"  I can only say what an Audio Circle guy said:
It is simply superior to the best analog systems.  It shouldn't be, from the purist point of view.  But it is.

I was up late last night taking advantage of the time switch.  Piano God, you can hear the body of the piano!! This usually gets rolled into the "box."   These are SO  much better than my friend's Eidelons, which are typically good speakers well amplified (Pass Labs), it is just no contest.
Kudos to you and the guy who thought out of the box for these speakers.  Just....amazing!


42) Walter:
I don't know how to thank you for this speaker.  Every night is a new listening experience.  I even listened to the Krol concert by Keith Jarrett, and it was amazing; I actually found myself listening to his manner of improvisation...his hesitant steps (you can hear hesitation in playing, its so real), then...kaboom, and off he went....just stunning.  I've been at this hobby for 40 years, can still hear, have gone through speaker after speaker, cable after cable, CD player after CD player, amp after amp, trying without success to get this sound.  I've had ET LFT VIIIs, Gallos, Harbeths, Merlins (VSM and TSM), Spendors, Von Schwiekerts, Magnapans, and at least a dozen others through my listening room.  The EPs give a rightness to the midrange that just lets you suspend your disbelief...lets you climb on stage and be there.  As it does this, it forgives what little things my system could be better about.  I read Stereophile now, with its 55k D'Agostino mono amps, and I don't wonder what they sound like.  I don't care.  I've managed to quit wondering.  I have my last pair of speakers, and I can say, all of this was worth waiting for.  If anyone told me in 1980 that CD could sound like master tape, I'd just shake my head.  But now, with these speakers, its vinyl.  Front to back layering. Perfect attack.  Perfect decay.  Perfect tone.  Mr. Shaw has a good ear, to put it mildly.
I have about 4k in my front end, and about 1.6k in my subs.  Not enough to break a sweat in today's market.  My room is heavily treated to stop slap echo. Playing with the speakers for best stage and sound.  I work at it.   Could I spend more?  Yes, I could spend easily ten times what I've paid (now that there's no college tuition due!).  But I refuse to do so.  Because this is a hobby, and the fun is finding the good stuff and making it sing.  I truly think Stereophile and TAS have forgotten us. 

Well, onwards to music.  Thanks again for buying this speaker line and making it work.  I'd like to shake Mr. Shaw's hand....what a fabulous idea.  People are still putting accelerometers on boxes and saying gee, very little distortion!  I'm sitting with these things saying...there's NO distortion - why would I think of owning other speakers?  This is the holy grail.  End of the line.  Don't need to know what comes next, because I'm good. Real good. Haven't looked at my watch once.  Well, except to see that I'm late to get to sleep!
Thank you!!!!!

43) Hi Walter --

I've been amazed by the CS3s. After so many years of listening exclusively to 'stats and planars, I had lost touch with the slam factor of dynamic drivers -- not to mention the imaging of a point-source radiator.

I keep watching TAS for their review of the CS2P. Can't wait to read it.

Thanks Walter --


44) Walter:
I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you once again for making Emerald Physics CS3 speakers.  I’ve finally got them inched-in to their exact sweet spots, with proper room treatment.  I wouldn’t be so effusive, or take up your time, except I’ve been at this for forty years and finally, after dozens of speakers, have breathed life into my music.  I won’t last forever, but am so glad to have had my equipment journey end with EPs.   Because it is CD based, much of my system’s issues had to do with controlling the electricity, and some had to do with damping the baskets of the drivers themselves.  I can now listen to classical music, which in digital, is often a screaming nightmare of etched violins and plastic pianos.  Now, it is breathtaking…as in, taking one’s breath away with the dynamics these things produce.  I continue to read Stereophile and just shake my head…have they not heard these?  Why would I want…or want to pay more for…anything else??  I don’t CARE about Rockports, Wilsons, etc.  They can’t do what these do!  Transporting!  I attend a concert every night – in my blue jeans!  I get the very best people, playing their very, very best.  I pay a small cover charge.  And I can leave anytime I want.  What’s better than that?

I had problems with bass for a while until I got room lock with my subs just by chance.  I was skootching them around my room to find a good place for them, and I found it as a matter of luck.  Double basses were now great, and Stevie Ray Vaughn just lit up on Tin Pan Alley (I know you’ve got that!).  I not only would recommend EPs to anyone, I would proselytize for them.  They are the perfect speaker for everyman.  Those who say otherwise simply haven’t heard them.  Magnepans, no.  Merlins, no. Paradigms, no.  EPs, yes, yes and yes.  The distinction between EPs and anything else is so clear, so immediate, and so gripping to anyone who likes music that it makes  listening to anything else impossible.  There is EP, and there are “all the other speakers.”  As the reviewer said, and I repeat:

They image better than anything I have heard (including floorstanders that retail for $40K), they are relatively easy to drive (95 dB), flexible about placement, and they make most any other speaker sound "lifeless" in comparison."

Just plain great.  I’m thrilled to have lived in a time when I could hear these things.  Wonderful!

John  (JK)

45) I’m really sure I’m Off the speaker merry-go-round with these EP’s (CS3) … wholly crap they sound GOOD !!