Spatial Hologram M4 Follow Up Impressions


Welcome Back!

The Spatial Hologram M4’s that I reviewed a couple of months ago now have well over 100 hours of play time on them, so the moment seemed right for some further reflections on how they’ve evolved.

The No Hype Zone

One reassuring aspect of the Spatial ownership experience has been a complete lack of marketing-speak or hyperbole on the part of the manufacturer. All the expectations that Clayton Shaw sets for the Holograms, whether in phone conversations, on the web site or in the Owner’s Manual, have proven in my experience to be either fully met or exceeded, and every bit of set-up advice in the Manual has been right on the money.

For example, the Owner’s Manual for the M4 suggests that during the initial, 24-hour warm-up period, “bass will fill out and deepen, treble will smooth out and soundstage open up.”  My experience has confirmed these instructions, although it seems to me that the break-in changes described in the manual are ongoing even after the first 100 hours. My M4’s continue to regularly surprise me with added nuance, spatial presentation and a more relaxed, musical sound. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean.


“Dreaming Of Mercy Street”

Peter Gabriel’s So is full of wonderful, inventive music, and the production by the great Daniel Lanois is stunning, awash in exotic instrumental textures, both acoustic and electronic  (especially bass and percussion) as well as floating synth lines mixed so that the listener is enveloped in waves of sound from wall to wall.

I’ve listened to this album countless times, yet during a session last night, the M4’s revealed levels of beauty and complexity I’d never felt or heard before.

Take, for example, Mercy Street. Throughout the various verses of the song (e.g., “Looking out on empty streets / All she can see…”) Gabriel’s voice is doubled: one line in his natural range, and another line one octave lower. There is something in the way the Spatial’s render voices that makes these moments tug at one’s heart; the effect is both chillingly creepy and deeply sad, all at once, and it’s riveting. And when the harmonized voices sing “dreaming of Mercy Street” on each chorus, the rendering of the singers is deeply realistic. If I had to put this into words, I’d say that my reaction was “what beautiful, moving music” and not, “what great speakers.” When you get a window into the artist’s intent like that, it’s quite a thrill.

Then there’s We Do What We’re Told. Prominent in the opening bars is a highly processed percussion line combining several distinct timbres, floating above the tops of the M4’s in mid space. There is an almost “wet” quality to the initial attack of one of these percussive textures that the M4’s absolutely nail, along with the impact of the processed (sampled keyboard?) “ahhhhh” background vocals that come and go as the measures pass by. Listening to this song on the Spatial’s is a thrill ride…

Lest I try your patience here, I’ll share just one other example.


“I Could Aim, But I Could Not Fire…”

The opening bars of Sade’s War Of The Hearts (from their Promise” LP) begin with the pitter patter of a drum machine rendered dead center in the sound stage, followed immediately by a lush, bluesy alto sax solo. The sax floats on a cushion of organ chords panned W-I-D-E to the left and right. If a speaker can do the “disappearing act,” the effect of suddenly moving from the little clickety-clack of the drum machine to the enormity of the sax/organ entry (and that breathy, sensual saxophone sound) will make you grin with delight – it’s gorgeous, and you feel a sense of gratitude to the artists who conceived this music. That’s another moment when you know how good the M4’s truly are.


The M4 Owner’s Manual recommends that you revisit the positioning of the speakers after a few weeks to do some final tweaking. I’d never taken this step – the M4’s were still right where they’d been since the initial 24-hour warm up period. But I had a niggling feeling that some adjustment was in order. The speakers didn’t seem to be “disappearing” quite as well as they used to. As much as I felt the urge to leave well enough alone, one night last week I finally got up the courage to mess with placement a bit.

I needn’t have worried. Going on instinct, I toed the speakers in ever so slightly from their previous position, moving the outside corner of each speaker another 1 inch from the wall but leaving the inside corner alone. Things just snapped into place after that. The sound stage completely detached from the physical location of the speakers. It also widened and deepened quite a bit, with more of an overall three dimensional presentation. To say I was delighted would be a major understatement. And again, the Owner’s Manual was spot on:

Use a tape measure to make adjustments. Differences of an inch or less between right and left speakers is audible.

So, the M4’s continue to thrill. If you have a chance to hear them at a show or elsewhere, do take advantage of the opportunity!

Digital Audio Review Takes On The M4!

Aussie John Darko of Digital Audio Review (which is a great blog, by the way) recently posted a thorough review of the M4. It includes two great video interviews with Clayton Shaw. Highly recommended!

Coming Up

As the summer (and more leisure time to listen and write) approaches, I hope to be able to share some interesting new things with you, including a comparison of a favorite album on CD, HDTracks download and (most recently) vinyl. We may also be looking at a portable, lossless, hi-res Digital Audio Player. And, if the stars align properly, there may also be a new Audio Note Kits build in the works.

How’s that for a tease, eh?  😉

This blog has no sponsors or advertisers. It’s just something I do to bring enjoyment to myself and others. If you like something you read here, do post a comment and let me know.

Until next time, be kind to others and enjoy your music!

91 thoughts on “Spatial Hologram M4 Follow Up Impressions

  1. Very nicely written. I really enjoyed your comments on the Spatial M4’s, it was a vicarious experience. I’m thinking seriously about a pair of M3’s and have already had a chat with Clayton about them. I look forward to more comments from you on your M4’s.

  2. Thank you sharing. Indeed, the more I read about the Spatials the more I’m inclined to get them. I did have a chat with Mr. Shaw a few months back and shared with him my equipment set up, and room size. I listen in the near field, not by choice, but because of room size and the M4s was the model that Clayton Shaw recommended.
    One day, hopefully soon…..

    1. I’d definitely listen to Clayton. He knows what he’s talking about! It sounds like the M4 is probably your ticket! Thanks a lot for posting. 🙂

  3. I have really enjoyed your thoughts on the M4’s. I am currently looking to upgrade speakers from my Goldenear Triton 7’s. I am powering those with a Rogue Cronus Magnum II. How do you think that amp would pair with the M4’s?

    1. Hello, Scott,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I love knowing that people like you read and enjoy this blog.
      I’m not personally familiar with the Rogue Cronus Magnum II, but I did a little Internet research and on paper, at least, it seems to me like it should be a terrific match with the Hologram’s. They LOVE tubes, and at 100 W per channel you should have more than enough power. Remember, I am running my M4’s with an 8 W per channel SET amp, and in my medium-small room, “9 o’clock” on the volume knob is as loud as I would ever want to play them. I also think you’d be in good shape with that amplifier since it has 4 ohm output taps, which would be perfect with the M4’s.
      I have only spent a tiny bit of time with a Golden Ear Triton speaker at a local dealer. I thought it was “okay,” but take all that with a grain of salt because it was in a dealer showroom and I don’t even remember which model it was.
      That said, I did do a little research on the Model 7 and I see that it’s rated down to something like 28 Hz on the low end. So here’s a little caveat for you.
      Remember that the M4 is rated down to 45 Hz, meaning that if the Triton 7 rattles the floorboards in your current set up and if you like that sort of thing – let’s say, for example, you listen to lots of electronic and hip-hop music – the M4 isn’t going to do bass notes in the same way. The M4, in my set up, delivers the cleanest, most textured and musically accurate low-end I’ve ever heard in my listening room. But the M4 is not going to have the same sort of low-end grunt – I’m guessing – that you are experiencing with the Triton 7. I’m not a huge bass-head, myself, and I have found the low end of the M4 to be eminently satisfying on all but a few random music tracks here and there. But if you want bass response that’s going to come closer in depth to what you may be used to now, you might want to look at the M3. I, myself, often think of trading up to the M3 (which, I think, is rated down to 32 Hz) but I have a feeling that visually and physically it would overwhelm my listening room. But I still may give it a shot one of these days! 🙂
      Hope this helps!

  4. Thank you so much for your response. I should have specified my musical tastes in my inquiry. I mostly listen to classic rock (Eagles, Doobies, Dire Straits and a lot of acoustic stuff. Neil Young,James Taylor, America etc). I do on occasion like to crank up some Zeppelin, Ted Nugent etc. My 2nd most listened to genre is smooth jazz. Especially the smooth jazz guitar artists and the horn players. Love this website. So glad I found it. Thanks again!

    1. Scott,
      We listen to a lot of the same stuff; I love Dire Straits and James Taylor, too. I think the Spatial’s do a great job with “classic rock.” You’d be pleased!

  5. Hello Steve,

    I followed your numerous public postings as you progressed from Reference 3A De Capos through Omega Super Alnico and ultimately to the M4.

    Since I’m presently using the SAM’s (which had a short stay in your room), I would really be interested in a comparison between them and the M4’s. Please reference coherence, balance (SAM’s being invitingly warm), treble performance and most importantly “presence” which I feel are strong points with regards to the SAM’s. The M4’s are really intriguing and sound like a step forward.

    Thank you for your thorough and engaging reviews. Your enthusiasm really comes out in your writing.


    1. Hi, David,
      Thanks for your post and for your kind comments about my site.
      What I’ll say here is that in my rig, in my room, with my particular taste in music and priorities for speaker performance, the M4’s are a home run. I find them tonally accurate and very well balanced, top to bottom, with a level of dynamic responsiveness (both micro and macro) that’s beyond anything I’ve ever heard in my home. And there’s a wide open quality to what these speakers can do that’s unlike any box speaker I’ve ever auditioned. I agree that coherence is something that the SAM’s do extremely well, and in my estimation the M4’s are their equal in that important regard.
      I hope that’s helpful!

  6. Hi Steve,

    Except for the binding posts, are your M4’s essentially the same as the current M4 Turbo? Or are they more like the Turbo S (with the upgraded compression driver)? I’m asking because, after a very helpful talk with Clayton, I ordered the standard (non S) Turbo version which I believe should sound very much like yours. If the impressions in your review are based on the Turbo S with the more expensive compression driver I’d like to know since I can still upgrade my order before they go into production in a week or so.



    1. Hi, Bill,
      Thanks for reading and for posting!
      Mine are essentially the M4 Turbo, minus the fancy binding posts. They do not have the newer compression driver, but they do have the nicer, “Turbo” crossover parts (nicer than those that were found in the older, discontinued “base model”). So yes, your new speakers should basically be mine, but with those lovely WBT binding posts. 😉
      That said, if you have the cash for the Turbo S, you might as well go for the best. 😀
      Best Regards,

      1. I received my M4’s about a month ago. They are Turbos (not S) so I have the new Xvr with the older compression driver. I alternate between my Vinnie Rossi LIO’s internal mosfet amp and the LIO as preamp only with my (also new) Red Dragon S500. The RD has superior bass slam and control, slightly edging out the mosfet. Eventually I will rotate in my EL-34 tube amp.
        After 100 hours I can confidently say these are the best speakers I’ve owned. Not perfect, but the best of a very good lot. I have a lousy listening room (10′ by 10′) and regardless of sound treatment, speaker type, placement etc. the room has always been a huge negative. Until now. The dispersion characteristics of the Spatials (very little in the vertical plane and easy to tame in the horizontal) makes the room much less of a factor. Sonically, the speakers are very well balanced top to bottom. The bass is outstanding and clear without boom. Midrange is prominent and detailed but not too forward. Highs are almost “delicate” with incredible detail and spaciousness but not harsh or in your face. (I collect mostly small combo jazz and vocals. Trumpets and cymbals are a joy to listen to). It all adds up but, for me, the single factor that makes them keepers is soundstage. The musicians are arrayed in a realistic 3D space curving behind and to the sides of the M4’s. They make nearly all recordings sound as if the musicians are performing in a real venue that appears where the front wall of my sound room used to be. Instruments sound very real and the overall sound has great “density” without out any artificial thickness. These are the kind of speakers that compel you (or at least me) to listen to every LP and CD all the way through.

  7. Thanks for the thorough review.
    I am about to pull the trigger on a pair of M3 Turbo S. I have lived the last 15 years with a pair of Magnepan 1.6qrs and a Vandersteen 2Wq sub. WAF is an important factor here, but I am concerned about how the M3s will do with no sub in a system that will have to do double duty as HT and 2 channel system in an open floor plan living room/den. The plan is to add a pair of M4s down the road for surrounds.

    Clayton swears I will not miss a center channel or the sub (with M3s)…thoughts?

    1. Hello, Stan,
      Thrilled to have you in on the conversation – thank you for posting!
      Not being a home theater guy, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here because I don’t have any experience listening to movie soundtracks on my M4’s – music soundtracks, yes, but not things like explosion sound effects and so forth. In the context of that limitation on my part, I’ll try to give you a useful response. 😉
      First, if you have spent time talking to Clayton on the phone then you know that he is a low-key guy and a straight shooter. If he – knowing whatever you have told him about your setup and listening room – thinks your needs will be met initially with the M3’s, adding the M4’s later on, then I would certainly have no hesitation giving it a go, especially since you have that 60 day trial period.
      Beyond that, as I said in my reply to Scott Castle, above, I believe that the 45 Hz low-end rating on the M4 is very honest and, of course, that’s not subwoofer territory. But, as I mentioned above, the quality of the Hologram low end is extraordinarily fine – very tuneful, very reverberant and textured. Furthermore, as Clayton explained to me on the phone, open baffle bass rolls off much more slowly than does bass coming from your typical, vented box speaker. So there is a good deal of audible, bass note information manifesting even below that 45 Hz.
      I am regularly tempted to try the M3 and pick up that additional 12 Hz that the M3 would give me at the bottom. However, for me, Spousal Acceptance Factor is also an important issue. 🙂 On the one hand, the Hologram is a very contemporary and handsome looking design – my wife really likes the way they look. On the other hand, with an extra 6 inches in height and 3 inches in width, I suspect that the M3 would visually overwhelm my little listening room, which also has to double as a guest room and family room of sorts. So I haven’t taken the plunge.
      I’ll say one other thing regarding the center channel that you mentioned. Again, I’m not a home theater guy, but pinpoint imaging is one of the real strong suits of the hologram design – the center fill image is very solid.
      Sorry I can’t be of more help, but I hope this is useful to you. Thanks again for reading and for posting.

      1. That’s just awesome! When you receive them and have a chance to break them in, please post back here with your impressions.

      1. NV, I have mine on order. I believe they are supposed to ship soon. I will be posting my impressions soon. I will post immediate impressions and follow up with more detailed impressions after I have lived with them a bit. I could not decide between the M3 Turbo S and the Ascend Acoustics Sierra RAAL Towers…so my wife has agreed to purchasing both and demoing them before deciding. So, I will have a shoot out. In fact, I have also gotten a local dealer to give me a set of Def Tech Mythos Super Towers. So, if Rebbi is OK with me hijacking his blog, I am happy to post the results of the A/B/C head to head comparison in my real world living room. I have several other audio professionals who are excited about a chance to listen to some music, evaluate speakers and break for a cigar here and there. If you are in the Houston area, I am happy to work you in…

      2. Very cool! I’ve heard the Ascend so I’m very interested how all three compare… Looking forward to hearing about it. How long has it been since you ordered?

      3. It has only been a couple weeks. I think they were pretty busy with THE Newport Show last week through Sunday as well.

      4. Hey, Stan,
        I’m in Austin so maybe we can work something out. I had the Ascend Sierra 1 monitors a long time ago. I thought they were nice but not compelling enough (IMHO) to hang on to and I returned them in the trial period. But those RAAL tweeters are supposed to be extraordinary and I bet the Sierra Towers are in a different league. Keep us posted! 🙂

      5. I received the M3 Turbo S pair on 4 days ago. I brought them home, unboxed them and put them together. As rebbi1 noted, it was simple and straight forward, I have hard floors and the spikes Clayton provides for US clients with carpet won’t work. Clayton is shipping me some long rummer feet so I can place them properly in my space (I have a lip between a tile surround and wood that creates a problem with a low, side speaker like the M3). Therefore, I haven’t been able to work on optimal placement yet.

        I will obviously keep you posted, but I thought I would give you a quick initial impression.

        1. They are very solid, substantial feeling and seem well put together
        2. The grill cloth is charcoal, not black
        3. The Turbo S binding post/crossover assembly is really nice
        4. Out of the box they sound…not that impressive. They sound a lot like “speakers” and not nice speakers at that. I have had them running almost non-stop (loud when I am not home) in an effort to speed burn in
        5. High end all seems to be jammed into the 4-8k region, not sure how to explain it. I suspect this is related to the brand new compression driver, we will see
        6. Lows seem to roll off around 60hz. I ran some test tones and while they roll off at 60, 50 seems week, 40 makes a slight comeback, 35 and 30roll off again and 20 is there, but not from a deep sound, it is more like I hear the 20 cycle beats only. Again, I do not yet have them optimally place yet, so the jury is still out
        7. On day 4 they have started to develop a little bit. Low end seems a bit more natural and highs seem to be venturing above 10k, but the mids still seem a bit forward
        8. The 80 degree controlled dispersion thing Clayton talks about is real. I have read online people debunking other reviews of this speaker because “bass below 100hz is omnidirectional.” My experience with them is that if you are not in front of BOTH speakers, you don’t hear everything. When you get inside the 80 degree cone of both speakers, you experience the full range, dynamics and imaging. Now, currently, I would like the “full range” to go a little higher and a little deeper, but they seem to be improving in that regard. They are not close to “disappearing” and the sound stage is pretty 2 dimensional…but this is only day 4 after all.

      6. Hey, Stan,
        Thanks a lot for the impressions! I hope that you find that your M3’s continue to improve with break in. I’ve found Clayton’s User Manual guidelines in this regard to be spot on: no serious attempt at positioning until 24 hours of play time out of the box. Then, run them regularly for a month, then play with positioning again. My only departure from that advice is that I’ve found them continuing to loosen up even beyond the 100 hour mark. And once those drivers are more loosened up, I’d suggest tinkering with toe in angle. When you’ve got them locked in, you’ll know it. Finally, consult with Clayton on this; he’ll give you good advice.

  8. Thanks for a well written and informative review. Have you compared them to the natural alternative Magnepan 1.7 or Emerald Physic?

    1. Henry, I have not owned the 1.7, but I have lived with Maggies since 1995, the last 16 of that with the 1.6qrs. There will be unavoidable comparisons when I get the M3 Turbo S soon.

    2. Henry,
      Thank you so much for posting!
      I don’t have any direct listening experience with Emerald Physics products. There’s the obvious difference that many of the EP speakers require active DSP or bi-amping (except for the KC II), see here: . I’d love to hear them at an audio show one of these days because I, too, am curious about how they compare to the Spatial’s, especially given that Clayton Shaw started with EP, so you’d expect some shared “sonic DNA.”
      We have a local brick and and mortar shop that sells Magnepan, but I must confess to having only had fleeting opportunities to listen to them. Stan Nelson will have to enlighten us when he’s lived with his M3 Turbo’s. 😉

  9. I stumbled on this site looking for reviews of the M4 Turbo and am glad I did. Having read both of your posts, I contacted Clayton to see if he could ship a pair to Korea, which to my delight, said he could so I’m eagerly awaiting them. I currently have Triangle Celius and Sunfire CRM2s but have read so many positive reviews of the M4s, I’m ready for the upgrade.

    1. John,
      Thank you for posting. I always love it when people find this site useful. Clayton is very accommodating and I’m not surprised he was willing to ship to Korea.
      I think you will be delighted with the M4 – it does things that I’ve never heard any box speaker do – even a great one.
      What are you doing for amplification?

  10. Thanks for the great review Rebbi! Trying to figure out whether or not the M4 Turbo S w/ Subs (2x JL E112) or the M3 Turbo S will be a better system. Does anybody have any insight to this?

    1. Thanks for the post and the kind words, nvenditti! I appreciate the support.
      My first suggestion would be to talk to Clayton. Based on your room size, amplification and musical preferences, he’ll have a gut feeling that I think you can trust about the sub question.
      I know that, in theory, the great thing about subs is that they give you more flexibility in main speaker placement because as you move the speakers closer to or further from the wall, you’re not necessarily simultaneously making a tradeoff between the quality of bass and quality of the soundstage. (Sorry for the run-on sentence… hope that made sense).
      On the other hand, open baffle bass really is a different animal than box speaker bass, so I’d want to ask how one gets a subwoofer to blend properly with the M4.
      Good luck and please report back!

  11. Hi Rebbi & Everyone, What a wonderful informative site. A year ago I was on the speaker merry go round. I had read some very good reviews on the Emerald Physics speakers and got on the internet and found out that Clayton Shaw was their creator. I also found out he had started this new company Spatial. I called Spatial and Clayton answered the phone, we talked for almost an hour. What a nice guy. The next day I ordered the Turbo S speakers. Rebbi, thank you for confirming what I have been hearing. I really enjoy your writing and everyone’s comment. Thanks for your labor of love, Tra

    1. Hi, Tra,
      Thank you for the kind comments and I’m so happy you enjoy the site.
      “Yes” to all of your impressions of Clayton and the Holograms. I would really love to hear the M4 Turbo (which is essentially what I have, minus the WBT binding posts) in a head-to-head comparison, side by side with the Turbo S.
      Again, thanks!

  12. Greetings! I have an update that I thought you guys may be interested in hearing about. I was set to receive my M3 Turbo S pair tomorrow via FEDEX. Well, I got an email this morning from Clayton with the re line: Shipping Change. Huh? What the $&^%!. So, I open the email and Clayton informs me that my M3s went out with a 2.0 crossover, not the 2.1. He thought I should get the latest and greatest so he is intercepting mine in shipment and building me a new pair to be sent out today…obviously all at his expense.

    So, I don’t know if it is a super recent development and wants me to have the latest, or if they messed up and is unilaterally fixing the problem. Either way, I really don’t think he had to and since I can’t AB the 2.0 against the 2.1, I may have never known. Bottom line is, I impressed with his integrity and desire to have satisfied customers.

    While I am bummed I have a few more days to wait, I am happy with Spatial before my speakers even arrive…stay tuned!

    1. Yeah, Clayton is a stand up guy. The customer service is terrific. Glad to hear of your good fortune! Keep us posted on the results once you have them.

  13. I was lucky enough to score Clayton’s “demo” pair of white M4 turbo S’s at T.H.E Show two weeks ago. Demos that hadn’t even been played. Not only was the price amazing but he is a great person to deal with.

    Great review Steve. Your findings are spot on. The bass is really something to be heard. This is my first open baffle speaker and I’m really loving it.

  14. rebbi1,

    After working out the shipping issues with Clayton, I finally placed my order although I have no idea how long it’ll take to arrive here in Korea. I’m using Emotiva SS monoblock UPM-1s and a tube Jolida 502A as amplification so I’ll be switching between the two to find the best match.
    Since my listening position is a little high and the speakers would be below ear level, I was wondering if anyone has tried tipping up the front of the speakers to increase the soundstage height or is that even needed?

    1. Hi, John,
      I think that the Holograms really sing with tubes but that’s just my bias. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of them with the Emotiva vs. the Jolida.
      For what it’s worth, my seating position is also rather atypically high. My listening room doubles as a guest room and I sit on a day bed to listen. I haven’t tried raking the speakers back to compensate for that because it sounds great to me as is, but it can’t hurt to experiment!

  15. Burning in/breaking in a speaker or any component as you listen to it is not a reasonable approach to determining whether your ears have changed or the component has changed. The brain is an amazingly adaptable machine that recalibrates everything it sese and hears to internal references. Its the reason all colors look okay in a tungsten or florescent room. Your brain is making the adjustments. The same is true with sound. If it needs breaking in do it in another room out of hearing range.

    1. Okay, so you’re not questioning whether or not break-in is a real phenomenon, but rather suggesting that you not listen continually during the break in process? I can see the wisdom in that, I think.

  16. Now you tell me! I actually listened to music on the darn things while I was breaking them in. Now my brain will have to adapt to having done it all wrong. Alors!

  17. OK, I am 9 days into my M3 Turbo S. First, in response to Henry, I will say that I think I agree with you. I have limited space, so I am forced to do my burn in by putting a playlist of intentionally selected tracks on a loop and playing at normal to slightly hotter than normal listening levels while I am at work. My listening periods are broken up this way anyway. I think they conservatively have 50-60 burn in hours on them (I am not counting the low level, TV watching time in the evenings).

    Also, I will make my following updates this same way, not putting them in the above sub-thread. After doing that, I realized it was a little confusing because my posts do not appear chronologically, I apologize.

    Right after my last post I observed a slight increase in high and low extension accompanied by an increase in muddiness in roughly the 150-350hz range. The M3s have pretty fine detail to them and that detail seemed to just round off in this range. I think they have continued to loosen up and reach farther into the high and low regions.

    I am beginning to get an increased sense of “realism” that I have read about from other owners. The best way I can describe the “In the room” experience I think I am beginning to experience is that I believe the pro audio compression drivers are sensitive/super accurate in regards to phase. So, if a sound from one speaker is ever so slightly out of phase with the same sound in the other speaker, you “feel” it. I emphasize FEEL, not hear. You sense the pressure difference on your eardrum just as much as your hear it. This is the kind of experience you get with a cymbal or drum being struck in the room with you.

    I look forward to seeing how they develop from here.

    1. It sounds to me as you’re beginning to get a sense of what they can do. Again, I believe that mechanical/electrical break-in is very real with these speakers and they will start to show what they can do with some play time. And yes, that “realness” can be quite intoxicating. Enjoy!

  18. Thanks Stan! Looking forward to hearing how this all shakes out for you… Did you get the Ascend’s in house to compare yet? What are you using for electronics?

    1. Hey NV, I am waiting on the RAAL Towers, they should be here next week I think. So, mid July I should have a shoot out with the M3s, RAAL Towers and the Def Tech Super Towers…should be fun.

      Great question regarding electronics:
      – Mac mini server/Audirvana +
      – Matrix X-Sabre DAC
      – Jungson Class A Preamp
      – Brown Electronic Labs BEL 1001 MkV amp
      – Cables and interconnects are all BEL The Wire except for the Supra USB cable
      When I pic the speaker pair, the Jungson will make way for either a Marantz 7702 MkII or the Denon 7200WA (recommendations appreciated).

      1. Right on – can’t wait to hear more! I wonder how the Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 would pair with the M3… Seems like it might be a home run for a 2 channel multipurpose system. Especially with the high efficiency of the Spatials. Simple one box solution.

      2. Hi Stan – sorry if I’m bugging you on this but I’m anxious to hear how things are going. Any updates?

  19. Hi Steve!

    Concerning the Lorde comment in the last piece–Lorde is one of the testing CDs I use, too! Did you find that low-bass stuff more satisfying as the speakers broke in? I’m torn between the M3 and the M4 and a sometimes listener of music with low bass, this is a consideration if I’m buying the last speakers I’ll ever own (hopefully…)

    1. Hi, Sean,
      This is such an interesting question!
      My teenager and I both discovered Lorde together (via “Royals” on the radio, of course), so I got into the music itself first, and only later discovered it as a kind of “test disc” for low end response (and lots of other things, too). For example, if a speaker tends toward a tipped up high end, certain parts of the album (the opening vocals on “Team,” for example) will sound almost unbearably sibilant and harsh… But not on the M4’s, which have a very linear sounding treble.
      So, here’s the thing. Pure Heroine sounds wonderful on my M4’s – smooth, holographic, detailed and vocally very realistic. But the speaker’s “only” rated down to 45 Hz, which I think is pretty honest, so you’re not talking subwoofer territory here. What you get is bass that is very melodic and textured, with great decay and reverb. For example, the bass drum whacks on “Royals” will just sound like heavy “thuds” on lesser speakers. On the Holograms, they sound like real drums, and you hear all this decay and reverb around each drum hit. It’s great.
      On the other hand, I’ve heard the low bass lines in “Tennis Court” around “… I’m doing this for the thrill of it / Killin’ it…” rendered with more grunt and depth than my M4’s can muster. It’s there, but it’s not going to grab you by the lapels, so to speak…
      So: If the extra foundation that the extra 12 or so Hz of the M3 can supply is important to the kind of music you love, I’d say go for the M3.
      Two disclaimers:
      First, I’ve never actually heard the M3.
      Second, some of what I’m hearing may have to do with my room and associated equipment. For instance, might a different amp get a better “grip” on the M4’s low end than my single-ended 300B? Maybe…
      Hope this helps,

      1. Thanks for the thoughtful answer Steve! After contacting Clayton, I think my hand might be forced… For the size of my room, he recommended the M3s. I guess I won’t have to worry too much about losing that low end.

        I’ll report back once I’m able to give them a good break in and a nice test.

  20. Terrific stuff, Steve.I have a few questions for you and the other Spatial owners here:

    There was some mention of overly tall images. Is that the case with the Hologram speakers? (I know, one person’s ‘overly tall’ is another’s ‘just right,’ but indulge me.)

    Steve, what, if anything, do you miss of your old Reference 3A speakers? What did they do better than the Spatials?

    How narrow is the sweet spot with these speakers? If people are sitting off-axis, how much are they missing?

    There’s a tendency for these speakers to be described as great =for the money=. If we remove that qualifier, are they still great — are they a genuine alternative for someone who might be able to spend low-5-figures, or are they easily outclassed at that level?

    Dan Rubin

    1. Howdy, Dan,
      I just happened to be online when your post popped into my inbox so I thought I’d respond right away. (How’s that for customer service?)
      My thoughts:
      1) Re: “Overly tall images” – I have not found that to be an issue at all. Instead, I have found the Spatial’s to accurately present whatever’s on the recording in terms of the kind of perspective you mention. In an intimately miked Diana Krall recording, her voice is front and center but not “huge” in the proverbial “6 foot wide mouth” distortion. As for image height, if the recording suggests it, the sound hangs between the speakers. If the recording suggests it, the sound can come from well above the speakers. For example, in Peggy Lee’s classic recording of “Fever,” the famous “ba-BOOM” bass drum hit that occurs every other bar is not only panned well to the right, but appears a foot or two above the right speaker. But it’s not like everything feels somehow overblown in the height department.
      2) Re: Reference 3A – I am a fan of Reference 3A and really came to like Tash Goka (head guy) and his wife, Diane (who typically answers the phone). It’s a great company and some of their designs are deservedly considered classics. That said, there’s nothing about my dear, departed (i.e., sold) De Capo’s that I miss. Zip. Nada. They didn’t fill the room like the M4’s. They didn’t image and throw a soundstage like the M4’s. And perhaps most strikingly, they couldn’t do dynamic swings like the M4’s. I never understood how much a sense of dynamic range (macro and micro) contributes to the perception of realism in musical playback until I got the Spatial’s. There’s something about what an open baffle speaker does, that way it “breathes,” if you will, that makes the music sound alive. Plus, as I’ve noted in my earlier impressions, they are so spot-on tonally that, again, things sound more real than any other speaker I’ve owned.
      3) Sweet spot – I do not find the sweet spot to be at all narrow, in the sense that if I move my head a foot or two to either side from the sweet spot, there are no obvious shifts in imaging or tonality. As for people sitting off axis, I don’t have a lot of data to share with you there; perhaps others can comment.
      4) Re: “For the money” – Caveat here: I don’t have a lot of personal experience listening to speakers in the low five figures, except for some listening time at the odd audio show. I just don’t have that kind of money to spend on audio gear. That caveat aside, I do think I have good ears and a passion for music and the emotional uplift it can provide. So, coming from that perspective, I think they’re flat out great regardless of price, but, as the late Bobby Palkovic of Merlin used to say, “stupid great” at their asking price. Now, if someone does have about $20K to spend, they can buy a pair of Clayton’s Luminas and see what he can accomplish at his “statement” level. But heck, if I had the dough, I’d pounce on a pair of M3 Turbo S at $2600 and spend the leftover $17K on music, source gear and room treatments. 🙂
      Every time I write stuff like this I feel like a fanboy, but it’s how I am experiencing it. I sat down last night to listen to some music and – as regularly happens with my M4’s – I was once again flummoxed by how good they are.
      Hope this helps,

  21. As one of the “other Spatial owners” I’ll comment briefly. Yes. In my opinion (based on owning dozens of speakers) you can remove the qualifier and they are still great. Why? See Steve’s comments above about continuing to discover levels of beauty and complexity in his music that he’d never heard before. That’s the key. They get out of the way and let the musicians speak to you. And they do it to a degree I’ve never heard in my home before. Will a speaker costing 5 figures out perform it? I suppose. And I suppose a Ferrari will blow away my Ford Fusion. But I don’t really care since I’m not going there. The Spatials are the first speakers I’ve owned that “continue to thrill” as Steve says above. And for not much money at that. Oh, and the sweet spot is wide enough for me and my wife to enjoy listening together. As for an overly tall image, I have no idea what they are talking about.


    Bill Organ

  22. I wish someone could compare M3/4 with EP KCII/KCII PRO. They also offer BOM which makes them play a bit lower.

  23. Rebbi1

    Thank you so much for your great review of the spatial 4’s. Coincidentally based on your review of the Reference 3a’s I purchased a pair of decapo be’s from Tash. Yes he is a great guy and I really have loved those speakers. I used the 3a’s with both Audio-space 300 push-pull mono blocks and the new pass 30.8. Both amplifiers worked great with the BE’s although they both brought out different speaker characteristics. However my interest was peeked when I read that you left the 3a’s for the Spatial Holograms. So having no mind of my own I sat down and auditioned a pair of the 4’s at Clayton’s factory. They sounded pretty good BUT (you knew that was coming) it was difficult for me to discern given the factory setting whether the 4’s in comparison to the 3a’s were really that much more transparent? I know ultimately I have to do a home audition and compare the 4’s to the reference 3a decapos. And I know I have been long winded but here is my question, given a room with the dimensions of say 14 x 21 would the 3’s be a better choice in comparison to the 4’s? And are the 3’s in comparison to the 4’s more transparent? Finally I am kinda bonkers when it comes to a speaker’s imaging characteristics would you describe the Spatial holograms imaging characteristics as more pin point or diffuse? Thank you for your help and I really have enjoyed your reviews.

    Best wishes


    1. Hi, Charlie,
      My apologies for taking such a terribly long time to respond to your post. I have been out of town and away from my blog! 😉
      Let me first get to the imaging question, since I am kind of an imaging and soundstage freak myself!
      The Spatial’s image extremely well. They also throw a large, immersive soundstage when the source material warrants it. That last sentence is partly a response to my experience with an omni-directional speaker which created a large and somewhat amorphous soundstage. It could be thrilling in its own way, but I found that it had the tendency to impose that spatial perspective even on “dry” recordings that didn’t really “contain” that spatial perspective, if that makes any sense. Anyway, in terms of spatial presentation, I would say that the imaging characteristics of the Reference 3A and the Hologram M4 are on par with each other. The biggest difference – and it is a big one – is that the Spatial’s play and sound far bigger than the Reference 3A monitors. Part of this is because they are in another universe entirely when it comes to dynamic range.
      One caveat with all of this is that I haven’t owned those Reference 3A’s for quite a few months and auditory memory can be pretty unreliable. But based upon my Audio Asylum review of the De Capo’s from a couple of years ago, I think my comments here are accurate.
      As far as whether you would want to go with the Hologram M3 or Hologram M4, your listening room is just somewhat larger than mine and I think you could probably get away with the M3, and thus gain those lovely, extra cycles on the low end. The only reason I haven’t moved up the line to the M3, myself, is that they would, I’m afraid, visually overwhelm my current listening room. I am, however, working on moving over to a dedicated listing room – it’s going to take me several months – but once I have my current rig set up there, I will probably again revisit the possibility of moving up the line.
      But my mantra about all of this is, “Talk to Clayton.” Sure he can give you a more knowledgeable recommendation about which model to go with giving your amplification and room size.
      Good luck and stay in touch,
      PS: That De Capo review I wrote is here:

  24. Thanks Rebbi1, I really enjoy the review very much, love your writing style, simple but at the same time thorough in the way you present your points. Long gone are the days I listened and sometimes at fairly loud levels to rock music (the usual suspects Led Zep, Yes, King Crimson et al.) through tower speakers even thou Hales Ref.3 were wonderful. As I aged my taste leaned to a more natural musical presentation giving priority to proper midrange reproduction, the sense of presence (realism), imaging, and an open soundstage. Welcome British monitors, this guys know one thing or two when it comes to building bookshelfs or integrated amps. so spend my last 12 yrs around Spendor, Epos, Rogers and lately with a pair of Merlin TSM before deciding to get back to a floorstandings that bared those characteristics. Wish I came across your review before buying a pair of Magnepan .7 a week ago nevertheless it may be really interesting to compare both of these speakers seems like they have more things in common than not according with what I read in your blog
    Well done!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind remarks! I am very glad that you found my review helpful!
      I owned Merlin TSM’s for a couple of years, too and for some reason could never get them to truly “sing” in my rig. My room is is on the small side (around 11′ x 15′ with an 8 foot ceiling) and I thought I’d be using stand-mounted speakers forever in that space. But the Hologram’s have surprised me as being a terrific match for my space and associated gear.
      I know that Maggies have many, many devotees but I’ve never spent enough time with them to form a useful opinion. One thing’s for sure: the consensus is that most Maggie’s need some serious power to “wake up,” so my little 300B SET amp would be a non starter!
      Thanks again for checking in!

  25. Yes, the Spatials are amazing! I have demoed them twice myself, two different Hologram models. You can’t go wrong with any of them. I had never heard open baffle speakers until 2015 when I heard the Spatials. I was amazed. I run a par of Paradigm Studio 100 v5 and have not found many speakers that match them in my opinion, but the Spatials are right there. The one thing I like about them is that they are less fussy for set up and off axis listening is simply unbelievable. With some speakers you have to be square in the sweet spot, with others such as my Paradigms, you have some room to play, but with the Spatials, the sound is full anywhere. I think that is the advantage to open baffle.
    I have a vintage system as well that needs new speakers, but the room is a bedroom (not much bigger than 10 x 12) and they may be a bit much in both size and cost. However, the cost is actually quite terrific, i just have other more pressing economic factors at the moment. That said though, I keep thinking about them trying to justify getting them. The two times I heard them at a show I found myself spending the rest of the time thinking about them.

  26. Hi Rebbi1

    Great review, thank-you. I’m looking at getting the M4 Turbo S model and was wondering if you tried at any stage adding a subwoofer to your setup to get down to the 25Hz range?



    1. Hi, Tim!
      I have generally avoided messing with subs because I haven’t wanted to deal with the challenges of seamlessly integrating a sub in my rig and having another piece of equipment to switch on when I want to play music. I am, however, seriously considering moving up the Spatial line to the M3, which would get me down to around 32 Hz, substantially lower than the 45 Hz of the M4. But I’d check with Clayton to see what he has to say about using a sub with open baffle speakers like the M4.
      Thanks for the post!

      1. I contacted Clayton a few months ago about putting wax on my M4’s (they sit near a window and I was concerned about UV). He recommended against wax of any kind. He said they use Mother’s Showtime detailer to clean and dust the speakers. It leaves no residue. I’ve also had good luck with a small version of a “California Duster” dusting wand.

  27. I’m itching to commit to buying the M4s and might take the long drive to Utah for an audition. I have some concerns about the open baffles as my listening room environment isn’t the cleanest (dust and animal dander). Also, an old post from Speaker Asylum had a “Rebbi” username commenting on LSA 1 Statement speakers which I’ve also been interested in purchasing, especially at their current heavily discounted pricing. Was that you and if so, could you make any comparisons or recommendations with the M4s?

    1. Hi, Anthony,
      I apologize for my tardy reply!
      I think you don’t have to worry too much about dust in your environment – we have two dogs and I haven’t found that to be a particular issue. The crossovers are sealed inside, so no dust intrusion worries there. The compression driver is sealed so no dust will intrude. The 12 inch drivers are open and although some dust can settle on the frames, I haven’t seen any dust on the cones. Anyway, talk to Clayton if you have further concerns about this.
      Yes, I’m the “Rebbi” who wrote that LSA 1 Statement review. The Statements are very nice as stand mount monitors go, but I don’t think they approach the level of realism that the M4’s can pull off. Comparing them, the Statements are like listening to miniature performers through a small window, while the M4’s are more like hearing full sized performers in your space.
      Hope this helps!

  28. Hi everyone. Just took delivery of the Hologram M4 Turbo S and love them for music. However, have the dilemma of wanting to create a home theater around these. Don’t have the option of using a 3rd floorstander as a center speaker. Anyone here tried using another company’s speaker as a viable center channel with the Holograms?

    1. Thanks a lot for posting, Victor! Sorry for being a little slow approving your post – I didn’t see it when it first came in.
      Golly, someone else is going to have to answer your question here because I’m just not a home theater guy.
      So, dear readers, have at it – what would you advise Victor?

  29. Thank you for the honest and direct reviews. I tripped over your site researching Fritz speakers. So, perhaps you’ll offer up an apples versus pizza comparison. 🙂 between the Fritz (Carbone 7SE and/or Carrera) versus Clayton’s open baffles. I am fortunate to have a pair of Carbon 7 Towers in one room (almost always played at low volumes) and Hawthorne Trio SSI (Sterling Silver) open baffle speakers consisting of a 15 inch OB coaxial and two 15 inch Augies (essentially sub-woofers) for EACH channel. The Hawthorne’s are capable of the most thrilling and dynamic sound I’ve ever heard and readily reveal any other equipment changes. You want the scale of an orchestra? You got it! You wanna rock out? Oh, yeah, these will rock and go to “11” when called upon. Also, you can really sense the scale of a piano’s lower registers. They are detailed, but not analytical and at 98 db efficiency don’t require much juice (though I’m using NCore 400 monoblocks). The OB bass is unmatched in my experience. I recently made a music player change that revealed there’s even more detail in the bass region that I imagined. Then there’s Fritz’s gems. The Fritz are just so damn coherent and listenable—I can play these for hours at low volume and I’m becoming more amazed even after two years. The vocals are great. So? I need to move the Fritz’s to the main system and do a real A/B. I’m imagining that I wish to combine the near impossible: The Fritz speakers with the OB Hawthorne Bass modules. Sorry for the ramble—just sharing. What are your thoughts on OB, M3/M4 versus Fritz? Thank you.

    1. Hi there!
      Thank you very much for reading the blog and for your kind comments about my reviews.
      I’m happy to respond to your question, although I must offer the disclaimer that I have not listened to the Fritz speakers since I wrote those reviews, so I am relying on sonic memory here.
      That said:
      I like the Fritz Carbon 7’s quite a bit, as you saw from my review. They are terrific little monitors. They are also never less than easy to listen to. No part of the frequency spectrum is hyped or overemphasized – a very even sound. Of course, they also do some of the other things that small monitors are cherished for: they “disappear” acoustically and create precise images in a large soundscape. I also remember that they dig impressively deep for speakers of this size – I remember thinking when I was auditioning them that “I don’t think I would ever feel a need for a subwoofer with these babies.” On the other hand, also like most small monitors, there is something slightly “miniaturized” about the overall presentation. I don’t mean this as a criticism – it’s a presentation that I actually like quite a bit. Again, I think it’s a small monitor thing.
      The Spatial M3/M4 open baffle approach is very, very different. What you say about your Hawthorne’s in terms of wide-open dynamics and the ability to scale and “go big” is one of the characteristics that really turned my head when it came to the M4. I am running them with an 8 W per channel Single Ended Triode tube amplifier and the M4’s make it sound like some kind of monster amp. They also muster a kind of realism and a “life-size” quality that I hadn’t heard from ANY other speaker that I’ve owned (and like many audiophiles, I’ve owned quite a few…)
      So, I’ll say it again: If someone is in the market for a pair of stand-mounted monitors, I think that the various offerings from Fritz have to be on their list. Plus, as you know, he dotes on his customers and is, in general, a terrific person. But at this point I’m not sure that I would go back to any box speaker again. That wide-open quality of the open-baffle approach is pretty addictive.
      I hope this helped!

      1. Hey Rebbi,
        Not sure if you’re still replying on this blog, but I’m considering upgrading my Tekton Lore Reference, which, as you know, are amazing for the price. I’m wondering if you could compare the Tektons and M4’s. If you have moved on from the M4’s, what do you have now and why?

      2. Hello, Todd,
        Gosh, I could’ve sworn that I had replied to this post of yours, but maybe I never actually pressed the “Post” button. 😉
        In any event, here’s a quick reply:
        First, take my comments with the proverbial grain of salt because it’s been a long time since I heard the Tekton Lore Reference towers. At the time, I had borrowed them from a friend who was looking to sell his pair. I only had them for a few days and didn’t really have a tremendous amount of time to mess around with positioning, etc.
        That said, I was quite impressed with them. They have an awful lot of low-end “grunt” for their size, as you know. I also remember the sound staging to be quite large and immersive – they disappeared, acoustically, very well. And of course, the value proposition for what Eric is charging for those speakers is very, very high. I didn’t fall in love with them enough to buy my friend’s pair, but I did like them enough to call Eric and talk a few times about which of his models I might like the best.
        I ultimately decided – even though there was a guy on Audiogon who was convinced I would be insane to buy anything other than Tekton – to try the M4. I have no regrets for doing so. I just felt that the “bigness,” openness and dynamic swing of the M4, along with the tonal accuracy, was so compelling as to make it an easy choice. Yes, I still have the M4’s and, believe it or not, I find that they are still improving and sounding better, even after nearly a year of use.
        By the way, if I do let them go, it will be to move up to the M3 if I can swing that, financially. I would love to hear what that extra bass extension would do for the overall presentation.
        Hope this helps! And again, I apologize for the tardy reply.

  30. Hi Rebbi,

    I am going back into tubes and planning to get the Decware Zen Triode Integrated amp at 6W per channel. I am looking for a $2000 range speaker to pair with it, so far I am planning to try the Zu Soul, Decware DNA horn speaker, Spatial M4 and Omega Alnico XRS (i know close to $3K). I listen to mostly, acoustic, jazz vocalists, singer songwriter type stuff, with some classic rock, and classical music thrown in. I do like listening to music and not the stereo, love to have it on in the background all day, with some turn up the volume and bask in the glory moments thrown in. Have you listened to all these speakers? If so what are your thoughts? Thanks a lot. Jak

    1. Hi, Jak,
      Sorry for the slow reply to your post – I just saw it for the first time today!
      First, have you considered Tekton? Much as I adore my Spatial’s, the Tektons have a very high value lineup and a pretty liberal audition/return policy. So you might want to put them in the mix.
      Of the speakers you mentioned, the only one I have spent time with is Omega – not the XRS but the Super Alnico monitor, which I owned for awhile before moving to the Spatial’s. Given the limited usefulness of my experience to you (since the large cabinet of the XRS should make them a different animal) here’s what I can tell you.
      The workmanship on the Omega’s is gorgeous – Louis uses top quality veneers that really do look like fine furniture. Also, Louis himself is one of the sweetest guys in the audio business – just a pleasure to deal with. I can’t praise his customer service ethic enough.
      Where the Super Alnico Monitor excelled, for me, was in its coherence. A good single driver design can speak with one voice in a way that can be VERY compelling. And, of course, there’s their high sensitivity, which is essential with a low power tube amp.
      For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the Super Alnico Monitor to sound quite right, tonally, in my system, although my tweaking was limited to positioning and break in time only – I never tried swapping cables, adding room treatments, etc.
      But, you’re talking about the XRS, and I’d expect the Super Alnico XRS to have a quite different tonal balance than the smaller Super Alnico Monitor. Also, it may be that with the smaller-scale music that you listen to most often, the Alnico XRS could be stellar! Vocals (and midrange in general) are the meat-and-potatoes of the single driver world and lots of singer songwriter lovers swoon over the Omega’s.
      I hope this is useful!

      1. Hi Rebbi,

        Thanks for your response. I went a completely different way with the amp and bought a Prima Luna Premium Integrated with EL34s and bought the M4s. I have been listening to them for about 10 hours now and already i am getting immense musical pleasure.
        The first hour of the M4s was scary, too brash, too forward, then over the next few hours they started to settle in and today listening to Nina Simone singing “I put a spell on you” or Jimmy Page’s guitar on “tea for one” I am beginning my climb on the stairway to heaven :))
        Next upgrade will be my Turntable, probably in July. Please let me know if you have any recommendations in the $2K range.
        And thanks once again for your superb blog, without it I would have never found the M4s

      2. Jak,
        For some bizarre reason, I only discovered your post today. Anyway, thanks for the kind words about the blog, I’m glad you’ve found it helpful.
        I’ve never had the chance to spend time with Prima Luna gear but I know that it has a superb reputation for both sound and good value. We’ve got a brick and mortar stereo shop in town that carries the brand. I’ll have to check it out.

    1. I did not. After living with them for two months and shooting them out against the Ascend Sierra RAAL towers and the Magnepan 1,7i, I ultimately found the most enjoyable speaker to be the Maggies. The Spatials played the loudest by far. The Ascends had the most precise high end by far. The Maggie’s did everything really well: much more detailed than Spatials, way more visceral grunt than the Ascend while maintaining quite a bit of detail. Their drawback is that they are the hardest to drive.

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