REVIEW: German Physiks Unlimited Mk. II Speakers
We’re kicking off a new format in our Spotlight section, giving our readers a chance to interact with us in the product review, as we provide it in multiple parts.
We begin with the German Physiks Unlimited MK II, their newest speaker offering virtually the same experience as their larger models, with this speaker optimized for smaller spaces.
The new speaker makes no compromise in component quality, but the smaller size and more basic cabinet finishes allow a lower, $13,500 MSRP, making these speakers available to a wider audience.
If you’ve never had the chance to experience the German Physiks speakers, they are fantastic – for a number of reasons, but perhaps the one they are most noted for is their unique, omnidirectional DDD driver. This driver uses the same carbon fiber material as the one used in their top of the range, $300,000 speaker system.
Those loving the seamless sound of an ESL, but not terribly fond of the single person sweet spot that they provide, will appreciate the wide dispersion characteristics of the Unlimited. Much like the current MartinLogan ESL hybrid speakers, the DDD driver in the Unlimited goes from about 200Hz to beyond audibility. Lacking a crossover network in the critical vocal range makes for a transparency that few speakers achieve. Mated to a downward-firing 8 inch woofer in a cabinet with a footprint of only 9.5 x 9.5 inches, placing the Unlimited is much more flexible than with most speakers.
Weighing only 63.7 lbs (28.9kg) each, the Unlimiteds are easily set up with one person, and their 88db/1 watt sensitivity makes them easy to drive with the amplifiers at my disposal.
The GP website says, “Free yourself from the tyranny of the sweet spot,” and they couldn’t be more right. While these speakers do benefit from about 20 minutes of optimizing the bass driver in the room, those with no speaker setup skills will still be able to achieve excellent results. I’ve never used a pair of speakers that were this easy to place in my three listening rooms.
Thanks to the ultra wide dispersion and built in time alignment of these speakers, you won’t need to bother with rake angles and the downward firing woofer eliminates toe in as well.
The DDD driver breaks in relatively quickly at moderate to high volume. Slightly stiff in the upper mids for the first 20 or 30 hours, the Unlimiteds get right down to business. I suggest 100 hours of play with the speakers loosely placed and then concentrate on placement for the smoothest bass response in your room. In room two (13 x 15 feet), this ended up being about two feet from the side and rear wall. This will vary in your room, depending on the reflectivity of the surfaces present, so feel free to experiment.
Steady playback of a bass heavy track will set you right in no time at all, and because these speakers are manageable, you won’t need any help to get it done. Once optimized for the best bass response, an ideal distance between the rear and side walls with each speaker will help imaging somewhat. Fortunately, these speakers are much more tolerant of room acoustics than any panel speaker I’ve used, but I suggest those inclined to get the optimum results to experiment with some light diffusion.
Placing a GIK RPG diffusor just behind and just to the side of the Unlimiteds (in the smaller room) provides an even wider, more dramatic stereo image. But, unlike your favorite panel or cone speaker, don’t go mad with the room treatments. Placing absorbing panels behind and at the first wall reflection points will kill the spaciousness of these speakers. The fact that they are designed to work with the reflective surfaces in your room makes them incredibly flexible.
A wide range of amplifiers were used, all with good effect, from the 40 watt per channel PrimaLuna ProLogue up to the Burmester 911 mk.3. My 25 watt per channel 845 SET amplifiers were a nice match, but I wouldn’t suggest using much less than 25 watts per channel. The Unlimiteds are very resolving, so their only limitation will be the electronics and cable you supply.
The German Physiks Unlimiteds redefine the audiophile phrase, “the speakers disappear in the room.” Spend about 10-20 minutes optimizing the placement and you will forget you even have speakers in the room. Very cool.
That’s it for our first installment. We’ve been listening intently, so tune in next week when we offer more in depth analysis of multiple listening sessions. Our final install ment will offer further commentary on a wider range of associated components, and our favorite synergistic combinations.
Initially, everyone on the staff is highly impressed with these speakers, they are easy to set up and thanks to their compact size, integrate into any décor. Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.