Hayes Spatial One Closefield Monitors

I couldn't believe my eyes when I unpacked these novel monitors. They are truly different. The Hayes Spatial One includes a sound diffuser mounted under a down-firing tweeter.
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I couldn't believe my eyes when I unpacked these novel monitors. They are truly different. The Hayes Spatial One includes a sound diffuser mounted under a down-firing tweeter. This arrangement creates extremely good treble dispersion - a wide sweetspot. Bill Laswell used the Hayes Spatial One to produce the Miles Davis and Bob Marley dub records (see www.newaudio.com.au).
Product PointsApplications: Studio monitoring

Key Features: 6.5" woofer, 1" dome tweeter, Diffusion Prism

Price: $695/pair

Contact: Hayes through LPB at 610-644-1123.

Plus

+ Good bass and loudness for size

+ Very wide sweetspot

+ Excellent depth

+ Sharp imaging

+ Novel design

Minus

- Midbass emphasis near console or wall.

- Shy upper mids (Hayes claims that production models will not have these problems).

The Score: Its wide sweet spot and compact design make the Spatial One a good closefield monitor choice.
Features

Basically a two-way ported speaker for pros and consumers, the Spatial One ($699/pair) includes a 6.5" woofer and a 1" dome tweeter. Extending over the top of the cabinet is a cantilever that holds the tweeter, which aims down toward a Diffusion Prism. This is an array of parallel aluminum plates flanked by pieces of open-cell foam. The tweeter sound waves scatter off the prism.

The Diffusion Prism resembles a Reflection Phase Grating (RPG) diffuser, a Peter D'Antonio invention used in recording studios to diffuse sound waves. The diffuser is point-source focused onto the tweeter acoustic center - a unique, patented design.

Taking a look at the drivers, the woofer is a SEAS unit with a natural rubber surround, 1.5" voice coil for extra power handling and a phase plug (nose cone) for improved mids. At 3.3 kHz, the signal crosses over to a Philips 1" fabric-dome tweeter.

The compact cabinet is mechanically inert and is available in two materials: MDF with a black finish or compressed hemp fibers with a natural green finish - an environmentally friendly option. Inside the box, a soft metal crossbrace reduces flexing. I was intrigued by the sculpted look of this speaker with its slanted top half. On the back of the cabinet are the woofer port and a pair of easy-access, slanted five-way binding posts. There are no tone controls.

Hayes specs the frequency response as 55 Hz to 20 kHz. Sensitivity is rated at 88 dB SPL/Watt/meter and nominal impedance is 6 ohms. Manufacturer recommended amplifier power is 25 to 150 Watts per channel, continuous. The speaker is 16" high, 7.5" wide and 10.5" deep.

In use

I auditioned a prototype Hayes Spatial One before making any measurements. In my control room, it sounded best when placed a foot out from an absorbent wall behind it, aiming straight ahead, on stands behind my mixer, 3' apart and 3' away.

Here are my impressions of the Spatial One reproducing various instruments and my master tapes:

Piano: Natural and realistic, with weighty bass notes. The image is in a plane behind the speakers, more so than with conventional monitors.

Bass: Deep, full, and reasonably tight. Somewhat puffy due to a midbass bump. According to Hayes, the SEAS woofer needs a 200-hour break-in to reach its fastest bass transient response. I did not have time for this break-in period.

Acoustic guitar: Gentle and delicate. Clear string plucks.

Vocal: Sharply imaged behind the speakers. Remarkable sense of depth. Mostly natural, but some recordings sound tizzy in the sibilance range.

Background vocals: Unusually spacious and airy.

Drums: A little puffy on the low end and crisp on the high end.

Kick drum: Good bottom end.

Cymbals: Crisp but slightly brittle, as if the lower harmonics of the cymbals were weak. (According to Hayes, the tweeter has since been toned down a little, eliminating that brittleness-Ed.)

Percussion: Not muffled. A bell tree sounds as sweet and gentle as snowflakes or ice crystals.

Sax: Warm, not very edgy. Realistic.

Electric guitar: A little bloated in the low end. Lacks bite or edge.

Orchestra: Realistic sense of space.

Flute: Sounds quite breathy.

Strings Smooth, not at all strident.

My mixes: The mixes I made using NHT Pro A20 monitors sound puffy in the midbass and weak in the upper mids.

Does the Diffusion Prism work? Without a doubt, the Spatial One B does have a very wide sweetspot. I heard the same tonal balance no matter where I sat in front of the speakers. I did, however, hear tonal changes when I listened above or below the speaker axis. According to Hayes, some engineers prefer to use this monitor upside down to reduce vertical tonal changes.

Summary

The Hayes Spatial One has two outstanding traits: a wide sweetspot in the horizontal plane and a great sense of depth. For a compact speaker, it can play loud and has good bass. There was some audible coloration in the prototype I tested: a midbass bump and slightly weak upper mids that reduce edge and lend a bit of brittleness to cymbals. According to Hayes, in the final design the dip at 4 kHz will be filled in and the overall tweeter level will be reduced slightly.

Also, the slight bump around 200 Hz will be changed by decoupling the enclosure. In any case, I admire the bold new design using the tweeter diffuser. This helps the producer and engineer hear the same tonal balance in the mix, even when they sit in different spots.