Electrostatic speakers have always captured the imagination. A transparent panel with crystal clear sound coming out of it; that’s just crazy when you hear and see it for the first time. Also, the presentation is completely different because it is a dipole speaker. In other words, it radiates forwards and backwards. In short: everything is twisted with an electrostat. We are going to look at and listen to a 100% Dutch model: the Final Model 5. We are curious!
Final is a brand with a fairly long – and somewhat complex – history. When your editor worked as a student at Hifi Studio Wilbert in Utrecht, there were already Final electrostats in circulation. If I remember correctly, I once helped a customer with a surround set-up of Final 1.4 full-range electrostats and a gigantic stack of Primare power amplifiers. The fuses were blown every time when he switched on the system. Not surprising if you literally put 2.4 kilowatts worth of power-amps into the wall. If there is a 10A fuse behind it, it will of course blow out when everything is switched on. Once it was split and protected by 16A fuses, everything went fine.
And damn… that system made a deep impression. So loose. So transparent. But anyway: that was around the turn of the millennium. And shortly thereafter came the new series in which the 600i and 400i for example were available. Not without problems, unfortunately. Because they did sound very good!
Now, some 15 years later, the brand has been revived and we see models like the Model 5 hybrid and Model 15 fullrange. Completely new technology and also a different level of finish.
Roughly, the line-up can be divided into full-range and hybrid full range. The full range models have one large panel that reproduces everything. However, the panel is divided into bass, mids and highs. This can also be seen from the perforation in the panels. More about that later.
The hybrid full range models get a woofer. There are passive and active models. We have tested the passive version, but honestly we always recommend active version because it is just better in terms of controlling the levels. Every room is different and the problems in a room are 99% bass problems. In short: an adjustable bass is practically a must to get a coherent reproduction.
In recent years, Final has done a lot of research on materials and methods to get a good response out of an electrostatic panel. In order to not only sound good, but also produce durable products – the product must also stay in one piece for a long time – they started working with PMMA plastic for the stators. This is a special plastic that remains super-stable and allows for a smaller distance to the diaphragm. Incidentally, Final has given the membrane a little more space on the bass side to avoid contact.
The membrane is made of Teonex, which is a further development on mylar. On the Teonex a conductive layer is printed (indium tin oxide) which provides a much more uniform coating than non-printed films. An additional advantage of Teonex is that it is resistant to UV and other external influences. This means that it no longer needs to be replaced, which is the case with other films.
We think it’s great to see that Final is working in such an innovative way and wants to make the electrostatics sustainable on all sides. These are fairly complex techniques in which completely different principles play a role than in dynamic speakers.
The Final Model 5 is a hybrid. This means that the panel picks up the middle and high and the woofer the low. We estimate that the 2nd order crossover is around 400 Hz. In any case, we see a change in response around that frequency. The low system is not a bass reflex. It is a semi-closed system in which a Seas woofer does the work. Optionally, you can have an nCore amplifier with DSP built in. We definitely recommend that, more on that later.