Egglestonworks is one of those American brands that you rarely encounter on British shores, its loudspeakers have tended to be large, masculine in style and very often black. Qualities that do not endear them to the limited space in homes on this side of the Atlantic, so it was encouraging to be introduced to Emma and Nico, the latter being a stand mount version of the former, which have both achieved Evolution status and are being distributed in the UK. I picked the Emma Evolution because I like bass and this looked like a good size speaker for my room and those of serious listeners outside of the US, it is also elegant and devoid of any notion of stealth, it could easily be detected by radar, regardless of altitude.
Based in the almost mythical city of Memphis, Tennessee, Egglestonworks make a select range of nine loudspeaker models of which the Emma Evo is the smallest floorstander, yet it stands over a metre tall and weighs over 30kg, so it’s no shrinking violet. The slim front baffle makes it look less imposing than those figures might suggest however, all the volume is in the depth of the cabinet. And what a cabinet it is, Egglestonworks have always had a penchant for deep gloss paint finishes, I don’t know if they’ve ever dabbled with veneer, and the automotive finish on our sample was top notch. This is one of the reasons why Egglestonworks look more modern than many alternatives; the standard options are black, silver-grey and white alongside premium options at three levels. You can also have the metalwork around the drive units in black anodised aluminium rather than the standard silver for a small premium.
We are told that the Emma in Evolution guise is based on developments made for more ambitious Egglestonworks speakers with changes made to the cabinet, drivers and crossovers that have trickled down from their best models. The cabinet leans slightly back, no more than five degrees at a guess, and the rear baffle is parallel with the front. It is made of laminated MDF that’s shaped in a cold hydraulic press to provide the attractive and stiffening curves on either side of the box. A slot type reflex port is placed on the back of the box.
The driver array here isn’t overly detailed in the specs, which don’t mention that Emma is a two-way, but the mid/bass are six inch types with polypropylene cones that are fixed to the MDF cabinet. The tweeter is a one inch soft dome that’s fixed to the aluminium fascia which itself is decoupled from the cabinet to provide some isolation. The wire tri-star over the tweeter is there for protection and can be removed.
Emma is raised up by chunky aluminium feet (not the black ones shown in the images) and suppled with stainless steel cones that screw into them, all of which raises the speaker about 40mm off the floor. The terminals are described as rhodium but appear to be solid copper, they are not apparently marked for polarity, but get close enough and use a strong light however and it’s possible to see + and – markers on the black plastic surrounding them. They are mounted on a carbon fibre board that presumably has the crossover on its hidden side, it looks rather good and is of course non-magnetic and very stiff which are desirable properties in this situation.
Listening started out with the Moor Amps Angel 6 power amplifier in charge, this is a powerful amplifier with an open and expansive character that was reflected in a spacious and detailed presentation from the Emmas. They worked really well with some live solo piano by Keith Jarrett (Testament Pt.3) where they tracked the variations in playing with ease and delivered the power of his left hand in full effect. This is not a bass heavy loudspeaker as can sometimes be the case with American designs but there’s plenty of low end available when required, and it’s well defined and timely which is what really counts. I experimented with positioning and found that toeing them in so that a little of the inside face of each speaker could be seen from the listening seat, this gave the best balance of detail and imaging, making it easy to hear variations in recording and source components.
It prefers smoother amplifiers to the fully exposed variety, and worked a little better with an ATC P2 power amp than the Moor Amps, this gave the balance a darker hue that makes it easier to enjoy high energy material. Dan Berkson’s album Dialogue features keyboards, trumpet and sax, the latter worked a treat with the Emmas delivering the dynamics of the band alongside the phenomenal groove they brew up on the track Unity. Patricia Barber’s tune Company came across with its weight and power in full effect, the drive and energy of the drums and bass inspiring a bit of arm flailing from the listening seat, as you do. On Bob Marley’s distinctly more laid back Natural Mystic the shaker is higher in the mix and the track is more open than usual. The Emmas are strong on reverb and leading edges, so echo and decay are well defined alongside the minutiae of detail that coalesce to form believable imaging.
I really liked the sound of Little Feat’s Red Streamliner on these speakers, Mike McDonald’s angelic backing vocals providing an ethereal quality that opens up the sound above the perfect rhythms of the band. The cavernous image produced on Kruder and Dorfmeister’s Deep Shit Pt1 & 2 was also very effective, especially when the really deep notes come along and threaten to disturb the building’s structure. Equally inspiring is Steely Dan’s Big Black Cow on DSD, this doesn’t usually cut it because I listen to the vinyl often enough to know its potential but here the timing and imaging were very good indeed. I suspect that the Auralic Altair G2.1 might have had something to do with this result as well.
I went back to the Moor Amps but used an iFi Pro iDSD DAC in its tube output stage mode, this provided just the right amount of sweetening to deliver a revealing yet smooth result with the Egglestonworks, albeit with a slightly more direct angling of the speakers toward the listener. Having watched Cruella I was inspired to play the Tina Turner tracks featured in that movie and have to say I was blown away by her version of Come Together, what a voice, she really should have replaced Bon Scott when AC/DC found themselves in need of a singer in 1980. Mind you I doubt that even Tina could have coped with the touring schedule of that band over the succeeding 30 plus years.
Much listening ensued and all of it proved highly engaging and enjoyable. The Egglestonworks Emma Evolution is a highly revealing and capable loudspeaker in a very nicely appointed cabinet. Partnering source and amplification needs to be smooth and powerful for best results as these speakers make it very easy to hear what comes before them, which is another way of saying that they are transparent to the signal, and that is always a good thing.