For sale is a pair of ProAc Response 3 loudspeakers currently on consignment from the original owner in Florida. This pair in excellent condition however the original boxes have been discarded so they will need to picked up by the new owner (where they can also be inspected and auditioned for those seriously interested). They include the original grills, spikes, and have been awesome speakers that the original owner has enjoyed caringly only to make room for a new pair of ProAcs.
Here is a fantastic older but still telling review of this awesome loudspeaker from Stereophile:
ProAc Response Three loudspeaker Jack English
| Jan 5, 2007 | First Published: Sep 5, 1991
Let's see—should I start with a discussion of conflict? Or maybe indecision? No, let's be more psychological and talk about approach/avoidance dilemmas...No, I'm supposed to be entertaining. How about a joke? Nah, that won't do. Well how about the framework for a joke? Yeah, that's the ticket!
Did you hear the one about the audiophile looking for speakers? Well, it seems he had a dilemma. On the one hand, he (it's a he, isn't it?) was obsessed with audio quality. He searched out (and was very impressed with) the Wilson WATT/Puppy/WHOW setup (about $23,000). He really liked the Avalon Ascents (they had been raved about in The Absolute Sound—they were $16,500 or so depending upon the finish, the state of the dollar, and the quality of the most recent review, it seemed). On the other hand, he had a family to support. Wasn't this an ungodly amount of money to spend for speakers? If only they cost $5000 or so...How could he ever get the level of performance he coveted while spending an amount of money he could justify?
But he had listened to all of the $5000 speakers, hadn't he? Let's see now, there were the Merlin Signature Fours, the Snell Type A/III Improved, the ProAc Studio Towers, B&W 801 Matrix Series II, Mirage M-1s, Quad US Monitors, MartinLogan CLS IIs with subwoofers, and many other very worthy contenders. But none of them seemed just right, as Goldilocks might have said. Back to the big bucks—the Infinity IRS Betas and Thiel CS5s. "Too much money!" groaned his conscience. Where, oh where, was he to turn? Speakers either cost too much or had shortcomings, however minor, that galled him at this price level. Shouldn't more expensive products sound more alike? Shouldn't they be converging on a more realistic—and similar—sound? Why, oh why, did they all sound so different? And why did they all have to cost so much?
The Wimp Factor
J. Gordon Holt has argued loud and long over the necessity of listening to recordings of live performances of unamplified music. In essence, this leaves us with classical performances, typically of orchestras to fully test an audio system's sonic capabilities. Harry Pearson has gone so far as to name his magazine based upon this fundamental principle. And with good reason. Yes, all halls are different and all recordings are different, but there's a fundamental truth in the sound of a violin or an oboe. After all, what is the natural sound of a synthesizer? A large part of my psyche agrees with this argument. How can you comment on the soundstaging of a multi-track popular recording when the performers never performed in the same space and probably didn't even perform at the same time? Yeah, it had to be live, unamplified orchestral music. If something could get that right, it could get anything right.
(But, on the other hand,) Bull! Tony Cordesman was right. Just because something can recreate a string quartet realistically doesn't guarantee squat when it comes to Metallica! Rock'n'roll is the predominant musical form, outselling classical by a margin of 30 to 1. Shouldn't a good audio system be able to play rock (to play loud and to play deep bass)? Of course it should. Quite frankly, many "audiophile" systems can't do it. Period. They wimp out. They can't recreate the intended visceral impact the musicians heard on those old JBLs in the studio. If a speaker is going to be able to play whatever I want to listen to, it better be able to play rock. Speakers with little bass and constricted dynamics simply won't do. I don't (oops—that is, he doesn't—back to the story line) want to live with nice, musical, euphonic speakers. He wants speakers that can handle whatever he feels like throwing at them. Some nights it might be the Emerson String Quartet, but on other evenings it might be Axel Rose.
So, mimicking Goldilocks, he continued the search. Naw, this one has no bass. No, this one has a flat soundstage. Nah, this one lacks dynamics. Nope, this is too bright. And so it went.
ProAc speakers & Stewart Tyler
With very few exceptions (eg, the Mini-Towers and Extended Bass Tablette or EBT), I have very much enjoyed all of the ProAc products. Of particular note is the Response Two (especially on the R2 Target stands imported by May Audio Marketing). The only valid criticism of the Response Two is its lack of truly extended deep-bass response. It's a little box, after all, and even Tyler has been unable to rewrite the laws of physics. All of which brings us to the latest ProAc speaker—the Response Three.
If nothing else, Tyler is predictable. By adding a second midrange/woofer driver he created the EBT (from the Tablette), the Super Tower (from the Studio One), the Mini-Tower (from the Super Tablette), and now the Response Three (from the Response Two). Such a strategy has been a hit-and-miss proposition for ProAc. The underlying concept seems simple enough: two smallish drivers should be able to reach deeper into the bass yet still be fast enough to handle the midrange. In this case, the midrange/woofer drivers are 6½" polypropylene-coned units from Scanspeak.
Tyler consistently relies on a few other predictable approaches. For one, better bass can be achieved out of a bigger box. The Response Threes adhere to this rule as well, being largish, floorstanding cabinets with front-firing ports. And, as most of you should know by now, ProAc firmly believes in mass. They apply mass-loading in two ways for most of their speakers, the Response Three being no exception. First, spikes come with the speakers. Second, sand (or lead shot, or whatever) can be added into small compartments located at the bottom rear of the cabinets. The Threes use the loading material to actually "tune" the bass. Too much material and the sound becomes dull and lifeless; too little and, besides losing the benefits of mass loading in the first place, the sound lacks articulation and becomes slightly boomy—the Three's sound character prior to loading.
Like some of the smaller ProAc designs, there are painted straws in the front-firing ports. Unlike the sound of the ProAc Studio Tower or B&W 801 Matrix Series II, the ports on the Threes are not audibly distracting. Since they're already "stuffed," there's no motivation to play with them. They work as intended and should be left alone. While on the subject of leaving things alone, though there are grille cloths, there are no protective covers over any of the drivers in the Threes (unlike many other ProAcs). This is clearly beneficial. Protective covers invariably impact a driver's performance; designers should leave them off. In addition to playing a role in convincing Tyler to do away with protective covers, I'm equally pleased to report that the Threes can be either bi-amped or bi-wired. (See? Prodding by reviewers does work!)
Doubling up on the midrange/woofer drivers has many other advantages. For starters, a two-way crossover can be used. No matter what else we've learned along the way, simpler is often better. It should be easier to get a better sound out of a two-way crossover than a three- (or more) way. A three-driver, two-way speaker also lends itself to what I've called the co-centric center layout (more appropriately described as the D'Appolito configuration). The intent is to create a vertical array of drivers with overlapping sonic centers. Such arrays (as found on Hales, Merlins, Duntechs, and others) are invariably stacked vertically in a straight line. Tyler, as is his wont, breaks the mold here as well. Though the drivers are in a line, this is not vertical, being tilted inward so the topmost driver is toward the inside of the cabinet while the bottommost driver is toward the outside of the cabinet. This also means the Response Threes come in mirror-imaged pairs.
ProAc Response Three loudspeaker Page 2
By tilting the driver alignment, the cabinets have to be made wider than would otherwise be the case. ProAcs have historically had stunning soundstaging and imaging capabilities, and I've been one of many reviewers who assumed this was achieved partly by Tyler's obsession with narrow cabinets (often just barely wider than the driver surrounds). A tilted arrangement means a bigger box for better bass—but it also means a wider cabinet. The question, to be answered later, concerns the tradeoffs inherent in this decision between bass response and soundstaging precision.
So the Response Threes seem simple—a two-way, pseudo–D'Appolito arrangement in a floorstanding, ported box using spikes and sand. Not much new ground here. But, of course, there's more. The Threes come with a "plinth." This is nothing more than a thick slab, just slighter wider and deeper than the speaker cabinets, bolting onto the bottom of the speaker cabinet. The spikes actually go into the plinth instead of the cabinet itself. You have to use the plinth in order to use the supplied spikes. An alternative would be to simply use Tiptoes or Tone Cones (I've grown most happy with the Goldmund cones for these purposes). Use of the plinth does change speaker height slightly, which may impact bass performance somewhat as well as alter the relationship between the height of the drivers and your ears at the listening position. Since plinths and spikes are supplied with the speakers, I used them.
Finally, I still find the odd-shaped grille covers rather displeasing. If you dislike the look of the grilles, buy the speakers in black—the grilles are virtually invisible. If I didn't say something negative here, I doubt I'd have anything negative to say anywhere in this review. These are incredible speakers, and a dramatic improvement over the similarly priced Studio Towers.
Splendid! Stunning! Gorgeous! Breathtaking! Whew—these are killers—KILLERS—K-I-L-L-E-R-S!!!
What more is there to say? I've been more impressed with the ProAc Response Threes than I've been with any—any—speaker I've ever auditioned!
Right out of the double-boxed packaging (without sand, plinths, or spikes), the Response Threes are wonderful. They required the least break-in time of any ProAc I've been exposed to. Even without sand, plinths, and spikes, these are very special speakers. Bass, from the bottom through the midbass and up into the lower midrange, is a bit fat, with a very slight lack of articulation. Soundstaging, while very stable and three-dimensional, lacks pinpoint precision. I only mention these two very minor quibbles now because they are ameliorated by the inclusion of sand, plinths, and spikes. Like every other ProAc, the Threes must be located well away from the rear and side walls to work their magic.
• Bass: The low end of the Threes (once they are properly loaded with sand) is extended, controlled, and powerful. I never expected this quantity and quality of bass out of a two-way speaker. On something relatively simple, like Rufus Reid's acoustic bass on Excursions In Blue (an outstanding recording, made with the Colossus processor, on Quartet Q-1005), every note is clear, fast, rich, and precise. Subtle gradations in volume are recreated with aplomb. Nuances, such as fingering and plucking techniques, are admirably real.
On more complex material, such as the whimsical crescendos of Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Solti and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London ST5 15005, LP), the double basses are dynamic, clear, and powerful. It becomes all too easy to visualize that enchanted broom wreaking havoc as the overmatched apprentice grapples with a dilemma of his own making. On a powerhouse rock recording such as Queen's "The Invisible Man" (The Miracle, Capitol C11H-92357), the bass is startlingly visceral, the dance beat unavoidable. In short, the character of bass in the recording is exactly what you'll get. No matter how many rationalizations we come up with, speakers that can't reproduce bass with authority are robbing the music of much of its emotion.
• Midrange: Full, rich, lush, musical, involving—in short, lifelike. The midrange suffers not a whit from the bass load on those smallish, doubled-up drivers. The unique sonic signature of every instrument, a result of its own unique mixture of fundamentals and overtones, is simply right (listen to the naturalness of the oboe, the blat of the brass, the plucked strings from The Sorcerer's Apprentice). Or try the richness of voice—the mix of chest and throat, the amount of nasality, are spot on. There's nary a trace of any textural coloration, and never a barrier between you and the performers. The crossover point doesn't seem to exist. No peaks. No dips. No attenuations. No exaggerations. Nothing. Nothing but the music.
The rich tapestry of sounds that combine to make music such a joy are revealed in all their glory by the Threes. For example, the very satisfying interplay among Randy Travis's powerful and unique vocals, Dolly Parton's lighter yet equally strong vocals, and Chet Atkins's pickin' on "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" (Heroes & Friends, Warner Bros. 26310) are masterful. The resultant tonal palette is rich with hues and shades that many speakers simply fail to recreate. With the Threes in place, my attention was always drawn to the music; the equipment always became, at best, secondary. While trying to be a reviewer listening to Prefab Sprout's "One Of The Broken" (Jordan: The Comeback, Epic EK 46132), all I was doing was thinking about the similarities of the music with early material from Simon and Garfunkel. Oh yes, the sound was rich, full, tight, quick, fast, and crystal clear. The soundstage was wide, deep, and open—but obviously not a live performance. The use of artificial reverb was obvious, the use of vocal overlays easy to pinpoint. I was listening to what the artist and producer intended. The Threes simply let me hear everything that was there.
Maybe it was the word "Jordan" in the title of Prefab Sprout's album, or maybe it was the ongoing problems in the Middle East—I don't know. But I found myself digging out the Popular Music of William Walton with Charles Groves and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Studio 2 Stereo). The cover art was as brilliant as ever, with that camouflage-painted Spitfire racing past the white cliffs of Dover. The cut, of course, was the Prelude and Fugue The Spitfire. The perspective was distant, the overall sound slightly veiled and muffled, the overall tonality anemic—just as it has always been. Nope, the Response Threes weren't adding any euphonic colorations. If the source was deficient in some way, that was exactly what I heard.
• Treble: ProAc has always impressed me with upper-end performance; the Three is no exception. The top is extended, lightning-fast, and extremely clean. Triangles, a devastating task for most speakers, float effortlessly within the sonic fabric of the music (again, listen to Dukas's playful tone poem). Upper harmonics abound, and there's air aplenty. No, the Threes are neither peaked nor exaggerated in the highs, neither bright nor hard. They're fast and real. If the source has a rough top end, you'll have to live with it. The Threes will reveal all and hide nothing.
• Soundstaging: Did Tyler lose the magical soundstaging of his earlier designs by going to the tilted-driver alignment in an effort to get the desired bass (which he certainly has achieved)? No way! These big boxes, like virtually every other ProAc before them, have the ability to simply disappear. The soundstage develops behind and around them. No sound is restricted to (or comes directly out of) the cabinets. Remarkable! These big boxes can actually disappear. They truly recreate a believable three-dimensional soundstage. They don't act as picture windows with a restricted stage placed between the speakers. They don't throw the performers out into the listening room. Much like the equally excellent Wilson WATTs, they simply disappear—they do not exist as a part of the listening experience! The soundstage (assuming there is one to begin with) takes on a lifelike dimensionality all of its own.
• Imaging: Within that 3D stage, and once the plinths, spikes, and mass loading have been taken care of, performers are precisely located in space; there's no "wander" or vagueness. The performers themselves have body—no cardboard cutouts here. Once again, the hackneyed term "palpability" leaps to mind. These are performers you can reach out and touch. Somewhat surprisingly, these speakers made the new QSound process—found, for example, on Sting's The Soul Cages, A&M 75021 6405-1, LP—more enjoyable. From the open, airy realism of the Spanish-flavored instrumental "Saint Agnes and the Burning Train" to the closing cymbals at the front-right and rear-left of "The Wild Wild Sea," there was a believable sense of space and human performers, many sounds simply hanging in the air.
• Inner Detail: As if everything I've described wasn't enough, the Threes are equally adroit at recreating inner detail. Listen to Rufus Reid's fingering (as well as his breathing). See how many of Pink Floyd's rather vulgar words you can now decipher on Dark Side of the Moon—or how about Chet Atkins's harmonies with Dolly and Randy. Coupled with its tonal accuracy and uncanny soundstaging capability, the ability to unravel subtle inner detail adds still further to the Threes' wonderful realism.
• Dynamics: Ah, but what of dynamics? And can they play loud?
You betcha! Of course, at too low a volume level, no speaker comes alive. The Threes are no exception to this rule. But at anything resembling a realistic volume level, they sing. They can play very loudly, and do so effortlessly. (No doubt my Audio Research Classic 150s had a lot to do with this particular ability—the rest of the system consisted of a Benz-Micro MC-3, Versa Dynamics Model 1, Esoteric D-2 transport, Theta DS Pro Generation II, CAT SL-1 revised preamp, Magnan interconnects, and Audio Research speaker cables.) Not only were they able to play loudly, they didn't become fatiguing at these levels the way so many other speakers do. At this point, I'm sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that they also do a splendid job of recreating low-level dynamic shadings as well. The emotion so often conveyed in these subtle ebbs and flows of level shifts is fully communicated.
At $6500/pair, the ProAc Response Threes are not inexpensive in absolute, monetary terms. On the other hand (how many hands are there in this discussion?), they are awfully inexpensive given their breathtaking level of performance. The ProAc Response Threes are marvelous in every regard, and merit audition with speakers at any price. They are, without question, the most satisfying audio component I've auditioned in years. Without a doubt, the ProAc Response Threes are Stewart Tyler's crowning achievement. They are outstanding in every aspect of sonic performance usually discussed. More important, they are unequivocally faithful to the music. Go hear them now! If you even consider changing your speakers, I implore you to audition these imported masterpieces from the UK—a truly Class A product in every regard.
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