For some years now I have taken a great interest in transmission line speakers and recently myself and a colleague (Martyn Leek) had the chance to visit one company in particular that seem to have gained a good reputation over the years for making well designed, affordable TL speaker kits – IPL Acoustics.

Introducing IPL Acoustics

IPL ACOUSTICS is situated in ILFRACOMBE DEVON (UK) and is a long established, well respected company producing a comprehensive range of transmission line, hi-fi and audio-visual speaker kits, designed with sound quality as the highest priority. The company is run by Mr Ivan Leslie, whom I found to be a real nice guy, but above all very knowledgeable and accommodating when it comes to designing quality/affordable speaker designs that really work.

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The Full Range

We took along two power amps; a very powerful, but conventional, class A push pull design; and a stereo fifteen watt class A single ended Soul Series amplifier. Both amps were controlled/driven by the new Soul-Mate preamplifier. The first model of the IPL range we listened to was the very capable S3tlm, which is a compact transmission line using the superb new custom built IPL/180M, with its high sensitivity, smooth response, sturdy cast chassis, phase plug, spun anodized aluminium cone and large 102mm magnet, also the excellent Seas H398 aluminium dome tweeter (which is now recognized as being one of the best metal dome units). The H398 gives excellent compatibility with the metal bass unit, combining to give a very smooth response and near perfect phase characteristics.

Things were off to a good start. The first thing anyone who listens to one of IPL’s designs will almost certainly comment on, is the speed and agility of the sound these speakers project and unlike most conventional loudspeaker designs where you have to sit right in the ‘sweet spot’ to get the full effect of the stereo imaging, sound depth, etc., this is not the case with any of the IPL range that we had the pleasure of listening to.
I guess this is down to the excellent phase characteristics of all the IPL transmission line designs. The next speaker in the range to really impress us was the S4tl. Again, a very competent performer and I suspect a little better at driving larger rooms than the S3tlm. By this time, we had gotten used to the exceptional imagery and speed/attack of the IPL range and so far had been delighted with the performance of each model. Now it was time for the big guns; the awesome S5tl. Going by what I had experienced from the smaller s3tl and s4tl, I was expecting something great and the S5tl didn’t disappoint. The scale and weight of the music took-on another level; the sound stage was huge and the bass… ohh that bass!

 

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Conclusion

The TL speaker designs from IPL Acoustics, in my humble opinion, are exceptional performers and as long as you can cope with a bit of DIY putting each kit together, they are excellent value for money. When partnered with the right equipment, they can be truly magical. All the floor standing transmission line speakers in the range that we had the pleasure of listening to had something special to offer, from the smallest s3tlm to the mighty s5tl.

Over the years, I have had the chance to listen to a lot of speakers – some good and some not so – and I can comfortably say that the performance of each of the TL range I heard down at IPL was a real ear opener. I also felt that each model auditioned, surpassed speakers (performance wise) many times their price bracket.

IPL ACOUSTICS: Tel/fax +44 (0) 1271867439 or email ivan@iplacoustics.co.uk