Epos ES14s to Shahinian Compasses

I have a very good friend who has already moved back home to the Lake district but has now divested himself of the house he had down South. As part of the move he had some hifi the he just could not house (apart from the LP12 which did travel with him🙂!) and knowing that I was into ‘that sort of thing’ offered his kit to me. So, I ‘inherited’ a Linn Karik (which I later discovered was knackered, possibly power supply failure), Nac92/90 combo, Nakamichi DR3 & some speakers which he could not identify - no label but were an interesting shape & upward firing drivers. I did some digging & identified that these were Shahinian Compasses (the original - the kit was quite old).

Very intriguing I thought so I firstly hooked up the Compasses to the 92/90 fed by the music I have on my MacBook - the result was that the r/h speaker was blowing like the morning after a night of beer/curry. Great I thought, knackered.

Just to check further, I then replaced my Epos ES14s with the Compasses in my main system (272/555/250 DR) in my 5m x 4M family lounge.

I then ran thru a quick selection of the music I try to check out components - Melody Gardot, Nils Lofgren, Malia, Roy Harper, And Brun, Amos Lee, Sean Rowe, Beck, Pink Floyd, Voces 8, a Cantata Dominum album, Norah Jones, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Grimes, Ledfoot and then some older albums that suffer with compression - there were more but I won’t bore you with just a list.
In a word, wow! Now my EPOS 14s are no slouch but in comparison the music from the 14s, as good as the charity and soundstage were, was rather recessed. The compasses just brought everything forward, closer to me but also presented a 3d soundstage with wonderful imaging - piano just here, guitar over there, no fizzing, no sibilance. The vocals were very much as if the singer was in the room with me. I heard detail that I had never heard before. The mids were nicely balanced and the bass was wonderfully present without overpowering (which was my fear). I am not the best at describing in strict hifi terms so this is the best that I can do. The compressed albums still sounded compressed.

In the back of my mind I was looking at doing something with my 272 (perhaps heading back to a 252/PS fed by NDX2) &/or maybe the speakers since I was enjoying the music but I just felt it lacked an edge and some depth. The Compasses have made me question such a move (for the time being😀). The lesson for me here is the impact that speakers can have - this has been covered on numerous forum topics so I am just adding mine. Instead of looking at your source components, consider the impact a change of speaker can have - the Compasses have actually elevated my system front end and this is with a speaker that is likely 25+ years old (as are my 14s). I also think that the Compasses were about 8 times the price of my 14s which were about £500 if my memory serves so should be bringing something extra.

I appreciate that thiese are all comments that others have professed after component change so I am not presenting anything new here.

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I like compasses. We had a tenant some years back who had a lovely clamshell Rega system with a pair of Compasses. It worked well and sounded very good. I always wondered how they would fare on my Naim system…

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I am sure that you would have really enjoyed them Richard; they are lovely looking speakers and really appear to match the ‘Naim sound’.

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Good to see another happy Compass owner. I bought mine as a stopgap (and always wanted to hear a pair) and they’ve just stayed. I’m looking at replacements this year but unless they significantly improve on what I’ve got then the Compasses will stay and I’ll upgrade them to Mk2 spec.

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Shahinians are fabulous, bringing a presence other speakers can only dream of :blush:

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They aren’t too shabby as a stop gap James :smiley:and I am not surprised that they have stayed. Any replacement would have to quite expensive I would think but I would be interested in hearing about whether you do find a suitably worthy replacement. I have heard about the MK2 upgrade and am intrigued on how easy this would be and the benefits this would add - I will have to dig into the reviews for the MK2.

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At this point I would have to agree Michael, they are spectacularly good. I did some casual listening to possible replacements for my Epos ES14s a while back but none reached this level of engagement and the sense of uplift to justify.

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Reviews are very hard to find. I’d always been interested in trying a pair after reading a review by Malcolm Steward in Hi-Fi Critic so when a local pair came up for sale I bought them. They don’t do everything right but are just very engaging speakers and make music enjoyable. They look elegant and a bit different from the norm too.

Mk1 to Mk2 - New bass drivers (Seas Prestige) from Falcon. Treble drivers are from Shahinian via Pear Audio. No change to the crossovers. The new bass driver requires routing out the existing hole to accommodate the slightly larger frame. That’s the only part of the conversion that slightly puts me off at the moment as it would need to be done by a cabinet maker and with present restrictions…

If you google ‘Shahinian Compass, 1 to 2’ Then you’ll find a thread in the Pink place which has all the detail.

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excellent, thanks James!

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James, I posted the article on upgrading Compass Mk1 to Compass Mk2 on PF, I had owned them for 20 yrs +, I had the cabinets re-veneered (oak - walnut), re-capped the crossovers, upgraded both drivers and re-covered the grilles. For under £1,000 all in I got completely new speakers. I originally paid £1,200 for them so + the refurb cost it was far better value than £5k for a new pair of Mk2’s. I run them off a Roksan Xerxes 20, SME 309, Benz Micro Wood, CDX2, XPS, 82 modded, Supercap, 250. The upgrade is definitely worth it, the bass is fuller and more punchy and treble is smoother / more open - or that is what my mind told me as it took about a month to do which was mostly the cabinet work so I was trying to remember what they sounded like! I had great fun doing it, as long as you can solder a wire nothing to worry about. I posted a step by step guide with pictures so happy to help if you want to give it a go. Not sure how to post pictures here if you want to see the results.

Simon

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Cheers Simon. Yes, it was your detailed info on PFM that got me thinking of doing mine. Given the new price and the price I paid for mine, the upgrade is a no brainer. You did a fantastic job there.

James

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