Purist ESL Hybrid Electrostatic Speaker System

At an off-site location five minutes from the MOC convention center I found the Purist ESL hybrid electrostatic speaker system by AMI Hi Fi, of Regen, Germany. 

I was instantly intrigued by the design, because the Purist ESL looks like a miniature version of a MartinLogan Statement E2! It is a hybrid configuration which, I think, maximizes the potential for optimal integration of an electrostatic panel and dynamic drivers. 

Instead of one or two woofers in the bottom of a cabinet below an electrostatic or ribbon panel (e.g., MartinLogan, Sanders ESL, GT Audio Works, Apogee Grand) the Purist sports a full-length column of woofers next to, but separate from, the electrostatic panel. In addition, there is a separate subwoofer supplementing the output of the woofer column. This subwoofer houses two large drivers in a back-to-back design. While the demo showed one subwoofer in between the full-range speakers, one subwoofer may be used for each channel. 

The electrostatic panel is crossed over to the woofer column at between 170 Hz and 190 Hz. The system is actively bi-amped, and requires two stereo amplifiers or four monaural amplifiers. 

The speakers were driven with gorgeous 75W Purist KR Audio Kronzilla DM mono-blocks (€23,000 per pair).

The cost of the electrostatic panel/woofer column is €57,000 for the pair. Each subwoofer costs about €15,000. For the price I would have liked the woofer baffle and the frame surrounding the electrostatic panel to be composed of some material heavier and more inert than some type of thick automotive plastic.

I listened to the system for only a short while, and the only source was digital, but I liked what I heard. I consider a column of dynamic drivers in a woofer tower parallel to an electrostatic or ribbon driver (e.g., Genesis Advanced Technologies 1.2, Gryphon Pendragon, MartinLogan Statement E2) to be the proper design solution for maximizing panel/cone integration and for minimizing the sense that the low frequencies are coming only from the lower portion of the speaker.

Ron Resnick
Senior Contributing Writer