Steve Hoffman's Meadowlark Blue Heron Review

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Found this over at the Hoffman forum, from about 15 years ago. Thought it was an interesting read. I can't say I know much about the Blue Heron, but they were second from the top of the Meadowlark line, and used some funky Audax tweeters and mids, along with a pair of what looks like the same 7 inch mids as in my Shearwater Hot Rods.

Here's what Steve had to say:


Our buddy Jim Ricketts of TMH Audio (who's idea it was to have me try the Blue Herons) asked me what I thought this morning. Here are Jim's questions and my answers:

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Jim: Can you ascertain if the overall tonal balance is neutral or on the warm or cool side of neutral?

STEVE: Well, I've only listened for about two hours, but here goes. To me, the Meadowlarks playing with the Push-Pull VAC 70/70 Renaissance Signature Amp, VAC Preamp, and good old Sony ES-77 CD player, the tonal balance is fairly neutral. In my living room there is a slight midbass hump, which would throw the sound on the warm side, but other than that, neutral. And I think the VAC amp is slightly on the cool side itself (at least with the stock 300B's that are in there right now).


Overall, is the sound fast and detailed? Bass fast and tight?

STEVE: The sound is VERY fast and detailed. Bass is great, fast, tight, and I can hear the bottom octave (which is unusual for my living room). Neat! Also, these speakers reproduce the most natural sounding PIANO sound I have ever heard. As you know, Jim, piano is a bitch to get right. But these do. That makes me happy!


How is the Audax aerogel midrange (vs. Legacy Kevlar midrange) and especially that Audax gas piezo super tweeter (vs. Legacy ribbon)?

STEVE: My Legacy Focus speakers are an early pair, before Legacy went crazy with a leaner sound. In fact they are the best pair of Focuses I've ever heard. I don't really have a handle on the exact sound of the Audax midrange unit yet, but I do get a kick out of the Audax gas piezo tweeter. It's very smooth, but detailed. Makes everything sound very "natural" which I love of course. The Legacy Ribbon is nice too, with more of a percussive sound. However, my Legacy's (which have an overall warmer tone) are up in my much smaller mastering room and the Blue Herons are in my big, open living room. Different spaces. I'm going to haul the (120 lbs each) Meadowlark speakers up to my mastering room and try them with the WAVAC HE-833 100 Watt SET monos next week.


Does the VAC 70/70 drive them easily? (Wondering how the 45 watt WAVAC MD-805 monos will do with them?)

STEVE: Yes the VAC drives them easily. I have the Blue Herons on the VAC 8 ohm tap for the moment (the VAC always works best that way). I'm sure 45 single ended WAVAC watts will do fine. I must say that the preamp needs to be cranked up a good deal to get any authoritative volume out of the Meadowlarks.


Good separation of voices and instruments?

STEVE: Yes indeed. But, placement of speakers is CRUCIAL. One bad placement mistake and the soundstage collapses utterly. So, one must place with care. One nice thing, is that I can walk around in the kitchen (which the living room opens up into) and still hear the CORRECT TONALITY of the music. No soundstage of course, but it still sounds amazing. The Legacy Focus speakers on the other hand, have so many drivers that one has to sit in the exact sweet spot or the tonal balance just goes to hell.


Good imaging, sound staging?

STEVE: Oh, I guess I covered this. Great imaging, if the speakers are placed correctly. They speakers need to have their interconnects and cable carefully matched. The Blue Heron's are neutral, but wacky wire can throw that off.

Over all Jim, these are beautiful speakers. BTW, the first thing we played (for no good reason) was a quick mix I did of Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim. Karla loved the sound immediately, even when the VAC was cold and rather thin sounding. After an hour, when all of those 300B triodes were warmed up, things really started to happen. I put on a bunch of "oldies" dubs I have (and of course the special "test" CD that I made for us) and everything sounded great, dynamic, easy to listen to, musical and just plain fun. I hated to turn the thing off and go to bed.

My next goal is to get the WAVAC HE-833 single ended triode amps together with the Meadowlark speakers. THAT'S going to be a match made in heaven!

(later):

Jim: Real glad the BH speakers are sounding good. I have experience with most of the drivers and xover components and thought the BH's could be very good for your mastering AND work extremely well with the WAVAC HE-833 SET's. The internal wire in the speakers from Tara is copper and I find that normally has a soft, warmish sound. Obviously, i had no idea how much cabinet/box colorations the BH's would have, if any. Based on your comments, I would assume they have very low box colorations?

STEVE: Regarding colorations, I don't think the box has ANY! That's a first. Very tightly packed and resonance free!

(Pics from Pat's website. Damn, he did some nice woodwork!)

bh-SapeleP1.jpgpsbhpair.jpg
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Btw, the Blue Herons are not to the confused with the Herons, the Heron Hot Rods or the Heron i's. :)

Or the Blue Heron 2's which were a totally different speaker, with Scan Speak rather then Audax bits.
 
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Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Steve had the Blue Herons for a few years, and used them for a bunch of his mastering projects:

" I used these speakers for mastering many of the AF SACD's such as DONOVAN, THE SEARCHERS, BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS, RITCHIE VALENS, etc. as well as a bunch of other goodies."
 
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