*thick redneck voice*
I tell yew what! I aint getting into all that fancy mumbly jumbly about Q and Fs and slopes and curves and possums, Ima jus gonna tell yew what I thank!
Seriously though, I am just an average dude that used to install stereos for a long time and is now a grease monkey and these are my thoughts on these particular speakers I own.
Let me start off by saying I have never owned anything really special car audio wise before. The best components I have owned were JL Audio ZRs, MB Quart Qs and Boston SPZ60 sets. More often it was the lower end series of the same brands. As a creature of habit I tend to stick with what I know but MB Quart went downhill and Boston is out of the car audio game and I never really cared for the JL. They were nice but not for the price.
Being that my Bostons were aging and showing it I wanted to upgrade. After much back and forth over what I wanted some people on here steered me to the Illusions. First thought was I didn't like them in the pictures, looked cheap. I was assured otherwise so I threw my money in the air, rammed my head into the door jamb and ordered them. I then sat on my front porch and waited.
They arrived and I was like a fat kid with a new cake, just overjoyed. I opened the box while the mailman was still talking to me and for the life of me couldn't tell you what he was saying as I was asking myself "Is all the sound deadening here? Is the drill charged? Where are those special screws I bought for these? Is the DVR on? Can I install these before dark? 3 hours! Yes I can!"
So I get the box open and see this:
As I stare at them my first thought is "Hey, that's a nice box!" and then go over the drivers. They are like an Aston Martin. Sleek, beautiful and heavy. I will soon discover they have other Aston martin traits. I notice aside from the one mounting screw blemish on both drivers that they otherwise look brand spanking new. Crossovers never opened, tweeter wires still bundled like new... it was great!
I proceed to give them the best home I can afford. I install them in my 1996 Chevrolet Silverado King Cab but before I do I double layer the outer door skin in Fat Mat, single layer the inner door skin, single layer the door card, bought some FAST rings, replace every single plastic clip and then replaced the doors seals and window seals. Beautiful.
I power them off of a JL Audio 450/4 using only the 150 watt channels and run them passive and set the tweeters at -3 while I tune. Source unit is a Pioneer DEH8400BH and the processor is an Audio Control ESP-2 Concert. Just really a soundstage enhancer from back in the day, when Vanilla Ice was still cool. They are accompanied by a pair of Dayton HO 12" subs powered off a JL Audio 500/1 to take care of the low end. I start with the high pass at 80hz and a 12db slope.
They are in, look fabulous and I am ready to jam! Speakers have other plans. As I said, like an Aston Martin. One tweeter is very very quiet. Well heck. I go through the standard troubleshooting then DVM the tweeter and see its bad. I inform the seller that informs me of his seller that informs me of his seller that informs me of Orca that informs me back the dealer and you put your right foot in, you put your right foot out.... oh wait. So I make the sad face and the seller hooks me up as does the first owner and even the distributor was able to get me a replacement. Yay teamwork!
At this point I would like to point out some special people that have earned my trust and business for life. Coppertone is one of the most stand up guys I have ever had the privilege of talking to. Patient, down to earth and has taste as well as a genuine love of our hobby. That man went above and beyond to help me and even sent me some Focal tweeters while I awaited my illusion replacement.
Tyroneshoes was also a nice guy to do business with and also sent me some TBIs to tide me over. LOL Gotta say, those tweeters are still running strong. I would not hesitate to buy from him again and am 100% confident he did not know the one tweeter was bad. Just one of those things.
Lastly I would like to thank Don of Unexpected Creations. What a knowledgeable dude! He too is a very patient yet very busy man. He took time out of his busy days doing his awesome installs to help me out being as he was the original distributor of the Illusions. He didn't have to do that but since he did I know his customer service is excellent and to me that is every bit as important as the product someone sells.
Kudos Don, you rock!
Anywho, back to the review. Squirrel!
So the new tweeter gets in and once again I am like a kid on Christmas morning that can hear the box with holes barking.
I am oh so careful making sure everything is just so and then begin the tuning phase. Play some test tones, get phasing right, play with the crossovers and EQ and then enjoy. I ended up running the high pass at 63hz with a 36db slope and the low pass at 63hz with a 24db slope.
I start off with well known tunes from Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads and a few others. I am blown away! The tweeters are so crisp and clear it almost brings a tear to my eye. So detailed yet not harsh or fatiguing at all. The mids were accurate and reproduced Lindsey Buckinghams guitar to near perfection. Piano and woodwind instruments really shined with this set. Midbass was okay, not as good as the Boston Pros or Hertz ML1600s but better than the Infinity Kappas, Mb Quart Onyx, Focal Polyglass, Boston SLs, Kicker Comps (dunno why I even tried those) and Memphis MClass.
This became more apparent with current music by Lorde, Lady Gaga, Nero and similar. Just not much punch and what was there was a bit behind me as it was really coming from the Dayton subs.
The tweeters though, oh the tweeters. Angle kisses in a box. So sweet and clean. They did have a couple downsides though. If your recording is not perfect, you will know. They also did not like the hiss of my 8400BH so a new source unit was in order to really enjoy them.
Now I have spent a week enjoying these speakers and figured now they were a bit broken in so it was time to see what they can do! Well as it turns out, not much. Hmph. Mind you with all the previous speakers and a much more aggressive EQ settings I could and would often listen to them with the volume at 38-42 (out of 62) when I wished to really rock out. With the Illusions I got to 35 before the tweeter protection said "No bueno!" Orca says "That's because the amplifier was putting out too much DC." Hmm, okay. Weird how none of the drivers before or since have had that issue but lets run with that. Or not. (side note, the Orca conversation happened much latter in this whole review)
I resigned myself to having better sound but a bit less output. Okay, I can live with that, lets get that new deck ordered! I sold my old deck thinking the new one would be here a day latter....... so a week latter as the new deck shows up I am once again thrilled to have my stereo back!
I get the deck installed and power it up making sure it was at 0 before doing initial adjustments. Set the high pass to 80hz (as per suggested by this site), make sure the EQ is flat and then add some volume...... some more volume..... hey where are my mids? Great. Recheck everything before suspecting the actual drivers. After all, they did work just fine when I removed the old deck. This is when I touched the passenger cone while the stereo was on and it made sound. A horrible ugly sound but it was sound. Went to the drivers side and it worked when I touched it and worked pretty well until I turn the stereo down and it will stop playing.
So I sat down and proceeded to cry. At this point I wish my lawn was as depressed as I am because then it would cut itself.
I guess the Illusions felt bad because the driver side started playing normally again.... or maybe it was mocking me.
So I cant really give a full review as they refuse to play nice.
My impressions are as follows:
When they work they work well. Clear detailed highs that have an impressive low end output as well. At low to medium volumes the tweeters are quite spectacular. They are not able to get "loud" but there is only so much that can be done with 89db speakers. The mids are also quite detailed and play guitar, piano and most instruments quite accurately. They do lack any form of kick and in my application required much tuning to get the most out of them, more so than any other speaker I have owned or installed.
I believe with a dedicated 8" mid-bass that these speakers can really shine. That being said, if a 63 year old man farts in a bank vault in Germany then these speakers will freak the hell out and stop working.
I do see many others have had the same issues mine have had but being as mine are third party Orca does not wish to replace the defective midrange drivers.
If they worked all the time I would say they are a pretty good component set. A bit overpriced but good. Even with what I paid (WAY under the g note they want) I believe they should have been better speakers.
As I said I am not a pro. I don't do this for a living and sometimes when I read peoples reviews I just nod and drool while trying to figure out what it all means. I did this for almost 15 years solid up until 2008 but have been out of the game since so take what I say with a grain of salt.
Look for the next review: Hertz and PHD.