PIEGA Master Source Line 3


Floorstanding loudspeakers

Who would think that Switzerland will make LSD an export article? In this case, however, it is not about pharmaceuticals, rather about audio, and the LSD stands for Line Source Driver that is at the heart of Master Line Source 3 speakers. Those that are tired of 3-way-MDF-box solutions may rejoice – the Piega Master Line Source series is about serious audio engineering and uses not so conventional approaches.

Function and form

Ease of use

The Master Line Source 3 (MLS 3) is ‘the smallest’ of the three models in the MLS range; it is a slick  165cm tall cabinet with 23x33cm footprint that becomes – especially with grilles on – almost invisible in the room. The speaker is designed as a dipole speaker and employs 8 drivers in each cabinet. The Line Source array of tweeters and midrange drivers is the most notable feature.

Ribbon tweeters have been in the center of research for Piega since the company’s beginnings more than 30 years ago. The MLS 3 introduces new super-thin ribbons in quite a complex arrangement: a central vertical tweeter driver is surrounded by midrange ribbons on both sides, and total four such assemblies are used in each speaker, cascaded one above another. As Piega puts it “they radiate the sound to the front and rear simultaneously in the form of a vertical cylindrical sound wave, thus giving music a particularly spatial and live quality and giving listeners the impression of being located at the center of the musical experience”.

Inherently the ribbon/AMT drivers are extremely fast and it has always been a challenge to find a matching bass unit should the speaker sound coherent from top to bottom. The Master Line Source 3 uses two 18cm woofers that are made to Piega’s specifications by Seas. The front-firing woofers are doubled by two rear-firing passive radiators.

The MLS 3 can be bi-wired, come with foam inserts and nice looking grilles, and are available in white, silver, black and Zebrano veneer. The front baffle, however, is all aluminum as it is typical for Piega.

Bass management


I cannot say with confidence that I auditioned the Piega MLS 3 in optimum conditions. Although I am intimately familiar with the associated electronics and the room, there is one extra variable for the Masterl Line Source 3 speakers: you can fine tune their voicing for the room (or for music). Interestingly it does not happen electrically by adjusting their crossovers like many other speakers do with knobs or toggle switches at the rear. The MLS 3 does it acoustically by foam inserts. The back side of each tall cabinet features horizontal slats (not unlike vertebrae at spine) that serve as acoustic diffusors behind the speaker. The slats therefore create 12 gaps that can be left open or can be damped by supplied foam cut-outs. The idea is similar to damping plugs for bass-reflex port that we know from conventional speakers, the difference is that this time the midrange and treble dispersion is controlled. This innovation should facilitate easier placement in the room. For I only lived 5 days with the Piegas I was not able to really use this feature to the best possible effect, however, I can confirm that the speakers are pretty sensitive to which slat gaps are closed and which left open. In theory you can close them all and get close to conventional closed speaker baffle, but you will lose all that makes the Master Line Source 3 so special, especially in the spatial domain.

What puzzles me is that the manufacturer specifies the MLS 3 as a “4 ohm speaker with 92dB sensitivity”. Therefore I was surprised to see the measurement of German Stereo magazine that repeatedly proved 82dB sensitivity of MLS 3, which is critically low. It looks like the legendary Swiss precision has some gaps or a typo slipped into the specification sheet. I did not have any issues to drive the MLS 3 with my electronics, but I envisage problems in case less stable or power shy amplifiers are used.

Clarity & delicacy


The speakers with ribbon drivers usually excel in the following four areas: they are fast, detailed, dynamic, and airy. If implemented in a dipole design, one can also expect great spatial imaging, for reflections from the rear wall become a part of the direct sound and this enhances listener’s perception of being immersed in the soundfield. However, there are two inherit issues that must be tackled if a dipole ribbon loudspeaker should be successful as a whole: the dipoles are often less efficient in treble because the part of the energy that is radiated backwards is eaten by the room; the other – according to my experience a more pronounced issue – is that not every ribbon speaker can marry the speed and airiness of the top end to the bottom end which is provided by conventional drivers. The latter problem can be tackled on different levels – for instance Legacy Audio uses active bass units that can be adjusted for amplitude and phase via an outboard processor, others, like Raidho, are using multiple smaller bass drivers to maintain the speed and compensate for the air pressure. The Piega Master Line Source 3 that features two passive bass cones in each cabinet that should add the ‘mass’ to the direct sound of the small bass units. This way the Piega clearly gets around the problem of too little bass in dipoles and, honestly, does a terrific job in blending the top end and midrange with the bottom end. Still, I yet have to hear hybrid speakers that are as seamless as the best pure dynamic designs. Although the MLS 3 is a top-to-bottom coherent sounding speaker, one can feel different ‘quality’ of what comes from the ribbon array and what from the bass segment of the speaker, especially in nearer field. The farther I was from the speakers (a large listening room set-up) the more the room helped to unify those two qualities, but at the same time the roll of on highs became more pronounce. The Piega Master Line Source 3 will require very careful placement in a room to find the right balance – hence the foam plugs will become indispensable tool for it.

Tonal accuracy

Temporal resolution

The Piega Master Line Source 3 were clean and open sounding speakers with great microdynamics. The sound was very agile and usually jumped up at me from silent backdrop. There was no sense of haze, there was no hash on highs, there was no sizzle. The timbral purity was actually very good, and although the MLS 3s did not provide ultimate saturated richness and scale, saxophones had enough body, piano was properly fleshed out, and acoustic guitars were appropriately woody.

Spatial resolution

Soundstage width
Soundstage depth

In terms of dimensionality, the Piega MLS 3 produced one of the most convincing and engaging sense of real space that I have heard from any of my systems. The position, size, shape, and sonic signature of every instrument was exceptionally lifelike and naturally spacious. The dipole design helped the speakers disappear in the room and the images could occupy the whole space without being linked to the cabinets. Judging from the ribbon array I expected forward sounding speakers but got the opposite – the MLS 3s were drawing the images behind them and thus I felt pulled into their soundfield. The imaging was precise, yet not as precise as you may get from conventional speakers – here the placement in the room will play a big role again. However, it was good enough to keep two pianos in a piano duet clearly separated and portrayed in the correct mutual depth perspective. Also, I liked that the sweet spot of the Piegas was not restricted to a single spot; the ideal listening window was quite wide and the whole tonal balance was not changing within it.

The Piega Master Line Source 3 are very good speakers indeed. In fact, these are the best sounding Piegas I have ever heard. The result at your home will be conditioned by partnering electronics, as well as very careful placement and fine tuning. High end is usually very expensive but here I think the asking price as quite adequate to what you get.

Price as reviewed:850 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

CPT Praha, Praha, +420 283 842 120

Associated components

  • Sources: CD/SACD/DVD-A Linn Unidisk 1.1, TW-Acustic Raven One turntable, Graham Phantom tonearm, Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge
  • Amplifiers: Spectral DMA-150, Constellation Audio Pictor preamplifier, Constellation Audio power amplifier, phono Gruensch Reference Phonostage MCS
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: MIT MA, MIT MA-X XLR, MIT V2.1 Oracle, Stealth Audio Hyperphono
  • Loudspeakers: Magico M3 M/Pods
  • Power conditioning: Shunyata Research Triton v2/Typhon, Shunyata Research Python Zi-Tron, Shunyata Research Sigma v2 XC and v2 NR



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