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You may want to check out the Audioasylum.com "high efficiency speaker forum" for info on these speakers. I have only listened to vintage models (in a variety of cabinets), years ago, and they were very bright sounding with shallow bass and had problems in the mid bass area (that was probably a fault of the cabinet design as it seemed to be up too high to be a room problem). I have read about the modern Lowther models, but have not auditioned them. The new models have redesigned voice coils which allow you to tailor the sound to your room and setup and there are many models of both the speakers and the enclosures to choose from. I am not saying that the new versions are bright (as I, again, have no experience with them) and would be interested in hearing them myself. The speakers that I listened to in the 70's and 80's were probably manufactured in the 50's and 60's as they had been salvaged from the used market by some hobbyist's that I knew at the time who were also experimenting with Jensen, Alnico and Electro Voice speakers (pretty sure that those were the brand names).
A friend uses and sells the Beauhorn Lowther (top-end) speaker. He has had great success with the speaker. It is fast, transparent, detailed (but not overly so), coherent with good highs, mids, but limited deep bass (need a sub).
If I were going to low powered tube amp, this would be the speaker to try out. See www.soundsofsilence.com for more info and product links.
You could look at two sites for radically different uses of Lowther drivers: (1) www.welbornelabs.com, "Oris Page", and (2) Lowther America (not sure of site designation). The difference is between a front horn (plus supplemental woofer NOT subwoofer) and a folded horn, in which the Lowther driver supplies the bass. The latter design is acknowledged to be extremely tricky, and Dekay's comments are well taken. Proponents of the front horn approach don't like the folded horns, while proponents of that approach seem to really hate the front horns. I'm getting an Oris 150 horn myself, and will know in a few weeks what I think. But no one doubts the quality of the Lowther drivers and the advantages of their high efficiency, which pays off not only for low power amps. The voice coil doesn't have to move as far, and so can be faster and more accurate in its movements.
I just purchased a pair of Beauhorns, probably through the same "friend" that Mento mentions in his post. They are big, expensive and not without flaw, especially in their lack of bass - Mento is correct. You must use a quality subwoofer (I have 2 RELs). BUT, when if you get them even part way dialed in - after 2 days, I figure I'm about 1/2 way there, with much "tweaking to do" - you will hear immediately what all the fuss is about when it comes to high efficiency horn speakers coupled with low powered SET amps. There is a naturalness and ease of presentation that is absolutely captivating. As a part of the "naturalness", these speakers have the ability (well-almost) to the project the volume, scale and proportion of real performances without strain, well beyond normal-sized dynamic speakers. I suspect that the big planars (Magnapans, etc.), line arrays (Pipedreams), and dynamic giants (Wilson Wamm, JM Labs Utopias, etc.) can do the same and maybe more, but these speakers are much bigger still (and in most cases, much more expensive too). My previous speakers, Merlin VSM-SEs beat the Beauhorns in some respects that many may value very highly (I did and still do) - image focus and "palpability" come to mind; also frequency extension in the highs and ultimate transparency (which may be related) - so these Lowther based speakers may not be everyone's cup of tea. However, they are worth a look. Believe me.
When I mentioned the Lowthers to the engineer of my current loudspeakers his response, based on hearing them was,"didn't like'em, too much intermodulation distortion." This was all back about 2-1/2 years ago when I was shopping for the last system I would buy and I was pretty much polarized in my choices 1. go SET/horn or 2. modern high-power SS/conventinal multidriver electrodynamic transducer. There was even a hobbyist/dealer who carried the lowther only 2 to 3 hours from where I lived and I was going to audition. However, in the end I went with the latter system and have no regrets. The horn/set is different/pretty/funky, but I couldn't imagine it sounding better than what I have now. The dealer who carried them's url was something like http://fastrans.lowther... I don't know the rest. They were just outside ST. Loius and sold them in bass reflex designs.
horns have always intrigued me, since i heard the jadis eurythmie's at the '96 s'phile show in nyc, & more recently, the original wersion of the avantgarde duo's. i'm not yet ready to give up on my conwentional set-up, tho, 'til i get to try the newform research ribbons! ;~)
that said, i'd start here, and look at the oris 150, the oris 200, & the hedlund horn. also, i'd consider the aer drivers instead of the lowthers.
hope this helps, doug s.
I have to tell you, I'v never been a fan of horn speakers. But i think i heard a great design. I heard these speakers called RL Acoustiques at the Stereophile show. They had a built in Horn in the cabinet, which acted as a sub. Then they used this AER driver, which was a full range driver. There was no tweeter. There was no crossover in this speaker, similar to the Reference 3A speakers. All the mids and highs came out of the Lowther driver. No sound came out of the horn. The horn just acted as a sub. Let me tell you, I couldn't believe how good these speakers sounded. That AER midbase was so articulate and sweet sounding. They were being played on the Tenor OTL Tube Amps, which cost 15,000 dollars and were 15 watts. These Tenor 15 watt OTL Amps, could play so loud. I couldn't believe how loud they could play and how smooth and sweet they were, even at loud levels. The CD Player was the Audio Aero Capitole 24 bit CD Player. Whats interesting, I heard the same setup, except the speakers in the Verity Parsifal room. But let me tell you, the RL Acoustique sound so much better then the Verity Parsifal speakers. The RL Acoustic just had a full bodied sound, with a very articulate midbase and the bass was great. I think using the horn as a sub and having all the mids and highs come out of the Lowther or AER driver is a great speaker design. Here's a pic of the RL Acoustique speakers i heard. http://shows.soundstagelive.com/shows/avtour2001/mtl_stand_rl.shtml
I have ownerd Lowther's before.
Couple things to be aware of:
Bass is not good unless you have a seperate woofer box.[not a sub.They are not fast enough to integrate well with the lowthers.
Real nasty bump at about 2k that you can't get rid of.
Really long break in time in which they sound terrible[some claim up to a year!!]
Interestingly enough,the Moth Cicadea speakers claim to have cured the 2k bump and that might be worth exploring.
Or for the DIY thing,I prefer the Fostex FE sries drivers
although they are not as efficient as Lowthers,they are smoother.