I use a 1 watt Berning MicroZOTL as a main amp, so I am familiar with your needs. The Cain and Cain Abby is a Voigt Pipe Speaker that uses Fostex drivers w/92db efficiency. I have used those drivers on single driver systems that I have built, and they are pretty good, but pale in comparison to the new Voigt Pipes I just made with Lowther EX3 drivers. With 1.8 watts, you must go single-driver, and the Lowther is the way to go. I just spent the last 6 months going down the road you are looking at, and I can tell you to skip the early and intermediate steps, and go straight to the Lowther. The Fostex drivers are not efficient enough to give you what you are looking for in volume, nor are they detailed and open enough to get you into SET nirvana with your nice amp. Lowthers are the way to go. They're 100db efficient in a cabinet and have everything you want. To get out as cheap as possible, you should make your own cabinets(I built the very simple Voigt Pipes) and save yourself the $ that cabinets will cost you. The drivers you should get are either the new DX3 or EX3. Do not get the older or used Lowthers, because they have just made some improvements to the new series that totally transform the speaker from great to superb. BTW I am getting a new amp based on 45's also. That is all you need with these speakers. I get LOUD with 1 watt. If you don't want to build a cabinet, the Abby cabinet is exactly the same for the Lowthers as it is for the Fostex. You just have to cut the driver hole out to 7.5 inches instead of the smaller size for the Fostex. That's it. Everything else is the same. Maybe Terry Cain will cut the hole to the right size for you. Then buy the Lowthers instead of the Fostex, and you're in business for real. The port size may have to be opened up some also. The cabs are so easy to make, that I think you should make them and spend the money on the better drivers. I am in hog heaven with a pair in my living room right now, that sound heavenly. And as I said before, I have had the Fostex single-driver setup, and it ain't a Lowther.
8 responses Add your response
If you're running 93db with that amp and like it I think you will really be happy when you bump up the efficiency a little more. Lots depends on the room of course.
This, I believe, is a link for the plans Twl used for his Voigt Pipe Lowther speaker.
Are they the same Twl?
Terry Cains speakers are very good (beautiful woodworking) but there isn't any state secret about the enclosure and they are not difficult to make. The Fostex fe 164 is a fine driver but the Lowther has generally been considered a step up and, the new Lowthers (which I have not heard) by all reports, including Twl's above, indicate they are even better. I think I am going to try it myself.
Yes, they are the same, but remember, these are INTERNAL dimensions. The overall size will be a bit larger due to the thickness of the material you use. Also, I used a 12" wide front baffle panel, which I believe helps to reduce any problems with baffle-step frequency shelving below 380Hz. The adjustable wings also help in this, but I am finding now that the drivers are breaking in, that this is not as necessary as I once thought. But it is helpful when there is bass-weak music being played.
Thanks gents. I admit I'm ignorant on this subject and my present system causes little concern to change but "on paper" the advantages are apparent. I just need to research a matching speaker as carefully I did replacing the pp triode VAC with the 45 SET Moth. I'll check into the new lowthers (cost?) and see what (if) Terry at Cain will do. Thanks again.
I just spoke with Terry Cain about his Abby speaker. He has incorporated the new FE166E / 95db1w with bass below 40hz. He feels the latest Fostex drivers are superior to the NEW Lowthers. He actually has two Abby models, one for nearfield listening and another for larger spaces. They use different model drivers but otherwise alike. I've got a demo pair coming for audition.
That is good news for you. If the new Fostex are even close to the new Lowthers, then you are in for a treat. I'd be very interested in an audition report. Remember, the Fostex and Lowther both require quite a long break-in period, so don't be too judgmental early on. My Fostex units took well over 100 hours to get close to being broken-in. Fostex can be quite enjoyable. Keep us posted.
Thanks again for replying to my system's post. I just added pixs so check it out. Regarding your DIY Voight pipe project what type of wood did you use for the cabinets, MDF or solid wood? I've never built anything but I'm thinking about building a pair of these speakers. I know you like the new Lowther drivers but I've heard the new Fostex drivers are more efficient / improved over the versions you're familiar.
You said that the photo of the speakers in your system post are similar to your speakers, how are they different? Look at the link provided, is this pretty much what you have? If I do built a pair I'd like to use some usually patterned wood for the front panal and attach them to a heavy base. Something like a granite platform so the kids couldn't knock them over.
Mwalsdor, these are a variation on the same theme, but this was not what I built(regarding the mouth mods). I used the same box dimensions, but used the standard 20mm x 11 mm mouth opening, with no reflector. I don't think the mouth mod in the "joke" is a good idea. My Voigt Pipe is the standard Lowther club of Norway design, with a slightly wider front panel(12"), and a pair of "wings" or "swinging doors" on full length hinges that flank the sides of the Pipes. Each of these swinging panels is also 12" wide, and the full 6' height of the pipe. They have a 3-panel dressing screen look, except both side panels angle backward. These allow me to adjust the rearward angle of the swinging panels to adjust the reinforcement of the bass frequencies that is lost to "baffle step" behavior, below about 380Hz, on the standard narrow voigt pipe design. This is really the only difference in my pipes. It makes a nice difference in the authority of the bottom end, and it can be "tailored" to each recording if desired, just like you might adjust VTA for each record. It's not required, but you can do it if you want.
I used solid 3/4" oak for the face panel and the swinging panels, and 3/4" MDF for the rear "wedge" section. I think that on the higher listening levels, the bottom end can get a bit "hollow" sounding at certain frequencies. Not bad, but you can notice it at times. I may try adding a brace in the wider section of the wedge, to reduce this effect, as I believe it to be a cabinet resonance.As for the base, I have mine on spikes, but heavy bases would be ok.
I am sure the Fostex are improved and very nice sounding. I will happily stick with my Lowther EX3, though.
Nice system pix!