Thanks for explaining Jtgofish,
***So by comparison the Lowthers are cold.The Fostex are colder still.I have also used a Coral 10 inch which I rate ahead of the Fostex....I listen to a lot of acoustic roots music in which much of the substance is based on expression and timbre...On this type of music the relative coldness of the wizzer cone type speakers is revealed.****
Now, I understand what you were saying. Yes, I have heard a few whizzered driver designs that tended towards the sterile. But, I have also heard similar from multi-way systems.
My favorite test of vocals are the great jazz vocalists on vinyl like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Sinatra, Etta James, even Louis Armstrong when he dips into his slower, more melancholy tunes. A classic example is Louis' "St. James Infirmary" off his 1959 recording "Satchmo Plays King Oliver"
(you can listen to it on RealAudio Player at the link). The song is played at a slow, funeral dirge, pace while Louis sings a song of deep pain & misery. Get the Audio Fidelity 45 rpm reissue and let the song rip at your heart strings.
In my mind, if you can't touch the soul, then there is no music. Yet, this is such highly subjective critique that I bet what I dislike, others found fabulous and vice versa.
But, back to your Fostex/Lowther/Coral whizzer objection, here we come across the danger of broad generalizations - not all fullrange drivers use whizzer cones these days. Fostex's FE-E Sigma series
are the first that come to mind. Here is a closeup picture
of the FE-168EZ Sigma driver used in my Cain & Cain I-Ben speakers(pic here
, system here
). (all C&C Studio Series speakers use the whizzerless Sigma drivers)
Supravox's fullrange field-coil drivers
also do not use whizzer cones(except the 215 Sig Bicone). I have heard these and they are very rich and engaging.
Neither of these drivers, properly implemented, exhibit the emotional disconnect(to me) that you associate with whizzer cones. Surprisingly, neither does the entry-level Cain & Cain Abby which uses the whizzered Fostex FE-166e. That speaker just plain sounds right.
Another whizzered performer is the Hammer Dynamics Super-12
fullrangers which use a custom 12" Eminence driver w/ supertweeter crossed in above 10kHz. For a $650 97dB kit, this speakers does amazingly well in comparison to smaller drivers - especially bass abd mid-bass. But, it's midrange is also rich and full. Really a superb speaker in the sub-$1.5k range after some minor modifications.
***I use a 300b preamp [Supratek Cabernet]and EL34 monoblocks so I don't think there is any other cold sounding components in my system.***
Wow, I would love to hear that setup. Sounds fantastic! I've been dying to check Supratek's amps for a long time now. And that 300B preamp has been a real source of interest for me. Though, right now I am completely into my passive S&B transformer volume control. Under the right source/cables/amplifier conditions there is really nothign the can touch it's transparency and tonal beauty.
***I also have Edgar Mid horns that are superb on this type of music***
As luck would have it, Dr. Edgar's shop is only 10 minutes from my house. I have had quite a few chances to hear his entire Titan & Seismic sub setup driven by Cy Brennan's amps. Nothing short of a revelation. Every time I have heard them, I have this initial elation and then a mild depression when I leave, something akin to serious "horn envy". Their presentation so incredibly smooth and effortless, while hiding explosive dynamics. And nothing recreates horns like compression horns.
But, as soon as I get home and toss on something like the Louis cut above, Joni Mitchell, or Cassandra Wilson the "envy" melts away. To me, the C&C Bens put more body and chest into vocals. There's a physical aspect that I feel which is not present(in my mind) in horn systems that are so effortless and smooth. At times, I can hear the flapping of the loose flesh at the back of Armstrong's throat and the raspy texture it gives his voice. I also get a better sense of the wood cavity/resonance in acoustic instruments cellos and double-bass.
And then there's the real forte of single-drivers(besides midrange) - "coherency". As if the entire sonic soundscape is woven froma single, flawless, tapestry. There's a flowing sense of rightness, to me.
***I do think however the back loaded horns have major phasing issues...This is not so much an issue for bass but it is for midrange performance and I think any such speaker needs carefully applied damping within the horn to minimise this.****
Oddly, my Bens do not have any(or minimal) internal dampening, yet don't exhibit any of the phase issues you cite. Nor, the honking or excess resonance of many horn-loaded speakers. I suppose it's all in the execution of a design.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience, seems like you've done some pretty serious system matching. I haven't been at this for very long and always come away from discussions like this with new things to look into.