Most people either love or hate the sound of Lowther. Lowther’s have a long break in period. Another speaker that costs less but could be substituted would be the Japanese made Fostex.
Instead of me telling you my thoughts, check out the website at: http://www.oldhifi.com/ (David Dicks operator of the site could also give you some great information) it’s a wealth of information, and in my opinion one of the best prices available.
The Fostex can also be purchased at the above website or at: http://www.madisound.com/
Twl would also be a great wealth of information regarding the Lowther drivers.
Go with a Fostex driver loaded horn such as Cain and Cain and you will be amazed! I am dealer and I do sell these, but I really don't want you to buy a pair from me. I'm sure you have a Cain & Cain dealer near you.
Joe, I think the Lowthers are great speakers. I have the EX3 models in Voigt Pipes(modified) and I am very happy. The Medallions are more of a true rear-horn style, which is traditional for Lowthers. The Lowthers in Medallions are good down to about 50-55Hz, and very nice from there on up to 20kHz. The older series Lowther problems of "shout" and some "tizz" are cured with the new series, for the most part. There may be a little left, but not much. These speakers are very forward, and efficient. They are not a "laid back" sound. But they are fast, very detailed and very coherent. They will also ruthlessly reveal any shortcomings in the audio chain. There is no place to hide any problems when you have a 100db efficient speaker. It will all show. I personally think that is a good feature, because I want to hear everything. Anything over 8 watts is unnecessary, since you will reach the max SPL of the Lowthers with that or less power. I use a 2 watt 45 SET amp, and that gives me plenty of volume levels.
They may not be for everybody, but I think they are a hell of a good speaker.
Here's a site to check/hang out @:
http://6402.teacup.com/le8t/bbs (use Alta Vista's Babel Fish translation software, it's free, if you are not fluent in Japanese).
I currently use Stephens Tru-sonic and Coral vintage drivers which are all 16 ohms/97 dB @ 1 watt/1 meter and they were developed around the type of amp that your Grandfather built. I often use them with a 1959 Pilot 232 (6bq5 push/pull) amp, which is a perfect match.
That's really cool Joe. I'm sure that it did your Uncle's heart good when you not only shared a common interest, but that you would probably be as glad to own the product as he was of building it : )
I did just what you are thinking of doing, but not with Lowthers. I built a system using all "vintage" gear that was all tube based. The one exception to the "vintage" rule is the the CD player, which is still tube based. This system consists of an all copper chassis Harman tube tuner, a modified HK Rabco ST-7 TT, Cal Alpha / Delta combo ( this replaced an Anodyne tubed one box player that was acting up ), a modified Dyna PAS 3 and an original Marantz 8 ( EXCELLENT condition ) driving modified Klipsch La Scala's and / or Heresy's. I recently traded the Marantz for a fully calibrated HP Spectrum Analyzer with extra modules ( i made out like a bandit !!! ), so this system is currently down and out.
I'm probably going to build the preamp & amp as listed on Norman Koren's website
sometime in the near future, but i'm not sure as of yet. As such, it would be great to see another "Agon regular" jump into the "oldies but goodies" camp : )
As a side note, you might want to check out the Single Driver Website
as you can find all kinds of info there about Lowthers, Fostex, etc... type speaker systems. Since most of these folks are running "pee wee" sized tube amps, there is no mention of the "ultimate" single driver speaker that just so happens to be low impedance and low efficiency : ) Having said that, some of the other drivers and designs mentioned in their forum might be good enough for background music while sipping tea : ) Sean
Twl: NO letter bombs / email virus' please : )
Taking off from your launching point, my vote would go to a nice old Klipsch corner horn (well, I would say one, but I guess the amp is apparently 2-channel, so two if need be...) with a Rek-O-Kut playing those 78's and LP's I just know your uncle still has stashed in the basement/attic...
Thanks so much for all of the insightful responses! There are no words I can really relay to you all in terms of my appreciation. And, I want to say that to everyone here.
This is definitely information I can go forward with. To be honest, I have been searching out ideas for the past few weeks, and have come across some of what has been suggested.
I did consider the Klipsch speakers. However, in the room I will be setting this up, the Corner Horns are not an option. I did come across the Heresy a few weeks back, and was more than pleasantly surprised. In fact, our purpose of visit was to take this gentleman out on a marathon session of auditioning for him to "upgrade" from the Heresy. After hearing them, my question was "WHYYYY????" That is a speaker to think about, but it doesn't look like a speaker of long ago - I guess some will argue with me saying that.
The Medallions interest me on several levels. Number one, I am intrigued by the idea of a classic, back loaded horn. Number two, I saw a pair done up along the lines of the finish I described and they just look so darn cool. I would be proud to have a setup like this in my house, and it could even serve as a conversation piece centered around my uncle, John Zielinski.
Again, I guess I am unwise for thinking about a speaker I know little about, but I want to explore the possibility.
I appreciated the Fostex suggestion. While I am unaware of any Cain & Cain dealers around here, I can look into it. There is a dealer who sells Omega(?) speakers using the Fostex driver which I could audition.
Twl, I have seen the Lowthers in the Voight Pipes and they definitely look interesting. Based on your comments regarding "opening the window more only to have more muck fly in", I should probably bring the amp along for any Lowther audition, and maybe an old CD player. Just to see if I can deal with the sound. 50 - 55 Hz bass extension is certainly more than acceptable.
My hope is that a local audiophile will come along and allow me to give this type of speaker a listen.
No Lowthers in my possession but if you would like to audition a single driver speaker and don't mind driving to the Pocono area, you are welcome to audition my Konus Audio Essence speakers (see www.sakurasystems.com). Single 5" Jordan JX92 driver in a transmission line cabinet. Similar speaker called JTM available from www.carolinaaudio.com.
I just happen to be "sipping tea" right now. I have Joe Walsh "Rocky Mountain Way" cranking up pretty good. It's loud enough that my cats leave the 24'x14'x(16'ceiling)room because it's too loud. Not too bad for 2 watts and a pair of 8" drivers. Of course, I can't drown out a jet plane during takeoff like Sean can. :^)
Just remember this Joe, the Lowther drivers are used (by themselves) as single drivers in speaker systems that cost from $5k to over $20k. Some of these have been reviewed as some of the best sounding speakers made, and owners also agree. The detail, speed, dynamics, and transparency are as good as anything. With an 8 watt amp you can play at 108db peaks. With a properly designed enclosure, you can achieve reasonable bass response, although it will lack the lowest octave. I never miss it. Imaging and soundstage will stagger you. The "presence" is astounding. I know of another Audiogon member who bought Lowthers, even in a bass-reflex enlosure which is not ideal for them. He said his main problem now is "What to do with his Merlin VSM Milleniums, since the Lowthers beat them out."
However, the previous comment about long break-in time is true. They are stiff when new, and have a very tight tolerance in the voice coils. They should be played at conversation levels for the first 30 hours, and then gradually increased in volume level after that. After about 50 hours, you can play them normally, but the bass will be weak until at least 100 hours. Then the speakers get gradually better and better until about 500 hours. This is a long time, and it is true that they take this long, I've been through it. Mine are sounding really killer right now with about 600 hours on them. They really do get better as you go, and it is not just your ear acclimating to them. They only have a 1mm total stroke, and have a stiff suspension when they are new. Also the voice coils only have a .001" clearance, and need to "bed in" during the first 30 hours. The magnets are 23000 gauss, and are the most powerful magnets in any speaker that I've ever heard of. Combined with the very light thin paper cone, they are frighteningly quick and dynamic. The lack of any passive crossover components adds to the single-point source radiation pattern, in terms of overall coherence. With the right cabinet, they can have very nice bass. The main objection to Lowthers is that they are a little bit forward in the upper midrange, and can accent some notes in the female vocal range, but this has been improved alot in the new series Lowthers. Also, some cannot live without the lowest octave from 20Hz-40Hz. Other than that, these speakers are alot like electrostatics, but are not laid back, and can be driven with low power. I guarantee you will hear alot of detail you never heard coming out of your speakers before. I've also done the Fostex, and they don't hold a candle to the Lowthers. But they are cheaper to buy than Lowthers.
I dont want to butt in here, but would fostex really be a good choice for this?
Its nto the quality of fostex that im thinking of, but seeing as how we were FIGHTING the japanese during WWII, and it this is to be a "memorial" system for your grandfather, maybe using japanese made equipment would kinda.. i dunno.. seem improper???
Honestly, seeing as how he was in WWII, and built this during his time as a marine (thats the impression i got) it might be a little more proper to only use equipment from the Allies, and shy away from anything german or japanese.
I know you want this system to sound good, but there is supposed to be a statement behind this that is more important than sound...??
Then when somebody sees this retro style system, you can show them that this is an amplifier built by your grandfather with all vintage gear from the allies of which your grandfather so proudly served in WWII
just my two cents...
Well I really dont know what to tell you about your audio needs.
But I couldnt let this thread pass by.
I really admire what you are doing for Uncle, and it touched my heart. Some folks live an entire life without passion. Personally I feel a life without passion is no life at all. I have to say your Uncle is indeed blessed to have you as a Nephew. It is obvious that not only does he have passion but so do you. I can only hope that at the end of my life I haved passed a bit of my passion on to someone else.
My grandfather served years on the eastern front during WWII. Although he talked little of the war, I can remember his story of the "Battle of the Bulge," well. Please thank your Uncle for his service and sacrifice to his/my Country for me. I wish I had thanked my Grandfather but he passed somewhat suddenly.
Sorry that I dont have any advice on your audio needs. I am confident that some fellow A'goners will.
I just wanted to write a few lines to say that what you are doing is great and I hope that it works out fabulously.
I have Lowther DX4's that your welcome to audition. I'm about 1 hr away.
Drop me an email if interested.
Uhh, I just realized i misread that, this is your uncle you are talking about... well... Replace every "Grandfather" refeence with Uncle in my past post.... it stil works.. hehe
Aside to Slap: If the amp is stereo, it was built at least a decade after the end of hostilities with Japan...
Trelja, I too like the Heresy's, but whether you go Lowther or whatever, if I were you, I'd really consider adding a turntable front end to complete the picture...OK, end of my $.02 :-)
The Omegas are not a back loaded horn. They are just highly damped monitors. That's fine with most drivers but with Fostex or Lowther it don't work. Since I'm stating my humble opinion, from someone who has listened to both and currently owns both. The Lowthers that I own are DX4s in 2nd Rethms and the Fostex are in a Cain and Cain single horn Bens. If your amp is strong in the bass and is all around neutral, then the Lowthers may be ok. If your amp is a little airy like most SETs then you'll need the extra weight that the Fostex do. The Lowthers do seem a little more transparent, but at the end of the day I can't get past the peaky highs. The Fostex are all around a more natural sound. If the amp is push pull, then maybe and only maybe(listen at home) the Lowthers. But I know the Fostex will work either way without a home audition. I tried everything to like the Lowthers, Decware Gizmos,Cardas cables, you name it.BTW, I've also owned the Omegas and they sound just like Lowthers. There highly damped box just don't work with single drivers. They will have no upper bass, like the left keys on a piano. Not low, low, bass but bass nonetheless. I'm just trying to help another old A-goner who has been here since the good old days.
A little of topic..but what about Omega speakers that use fostex drivers...any thoughts?
Twl: My comments about "sipping tea" and using most "full range drivers for background music" referred to the lack of bottom end that most of them suffer from. Elevator music doesn't need bass : )
Other than that, my comments had nothing to do with power. I would need at least 10X the power that you are running to be able to hit the same spl levels for most of my speakers ( Klipsch not included ). As such, that is one of the strong points of Lowther's. One must remember that as one pushes ANY driver harder, low frequency extension is rolled off. Since the Lowther's are typically quite efficient, you don't have to push them as hard as other less efficient full range drives. As such, they will maintain their measured frequency response a little more evenly in terms of bass extension at normal listening levels.
With a 1 MM X-Max though, you not going to get much bass out of the driver no matter what. As such, you will have to rely on some type of vent to extend what the driver is not capable of providing on its' own. As we all know, trade-offs are rampant in speaker design and dealing with reality and accepting the facts about this will typically get you a better product than denying that fact and living in a dream-world. You've obviously accepted this and tried to find the best solution to this problem. From your posts, it appears that you're quite happy with what you have and that is all that counts.
Trelja: Here's an Eminence driver
that you might find interesting. I use these as very wide-band midranges in PA cabinets that i build for locals. As mentioned above though, these drivers have a 1 mm X-Max so you are still in the "need bass reinforcement" camp : ( Due to their surface area though ( 12" ), they can do reasonable bottom end without having to make as much of an excursion as a smaller unit would. Larger surface area almost always pays off when it comes to bass performance but is obviously a drawback when it comes to moving mass / high frequency dispersion characteristics.
As to the Heresy's, they are capable of SO much more than what they deliver in stock form. Tell your buddy to invest in what he has or sell them to me at a bargain price : ) Sean
I would second going with fostex drivers they have come along way in the last 2 years the other guys[lowther, AER ,PHY] are a sleep at the wheel.If a custom speaker is what you are looking for I could help you build it .Or help you buy a cain & cain or moth .Happy listening .JK
Thanks again for all of the responses!
TWL and I seem to very much be on the same page. I have heard much of what he offered up regarding the drivers. In I addition, reconing down the road does not seem to work out so well due to the physical properties which TWL outlined.
Mbhcid, your offer is very kind, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I would love to take you up on it. I will send you an e - mail in the near term.
Sean, you are so right about the Heresy. My friend was basically given the directive to upgrade due to WAF. Although, I think that could be improved immensely from what he already has(repainted black). The woofers should be reconed and he is down a tweeter, but if they this good now, how good would they be when he has them restored? For the record, he ended up with a pair of Von Schweikert VR2, and I think I happen to prefer the Klipsch. Again, my question to him "upgrading", WHY???
Yes, the Omegas are not back loaded horns. They seem to be a size up from a monitor(bookshelf) using the Fostex driver in a ported cabinet. Will I like them? Are they for me? I have no idea, but they are probably worth a listen just to get my bearings.
The PHY HP look interesting as well. I tried to jump on a used pair here on Audiogon, but they were already sold. I am thinking of checking into them as well.
But, my main focus right now is Lowther Medallions. If they please me, I will go for them. I think they serve my goals the best.
At some point, I will have to spin a couple of tales regarding my Uncle John. He had a lifetime of stories, and after getting to know him, I realize why they call his the greatest generation.
Thanks again to all,
Joe, I've got a mod up my sleeve for taking the last bit of "shout" out of the Lowthers, if you feel you need to do that. It's quick and easy, but you have to be careful doing it. After you play them for awhile, then you can decide if you need to do that or not. The new drivers have improved quite alot over the older series, so you might be quite happy just the way they are.
Sean, I know that I'm lacking in the bottom octave. I don't take any offense at being reminded of that. That's just a plain fact of life with my speakers. It's okay with me. I can live with that to get the rest of the sound I want. I'm the first to admit that my speaker system has flaws, and it doesn't bother me at all to admit that. They do what I need them to do, and as long as that is the case, I'm happy with them. I also know that you were kidding me about it, and I don't mind that at all. I kind of like it. I'm not arrogant about my system, and have a good sense of humor. In fact I joke about my 2 watts and single drivers all the time.
Trelja: Heresy's use an accordion surround, so there is no foam to rot. If the driver needs to be re-coned, it is either rattling or torn. As for the tweeters, i don't know if one can find diaphragms for these or not. I would get busy looking for that before i would dump any more money into these. I think that i bought the last diaphragms that Klipsch had in stock and they told me "we won't be getting any more of these in. Ever". I think that these were EV T-35's, so it quite possible that EV or a repair facility would have diaphragms for these.
Twl: I knew that you wouldn't have a problem with what i said. You are both too honest and too much of a realist to not know and deal with the truth. If you told me that you had a 2 watt SS amp, THEN i would be worried : ) Sean
Hey...whats wrong with 2watts of SS power...my BOSE RADIO ROCKS>>>>>>
Sean, thanks for your response.
I put my friend in contact with my speaker repair friend. It seems like this will be something he will have done at some point. Short or long term I am not sure. But, the Klipschs are his babys, what he cut his teeth on, and his rite of passage into hifi. The last thing he would ever do is walk away from them. From what I heard, the cost to restore them, cabinets and all, is very reasonable, and is a no brainer.
I've e - mailed Mbhcid and will hopefully get together with him at his convenience. Looking forward to hearing the Lowthers!
I will be interested to read of your impressions, Trelja...
the hostilities ended 10 years before stereo?
where was i?
ohyeah. my parents had not been concieved yet.
i always was a procrastinator. :)
Trelja, keep us posted on your project. As I indicated earlier I love your idea for this system.
I have been checking this thread daily to watch its progress.
Distortion, thank you. I will certainly keep everyone in the loop.
As an update, Mbhcid(Mike) and I have been in contact, and I will be taking him up on his gracious offer some weekend in September, once we work out the details. I gather he owns the upper end Beauhorns, and that should be a real treat for me. I have heard they are about as good as a Lowther gets. While the Beauhorns are out of my budget, if I am indeed a "Lowther", I believe I will build a pair of Medallion II kits.
Joe, you'll like the Beauhorns. They're nice. You just have to remember that nothing is perfect, and it's a matter of whether you like the strengths of Lowthers, more than you dislike their shortcomings. Their strengths are very good, and they will really do some things that no other speaker can do. As long as you stay away from the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony and things that are very demanding in the real deep bass, you'll find them to be a very high-performance speaker system. They are somewhat forward sounding and immediate, which may be a little different that what many are accustomed to. And there still is a slight amount of the upper midrange peak left. This can be dealt with, by an easy mod. If you like the detail and speed of an electrostatic speaker, with the dynamics of a fast cone driver system, then you'll love the Lowthers. That's about as good a description of them as I can give. They have some colorations, but so does everything else.
Thanks for all of your input, Twl. You've really added a lot to my understanding.
I am kind of expecting to really like the Lowthers. The less expensive Beauhorns used to strike me as being indescribably ugly, but actually the look is growing on me. That being said, the Medallions are still more inline with the cosmetics and aura I am looking to achieve.
Despite having speakers which reproduce the bottom octave in full force, I am less an addict to it than one might ever believe. So many loudspeakers which don't go so low endear and really impress me for getting other things right. I consider midrange and ability to play without congestion, for example, to be far more important attributes in a loudspeaker. I also hear that room positioning, proper floor/speaker coupling, and cabling(JENA Labs?) help to maximize the LF performance.
A rolled off treble isn't as bad, in my opinion, as it is sometimes made out to be. If the speakers go out to 15KHz they do better than most people care about - many can not hear that far, or much beyond that range anyway.
I will see if the upper midrange peak bothers me. If so, I'll seek out your wisdom, should you be so kind.
Also, since I hear that the Lowthers should really not have much power put into them, am I going down the right road with this combination? I am kind of thinking the amp will be running KT66(6L6) tubes, and while they aren't powerhouses, am I asking for trouble by not using a 3 - 7 wpc SET? Obviously, I would HATE setting up this system, only to damage the speakers in a few weeks.
Trelja, You will not have a problem with high frq. rolloff with Lowthers or Fostex. The Fostex don't do low,low bass either, but in the midrange they seem to be more relaxed. Amp/speaker synergy will heavly play a factor in your decision. I use VBT subs with my Cain and Cain Bens connected to my amp terminals, but still running the Bens fullrange. This way I don't have to worry about impedance problems when using preamp outs, cause good sounding pre.s(no, not bullet proof pres.)don't buffer the outputs, so if the pre. outs are not buffered and are parallel then you will have impedance problems with using subs if you use the second pre. out. So use the amp terminals to run your your sub. just like if you were going to run biwire cables except run one of the speaker wire to the sub. in.Crossover your sub where you think it sounds best, I cross mine over at 60Hz and barely have the volume on. They blend real well. This will give you the best of both worlds. SETs running your single driver speaker for great highs and mids and a sub running things down low.
With the Lowthers, you won't have any treble rolloff, unless it's happening at the amp. They are good to over 20kHz on the top end. They are more directional than some other speakers, though, on the top end, and the sweet spot is smaller than most. The bottom end, while not covering the deepest octave, is very good tonally, and it is very satisfying to hear a deeper insight into the bass player on most recordings. In some cases, it sounds better than many speakers which can play deeper, but with less finesse.
Regarding the amp issue, you can use higher power amps without worry, but you won't need to turn them up very high.
One of the main reasons that Lowthers are so popular with the SET crowd, is not just the efficiency alone, but the fact that the efficiency allows the use of these low power SET amps that are so crystal-clear, coherent, and delicately detailed sounding. It is definitely true that in a good design, a low power SET amp can be noticeably better than the push-pull amps of higher power. A SET is inherently always Class A, and never goes out of Class A. The very short signal path, few tubes, single output triode(triodes being the most linear amplifying devices known), and certain other aspects can produce an incredibly transparent, detailed, and "magic" sound, and this is why the SET users so commonly use Lowthers. Combined with the simple no-crossover "active" speaker, this makes for a beautiful combination for all but the lowest octave. But push-pull amps can sound excellent on Lowthers too, and may even have more extension on both ends, due to the configuration of the push-pull output transformer compared to the SET output transformer. Sometimes SETs can sound rolled-off on the top because of a less-than-stellar output transformer. And the push-pull may sound better in the bass as well, than some SETs. I say "some" because some SETs can really kick ass from top to bottom too.
I'm sure that the Williamson circuit amp will do really nicely with these speakers. But if you get addicted to the Lowther sound, I predict a SET amp in your future. I think you'll really be surprised at how much sound comes out of these speakers with very little power, and how lightning quick they are. They can be polite, or they can rock. They are equally at home with Mozart or Madonna. Soundstage on my system(with appropriate recordings) is about 18 feet wide, and about 10 feet deep. Imaging is pinpoint beyond what most people think of as pinpoint. I can hear the positions of every cymbal around the drum kit, are not forward of the drum kit,which is so common on many speakers. The vocalist is center-forward, and the height of the vocals is consistent with a standing singer. On certain recordings such as Madonna's "Vogue", I can hear precise imaging behind my listening position and far out to the direct sides of my ears, repeatable and pinpoint, like a surround system. In that particular recording my soundstage is about 16 feet deep, but is not confined to in front of me. It is very phase accurate. If you like to hear the miniscule details like the mouth movements and stuff, you will really like these. They are like electrostatics in the minute detail areas.
By the way, my speaker cabinets are Voigt Pipes, and are very similar to the Cain and Cain Abbeys that Philefreak talked about above, but his have Fostex and mine are Lowthers. They are both nice. I like the Lowther better, and Lowther is more efficient, and I need that with a 2 watt amp. But to each his own. The concept is virtually the same, but different manufacturers. And there are some other good single driver brands as well.
I hope that I've got your mouth watering over this description. Lowthers are kind of "love 'em or hate 'em", but I love 'em. We'll have to see where you come out. The Beauhorns are a good showcase for them. I hope he has an analog system, because that is really needed to show them in the best light. They will reveal the "digital nasties" in a major way, and it's not the fault of the speaker.
To demonstrate one aspect of what Twl said above regarding different amps, in my system I power my Abby’s several different ways:
1) Cary 2A3 monoblocks (5/watts per channel).
2) The same as #1 but with added Fostex T90A Horn super tweeter 106 dB and a crossover.
3) Bel Canto Evo 200.2 amp (120 watts per channel) with the Abby’s.
4) Same as #3 but with added Fostex T90A Horn super tweeter and a crossover.
5) Evo 200.2 powers the Abby’s, the Cary 2A3 monoblocks power the T90A.
6) When I want the lower bass I add my powered subwoofer.
You can see pictures of the system by checking out Lak’s two-channel system. I’ll probably add a most resent picture this weekend, which will show added room acoustic treatment.
Tom - I don't own any Madonna recordings and haven't heard "Vogue" on a good system, but I wouldn't be surprised if the production of a largely synthetic recording like this plays deliberate phase tricks to create a larger-than-life 'surround-stage' effect. What do you think?
Zaikesman, I'm sure that it was recorded in that way. But my point was that if the system isn't very phase coherent, then it wouldn't reproduce it so well. When phase-tricks cause the images to be behind you, I think that it won't work well if the system can't properly reproduce the phase-tricks accurately. That's where I was going with that comment. It is a very uncommon occurrence to have that on a record, so that is why I mentioned it and why I use it for reference. If the system isn't doing this, the phase coherence is not good. It's not that I love that song or anything, but it is a useful tool. The sound comes from all around the room. I've often wondered that if they can do this with 2 channel, why do they need surround systems? The two answers that I can come up with, are they want more money, or many systems can't capture this properly. Could be that both are true.
I was interested in the Lowther's and did some research. During my travels, I found this site:http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/lowther/menu.html
It may be of interest to those following this thread.
best wishes in your project Joe!
It's an interesting question Tom, and I'm not sure what the right answer is. Of course the Lowthers, as a crossover-less single-radiator point-source and usefully wideband design, must be phase-coherent or very nearly so. However, when it comes to the type of 'surround-stage' phase manipulation that produces these wild and frankly enjoyable (at least on certain programs) effects, I'm not so sure it's as simple as saying that the result of the effect depends on the phase accuracy of the speaker system. My hunch, based on expereinces with boomboxes and TV's having built-in 'surround' settings, is that that the speaker positioning and playback environment has a lot to do with exactly how the program will come across. I suspect the psycho-acoustic result, for things such sounds appearing to come from way outside the speaker boundaries or even another part of the room, is largely dictated by chance anomalies in the entire system's (including the room) response. My assumption is that TV's and boomboxes will display many phase and response variations that will help affect how the program is perceived in space, but that these variations do not destroy or degrade the 'surround' effect - indeed, it's often greater than I find through a mostly phase-correct system (and my Thiels are this - however, it's also hard to be sure about preceeding characterization, as lots of TV's and BB's *are* single-driver per channel deigns, albeit with irregular cabinet and baffle loading and one would think polar- and time-response). In other words, I'm not sold on the concept that one can really draw any conclusions about a speaker's phase purity based on auditioning material designed to deliberately distort phase relationships for the 'surround-stage' effect. I tend to think a better measure is the degree of natural-sounding image solidity, focus, and stability displayed when replaying phase-correct program material (...which I'm sure you'd be quick to add the Lowthers will do very well :-)
I first discovered Lowthers 30 years ago. The pipe-organ was being refurbished in the cathedral-like school chapel. I found an old Acousta, put in an ordinary 8 inch unit and it sounded rather amazing. So I bought are real PM6 and WOW! We put the speaker behind the altar facing upwards into the apse, drove it with a 2 Watt gramophone with Jeremiah Clarke's Trumpet voluntary and . . . I've never looked back.
Years ago I used to accompany fireworks outside with the 1812 Overture, the Handel Fireworks Music and then Led Zep Stairway to Heaven . . . I used two Acoustas on each side and drove them at around 30 watts each. Very exciting sound.
Last year we had a live concert outdoors with a string quartet. The sound would have been lost entirely so I provided sound reinforcement, this time with a bank of three Acoustas on each side, each angled slightly differently to conteract directivity. The result was astounding - open - clear - transparent - one simply heard the quartet and was not at all conscious of amplification or speakers.
This year we had an opera singer singing in our Italian garden, about the size of a tennis court, to pre-recorded orchestral accompaniment. Had to make sure the amp did not exceed 10 watts or it would have been too loud. The sound was glorious outside - one felt "really there".
Recently I found a nice respectable pair of Tannoy bass-reflex design bookshelf speakers in a rubbish bin. Wired them up - super smooth silky sound. But the woofers are plastic and dull when tapped. One tweeter had gone so before buying a new tweeter I put in a Lowther PM6 and bypassed the crossover. The difference - WOW! Suddenly, rather than being merely smooth and silky - suddenly the musical performance and performers appeared in front of ones very ears.
I abhor speakers with crossovers and going for a full-range speaker is a good choice. Go for the efficiency of a Lowther and when you want to you'll be able to recreate a soundstage on a large scale.
An update on the Lowther situation...
I have not yet visited Mike, and heard his Beauhorns, but we have been in contact,
and I need to take the blame. School at night and on the weekends has made studying,
along with a lot of home remodeling work supercede my abilities to make the journey.
I would still love the opportunity to give them a listen.
In recent months, I have done a lot of research into this type of loudspeaker. Of course,
the information pointed me to a back loaded horn. Not being a woodworker, I was a bit
off put by the prospect of building a horn. But, eventually, I found plans for a cabinet
that seemed both attractive and elegant to me, visually and sonically. However, due to
very favorable comments I have heard, via Stereophile and people I have corresponded with,
of the Moth Cicada, I began to wonder if a bass reflex cabinet would be a better
move for me at this juncture. Still, the allure of the horn was something I wanted to
explore. Later, based on the opinions of the Lowther in America, not Lowther - America
site, as to the superiority of the ported box to a horn, I decided I would pursue this.
I have purchased two pairs of Lowther drivers, the PM6C with ceramic magnet and the PM6A using the alnico magnet. Both are the older design without the redesigned whizzer cone, implemented to correct the "Lowther shout".
The drivers arrived last week, and although I don't have cabinets yet built, needed to give
them a listen. As most people know, listening to a driver out of a box, can often be an
unwise move. There will never be any bass, and the tonal characteristics of the driver are
often far from what they would be otherwise. You could get awfully disappointed and make
the wrong decision, but hey, I won't have much free time until at least March, and the urge
was far too great, so I relented.
I decided to try the cheaper, lower on the totem pole, PM6C first. With a cold tube amp, the
sound was thin and sterile. Of course, there was no bass. I was not disappointed, as I
didn't expect much at all. However, within maybe 15 minutes, something interesting was
happening. The sound was improving dramatically, which I realized was the warmup of the amp.
After a while, the driver was making music, and I began to play around. Hooking my Coincident Troubass subwoofer into the equation added the foundation of the music as well as some warmth. I then decided to try the PM6A. As soon as hooking this driver up to my amplifier, with no signal whatsoever, there was A LOT of noise. I am uncertain as to whether this is characteristic of the driver, or just a problem with mine specifically. The other PM6A exhibited the same behavior. Is it because of the fact that the voice coil is magnetic? I am told the sensitivity
of the driver is the reason, but do not really believe it as the PM6Cs do not share this noise, and I have been around very sensitive louspeakers who also have never exhibited this.
With music, and the left channel driving a PM6C and the right channel driving the PM6A, the sound was engaging and lively. After a while, I again added the Troubass subs. My reason for using the different drivers was to get a handle on their differences. The PM6A is a bit more sensitive and forward. It is also more clear, and gives more separation of voices and instruments, in terms of jumping out when they take center stage.
In short, I will say that it is true what they say about Lowthers, they sound like NOTHING else out there.
I can see why the world falls into those that love them and those that hate them.
The sound is incredibly clear, fast, and immediate. That is good and bad. If you are a fan of the type of sound that Vandersteens produce, you will hate them. If you like forwardness and detail, you will love them.
Where do I fall? Well, I think I fall into the group that loves them. With my subs going, and Louis Prima blaring, I can honestly say that I don't remember having so much fun listening to music in a long time. I have often said to myself that my AtmaSpheres give me the sense that I
am listening to the master tape itself. The Lowthers transcended that, and gave me more of an impression that I was listening to live music than perhaps I have ever had. I can see where many people find them agressive. However, to my ears(and we are ALL different), they were
uncommonly forward, lively, fast, and fun, but never crossed the line into harshness, brightness, or irritation.
On another note, I had the volume control set much higher than I expected with these drivers, so they can definitely take some power and rock out. Specs for them in a bass reflex cabinet state that they will make at least 102 db for one watt, but I was juicing them pretty good. They are not just for low powered SET amps, although that combination is obviously the way most people go.
Switching back to my Coincident Digital Masters gave me the impression that wet blankets had just been thrown on my speakers, and believe me, the Coincidents NEVER sound like that. They are pretty lively and detailed. In time, my ears adjusted back to the sound, and I was having a great time. But, it was just another thing that crystallized in my mind how very different the Lowthers actually sound from everything else.
I have no idea whether I will still hear the same things or feel the same way once I mount them in a box or after I live with them, but my initial impression is overwhelmingly positive.
Very nice comments, Trelja. I was unwilling to buy Lowthers given my experience with them in many different boxes. A friend strongly recommended the Beauhorns. After resisting for a time, I bit. I have had them for two years now and continue to be awed by the sound I get. I did decide that my old big, isobarik subwoofers had to be used. But it is not characteristic of me to keep equipment this long, so for some time I have been looking at other horns, such as the Exemplars, JBL K2s, TAD Model Ones, and even the Big Horn Carfraes, but I just cannot get up the enthusiasm to buy something else.
Recently I discovered the Murata super tweeters and await mine to come in. Experiencing these was bazaar. The demonstration showed they added enormously, but when you listened only to them all you hear is snaps, buzzes, pops, and nothing that sounds like music. I cannot wait to see what they do to my already outstanding sound.
I have had many speakers systems, probably 20, ranging from horns, electrostats, ribbons, dynamic multiple driver boxes, and even partial plasmas. They all had their strengths and weaknesses, but none got as close to music as the Lowthers in the Beauhorn Virtuosos.