Review: Usher BE-10 Speaker

Category: Speakers

My first impression of the BE-10 is that they look unbelievable. Obviously they took some styling cues from the Sonus Faber Amanti line with the slighly backward sloping front baffle and horizontal bands of wood that make up the cabinet. The front baffle is also made of a black piano finish, very shiny and durable. Overall these speakers must rank in my book as one of the nicest looking speakers around. To me they are more attractive than the 802d mainly because they look more traditional and opulent.

Lets first start by comparing the tweeters. The BE-10 tweeters sounded more crisp and "alive". Every guitar pluck of the flamenco muscians were so well defined and amazingly sharp without sounding harsh. The d tweeters to me are more smooth but they lack the quickness of the beryllium tweeters. On more fast paced flamenco tracks, the beryllium tweeters seemed to also respond very quickly, keeping pace without any problems. On guitar passages the beryllium sounded more lifelike to me. Being a guitar player myself, I could see and sense each string pluck. Amazing! The ability of the beryllium tweeter to sound fast and crisp could be due the fact that it is a lighter material than diamond, allowing it to have a faster response time.

Next the mids. Here is where I prefer the 802d fst driver. Though the BE-10 mids sounded very clear and transparent, to me they also sounded sterile and clinical. The fst driver sounded more natural to me. It recreates the human voice in a way that to me more lifelike while not losing any emotion or timbre. Maybe the fst driver colors the sound but I prefer the slightly warm presentation of the B&W. To some people, the absolute transparency of the BE-10 may be hard to pass up. I found them to be a bit fatiguing.

Now for the bass. The BE-10 is driven by a single 11" bass driver. We listened to a variety of tracks with slow extended bass notes and quick snapping bass notes. In this area, the BE-10 sounded better than the 802d. The Be-10 bass was tight, crisp, controlled without sounding boomy. The 802d has the tendency to sound a bit boomy to me. But this could be due to the room treatments.

Finally, overall presentation. The BE-10 casts a very deep soundstage. The sound is actually quite recessed behind the front plane of the speakers. This helps create great dimensionality to the sound but it also has a negative affect. The vocals sounded like the singer was standing further back on the stage than some of the instruments which is not normally how a band sets up. Though the great depth of the soundstage was very easy to fall in love with, at the end of the day I thought it did not sound normal. In this sense, I prefer the slightly forward presentation of the 802d. Vocals are forward while other instruments are furhter back on the stage. The 802d does lack the absolute deep soundstage of the BE-10.

So what is the verdict? Well as with everything in this whacky audiophile world, it is really up to preference. My Dad really likes the BE-10. I think he likes the crispness of the tweeter and transparency of the mids because it makes music sound livelier to his 60+ year old ears which is not as good as it used to be. Right now, I prefer a smoother, slightly warm and sweet sound. For me the 802d is the right choice. Dont get me wrong, the BE-10 is amazing!! I love the way they look. The beryllium technology is something to be considered. Its attributes of clarity, detail, and speed are fantastic. I like them enough to try and convince my dad and brother to split the cost with me so we can buy a pair for an all analog and tube setup we are thinking of building. I think with tubes, the BE-10 could be a fantastic choice.

Side note: Not that it matters but the Usher BE-10 are made in Taiwan. I firmly believe audiophile products coming from Asia have to be reckoned with. In this case, cheaper does not mean not as good. I think in the next decade, Asian audiophile products are really going to put pressure on the North American and European manufacturers.

Associated gear
Amp: Accuphase monoblocks (not sure which ones)
Source: Esoteric universal player
Speaker cables: Nordost Vahalla
IC: no idea
Room size: 16' W x 18' L x 8' H
Room treatments: 5 GIK bass traps (one behind each speaker, one on the side of each speaker and one on the front wall between the speakers)

Your comments are very much to the point however it is allways a set up issue, if you are not using a preamp then you are not hearing the system, also the sterile quality in the system is the Esoteric not the speakers! I sold Esoteric for many years and they are very good players but they are not romatic sounding. With a few minor tweeks I am sure the BE 10 would compleatly blow away the B&W in every way!
Reviewing your report. Thanks for all the info.
However, the Nordost speaker cables are nortorious for lack of body.
Using a speaker cable such as Virtual Dyanmics Revelation, Purist, Kubabla etc probably would have let the BE 10 shine compared to the B&W.
Ozzy, thanks for your input. Since this review I have actually purchased the Be-10s. I am very happy. I do intend on changing out speaker cables and on my short list are the Virtual Dynamics and Purist Venustas.

Thanks again!!!
I tried the Purist Venustus, but actually thought the Purist Aqueous was better, however, with my Legacy Focus.

The VD Revelations are much better, taking quite a while to break in, but sounding better daily.

The Ushers are on my short list. I have not been able to demo them yet.
So please keep me informed as to how they work out for you .
Ozzy, I can say that I am 100% happy with the Ushers. Not do they look fantastic, but they also sound incredible. I am aboslutely sold on the beryllium technology. The sound is clean, uncolored, dynamic. To get similar performance you would have to spend $30-$40K IMHO. Paired with my Pass XA160s I am in sonic heaven. I am having some issues with the soundsstaging but I know this is due to my room. Please let me know if you have any specific questions about the Ushers. I would be happy to help.
had a chance to hear 8871 II, BE-10, and BE-20. I have also recently heard Elac and MBL 116. Usher BE really shines in all spectrum. Like what everyone already pointed out, the crispness, or leading edge definition, is simply awesome and rivals any ribbon tweeter I have heard. Detail is also world class in every way, I will even put it up against any ribbon speakers. Usher BE reproduces string music better than anything I have heard and I have heard way too many. I thought my Amati was good with string music, Usher BE does string even better. More details, more micro dynamic, more natural decay of musical note, and this is on a poorly setup room and equipments so you can imagine how well they will sound with better electronics.

We have all heard good sounding equipments from China at very low price, but I have never heard world class equipments from far east (Japan included) that are original in design and "affordable", affordable is a relative term in audio as anyone knows. Usher BE breaks the mold and I am ready to buy a pair.
How is the bass performance ?
Bass definition and quality, like any large speakers, depends heavily on room interaction. In two different rooms, BE-10 bass sounded very different. One room was on the boomy side with too much lower mid energy. The other room sounded quick and detail without the lower mid peak I heard in the main listening room. I will urge anyone who audition large speakers to play with placement before concluding the bass quality.

There are many very wealthy audiophile in Taiwan who rather own BE-20 over anything else when money is not an object. Some are CEO or president of very large conglomerates that are publicly trading in stock market. I think that speaks for the BE-20 sound.
I have the BE-10 and I find the bass to be very accurate, well controlled and tight. I have had other speakers in my room that sounded extremely boomy and loose. I do not use them for HT so super deep bass is not a requirement. That being said, I find the bass to be more than adequate. These speakers just do a great job of accurately reproducing whatever music is played.
Hi Paul. Nice to hear of another Usher fan! What electronics are you using with your Ushers? Have you filled the mass loading chamber yet? I was thinking about filling up some old socks I have with lead shot and putting them in the mass loading chamber. Of course I better make sure the socks are clean or else I will have a very good sounding speaker that stinks!
We really have to get together... I lost your email addy in a recent computer failure.. but how fun would it be to have Mbl101s and BE-10s to use as test beds for our mutual addiction?


ps...please please don;t use old socks:)
Pal, nice setup. I have always been interested in hearing the Audio Aero. How do you like it?
I think it is a great Cd with a big sweet sound.
Not so sterile like some other Cd:s.
It is very good in the upper registers but maybe the lows could be a little bit more textured, it has a slight blurriness in the bass.
It has analog inputs so I dont need a pre.
Hey guys, just want to let everyone know we got accolades from the press on the sound of our system at HE 2007! In fact we had one of the least expensive reference systems at the entire show!

I also had a chance to really look closely at a very well respected $60,000.00 reference speaker with a Ceramic midrange driver, two Eton woofers and a Titanium tweeter and I came away with the thought the the BE 20 is the better made product no contest, at less than a third the price!

Our show system for the record was:

Usher BE 10
Nuforce Ref 9Se V2
Nuforce Pre 9
Audio Aero Prestige Drive/DAC
Nova Physics Memory Player, which was unbelievable
Synergistic Tesla Cables
Audience Adapt Response Power Conditioner
Shakti Holograms
Shakti Stones
Acoustic System Resonators

Way to go guys! The Usher revolution in affordable reference speakers is on the march goodbye way overpriced boutique brands.
audiooralce, what do you think of the Tesla cables and the Acoustic System Resonators???
My friend bought a used pair of BE-10 is superb condition. He liked the sound a lot until he heard what a really good speaker does in the low bass...
We toyed with ideas for some time and last weekend we "went for broke". We pulled the crossovers out and replaced all the internal wires with teflon coated 20AWG wires, soldered directly to the drivers. What was inside is not fit for sale at Radio Shack, despite the "Swiss Standard" print, which I would describe more as swiss cheese than a precision swiss chronograph... Someone at Usher was thinking "a wire is a wire"... They should listen to a pair after this "minor" modification!
The next step is to replace the cheap BP and NP caps in the crossover with decent metalized PP caps (due to size) bypassed with metal-film.
This ain't cheap but I'm sure is worth doing. I understand cost-saving, but frankly I did not expect the cheapest caps on Earth in this level of a speaker. This crap belongs in the $500 range and even there I'd consider it garbage.
The speakers can use hot glue on internal corners and you might want to consider loosely stuffed acoustic material in the lower section, to tune the overall response.
I have to warn the aspiring DIYers that this project required some invasive manouvers to pull out the drivers. It's a whole day job if you haven't done that before but you know what you're doing. It can take much longer if you don't have a clue how to approach this. Not for the faint of heart...
I just heard the BE-20 two weeks ago in a store. Compared to the modded BE-10, that BE-20 has a long way to go!
Before doing this work, I'd rate the BE-10 slightly above average at best. They definitely did not justify the high praise in the magazines. Pulling the crossover away from the intense sound pressures inside the cabinet and re-wiring everything with a decent wire ($20 overall cost!) had a tremendous effect on bass control and treble extension. It's a whole new speaker and a much better one now. After all these mods I can easily consider these BE-10+++ world-class speakers.
It's a sad reality that we have to accept $9K speakers as "work in progress"...

I think you should look inside most $10k+ speakers on the market, you will be very surprise what manufactures use.

I had Sonus Faber Extrema before and they retailed over $10k 15 years ago, they also used cheap wire and cheap caps. It's not work in progress, it's economic 101.

Just like car, does a BMW uses better component than Honda? Not necessarily...
Serus, I have toyed with the idea of improving the crossover and internal wiring though your description of what it will take has me a little worried. I am just a lazy audiophile and would love to just pay someone to do this for me. Do you have pictures of the mod you did? I may try and take this project if it is not too complicated.
Semi: the thought of other manufacturer's speakers did cross my mind... I'm sure you are right, unfortunately.
I can tell you that some cheaper speakers seem to have better components. I once opened Infinity speakers from 1981 and they had much better crossover caps! Surprise surprise...

Tboooe: Unfotunately we did not take pics of the work in stages. There is no magic to it. You remove the 12 screws on the backplate, then the woofer screws. You'll need some tool to screw into the screw holes of each driver to extract it and if force doesn't work - then apply more force... ;-)
Then you push the backplate out. That gives you access to the crossover. You need a real short screwdriver to remove the boards and you'll be working without seeing a thing...
Next you'll extract the mid and tweeter. Repeat the brute force procedure and be careful with sharp tools in front of the drivers.
Once the drivers are all out (un-clip wires, of course) you can pull all wires out. The top drivers' wires are sealed with a rubbery material going thgrough the seperate top cabinet's bottom wall. Perhaps you can use disposable gloves to avoid a mess around that stuff and also to extract the wires (that stuff is sticky!). My advice is to seal it later with the same material and lay a layer of Dynamat over the holes for a better seal.
One word of caution. Lay drivers down on their back side. If you solder directly to the driver then do not lay them facing down - you may cause damage!
Solder pairs of wires (I suggest mild twisting) to the drivers and note the polarity, as marked on the driver. You should measure rough distances before starting the re-wire. Do not go by the length of the extracted wires, which were way too long. Try to route the upper wires away from the port opening by attaching them somehow to the cabinet walls. Bring the wires out through the rear backplate opening. Be careful how you string the top wires through the acoustic insulation in the top cabinet!
Now a trick... All three drivers have their (-) polarity going to the same amplifier ground terminal, so to get the crossover out you need 3 terminals for the (+) polarity of the individual drivers and one terminal for the shared (-) polarity of the three drivers. The backplate already has four terminals, so life gets much easier here.
You can replace the terminals at this time. We elected as a first step to re-use the same terminals and used new solder lugs to connect to them. The terminals have a hole in their center, so you could string the wires through the holes and avoid another mechanical contact. In any case, the holes probably should be sealed in some manner, even though I couldn't say they make things sound worse. After doing all this work, why not go the extra mile... Maybe even put a layer of Dynamat on the backplate inner side. An overkill, but heck, that's cheap...
The crossover terminals are well marked. If you don't trust your judgement then you should follow different steps to mark polarities on each driver and wire.
Marking everything is important. Once the unit is assembled with 3 pairs of unmarked wires sticking out the back side, you will need test instruments to figure out what's what. Mark everything!
If you can, use color coded wires for the job. That's easy to say for standard wires, but Teflon wires are harder to find in all sorts of colors. You really need just 4 colors since the ground is shared between all drivers.

I can tell you this. You better have a good soldering equipment. We decided to solder wires to the crossover boards (we might go point-to-point later) and these boards have large copper planes, aka heat sinks... You need serious heat there!
Be a bit more careful soldering to the driver terminals, especially the tweeter.
Like I said, this is a long and somewhat invasive job. If the story above sounds like "fun" then you are probably crazy enough to do it yourself... If it scares the s**t out of you then don't!
Be-20, AC CDP, Nuforce ref. amp was the set up.
That day, I bought Vandersteen Quatros and friend of mine took CJ LP70S home. Lloyd Walker of Walker Audio was there with his partner Fred Law.

Sound was VERY good. I was impressed.
However IMO they are overpriced. If MSRP was.....let's say 12K and 10K for Be-10 - it would be a really, really good speaker to price ratio.

Anyway, for those might be "news", but L.Walker owns modify Be-10. How are they modify ????
I am not sure.....all he said was that he throw most of the guts out, saying "it was junk" & "Less is more" whatever that means about Be-10, I don't know. I think he also said something about crossover and rewiring but I don't exactly remember what (I think he said something about a very thin wire that worked best).

I though it might be interesting (for some & not for others)

mrjstark, now I really want to try and modify my BE-10, though I must admit serus' post has me concerned. That thing I want to do is damage my speakers. I sure wish someone local (Socal) would offer this mod and just do it for me! :)
Make sure, You know what You are doing.
I would find someone who would do it for me.
You can try to email L.Walker to point You in the right direction. And then do it your self or $$$ to do it.
Is it worth it ???.......I have Noooo idea since I have not heard a modify pair of 10s but LLoyd swears it works and loves it. But then again, we are talking about L.Walker himself. What he did, I have no clue. We talked about wires and Be20s when he said something about his 10s I think and how they sounded before and after. It was interesting to hear the man himself. After the cigarette we went inside to play around with his vib. stuff, new spk wires and PCs. Since then I quite cigs but LL.W needs them to keep his sanity IMO.

Good luck with 10s
Any comments on the Exemplar-modified BE10s and what are the implications of buying such a thing?
The Exemplar modded Be-10's as shown at RMAF-08 were excellent compared to the stock - BUT they were also playing on good tube vs soso SS on the stockers, imo.

I have good tube gear at home on my Be20s, but I immediately recognized the (slightly ;) trashy confused sound at high volume of my stock speakers when I heard the stock Be10 at RMAF. All that evaporated with the modded pair even with the SS electronics, so I'm sure it is the upgrade responsible for the big improvement.

According to drunken rumors overheard at RMAF the Exemplar crossover upgrade with be available from Usher early 2009 and estimated to cost about $6000, including new internal wiring by JPS. The high cost is due to very good quality parts, but I don't know brand details. The Exemplar exhibitor (forget his name) explained to me that some minor changes to the crossover circuit are made, minor cap values, etc, so it is not strictly a pure parts swap mod. But I believe crossover frequencies are retained. It is Joseph D'Appolito designed crossover. I like the sound better than the Be-718 which has tweet crossover at only half the freq of Be10/20.

I am looking into making my own replacement outboard crossovers using Duelund parts and JPS internal wiring. External crossover will allow experimenting with active crossovers / tri-amp in the future. I have had the speakers apart before, it is not too bad if you're careful. And yes the stock wiring looks like a lamp cord from your grandmothers attic, thick clear vinyl insulation with thin dark stranded copper inside. You need a very small socket (~1/8"??) driver to remove the special bolts holding on the woofers, and an allen wrench for upper drivers and rear panel. When reattaching, do not tighten to hard, the threads are metal inserts in MDF so there is a torque limit! You need a staple gun with 1/2" - 5/8" long staples to reattach internal cotton bat (crossovers are hidden behind this.) The wires to upper drivers pass through a small hole filled with thick tar putty, can be reused, but messy. I accessed the crossovers through the bass driver holes easily with plenty of room inside to access crossover attachment screws. Patience is needed to reattach them.

Thanks for the tips and advice Serus.
Nice review Tboooe
I have the BE-20's and recently installed replacement xovers made by Danny Richey of GR Research. I have about 400 hrs on the new xovers I would guess. The replacement's use top quality parts and use point to point wiring. Internal wire was replaced with JPS hookup wire. Crossover points were changed quite a bit - the woofers not cross at about 210hz instead of around 520 - the tweeter also crosses much lower 1.8K instead of 3k+. The bass output was also lowered by 3db but has adjustability to add more bass output via a resistor bundle cut on the xover board. The job took about 7 hrs for deinstall/install and was tedious. Overall the speaker's sound much improved. The overall character is similar but they are much more refined and relaxed - much smoother but still super detailed. I use to notice phase problems with midrange sounds that's been corrected. Well worth the $$ and effort ;)
Hi Tony,
very interesting.

I also have the Be20's and I found a very incredible thing.

I inverted the phase of both tweeters..
and now voices and violins are far more beautiful..

Ale, thats interesting. I don't think I'm going to try it though since the new xovers are designed differently. Thanks for the tip though ;)