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)
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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 interested........it 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)

Cheers
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.
Me.......noooooooaa,
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