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)
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