Ring radiator tweeters - the future?

A technology developed by Scanspeak that hasn't penetrated the audiophile market, but Polk started using them - and their fans say it produces better high end within the same price range. A brief froogle reveals JBL offers them as components. Could this technology end the perpetual silk dome vs. titanium dome debate?
I am using the ring radiator tweeter with my Sonus Faber Cremona's and must say it is one of the better tweeters I have heard. The other is the ion plasma tweeter usded in Acapella Speakers from Germany in which I had a chance to listen to recently. Be very careful about listening to either of these tweeters because once listened too, the listener is wrecked for life in listening to anything else.
Unless this is different, ring radiators are several decades old.

Actually, plenty of speaker companies have used them. One of the first was nOrh 6.9SM, probably about 4 years ago, Sonus Faber, Audio Physics, Meadowlark, Krell, and a bunch of others currently use it. Some are uner the Vifa name, but basically the same.
They are being used on the new VSA 5se.
as Kal stated, this technology is old.
2ndly, I certainly hope & do not think that it will replace silk domes - I've heard it a few times now in Polk Audio speakers where they sound nearly as tizzy & incisive as the metal dome speakers & I hated it! I heard it in a Czech speaker called Xavian 360 where it wasn't as tizzy but it produced a feeling of artificial details in the music. In this particular instance I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not - on some tracks within a CD is sounded correct & on other tracks it sounded wrong. I've also heard this ring tweeter in Gamut Audio's latest L5 speaker where the entire delivery was so laid back that I was quite uninvolved w/ the music. I think that Gamut has either had the ring tweeter custom-made from Scanspeak or has modified it in-house. Somehow I feel that the L5 designer was aware of this "inconsistent" (for a lack of better word) freq resp of the tweeter & decided to "cure" the issue(s).
With the Frieds, we were using the Ring Radiator, and have recently switched to a new variant of this (at least, in some models) - the Vifa Ring Dome. I have yet to hear it, but the word was it was a smoother, more natural presentation.
Bombaywalla, if you think the Vifa ring tweeter in the Polk Audio's sounds "tizzy" you need your ears checked bro, or perhaps the amplifier and source were not up to par. The LSi's have a very laid back presentation, its the exact opposite of "tizzy"
Aren't ribbon speakers the true promised land of sound quality? Just that ribbon speaker are terribly inefficient and bulky?
Try the (relatively) inexpensive Polk LSi speakers with this tweeters, and put 3 times the price speakers to shame...there are a few threads on this great speaker on A'Gon, check it out....truly one of the undergroung gems in audio, exceptional for the money. Don't snob yourself out of trying it just because of the Polk name, it really is a nice integration of the Ring radiator tweeter, and it's a nice-looking speaker to boot.
I hope Ring radiator tweeters aren't the future. Since I don't use tweeters at all. LOL

Infact I never plan to use them again, unless my upper frequency hearing gets so bad to where I have no choice but to bump up the dBs in this area.

Look at where the heart of music is on this chart. I've discovered myself some tweeters add artificiality to the music in certain cases.

Musical Instrument Range Chart . If your speakers can't get this part of the frequency range right. Who cares about a tweeter?
I always thought that Polk was the best bang for buck on the market. My main reservation with them is that their subs seam to really exagerate the bass - designed to make home movies sound impressive rather than designed for musicality.
I felt they sounded real nice on the Audio Physic Virgo III. Airy and detailed but no metallic bite that I could detect. Would love to hear the ML Kestrel II, which uses 'em also. Haven't heard the Polks but they seem like very nice products for the money.
Yo Lush,
Maybe you need to have your hearing checked? Perhaps you like "tizzy" sound & call it laid back? Is that also possible? Just because someone doesn't agree w/ your analysis of the Polk speaker sound, doesn't mean he/she needs a hearing check!
It is possible that the amp &/or CDP were not up-to-par in both my auditions. I auditioned them in 2 diff audio stores both times & not in my own system.
However, heard the ring tweeter in one other completely different speaker that exhibited the same sharpness from time-to-time, I'll say that, for me, some of the fault does lie in the ring radiator tweeter. If I can help it, I'd rather not have it in my speaker.
I used to own a 3 way floorstander with a tonegen ribbon tweeter (Heybrook sextets) and those ribbon tweeters were the sweetest treble I ever heard, and neither bulky nor inefficient.
Gmood1...The frequency range chart that you cite is for the fundamental tones. Harmonics do go to 20KHz and even higher. But I do agree with you that the low and mid range is most important, and a bad tweeter is worse than none at all.
I hope Ring radiator tweeters aren't the future. Since I don't use tweeters at all. LOL

Infact I never plan to use them again, unless my upper frequency hearing gets so bad to where I have no choice but to bump up the dBs in this area.

Look at where the heart of music is on this chart. I've discovered myself some tweeters add artificiality to the music in certain cases.

Musical Instrument Range Chart . If your speakers can't get this part of the frequency range right. Who cares about a tweeter?

If you listen for overtones even more than you listen for the actual notes, you begin to care about a good tweeter very quickly.
Bombaywalla, It's not even a question of wheather somebody likes the speaker, its just I don't know how your so off on the tweeters description. I mean, most people consider it one of the warmest, most laid back tweeters. Krell, Audio Physic, Polk Audio LSi...perhaps it wasn't an LSi series I don't know...but it's so far on the other spectrum...I simply don't undertsand the "sharpness" your talking about.
Yes I can see your point, but I also know I have no use for a tweeter at the present time. I hear plenty of tones and overtones without having what some consider tweeters drilling it into my head.;-) I also don't have to worry about hearing the highs before the rest of the frequency. Some have become so accustom to it. They wouldn't know correct timing if it were on their wrist.

I'm willing to bet your vandie's highs start to roll off above 2000hz and continue to roll off to their stated high frequency range cutoff. From the professional reviews describing this speaker "the 1Cs were somewhat hazy and veiled, particularly from the midrange on up". Comments like this leads me to believe the speakers are rolled off quite a bit... Even with the help of a tweeter. So you're not hearing as high as you think you are my friend.

I've had speakers that did the 40Khz thing. Yes they had the WOW factor but also became more irritating to my ears than what it's worth. I've not heard this model of Polks. Maybe it's better than all the other models I've heard. Which were all boom and sizzle..just my honest opinion.

As long as a speaker covers my hearing range . Which is realistically 20hz to 16khz...I'm a happy camper. I have no use for the hash that lies above this point. Whether it comes with a tweeter or not this is the range that is most important too me.

Gmood-- y're using a wide-range driver. You have tweeter response anyway.
Out of curiosity, how do you cope with the 4kHz bump in yr response (I'm referring to the "sizzle" you mention)? Note, I'm not knocking yr spkr --just asking.

BTW, the Vifa & Scan rings are not necessarily the problem: their implementation is usually the problem.
Hi Gregm..my speakers uses a Baffle step correction circuit that smooths out the 5khz bump. There's also no shout as with most wide range drivers. Yes I agree ..it's not the tweeters but the way some are used. I really have nothing against a separate tweeter .As long as it has the proper crossover.
Gmood1...Why do tweeters exist? Because drivers with large cones, necessary for LF reproduction, are lousy for HF. "Lousy" means irregular frequency response within the pass band (peaks and dips) and premature roll off, sometimes covered up by a kluge called a whizzer cone, which generates lots of HF sound not necessarily related to the music. (But the ear is fooled). This can be worse than any effect of a crossover. A tweeter, having no requirement for LF response can quite easily be optimized for HF. With proper crossover design, and a tweek or two, use of a tweeter is the best solution for full range sound.

If you are happy with response to 10 KHz or so, then you don't need a tweeter.
Eldartford, Unless you've heard a recent wide range driver. There's no way for me to make you understand that you can't hear the HF noise if it exists. Actually I've tested the response of this driver with a digital SPL meter(maybe not the best tool but it gives you an idea). I still had output at 20Khz. I couldn't hear past 16 or 17khz. The meter was still measuring past my hearing threshold.

If you've spent anytime with a good single driver you might change your mind on the theories. I love the Magenepans for what they do..not knocking them. They just don't have the resolution of a good single driver...sorry. After spending many hrs with a SD you can easily hear how some crossovers veil the sound and screw up the timing if not designed properly.

The driver in my speaker is outputting only the midrange and highs from the cone. The cabinet is what produces the bass.The cabinet doesn't have much effect on the drivers above 200 or 300Hz. You need to read up on Martin King and Bob Brines worksheets. These aren't your average single drivers ..not by a mile. Does this driver look like it rolls off at 10khz? Fostex F200A FR chart. No speaker is perfect. I give up high spls above 100 dB . Not a problem since I never listen at these levels any way.
Gmood1...I assume the the Fostex F200 is what you use. Good choice. No whizzer.

But look at the almost 10dB hump between 4 and 5 KHz. And how about off axis? And you can't really tell about the HF (15 to 20KHz) from a SPL measurement. Sure it puts out loud noises at those frequencies but is it part of the music, or just a rattle? The ear (at least when you are young) senses that there is HF sound present, and "hears" what harmonics ought to be there. The ear is fooled in a way similar to the eyes that sometimes see what you expect (a dog perhaps) instead of what is really there (a tree stump).

Of course if it sounds good to you it is good. Maybe your ears have a notch at 5000 Hz.

The FR driver in a folded horn enclosure was commonplace when I began this hobby in the mid fiftys. I had a really nice wharfedale 8" driver in one at the time. But I never liked horn resonance as a way to boost weak bass. Or vented boxes either. Or boxes of any kind.

So after telling you all the things I find wrong with FR drivers it may surprise you that I am seriously considering some experimental work with one. My idea is to exploit the extended range capability by using a FR to cover the range from 100 Hz to 8KHz or so, with a SW below and a tweeter above. This keeps the crossovers out of the critical range. Of course it will be open baffle, and I may employ multiple drivers in a line array. Most normal woofers start to deteriorate around 2KHz, with a crossover required around 2500Hz.
This is why there's a BSC and zobel used in this speaker.
It does away with the 10dB hump. It has a very smooth response through the 4 to 5khz area. You can tweak it just by changing a resistor depending on your room. A good internet friend uses tractrix line design. He claims it's the closes to not having a box as he has heard. I've never heard a tractix speaker but it sounds interesting.

I can assure you that the MLTL has a very non-boxey sound. I do like the magnepans for this... the MLTL is no different. It just has a tremendous amount of oomhp. Trust me..weak bass is the last thing you'll be worried about.

After having several types of speakers. My ears aren't being fooled by this speaker...I assure you. They have the smoothest response I've heard in my home. Too bad you don't live closer..I could change your mind very easily about this type of speaker. It makes all the horn loaded speakers I've heard sound like toys.
Here's a qoute from a owner of the same speaker that lives in NYC. He's right on the money with his description.

Hi Ray, thanks for the compliment of the preamp. I will attempt to describe how it sounds.

The system has a "robust" signature. I mean, hearty sound, taut, slamming bass that it has got to be heard to be believed, especially from an 8" driver. I believe that the robust signature comes from the alnico factor of the driver. If you have heard Tannoy coaxials...the Turnberry, it sounds close like it, but the FTAs are more seamless, more transparent when the source calls.

FM via the system, especially due to the Mcintosh, it sounds very organic, once again, with gobs of presence.

The FTAs do not sound midrangey, as some single fullrange drivers, if not the vast majority of them sound like.

When I put some vinyl, you can hear more of the slam and also harshness, if the vinyl recording was badly made.

Depending of the CD track, it can sound bloody awesome, or simple pedestrian. It depends of the recording.

What is most amazing about the system is the idiocyncratic mix of really expensive components with things are are plainly DIY oriented, such as the Scott Nixon sound better than it should ever be.

I have tried something interesting, an idea I got from people who have a single source system, that is I ran the Shigaraki transport, DAC into EVS Ultimate Attenuators and then, into the monoblocks. From there, it all went to 47 Labs OTA and into the FTAs.

There was a difference in signature, but it was about 90% of what I have heard with the preamp.
Gmood1...The Fostex FF225 appears to be much flatter out to about 12KHz, where it drops off completely. At the low end there is a rolloff starting around 200 Hz, but it is smooth and gradual and easily handled by equalization down to where a SW would take over. This driver, which costs about 1/4 of the F200A, is a better fit to the requirements of my project.
Why no tweeter?

Read the paragraph "The Quest for that Old-time Religion".

There was a time, two generations ago, when the full-range cone driver reigned supreme. In an age when the radio console together with the shellac 78-rpm record defined audio quality, a frequency range of 60 Hz to 9 kHz was about as wide a window as was needed or desired for the enjoyable reproduction of available source material. If anyone dared to open the window any wider – especially in the treble - they ran the risk of exposing gremlins such as needle scratch and other high-frequency hash and noise. With the advent of the high-fidelity phenomenon in the 50s, the audio industry moved inexorably toward multi-way loudspeakers, such as two and three-way designs, as a means of expanding the bandwidth at the frequency extremes. The advertising campaigns/hype at the time were so effective, that for many people Hi Fi became synonymous with bandwidth. Many consumers expected to pay a premium for a high-fidelity loudspeaker basically because of its increased bandwidth. Even today, many audiophiles and audio engineers seem convinced that the road to hi-fi heaven lies at the frequency extremes. Of course, music lovers know that this is patently false, and that the emotional content and drama of live music have little to do with the frequency extremes.

Multi-ways effectively cut the music in half. Do you really think the speaker designer can put it back together again? Even 1st order is only in the small sweet spot.
People commonly ask, why is a speaker $10,000 for $200 worth of drivers. IMHO the price is for the expertise of the designer making the drivers work together. A very tricky task as the x-over can't just be designed on paper, from what I have read from the guys at madisound.com. You have to tweak it by ear over and over again to make it sound right.

As stereophile wrote on Krell Resolution 1 speaker:

I must assume that Mikey's thinking the Resolution 1 sounded a bit "rich" in the upper bass is due more to the woofers' restricted passband. (The more you limit a drive-unit in the frequency domain, the less well defined its output will be in the time domain.)

Running a driver full range with no high or low-pass x-over is the way to go or timing will be off.
The so called "tweeter" of the Magneplanar QR series, like my MG1.6QR, is not a physically separate driver, like the ribbon used in the MG3.6. It is just a section of the diaphram that has lighter conductors and can vibrate at higher frequency. In some ways it is like a full range cone driver, where breakup of the cone allows the area near the voice coil to vibrate at higher frequencies than the outer cone area. I actually prefer the Maggie QR over the ribbon, and the money left in my pocket is nice too.
Eldartford , looks like you've done your home work on this one. I wish you luck with the project. I know several Audiophiles that went OB. They all claimed never to return to a box speaker again. Thanks for the links Cdc.
Cdc, your comments are based in a rich misunderstanding of what it takes to make a good speaker. Fact is most single driver systems have worse timing errors than properly designed multi-element speakers.

Your history lesson also underestimates how much people love bass. For 99.999999999999999999% of the public anytime you get more bass....you get a bigger smile. Advertising had nothing to do with it.

Speaker designers are not obsessed with frequency extremes, the driver manufacturers are. In most cases better mid band performance leads to better bandwidth performance. Most good speaker design manufacturers are obsessed with either bass or midrange or simply obsessed.

Single driver speakers are not the answer, most are inferior for the very reasons you find flaws in multi-element designs. Exactly how difficult is it to perfect one driver to the point where it is demonstably superior to multi-way systems? You would think price advantages and limited R&D would make this style of speaker very popular. To build a Fostex in a box, you call madisound, cut some wood and you have a speaker. I'm not sure it requires any math?

BUT despite inherent market advantages, overcoming the obstacles seems to be very difficult, as this proven year after year. As single driver system remain only viable to fringy audiophile types who don't listen to powerful large scale or popular music.

A good example of the point I'm trying to make;

Cain & Cain Abby versus a Blue Sky System One? Both $1500, ones modern AM radio the others the real deal.

Guess where my money's going....with the ring radiator...

Best Regards
"I'm not sure it requires any math?"

Oh contray..how wrong you are.

Construction and Measurement of a Simple Test Transmission Line.

A Mathematical Model for an Expanding Fiber Damped Transmission Line

The Calculation Algorithm

Derivation and Correlation of the Viscous Damping Coefficient

Advanced Transmission Line Modeling Techniques

Does it look like you're just throwing a driver in a box? I agree some SDs aren't bass or dynamic monsters. There are some that do large scale very well..most aren't commercially manufactured though. Also the consumer must decide what kind of bass they want to live with. Do they want 50hz bass hump kinda of bass or real honest bass with low distortion that adds as little as possible to the original recording?

Thanks for the links, and do I need to say transmission lines are not exclusive to SD designs?
Yes you're correct they aren't. Although the links supplied are exclusive to SD designs not multi ways. To give you an idea..this is comparing apples to oranges. I'll use the Paradigm 100v2 and v3 speakers because they are so widely sold. I've also spent enough time with them to judge them well. The Paradigm 100v3 is a five driver three way speaker. They will play much louder than my FTAs.One of the things they can't do is compete with the FTAs in bass/weight extention.

That's right..the single 8 inch driver in a MLTL cabinet makes this 5 driver speaker sound like a welterweight in the bass department that put on too many pounds. In other words the 100v3 sounds slow, sluggish and light in the bass by comparison...believe it or not.
Output is relative, the Paradigms flatter response will work against its perceived bass output. Fact is the Paradigms use 8" woofers so why would I expect them to go any lower than an 8" in a t-line.

As you mentioned they just go louder. The mass production of the Paradigm speaker will also open the door for minor bass misalignments and the 100's are tough to drive. My least favorite speaker in the reference line since its inception by Paradigm.
Eldartford sez:
My idea is to exploit the extended range capability by using a FR to cover the range from 100 Hz to 8KHz or so, with a SW below and a tweeter above
You'll enjoy yourself immensely on that one! I expect you'll find that the tricky part is marrying the woof to the FR. IF you can hi-pass the FR & leave it alone thereafter, it's a bonus.
You're lucky in that you're already used to having (seeing) obtrusive panels in yr room... Cheers
I was wondering if you ever considered the Silver Iris OB 15" Coaxial drivers. I know their not true FRs but do look very interesting. The cost to build your own doesn't look overly expensive either. I'm sure you have the skills to make them look like the Hawthorne OBs... If not better.Cdc this may be something for you to checkout as well. Space has to be a consideration also as these things need room to breath. This shouldn't be a problem for Eldartford as his room is very large. From past post he seems to like his woofers big.LOL

He could use his Digital EQ as the crossover between the woofer and the tweeter.
"Fact is most single driver systems have worse timing errors than properly designed multi-element speakers.
" Cinematic_systems.
Why is this??
You have multiple drivers that are not time or phase coherent operating from different points in space (vertical and depth). Some, like Revel, are run completely out of phase. As Stereophile said, limiting bandwidth causes further timing errors.

How can such a speaker have correct timing? Where is your technical information to back up your statement?

"99.999999999999999999% of the public anytime you get more bass".
True, and most audiophiles can't get beyond detail and soundstaging, not to mention boomy bass. It's a preference, no absolute right or wrong.

"Most good speaker design manufacturers are obsessed with either bass or midrange or simply obsessed."
Judging by bass boost in Wilson, Krell, Paradigm (10db boost in Atoms), Monitor Aduio, B&W, etc. etc. I'd go back to your 99.999999 comment.

"Single driver speakers are not the answer, most are inferior for the very reasons you find flaws in multi-element designs"
What flaws are those?

"As single driver system remain only viable to fringy audiophile types who don't listen to powerful large scale or popular music"
IMHO, you need to add "IMHO" to that comment.

I'm always interested in learning. But so far you have provided nothing but your personal opinions and, IMHO many of those aren't even accurate.
how about the Seas T25/Millinium, which I'm listening to right now in the Thors.
natural and nice to my ears.
I believe Eldartford has the right idea.My favorite speakers have been those that used the "midrange" drivers in as wide a range as possible.Dynaudio 17W75s,Scanspeak 8545s,Peerless or Accutons.I used the Dynaudios(2) without a crossover.The Fontec 5" ribbon (6db/5Khz),taking advantage of the linear rolloff of the 6.5" drivers.Bass is handled via high-level inputs to a crossover \bass amp-roll them up until the foundation is established and adjust for phase displacement.The whole affair in an open-baffle.Nothing like boxless inclosures.