Single driver point source speakers vs. the world?

Okay, I've been a 'stat guy the majority of my audio life.

Recently I acquired a humble speaker that has me rethinking my entire approach to audio, i.e., big power amp requirements driving mass amounts of current to 'stats.

The speaker I'm referring to is the Cain & Cain Abby. 8 watts of 300b SET amplification into these speakers is as good as I've heard. No, they don't do bass but they excel at everything else. So the ? for those with point source design experience is does the lack of a crossover in designs equate to these types of results in other point source or single driver designs?
Single driver speakers vary in character, but overall, I can say, "yes". I've also been turned onto single driver designs over the last 10 years, and when implemented correctly, they can offer amazing results. Much like electrostats and panels, they are very sensitive to the character and quality of the amplifier. I've found that SET and "chip amps" sound best for me.

What I've had the most fun with, is designing and building my own gear around these simple designs. I've learned more from "minimalist" designs than I have in the decades of working with more complex gear. There are some wonderful people working in this field, and I'm eager to see how it evolves in the future.
Been there and done that.
Went from ML CLS to Reference 3A De Cappo Is powered by OTLs and never looked back.
There is something to said for high efficiency single driver crossover-less or minimal crossover designs (tweeters added) being driven by SET or OTL amplifiers.
Now driving Avantgarde Duo Omegas with Atmasphere M60s.

Intuitively, this approach makes a lot of sense, and I am particuarly impressed that electrostatic fans have been converted.

I am interested in experimenting with a single driver, crossoverless speaker for a desktop system, where all day, every day use might make tubes impractical.

Could anyone therefore recommend a single driver speaker and chip amp or reasonably priced solid state amp as candidates for this application?
Cwlondon - I have a pair of JohnBlue JB3 speakers in a desktop system that I really love. They sound fantastic in a nearfield situation, are beautifully made and just the right size for a desktop.

In the winter I drive them with a small Jolida FX10 tube integrated and in the summer with a NuForce Icon. The sound with the tubes is considerably better but for the size and price the NuForce amp is impressive.
Time, phase correct, point source. Easy load for amplifier,lower power requirements are all benefits of fullrange drivers. There are many available but I feel the cheap ones only give a small taste of what a proper fullrange design can do. Weakness extremes of frequency. Only a few can produce bass below 40hz. Most have issues with treble reproduction but its slight and only compared to the better high frequency transducers. They also have limited SPL but this is not a issue in most systems. Best to look for 8in fullranges. These give the max performance per $ outlayed. Still the 6 1/2in fe166e like in most abbys is a fine affordable driver and will give a taste of whats possible if one more fully explores fullrange options. My son build the nagaoka design for fe166e a better cabinet for fe166e now en than abby. The plan ships with driver. Another option is madisound bk20 kit with fe206en or fe208esigma with t900a tweeter. A massive step up over abbys performance. To me the best performance for funds is SEAS exotic. In fullrange doesn't get much if any better than SEAS X=1 no mater what they charge.
There are two issues here that tend to get lumped together when they should be addressed separately. The first is the point source driver. The second is crossoverless designs. You can have the former without having the later. Tannoy, Thiel, Cabasse, Gradient, TAD and others have done point source drivers with crossovers. Typically a tweeter is placed in the center of a midrange or full range driver. These designs are noted for their coherence and the ability to soundstage/image. They are also not necessarily limited at the frequency extremes or suffer the volume limitations of single driver crossoverless designs. Designing a transparent passive crossover is a major technical, but at a practical level it is more achievable than a full range single driver crossoverless speaker.
"for those with point source design experience is does the lack of a crossover in designs equate to these types of results in other point source or single driver designs?"

As pointed out, lack of crossover and point source are two different things both of which can help produce better results. That aside, I would say the answer to your question is a resounding yes.

I'd really like to put a pair of C&C Abbeys in my living room some day. I love the look and can imagine how they sound.
The high efficiency & the absence of X-over is the only common thing among the 8" full range drivers.
There is a world of difference between (ie): a Lowther PM7A and a WE 755 or a Fostex Fe206E and a Feastrex Naturflux.
Also you can consider some coaxials (ie): an Altec 604 and a PHY-HP KM 30. (from different planets also)
While the coaxials are using a minimalist X-over, there are not less atractive than the single F-R drivers, most (if not all) of them are asking for an added tweeter, so in the end you are forced to use a minimal X-over also. (not to mention an active sub.)
If you prefer the single F-R driver instead of the 3 way compression drivers, I'm sure its not because of the X-over... that is not the limiting factor of these speakers.
So, maybe the attractive factor is not the absence of X-over. I suspect is the time coherency of their nature.
When you keeping low the expectations, everything are going fine. But the day that you start thinking for the upper limits... the experience will come to you only with hard work and after many failing projects. The point is that the success & satisfaction probably would never come.
It is the nature of the beast. We love it but we are not accept it's limitations and we were going for tweeks & mods until the end of the world.
Oh yes Sir.

cwlondon, my computer speakers are Merrill Zigmahornets. 4" single driver speakers with surprising bass for the design. The lack of low bass makes them office friendly by not bugging my co-workers. The lack of exaggerated highs mean that they are non fatiguing. I used them 4-8 hours a day every day!

Single drivers are great. In an ideal world though, I think my Acoustat 2+2's were amazing. I just need a 20 x 30 living room with 12 foot ceilings, not kids, no dog and a blindly devoted wife who can overlook the entire room.

I was interested to see the speakers in a tall "matchstick" shaped enclosure in a 6 Moons review, which raved about them.

Then I found other posters saying that 6 Moons reviewers must get paid by the paragraph, because although OK for the money, nothing really "high end" about the sound.

I am assuming you do not have the matchstick cabinets on your desk top?

What cabinets are optimal for the single driver point source?

High THD, high coloration, limited bandwidth, limited SPL, limited musical repertoire..

Does have a good mix with SET's and being full range favors the middle bandwidth over the other. Agree about the chip amp a few friends with Cain & Cain's uses them 2.

One would have to have pretty poor panel speakers IMO for a small single driver speaker being driven with 8 watts to be an improvement.....
Perhaps I'm not hearing the weaknesses other than a lack of full bass production because A) I listen namely to acoustic jazz, which these excel at...Vocals, woodwinds, brass, and strings all sound as natural as I've heard them and B) I've come from CLS's and Vista's which weren't producing mass amounts of bass anyway, but where the Abby's excel is in a lush midrange which is what I was accustomed to with the 'stats, however I couldn't sufficiently drive either the CLS's or the Vista's with an 8 watt SET, which is my main point...being able to bring a low powered amp into the mix is a welcomed and brand new thing for me personally, as I've always had speakers requiring high power demands.

In the end I'm jazzed with the Abby's, and for a very modest cost one can put together quite a system that doesn't break the bank. I'll bring a sub into the mix for LF balance.

I don't know any other speaker amp combo one could assemble at this level of performance for a home system for less than the $1500 I've got into this pairing. I'm using a GF 534 300b integrated on the Abby's and I'm anticipating the arrival of a pair of Shuguang Treasure 300b's to see what they're all about. It's kinda fun foolin' around with tubes...It's like being a newbie all over again...well it's all about fun now ain't it!
I lived with a pair of Brines single drivers (Fostex 167, I think) for a couple of months. They are a fairly large TL design, and I found the lows surprisingly deep. They also imaged very well, and retrieved a lot of detail -- I had a lot of "I never heard that before" moments. In the end though, I felt like there was something a bit off in the upper mids and above -- maybe a loss of coherence? Any of you single driver types have thoughts on that?

Anyway, I enjoyed them, then sold them to a friend for a good price, and he's ecstatic.

Just this past week I received a pair of Tekton Design speakers for a 30 day eval - 8" Fostex ff225 + bullet super tweeter. There is something to be said about this type of speaker, matched to my 2A3 SET. The speakers are spec'd down to 40 HZ (-3db) and in my small room they do sound nice and full. I've owned Magnepan and Martin Logan and still own Klipschorns, so this small fullrange speaker thing is new to me and I like it. Never heard Abbys but aren't the specs on them to 100HZ? If so I'm not sure I'd like that for my main speakers without a sub.
Can anyone comment on cabinets/enclosures?
The loudspeakers is designed as a whole cabinet is chosen to get the best out of driver there is no cabinet thats thats good for all.

For any particular point source driver, can anyone comment on cabinets/enclosures?
The Tektons I have are 8" Fostex + Bullet Super tweeter in a 33" H x 12" x 11" bass reflex cabinet.
I've never come across a full range single driver speaker that didn't sound like someone put a "lid" on top of the music. One person described it as "hooded". The airiness of the music was gone. If someone could point me to a single driver speaker that does not have this quality, please let me know.
Abby's are NOT single driver. They are a 2-way with a mechanical x-over.

I second Johnk about Seas being the best IME as well. I use a super tweeter for some air above 13khz. Sounds like musical truth to my ears.
If I were you I would also look at the Tannoy 15" DC speakers. Like the Canterbury SE and the
Westminster Royal SE.
fostex f200a fe206en
cwlondon, I have the "matchstick" cabinets about 3 feet in front of my desk. The drivers are nearly at ear height even though the speakers are roughly 5 feet tall. See my virtual system on audiogon. My office is about 10 feet wide and only 7-8 feet deep with the door on the one side. It's cramped to have chairs in front of my desk anyway, so speakers were an easy choice. (this makes it great to keep away visitors since they have to compete with a speaker for space.

Now If only i had kept my 12 inch coaxial Richard Allen's back in 1976 instead of going backwards and replacing them with a lower distortion higher output multi-driver speaker system ...

What was i thinking .............. :)
Everything is about price vs Performance and maybe at the prices one can purchase a single driver loudspeaker system today, makes them a good buy.

That in itself is not an endorsement of single driver topology, unfortunately it is a sad reminder of how much current day speaker manufacturers are failing ......

Weseixas why come to audiogon at all? You have no feedback offer no financial support for this site. Yet you feel free to troll post over and over. Seems you have issues with personality wish I could help.
Hope this doesn't stray too far off topic, but that never seems to stop anyone anyway : )

I mentioned in an earlier post that I received my first single driver speakers (albeit with a super tweeter) a couple of weeks ago. One of the things that appeals to me is that it allows a very straight signal path. I have 7 components (not counting wires and room) in the path from the output of my CDP to my ears: 1. Amp selector switch; 2. volume with discrete resistors; 3. pentode driver; 4. coupling cap; 5. 2A3 triode; 6. OPT; 7. Fostex driver.
I'm not saying it's the only or even best way, but it's interesting enough to me that I want to explore and see what I can get out of it. I'm still getting things in order, but so far I like the music.

Sorry to hear about your disorder, best of luck and get well soon ...

I guess I am just one of the ones who "don't get it". At least with what I have heard so far in the single driver camp. I listened to a pair of Rethms at length and had a pair of big Cardersound (Madisons) and wanted to like both but didn't. To be objective, I'll have to conclude it must have been my room (large, open) or my electronics at the time (tube but not SET). There just wasn't enough 'there' for me to like. On the other hand, I do currently have a pair of Martin Logan CLS (which are 'single driver' although a completely different design than the horn loaded high efficiency designs being extolled) and I love them. Different strokes for different folks I guess. Hopefully, the RMAF next week will have a few single driver designs and perhaps my perceptions will change. I do love the idea of them (no crossovers, point source, etc...).
No discussion of single driver point source speakers would be complete without considering these:

Walsh Exotic Speakers
Texas - I agree it could be your situation (room, amp), or it could be you just don't like them.
My room is small @ 12' x 13' x 9' and I've had other bigger speakers in there (the KHorns I bought from you as an example). Now, with a 2A3 SET and these smaller SD speakers, and my listening preferences, I feel like I've got the right stuff and it's all meshing.
I also don't want to give the impression that these things can't rock because they can. But rock to me is 90db - 95db or so. Loud but not very loud I guess.
btw: Those KHorns are now in the game room. Kids love 'em when they play XBox.

You did get "it" some of us are just less tolerant to high distortion speakers with that certain "sound".

Hi-fi being hi-fi every individual has a version of what sounds good to them. Subjectively there can be no right or wrong, you like what you like.......

The science ... dats another story..

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Omega speakers by Louis Chochos. They are some of the finest single driver, no crossover speakers available at any price.


The Omega Speakers have many models, is there one in particular you want to discuss?

@Weseixas: Any and all. I like them all, but the Super 5 and Stick are my favorites.
I do agree with you about his lineup, very extensive and covers the genre very well. It does seem surprising Omega was not mentioned before.....

Yes, Louis is one of the best single driver, no crossover designers out there. Excellent speakers!
Any comments on some the dula driver point source designs out there? Like Tannoys for instance. How do these compare to single driver point source and perhaps other higher efficiency designs out there these days?
Love the concept, don't love most of the execution examples, especially when one considers price and value.
Unsound, have you heard any of the Tannoys that fit this mold?

I have not. Would like to though. I love the classic look of their prestige line. Yes, expensive though. Also some are horn loaded. I know you don't like that.....
Mapman, I've heard some older Tannoys, and didn't care for them. If I get the chance, I'll give them another listen.
I'm not saying I will rule single driver speakers out forever; just waiting for one that will knock my socks off. Just haven't heard it yet. I've almost purchased a pair of Hornshoppe Horns a few times but for whatever reason the deal didn't work out. None were local so never got to hear them but they look nice for the price. I'm hoping I can listen to a few different designs at this years RMAF.
Anyone know what the Cain 'donut' does? And why most back loaded cabinets come out the front?
Our backloaded cabinets port to the rear, and it works well. I'm not opposed to using a little corner loading to bring out the lows.
My only experience with single-driver speakers was quite enjoyable. It came at last year's Axpona show, where all day long, I had been assaulted by hyper-detailed, skreechie speakers. When I wandered into the Glow Audio room, I was quite pleasantly surprised by their little spherical single-driver speakers, sitting atop Glow subwoofers and powered by a little Glow tube amp.

What a relief from the other systems at the show! Here were beautiful, natural tone colors, with natural, non-hyped detail. I think the total cost was something like $1,800!

-Bob (no affiliation)