Single-driver speakers for 2W 45 SET monoblocks

My wonderful Welborne 45 SET monoblocks will be built shortly (shortly after I start them, that is). I have/had intended to use my Zu Druids with them, but as this system is for fun & experimentation, I want to try some other speakers too. I like the Druids but have heard other single drivers, like the Omegas, that I liked better.

So, I'm looking for some other speakers in the 99db+ sensitivity range. The problem is that that makes things pretty difficult. The 96dB Omegas, and horns in the 95-96 range, might be sensitive enough, but I think that is borderline for 2W amps. I would like to stay in the 98dB and up range, unless I get first-hand recommendations from folks using 45s with them. I like to listen with about 95db peaks 10' away, large room.

Price range is $3K new at the most. Thanks for any ideas.
Hi Paul,

The standard answer to your inquiry would probably be the Klipsch LaScala, which is a darn good speaker for the money.

However, I suggest that you also contact John Kalinowski, aka "Johnk", a custom speaker designer who specializes in very high quality, high efficiency systems. He may well have something in your price range. I haven't heard any of his systems but his designs look innovative and very well thought-out to me, and I can tell you that the quality of parts he uses is outrageously high for the price he asks.

If you can't reach him through Audiogon, shoot me an e-mail and I'll put you in touch with him.

Best of luck to you,

Thanks, Duke. I was listening to the Druids tonight (with my current Dared 2A3 SET amp) and really digging them. They are definitely really killer on some types of music. So, I want to buy used only to audition against the Druids, and sell what I like least. Maybe the Druids will beat all comers. I'll look into the Klipsches - thanks, I would not have thought of that!
What do you not like/not like about the Druids? I would speculate there are very few, if any, choices in that price range that would do significantly better across the board. The main difficulty is finding balanced sound in a 100+ db package is really tough, doing so at $3k will be difficult or impossible, depending on how far down you want the bass to go.

I used to run my Druids with 6 watts of battery-powered Tripath juice, I hadn't discovered SETs yet when I had them. That amp was great with the Druids, but I've heard they do appreciate additional headroom. I'd love to hear them some time with a KT88 or 845 amp.

Going with something Lowther-based would be subjectively faster but probably less weighty. Horns are an option, but I don't know of any 100+ db choices that would fit under $3k and you may not like horns anyway.

Going to a powered bass system is a great way to do it but of course that adds complexity. I run my Yamamoto A-08s 45 amp from about 65 hz up to Zu Definition Pros, with a Crown K2 on the subs. This combination will serve literally any music at loud and uncompressed volumes. The transition between main speakers and subs can be very smooth too.

I love the path you're on. Good low-powered SETs are like no other audio experience. The amps are there, and I'll be very excited to follow your journey with speaks.

Miklorsmith - In a nutshell, the Druids do not sound tonally correct to me on a lot of music/instruments. Piano is one category. I have come to the conclusion, along with others, that there is just something not right about using the 10" driver for the mids. It works less than perfectly. I hope I'm not going to get flamed for this. I'm not a musician, but what I hear is what I hear. So many love them - I don't know. Maybe I haven't feed them the proper amplification yet. Currently a Dared 2A3 integrated.

Duke - Thanks for turning me on to the La Scalas! One of my very early hifi "near mind-boggling" experiences was listening to Klipschhorns at a local dealer here in Milwaukee. I have not heard a Klipsch speaker in over 15 years, however. I'm going to have to rectify that.

What I'm interested in doing is getting as close as I can to the incredible sound Ron had going in his room at RMAF with those utterly massive, $55K compression-driver horns. Since the La Scalas are in the same category (compression-driver horns), at 1/10th the price, that is probably a good place to look.

Shipping is certainly an issue. 350lb uncrated for the pair! Yikes!

I have no money for this venture at the moment, but, as I said, I'm certainly going to pursue it.

That room was definitely THE most lifelike music I've ever heard, at least on small-scale jazz. Now, my main system, which is Green Mountain C3s driver by 845 SETs still amazes me nearly daily, but I wonder if I could put something together with these 45s for a lot let money that would do the same (or better?).

I know I should probably do vinyl too. No doubt, the sound in that room could not have been approximated with digital. What am I waiting for? I don't know. I just don't want to buy a TT setup and all the LPs I'd want. I'll have to remain happy with digital for a little while longer at least, if not for good.
Paul I sure hope you brought the trusty asbestos suit.You gonna need it!LOL

Too bad you don't have at least 5 watts. I would suggest the Bob Brines Lowther DX3 LT-2000 speakers. I know it's off the beaten path. I haven't heard this model, but I know how fond Bob is of this speaker. I also know what sound he strives for by the speakers I own of his. I feel this speaker could give you most of what you want for under $3000.

I've also owned some Omega speakers.. beautifully built speakers..but no where near the sound of the Brines in over all tonal balance. Let there be no doubt, that these speakers will output REAL bass in comparison to most SDs and a few multi drivers as well..

Unlike most companies, the majority of the money you pay for this speaker goes into the drivers and parts.

You maybe able to persuade him to build a speaker along the lines of your preferences.

Good luck with the hunt
I had some Dared monos - but they were 300Bs. They didn't last a week, sounding muffled and mushy. I've heard others say that some of the Dareds are very nice and maybe yours are better.

My aural memory is fading with the Druids since I haven't heard them since I upgraded mine to Definitions 18 months ago. My recollection is that the overall midrange tonality was very good but not quite as fast as my single driver Fostex 206E bass reflex boxes. Those have paper cone 8" drivers and are blindingly fast. However, they also are peaky and very limited in output.

With the Definitions, midrange tone is exemplary though I have mine running about 3 db down through the presence band, around 1khz to 3 khz. Since the same drivers in a different configuration definitely work well, I'd say it isn't merely the 10" midrange that's disturbing your perceptions.

The higher up you go in efficiency, linearity gets increasingly difficult to achieve. To find a smooth sounding speaker with frequency extension is fairly easy for 50-watt compatibility. To do so with 2-watt compatibility . . .

I'd try some different amps just to ensure it's not an amp/speaker communication problem. Zu speakers are definitely chameleons to the amps (and other ancillaries) paired with them so maybe the match just isn't good.

Or, maybe they're just not for you. High-eff speakers are almost by their nature idiosyncratic. It's possible you'll find something else whose quirky personality is more agreeable.
Two things. 1st, I want to retract what I said about Zu tonality - in a nutshell, it was the room. Re-placement and treatments solved it. A bit embarrassed about that.

I also decided to forego the La Scalas due to too many people telling me 2W would not cut it, even with 1st order networks.

I also do not think 2W will quite cut it with the Druids, based on my experience with 2A3s. They barely cut it at nearly twice the power.

So I am about back to square one. I am now looking for a horn-loaded single-driver 100dB/W or better. I know of several, but all are too pricey for me (Rethm, Beauhorn, Vivaldi...). Budget is $3K new, max. Any recommendations in that area? Oh, no DIY. I'm building amps, but no speakers.
Why not cain and cain abbys or super abbys? It seems an obvious choice. For 3k you can have a pair of bailey subwoofers too.
I had a wonderful set of back loaded horns with Fostex 206 esr drivers, built by John Kalinowski. These were magic with my New Audio Frontiers 845 SE integrated amp, but maybe not quite sensitive enough for your needs. I would highly recommend speaking with John, and having something custom built with the driver of your choice. I think he posts on Audiogon as
Thank you for the replies to my year-old thread.

Since that time, I have bought and sold approximately 6,000 pieces of audio gear and have learned quite a bit more.

I sold my Welborne kits without building them, and they were recently sold here by their new owner who did an impeccable job on construction (as he always seems to). I have since owned Fi 45 monos and the Yamamoto 45 - both of them superb in their own wau.

I have owned several BLH speakers including my favorites, Lamhorns, which do indeed play beautifully on the wonderful 45. However, dynamics improve substantially with more power.

For me, there are a few more powerful amps can come very close the sweetness and "rightness" of the 45, but none of them quite match it.
I have a pair of Oris 150 horns made by Johnk. They are the true hi-fi bargain of the century (IMHO) that come up on sale occasionally here on 'Audiogon'. They will probably within your budget secondhand. They are not a Single driver speaker and I do not know If 2W is enough juice to drive them.
Johnk Is the Man!

i've found a lot of magic between my yamamoto a-08s and von schweikert dB99SE speakers. granted, i'm "cheating" when it comes to bass as the dB99SE have built in 600 watt amps per speaker. still, it's a combo i think i'll keep for a good long while.
To clarify further: I now own 45 and PX-25 amps and also am not longer in the market for speakers.