Townshend Maximum Supertweeters

Yes, Maximum. I don’t come up with the names, I just review the stuff, okay? ;) And I got em because everyone keeps telling me I should, and once again they are right. Whew! That was easy!

Kidding! We will now laboriously delve into why you cannot live without these tweeters, that you can’t even hear.

For sure I can’t. My hearing rolls off somewhere north of 15k. If that. These things extend to 90k. Why? What difference can it possibly make?

Who knows? And since when has that stopped me?

So out they come and what have we here? Two heavy black bricks, with a screen on the front and a couple binding posts on the back. In between the posts is a little knob you use to turn them off and set the levels. On the bottom are rudimentary rubber dimple feet. Guess I was expecting Pods or something, this being Townshend. No such luck.

They go on top of the Moabs. Well there is already a BDR Shelf on top, and a HFT dead center right where this thing is supposed to go. Moving HFT even an inch changes the sound so executive decision, the Maximum Supertweeters go just outboard of the HFT. They are first just placed there not even connected, just in case this somehow messes with the sound. It doesn’t.

Okay so now you need to know my system is all messed up. No, not the usual mess I mean really seriously messed up. No turntable. Chris Brady has the bearing for some resurfacing and stuff. So we are slumming with the heavily modded Oppo. Not to fear, Ted Denney sent me some of his latest Atmosphere X (review to come) which with the right tuning bullet the Oppo now Oh well. KBO.

The usual: Demag. Warmup. Listen a while. Hook em up. What level? Who knows? Moabs are 98dB. How ya gonna know anyway? How can it even matter? How do you even set the level of something you can’t hear? Level 3, good as any. Plug em in. No change. Not the slightest peep out of these things. Total dud. Knew it. Sit back down.

What the...? No way. There is not the slightest hint of top end coming from these things. They may as well not be there at all. Except the whole presentation is somehow different. Top to bottom. No way!

I get up and turn the black magic off. Sit back down. Crap. Flat, grainy, digital. Turn em back on. Deep, liquid, analog.

No, not analog like my turntable. They are just supertweeters after all not magic. But way more analog than it was. More dimensional, more solid, more liquid detailed. More black between the notes, and in the black it is now easier to hear the natural acoustic decay. I do NOT want to go back to listening to CD without this! I cannot wait to hear it with my table.

And I haven’t even had time to get them dialed in yet!

Af12d21c f5e1 4792 a587 991c880229f7millercarbon
Hey millercarbon,

welcome to the supertweeter church: I covered the subject on my thread about my Murata ES103As. Didn‘t get much traction but wish people for once were listening; It makes a huge difference and I hope your post gets people to reconsider.
OK, yeah I have been reading such results. This is something I have to hear for myself, thanks mate.

@antigrunge2 - I was just reading up on both the Townshends and the Murata ES103A when I came back to post. Those Murata are pricey enough, but talk about gor-ge-ous!
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They do make a huge difference, not that you hear anything but you feel it, strange but true.
Other thing is that they enhance sonic picture as all frequencies are affected and presentation is calmer.
Need care in positioning and to be aligned on same axis with main tweeter.
antigrunge2, you aren’t the only one. There’s so much info and it can only be absorbed so fast. I am a high-probability/low-hanging fruit kind of guy. Try and only go for stuff when it gets to the point where it starts to feel like a sure thing. Because I have learned if I do that then sure enough it turns out well.

The hardest part is people bashing anything they don’t understand. A lot of people are afraid to try something they fear will only expose them to ridicule. Maybe because I am so freaking obsessed with sound quality, or maybe because I am such a wanker, but either way I don’t care. I’m just glad you and the others weren’t afraid to speak up, because then who knows how long until I would have tried?

So for whatever reason supertweeters are another of these things like springs or the Distributed Bass Array that have been around a while and proven to work, yet somehow flying under the radar. Some of this has been known for decades. DBA for example is a good 30 years, and Townshend has been engineering solutions for nearly half a century now. When I heard how good Podiums sound I was stunned. Still am, only now more at the thought of how long they have been around and yet hardly anyone has them.

This is a lot like that. I am working a lot of OT, hardly had time to do anything the other night but hook them up, but they work so well even slapped in with no adjustment the effect is impressive. No fine-tuning, no tweakery, no nothing. Heck they don’t even have any TC on them yet!

Reasonably sure they are set too low, will try some different settings tonight. Last night was so much fun, which considering it was CD is really saying something. And yes petg60, plan on moving them around some too. They are not even on-axis right now. 

Fifteen (15) tweeters in each Tekton Moab speaker, and yet still hearing a difference from an add-on super tweeter to enhance the sound. Interesting.   
TAKET Batpro2 with air motion transformer at less than half the “ low hanging fruit $” of the subject product.

as for probability, i am guessing when n =1 ( reviewers sample size ), the probability of the Taket being better is  50/50.

just trying to save y’all some scratch….
It would be nice for this thread to have a link to your thread with your review so everyone knows what you are talking about. Just tryin' ta help y'all establish some, you know, credibility.
There is a loudspeaker with what amounts to a super-tweeter built in: the Eminent Technology LFT-8b. The ribbon tweeter in the LFT-8 is employed from 10kHz up, fed from a 1st-order filter set at that frequency. The LFT-8b retails for $2499/pr, not much more than the price of the Townshend tweeter alone. Just sayin'. ;-)

Below the tweeter is the LFT (Linear Field Transducer) driver, which reproduces 180Hz to 10k (!). The best kept secret and value in hi-fi loudspeakers.  
Well millercarbon, here I go. I told you so!
I read many times for years that they were great, and I started to believe it, so I finally bought a pair when the right deal came up. Yes, they work, and despite the supposed impossibility of them affecting redbook playback...they do!
I think that you will learn the right setting for your speakers in time. On mine it's usually but not always 3, but sometimes 4.
Also, and this is important!...don't just plunk them on top. Make a dedicated set of stands for them with a wooden pole and two pieces of flat square wood about 5"x5", at the correct height to be approximately coincident with the center of one of your tweeter arrays. I would suggest the top one. You can put this on the inside or outside of the speaker cabinet. I put them on the inside, and yes, it makes a difference!
Have you guys noticed any comb filtering effects that have been mentioned before?
Excellent point, @eichlerera. The wavelength at 10kHz is only approximately 1.3 inches, so a tweeter using that x/o frequency is ripe for producing comb filtering (due to in-phase and out-of-phase interaction between any two drivers reproducing the same frequency). Danny Richie covers the subject of add-on tweeters in one of his excellent GR Research YouTube videos. 
I commuted blasphemy and added super tweeters to my Altec 2 ways by having new crossovers built and bringing them in at 10K. I can’t hear past 12K but somehow it’s much more detailed in the upper registries. I doubt I could hear comb filtering, and no, they aren’t time aligned. Maby a young person with good hearing would notice some negatives, if they knew how to listen. I don’t know….I like them though. They are inexpensive Faital drivers on miniature 15 cell Markus Klug horns. I don’t listen without them now. I can’t speak in scientific terms because it’s not in my vocabulary but I like them a lot.  
Roxy54, yes you were among the "everybody keeps telling me", and thanks. Where they are now on top is a good two feet from the center tweeter, so was already wondering about that one and now I know so thanks again. Got a better idea for how to get it there, no wood no stands but would you believe rubber bands? 😳
Well, now the analog/digital debate has been put to rest.

Want your digital to sound like your analog? Just ad Townshend super tweeters!

If it was only that easy.

Will I get a pair? Most likely.... after I get the Townshend podiums though, which if I wasn't going through the cost if moving, I would have by now.

Patients is a virtue..... Sadly I'm short on it, just like cash.
I've had my Townshend Maximum Supertweeters for several years now, and I still like them :-)
Here is a perfect example of some people liking the addition of gross distortion to their systems. 

These distortion synthesizers have useful output down to 10 kHz which is audible and will make a system sound brighter. If you have good loudspeakers, falsely brighter. But people who do not know what they are listening to prefer this. However, it is a fine way to destroy accurate imaging. But, most audiophiles do not know what accurate imaging is. They have never heard it. They hear an instrument over here and a voice over there and they think that is all there is to accurate imaging, not. It is very difficult to describe. The term holographic is used incorrectly. You can not see around (through) an object, well maybe millercarbon can, but you can hear around an object. With the best imaging there is space around the instruments and voices and they appear in perspective to one another and not just overlapping. Accurate high frequency ques are important for this to occur and an overlapping supertweeter will distort them. But, you don't know what you are missing if you did not have it in the first place, very few systems do. Brighter will always seem to sound better within limits. It is a trap which takes you father away from the absolute sound.

The addition of complexity to loudspeakers is always a bad thing. The Dahlquist DQ10 is a perfect example. From a tonality perspective they were wonderful but there is no way you can get them to image properly. They were very complicated speakers. We tried with a friend's pair for 3 years before he gave up and bought Acoustats which he used for the duration of his life. 

"Want your digital to sound like analog?" Give me a break. Red Book CDs are quite capable of producing 10 to 20 kHz and that is all you are hearing if you are 19 years old. If you think what happens over 20kHz matters you have some learning to do. This is just like guys arguing over who's car is faster at speeds you can not drive at even on most tracks, not to mention most guys would wet their pants in a car going faster than 160 MPH. Speeds you can't drive at and frequencies you can not possibly hear and have zero effect on the audio band. Mysticism does not belong in audio. It is not a religion. 
The king of rabbit holes has descended once again. Not saying some rabbit holes don't go somewhere, but is it the point the music or merely the next tweak?
The capacity of Humans for self-deception is apparently unlimited - Mr. Spock the Vulcan
Here is a perfect example of some people liking the addition of gross distortion to their systems. These distortion synthesizers have useful output down to 10 kHz which is audible and will make a system sound brighter.
Nice try, but a proper tweeter is not a "distortion synthesizer" and it no more "synthesizes" output than any other speaker driver.
... people who do not know what they are listening to prefer this. However, it is a fine way to destroy accurate imaging.
How do you know? You don’t know any details about the specific components. Of course, I recognize that you think you know how something sounds just by looking at it, but thinking something and knowing something are two different things.
... most audiophiles do not know what accurate imaging is. They have never heard it.
I think most audiophiles are lot more knowledgeable and experienced than you suspect.
The addition of complexity to loudspeakers is always a bad thing.
That depends on the speaker. The Infinity IRS is a complex system that sounds great. I’ve also heard simple single-driver systems that sound awful.
The Dahlquist DQ10 is a perfect example. From a tonality perspective they were wonderful but there is no way you can get them to image properly.
Actually, the DQ-10s could be improved enormously with the addition of Dick Sequerra’ supertweeter.
"Want your digital to sound like analog?" Give me a break. Red Book CDs are quite capable of producing 10 to 20 kHz and that is all you are hearing if you are 19 years old.
Huh? There is much, much more to proper playback than just keeping response extended to 20kHz.
Mysticism does not belong in audio. It is not a religion.
It’s odd that you would state that after promoting some of your faith-based beliefs, much as if you were a wanna-be mystic.
these complement (rebuilt ElectroStatic Solutions') Quad ESL 57's  adding greater sense of space, front to back spatial depth (a limitation of these wonderful speakers), extension of treble and bass performance (the 88 - 89dB efficiency rebuilds do not lack bass) and rounded out performance. I would not use 57's without them. I tried them with full range single driver horn loudspeakers and they also gently lifted bass performance (welcome) but at loss of the special clarity, of course, of single point source. For panel speakers they work, and I believe they were designed for 57's.
correction, for Quad 57 panels, they work !
Also, and this is important!...don't just plunk them on top. Make a dedicated set of stands for them with a wooden pole and two pieces of flat square wood about 5"x5", at the correct height to be approximately coincident with the center of one of your tweeter arrays.
Good point for not placing them on top. I did nearly the same thing when I had my pair of Sony ss-tw100ed attached to the side of the Dunlavys.
Only I had a metal brace where the tweeters were attached and had adjustable for and aft movement as to fall with tweeter axis.
I can’t address any of the points that mijostyn makes about supertweeters in an informed way, because I don’t have the knowledge, only hearsay.
I do believe that some, or maybe all of what he’s saying could be true, but I let what I hear guide me, because in the end, that is what matters to me.
I can say that I listen to my system every day, and the imaging (as I understand the term) has not suffered in any way from the addition of the supertweeters. I have not noticed any comb filtering effects either.
I do understand that a supertweeter like this one that is not brought in at a frequency specific to the owner’s particular speakers would be considered crude and improper; and the only adjustment is five levels of attenuation.
In spite of these technical problems, in my perception, the music has a more extended but smooth treble response, and as other users have said, the effect appears to reach into other areas. Listening to string bass in jazz music, the harmonics that the strings produce are more audible to me, and sound more realistic. I will also note that two years ago I bought a nicely made pair of supertweeters for $300.00 that are not ribbons, but more like a flat EMIT type, and I found them artificial sounding and "separated" form the rest of the music. They worked the same way, attaching to the speaker terminals an with attenuators.
That is my experience, and for me, in spite of what may indeed be technically "wrong" with the Townshend supertweeters, I am very pleased with them and have no plans to get rid of them.
I can understand your viewpoint mijostyn, based on your knowledge, but my actual experience with them has been different. I do respect your input.
I would like to understand more why they shouldn't be placed on the top of the speaker, or what the tradeoffs are by doing so? Townshend's video shows them placed on top and doesn't mention doing otherwise.
That's true, they do recommend placing them on top of the speaker, and I called a Townshend dealer who said the same. However, in my case, my speakers are a D'Appolito configuration with a center horn between two bass drivers which produces the midrange and treble; so I thought that it would make more sense to have the supertweeter located on the same level as well as pushed back as deep as the depth of the driver inside the horn to make it at least somewhat more coincident.
I didn't have a proper stand when I first bought the supertweeters, so I placed them on top, and did hear some of the desired effect, but once I built the simple stands that were needed for the placement that I describes, it sounded much better, and I think that there are two reasons for that. First, as I said, the placement made the tweeter more coincident with the midrange, and second, the ribbon tweeter was now much closer (on my tall speakers) to my ear level. Remember, ribbon tweeters aren't like dome tweeters; they don't have very wide vertical or horizontal dispersion, so the placement relative to your ears matters.
If you are using a set of small monitors on stands for instance, with the speakers tweeter mounted near the top of the cabinet, then it's probably fine to just place the supertweeter right on top of the cabinet. 
Townshend shows them placed on top of a speaker that uses the typical speaker design with a tweeter near the top of the cabinet. So placing the Supertweeter on top it is within a few inches of the tweeter. The Moab design has the tweeter in the center of the cabinet, a good 2 feet or more from the top. In this case the closest place is moving the Supertweeter to the side and down to the level of the tweeter.

It is kind of strange though when you think about it. All the objections people have, they are all based on the false assumption the darn things can be heard. But it is made clear as can be from the beginning the output range is well above audibility. 

Here is the exact quote from the OP:
How do you even set the level of something you can’t hear? Level 3, good as any. Plug em in. No change. Not the slightest peep out of these things.

Clearly something else is going on.
One puzzling thing to me are the guys here (I am assuming most are in my age range 60’s) in MC case, hearing up to 15K and another hearing up to 12K.  Are you guys in my age range and if so, have you had hearing tests to confirm or are you just guessing?  I had 2 hearing tests and I have significant loss above 8.7K.  Most people my age have similar results as explained by 2 different Audiologists. You guys have Golden ears, and not the speaker brand?
When I was experimenting with placement, I used velcro tape on the inside wall of each speaker and the supertweeter to see how much different it sounded compared to placing it on top. The heavy duty velcro tape didn't damage the finish when I removed it, and I was able to see the benefit before I made little stands for them.
Txs roxy54 for the follow-up comments
I owned these for a time and thought they were great. 
But once I bought my present speakers they no longer did much.
So, I sold them.

Thanks roxy54, I will be doing the same only suspended on a line from above. This will be a whole lot easier to isolate from vibration which is my ultimate goal once we find the best location.

stereo5, I am not into hearing tests because hearing is passive while listening is very much an intellectual activity. Babies and little kids have wonderful hearing, but we all know they are lousy listeners. This same pattern unfortunately can carry over well into adulthood. Oh well. Not in our cases, eh? My guesstimate is based on the XLO demagnetizing tracks one of which is a sweep tone to 20kHz. While the usual measurebators will protest at this I feel if you are going to do any sort of test at all it makes much more sense to be testing my ability to hear in my system and room, exactly what this does. Since I know the sweep goes to 20kHz and I know when it ends I can make a pretty good guess of what I can hear by when and how fast it fades away to nothing. Which it seems to do around 15kHz. But yeah could be even lower. 

In any case it is a crude measure at best. Did anyone read the pdf link above? Do people not find it fascinating there are far more ear cells devoted to transients we cannot hear than frequencies we can? Anyone? Beuller???
Interesting observation, Ozzy. My previous Talon Khorus looked like a 3 way but they always told me no they are a two-way with a Supertweeter. Thought it was just marketing, bragging about their tweeter going higher. It was a metal dome, not ribbon, so I doubt it went up into the 90kHz region where the Townshend works, where the magic seems to happen. But now I wonder if maybe even though it didn't extend that high it did go high enough to get a little taste, and maybe that is one of the reasons I liked them so much?
High frequencies in general are directional and more of them will tend to shrink soundstage FBOFW all else remaining the same.  That’s a fact. 
@ozzy, Can you provide some insights as to why you didn't get much benefit with the Focals vs your former speakers?
I only stream content, and I'm intrigued by the prospect of adding these, but I'm struggling to understand how these devices can produce any ultrasonic content when - correct me if I'm wrong - ultrasonic content is filtered out in the the A-to-D process. Am I missing something?
That is why I can’t wait to hear with my turntable. Digital does indeed have the so-called brick wall cutoff. Yet it does indeed work with digital. Analog has no such restriction. Really looking forward to it.

Also look forward to the day more people put as much effort into trying to read and understand as they do trying to not read and understand. Not picking on you, you might well be truly trying to understand. Even though you seem not to have read the linked article, which would answer at least some of your questions.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I am just an exceptionally good reader. The following lines from the paper linked above caught my eye:

The inner hair cells clearly relate to the frequency analysis system described above. Only about 3,000 of the 15,000 hair cells on the basilar membrane are involved in transducing frequency information using the outputs of this traveling wave filter. The outer hair cells clearly do something else, but what?

Did you get that? Only a small amount of our hearing comes from these frequency responding cells. We seem to understand their function. The vast majority of cells however, we do not understand their function at all. How is it audiophiles are anything less than fascinated by this???
Yes most hifi over the years including digital is designed to work well from 20 hz to 20khz the standard range usually considered appropriate for human ears. Anything above that is even more of a potshot than that extreme already may be.

A lot of potentially fatiguing noise can occur naturally in that range so that is something worth considering case by much better sound versus noise as a result.

Also if the device has response down to 10khz then it would seem best applied in systems that can use a boost in that upper range which with music is where "air" occurs. The result would likely be a sense of more "air" and perhaps a tad more "pierce" in that case which many might find desirable in some cases.

A sound meter and some white noise played into the device should be all needed to determine the effects at least in the typical human audio range up to 20khz.

I would think some using it might want to consider an active crossover for it to blend it in properly for best/flat response similar to adding a subwoofer.

As mentioned above, another consideration is more high frequencies will always result in a smaller soundstage (higher frequencies are more directional) unless the device artificially disperses the high frequencies in some way. Whether that is a good or bad thing also will vary case by case.

Focal speakers tend to deliver more "air" than many in my experience, so would tend to think a supertweet with Focals in general is not the best pairing. Maybe  still perhaps for some of us with older ears who are most likely to benefit from a 10Khz+ frequency boost?
Miller Carbon. Maybe my question wasn't well phrased; I'm not questioning our ability to hear ultrasonic content, or the effect it might have on the 20-20k frequencies. My question asks "isnt (all) the ultrasonic content stripped out in the A-to-D conversion, and if so how would a supertweeter recover what was stripped out"?
It is a tweeter. A passive transducer. All it can do is convert whatever signal is already there into sound. Why would you even think to say, "recover"?
Understood, and agree. Convert is a better term here than recover. My assertion is that a supertweeter could only provide an improvement when the mastered sample rate exceeds 44.1, where the filtering can be applied more gently and allow some of the hypersonic frequencies to remain. It couldnt provide any improvement with 44.1khz-mastered CD's, because there is no hypersonic signal content on the CD. Analog - totally different story, but i do digital 100%, and most high res digital is a misrepresentation, so I'm not seeing how supertweeters provide any enhancement at this time for an all digital setup.
Not only digital, but based on the chart none of the instruments listed produce sound in the range above 20khz either which is one of the reasons why redbook CD was designed the way it was and most systems only shoot for out to 20khz.

So there is not even any music there above 20khz for the transducer to reproduce regardless of format.   Just noise.  Maybe with a synthesizer or a dog whistle. 

Looks like the fishing hole is empty over 20khz so if you catch something up there it isn’t a fish.

Still not getting it. Some engineer, or marketer, told you something, the number 44.1 stuck in your head, and now it is still stuck there even after new information comes along that should have you questioning the validity of all you have been told. 

Yes I am deliberately being provocative. That is my job. To try and get people to think. For themselves. Not at all easy, but the great thing is it sometimes feels like I have the field all to myself. 

No no no I know that is not true. But it sure feels that way. I mean, just look up ^ pure wrote regurgitation, with an insult thrown in for good measure. An insult, for the record, is not an argument.

Thank you for clarifying.
I'm far less impressionable than you insinuate. The 44.1k is in reference to the Nyquist theorem, i'll assume you're familiar with it.

Despite being a postulate more than a theorem, it continues to govern the slope of digital filtering applied to the sample frequency.

As such Redbook CD's have ZERO frequency content above 22khz. Supertweeters can offer no added value to them.

Analog - different story all together.

Yes, I know all that stuff. Learned back in my impressionable youth.  

Since then it has been demoted to stuff nice to know but of little consequence. Really only useful in internet arguments where the person never risks being confronted with reality. My listening room, for example. That is where the Nyquist theorem meets the road, and slides right into the ditch. Along with a lot of other meaty sounding sound bites that turns out in the end to be pure word salad.  

Read the comments. This is where the rubber meets the road. If there was a Great Audio Theorem Graveyard this is it. This is where they all go to die. Not all of them. Tubes, turntables, symmetrical speaker placement, they all thrive, they are going gangbusters. Nyquist, he OD'd on Nyquil. The comb filter died, replaced with the TC brush. Visitors welcome. Encouraged, even. Guaranteed to be an ear-opening experience. 
I just feel sorry for that poor, overworked Melody integrated, surrounded by all that glitz.
The germaine issue here is that old geezers can‘t hear above 12 kHz if they are lucky to even get that far. Yet they can tell when a supertweeter with a 15kHz cutoff is present and the effects are wholly beneficial. Go figure what to measure for starters.

My take is simply that harmonic overtones, and CD does cover harmonics up to 22kHz, have a profound impact on the perception of the base notes, the exact nature of which requires measurements not yet invented.

To anybody prepared to listen carefully, supertweeters, and particularly on digital, are a must for advanced audiophile listening
If it is the MElody amp reviewed here:

6moons audio reviews: Melody Hifi M880

its a few years old but probably quite good having been given a blessing by the late John Potis. I sought his advice and he graciously provided that back when I was doing my last big system upgrade and considering going back to Ohm Walsh speakers at the time. Good guy, straight shooter, very knowledgeable, good ears!