What speakers for 300B S.E.T ??


Recently i heard a 300B based Audio electronics SE-1 SET amp + AE-3 pre with Lowther Academy speakers & was quite impressed with the immediacy,dynamics,soundstaging
& basically the whole presentation.

Now i'm very keen to try this to see if this is the kind of sound i would enjoy for a long time.Only way to know this i guess is to try it at home for an extended period of time. My previous exrerience has been with high powered SS .
( For ref : Supratek Chardonnay tube pre + Mac MC352 + TDL Ref studio monitors ) This is my first venture into low powered SET. I love the sound of my present sys. but the SET is a different experience.

Un fotunately my present speakers( 87db ) would not support the 7 watts the AES is capable of. The Lowthers are too expensive to experiment with. My goal is to keep the costs
low as possible . I shall very much appreciate your recommendations for high-sensitive monitors or small floor-standers ( HORN ??? ) preferably under $1K . This could very well end up as a second sys or it could go further.....

So what does everyone use with less than 10 magic watts ????
Used Coincident Coquests or Triumphs.
Klipsch La Scala--
About $1000-1200 used. You will want the early
version, with the metal horns. Ours are mated with a
7W SET amp. The horns are dampened with Dynamat, the wiring replaced with silver, and we bought some brand new crossovers that are sold on eBAY for $250. The music sounds even better than if we hook up the amp to our $6500 5-way speakers, which we use only for rock/blues/etc. The horn is so transparent that everything else IMO sounds choked off and less emotional in the midrange. The La Scala's sound amazing with the low wattage SET's. Good luck finding anything better.
All the best,
odeon; Klipsch La Scala, cornwall; Reference 3A Loudspeakers; The Horn Shoppe Horn.. etc
Thanks for the replies. I have read about Horn Shoppe.
How do they sound .

One of my friends recommended Klipsch KLF-30 (used). Would these sound good on Jazz, soft-rock ,classical etc.

Also has anyone heard LOTH-X horns from singapore. Are they any good?
If interested in monitor (bookshelf) speakers, check out the Omega line. Have no experince with, but look very interesting. He uses a bass-reflex design to save money on complex backloaded horn enclosures.

I have an 8 wpc tube amp & use with 87db/w/m monitors. As long as you keep the volume reasonable, tube amps are fine. It should be noted I live in small apartment & listen about 87db max.

Don't be BSd into believing you are limited to speakers above 8 ohm impedance. What do you think 4 ohm taps are for. Just stay away from speakers with wild impedance swings. However, my research leads me to believe tube amps DON'T like impedances below 4 ohms very much.
Any of the Klipsch Heritage series from the late 70's / Early 80's. In your price, LaScala for sure, Cornwall's, or Heresy's if wanting to keep the investment lower (though you will miss some bass authority here you should still get a very good sense of the SET/Horn experience).

If you are wanting to go the single-driver, purist route you could look for a used pair of Cain & Cain Abby's. I have not heard them myself, but reports I've read indicate they'd be a good match too. If your expectations are around the single-driver kind of sound (though the Academy uses two drivers) this may come closer to the sound you heard with the Lowther speakers. Used Abby's usually go for about a grand.

Nothing better than SET with horns to my ears so far.

I was not crazy about the Loth-X horns, or the newer Klipsch variety. But hey, that's just me. If you are going the Klipsch route, go for the earlier models. As mentioned, the Cornwall (around $800 used) is also a great choice. If nothing else, I would recommend trying the SET/horn combo before jumping into a monitor. My wife said it best, I think. When we paired our SET amp with our $6500 floorstanders, she said, "It sounds commercial, whereas the horns make it sound real."

Let us know what you end up getting.
All the best,
The horn shoppe: Aside from bass cut off around 50 Hz, it should have a good tonal balance over all. However, placement and matching amps is tricky.
Loth-X: Have not heard their high end models but entry level ones were quite a disappointment.

Only recommend using 4 Ohm speakers if your SET output transformers are lower than 3K or else you might complain about lack of low frequency response. Keep in mind, most of the commercial version are 5K. The damping factor is very different from speakers to speakers. That's why matching amps is quite important. There is no BS like Beavis mentioned, it is all about science behind speaker and amp design.
I've tried a few things in the SET area, regarding speakers.

The first thing is that nothing replaces high efficiency/sensitivity when you go to low power amps. You need to get as high sensitivity speakers as you can. This gives you more headroom, and reaches deeper into the detail.

Regarding the Hornshoppe speakers, they are nice and made pretty well, and sound pretty good. But I have used FE103 drivers in a few designs, and they just don't get into the bass very well, and what bass they do produce is restricted by the very small amount of air that a small driver like that can move. You will find that they lack in the bass.

When I switched from FE103 based speakers to Lowther EX3 based speakers(Voigt Pipes), the difference was staggering. Better all around sound, much more headroom, gobs more bass, way more detail, just way more everything.

I'd agree that the Cain and Cain Abbey speakers would be a good try for your under $1k budget. They are a Voigt Pipe design, and have the single-driver advantage that mates well with SET amps. However, the Fostex drivers will not sound like a Lowther, and although they are good, the Lowther drivers are way better. I made my Voigt Pipes myself(very easy to do), and spent my $1k on the Lowther drivers. I made a few custom changes to mine, and drive them with my Berning 45 SET-ZOTL(2 watts per channel) and an analog front end. Very awesome results down to about 40Hz on the bottom end. Max SPL peaks at around 106db.I really don't notice any "lack of bass" with this system. It is so good at doing 40Hz and up, that the few things that actually occur below 40Hz don't make a difference in my enjoyment. Of course if you are a pipe-organ fan or something, you'll need a sub. I did make some mods to my cabinet which overcomes the baffle-step losses which are typical in this type of system, so my bass is better than other Voigt Pipe designs.

Regarding your comment that Lowthers are too expensive to experiment with, you can just build an easy cabinet like a Voigt Pipe, and you can be good-to-go for under $1500/pr complete with Lowther EX3 drivers.

The down-side is that they are pretty large, and may be a bit taller than your size requirement dictates.
Beavis mentioned connecting a 87db speaker would be alright
as long as you keep the volume down.

What are the risks involved in trying my main speakers (87db 8ohms transmissionlines )till i get my high sensitive speakers sorted out ?

Twl; I also did not notice the lack of bass with the Lowther Academy's (EX2) & they were only 45Hz. However i did notice the lack of deep bass though compared to the TDL's 18Hz lower frequency but it did not bother me. Where can i find more info on voight pipes design. Are they that easy to make?
87db usually requires at least 20~30 Watts. What about Impedance drop? That's very important. If it constantly drops down to 4 ohms then the amp definitely cannot handle the load. You need to look at the curve supplied by the speaker manufacture.

It will work but you'll not get as clear and dynamic sound since the power is mistached. If you crank it too hot then mostlikey that you might damage the amp.
1. You want to stay away from a complex crossover (ie, first order &maybe second order, no third or fouth order). This is probably priority no. 1 as complex crossovers use quite a few watts.

2. Ideally, you want a speaker to be a flat 8 ohms (just like a resistor) but since this is next-to impossible, get a speaker w/o a wildly fluctuating impedance that stays above 4 ohms minimum. (In my experience, tubes do not like to be run using less than 4 ohms.)

3. Keep the volume level reasonable (tubes do have less severe clipping charicteristics, but none-the-less, they do clip). Medium efficientcy speakers driven with tubes DO NOT like to party.

My speakers are Spica TC-60. A good review is in December 1994 edition of Stereophile.

I have no experience with TDL speakers & couldn't find TDL website.
Dilly, try this link

The dimensions shown in those plans are metric, and are INSIDE DIMENSIONS.

I have used the Lowther EX3 in this enclosure, and found it to be the best match, in my opinion. I also made some mods which would be important in getting the best bass response. Contact me if you are going to make these, and I'll give you the information you need to do this.

This looks like a very rewarding project. How do your speakers sound in comparison with other horns that you have heard?

Beautiful system, by the way.
In hooking up my 300B SET amps to my Silverline SR17 monitors (89 db) I've found they can play at very conservative volumes, but the limits of headroom approaches rapidly as you increase the volume to more engaging levels of listening (for me this is around 85-95db, but my wife claims I'm hard of hearing). At those levels that combination renders some very audible distortion when pressed. I would definitely not depend on that combination as my system unless it were a bedroom system for occasional low-level listening, or perhaps a background system. Either of these applications seem to me like a waste of a good amp(s), as well as some outstanding speakers in the case of the SR17's. For an 8watt SET system I'd keep my minimum efficiency worth considering more like 94db to give you a more practical application of those amps. I've had pretty good results with 90db floorstanders, but ultimately I'd want a bit more for my 8 watts.

Boa2, the Voigt Pipes are kind of a combination of rear-horn, transmission line, and bass reflex. They are not the same as the more typical horn speakers, in that they are direct radiator dynamic for most of the frequency range, and use rear-loaded backwave for augmentation of the frequencies below 400Hz, to counter the natural slow rolloff of the driver that begins around that point. The cabinet is actually tuned for 41Hz, and that is about the bottom end of the system.

I tend to prefer a rear-horn over a front-horn system, but I have heard some very nice front horns too. The Voigt Pipes can manage somewhat deeper bass than most true horns because they are not limited by the mouth/taper/length considerations that limit the bass response. Most true horn Lowther systems cannot reach as deep as 41Hz, due to the nature of the horn designs, and the size limitations for home use.

I made my Voigt Pipes because they were something that would perform well, and were easy to make, and were in my budget range. They allowed me to spend the bulk of the budget on the drivers, and saved money by DIY cabinets.

With a couple of mods, they perform quite admirably, and I like them very much. They are about the easiest cabinets in the world to make, and they make entering the "Lowther world" much less expensive, and very enjoyable.

Thanks for your nice comment about my system. It is modest, but I like it.
Friend of mine has a very nice pair of Lowther drivers in a bass reflex cabinet. The sound is wonderful. I think he is looking for 900 for the pair.

If you want cheap try a pair of Klipsch RB5 used; nice, accurate sound and very efficient

Thank you for the great feedback. Sounds like this could be a fun project in my future, and one that potentially could work perfectly for Dilly.
All the best,
Howard, I found that this project was very rewarding and enjoyable to do. If is alot of fun to play with single-driver systems, because alot of the complexity of making speakers(crossover design and building/tweaking) is eliminated. Basically if you can do a good job of putting the cabinet together, you'll have good results. This is already a proven cabinet, and has been around for about 70 years now, originally designed by P. Voigt who was the original designer of the Lowther driver. Also, as can be seen by the Cain & Cain Abbey, and some other Voigt Pipe designs commercially available, this cabinet has the characteristics of working as intended, even when a variety of drivers are used. Fostex 8" Sigma drivers work fine, all the 8" Lowther drivers, AER 8" drivers, REPS-1 drivers, even little FE-103(4") have been used successfully in these Voigt Pipe cabinets. That's one of the things that makes Voigt Pipes so popular with DIY people.

One of the key issues with Voigts is to make sure the cabinet stuffing is done right, or the tonal balance will be off because of the lack of "blending" the port output with the direct radiator output. This has to be done properly. The cabinet stuffing determines how strong the midrange output will be, and has an big effect on the flatness of the frequency response. If you have too much midrange coming from the port, then there is a hump in the midrange response(and also an imaging shift) and below, and if you don't have enough, then there is a dip in the midrange response and below. Adding more stuffing makes less midrange output of the port, and taking away stuffing makes more midrange output at the port. You strive for an even balance, so that the port does not call attention to itself.

Many articles on Voigt Pipes make a big issue out of the possible "comb filtering" effects of the interactions of the direct radiator and the port mouth. They say it results is some harmonic cancellation of certain frequencies that are multiples of the cabinet resonance tuning. In practice, I have observed none of this, and either I got very lucky, or they are making a mountain out of a mole-hill. I wouldn't worry too much about comb-filtering on these.

Lowthers and most single-drivers take a very long time to properly break in. The mids and highs come in quite early, but the bass response is weak until at least 100 hours of play time. It continues to improve up to around 500 hours of play.

Even after break in, there can be a desire for a little more bass impact, and the "swinging door" mods that I designed and implemented on my speakers address this issue. It is related to the boundary effect, and wave-launch off the front baffle, and it is called "baffle-step loss". The narrow cabinet fails to reinforce the lower frequencies and results in a 5db loss in response below about 128Hz. The wider baffle face that is provided by the "swinging door" mod handles this by acoustically providing the added surface that is needed.
Twl,Howard & everyone elese who chimed in, THANKS A LOT !

The voigt pipes are on top of my list. They would work perfectly for me as they are not very deep in cabinet size. They look quite intriguing as well. I have alredy consulted a friend who has built Lowthers before & he will be able to get me an estimate for the project. Twl, thanks for the offer to help. I will check with you regarding the bass enhancements you did when the project takes off.

As i mentioned earlier this is my first time with SET's so i hope you would'nt mind answering a few more questions along the way.

(1) I heard lowther drivers have a limited life-span . How long is this & is this specific to each driver model. How long would you give the EX2 & EX3 drivers.

(2) I was going to buy the AES SE-1 power amp but now there's an opportunity for me to buy an Audio Note Kit 1 based assembled amp. Ofcourse at a higher price ! Would there be a significant difference between the two. I can't listen to both in the same room & also they will be hooked to different front-end's speakers etc. What is your take on this ??
Dilly, the Lowther drivers don't really have a limited life span, it's just the cone/suspension surround which will degrade over time, just like any other driver. Lowthers use a foam type suspension surround, which probably lasts about 12 years or so. When it starts to go bad, you can just get them redone by the factory.

I can't comment on the particulars of those two amps you are considering.
AES SE-1 vs Audio Note Kit 1
While the AE SE-1 gives you a flexible of using either 2A3 or 300B, the Audio Note kit 1 has much better transformer and power supply.
If you plan to use 300B and Audio Note Kit One is the way to go. If you plan to go with 2A3 then you should consider Sun Audio SV2a3 or upgrade the stock AES SE-1.

Back to square one, the speaker has to match right with the amp. If you plan to get 94db+ speakers, then I would choose either type. Anything less then I would only choose 300B.

Choose the type of speakers first then buy the amp. It is easier to find the right match and it is also easier to swap amps then speakers.
There are fostex that are as good or better than lowther like fe208e sig or f200a or fx200,I owned lowthers best I perfer fostex but not the little drivers
S23chang, Thanks for the reply. I am also leaning towards the Kit One. I too feel starting with the speakers would be the better option. I am looking at the voigt pipes.

Johnk, Which Lowther drivers did you own. Could you briefly do a comparison between the Fostex & the Lowthers as i doubt very much my chances of listening to a Fostex. Why did you prefer the Fostex & in which speakers did you use them ? Is it true the Lowthers tend to sound bright at times?
For those of you who were contemplating the Voigt Pipe systems, I have just received a digital photo from a friend, KK, who made a set last week, with my mods on them.
He loves them. They look very nice, and really look just like mine.

Here's a link to the photo

used lowther bass reflex speaker about a grand used...friend has a pair that sound lovely and wants 900 for them...

galante rhapsody...great speakers, good bass for what they are..96db, 8 ohms, very nice looking real wood speakers

audio note ANJ and ANE all models...wonderful sounding speakers with good 300b amps

I've had direct experience with all of these speakers and they all are great; would be happy with any of them. First choice, of course, would be the new top of the line Audio Note ANE speakers with the external crossovers.
For the DIY info on Voigt Pipe with TWL mod, download from the link below:


Hi everyone,

I'm back to report on my transition into the single driver + SET world. Fisrt of all let me thank everyone here for the suggestions & support .

To make a long story short,I was on the verge of building a Voigt-pipe with the generous advise offered to me by Tom.
Then i came across this GREAT deal on a pair of MAUHORN 4's using Lowther EX2 drivers. Now i have them paired to my AES SE-1 Signature 300B + Supratek Chardonnay. So my speaker
selection is finally over.

Yes the horns are HUGE & BUTT-UGLY. But the "SOUND" which they make..... simply breath-taking. I have never heard mid range like this before. There is so much more information that was simply missing earlier. The involvement & connection with the music is un-paralleled IMO.

All that has been said about HORNS & SET synergy is true.There's something very very special . Maybe this is not to everyones taste. The bass below 50Hz is non-existant. Well i guess all speakers have their strenghts & weaknesses. But the strong suites of the horn + set is SUPER STRONG that you simply forget it's weaknesses. I can vouch for this as i'm used to CLEAN VERY DEEP bass with my trasnmissionlines touching 18Hz. Do i miss them. Yes ! But only below 50Hz .I think by integrating a fast sub this can be taken care of. ( have heard about TBI sub's. any suggestions are welcome ).

What the horns + SET do above 50Hz simply has to be heard by audio enthusiasts using multi driver speakers.
The speed of the Lowthers are amazing. The instrument timber is very real. The music sounds so LIVE & present. The point source imaging & the ' AIR ' puts you right there at the venue.

I started this project as an experiment. Keeping costs low as possible. Now this has become my main listening preference & it seems that i have got the itch to go further! Questions keep running in my head.......now if the AES sounds this good what would the Cary 300SE mono's sound like......... Just when you think you are done it starts all over again. Does it ever END ???

Maybe it's time to start a thread " Who has trully called it quits " - with a sys. you love & how long has it been since the last upgrade. I think you need to give a time frame here to qualify ...say no upgrdes for the last 2 years ??? I sure won't fit in there yet!!! Till the next good thing then...........

I use AE-'s, with the X-over taken out. I run a Marchland X-over. the SE- on the tweets and a Audio Research 50 watt on the mids......... Wooooow!!! On the bottom I have Infinty subs run in stereo... All Kimber Silver streak... All used from the net... I have a real hot rod...
Aloha Dilly,

Congratulations on your discovery of SET and Lowther speakers. I enjoyed feeling your newfound enthusiasm through your recent post.

I'm contemplating assembling a SET system myself, though a few months hence. Before doing this, I'm trying to assemble a quality P/P system built around an Air Tight ATM-2 amp and a good preamp choice. One of my requirements for a preamp is that it be VERSATILE enough to use with SS, SET, and P/P.

Most prominent by reputation for this is the Herron VTSP-1a preamp. But it is very interesting to me that your system uses the Supratek Chardonnay--a preamp also very high on my list, but to me unknown for its performance with SS or SET (I'm looking at Cary 300SE and Art Audio PX-25).

Can you comment further on your experience with the Chardonnay with your SET/Lowthers?

Thank you.