Saturday, August 7, 2010

The way I like speakers these days

Part III - new open baffle speakers which made me sell my Lowthers

I was listening to Lowthers on open baffle for years. Recently I became restless for something new and started searching for new drivers. I knew from the web people liked the B&G Neo3 planar tweeter. Especially with back cup taken off in dipole position. It has flat response, exceptionally good of-axis response, decently high sensitivity (~93dB) and its not outrageously expensive. Next thing was to find the midrange. I searched a lot of pages, and after a while I selected Fostex FF125K. The main reason I like to use "full-range" as a midrange is because I like to cover the widest possible range by it. I like small midranges, I always preferred the sound of small midrange in comparison to big one due to lesser breakup modes at higher frequencies and less beaming. I wanted to match excellent polar response of tweeter and only small midrange can do that seamlessly. This little full-range is amazing on its own, but if you do not overload it in the low frequencies, it will reward you with even more detailed and refined sound. Tweeter and midrange were placed on small open baffle, as usual, and on top of closed box woofer. Woofer is 15" Jamo. Whole system is bi-amplified, active crossover (my own construction based on Marchands LC passive crossover buffered with class A buffers) splits the signal at ~150 Hz, top is powered by Aikido octal preamp and OTL Transcendent amp.
Woofer is powered by Pioneer receiver.




These speakers beats the Lowthers on open baffle in any parameter, especially neutrality. As you know, Lowthers have few peaks of uneven response, especially 4 and 8kHz shout, which can become annoying after a while. I use 31 band Ultracurve to deal with these peaks, but the solution is not ideal. In contrary, the Neo3 and FF125K combination needs very little eq, breakup peaks of FF125K are removed by crossover and the transition to tweeter is great. This combination has more uniform off-axis response, which leads to better and more solid stereo imaging. Everything is better, even power handling. You had to be careful with Lowthers at higher volumes, these speakers are more power friendly, you can play them louder withou a trace of distortion. Pretty high efficiency too, not as Lowthers, but high enough. Bi-amplification takes care of lower woofers efficiency, so no problems here.
Anyway, I am very happy with these speakers and do not miss Lowthers at all. It was time to change main speakers anyway, and this was big improvement. Hard to think of whats next...open baffle bass perhaps? To make it full dipole sound? Who knows. Enjoy the music.


Update...no regrets of selling Lowthers. I have added midwoofer, to ease the great sounding 4" midrange, which excels even more now. New 10" midbass covers just the slam in the 150Hz to 300Hz. It helps a lot. This make my main speakers effectively 4-way bi-amplified system. It handles even more power, has lower distortion, greater dynamics. I love it. Here are some pics of system a the moment.