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Old 4th October 2009, 02:55 AM   #1
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Default RMAF 2009 - Fullrangers, Field Coils, BLH's

I just returned from a quick trip to the RMAF 2009 in Denver, Colorado. There were an amazing array of speakers. Here's a short summary of what I heard.

1. Feastrex

The Granada is a Feastrex field coil and two (apparently long-throw) woofers per side on OB. The OB has one "side wing" (the inner side). I was surprised by these. I'm used to hearing Feastrex very close-up. Here, they were in a big room (set up perfectly) and we sat back ~20 feet. They were seamless, balanced and smooth. But I think they would have more magic if set up for near-field listening (just a hunch). But they did a good job of filling a big room, with a lot of bottom. http://www.lotusgroupusa.com/Granada.htm

2. Mark Audio Alpair 10

Maxxhorn is now Affirm Audio, and two years back, they created a BLH that uses the 5" Feastrex Monster Alnico which I liked. Their new model, Elation, uses what looks like a Mark Audio gold-coned 5" (the Alpair 10?) I wanted to love this speaker, and the driver did sound very balanced when I put my ear up to it. But the bass / BLH was overpowering, and the dealer explained the speakers weren't adequately set up. (Did they retrofit an Alpair into the same cab as the Feastrex? I have no idea but the cabs seemed roughly the same to me). http://maxxhorn.com/purchase-a-more/...udspeaker.html

3. Zu Essence

Snappy! Decent bass. A bit of zing on top. Efficient. What's that whizzer doing on a speaker with a tweeter, I wondered. Fun fact: these speakers actually sound like a lot of DIY fullrange speakers I've heard.

4. Strange BLH

I was surprised by the world's skinniest multi-way BLH called the Boenike Audiomanufacture SLS. It looks like a skinnier Zigmahornet, but with two forward-facing drivers instead of one. A total of 3 drivers on the side all feed into a BLH which exits to the floor. Zero damping inside. The whole thing is CNC'ed out of two blocks of walnut (see link) which are glued together. The forward-facing drivers come in at 2k, the midrange fires at the sidewall. The midrange is all reflected sound, yet the imaging is somehow perfect (and stays when you walk around). Freaky good. $15k. Check out the picture: http://www.lauferteknik.net/loudspea...nicke/SLS.html

5. Lowther field coils with First Watt

Lowther 8" field coils on OB with an Altec (GPA) 416 woofer, paired with an active crossover from First watt and First Watt J2's. Wow! These babies sound _nothing_ like Lowthers I've heard before. Clear as a bell, airy, silky smooth. They were fed 15 volts and crossed at 120Hz (I was told). I don't know what the Q was, but I would assume it was relatively high. Maybe that smooths out the high end? Or maybe the uber-high-end of Lowthers has always been silky smooth, and I only heard the cheaper stuff? Absolutely unfatiguing. I could have listened for hours.

The room was really well-treated, and not very reverberant (lots of humans in the room probably helped). We heard a lacquer made from a master tape, and some hi-res digital from a media server. This was a crowd-pleaser.

6. The Rest

Some speakers were trying to be "the ultimate speaker" and these I found to be the least exciting. I don't think there is one speaker that can really do it all. In my mind, it makes sense to make tradeoffs and specialize in doing a few things really well.

Many of the most expensive speakers were set up in huge rooms, and just felt sterile and left the listener feeling detached, despite the decibels. In contrast, some of the more reasonably priced speakers were set up in smaller spaces to "play the room" at reasonable levels, and sounded more musical to me.
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Old 4th October 2009, 06:09 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjbond3rd View Post
I just returned from a quick trip to the RMAF 2009 in Denver, Colorado. There were an amazing array of speakers. Here's a short summary of what I heard.


3. Zu Essence

Snappy! Decent bass. A bit of zing on top. Efficient. What's that whizzer doing on a speaker with a tweeter, I wondered. Fun fact: these speakers actually sound like a lot of DIY fullrange speakers I've heard.
They cross the tweeter over to the full range driver at 10KHz. So, I'm sure the fairly large whizzer cone comes in useful below that point.

Quote:
5. Lowther field coils with First Watt

Lowther 8" field coils on OB with an Altec (GPA) 416 woofer, paired with an active crossover from First watt and First Watt J2's. Wow! These babies sound _nothing_ like Lowthers I've heard before. Clear as a bell, airy, silky smooth. They were fed 15 volts and crossed at 120Hz (I was told). I don't know what the Q was, but I would assume it was relatively high. Maybe that smooths out the high end? Or maybe the uber-high-end of Lowthers has always been silky smooth, and I only heard the cheaper stuff? Absolutely unfatiguing. I could have listened for hours.

The room was really well-treated, and not very reverberant (lots of humans in the room probably helped). We heard a lacquer made from a master tape, and some hi-res digital from a media server. This was a crowd-pleaser.
Sounds great. Thanks for the review.
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Old 5th October 2009, 04:10 PM   #3
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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I really liked the Granada. Not only did it sound great, but the beveled baffle is much easier on my eyes than most wide OB's. It sounds like they had just tossed it together and used a fully active, digital crossover. (the Feastrex was high passed at 200hz). Did you see the fear facing dome tweeter that was set into the baffle? I didn't recognize it. That was a great room: about as good as it gets for me.

The Maxxhorns were great fun too. Not small enclosures, but really credible bass for such a little driver.

I really enjoyed the Zu Essences. I hadn't heard ZU's before, and they are really smooth for a 10" driver. It sounds like they aren't using any BSC, so they had the typical forward midrange/recessed midbass that many folks seem to like. I was more impressed than I thought I'd be. I'm really happy to have these guys getting fullrangers closer to the mainstream. I'm working on a cabinet with a similar look for my brother-in-law. I sure can't match that finish tough!

I didn't like the First Watt/Lowther America room as much as I assumed I would. The Lowthers were freshly fitted with some field coil motors from Intact Audio. I'm sending those gents an email later today. . .

I won't mention any names, but there was a room with some 2" fullrangers in skinny little boxes. I couldn't figure out what sort of enclosures they were, but I think they may have had a port hidden at the bottom (MLTL's). They sounded fine. As much bass as you can get from a 2" driver. The boxes looked acceptable, but not that pretty. But then they mentioned the price. I swear they said $2,500 each. Good thing I wasn't drinking milk.

My favorite room may have been the Classic Audio Reproductions/Atma-sphere. Yup, a multiway. But if I had $30K (for the speakers alone). . .

[Edit] It's also worth mentioning that Madisound and Meniscus were both displaying fullrange drivers and helping further the cause. Meniscus had several of the smaller ones: CSS, TB, maybe Alpair? Madisound displayed some Fostex tweeters (no actual fullrange Fostex drivers aside from a giant poster), but they did have the Seas Exotic. That's a nice driver to hold. One of the two kit speakers they displayed used it as a woofer crossed over at 2K. [end edit]

Paul
www.wildburroaudio.com

Last edited by pjanda1; 5th October 2009 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 5th October 2009, 04:25 PM   #4
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Hi Paul,

I did not see that rear-facing tweeter on the Granada!

It sounds like you're considering field coils for the Betsy K's??

What did you not like about the Lowther field coils? It's interesting that you liked the Feastrex, but not the Lowther. Do you think it was the huge room the Feastrex were in, vs. the little room the Lowthers were in? That was actually the reason I think I preferred the Lowthers.
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Old 6th October 2009, 03:21 AM   #5
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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I try not to make much of the rooms I either enjoyed or didn't. I didn't have time to be anywhere for long. I had some issues with the upper midrange of the Lowthers. But it could have just been the recording.

It was a cute little tweeter, maybe 1/2". I heard one of the Lotus Group guys mention it, otherwise I probably wouldn't have noticed it either.

I'd love to do field coils, but only if I can do it relatively affordably. We'll see! BTW, I think the drivers in the Maxxhorn's may have also been a field coil version. That means that three of the speakers you mentioned above were using 'em. It might be a fad, but I suspect there is something to it.

Paul
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Old 6th October 2009, 10:13 PM   #6
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Probably the flaws in both rooms were the result of the
choice of amplifiers.

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Old 6th October 2009, 11:03 PM   #7
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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Yeah, right. If you guys get tired of any of those "flawed" amplifiers, I'll happily dispose of them (recycle the chassis, at least).

I saw a couple of rooms where Pass products were being used without appearing on the lists or ads, but rather (presumably) because folks thought them best suited to showcase their wares. If that isn't high praise, I'm not sure what is.

congrats on an excellent showing,

Paul
www.wildburroaudio.com
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Old 8th October 2009, 02:25 AM   #8
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Gentlemen,

Thank you for listening to the new ELATION loudspeaker by AFFIRM Audio (formerly MaxxHorn) at RMAF 2009. To clarify a few points that have been raised in this thread regarding our ELATION. The ELATION is a new loudspeaker (not a retrofit). It does utilize the same ten foot tractrix horn design and is about the same size and weight as our IMMERSION. It is lighter and smaller than our LUMINATION.

In January 2009, Mark Fenlon sent me a pair of his Alpair 10 drivers for my evaluation. I was pleased with many qualities of the driver, but found it incompatible with our unique horn technology. Mark kindly offered to provide AFFIRM Audio an OEM version built to our specifications for us to evaluate in our new ELATION prototype. We received the OEM driver from Mark Fenlon in March 2009. After evaluating the driver we selected it for our new ELATION over several others. I continue to be impressed with Mark Fenlon's professionalism and his talents as a loudspeaker driver designer.

The ELATION shown at RMAF was the second prototype produced with 1/4" Bamboo over MDF. Cosmetically, this combination was found unsatisfactory for final production. Final production began in September utilizing multi-ply Bamboo plywood and other materials laminated in a multi-layer composite construction to provide better acoustical properties, and to better resist changes of temperature, altitude, and humidity.

Bob
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Old 8th October 2009, 06:19 AM   #9
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Hi Guys,
I'm glad to work with Bob Spence. The collaboration is welcome and very interesting. The Alpair 10 drivers in Bob's Elation's have a slightly different cone coating, thus changing the mass. Spider and front suspensions are have small differences compared to the standard Alpair 10.

I've just packed a pair of Alpair 12 and a pair of Alpair 7, sending to Bob Spence today. I'll be very interested to know the results once they are installed in the Affirm horns.

Cheers,

Mark.
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Last edited by markaudio; 8th October 2009 at 06:23 AM.
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Old 8th October 2009, 01:26 PM   #10
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Hi drspence,

What's the proper placement for the Elation? One of the people in the room said it needed one wall, not corners (one was in a corner with a pillow, the other was sort of at the edge of the transition from room proper to front hallway). Did it just need a bigger room, or more distance from the wall(s)?
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