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bentoronto 1st June 2010 10:44 AM

Calling all Dayton-Wright ESL owners
Seems the world of Dayton-Wright ESLs has fallen into some undeserved obscurity. Pity because they are truly fine speakers.

There is still is an operating Dayton-Wright website. It reflects the strengths and frailties many of us associate with the name.

I have a bunch of elderly, frail, or doubtful drivers (panels) sitting around. So I thought I would send out a call to D-W fans to assemble information on the care, feeding, and rebuilding of the drivers and speakers.

For some years starting around 1978, I ran a pair of speakers composed of 6 early D-W drivers each in a frame that looked kind of like a giant window frame on legs. I drove the speakers directly with a high-voltage Sanders-type amp (B+ was 2400 volts and with no output capacitors to protect life and limb).

Now, I have a pair of Leigh XGs driven by the stock interface ST300 transformers and bias supply. But I am dreaming about building some speakers and freeing these great drivers from their life inside dry-cleaner bags.

I have lots of questions.

How important is the welder's gas? What is a reasonable free-air bias voltage?

How detrimental is the dry-cleaner bag housing?

What kind of high frequency limits can you get from the ESLs - and so won't need those piezoelectric horn tweeters? I think my ceramic tweeters died of sudden shock many years ago; just as well.

If you have a driver with a damaged diaphragm, how to rebuild, re-coat, re-stretch, and re-install it?

Does the conductive coating on the stator panels go poof and if so, how to restore?

And, how do the speakers hold up today in light of the latest conceptual and practical thinking - membrane resistance, stator insulation, coronas, high frequency beaming....

And so on.

Thanks for any help.

bear 1st June 2010 12:35 PM

iirc, they used a piezo electric horn loaded tweeter for the highs... not a very good choice for fidelity...


Capaciti 1st June 2010 12:59 PM

aaaaarc, most people knowing them say, the daytons have been the loudest ESL "midrange" speakers.


bentoronto 1st June 2010 01:24 PM


Originally Posted by Capaciti (
aaaaarc, most people knowing them say, the daytons have been the loudest ESL "midrange" speakers.


Yes, fair to say and that's exactly how I use them in my system (crossovers around 110 and 3200).

Is it the gas and bag? Transformers? The protective input elements before the transformers? My "curved window frame" speaker had all the high notes I wanted.

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