Meet belle lab, a new manufacturer of single driver fullrange loudspeakers


2003-04-17 1:10 am

belle lab is a new Japanese manufacturer of single driver fullrange loudspeakers. The president, Yukihito Akiyama, is a long-time, totally incurable audio nut who makes a good living from several biotechnology patents. He has hooked up with some very knowledgeable people to produce some very fine sounding loudspeakers.

Persons familiar with Takashi Sano's "Exact" (now mu:xacta) line of drivers from my past posts will immediately note the similarity, and that is no accident. At the outset of the project, Mr. Sano was the head designer of these drivers. Part way through the project it became clear that Mr. Sano and the other people on Mr. Akiyama's team have some significant differences of design philosophy, and now Mr. Sano is essentially in the position of an outside consultant; the new chief engineer is a veteran with considerable experience at the highest levels of cone transducer design in Japan, including both fullrange drivers and field coil speakers. His full expertise is being tapped to create some truly unique 12cm and 16cm drivers, and I have been told to expect some prototypes of new models within a few days.

Apparently, the current drivers differ from Mr. Sano's in two significant ways. First, the cone paper is different. I am not sure just what sort of a difference it is. Second, these drivers are intended to be connected directly to the power amplifier, whereas Mr. Sano's are intended to be used with passive circuitry that he calls an "EL control" between the driver and the amplifier. Note also that the belle lab drivers are nominally 16 ohm drivers; with the EL control installed, Mr. Sano's drivers have a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. Finally, whereas Mr. Sano never sells his drivers as part of an off-the-shelf loudspeaker system (believing that the drivers must be tailored to each user), the belle lab loudspeakers constitute a plug-and-play system, and the drivers are not for sale separately. (In the future they plan to make raw drivers available, at least for certain models.)

I heard an early prototype of these drivers that had been built entirely by Mr. Sano, and I was hugely impressed. Mr. Akiyama tells me that the current drivers sound much better, but I have not confirmed that with my own ears. I do know that the motor on these is about 20% larger than that of the prototype I heard.

Full disclosure: Mr. Akiyama hired my services as a translator to translate the website into English, and in the past I have also provided translation services related to his biotechnology business. I do not have any financial interest in his "belle lab" business, and neither is there any arrangement whereby I would receive some special consideration in return for promoting his business. In fact, beyond translating the website, he has never even asked me to publicize his products; however, I thought I would let interested users overseas know that these new products are available


2003-04-17 1:10 am
There is also a special alternative form of payment . . . in lieu of money you can sell yourself to them as an indentured servant for the next billion years . . . a sample contract is shown below. :devilr:

I'm sorry to be skeptical- but... I am.

The specs on that website claim a range of 35hz to 23 khz, with 104 db w/m sensitivity and 15W continuous, 25W peak power handling. That puts the max SPL (not accounting for power compression) at around 116 db. What sort of Xmax does a 16cm driver need to have to produce this kind of bass? Even if it's 6 db down, 110 db at one meter is an awful lot of output for a 16 cm driver playing at 35 hz.

What's the Xmax?
If you divide the number of gold coins you find in the pot at the end of the rainbow with the square root of the width of Stone Henge, then multiply it by the base area of the Great Pyramid, I suspect you'll get the Xmax.
Methinks I'll stick to Fostex. If I want a second morgage for a set of drivers, the cash is going to Lowther. Nobody else.
Ropie said:
What is this thread doing here??? Surely this is just marketing for vastly overpriced commercial loudspeakers :att'n: :att'n: :att'n:

Not at all... Chris is our conduit for information on some of the less common (been posting on the FR Forum for a long time), more exotic drivers in Japan and becasue of his connections we get this pointed out to us early. I find this very interesting.

It means people are willing to pay huge amounts for serious assaults on the FR high-end. Fostex (and the like) sees that and it gives them the idea that a market exists for a more modest, but still serious FR and you get things like FE166ESR, FE108ES II, and other limited run, really great, but still within reach drivers for us mear mortals.


Unfortunately, there have been very few opportunities for any of to actually listen to mr Sano's designs.

If AudioNote can find a market for a $300,00 system incorporating an "uber-modified" 2 way loudspeaker,

clik on "news' from CES 2005

then perhaps $22,000 USD (which is less than one of the local sale taxes here in Canada on "the word is silver" system) for a high sensitivity full ranger isn't totally outrageous.

well, on second thought it is

but whose marketing oozes more ego and condescension?

I have heard these units on a number of occasions in Japan including a prototype pair of the Belle speakers. All of them made a very good impression and i am going to replace my Lowthers with them. I have enjoyed my Lowthers for over 20 years in different set-ups but have grown somewhat tired of maintaining them since they only sound good with the early cones with the rolled back edges and large wizzer. The level of workmanship you get with these units is outstanding and nothing i have ever seen comes even close and with the materials used and the dimensioning of the motor they should at least out-last me. These units also make use of magnetic suspension the way it is supposed to be implemented and by doing so have a longer linear VC travel than any other FR driver. Lowther have also tried this with the "Hi-Ferric" but it is seriously flawed and not at all true to Mr. Donald Chave´s original intent.

Output level and prices

A good full ranger can output a hearing damaging output level. Recently, I was playing with a low output nos-dac. Muted the pre and hooked up a normal player. Must have thought about same level comparison.
When the music started it almost knocked me down, it was 100 - 110 dB range. Cranked it down before permanent damage was done to my old PM7A's or hearing.
I had forgotten how loud these drivers can play. I do not think they would play long at this level. Those 15 ohm silver coils would smoke.
On XMAX, I have seen a good 1/2 inch travel coming from a warped record. This was a frequency way below the cabinet loading frequency. Those cones can boogie.
There are a lot of choices for drivers. I have a herd time justifing the Lowther prices today. These others are bordering on absurd. Comparison to AudioNote Japan prices is not apples to apples. AN has a cult following, and track record to support their inflated prices. This is a start up.