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10-25-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 41
Post ID: 3021
Reply to: 2974
A short intermediate summation.

Well,

I still do not know what the tweeter solution would be. I know exactly what I want to get: to soften the S2 driver and get HF extension but without introducing HF noise. I know exactly how it should sound I juts do not know at this point how it might be accomplished. Generally HF is a big problem as usually in “common audio” the present of HF is recognized by presents of the HF noise (99% of speaker out there). When Audio Morons hear a playback without the HF noise then they complain the there is no HF been reproduced.

Anyhow, the EnABL treated freaky Linaeums driver does fine but with it’s low sensitively it are hardly useable.  The ribbons do also very nice integration with S2 and I will continue to look in this direction, perhaps making a small array if I could sign in a good ribbon maker or find a ribbons with sufficient size of the magnets and flexible and light enough ribbon.

I will continue trying different tweeter solutions, however, the biggest accomplishment of this entire journey was that I eventually recognized WHY a horn tweeter should not be a HF transducer…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 42
Post ID: 3038
Reply to: 3021
The tweeters and THE tone.

The more I conceptualize my view about tweeters the more I like sound of my playback without it. The last night there was a San Francisco broadcast with estimable Tilson Thomas on podium and I was shocked with stunning SFO’s tone. As many times I head that orchestra it never was so reach and so “stuffed” with noble sound. Then it hit me that I have no tweeters and it was perhaps why…. The last night I drive the HF channel of my Super Milq very hard (50mA hotter then usually) and used not tweeters. It was THE sound.

It is imposable just to turn down tweeters and listen as a LOT is gone with tweeters off. However, it is necessary to learn to listening playback with tweets off in order to make sure that a playback is cable to be musical and fulfilling … without tweeters.  What tweeters do in such case? Or more important: how to introduce HF space without introducing the Moronic and non-existing HF into music?

The answer is still pending. I started recently a very interesting project dedicated to making a conceptually “better’ tweeter. I do not know where it will bring me and if it will be the solution but I am have learned that it is much better do not have any tweeter at all then to have improperly performing tweeters. How a tweeter performs what it performs improperly? If you hear HF then you have a crappy tweeter. Welcome to the club…

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,145
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 43
Post ID: 3040
Reply to: 3038
Music with no tweeters
The thing I notice with live music is the way the sound at all audible frequencies has articulated drive like I never hear with "true HF tweeters", or at least not the "tweeters" that go way up there.  I got some sense of this drive and natural roughness with the Peerless tweeter; not the kind of push you get from good compression drivers, of course, though perhaps more evenly rendered.  The best I could ever get with any true HF tweeter I tried was just "enhancement" of the better-sounding not-so- HF tweeters.

However:  Once I get some bass I want enough treble to balance it off...

Best regards,
Paul S
10-29-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 44
Post ID: 3044
Reply to: 2974
Tweeter for Vitavox S2: silk dome?

I put a couple days ago a silk dome tweeter in the game.  I look in my storages to see what I had there among the traditional silk domes. I ended up pulling out my North Creek Music D25 driver.

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/pdf/NorthD25.pdf

I generally like the silk dome tweeters. They very forgiving and generally well balanced. So I decided to try.

Melquiades defiantly was not able to drive it up to reasonable sound quality.  I always with irony was reading the BS-articles of the idiots-reviewers who where drooling about sound of the teens watts SETs (Lamm ML2 for instance) driving sun 90dB sensitive speakers. As well I never understood why people go for SETs amp if they use speakers with sensitivity in 90s. Anyhow, the Lamm M1.1 was driving the North tweeter… with second and third order at 11kHz to 13 kHz…

Generally I liked what I heard. Wide, low ambience noise, accurate and very non-abusive. However there were also tow things that pretty much disqualified this tweeter from the game.

1) Own glassy tone. It has very accurate HF but those FH sound like they are made from grave-stone. Pretend you are blinded and you drink wine and then somebody instead of wine give you a distil water. It is exactly how D25 sounds in comparing to the Vitavox S2’s HF. Do not take me wrong – there was nothing wrong with D25 tone – there was juts no tone at all that might be considered tone. It was more like a soup without salt, paper, species, meat, fish or vegetables. It was a soup that was made by boiling a home Depot’s hammer for 3 hours…

2) Dynamic and it all that I can say. When I played my playback loud, and I like to do it (because I can) then when the music jump into ffff  then the tweeters dived into quite auditable distortions…. Very unpleasant… and I do not think that it was the Lamm M1.1’s fault.

So, the silk dome was exportable not it. I would need something with 20dB more sensitivity…

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-29-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,145
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 45
Post ID: 3048
Reply to: 3044
Not really H HF
Like I said before, I found the silk domes best below the highest frequencies, just like your Vitavox, so it's another case of pick your poison.  And I'm not sure about matching dissimilar driver types/efficiencies to most amps because of the "sliding scale" dynamics all drivers exhibit below and above their sweet spots, and this is only exacerbated when efficiencies differ.  I find this "sliding scale" or "trombone" phenomenon most pronounced with horns, especially compression horns, which is why their best utilization IMO is narrow band, off-axis, just as you have discovered, and above the "loaded-down" part of their range.  In that case you probably still want any silk dome on axis, and obviously you get what you get when you overdrive it.

I quite agree that the SET is a weak-ass amp topology that basically does things other than macro dynamics best.  Reviewers always say the ML2 has "SET magic", but what I hear is an amp that is very much in control, more like SS in that respect.  It just happens to do a great job with it, so it avoids that "pushing" thing we hear with SS, and also there is none of the SS "implosion" of notes.  As far as suitable efficiency, I think on or off-axis listening factors in somewhat.  I'm guessing you could hurt yourself listening to your speakers directly on axis!

I have no experience with silk domes and the ML1.1, but I always found the silk to be rather an antidote for SS, and quite acceptable for on-axis listening with good PP tube amps.  I never tried them with SET, but I'm guessing they would like the ML2, since everything else seems to.

I think I am finally beginning to gather that what you have there is a system that comes very close to doing it all with symphonic material, but off axis.  My own expectations are lower.  I've settled for a reasonable semblance of ensembles, and I just have to use some imagination for the large-scale works.

I am having to re-think things now because the ML2 is so much better than the Wright SETs, in every way; but the ML2 is a much "harder" amp, also, with much more in the way of dynamics and frequency extension, and I am not yet set up to take the best advantage of this.

Basically, I don't hear much resemblance to other SETs from the ML2., and my present speakers are about 97 dB.

Best regards,
Paul S
10-31-2006 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 46
Post ID: 3059
Reply to: 2974
Tweeters for Vitavox S2: Heil’s Air Motion Transformers.

The Heil AMT drivers are well known in audio. There is a cult of people who follow them and they swear that Heil drivers are like nothing else. The Heil drivers were made by ESS, by Scandinavian, by German’s pro audio and by Russians. The do use deferent principle for sound reproduction (I will not describe it – it well described out there) and do have different type of sound.

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/pdf/heil.pdf

I experimented with Heil in beginning of 2000s and although I saw a lot of very interesting and useful sonic characteristics in Heil I did found them absolutely unusable for any more or less serious application. Nevertheless, since I’m nowadays in my typically-crazy “tweeter mode” I decided to give to the Heil one more try.

I had two Heils. One pair is very small that I took for some kind of speaker 15 years ago. Another pair is the largest AMT-1A, takes from the biggest ESS. The smallest Heils sounded very dead form all dimensions and has sensitively at sub 80dB level.  The biggest Heils were the matter of the different conversation.

Heil Air Motion Transducers sound very interesting. They remove any defects of HF reproduction out of Sound. Even time misalignments, overly bright microphones or HF clipping become practical not annoying. They literary problem free and very addictive solution for many nasty thing in HF. The biggest Heil is 100dB sensitive and it is approximately what I got from them. Melquiades drove them well at ~8K crossover.

Nevertheless, listening the Heil for a few seconds I instantaneously recalled the feelings that made me to discard them for the first time. The problems are that Heil makes all HF to sound absolutely alike. Heil has own very specific “generic HF signature” and it inescapably inject this signature to absolutely any HF note that Heil tries to reproduce. The very same “common Heil HF denominator” is getting created in each single tone of ANY orchestra, in each single inflection in EACH single, in each musical instrument and it become superbly annoying. As soon I “got” a reference to this tone then it so followed me that there were not other options then to trash the tweeter.

I think the problems is the in the Heil transducer has ribbons that are cocooned into a plastic “waved envelops”  (Polyethylene initially and Mylar later on) and I feel that this creates the Heil signatures. The ribbons are not shaking free but the “handled by” the plastic wrappers that severely colors sound by with that “commonly honey” influence. It is not surprise that cleanness of this plastic wrapper or even smoking in the room severely affect the performance of the Hail tweeter.

Can a driver that produces a “Generic HF” be used for audio installations where the purpose of playback is to make audio to “discriminate the differences”?  The answer is very obvious…

Rgs,
Romy the caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
11-04-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 47
Post ID: 3083
Reply to: 2974
Another semi-ribbon?

I was playing today with Stage Acompany SA 8535 Ribbon driver. It is truly 103dB sensitive little monster with crazily large 3 poll Neodymium magnet. I did listen the driver and there are some things that I like in it and there are some that I do not. I will not comment about the sound of this driver as this point (will do it later) as I would like to spend more time with it. However, juts looking at the design of the driver I can see that there is a lot in it could be made better for the sake of my specific application.

The driver does not look as pure ribbon but rather an array or ribbons (with impedance of 12R, no transformer) enveloped in some kind of plastic. Then this plastic is damped on it’s back with some sort of felt. The driver has very large back chamber, way larger then I deed for over 12K tweeter and the chamber in additionally damped. All of it could be done differently for my HF-only application and I did try to lower the size of the back chamber – it did sound better.

Generally I have good impression about the driver but they designed it to use from 2kHz and with higher power… Let see how the sucker will behave in a few days…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
11-05-2006 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 48
Post ID: 3085
Reply to: 3083
Re: Another semi-ribbon #2

I was keep listening my Dutch-made SA8535 tweeter.  There is a lot of deferent with this tweeter and I think it is a good time to pass my early observations about the tweeter Sound.

This driver is not a ribbon tweeter as the Stage Acompany fraudulently claims but rather an isodynamic tweeter. But who care what it is - the sound of this thing is more important.

First experiments with this driver indicted that it hugely affected by the type and the slope of crossover - in fact it is more sensitive to it then any other tweeters I have seen. It does have a good tone and clean with no colorations HF.  It does have good sensitivity and dose very well with low power Melquiades. It behaves very very good, practically perfect, when it stressed and when it operates at higher volumes. It maintains very flat impedance and it very easy load for Melquiades. It does sound compatible with Vitavox S2 when it is directly on axe. It does go very high and it is not juts bogus numbers the manufactures love to publish but it is actually quite auditable. Also while it runs high and clean it does it very reasonably, without unnecessary accents or enunciations.

Something that I do not like. The driver foam bumps near the exit of the  “ribbons” that meant to accommodate the Stage Acompany’s own horns. I do not use the horn, as I do not need any LF extension, but still did not remove the foam “borders”. I presume that the “borders” severely screwed this driver’s ability to sound wide. It sounds well exactly at axe but literally 20-30 degree on right or left it develops a LOT of HF noise and very unpleasant “fuzzy HF fatness”. Another thing that I do not like that it is too much wiling to dive into MF – I need a high order crossover to hold it. Also, the SA8535 does not have that HF delicacy that I observe in TAD PT-R9 driver. The PT-R9 driver by 100W has delicacy and refinement, sophistication and classiness. No one other tweeter that I tried recently has this level of noble stylishness. The SA8535 does not have it. The SA8535’s highs are colorations-free but they lack of certain gracefulness, charm, distinction and fineness. They are very good on their own but they are not as good as they “might be”. PT-R9 has this fineness, Linaeum is perfectly balanced but does not go where “it” would be critical and the SA8535 dose “it” …strangely….

The SA8535 has some kind of own way to sound and I really could not put it in worlds. What I feel with it this the driver make some of the HF not really “recognizable”. I men when any other driver I heard goes up my inner-me anticipate “something”. This “something” to one or other degree get fulfilled or expected. With the SA8535, while I was listening music I was very frequency catching myself that sometime in HF happened some kind of events that I never heard nether in reproduced sound nor live sound. It is important to note that those “alien events” were not necessary bad – but they were “alien events for my listening consciousness. It was like scratching a cat’s belly and then suddenly detect that it has
A sharp metal object hidden inside her fur… Unexpected? More then just that!

Still, I would like to spend a little more with this driver as it is the first of my “high sensitively success” driver. Definably when a sensitively of tweeter does up then there is a LOT of very interesting things going on with our listening awareness. It is relay nothing could beat a clean tweeter at very high sensitively driven by no-feedback SET. I will open a little a veil of secrecy and will tell you that a truly ribbon driver that is being made for me will have ~ 112dB sensitivity. I do not know hoe it will sound but the SA8535 clearly indicate that the more dB per watt the merrier results are.

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
11-05-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,145
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 49
Post ID: 3086
Reply to: 3085
"Big" tweeter
That's one big tweeter, Romy, and, typically, it was made that big only because they intended for it to go low.  I keep wondering about the effects of the extra mass, if nothing else, but also about dispersion and window blind effects at increasing frequency with the large ribbons.  These can make the vertical listening axis weird, too, in ways that are hard to predict.  I am not surprised that any true HF tweeter - a single tweeter - would do best on axis, and this of course is the idea behind the array.  I did not mention it earlier, but the Arum Cantus G2Si ribbon itself is extremly thin and it is also pleated.  I have no idea what this "really" means, but it does seem like it would affect directivity, if nothing else.  The G2Si does have OK horizontal dispersion - for a HF tweeter -, but not much in the way of vertical dispersion, and this is likely due to the "V tipped on its side with flat top and bottom" shape of the magnet assembly in which the ribbon is suspended.  In any case, I have found that at higher frequencies anything the sound wave touches profoundly affects the sound, including its character and presentation.  I would not be at all surprised if just messing with that foam you mention changed things a lot.

Good luck with NF SET versus 2nd order HF crossover.  It has to help that you have a dedicated HF channel.  I can tell you the 2A3s don't do any better with 2nd order HF than they do with bass through low pass, and I can also report that the non-SET SET ML2 just blasts right through that crossover and it does make HF.

You said that NF SET makes the best highs, but is this not like the suspicious "clarity" you spoke of in your remarks about the Cogent, when you put it in terms of OTL?  That remark made some dominos fall for me, and I mentally re-visited some disturbing sessions with OTL.  I had to admit that SET was similar in that some of its greatest strenths are its limitations, if that is not too confusing.  And some of that SET clarity seems to come from a particular lack of traction or power in HF, just as much of the "immediacy" comes from tipped up below HF and no LF.

I am waiting to see if any true ribbon will suit you except on axis.  I went to ribbons because of laziness with the Peerless/RTRs, and because I was just plain worn out by all the NOISE from other tweeters.  That noise is unbearable when riding along with otherwise-properly-proportioned HF.  I have always thought this noise was one of the main reasons why horns were best off axis, and nothing different with HF, except in most cases with off axis HF you lose everything EXCEPT the noise.

Best regards,
Paul S
11-05-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 50
Post ID: 3087
Reply to: 3085
Listening the SA8535 tweeter more…

I left the SA8535 burning for entire day and nigh, driving it with HF “torture” signals.  Interesting that the driver become much more civilized with those “alien sounds” completely evaporated. Honestly it become to sound much better… but at the same time much …softer. It does perfectly mate now with S2 but since it slowly breaks in it moves toward the soft side. I do at this point to have the SA8535 to be a little more “contrasty”, but very-very little …Perhaps I need when it will be fully “cooked” play again with crossover and slope…

Still, it turning that the SA8535 become to sound like a very good tweeter. Ad to it a little delicacy and refinement and it will be completely perfect. Who know, perhaps I will be able dig in the minor satellites of the SA8535 operation and get more gracefulness out it. If to cross the TAD’ PT-R9’s tone and refinement with SA8535’s sensitivity, ability to care stress and dynamic capacity then it would be a perfect tweeter for my case.

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
11-06-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 51
Post ID: 3089
Reply to: 3087
The SA8535 tweeter: even more

Well, it looks like my lack of familiarity with ribbons/planar/isodynamic tweeters made an evil joke with me as the more SA8535 tweeter getting broken in the better it sounds. As now, after near 80 hours it practically free from any negative things that I commented a couple posts above. In fact the SA8535 is surprisingly nicely performing tweeter and it literally getting better hourly. The Vitavox S2 is slightly more “faster” and has incontestably more “color bas relief” then SA8535 but they still can live together very nicely without compromising the S2. In the end I feel that SA8535 would be a very good  fall back, safety choose if my “ultimate tweeter project” would not sound properly.

It looks as my luck with tweeters is turning back. Defiantly the HF ribbons were a perspective direction to go…

Rgs.
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
11-06-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
cv
Derby, United Kingdom
Posts 173
Joined on 09-15-2004

Post #: 52
Post ID: 3091
Reply to: 3089
Re: The SA8535 tweeter:crossover?

R,
How are you crossing over the SA tweeter?

Cheers
cv

11-06-2006 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 53
Post ID: 3092
Reply to: 3089
A wonderful write up about ribbons.

Continuing to harass the readers of my site and myself with the good news about the performance of my SA8535 driver I would like to post a very educational article about the subject. As I told before, being familiar with sound of ribbons then never ignited my interest because the dead sensitivity and foolish use of ribbons in upper midrange region – the region where they do not do well sonically form my point of view (low contrast). However, being use AFTER a good MF driver and with a sufficient sensitivity they looks like are work out well. I do not wont to sound as I pump myself up after I liked what SA8535 did but the success of this driver actually made me to be interested of learning a little about the ribbon family.
Here is a very useful article that was publish in “Audio and Video Contractors Magazine” in March 2004. I find it is very informative and useful. Before posting the articles I would like to pass a few “Classic Romy” (the quote by Srajan Ebaen) words.

After I read the articles I asked myself: “Why out audio writing Morons do not write anything as useful as Mike Klasco did?” When the Hi-Fi audio writers write their stupid “generic purls” then it always has agenda, sponsor and very fealty smell. The British Hi-Fi+ published last month an “observation” about so-called “full range speakers”. I will not go here into explanation why it was very inaccurate examination of the subject but it was…. ironic to see that they pushed the full range concept juts because a full range manufacturing company would like to see the falty concept of their product… “pushed”. Surprise, surprise in a few pagers after expanding to the reader that the so-called “full range speakers” are very good… a big positive review of the company… accidentally was published. Anyhow, let them to go to die with thier reviewing little secret in peace. I am sure that Mike Klasco who wrote the article below did not have a full home of “sponsored” audio components in his home and was not under obligation to provide 6 glorious reviews per week.

TURNING PRO
By Mike Klasco, president of Menlo Scientific

Ribbon transducer manufacturing has traditionally been a specialized craft, even when part of a larger speaker manufacturing operation. The wisdom and perception for permanent installations was that the expense and temperamental aspects of ribbon diaphragm assemblies, their limited dynamic range, and the larger surface radiating area required for adequate low-end response limited their market acceptance. The smooth, transparent, and crisp sound quality and very low distortion has made the development of wider dynamic range ribbons a seductive goal.

In the 1990s, several firms carried the torch for ribbon speakers as they strove to achieve the elusive targets of wide dynamic range, high power handling, extended frequency response, and compact size. Now there are ribbons that have finally achieved their performance goals and are being installed successfully in more and more venues. Multiple ribbon elements may be arrayed for additional output and control over directivity, and the technique of line arrays is now in fashion because their excellent pattern control is a great asset in many difficult installations.

The general concept of using an array of transducers goes back to the column speakers of the 1950s and 1960s, when columns from Electro-Voice, JBL, and Bozak in the United States and Philips in Europe were commonly used. The approach is making a comeback in the guise of line arrays, and ribbons represent the closest approach to the ideal.

The planar ribbon speaker is, like the typical cone speaker, an electrodynamic driver. While there has been no shortage of product announcements and mock-ups of planar transducers at trade shows, actual market share of flat-panel speaker technologies (such as NXT) have not yet measured up to the hype of their proponents. On the other hand, the number of leading brands that have licensed the various flat-panel speaker technologies is impressive. The appeal for less intrusive speakers that will complement flat-screen video displays as well as offer a shallow profile for all the speakers needed for intelligent signage in commercial applications, such as at airports, is compelling. With all the raunchy-sounding flat speakers making the news, it is easy to forget that the finest audiophile speakers have been and remain ribbons and electrostatics, both charter members of the planar clan.

To start at the beginning, flat-panel speakers are not new. Quad, the brand name of the United Kingdom's Acoustical Manufacturing Company, demonstrated its full-range electrostatic planar speaker back in 1954. There have been dozens of (at least sonically) successful electrostatic products over the years, including the legendary KLH 9 and offerings from Acoustech 10, Janzen, Dayton Wright, and the Pickering models of the 1960s, followed by a rash of offerings in the 1970s from ESS (best known for its Heil Air-motion designs, a variant of the ribbon family), Infinity, SAE, Crown, and Soundcraftsman.

Most of this batch used the RTR mid/high-frequency electrostatic panels and a conventional woofer. Several high-end audiophile speakers that are essentially handmade have continued to appear during the past two decades. Although many concede that ribbons and electrostatic speakers frequently sound better than their more conventional competition, they do not account for significant business, nor do most have the dynamic range or the high output needed for public spaces. Yet the typical large vertical size of planars fits into the line array frenzy that has gripped the pro-audio industry and has brought planars into the limelight.

Ribbon magnetic structures are mechanically close to conventional cone speakers. They both share magnetic structures and voice coils. The original scheme for a ribbon transducer was a corrugated aluminum foil diaphragm/conductor. This approach tended to have very low resistance and required a transformer to bring the ribbon diaphragm's load impedance up so that the amplifier could drive it. To keep the mass low, thin aluminum foil was used and functioned as both the diaphragm and voice coil, but this resulted in a fragile driver. Today the most common ribbon arrangement is for a nonelectrically conductive film substrate to which an aluminum or copper conductor pattern is laminated. Traditionally, Mylar was used, and recently, Kapton and Kaladex (renamed Teonex by its manufacturer, DuPont). The polymer/conductor composite diaphragm is the same construction as a flexible circuit board commonly used in laptops, cell phones, and PDAs. The impedance of this diaphragm can be readily designed to be in a range that the amplifier can happily drive; not just a reasonable impedance, but also essentially a resistive load.

MADE FOR LINE ARRAYS

When the audio signal is run through the conductors, which are immersed in the magnetic field, the diaphragm will move in a mechanical analogy to the electrical signal, more or less like any cone speaker, but with a significant subtle differentiation that makes ribbons superior for line array configurations. The ribbon has the advantage that the diaphragm is directly driven uniformly by the conductors, which are in intimate contact with the film diaphragm. Ribbons have been called regular phase (by Foster) or isoplanar because the entire diaphragm is being driven, and the radiating surface is moving as one. With cone speakers, the vibrational energy from the voice coil has to pass by transconductance up through the voice coil bobbin and into the cone apex, where the sound will then move from the center of the cone outward and radiate into the air. The effective radiating area versus frequency is never uniform on a cone speaker, and the phase and group delay is not consistent over the operating frequency range. But with ribbons, the entire diaphragm moves simultaneously at all frequencies. Incidentally, this is antithesis of the concept of distributed mode transducers such as NXT, and the cone speaker falls somewhere in between. But for line arrays, ribbons are ideal.

Ribbon microphones have been around for about 70 years, and ribbon speakers first appeared later in the form of tweeters, such as the British Kelly Ribbon. The first ribbon tweeters used a corrugated diaphragm rather than a stretched tensioned film, but both are still commonly used. Corrugated ribbon tweeters are still used for studio monitors and audiophile tweeters but tend to be less Panasonic introduced the first film ribbon, which it named the Leaf Tweeter, essentially using a flex circuit board tensioned diaphragm. This is the construction used today for high-power ribbons. Panasonic affiliate JVC and also Foster (Japan) supplied ribbon leaf tweeters and midranges on an OEM basis for many years. Magnaplanar introduced full-range speaker units in the 1970s using the conductor on substrate approach for the lows and mids and the corrugated diaphragm for the tweeter. Infinity has featured its EMIT (tweeter) and EMIM (midrange) ribbons since the 1970s.

There have been several popular ribbon tweeters used in many speaker systems, but full-range ribbon speaker systems have previously been limited to small-batch high-end audiophile production. A few years ago, Sonigistix of Canada introduced its Monsoon ribbon multimedia system. Eastech now makes these ribbons in Malaysia. Using ribbon satellites and a conventional cone subwoofer, the Sonigistix Monsoon MM-700 was the first multimedia mainstream ribbon product that has achieved mass-market success.
So what about professional application for ribbons? Aside from studio monitor tweeters used in Genelec and others, the first really ambitious high-output ribbon was from Stage Accompany in the late 1980s and was based on a scale of a Philips home speaker design. Stage Accompany pursued touring sound applications and used the ribbon in place of a compression driver.

One of the first to match the form factor of a ribbon to a theoretically ideal line source line array was the Radia Pro Speakers group at Bohlender-Graebener. Aside from large vertical ribbons, it offers the Radia Series of ceiling and in-wall speakers using ribbon tweeters. In addition, the firm is an OEM supplier to Genesis, Eclipse, SLS, Martin Logan, and others.

SLS Loudspeakers took high power/high sound pressure level (SPL) ribbon driver technology further in terms of power handling and developed its own range of high-performance ribbon drivers based on high-energy neodymium magnets and Kapton/aluminum diaphragms. These drivers are incorporated in several of its line array systems for various professional and commercial applications.

A BETTER APPROACH TO PLANARS

Electrostatics and planar magnetics (ribbons) are driven uniformly over their entire diaphragms. This is the exact opposite to the distributed mode ideal of flat NXT panels, which operate in random phase across their surface. Cones, on the other hand, are uniform (pistonlike) up to the midrange. It is generally conceded that ribbons and electrostatic panels tend to sound better than cones, while the distributed mode panels sound worse. However, in certain pro applications in which a uniform phase line array's excellent pattern control is not needed, the nature of NXT panel radiation (the “antiribbon”) is an advantage. The wide coverage and random phase of a well-executed NXT design, such as the Armstrong i-Ceilings panel, is an advantage in the struggle to achieve wide uniform coverage with low ceilings as well as high acoustic levels before feedback. The random phase nature of the panel helps prevent feedback, effectively randomizing the phase of the signal. The Armstrong panels actually sound quite decent, to boot.

In the past, ribbons came up short on power handling, sensitivity, and low-end response. These limitations were due to the low energy of the ferrite magnets and the low temperature tolerance of the Mylar film diaphragms. With the falling price of neodymium magnets, along with their higher magnetic energy density, the sensitivity issues and limitations on magnetic gap width were lessened. Kaladex/Teonex and similar superior mechanical and thermal films allowed for higher temperature operation and further increased sensitivity owing to the possibility of thinner diaphragms.

Designers of ribbons using ferrite magnets have always been confronted with response anomalies. That is in part because the sound radiation coming from the diaphragm must pass between the bar magnets, and the depth required for the ferrite magnets results in resonant cavities with tuned peaks, typically between 5 and 10 kHz. Neodymium has high magnetic density, so the magnets are not as thick and the air column in front of the diaphragm is shallower, and any resonance is minimized and is typically above the audio band.

Assuming a generous gap, Neo structures yield 0.6 to 0.8 tesla (6,000 to 8,000 gauss), whereas a ferrite magnet would have provided less than half of that. The higher electrical damping that results eliminates the usual “camel hump” response of an underdamped speaker. Neodymium's higher energy enables wider gaps without the flux dropping below useable intensities, so higher diaphragm excursions are possible without hitting the magnets. As the excursion is increased, the diaphragm surface area can be reduced to a more reasonable size, which also improves dispersion.

DuPont Mylar has traditionally been used for both ribbons and electrostatic planar diaphragms. A single-sided conductor layer is usually laminated to the film, but some applications use conductive layers on both sides of the film. The conductor side is then silk-screened using a chemical resist coating that prints the pattern, with the uncoated paths of the surface being the conductor paths that will be etched away. This roll or sheets of silk-screened laminate is then chemically etched and die-cut into individual diaphragms. The lead-out wire is attached to the completed diaphragm, and the diaphragm is then assembled and tensioned into the magnetic structure frame. All that is far easier said than done!

Mylar yields good sound quality but cannot tolerate conductor over 80 to 90 degrees Celsius because that is Mylar's glass transition point, and at that temperature, it becomes soft. Because most ribbon diaphragms are tensioned, under high-power input the conductive voice coil heats up the substrate, the diaphragm tension drops because of the softening of the Mylar, and the film becomes rippled, leading to distortion or buzzing.

What about operating temperature that drivers function in and power compression effects? Compression drivers and woofers have the voice coil enclosed in a tight magnetic structure. Even with vented magnetic structures and ferrofluid to transfer the heat, operating temperatures can reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit. As the voice coil temperature rises, so does the impedance. The speaker draws less power, and the output creeps downward. This is known as power compression.

Compared with cone and compression drivers, the structure is open on a ribbon diaphragm, and though air is not a good conductor of heat, the surface area of the conductors lets good heat transfer off the diaphragm so operating temperatures tend to be lower for a given sound level. Temperature tolerance is another story and is dependent on the materials and fabrication of the diaphragm. Older hi-fi ribbon designs used Mylar polyester that was typically laminated with an adhesive layer to an aluminum foil. Especially for smaller drivers, Mylar ribbons have limited power handling and get soft above 150 degrees Fahrenheit. DuPont's Kaladex and Teonex high-performance polyesters are now commonly used in ribbons and can handle almost double that temperature before softening.

For the highest power handling, DuPont's Kapton, a polyimide is the ultimate solution. Kapton can tolerate temperature excursions to 800 degrees Fahrenheit, but it is likely that the adhesives layer will handle only half of that. Some of the more advanced ribbons use a cast polyimide over the aluminum conductor, avoiding the failure of the adhesives layer. Noted ribbon designer Igor Levitsky pointed out that even with adhesivesless polyimide diaphragms, at elevated power levels, the aluminum work hardens and can crack.
How are ribbon speakers increasing power handling? Stage Accompany has offered forced-air cooling as an option on its high-power ribbons, SLS has integrated a heat sink to pull heat off the aluminum conductors on the diaphragm, and DuPont has introduced thermally conductive black heat emissive Kapton to improve the ability of the film substrate to dump the heat.

Bohlender-Graebener is one of the first ribbon manufacturers to offer Kaladex/Teonex film diaphragms. The temperature capacity is 130 degrees Celsius before softening, and considering the open structure of ribbon speakers, this temperature limit appears to be satisfactory for most applications. The higher tensile strength (which increases the tension you can use) and higher Young's modulus (correlates to the speed of sound in the material) of Teonex is better than in Mylar, yet the specific gravity is lower than Mylar. The cost is just above that of Mylar. Sound quality is excellent, as reflected in both frequency response extension, as well as lower linear and nonlinear distortion.

UNIFORMITY

A ribbon's surface is immersed in a uniform magnetic field and moves in a uniform manner across its surface in response to electrical input. So by their very nature, properly designed ribbons are able to maintain uniform phase response across their surface, unlike traditional transducers. This results in a more uniform cylindrical wave regardless of frequency, while an array of point source radiators will produce an interference pattern with extreme comb filtering. The radiation pattern of any transducer is heavily influenced by the relationship between the wavelengths of the sound produced in relationship to the size of the active portion of the transducer.

Conventional, nonarrayed or nonline source speakers approximate a point source. A point source generates a spherical sound field in which sound pressure drops by 6 dB as a listener's distance from the source doubles. However, a line source, such as an array of long ribbon drivers, generates a cylindrical wave in its near field. This near field can extend large distances, depending on frequency and line source length, to hundreds of feet. A distinct characteristic of this near field used in line array applications is that its sound pressure drops only by 3 dB as a listener's distance from the source doubles. Although an in-depth discussion of point source versus the planar line source radiation pattern is beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say that the ribbon works more like a line source than of the cruder approximation resulting from cone speakers mounted in a row.

The additional control over directivity is quite useful, both for where the sound does go (to the audience) and where it does not go (for example, a room's acoustically reflective floor and ceiling). That allows for much smoother and more consistent coverage and a superior ability to deliver direct sound to the audience even in reverberant environments. One of the many advantages of the control offered by a cylindrical wavefront is that patrons near the speakers do not have to suffer such high SPLs in order to ensure that audience members further back perceive adequate SPLs. Thus a line source system is a superior tool where intelligibility is important or the venue is acoustically difficult (for example, where there are glass surfaces everywhere, a longer throw is required, there are reflective or domed ceilings, or in corridor applications such as in museums).

Ribbons will continue their advance into mainstream commercial and pro-sound applications as their clean sound quality, ideal radiation characteristics for columns and line arrays, low weight, and increasing robustness, sensitivity, and acoustic output capacity attract more sound system designers and spec writers.




"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
11-06-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 54
Post ID: 3093
Reply to: 3091
The tranning of SA8535….

 cv wrote:

How are you crossing over the SA tweeter?

Currently I cross them with second order at 12K, near Bessel Q, but not exactly. I did not play with crossover trying to tube it more precisely. It turn out the my driver was too “fresh” and it need some time to settle down it it’s default operation mode. I might consider to drive the driver slightly harder and to cross it with third order and I getting too soft. Interesting that it has completely different softness then T350. The T350 has tonal softness but the SA8535 has dynamic softness. I might need to try to drive the SA8535 with more power perhaps…

Anyhow, I do not looking at this point to finalize my view on the SA8535. It would be interesting to try the Arum Cantus G1 driver, wish it presumably a “real ribbon” and should have zillion times lighter transuding mass). After I pick “the semifinal winner” it will be a good contestant to the driver that Alexander will come up with…. So I’m holding now will try to play for a next moth getting the SA8535 and perhaps G1 (if I get one) to “behave”… It is very possible that it will be not “juts” a second order at 12K.

The cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
11-06-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,145
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 55
Post ID: 3094
Reply to: 3093
You might want give the G3 a look as well

Likely, the wider ribbons are less good for HF-only than a long, narrow ribbon, like the G3 and G3Si use.  Across the board, the larger the ribbon gets (and the lower the ribbon is made to go), the worse the dynamics at a higher frequency.  This gets confusing when the bigger ribbons are more efficient, but I think it is true at given SPL at HF.  Although I have never heard a ribbon that did not lack the last word in dynamics, the smallest and lightest I have tried, up high, have better dynamic sound than the larger "damped" ribbons, etc.  There is no doubt that the damped (coated and/or backed/and/or faced) "ribbons" are the worst of the ribbons in terms of the dynamic softness you note (at least, as I understand it).  They seem to excell at making nasty highs more tolerable.

You mention trying a 3rd order x-over, and my first thought of why you might do this would be to keep the ribbon from messing up what the S2 does better.  Still, I will be surprised if the "best" ribbon you find doesn't work best with a more gradual x-over. 

If you haven't done it yet, try moving your head around through the output axes of your S2 and the ribbon-du-jour.  *Perhaps* phasing is less important if you always listen off-axis, but it is educational, none-the-less, to hear the abrupt transitions in output and response, in some cases like a "Venitian blinds" effect.  It seems odd to me that phasing/tuning for HF can be similar to finding the right spot for bass, where it just suddenly appears out of nowhere when you finally position the speakers (or yourself) correctly, except with HF, of course, we're talking very small movements making big changes.

Best regards,
Paul S

11-07-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 56
Post ID: 3097
Reply to: 3094
Re: ribbons - we will see...

 Paul S wrote:
Likely, the wider ribbons are less good for HF-only than a long, narrow ribbon, like the G3 and G3Si use.  Across the board, the larger the ribbon gets (and the lower the ribbon is made to go), the worse the dynamics at a higher frequency.  This gets confusing when the bigger ribbons are more efficient, but I think it is true at given SPL at HF.  Although I have never heard a ribbon that did not lack the last word in dynamics, the smallest and lightest I have tried, up high, have better dynamic sound than the larger "damped" ribbons, etc.  There is no doubt that the damped (coated and/or backed/and/or faced) "ribbons" are the worst of the ribbons in terms of the dynamic softness you note (at least, as I understand it).  They seem to excell at making nasty highs more tolerable.

You mention trying a 3rd order x-over, and my first thought of why you might do this would be to keep the ribbon from messing up what the S2 does better.  Still, I will be surprised if the "best" ribbon you find doesn't work best with a more gradual x-over. 

If you haven't done it yet, try moving your head around through the output axes of your S2 and the ribbon-du-jour.  *Perhaps* phasing is less important if you always listen off-axis, but it is educational, none-the-less, to hear the abrupt transitions in output and response, in some cases like a "Venitian blinds" effect.  It seems odd to me that phasing/tuning for HF can be similar to finding the right spot for bass, where it just suddenly appears out of nowhere when you finally position the speakers (or yourself) correctly, except with HF, of course, we're talking very small movements making big changes.
Paul, I know nothing about ribbons drivers and what makes them to sound in one or other ways.  I comment usually only on the subjects that I had personal exposure; I never made any ribbons or even took apart any existing. I am not wiling to repeat what others say about ribbons because… I do not believe to anybody but only to myself. So, since I did not deal with ribbons personally I have no opinion about what makes them good.

Some people who visit my site, looking at my Melquiades and Macondo sagas might feel that I am some kind of DIY enthusiast but in realty I hate DIY and I have writhen a lot about my view on the stupid DIY subject. I humiliate myself to the level when I begin to learn a narrow field and do something myself only when I exhausted the opportunity to find somebody who would be capable to do what is necessary at the demanded level. I would always prefer to pay for the labor of professionals that know what they do instead of disgracing myself and filling the “gap of available”. Audio is really more interesting then juts DIYing…

So, far I’m optimistic about the ribbons. The SA8535 does fine and in few days I will try it with it’s wave-guide. The Arum Cantus G1 should be an interesting to try as well. In addition to everything I am exercising with ribbons something that I called  “None-Inverted High End”:

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/TreeItem.aspx?PostID=2920

The point is that I have very specific, narrow requirement, and I was lucky end to find a guy who feel that he will be up to the task to address those requirement. He is THE ribbon persons and will be building the necessary tweeter. THAT IS EXACTLY how the REAL high-end should operate.  I do not know result we will end up (it still might sound like crap in the end) but so far I’m very comfortable and pleased with his progress. Also, I am quite comfortable with the progress I’m getting from looking into high sensitivity ribbons… If I will be able to get more dynamic and more “contrast” from them (in the limited range of 12K and up)  then it will be it.

Rgs,
Romy the caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
11-13-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 57
Post ID: 3144
Reply to: 3093
The SA8535: final conclusion.

OK, now the SA8535 driver is fully broken-in and well-habituated. I have no idea how the “Stage Accompany” suggests using this driver from 1000Hz! From what I observe, at MF this driver sounds very “flat” and very none-impressive. I have suspicion that any driver of this topology, would it be a ribbon or isodynamic, do not do well at MF. I presume that this is why I so hate ribbons – because all ribbons in all speakers that I heard were crossed too unforgivably low. Even at 12KHz and first order, when the driver has long tail into MF the MF “flatness” very severally deprecates the sound of SA8535 driver. The higher I went and the shaper it was the better driver performed. At 12KHz-14KHz with second-third order the SA8535 does very well and I like it a lot. Would I consider it as a perfect tweeter? Nope, I can’t, as there is one very specific area where I very much do not like what the SA8535 does.

Subjectively, although the HF of the SA8535 extremity clean but they are “too unhurried”. They became wonderfully mellow and forgivingly placid but they are disabled to play aggressive, crisp or destructively hostile if the musical calls upon it. The driver does have a high sensitivity and presumably extended dynamic capacity… but it hardly auditable as the harder driver plays the less transient it sounds. I do not know what it is: some kind of compression or a restrictive contribution of the plastic in witch the ribbons imbedded but it auditable and it is hold the SA8535 back from being a perfect tweeter.

Rgs,
Romy the caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-20-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 58
Post ID: 3321
Reply to: 2974
When Ribbons are not just ribbons.

Do you remember in the brilliant cartoon “Ice Age” there was that lovely character who was going of his way in his infinite chase for the nut? I feel audio people have the sale obsession with ribbons, or more precisely with importer use it ribbons. Ribbons are HF transducers and it is what they do well. Some ribbons can do lower frequencies but the quality of the sound from ribbons gradually going down with each hertz. The ribbons that I have seen were OK after 8K-10K, still there are countless people out there who keep pushing ribbons doe to 1000-2000Hz, or even lower. Yes, ribbons can handle it, they can handle all the way down if they made to do so, but ribbons do not sound there well and they completely are loosing the advance of it’s topology is they used lower then HF region.

The AA’s Sewers always was a wonderful place to find some evidences of audio–idiocy. I went today at to the Sewers and the very first what I have seen was: “Which Ribbon Tweeter for JBL D130 2-way?” With all stupidity of the objectives to use using D130 and ribbon for two ways it is actually what most of the people do.

Yes, I know, there are some people who would disagree with me. Brian Cheney of VMPS would say”no cones”, juts the VMPS’ ribbons. I have seen his latest V-shaped large ribbons speaker and I feel that Brian completely enslaved his auditable rational to a celebration of his design concepts.  I like Brian Cheney a lot but I disagree with his loudspeakers objectives. I personally feel that as ribbon dive under 8K they way out of their rank and it is possible to get more condoled and noble result by the means of other topologies…

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-20-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,145
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 59
Post ID: 3323
Reply to: 3321
Ribbon Man
It is interesting indeed how people allow their attention to go from fixation to fixation without ever changing/adapting methodology, believing none the less that each single idea in turn is The Answer.  I remember the first time I heard the celebrated large Apogee speaker (the Crepetus Rex, or something like that), after first having heard nothing but praise for the thing.  Of course, it proved to be about as bad as it gets.   It is a tribute to human endurance that anyone could stay in a room with the thing, let alon hone in on any value it might have had.  That it was driven at the time by its electronic corollary - a giant "zero-distortion" SS amp - only made the experience worse, yet at the same time more educational, because here we had the then-current "State of the Art" - "Full-range Ribbons" and "Perfect Gain" - sounding much worse than old Hartsfields driven by, say, Scott tube amps, or even old KLH 9s or Quad 57s driven by Dynakits.

But who really would know from this that ribbons sucked as MF transducers?  Maybe (well, not maybe) it was just this particular implementation.  So I checked in with various ribbon offerings over the years, and I learned that big ribbons ribbons suck; that any ribbon sucks below about 8k; and that coated ribbons tend to sound coated.  Also, good luck with "linearity" from any ribbon over any extended frequency range (not even a full HF octave).

So more power to nice-guy Brian Cheney, and all the other stuck-on-a-trick designers.  It may even be that they do come up with a good idea every once in a while.  But the chances are as good as not that any good that comes from their efforts will do its best in a form somewhat altered from how they envisioned it, and also in a different context.

The inventors I like best are like Tesla, just way out there, with just the sparks from their ideas giving us so much at once that it takes decades, or longer, to digest and effectively realize them.

On the one hand I wish there was more good, fully implemented, affordable stuff out there.  OTOH, I am just as happy to stick by my own fixation:  Maybe if I give it just this one little tweak...

Best regards,
Paul
01-05-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
robmatthew
Posts 1
Joined on 01-05-2007

Post #: 60
Post ID: 3439
Reply to: 2993
TAD PT-R9
I read your comments re: the PT-R9.

I have a pair which also measure about 9 dB below my Supravox 200 EXC drivers in sensitivity using the Earthworks measuring mike on the DEQX unit. They do sound very nice, however.

Also, I find this site to be very informative and interesting!

Best regards,

Bob Figlio
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