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Coaxial driver experiences and preferences

milezone

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#1
Hi I had a chance to listen to a pair of vintage Tannoy Silver coaxial drivers -- alnico magnets and the lightest weight paper cone Tannoy has implemented. Needless to say these are incredible and exceeded my expectations. In some ways as good as the best electrostatic speakers I've listened to -- perhaps slightly less detailed and controlled, however the most natural sounding presentation I've heard. The sound that I heard through these was so open and uncompressed -- effortless like a ribbon panel. They are sublime. I would love to acquire a pair though the drivers are quite expensive. I hope to hear a pair of LC1A drivers at some point in my life. Does anyone have experience or opinions about these or other vintage coaxials -- Jensen, Lorenz, Philips, RCA, Altec, Vitavox? Which are you favorites?

I also recently discovered the Seas Excel C18EN002. Has anyone built speakers using these drivers? I'm sure they sound great.
 
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mhardy6647

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#2
The RCA LC-1A is just an amazingly right sounding driver. I know a fellow who is fortunate enough to have two pairs of them: one in vintage (and very nice) RCA cabinets, the other pair in modern, bespoke cabinets.

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Personally, I am partial to Altec 604 "Duplexes"; two pairs of those here :)

604Etest
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
Altec Duplex
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
604E
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
(every time I post this photo, I wish I'd have dusted this 604E before I snapped a close-up!)

I'd have LC-1As, too, but the odds of ever finding an affordable pair are vanishingly small.

In full disclosure, for the past year or so I have been using only the woofer section of the 604Es -- but that's another story for another time and place.

The Tannoy coaxes were also very good, but again, they're not terribly common and tend towards the expensive.

016
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
005
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
 
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milezone

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Thread Starter #3
Thanks for the pictures. The LC1As have such a mystique to them. I agree some of these vintage drivers sound so right. I think in simple two way systems, some of these vintage paper cone drivers between 10" and 15" with alnico magnets sound much better than many contemporary drivers. I hope to acquire a pair of Altec Coaxial drivers at some point and experiment with them. Regarding the Tannoys do you know which is preferable between the newer HPDs and the older monitor Silver, Red or Golds? I understand the Monitor Silver and Black are the rarest and oldest. Many seem to believe the Silvers are the best of the bunch and based on my experience I don't doubt that.

I suspect that with some of these older pro audio drivers, much engineering and production effort went into them, and as revisions were made to later iterations, in an effort to cut costs and meet market demands, the quality was diminished. An extreme example, looking at the build quality of an RCA MI-1443 field coil compression driver is case and point. That said, in this instance, new technology and stronger magnets, mitigated the need for a field coil and allowed for more streamlined, simple designs.
 

mhardy6647

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#4
Unfortunately, I don't know many folks with Tannoys, so I don't have much ears on experience.
The crowd I fell in with are mostly Altec, JBL, and RCA fanboys ;) I developed a rather expensive taste for many things Altec, as a consequence.
The dynamics, effortlessness, and midrange "real-ness" of the Duplexesare superb (and, by modern standards for loudspeakers, even affordable).
 

jhaider

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#5
I've never heard the earlier Tannoys, but I lived happily with DMT monitors for a while and reviewed the current XT 8F, a really nice midsized tower.

For smaller, lower efficiency speakers I would not be surprised if the 5" KEF coax betters Seas. Likewise for Andrew Jones' best work (TAD, Pioneer EX). TangBand has an interesting new line too.
 
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milezone

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Thread Starter #6
I was considering the DMT monitors at one point as I've heard nothing but praise for those speakers. I've listened to the KEF LS50 Coax on a couple occasions and am not a fan at all. In the two times I heard them I found they lacked the upper range finesse/air/resolution which is what I'm after. Instead I find the treble shouty/peaky, strained, and compressed. I compared them directly with a pair of other speakers on hand which featured a large Mark Audio Alpair driver for the midrange and the smallest Alpair as an upper range tweeter. That speaker sounded leagues better than the KEF. On that note, the larger Mark Audio Alpair paper cone drivers 10p I think, are outstanding as full range drivers.

In addition, Faital Pro and Beyma make some interesting products including coaxial drivers which I'm curious about.
 
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Severian

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#7
Over the weekend I built a pair of DIY Sound Group Volt-6s and a single Volt-8 to use as surrounds and center channel, respectively, in my living room alongside my BIC RTR-EV15 mains. They are based on fairly inexpensive pro coaxial drivers (guessing the Eminence Beta line?) and compression drivers.

These speakers seem to be intended specifically for use as surrounds in home theaters rather than high fidelity two-channel playback, but I was shocked by the sound of the tiny Volt-6s when I hooked them up to my two-channel system for a test run yesterday. Compared to my more traditional SEAS Idunns, the soundstage is enormous with a vivid stereo image. The sound is remarkably consistent around the room, to the point where there is barely even a sweet spot.

I've definitely caught the bug: I need my next pair of nice speakers to be efficient, high-output coaxials. Almost certainly the Vortex-12 kit from DIY Sound Group. They seem to be about as close as you can get to old school big coaxials for an affordable price.
 

KSTR

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#9
I have no experience with vintage Tannoy's but I own several newer models, the 6" and 12" polyprop ones, SYS600A and SYS1200 (not that great as the perceived midrange resolution is a bit lacking) and the 15" paper cones from the DMT-II series (actually the 60° beamwidth version from the CPA 15 PA monitors).

From the new breed of pro coaxial I can recommend the Beyma 12XA30Nd and 15XA38Nd. They don't measure well but they sound very good. It's a diffraction-based tweeter to achieve wider dispersion for a larger sweet spot.
 

Severian

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#10
The only Tannoy PA system I've (knowingly) heard is at a small basement DJ bar in Tokyo called Oath, and it knocked my socks off.
 

mhardy6647

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#11
I have heard (read) good things about the Beymas as well (FWIW). No ears-on experience, though, so far.
 

headshake

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#13
I've been on the hunt for a coaxial. I have never heard one though.

Are the b&c's of use for home audio or mixing?
https://www.bcspeakers.com/en/products/coaxial

What is an idea conical coverage pattern for a coaxial? 60°,70°,80,°90,100°?

I see some pro speaker makers have used the 8" 100° model.

The kali audio in-8 seem to be the lowest priced way to try a coaxial. I never thought about going vintage until now.

best of luck with your hunt!
 

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Severian

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#17
The Tannoy Golds are intriguing but there isn't much written online about them yet. I've been meaning to get over to my local pro audio shop which apparently has them in stock.
 

bigx5murf

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#18
Doing a little research into Tannoy's coaxial drivers, I've stumbled upon this https://www.tannoy.com/innovation/ICT-Driver-Technology.html

Is it true their coaxial tech doesn't require a voice coil on the tweeter, or a crossover? If so sounds like a great candidate for DIY designs, basically the same effort as building a single driver full range speaker, but without the limitations?
 

mhardy6647

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#19
Dunno -- my understanding, though, is that's essentially the way the Lowthers work. The Lowthers' whizzer cones aren't strictly parasitic (as I understand it, which is minimally), but actually have a portion of the "main" VC winding driving them.
EDIT whoops, it's the polar opposite of the Lowther design -- inductively coupled, eh? hmm...

That said -- y'all ever heard Lowthers? They're -- an acquired taste, I'd opine. :)

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The Lowthers date back a long ways (late 1940s)

http://www.lowthervoigtmuseum.org.uk/history.html
 
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jhaider

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#20
Doing a little research into Tannoy's coaxial drivers, I've stumbled upon this https://www.tannoy.com/innovation/ICT-Driver-Technology.html

Is it true their coaxial tech doesn't require a voice coil on the tweeter, or a crossover? If so sounds like a great candidate for DIY designs, basically the same effort as building a single driver full range speaker, but without the limitations?
ICT is full range driver with a marketing hook that Tannoy uses in their cheapest outdoor and CI speakers.

Tannoy's newest coax design (by a lot of the people who are now Fyne) did go back to using one magnet for both drivers, like their originals. I write a little about the evolution of their Dual Concentric in my Tannoy Revolution XT 8F review. Andrew Jones' TAD coaxes and trickle-down derivatives badged Pioneer EX also use one magnet for both voice coils. His ELAC UniFi coax goes back to dual magnet.
 
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