The 12 Most Significant Loudspeakers of All Time

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
11,410
395
628
#81
Hi Loydlee

Well, the JH-90 might sound fine but really would be the definition of overkill as a stereo pair in a living room.
Consider that the Omnimax to Imax theater conversions use something much smaller, the SH-96 as in this one;

http://www.danleysoundlabs.com/danleyport.asp?ID=58

Or a new cabinet the SH126 (not on the web site yet).

I use a much smaller cabinet yet at home normally, the SH-50’s Right and left and these are more than enough for a living room.
They are used in larger spaces than living rooms but I like the headroom.
The sensitivity is about 100dB 1w 1m and this box (as I tried it) can reproduce a square wave from about 260Hz to about 1900Hz, anywhere from fair to excellent looking on an oscilloscope.

Enough people have heard these by now that you could do a Google search and find other peoples impressions as I am unavoidably biased haha..

While none of the Synergy horns has a “minimum listening distance”, what one does hear quickly is the large reduction in side wall reflections because of the directivity. The cabinets with an angle cut on the sides can be arrayed with another speaker without audible interference or seam but they can also be placed on a wall or floor (on that angle) and not produce a reflection.
In a narrow room, this allows the image to be much wider as the speakers can be on the wall boundary.

The down side is that because nearly all of our sales are for commercial spaces, we do not normally have “wood finish” cabinets in stock.
Also, while my personal interest is and always has been “hifi” the company has a growing niche in commercial sound.
I have started on a smaller “hifi” speaker a number of times but have always been dragged off (mentally) on other products.

An interest of mine obviously i guess is the stereo image and I have been working on a microphone array to capture it. If interested, try a couple of the wave files at the bottom of the page below. Use headphones as this is the “front” 120 degree stereo image (if it were your eyes looking forward). I am working on a 5 channel version at the moment.
Sound files at bottom of this page;

http://www.danleysoundlabs.com/technical downloads.html

Best,
Tom Danley
Thanks again for that!!! Much appreciated. done some interesting reading
 

MylesBAstor

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
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New York City
#83

Colin

New Member
Feb 10, 2013
2
0
0
#85
Hi, I'm a new member to the forum and as a music lover and owner of AR3a Improved loudspeakers from new in 1974, was very interested in the top 12 loudspeaker review. I was also interested in Sparky's comments and whilst I respect his point of view I disagree and am prompted to offer my comments about AR3a Improved speakers.

If you will bear with me I will put my forthcoming comments in some perspective by providing a few details about my background. Firstly and importantly I have recently had my ears routinely tested and have perfectly normal hearing in both ears with regard to sensitivity and excellent frequency response for my age, 60. Since my teens I have very regularly attended live performances of all Genres of music. For example Pink Floyd and the original Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green at the Royal Albert Hall (RAH), Oscar Peterson and Ronnie Scott at the Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club London, the London Symphony Orchestra at the RAH, Marisa Robles (Harpist) at the Wigmore Hall, London. More recently I have attended the BBC studios at White City for a live recording and broadcast of an addition of the Jools Holland show with the Foo Fighters, Sting (Acoustic), Nora Jones, JZ and Stornoway. Just before Christmas 2012 I attended at the Royal Naval College Greenwich, a Christmas performance and live BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC singers performing Tavener, Bax, Ireland and Finzi. The Jools Holland show I simultaneously recorded to playback and listen to again at home the following day. The BBC Radio 3 performance I was able to listen to again directly from a high quality BBC digital download.

I should also mention that I from time to time listen to modern speaker offerings and older models such as KEF, B&W, Tannoy, PMC, Quad, IMF etc, etc ranging in price from £1,000 to £30,000 +

My AR3a Improved speakers have been maintained and refurbished over the years, partly with the assistance of Wembley Loudspeakers, with original parts where ever possible. A appreciate this is a subjective matter and personal taste plays a big part but I have still not heard any speakers old or recent models that can reproduce music or the human spoken voice significantly more naturally for me to want to change them. They are not audiophile speakers that instantly impress with their attack, punch in the stomach bass and rising top, they simply tell it as it is. This often means rubbish in rubbish out. If you have a marginal quality recording (and there are plenty of those) it will sound that way. If the mike set up at a performance or sound desk set up is not ideal, the AR3a Improved speakers will show this up. I have noted before how some audiophiles when sat in front of really accurate/neutral speakers with a top quality audio source have been visibly disappointed at the lack of instant gratification that they may get from audiophile speakers. I suggest they go to a few more well set up live performances.

I would add, it is my belief that whilst technological advances in speaker design have surely happened, probably mainly in power handling, I think they are frequently overstated and often the greatest changes are cosmetic . This is not surprising, really, when you consider the competition and pressure on manufacturers to satisfy sales objectives to create profit.

I am still waiting and will continue to listen out for a speaker that gives more realistic sound reproduction and a better emotional experience than my AR3a Improved.

NB: From time to time I do connect up my Mullard 20w per channel valve amplifier that also provides a wonderfully realistic performance on the AR3a speakers.

Colin




HI All,
I may be wrong but I think the list was for Most Influential Speakers not the best speakers. IOW, these speakers had the greatest influence on speaker technology in general.

Personally, I would list many other speakers as favorites of mine. But, that's not the point. Take, for example, the AR-3A's. In today's world it is hopelessly out performed by many newer speakers. Yet, can anyone name a speaker that revolutionized the world of speakers at the exact time when such a revolution was needed? Acoustic suspension made great bass possible in an average sized room in a STEREO format, stereo being the operative word.

Until then great bass was only possible with gigantic speakers (K-horns, Patricians). With stereo, now you needed to fit two of these monsters into a room. This not even discussing the expense. The AR-3A changed all this and made good sounding (for the time) stereo possible in a reasonable room. And following closely on the heels of the AR-3A came stereo solid state amplifiers. These two developments made stereo sound possible for a much larger market.

And obviously, the acoustic suspension idea came to dominate the market and is still very influential.

I think this illustrates the point of the list.

Sparky
 

flez007

Member Sponsor
Aug 31, 2010
2,899
6
36
Mexico City
#86
Welcome Colin...I read your post fully and agree on the fact that the basics of most of the dynamic speakers has remained over the years. There is an interesting thread here that addresses in some way your point and relates to "tastes" as far as component/audio technology decisions.
 

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,644
621
660
Manila, Philippines
#87
I always liked the DQ-8 better than the DQ-10.
 

MylesBAstor

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,223
7
585
New York City
#88
Hi, I'm a new member to the forum and as a music lover and owner of AR3a Improved loudspeakers from new in 1974, was very interested in the top 12 loudspeaker review. I was also interested in Sparky's comments and whilst I respect his point of view I disagree and am prompted to offer my comments about AR3a Improved speakers.

If you will bear with me I will put my forthcoming comments in some perspective by providing a few details about my background. Firstly and importantly I have recently had my ears routinely tested and have perfectly normal hearing in both ears with regard to sensitivity and excellent frequency response for my age, 60. Since my teens I have very regularly attended live performances of all Genres of music. For example Pink Floyd and the original Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green at the Royal Albert Hall (RAH), Oscar Peterson and Ronnie Scott at the Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club London, the London Symphony Orchestra at the RAH, Marisa Robles (Harpist) at the Wigmore Hall, London. More recently I have attended the BBC studios at White City for a live recording and broadcast of an addition of the Jools Holland show with the Foo Fighters, Sting (Acoustic), Nora Jones, JZ and Stornoway. Just before Christmas 2012 I attended at the Royal Naval College Greenwich, a Christmas performance and live BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC singers performing Tavener, Bax, Ireland and Finzi. The Jools Holland show I simultaneously recorded to playback and listen to again at home the following day. The BBC Radio 3 performance I was able to listen to again directly from a high quality BBC digital download.

I should also mention that I from time to time listen to modern speaker offerings and older models such as KEF, B&W, Tannoy, PMC, Quad, IMF etc, etc ranging in price from £1,000 to £30,000 +

My AR3a Improved speakers have been maintained and refurbished over the years, partly with the assistance of Wembley Loudspeakers, with original parts where ever possible. A appreciate this is a subjective matter and personal taste plays a big part but I have still not heard any speakers old or recent models that can reproduce music or the human spoken voice significantly more naturally for me to want to change them. They are not audiophile speakers that instantly impress with their attack, punch in the stomach bass and rising top, they simply tell it as it is. This often means rubbish in rubbish out. If you have a marginal quality recording (and there are plenty of those) it will sound that way. If the mike set up at a performance or sound desk set up is not ideal, the AR3a Improved speakers will show this up. I have noted before how some audiophiles when sat in front of really accurate/neutral speakers with a top quality audio source have been visibly disappointed at the lack of instant gratification that they may get from audiophile speakers. I suggest they go to a few more well set up live performances.

I would add, it is my belief that whilst technological advances in speaker design have surely happened, probably mainly in power handling, I think they are frequently overstated and often the greatest changes are cosmetic . This is not surprising, really, when you consider the competition and pressure on manufacturers to satisfy sales objectives to create profit.

I am still waiting and will continue to listen out for a speaker that gives more realistic sound reproduction and a better emotional experience than my AR3a Improved.

NB: From time to time I do connect up my Mullard 20w per channel valve amplifier that also provides a wonderfully realistic performance on the AR3a speakers.

Colin
Welcome aboard Colin.

I'm jealous that you got to hear that angel on the harp! Her Argo recordings, particularly the Music of Spain and France are must-haves!

I often think we choose our speakers based upon those qualities we feel are the most important (since neither speakers nor electronics can do it all) to recreating the sound of our favorite music.
 

Colin

New Member
Feb 10, 2013
2
0
0
#89
Yes Myles, it was a great performance from Marisa at an excellent venue and I concur with the comment in your second paragraph.
 

tkollen

New Member
Nov 11, 2013
2
0
0
#90
HI,
I owned the DQ-10's, eventually fully upgraded. I don't know exactly what you mean by evidence. Measured performance? If so, then I'll let my ears do the deciding.

I do know this. The DQ-10's taught me about imaging, stage depth, and placement. I think this is proof of time coherence. Of course, this is evidence offered only by my ears, the only thing that counts with me. If I hear it, it is there, period. But that will probably not prove anything to you.

I grew out of the DQ-10's. They were flawed mostly, I think, because of their use of inexpensive drivers and that stupid super tweeter. Also, because of the inexpensive drivers, many crossover points were necessary. Too many. I have learned to hate crossovers. This is the result of a speaker that was designed to a price point. The relatively low price caused detrimental tradeoffs. One result is the speaker was popular and exposed many folks to their strong points. Why they are still in demand is a bit beyond me. The state of the art has moved on.

The DQ-10's did start my journey into panel type speakers and I have never returned to conventional designs. After Acoustat and Apogee I settled on Martin Logan CLS IIA's (biamped with dual subs) which I have had for twenty years. No plans to change.

I do think the DQ-10's, even with their flaws, were very influential speakers. They certainly influenced me.

They belong on the list.

Sparky

I agree that the DQ10 is one of the great speakers of all time, this in spite of its use of mediocre drivers (by 70's standards). I bought mine in the late seventies and since then I have also owned and sold most of the "great" speakers of the day. The only speakers I have kept are the DQ1-'s and ESB 7/06 which still remain my favorites, even by today's standards. What I eventually came to realize was that the DQ10 in the seventies was a very promising design with great potential. I made it a life long hobby to improve them using modern high end drivers in combination with a Sequerra ribbon tweeter replacing the Motorola tweeter, reworking the crossover etc. To my ears they beat anything on the market today.

Regarding "time coherence" I think that was more a marketing term than anything else. I have measured the speaker thoroughly with laboratory equipment and came to realize that the speaker is far from time coherent. It does however play a clever trick with both time delay and phase shift from the drivers to create a spacious and believable illusiion of the sound stage, an effect that can be substantially enhanced with modern drivers. I have yet to find a Nola system that sounds as good as my DQ10's and I wish Carl Marchisotto had continued to improve on the original DQ10 design.
 
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audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,767
40
225
Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#91
Best-sounding headphones you've ever heard, Dunlavy SC-VI's...)
I was actually surprised to not see any of the Dunlavy's on the list of influential speakers.

Short of the narrow sweet spot and the limited power handling of the tweeter, the VI's (I owned two different pair as well as III's IV's, IV-A's, V's) were the best "overall" speaker I owned for a very long time. There were lots of speakers that did individual things better (e.g. the large Wilson mid-bass slam; Apogee/Maggie mid-range), but time marches on and Dunlavy is no longer around. Would love to have heard what he would build today given the vast improvement in drivers, DSP technology and cabinet material. Oh well !!
 

Cyclotronguy

Well-Known Member
Aug 31, 2012
70
8
83
N. CA
#92
Back on page one of this thread the comment was made that KLH 9's didn't play loud, and I've heard that many times. Having had a pair in the 70's I cannot say that was my experience.

My univ room mate had ESS AMT 1B's, and I seem to recall the KLH's played every bit as loud as the AMT's. Either one was a potential lease breaker.

Cyclotronguy
 
Jul 12, 2014
1
1
0
#93
Working for a Boston area HiFi store in the late 60s I had the good fortune to sell, work on, and listen to many different sets of KLH 9s. The ideal setup was to have 2 sets of 9s, each pair attached as per the above suggestion, suitable amplification wold be 4 Dyanaco MKIII , 2 Mac 275s, or the best was a showroom setup of 2 Mac MC-3500s. Admittedly the seating area was 1 chair wide for best imaging and high end balance. But the sound was incredible, and near concert hall volumes were obtainable. The double Advents were set up in the same room, and on a price, performance ratio they compared well to any speaker in the room.
 
Likes: Jim Smith
#94
The Nines

Working for a Boston area HiFi store in the late 60s I had the good fortune to sell, work on, and listen to many different sets of KLH 9s. The ideal setup was to have 2 sets of 9s, each pair attached as per the above suggestion, suitable amplification wold be 4 Dyanaco MKIII , 2 Mac 275s, or the best was a showroom setup of 2 Mac MC-3500s. Admittedly the seating area was 1 chair wide for best imaging and high end balance. But the sound was incredible, and near concert hall volumes were obtainable. The double Advents were set up in the same room, and on a price, performance ratio they compared well to any speaker in the room.

O yes great-memories with the Nines, I recall everybody would flip out hearing Leroy Anderson Sleigh Ride on Decca LP :cool:
 

MylesBAstor

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,223
7
585
New York City
#95
O yes great-memories with the Nines, I recall everybody would flip out hearing Leroy Anderson Sleigh Ride on Decca LP :cool:
Decca or do you mean Mercury? I don't recall that on Decca?
 
#96
Nines

:)
Decca or do you mean Mercury? I don't recall that on Decca?

Actually I had both but preferred the Decca.

Another audio story, I was at a Magnepan seminar in a NY dealer and the real Mr. Winey was there.
We were listening to the latest Tympany MkIV with the Carver Silver 7 on top & a ARC S/S amp on the bottom separated by a modded Dalquest LP-10 .
Anyway Winey was asking the guys what they were using when He got to Me I said the Nines.
He smiled, and glanced at with a look of wistful reminiscence and said talking about the Nines is like talking about an old Girlfriend :cool:
 

MylesBAstor

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,223
7
585
New York City
#97
:)


Actually I had both but preferred the Decca.

Another audio story, I was at a Magnepan seminar in a NY dealer and the real Mr. Winey was there.
We were listening to the latest Tympany MkIV with the Carver Silver 7 on top & a ARC S/S amp on the bottom separated by a modded Dalquest LP-10 .
Anyway Winey was asking the guys what they were using when He got to Me I said the Nines.
He smiled, and glanced at with a look of wistful reminiscence and said talking about the Nines is like talking about an old Girlfriend :cool:
Thanks, looks like before my time being a 1950's mono release.
 

Elberoth

Member Sponsor
Dec 16, 2012
1,996
190
320
Poland
#98
If any of the current minimonitors should be included, it certainly should be the SF Guarneri Homage. It was the first speaker to use a lute shaped cross section. Franco Serblin tried to patent the shape but failed for whatever reason, as B&W copied it shortly after in their Nautilus line of speakers, and others quickly followed. Right now almost all modern speakers use this shape.
 
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Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
1,052
341
155
#99
If any of the current minimonitors should be included, it certainly should be the SF Guarnieri Homage. It was the first speaker to use a lute shaped cross section. Franco Serblin tried to patent the shape but failed for whatever reason, as B&W copied it shortly after in their Nautilus line of speakers, and others quickly followed. Right now almost all modern speakers use this shape.
They are classics for sure Adam, along with the SF Extrema. In mini-monitors i'd vote for the Joseph Audio Pulsar which is a real peach, whilst the Peak Consult Jeanne d'Arc would have to make the case as the best large stand mounts ever made.
 

Elberoth

Member Sponsor
Dec 16, 2012
1,996
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Poland
They are classics for sure Adam, along with the SF Extrema. In mini-monitors i'd vote for the Joseph Audio Pulsar which is a real peach, whilst the Peak Consult Jeanne d'Arc would have to make the case as the best large stand mounts ever made.
For sure all the speaker you mentioned are great, but none was as influential as Guarneri Homage - the lute shape is now widely used in speaker designs.
 
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