The 12 Most Significant Loudspeakers of All Time

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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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.
one of my favourite speakers of all time, and I did enjoy owning them...they replaced Celestion SL6si's...also a great speaker that seemed (to me) to break new ground at the time.
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
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For sure all the speaker you mentioned are great, but none was as influential as Guarnieri Hommage - the lute shape is now widely used in speaker designs.
Agree totally --the SF Guarneri Homage is the pinnacle of Sonic bliss for a small Standmount--within it's limitations it has no peer.

BruceD
 

Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
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For sure all the speaker you mentioned are great, but none was as influential as Guarnieri Hommage - the lute shape is now widely used in speaker designs.
Thanks for your comments Adam. You actually had me looking at pics of Lutes and Guarnieri Homage speakers to refresh myself. I also went back & read part of the Stereophile review. I agree for the reasons you eluded to, these speakers deserve their place atop the list of classic mini-monitors. The JA Pulsars (good though they are) on reflection don't belong in this list.
 
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Ztatic

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May 31, 2010
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www.janszenloudspeaker.com
KLH Nines Rule Again

This is the title of a fascinating article in the current September 2010 Issue 205 of The Absolute Sound. In it, eight current reviewers of TAS, including founder Harry Pearson, were asked to name the dozen speakers which they thought to be the 12 most significant loudspeakers of all time.

#9 KLH Model Nine electrostatic

Here, I have to admit that I've never once heard these speakers. In the article, they are billed as the American answer to the British Quad 57. That may be. From all that has been written about them, however, I think I'd find them as frustrating as the Quads are to me because they promise more than they can really deliver. Like the Quads, they could not do symphonic music justice at realistic volume levels unless doubled up (at considerable expense for the time) and even then, the fuses would blow a lot.

The trend represented here is surely full-range line source electrostatics. It was probably the first commercial line-source speaker of any kind since it pre-dated the Magneplanars. Later models, such as the Acoustat, Sound Lab, Innersound, and the current Sanders models go way beyond the limitations talked about by those who have heard the KLH Model 9.

I do currently own a pair of restored KLH Model 12 speakers, however, which KLH said at the time were their closest approach to the Model 9 in a dynamic speaker, and which the manufacturer said was a much more practical speaker. The KLH Model 12 is a legitimate rival for the AR-3a, in my opinion, although I prefer the AR on most days. The KLH is more transparent than the AR and probably plays deeper and louder yet in the bass. But the tonal balance, despite seemingly more sophisticated crossover balance controls, is just a bit too incisive in the upper mids/lower highs and the treble from the doughnut tweeter is beamy. The doughnut-shaped tweeter looks like a forerunner of the one Kloss later used in the Advent, but in the Advent the treble definitely did not beam so.

Hi Tom,

I'm on a search for on-line mentions of the KLH Nine. That's an interesting list, and I was glad to see the KLH Nine there, but the writer might have benefited from ever hearing the KLH Nine, or even just knowing anything about it.

Most importantly, they're not a line array -- for those who also don't know, each panel has a single 4" square tweeter at the seated listener's ear height crossed over at 800 Hz to ten square feet of woofers. This means that the back wave in teh midrange and treble is of minimal consequence, tending to beam and intersect itself in first reflection and thus cause comb filtering artifacts as would happen with a large area, full range dipole like pretty much all the rest. The dipole bass is flat to 40 Hz when the woofers are made right, so there's no lack of depth. (Not sure why, but we are encountering woofers typically with overly tensioned diaphragms that prevent deep bass, easily rectified.)

They go pretty loud, but sure, not the same as live symphonic in the first few rows, but you'll never miss it at home. They're 16 Ohm speakers, and will go to full volume with about 50W RMS/ch, as long as there's a 16 ohm tap on the amp. They were meant to be paired with the Marantz EL34 gear of their day with about 35 - 40 W/ch. Otherwise, they'll need the equivalent voltage that they'd have got in that case, which would be 28V, equivalent to a solid state (or other) amp that can put 100W into 8 Ohms. More voltage than that, and there's a risk of arcing the woofers, at least in the original incarnation. (We've got a solution that will allow enough power to ionize the air in the gap without arcing, which will both increase sensitivity and allow higher maximum SPL, but it won't be ready for a while.)

Most importantly, they sound absolutely lovely, and they aren't as hard to place as any of the other electrostatics (except our own, because so far they are all monopoles). Anyone who has heard or owned KLH Nines will confirm both claims.

At JansZen, we've begun taking old stock of these speakers, improving them functionally in few ways, replacing the original, usually stained, cheesy cotton grill cloth with linen, and giving the frames a furniture grade finish.

I hope everyone who's a fan of the originals checks out our web site for more info.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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Thanks for setting me straight on the KLH Model 9, David.

If you want to own one of the ultimate vintage speakers, a refurbished KLH Model 9 set (or, better yet, perhaps, a double set), check out the Janszen website at http://www.janszenaudio.com/klh-nine-refurbishment-upgrade

Those looking for more information about the sound of the KLH Model 9 could do worse than to start with J. Gordon Holt's review for Stereophile at http://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/666klh/index.html#3bP76PSA3WvfwFxH.97

There, as in TAS, reviewers best liked a double set with two panels strapped together for each stereo channel.

Also about sonics, see the consumer reviews at the Audio Review site:

http://www.audioreview.com/cat/speakers/floorstanding-speakers/klh/model-9/prd_119903_1594crx.aspx
 

MrJodyM

New Member
Jul 23, 2019
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I have to wonder...the original Allison Model One speakers with the 10 inch subs. Roy deserves some credit? These heavyweights are mighty impressive.
 
May 25, 2010
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I would nominate the Bose 901. Whatever one thinks of the sound quality, it made Bose the name that most people associate with high fidelity speakers, and maybe high fidelity. The 901 finally ended production in 2017 after 50 years of production, making it the speaker second longest in continuous production, after the Klipschorn. It is probably the best selling speaker than no one on WBF owns (or admits they own.) I believe Bose Corporation has become the largest privately held "hifi" company in the world, with annual sales of about $4B, employing 8000 people worldwide.

Larry
 
Apr 24, 2018
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Ha! Interesting proposal, the Bose 901s. They were certainly influential during the mid to late 70s when I made my first major audio purchase, a Pioneer SX-1050 Stereo Receiver, and I needed some speakers to go with it. So I will admit to owning them for a number of years until I replaced them with Quad ESL-63s, which, in contrast, I am proud to admit to owning, and which incidentally are still the featured speakers in my main audio system.

It was a testament to how important was the Bose 901 impact at that time that one of the major EE engineers at HP, who incidentally eventually rose to the position of VP, had done a tear down of the Bose 901s and their equalizer and made engineering drawings that covered every detail of how to duplicate them. Those engineering drawings were passed around and I decided to join a group of co-workers who were going to follow those drawings and build them. So I became the only female in the group and the 8 or 9 of us built at least 12 pairs of speakers and equalizers, sourcing all the parts from the sources Bose used. I built two sets though as it turned out, I never used the second set, but it did get passed around in my family and was still in use less than ten years ago.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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I am going to add Apogee Diva or Duetta on the list.

They are so musical.
I agree about Apogees missing on that list but I would either nominate "The Apogee" aka the FullRange or the Scintilla.
 
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Brucemck2

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May 10, 2010
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If I reflect on the ones I've heard that instantly changed my perspective on what was possible - the ones that forever changed my listening perspectives - they'd be: Klipsch Corner horns, Dalquist DQ-10s, Wilson Watts (on Mark Levinson's early gear), Heil AMTs (ESS?), Thiels (not sure the model but they were two ways), giant CLS and Soundlabs (on Krell amps), giant Dunlavy coffins (on giant VTL amps), and Avantgarde Duo's (with Viva, Walker and Koetsu upstream)
 

Loheswaran

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Dec 20, 2014
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I'm astonished that neither:

B & W Nautilus - built with little to no compromise

nor

Yamaha NS1000M - the fact that they are still used and sought after in studios the world over speaks for itself. At least 30 years ahead of its time and better than the new version that costs over 15K

whats so important about the Magico?
 
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Alrainbow

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Dec 12, 2013
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How is an NS1000 ahead of its time.?

BTW , Both of those speakers never delivered as hyped so no trophy for effort ...
 
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jdza

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May 3, 2010
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How is an NS1000 ahead of its time.?

BTW , Both of those speakers never delivered as hyped so no trophy for effort ...
I do believe a Berillium dome midrange driver and tweeter in the mid 70s in a domestic speaker would put the NS 1000 right up there ,regardless of how it sounds. Certainly deserving of a trophy for effort. Yes there was TAD but hardly domestic as the term is generally understood.
 
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Mar 14, 2019
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In keeping with the idea of a speaker that what unusual or contained novelty in its design and influenced others, I would also honorably mention Arnie Nuddel's Genesis V and Linkwitz's Orion.

*The Genesis V was composed of two parts, the bass-shy upper & and a separate, active, woofer section with servo-controlled amplification. It was full-range with a manageable footprint and had comprehensive room-matching controls. I believe the Gen Vs predated similar (and probably technologically more advanced) designs from Wilson (Watt-Puppy), Vandy (V-5?), etc.

*The Orion is an extremely advanced, open-baffle speaker-design that emulates the sound of electrostats, but with good frequency extension at both ends (unlike electrostats) and real-life dynamics & SPL. It's a very complex design (superseded since by Linkwitz himself and others), but it did produce sounds that at the time I, at least, had only ever heard from q-57s (but without the FR nor the SPL) or Grand Utopias (~30yrs ago driven by four Krells!).

A fascinating read, some nominations inspire nostalgia: Rogers LS/3 5A (wish I had never sold those!), Spendor (BBC anyone, or SP-3), Apogee Scintilla (back in the day I never managed to drive those loud enough!)...

Does anyone remember who made transmission-line speakers back in the early '90s? Regards
 

steve59

Active Member
Jan 7, 2018
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You guys can get serious, leave us music lovers in a trail of dust. I thought the 901 deserved mention for the attempt to room interaction effecting sound. The kef r107 was the only passive speaker that(compared to reflex) wasn't affected by my rooms bass null...something to be said for designing speakers that don't hand off responsibility below 300 hz to the room. Were any dsp designs on the list?
 

Loheswaran

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2014
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How is an NS1000 ahead of its time.?

BTW , Both of those speakers never delivered as hyped so no trophy for effort ...
I think @jdza took most of the words out of my mouth. The fact that studios the world over still use them speaks for itself. If you used and didn't like them -fair enough - they are marmite to some people and i respect that (they don't like fast accurate, transparent speakers with exceptional timing ;))They need either push-pull valves or smooth solid state amps like my Lavardin IT or Sugden Masterclass.

But this is about significant and important speakers. Tell me other than the Quad 57 and to a lesser extent the Ls3/5a are used so extensively for mastering music. I personally find the ls3/5a utterly dull and over-rated (lynch me) but i can't dispute its importance in the same way the AR is 'important/significant'
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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Apogee Scintilla (back in the day I never managed to drive those loud enough!)...
What amps did you try?
I had excellent results with Lamm M1.1 hybrids :cool:

Does anyone remember who made transmission-line speakers back in the early '90s? Regards
Maybe Quadral Titan from Germany?
 
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LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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Celestion also made a transmission line floorstander. It was part of the next generation of bookshelves and floostanders after the SL700 came out. Celestion 300...came out in 1993 or so as I recall. celestion-300.jpg
 

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