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A Flight of Lowthers

Jack Roberts & The Flight of the Mini-monitors, Part 8

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A Tasting Flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, for the purpose of sampling and comparison. My Tasting Flight comes from Great Britain and are made by the famed Lowther Loudspeakers Ltd. The 5-inch drivers were all housed in the Teresonic Magus cabinet. The 8-inch drivers were housed in Teresonic’s Ingenium cabinet.

So before we start to listen to the different flavors and taste of these wonderful drivers, let me introduce you to each of them and to the legendary company that has brought us musically faithful speakers since the 1930s. (Pictured: The first permanent magnet model PM1 with a flux density of 18,000 Gauss (1.8 Tesla) was released in 1949 at a cost of GBP 40. Information by Mike Zivkovic.)

As I have shared many times with you in the past, my favorite audio writer by far is Art Dudley, especially when he was the publisher of the “Listener” audio journal. I still miss Listener magazine and am still trying to complete my collection. It was he who whetted my appetite to hear some Lowther-based speakers. So when I started reviewing, the first thing I asked Constantine for was Lowther-based speakers to review. He was sort of slow getting me a pair but in the last four years I have now had seven different pairs to listen to in my system. In Teresonic cabinets I have found them to be the very best speakers I have ever heard, along with the Shindo and Auditorium 23 speakers.

The ironic thing is that it seems Art Dudley, who was very much influenced early on as an audiophile by Lowther, didn’t come to personally own Quad 57 ESLs until 2006. My audiophile path is almost just the opposite. I cut my teeth on the Quad 57s, and still in my mind’s eye I judge all other speakers by how they compare to them. It would be 2007 before I would have a pair of Lowther drivers pumping music into my listening room.

The real question about Lowthers has to be what has made them continue to be so loved by music lovers for nearly 70 years. Lowther has been able to combine a low-mass paper cone with different, incredibly powerful magnet to produce a driver that has a voltage sensitivity around 97dB in free air, often over 100dB in a cabinet. Lowther did a lot of work on magnets, and after WWII released the new PM1 driver. It retained the same performance as the original Voigt but was easier to manufacture and use. This was an era of real success for Lowther. By the late 1950s, people began to want stereo and the search was on in most of the world to build smaller loudspeakers. Thank goodness, Lowther has continued to refine and produce their wonderful drivers to this day. Lowthers are far from perfect though. They are known for what is called the “Lowther Shout”. This is where the engineers and music lovers at Teresonic come into the picture. They have tuned their cabinets with resonators to produce an unbelievably musical speaker.

Well, this gave you a little intro to Lowther; now let me introduce you to each driver in this tasting, starting with the A55 driver. It is a 5-inch paper driver with a large Alnico magnet. It is available in either 8 or 15 ohms. The pair I had for this tasting was in 15 ohms. Alnico magnets, for years, were the only magnets people thought of when they thought of Lowther. Alnico magnets are admired by many for their exceptional ability at reproducing the harmonic structure of instruments and voices. Many believe that speakers with Alnico magnets sound more real than any other speakers.

The next set of Magus cabinets were fitted with the Lowther DX55 drivers with silver wound voice coils. They use Neodymium magnets, or sometimes as they are called, rare earth magnets. Neodymium magnets are extremely powerful for their weight. Speakers with rare earth magnets are known for sounding extremely fast, with very quick transient response. They also are known for their big and bold sound. The last set had the Lowther DX65 drivers with silver voice coils. This is the newest driver from Lowther. I recently reviewed the Magus Silver XR, the first speaker to my knowledge to use this brand new driver from Lowther. It is still a Neodymium magnet, but stronger and over a pound heavier.

Now that you know the drivers that make up our Tasting Flight from Britain. I want to start by giving you my initial reaction to listening to them and then come back in a couple of months and give you my final description of these drivers.

The picture of the Lowthers (near the Conclusion) in this review was made right after Mike Zivkovic, President of Teresonic, dropped off the three pair of Magus cabinets with the three different Lowther 5-inch drivers. Becky and I had just got back from New York and the Westminster Dog Show. This may explain why when I first looked at this picture, I thought, “look, my Teresonic’s have had puppies.” Even now, looking at the picture it does look a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?

I want to start by saying the reason I keep referring to this as a tasting is because, I’m not trying to come up with which one of these Lowthers is best, but to help you understand the subtle differences in the flavors of their sound.

Results of the Tasting

I notice I’ve spent all this time talking about the Lowther drivers and have hardly mentioned the Magus cabinet. The great thing about the Magus is that its design allows it to accommodate all these drivers and then some (including even non-Lowther drivers such as Feastrex). The Magus is beautiful and tuned to get incredible sound out of these drivers. Two thumbs up to the people at Teresonic for developing such a high efficient, beautiful, and small speaker that so many can afford and enjoy in a variety of room sizes.

Well the first tasting was quite a week. I spent a day listening to each speaker, and then I went back and forth for the rest of the week. I think I can give you a pretty good analyses of the different flavors of these three drivers. Which one I preferred depended a lot on associated equipment. So let’s get down to the results.

The Lowther DX65 in the Teresonic Magus cabinet, without a doubt, sounds the most like my Teresonic Ingenium Silvers. It is very transparent, lightening fast, articulate, very powerful, and plays the deepest into the bass regions of the three. It is a very revealing driver and not very forgiving of transistor amps. I think it would do best in a system like my reference system, with 300B amps, a really world-class tube preamp, and a very good vinyl setup. If you must do digital, this driver will require that you spend some money on a very good digital source. Still, when all is said and done, the Magus Silver XR is still the best small speaker I have heard; that is as long as you have high-caliber equipment in front of it. Because the DX65 could never be called a warm or forgiving driver.

The Lowther A55, on the other hand, has a slightly different taste; it is a little more full-bodied and robust. While it does not go quite as deep as the DX65, it seems to have a little more bass, especially a little fuller mid-bass and midrange. It also has slightly more sparkle in the upper midrange and treble. It is not quite as detailed or fast as the DX65, but not far behind.

I found that the A55 in the Teresonic Magus cabinet worked wonderfully both in my reference system and my upstairs system that is mainly for movies and digital music. I particularly liked it for movies and TV. Its articulate midrange, combined with its robust mid-bass, just sounded very natural in that system using a Roksan Caspian M Series-1 integrated amp. There will be many audiophiles and music lovers who will fall in love with this Alnico magnet Lowther five-inch driver for just the sheer beauty it has when playing music. I feel in love with it for my video system, and purchased the review pair. I have to admit I also feel in love with how the Magus cabinet looked in my main living room.

This brings us to the Lowther DX55, I want to say it falls in between the other two drivers, but that would not be quite correct. It sounds more like the DX65, but not quite as forceful, fast, or detailed. These may sound like negatives, but they are not in most systems. They definitely work better with less expensive amps and with digital sources. They cost $1,500 less than the other two and, with many systems, will sound better, because they are slightly more forgiving. In the Magus cabinet, it gives you the best speaker I have heard for under $5,000. Please, I did not say the best small speaker, but the best speaker I have heard under five grand.

Conclusion

The Teresonic Magus cabinet with any one of these three drivers are exceptional speakers. They all three are closer to each other in sound than they are different. The subtle differences in taste are exactly that, difference in taste. They are also three speakers that are very difficult to just taste. They make you want to drink down every last drop of the musical performance you are listening to. Well done, Lowther and Teresonic.

Manufacturer’s comments:

Jack and Dagogo, thank you for taking on this kind of comparative review that has never been done before. Although Magus is the smallest speaker with a Lowther driver on the market, it certainly posed some challenges dealing with three pairs of speakers and positioning them correctly. We appreciate the effort and we are sure your readers will too.

Designing and making full range, single-driver speakers is a combination of science and art, similar to making musical instruments. It’s always a multi-year project involving many refinements and countless listening tests. For us, it’s all about refining and refining until it seems like there’s nothing between you and your music. Designing full range, single-driver speakers of such a small size and enabling all these wonderful driver choices to work in the same enclosure was an even more challenging task.

The ultimate test for all Teresonic speakers is how you, the listeners directly engage with it… how musical they are. As human beings our first response to anything is dominated not by calculations (frequency response numbers, size and depth of sound stage, etc.) but by feelings. Teresonic speakers are made to help you establish an emotional relationship with music, and we are pleased that was one of Jack’s key findings.

Magus offers so much in musicality, detail, clarity, coherence, efficiency, finish but in many ways, it’s the things that are not there that we are most proud of. The absence of cross-over circuitry, that’s a necessity in traditional multi-driver speakers, makes Magus free of distortions, colorations, inefficiencies… so that you can truly enjoy the music.

The Teresonic team

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One Response to A Flight of Lowthers


  1. Gerald Gaylard says:

    Thanks so much for this very informative review Jack; much appreciated. I am a music lover who shares many of your tastes and biases and hence finds your comments really helpful. I was particularly struck by your comments about the alnico magnet Lowthers which you found particularly “natural”, full-bodied, able to play music with “sheer beauty” and quite forgiving of sources. I fully endorse what you are saying. After many years of experimentation I’ve found myself using alnico magnets in both cartridges – Kiseki and Dynavector – and speakers – Feastrex. Not only does alnico provide a very flat, linear frequency response, but as Takeda San of Miyabi put it, it does not sound “nervous” – there is very little grain, spit, noise or break up with it. There is a good sonic reason why alnico was the audio magnet of choice for so many decades, and why it is still the permanent magnet of choice, especially in Japan and the far East. To my ears, for a steep price, only electromagnets can beat it.

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