This month, Dagogo has the privilege of publishing the premiere review of the Teresonic Magus XR, an American loudspeaker design utilizing Lowther’s latest technological tour de force: the DX65.
All major loudspeaker manufacturers adopt multi-driver designs. While some opt for as many as a 5-way design with 5 or more drivers to maximize speaker capability and minimize distortions, others insist upon a minimal 2-way 2-driver approach as the multi-driver design that is least disruptive to signal purity. Lowther, with its 5- and 8-inch full-range drivers of various magnet systems, has been the prime purveyor of the single-driver, crossover-less approach since the 1950s.
Complementing the worldwide debut of the 5-inch Lowther DX65 driver in the Teresonic Magus XR review, Dagogo offers its readers this companion article in which we have gathered background information and comments on the DX65 from: Mike Zivkovic, president of Teresonic, Jon Ver Halen, president of Lowther America and Diane Hanson of Lowther UK. I would like to express my gratitude toward these companies for their time and cooperation.
Ms. Hanson has been Lowther’s Managing Director for almost 30 years, we shall start with comments from her.
Lowther UK: Diane Hanson
DX65, History, Marketing, Common Misconceptions, “Towards Perfection”, “Most Expensive Is Not Always The Best”
The DX65 was officially launched in January of 2009. It has a superior magnet system to the DX55, hence the midrange separation is even more exacting, coupled with lower bass register.
The history of Lowther is extensive. Our founder was Paul Voigt, who, back in the late 1920s created the first full range drive unit. “Across the Pond”, at pretty much the same time, coincidentally, Rice and Kellogg were working on a single cone unit. Voigt teamed up with Peter Lowther in the early 1930s to manufacture and market the Voigt Corner Horn and the PM6 permanent magnet drive unit. In the late 1930s, Paul Voigt moved to Canada to work on his theory regarding magnetism and gravity. After the War, Peter Lowther teamed up with Donald Chave to manufacture drive units and enclosures. The first exports began back in the late 1950s and have so continued.
All Lowther products are completely handmade, hence we only take on new markets when we are geared up to produce additional stock. This takes time, due to the training of staff required to produce the high quality goods to Lowther’s exacting standards.
Most recent product launches include the TP1 “Imperator”, our flagship complete speaker, which was launched in April of this year to celebrate 75 years of manufacturing. The EX range of driver units was launched in 2002. Each model in the ‘EX’ range incorporates an acoustic chamber precisely tuned for optimum performance. Cone assemblies are pressure balanced between the acoustic chamber at the rear and a phasing equalizer fitted to the front. No unwanted oscillations of the speech coil occur. Only bass frequencies will pass through the acoustic chamber, so avoiding bass/mid-range confusion, often a cause of coloration.
The DX range of drive units, comprising of the DX2, DX3 and DX4, were first produced in 1995. Lowther was the first company, that we are aware of, to use Neodymium. Neodymium magnets give more power for less mass. Looking to the future, Lowther’s field coil production, once finalised, should go ahead by Spring 2010.
US audiophiles are supplied by Jon Ver Halen (Lowther Club of America) and Teresonic is a major US OEM who use Lowther drive units in its range of enclosures. Other companies, worldwide, that use Lowther drive units within their own manufacture enclosures are Utopia in Japan, Rethm in India, Hørning Hybrid of Denmark and Ferguson Hill in the UK. All of these companies have websites, which, for your ease, are listed on our website www.lowtherloudspeakers.com.
One misconception of the Lowther is that its drivers’ diaphragms are “delicate”. In fact, coil treatment ensures they are capable of withstanding 180 degrees centigrade, so coil burn-out is a rarity. Back in the early days of Lowther manufacturing, high temperature adhesives were unheard of, so Lowther units were then rated 6 watts. Whilst they will take the power, high powered amplifiers are unnecessary with Lowther units, as they are so very efficient.
Lowther has experimented with many types of material, this is ongoing, but as yet the special paper we use with the coated formula we have used for so long still produces the best sound. Of course there are easier as well as more cost effective materials, but our philosophy remains unchanged since the very beginning, which is to produce most lifelike sound possible, hence our motto Towards Perfection.
We try to suit all audiophiles listening tastes and room size, whether the listening room is ‘live’ or heavily furnished makes a great difference in drive unit and enclosure choice, and offer unbiased advise. Sometimes the biggest or most expensive is not always the best. There are so many variables… .
Lowther Loudspeakers Ltd.
Lowther America, Jon Ver Halen, president
There has always been some sonic trade-offs between the 8″ and 5″ Lowther drivers. The single most important one, for me, was that the 5″ drivers lacked the dynamics and musical flow of the larger 8″ drivers. I was never sure if this was the result of the lesser efficiency of the 5″ drivers, or the just the physics of a 5″ driver not being able to “throw” as much air. With the advent of the DX65, it has become obvious that the limitation was efficiency. The DX65 has similar efficiency to the PM6A. Along with that greater efficiency, the dynamics have grown to be similar to 8″ drivers, something which was unexpected, and an absolute delight.
The frequency response of the DX65 is tilted upward in its natural state, but easily tamed with a simple inductor/resistor network. When properly implemented, the resulting frequency response is extremely flat, has no noticeable resonances, and creates a wonderful, open, precise and deep soundstage. The lack of capacitors, and the resulting rising impedance, makes this very easy for a tube amp to drive. A wonderful addition to the Lowther drivers.
Jon Ver Halen
Teresonic: Mike Zivkovic, president
Factors in Teresonic’s decision to adopt the Lowther DX65 driver
After working with and listening to many full-range drivers, we have found Lowther’s to be the best sounding full-range drivers available. They aren’t easiest to work with and create many challenges for speaker designers, but will produce wonderful results if the design is done right. We have found that the best results are accomplished by using principles of designing and building musical instruments (think violin, cello…). These principles were refined over hundreds of years and are certainly valid today. Take a closer look at Magus and you will recognize that it’s designed like a musical instrument: curved lines, no parallel surfaces, acoustically active enclosure, lacquer… Of course, we combine latest technology, materials and components such as 24 ct gold-plated speaker terminals, state-of-the-art Teresonic cables with full shielding against strong magnetic, electric, and mechanical (vibrations) interferences inside the enclosure, etc.
As one of the first development labs to receive DX65 drivers we quickly realized it’s more than a new driver. The DX65’s better overall Q factor and superior suspension compliance were among the key features that got our attention. Stronger magnet and higher efficiency of the DX65 is great as it allowed us to reach the 100 dB sensitivity. As always in speaker design, science is only half of the job. The real surprise awaited in listening tests. We experienced extended low and high frequency response, stronger and better defined mid and upper bass, and much better balance – up to 10 dB better than DX55 drivers across the entire frequency spectrum.
Designing a good, natural sounding loudspeaker is a formidable task. Designing a small, good-sounding loudspeaker is a very difficult task. With the Magus Silver XR, our goal was to design a small, highly efficient, natural sounding, full-range speaker in an appropriate acoustical enclosure, to cross boundaries of small speakers and to provide floorstander-class of sound in a small package appropriate for city apartments, smaller rooms, offices, home offices…etc.. The Magus enclosure was designed specifically for Lowther 5-inch drivers, providing an acoustically active environment that enables full potential of these drivers to come through. The new DX65 pushes the envelope by extending the frequency range and efficiency to 100 dB, not found in any small speakers commercially available.
When some of the first customers’ comments arrived – “[With Magus Silver XR] there is a very direct connection to the musical intent,” “Terrific imaging,” “Superb efficiency and a wider dynamic within a volume setting…” – we knew that a new standard for small speakers is about to be established.
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