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Burwell & Sons Homage Loudspeaker Review

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Like all interpretations of the Altec-Lansing VOTT systems I know of, the Burwell & Sons starts with a bass horn, albeit it a much smaller one than any other I have seen. The bass horn is 22 inches wide by 22 inches deep and 28 inches tall sitting on 4-inch footers. So the top of the box is at 32 inches tall and with the horn on its stand, they come to 41 inches at the tallest point. The driver of the bass horn is a 15-inch Altec-Lansing 803A with alnico magnets. The wooden high frequency horn utilizes an 804 A compression driver that also uses alnico magnets. My review sample had the famous, original Altec green paint on the compression driver! (Sumptuous! -Pub.)

The wooden high frequency horn itself is a woodworking work of art. It is carved from reclaimed wood chosen for each project. Burwell & Sons says they can be created from a wide variety of woods. They currently have a selection of different varieties of walnut that was reclaimed from California’s central valley in the 80’s and 90‘s. Their artisan that build the horns hand selects each of the 104 pieces of wood it takes to build the horns for the most beautiful swaths of grain.

The final product is stunning in a 50’s modern sort of way combined with such beautiful woodwork. The wood finishes look so good without being overly glossy. I find them very pleasing to the eye.

Burwell & Sons Homage Loudspeaker Horn front view


I’ll be honest, these speakers take some time and effort to set up. After playing around with different ways to set up the horn on top of the bass units I finally got out a tape measure and some museum putty. Yes, it is tempting to just toe-in the horns instead of the whole big speaker, but I found that this messed up the time alignment and the coherency of the speakers. Therefore I measured the speakers so that the stand puts the rear of the compression driver three inches away from the back of the cabinet. I then got it dead center left to right and put down some museum putty to keep it there. Then I centered up the front of the stand and did the same. I used a little more museum putty and got the horn centered and secure on the stand. After doing this, you don’t have to worry about the horn moving as you position the speakers.

In my room, they sounded best about as wide apart as I could get them and toed-in to point at my shoulders. I ended up with the front inside corner of the bass box 36 inches from the rear wall and the front outside corners 41 inches out. This resulted in the center of the horns being 8 feet apart with the listening position 12 1/2 feet from the center of the horn. This also meant the center of the horn was about 24 inches from the side walls and 18 inches from the rear wall. This placement wasn’t much different from where the Linn Audio Loudspeakers Athenaeums sounded best.

I spent several hours over two days playing around with placement. I tried them further out in the room, but they sounded more focused and more coherent where I had placed them. I tried them closer together, but this made them sound more like mono. I played with toe-in and I need to tell you, this is critical, and as I’ve already said the high-frequency horn and the bass horn need to be toed-in for exactly the same amount. Placed in their final position they sounded open, with great tonal color, and a very engaging soundstage.

For the entire review I used the Burwell & Sons Homage with the Wavac EC-300B SET amp, the Soundsmith SG-220 Strain-Gauge cartridge/preamp system, and the AMG Viella V12 turntable and arm. All the hookup cables were High Fidelity Cable’s CT-1 Ultimates and the power cords were Audience AU-24 powerChords plugged into the HB Cable Design PowerSlave Marble distributor.

Burwell & Sons Homage Loudspeaker front view

5 Responses to Burwell & Sons Homage Loudspeaker Review

  1. Jay Valancy says:

    Great review! Loved the Art Dudley reference…I hope he (and, for that matter, me) gets to hear, and see, these one day.

  2. David K. says:

    Interesting review of interesting speakers, thank you!

    Please don’t take the following as criticism of your review, I’m just sharing experiences. The negatives that you described about the looseness of bass are somewhat characteristic of Altec bass drivers when driven by SETs and for this speaker your 300B Wavac aren’t the best choice. Large Altecs woofers need more power and current to take hold of the 15″ driver , then you’ll hear how detailed and full bodied they are without sounding fat. As far as the depth goes, the criteria for theater speakers pre THX was 15kz-50hz and that’s how they were all designed including the fantastic Klangfilm horns. For quality musical reproduction of lower frequencies you need to match the VOTT with a good pair of passive subs, that’s just how it is. Not having heard these speakers I can’t comment on manufacturer’s claims of 30hz and what that really means.

  3. David K. says:

    PS. In addition to my comments above, I’m not recommending solid state electronics for these speakers, but quality push/pull tubes amps with sufficient power to handle the 15″ woofers.

  4. Jack Roberts says:

    David you maybe right; at the California Audio show I preferred them with the Raven Spirit 3ooB
    Reference Stereo Amplifier to the Pass Labs Stereo amp. The Raven does put out 36 watts per channel but it was not available for the review. Still I was able to get better bass in my room than with either amp at the show. That’s no surprise though, the show as in a hotel room.

  5. dominic tavoni says:

    is it possible to use your speakers outdoors ; are they waterproof or can they be coated to make them work outside

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