How do two 18 inch woofers in one open baffled speaker, with a giant horn, voiced a bit in the style of vintage WE naturalness with more of a modernized detail and bass style sound?
What if they are in the hands of someone who has distributed/dealt in WE, Silbatone, Line Magnetic and GIP replicas of WE, who owns the WE 16a and WE London?
Though I haven’t been able to compare his stash of 10 brands of NOS PX4, and the unfortunately damaged Marconi PX25, I have been able to compare his own manufactured amps of 304 TL, 833c/EL34, TB31000/EL 34 amps, along with the cheaper Chinese TAD EL34 vs the most expensive Telefunken NOS EL34 (at 1000 EUR/pair) Phono stages, preamps, SUTs. Read on…
Also a brief SPU a85 vs a95 added.
To start with, this is my favorite room in the EU, with Henk’s Apogee Grands and Pietro’s Yamamuras, and in the world next to Mike Lavigne’s
In 2015 summer, I had visited Christof after chatting to him in the WE room at Munich.
I had heard the 16A (for which has a woofer built into the wall behind the curtains using the entire wall as a baffle), and has since added the WE London, that you see at the sides, which he chose after visiting the WE museum in South Korea.
On the way back from Malpensa to London during the Italian trip last December, I stopped over at Leipzig – all in a day’s work, to listen to these two. This was my second visit to the one man operation behind Silvercore electronics, who has been dealing/distributing Silbatone, and in Western Electric horns from Korea, setting them up with Line Magnetic, GIP, or his own drivers. He has the magnificent 16A, flanked on both sides by the WE London. The London is much smaller yet better as the active bass response is perfectly aligned with the WE 555 driver that goes from 100Hz – 7kz, after which the WE 597 takes over. We ran them with Silvercore amps with AVVT 300bs, and while demoing were able to compare the WE, GIP, and Christof’s own drivers which 1/10th of the GIP. The GIP tweeter stops at 15khz, while the WE tweeter goes to 20. The WE is more airy, more highs, but the GIP beings the focus more on the midbass – strange, since the mid-midbass driver is unchanged. Christof’s own driver is a bit sweeter, slightly less on air and detail, but not much to choose there and the price is 2k as opposed to 20k for the GIP.
I have also heard this with the Line Magnetic driver, but the magic is not the same. I have heard the WE 22 in two different places with the LM drivers too. And the WEs at Munich last 4 years in a row, which are magnificent. Just so you guys know, I heard that the tweeter drivers on this year’s Mirrophonic were 100k+ each, and there were 4 of them.
The best thing about all the speakers in this room is that you can listen to them from any position – e.g. the WE sound great at a 180 degree angle.
Interestingly, he had his own speakers back in 2015, with Altec, which I did not like, due to lean bass, and told him so. This time in Dec 2016, he had revamped his own speakers. After I heard the WE, he put them on, and I was skeptical.
Out poured the best piano notes from Rubinstein’s Emperor. It felt like a fireman was standing at the speakers with a hose, and water was flowing and decaying just in front of us. Purity with body. My mind clicked, buy. Then I put on Mahler 2. The opening bass section made my mind click, buy. As we moved to the softer parts, the woodwinds, and as I would later realize with Mahler 3, and Pictures (Bydlo), the tuba and the trombone tones I heard here were easily the best along with the Yamamura (which I had heard the previous day). The piano was the best along with Bionor, WE, Yams. What this did additionally better than the other horns was orchestral. The big open bass was doing bass similar in dynamics to trios bass horns, but the mids had better tone than the trios. And all for much lower cost, though admittedly it is not WAF finish and that is where the added cost lies + the distribution.
I was later to learn these were a similar concept to the 4 woofer frot loaded Mirrophonic that WE had shown at Munich in 2016. Christof loves those red theater curtains, and prefers them to other treatment. They dampen the high energy from the horns enough to make them sound right. Another trick that Christof recommended is to change the tweeter to the outside and point them out towards the wall for small rooms. I thought that this would increase first reflections, but he contended that it actually just provides a more ambient feeling without being too directive, which is required for smaller rooms.
His Caeles prototype was more aggressive, and faster, the NAS more laidback, but both were enjoyable. The Ortofon SPU a85 anniversary easily outdid both the Benz Ruby and the Clearaudio Innovation in this system. Unfortunately during my next trip the Caeles was not functioning properly, so I could not appreciate the Schroeder arm he has added.
The phonostage was Silvercore’s own, which has a built in MC and MM input. The output impedance of his preamp is so low that he drives 10m. long RCAs with it.
The big 17m long room, over 6m wide in the plane of the speakers (the horns under 3m apart), and widening out further as you came in, was obviously helping, so I went and sat under 2m from the horns to test, and there I found an excellent sweet spot. The stage now expanded and imaged even better. This was a short horn (roughly 80cm deep), so made sense that the sweet spot was at twice the distance. The WE London was a long horn, around 2.5m. Not that one had to sit at the sweet spot, you could be at any place in the room. Bear in mind the mid/tweeter horns (not the drivers) were designed by the same Lukasz of hORNS Universum. The mid driver was Klipsch K55, modified. The amp was the Silvercore 304 TL 80w single ended beast that goes down to 2ohm.
When a person has regular reference to WE, Silbatone, etc and decides to modernize that natural sound, you know you are on to a winner. I will probably buy this when money allows.
The above was my unfinished note typed out in December after the Italian trip, and in Jan I published the Italian roadtrip leaving this part out, with only the picture at the bottom. Today, I went back to Leipzig, my third visit, because he has changed his speakers, they are now 90cm wide as opposed to 135, and he has made them twice the weight, at over 100kg each, to reduce resonance. Just like before, the two 18 inch drivers in the bass give phenomenal depth and impact. These were tighter, but I think the larger bins did stun more. Since the mids driver goes down to 75 hz (from 5khz), he has crossed it over at two octaves more – 300Hz, and the crossover is capacitorless to avoid time alignment issues. I am 6’2”, and the speaker comes just below my chin, at 163 cm.
The GIP 555 have an aluminium diaphragm, his and Klipsch have a phenolic one (I am not sure of the details), which he says he prefers as it does not get harsh at louder volumes. You can add GIP drivers in if you wanted, at a much higher cost.
There is absolutely no veneer, so many of you will not like the looks, but veneer can be had at additional cost, including matt or glossy.
He recommends them best biamped, though we did not hear them that way. His own SETs come with two outputs, one cable run to the mids and one to the bass.
I verified the music notes from the previous trip on piano, woodwinds, and brass, just to make sure it wasn’t an infatuation the first time. I initially started with a SPU a85, and moved on to the SPU a95. The a95 was more detailed, better bass, dynamics, and had better flow. The a85 was relatively rolled off. Additionally, I heard 20 min each of Mahler 2 and 3, and 3 goes through very soft movements, through each instrument, before going loud. I love the way these horns go from instrument to instrument, they just flow through the tones, the tonal changes are better than anything I have heard. In hifi speak, are they more detailed than the likes of Magico etc? No. Are they more detailed in that you can listen to more distinct tones of each instrument? Yes.
The bass has its own space, do you guys know the double bass moves in the Mahler 3 first movement? The tuba in Pictures-Bydlo, the breathing that happens as the orchestra rises and falls while the cattle is advancing? The percussion in Baba Yaga coming through those four 18 inchers? And all this in a fit and forget, easy listening style (which is true for most horns). No Apogee like project required. Sounds great with most amps that can drive them. Use push pull, SETs, change tube flavors. Use cheap integrateds till you build up your budget. Low resale for speaker though.
Comparing the 80w 304 TL to the 12w 833c, we found that the 833 was slightly sweeter, the bigger one more neutral. For such a big room, the power required for peaks is much higher and the 833c would get a bit strained on the complex peaks, but otherwise it was effortless. The bass was excellent, and the price was 7k as compared to 30+ for the big one. The 833 also had more detail on the Bach choir. Silvercore said they are his best seller. He also sells DIY kits for the amps.
That’s the 304 TL and the TB3/1000
The 304 TL closer look
TB3/ 1000 closer look, you also see them next to my feet in the pic above
All of a sudden, I realized that the 833c is the power tube, and the tubes next to it were one of my favorites…EL34. There is one for current and one for tone on either channel.
He has experimented with many EL34s and loves the Chinese TAD (Tube Audio Design) costing 120 Euro. He had those in, and we compared it to his most expensive Telefunken NOS dual getter, at 1000 Euro a pair. They have a double ring on top as opposed to a single one. The TAD were sweeter, the Telefunken more detailed and neutral, better on the Bach choir. However, the Telefunken were leaner in the midbass, while the TAD had more more bass depth and punch and a fuller body. So both Gnomus and Piano sounded better on the TAD tubes. This can change in another system.
Then, we moved to the TB3/1000 amp – the 833c is an American tube, and the TB3/1000 is the Dutch equivalent, used by the Germans in WWII. Hardly available today. The transformer was the same, this amp had higher wattage at 20w, yet, it could not drive the speakers properly. Interesting. So we went back to the 833c (lower wattage), and then again to the 80w 304 TL. I must say the 833c is sufficient.
Lampi lovers, he has 10 brands of NOS PX4s, and an unfortunately damaged pair of Marconi PX25. The WE 212 below. He is building an amp for that.
His tube stash
He is building a small horn, 50 cm wide, with the horn on top, it will come to almost the same height. This will be for his clients who have a smaller room
Some of his vintage collection -he mentioned this as the first TT with MC, or something like that. Forgot.
There is a small speaker on here that lets you listen to his music
Caveats? Yes. Big Big room, how it sound in London town? Frown.
Well, not placement finicky, and sitting up close gives equal pleasure.
It won’t landscape like the Trios or Apogee Full Ranges, but it does not need to. Different presentation. Apogee ribbons will be better at vocals, but these are great too. He voices on the slightly sweeter side, and I would make the highs more neutral, though the SPU is sweet, so a neutral cart like Ortofon MC a95 or Art 1000 (which he loves) will change that. Oh yes, did I mention the CD player was a Denon you can get for a 100 quid used?