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Speakers designed with amps in mind and vice versa

Discussion in 'audio' started by mandryka, Oct 28, 2020.

  1. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Some which have come up recently in discussions here, how true they are is another question

    Quad 306 and Quad 10L
    NAP 120 and Rogers JR149 Mk 1
    Krell KSA 50 Mk ? and some Castle speakers
    ESL 57 and Quad 303; Quad II
    ESL 63 and Quad 606

    I think this a fascinating basis for hifi as a hobby. I like the idea of recreating the specific sound conception which designers had in mind when they created their products.

    Hence this thread. Some of this information is esoteric, there are likely to be some myths to sort out.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
  2. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    Linn Sara 1 with Naim NAP 250 CB
    gary yeowell and mandryka like this.
  3. Michael J

    Michael J pfm Member

    Iirc, the 303 was specifically designed as a solid-state replacement for the tube-powered transformer-coupled II to drive the 57s without either harming the speakers nor being harmed by them. The II was originally just an affordable power amp ("industrial" equipment, not subject to luxury-item purchase tax) which met their own requirements - including providing power to the preamp (which was a luxury and hence subject to purchase tax) and any attached tuner(s) (more luxury). Putting the power supply for everything in the power amp made the whole set cheaper.
    Mike Reed, mandryka and Hoopsontoast like this.
  4. Dozey

    Dozey Air guitar member

    PMC speakers developed with Bryston amps.
  5. marshanp

    marshanp ellipsis addict

    Kudos speakers are developed using Naim amplification.

    I had Kudos X2 speakers with a Supernait 2 before moving on to omnis; it was a good combination.
    gary yeowell likes this.
  6. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    The one I really want to know is Spendor SP1!
  7. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    To my mind the only ones that have weight there is the Quad kit as Quad were a system seller rather than just an amp or speaker brand. The 303 was a direct replacement for a pair of IIs, it even has the same size and shape to enable bolting into the typical cabinets of the day. It was designed to drive the ESL, though obviously had far wider context. All Quad kit was designed to work with all Quad kit as far as I can tell. FWIW in the user manual of a 306 the pictured speakers are actually ESL63s, not 10Ls!

    The rest are really just what the designer had, or had at some time been pictured with, and we don’t know whether that was a firm preference or not. An example being Jim Rogers’ lab picture in one of the JR brochures with a NAP 120 racked up with a load of other technical gear. I’d not personally take that as an endorsement as he may for all I know have done the listening tests elsewhere with something else or a combination of options. I just don’t know and I’d be reluctant to draw conclusions. I can add a couple more; Alan Shaw of Harbeth apparently uses (or did the last time I visited the forum years ago) a Quad 34/606. IIRC Epos (Robin Marshall) used a Naim 250. I’m pretty sure all Linn/Naim era design originally used each others kit until the brands went their own way, e.g. Kans and Isobariks would have been voiced with an LP12 and Naim amps, Naim amps with an LP12 and Isobariks etc. It was a system approach.

    Another interesting one is dem choices, e.g. ProAc always used to dem their speakers with high-end Audio Research valve amps, but more recently seem to have shifted to Sugden. Falcon use Sugden. PMC use Bryston etc. It is always interesting at shows to see what specific kit hi-fi brands choose to show their kit, I assume at what they feel is its best, though one needs to differentiate from dealer/hi-fi shop rooms etc as they are just the shop owners choices.
  8. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    Luxman used NS1000x speakers for years.
  9. MichaelC

    MichaelC pfm Member

    Monitor Audio used Moon amps when developing the PL series, so they told me.
  10. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Dynaudio speakers and Naim electronics is another pairing like that.
  11. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    What I’m kind of assuming is that when someone designs and builds a pair of speakers there’s some trial and error involved - i.e. they build something, play it with the amp in their workshop, listen and modify . . . So the amp is informing their judgements about what to do.

    And vice versa for amp design and build.
  12. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Yes I was surprised to read it but I found it somewhere online in what looked like quite an informed discussion about 10Ls. Put it like this, if I had 10Ls I’d certainly try a 306.

    And there’s also this (which I just thought of) the 10L was, apparently, maybe just some internet tittle tattle I picked up, designed with the sound of the ESL63 in mind!

    I’d love to hear a pair, but I’m absolutely determined not to acquire more boxes!
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    It’s really the Jim Rogers picture that confuses me as it is a lab shot (pic here for those who haven’t seen it). There is no ‘front end’ for listening, so he may just have been using it to run test tones etc. Who knows? I’d have expected to see some self-built kit as he was an amp designer too (Rogers produced a few and he made some active stuff for the sub for the 149s). I’d like to know more of the history as he obviously designed a lot of interesting stuff long before the 149, but a lot just seems lost to time now. I’ve read some Rogers history (he started it in 1947!), but it focuses overly on the LS3/5A when the company obviously did way, way more than that. It changed hands a few times too and obviously existed as a brand long after Jim left.

    My guess without comparing is the 10Ls are very similar to the Spendor S3/5, they were certainly made for Quad by Spendor. The voicing would likely be very similar. Spendors are beautifully neutral speakers IMO, I have a pair of S3/5Rs and really like them a lot. Perfectly happy on a 303 so the more powerful 306 would be in its element.

    PS Ages ago I had a pair of Quad 11Ls, which were the Chinese-made replacement for the 10L and very similar visually, but were a ported design with more in common with IAG (who own both companies) Wharfedale Diamond. They were a great speaker for the money, really nicely balanced, though I tend to prefer my mini-monitors without ports so would likely prefer the 10L. I certainly prefer the S3/5R.
  14. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    No amplifier is designed with a specific speaker in mind.... other than maybe older Quad's with ESL's.
    Many combinations are based purely on business, ie PMC IIRC import Bryston. In many other cases a designer uses the speakers he happens to own and likes... well colour me shocked 'n all that!
    Amps are obviously designed to have a flat response and low output impedance, which means they should be pretty much universally applicable.
    I worked with Trevor and Bob of Kudos and NEAT and they had no love of Naim amps in the couple of years or so I saw them 5 days a week... I'll guess they realise that Naim is a very popular brand...
    All sorts of amps were used in the development of the Petite. I can recall Sumo, Beard, MF A370 amongst others but the only Naim amp I saw used was a Nait, briefly.
    SET's, having high output impedance, need a speaker with a fairly easy load of constant as possible resistance as the speakers impedance curve will cause the amp to somewhat follow the impedance curve of the speaker.
    tuga and Fatmarley like this.
  15. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    So when you’re making a power amp, Jez, don’t you listen to it through a pair of speakers to make sure it has “the magic”? How do you know that magic is universally applicable?

    That being said I’m sure you’re right and nearly all modern speakers are universally applicable, but magic isn’t the same as applicability.
  16. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    At the low to mid end of the market yes, it’s pretty standard now, but get up to the real high-end and there is huge difference in the amp you’d choose to partner with say OMA or Avant Garde horns and say MBLs or huge ribbons. The problem with many of these discussions is when people contemplate the question the speaker that pops into their mind is just a bog-standard little two-way moving-coil ported box or whatever as that is what they personally use, when really audio reproduction is a way, way wider field than that.
    mandryka likes this.
  17. Colin L

    Colin L High-tech low-life

    MBL initially designed their speakers and then had to design amps to drive them properly. They are a “challenging” load, especially the big ones.
  18. Hoopsontoast

    Hoopsontoast pfm Member

    PMC & Bryston was only convenience as they shared distribution, similar to Tannoy and Teac/Esoteric in Japan for example, Tannoy actually made speakers for Esoteric as well.
    Miss Ariel likes this.
  19. RJohan

    RJohan pfm Member

    But isn't that the other way around from this discussion? My guesstimate is that Yamha used Yamaha amps when designing them.
    The worlds largest user of NS1000M's, the Swedish radion used Swedish brand Xelex amps. Which brings us to:

    According to someone who worked at the Xelex factory in the 1970's: When designing a pre amp, the designer, after measuring the completed amp, concluded he was finished. My source asked if he shouldn't listen to it? No, stated the designer, it measures perfectly well, so why bother! Not a power amp, I knew.
  20. Dozey

    Dozey Air guitar member

    PMC and Bryston may only have been convenience, but you know they will work together because the speakers were developed using those amps. Mainly because they were the most popular used in recording studios because of their legendary reliability.

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