Opinions on Full-Range/single driver speakers

I am considering a DIY project to build a pair of single driver speakers. My current idea is to put Jordan JX9s into Transmission line cabinets. I am a competent woodworker and there are lots of plans on the internet.

I do really value the opinions of you audiogon members out there with lots of listening experience so I am curious what your opinions are on single driver speakers. If you can also comment on wide-baffle versus narrow baffle designs, that would be helpful.

My front end is a Monarchy tube DAC 25 with Matsushista tubes and DIP Classic, coupled to an AYRE DX7E, all interconnects and cables are DIY magnet wire. I am currently using Green Mountain Europa's and a modified Paradigm subwoofer.

After enjoying GMA's and experiencing time/phase coherent sound, I started looking at other options for coherent systems. It seems the simplest design is a good full range driver (no whiffle cone) in a TL or QWL cabinet.

So your opinions are appreciated. I would prefer if you did not advise me to purchase your favorite speaker as that is not the type of information I am seeking.

Thanks in advance for your time!

"So your opinions are appreciated. I would prefer if you did not advise me to purchase your favorite speaker as that is not the type of information I am seeking."

Just how do you expect a bunch of opinionated audiophiles to give you an opinion! What a question! LOL!
Theory good, result bad. My opinion in a nutshell. I used Jordan Watts back in the 60s, a friend who is a cabinetmaker was so impressed he became the importer for a while. The midrange is quite good but the frequency extremes are not there. If you are willing to tolerate their weaknesses go ahead. Narrow is better although some very good speakers are wide. HFN had a test in the last few years of the Jordans I think, I will check.
When you try to play 4th octave notes on the bass sax, you'll know more precise answer... Theoretically possible isn't it?
"So your opinions are appreciated."

"I would prefer if you did not advise me to purchase your favorite speaker as that is not the type of information I am seeking."

So you want my opinion, but don't want to know what my favorite fullrange drivers are?

dealer/manufacturer/nope I don't sell any fullrange speakers
The driver must be a Tannoy. No one does signle driver better. My first speaker was a 15" single driver Tannoy, don't remember the model number but do remeber the sound which was great. Cabinet was front ported. Tannoy has come a long way from the early sixties when I had mine. Tannoy has limited distribution in the USA but I sugggest you seek out the line and find the driver. It is quite easy to order the part in the UK and save a ton of money. Final point on single driver. A few year ago I got to know one of the sound mastering engr. that does sony work in NYC. I visited his house and was surprised to find his home speaker was a single driver Radio Shack unit in a cabinet he designed and built himself. Sound was fantastic.
I should have clarified when I said I don't want opinions, what I was hoping to avoid were things like - buy the magnepans, get the B&W 803's, etc.

I would like to hear opinions on drivers and especially comparisons with other systems and solutions.

didn't mean to ruffle anyone's feathers!
Buconero, Tannoys have concentric drivers (tweeter in the throat, etc.) but not single drivers. I think they share some advantages of single drivers but not all.
Thanks for clarifying; I mis-took the phrase "that is not the type of information I am seeking" to be referring to our favorite speakers.

My favorite fullrange driver is the 8" Supravox field-coil unit. One feature is that you can fine-tune the magnet strength to your specific application (lower voltage to the electromagnet = lower efficiency, more bass, and less highs; and vice versa). Some of the best if not the best imaging I've ever heard was from a pair of these speakers in the factory recommended folded reverse-taper line, and they weren't a one-trick pony either; timbre was beautiful and coherence predictably superb.

Now I have not heard the new Seas alnico-magnet fullrange drivers, but a manufacturer I respect a great deal, John Kalinowski, is very impressed with it.

I worked with the Jordans you're contemplating but in the end concluded I was more likely to get the results I wanted from a two-way system.

Wide-baffle vs narrow baffle is a tradeoff of disappearing act vs tonal balance. I lean towards wide-baffle speakers, but my priorities may be different from yours.

"Buy my favorite speakers - you will be happy" , he said as he unruffled his feathers.

My experience is with Fostex and Lowther drivers both of which had magical qualities with vocals and midrange but I never could get around the lack of performance at frequency extremes. Bass never really sounded taut, low and clean while highs could be missed if you were not positioned just so. Highs also lacked that airy shimmer great tweeters produce. I moved on after a time and have not had the urge to try again.

My .02 + feathers.
Decware has some interesting designs and drivers you might find interesting
As mentioned above, say goodbye to the extreme frequencies. I also found that they fall apart during fast music. Also as mentioned above, you should check out Tannoy.
I really like the MLTLs(mass loaded transmission line)
Single drivers. On top of that the Baffle step correction
circuit used in the Brine's single drivers makes a positive
difference! It gives the speaker a very smooth character, no
shout or honkiness.

I've owned a pair of GMA's and loved them. I know of one
other Audiogon member who moved from GMA's to Brine's Single
drivers as well. I still think the GMA's are some of the
most well designed speakers out there!

If you like a lot of hi end shimmer, you'll need to add a
tweeter depending on the driver and the age of your ears. As
far as bass goes though,
not all single driver speakers are designed equally. My FTA-
2000s with one 8 inch go into the mid 20 hz range with very
tight and tuneful bass. Once you hear transmission line bass
done right you'll understand.

As mentioned above most won't play at extreme high SPLs. if
you like your music loud. I mean above 100dB or so then look
else where.

I would advise you to listen to as many variations as you
can find in your area, before you drop any funds in the
project. That way you'll know for sure that a single driver
will fit your needs.
so many drivers, so little time . . .

This is what I hear:

1. Full range speakers are certainly not for everyone or all types of music.
2. they can be optimized for a certain frequency range but will not perform well at both high frequency and low frequency ranges? since my ears are older and I have played music my whole life (with a long stretch in VERY loud rock bands) my high frequency hearing is not that much of an issue!
3. Finding the right driver might be difficult as there are a lot of choices!

Duke - the Supravox looks great but like the php might be out of my price range for a DIY project.

Gmood - you gave me some great advice - Listen!
are there any single driver fans in the bay area who would be willing to share the sound of their favorite speakers with me?

Also the Brine's site is helpful along with his Yahoo group postings.

Thanks all, please keep the opinions coming!

Drew, one of my very best friends walked away from a career in a rock band to become a woodworker.

My first commercial model was an "augmented fullrange"; that is, I used a Fostex fullrange driver in a sealed box with a built-in subwoofer to help below 100 Hz and a supertweeter to help in the top octave.

Anyway, my suggestion for a less expensive alternative to uberdrivers like the Supravox and PHY would be the alnico magnet Fostex F200A, imported by Madisound.

you should talk with single driver guru Mr. Steve Deckert
He'll tell you what you need to hear & not necessarily what you'd like to hear. One of my conversations with Steve he actually recommended a competitors' product vs his own, based, upon the application I intended. You can't get any less biased than that. Call Steve - he's THE man.
the Supravox looks great but like the php might be out of my price range for a DIY project
The standard Supra 215 used to sell for around $200.
You might also consider a Visaton B200 which is much cheaper.

One point with such drivers, is they favour high frequency over low frequency reproduction; you're better off cutting seeing these as "wide-range" drivers to be assisted by a woof (and, preferably a tweet too).
Jordans not my cup of tea. But some fullranges are not as limiting as others suggest seems since so many fullranges about many not aproaching close to fullrange this can be confusing. And some only have experance with the cheap little ones. And with these they do have a point about limitations in range SPL coloration etc.. But some are not so limited and you can DIY wonderful loudspeakers around. Best deal would be Fostex f200a. If you want great bass with a fullrange a big TL can get into the 30hz range no wimpy fullrange here. The SEAS exotic can be used in AS cab its costly about 50% more but is more refined and detailed than f200a, but bass is not as strong. SEAS exotic is 94db 1 watt 8 ohms f200a 90db 1 watt 8 ohms. I have been designing with f200a for about 10 years. Its so over looked by fullrange hobbiests and to me 1 of the best when price is considered. Think the 90db 1 watt scares most off but its not a issue unless your into 45 SET or amps of similar power, f200a can run well off 2a3 with 3-4 watts. And even 45 SET works fine if used in nearfield.
I use DX-4 Lowthers in Beauhorns in my main system. I have a set of Jordan's in ribbon mahogany, solid plinth front, where they ought to be: in my closet. They are the regular, Carolina Audio-type design, although I cast no aspersions on CA.

These are transmission line, built to spec. I don't even want them in my office. They retail, if it is to be believed, for over $4K, but I've tried to sell them for $800 before. Unfortunately, no one was dumb enough to buy them. My non-audiophile brother heard them and didn't even want them as a gift/for free.

I have 30+ years in hi end and have owned tons of speakers. I love single drivers, but not these.

Go ahead, flame me, but I still won't like these speakers and remember, I own them!
Hey Drew if you haven't looked at JohnK's speakers, you should! ;-)
His speakers look absolutely gorgeous!! Wish I could do woodwork like that! Here's a link KCS Loudspeakers
To get a good idea try the Yahoo SET forum group, as they often delve into the full range/single driver speakers as well...actually, just as much as SET, they go hand in hand.

Good group of people, unlike so many forums that are just a bunch of dopes..not the A'gon forum, other ones, you know who they are.
my first DIY single was audio nirvana 10 inch. I have 4 other pairs od speakers retailing from 5k on down. The audio nirvana full range is awesome with MANY different kinds of music. Not expensive. Only the woodworking is time consuming. It wont cost you squat to give it a shot AND the owner will trade them back FULL price if you want to go with his Lowther brand later on down the line. Pretty simple decision if you ask me. Look it up.

ALso, everyone here has great advise WHEN YOU INCORPORATE IT WITH YOURS.
Audio Nirvana looks interesting and priced appropriately for a first time project.

Although I was hoping for a simpler answer (duh!) I have gotten a lot of good ideas and opinions. The one thing you can depend on in this hobby is that there is no right answer to anything. In fact, you can count on total disagreement on just about any technical issue!

I am going to build a pair and might try two different designs, using 8 inch drivers, no whiffle cone, and optimize to a frequency range of 35 or 40 hz to 15 khz. I can't hear much above 12 khz anyway (too many years in rock bands) but do believe there is some ambient sensing of higher frequencies. I will use a sub to get me down to 20 hz for those few CD's that use synthesized bass and some of my Bach organ music.

Thanks for all the opinions and ideas! It will probably take me a couple of months to get to it but I will let you know how it goes in case anyone is interested.

Since you suggested Jordan, I was thinking you should try Alpair 10 in an MLTL. Will nearly get there on your bass requirements. Yes, try an 8" too, prefer the Visaton B200 in OB but there are a lot of good Fostex drivers, and make sure it is a paper cone. Probably good to get into a back loaded horn for something completely different. If you really want bass under 50 Hz then use a subwoofer. Music really needs bass IMO. Since high frequencies aren't for your listening I won't be suggesting a supertweeter to supplement the full range driver ;-)
Audio Nirvana not so hot. Go fostex f200a. Keep in mind you have experts sugesting f200a you have newbes suggesting AN. Keep this in mind.
I have tried Jordan's, 4 JXr6 a side in a line array with peerless 200mm HDS for the bass. They were sent back because they didn't meet the manufacturers specification. The Peerless are now in the computer room on bass and my new speakers in the lounge are Tannoy Canterbury SE's. The only drivers I ever heard that came remotely close to full range with few issues was the Manger bending wave transducer and Ambiance ribbons. Both demand the fastest tightest bass driver crossed over above 100Hz. All so called full range drivers need help in the treble or bass and all suffer inter modulation distortion issues as well as those already mentioned in response to your post. I would not go for the Jordan's unless you hear them first or anything else for that matter until you are sure their sonic signature will satisfy. Building good TL or TQL cabinets takes a lot of effort & fine tuning to get them right. If you are infected incurably with the full range bug. I would try auditioning the following AER, Supravox, PHY, The alnico Fostex full rangers, Feastrex, Visaton B200 which I think offers the best value or the SEAS exotic who at least seem honest with their response curves. If you are open to using vintage drivers or building a line array the possibilities really open up. Madisound has a decent range of things to check out. Don't know if this advice helps or confuses but putting my 2 cents worth in anyway. Cheers thermo
Newbies suggesting Audio Nirvana? I can email you a photo of my Audio Nirvana's. Where are yours? Secondly, only a newbie would suggest fostex instead of Lowthers. Someone needs to finish their educational roadmap.
Apequark Owned most all lowthers except 5in,perfer f200a to all lowther and SEAS x- 1 is even better than f200a, heck I have used most all fullranges of quality available to the public. Since I design loudspeakers many hi-eff or using fullrange transducers and been doing so for near 25 years not a newbie as Apequark suggests. Apequark you sure do need to hear some other drivers than A nirvana drek...And your right you sure do need to finish your educational roadmap....
Dear John,

From reading your response, I would have to agree that I have not heard many single driver speakers. You have the upper hand when it comes to that. Seems though, that may be your only advantage. Let me know when you have graduated from "Not Making fun of People Academy"...then myself and possibly others will deem it worthwhile to respond to your cutesy remarks.


(so as to help you out...)

looks like an older post restarted. One thought for the author of this. to get sound pressure at any freq to the listener the cone needs to move at that freq and for a fixed area of driver the excursion needs to alter. Think volume of air moved. In this scenario add the equation F=ma (force = mass x acceleration) so for really fast freqs (big a) you want a small m to keep the force down. ie if you take a big driver and run 15K hz you will likely need small excursion but you will be driving it at silly high accelerations and have enormous force. Converse is true as well. A tweeter can drive at very high freqs and have lower force as it is very small but to get the SPL and still be small (= small area) you would need crazy high excursion. its all an engineering tradeoff driven by F=ma. I think this is why the bose 2.5 inch driver in many of their products has no bottom or top, just middle.
I feel I can chip into this subject with somebody doubting the credibility of JohnK's knowledge.I am one exceedingly happy owner of a pair of Johnk's Oris 150 horn speakers, I must say I doth my cap to John, as he certainly knows his onions when it comes to speakers and cones, and makes damn fine speakers for silly money really compared to more commercial speakers, one only has to look at his very satisfied customers that he has made speakers for, as I mentioned sound to buck ratio the absolute best value out there.I truly love my Oris's and the F200a is one seriously good mid range driver (as in my case) and have no desire to change them, they are keepers.
I will also chime in here defending JohnK's knowledge about speakers. I comissioned John to build me a pair of large monitor speakers using a Seas Exotic driver and a Raal ribbon tweeter. Not only is the speaker cabinet as solid as a rock but I have a world class speaker without spending a fortune. Easy to drive, my 300b amp (8 watts)sounds like a power house muscle amp with these speakers. I have not heard every monitor speaker but I have heard some of the highly touted names (ie: advertised brands) and my KCS speakers will hold their own with anything I have heard.
Some full range speakers can sound surprisingly incoherent. Just because there is only one driver insight, you shouldn't assume perfect impulse. I heard one pair at a dealers with tiny a 4 inch driver in a rear hornloaded enclosure and it sounded like cheap stereo, and they were actually selling for over 6000 dollars. At first I thought that they sounded pretty impressive being having such tiny drivers but then I started hearing muddy bass and peaky highs. Totally not worth the hassle, most fullrange drivers are not in phase throughout their range and the bass loading usually usually messes up the otherwise perfect impulse response. You will be better off with multi driver DSP/ time corrected or coaxial designs.

It seems that the f200's are hard to find. Any ideas where one would locate a pair? Also, what would be your opinion for recommended enclosure parameters? I hope you dont mind me picking your expert brain? Also, you mentioned the SEAS is better? What do the SEAS sell for? I have seen the f200's going for approx. 500 each.


Or Apequark as you prefer.
I would have suggested looking at Madisound, but it looks as though their sold out. The last time I checked on the SEAS they were around $1500 a pair.

I concur with the statements about the F200a drivers. I've been listening to mine for roughly 4 yrs now. They've been here longer than any other speaker. You may find a driver with better highs, but the mid-range and bass of these drivers will be hard to beat!
You still should beable to order f200a from madisound. They have become popular again maybe I shouldnt talk them up so online;) I would suggest a 90 liter BR or TL. f120a is also a great little driver but best for near field or use as midrange. fe138esr while one can get great sound are hard to use so if you have built designed before its worth a try. SEAS X-1 prices are lower now check madisound I use a sealed birch ply cabinet very over built design, madisound offers a cab for x-1 its a MDF ported floorstander nmade in china. Sorry thought it was apequark. Not known for my gifts with the wrighten word. I will remeber its aptquark.
Wonderful Electric you came to this conclusion after only hearing 1 pair of fullranges? And that one only used a wee driver and greatly over priced? Keep in mind many dont suffer so from the problems you list. The wee little wide bands dont have the range,dynamic range, mag power or cone area of the drivers were talking about. The f200a, SEAS X-1 do not need horn cabinets to produce bass so your reply[bass loading usually messes up the otherwise perfect impulse response] isnt a issue and they are in phase and a 4in will not do bass no mater what. Treble can be a problem the x1 and fostex do well but not as good as a raal or t500amk2 covering the same range. But you do win in intergration and point source, phase and time correct. No perfect transducer or loudspeaker since all are made by humans. We as designers work with compromises to bring the best sound we can for price range. Fullranges can make a wonderful loudspeaker but since only 1 driver cheaping out anywhere will be highly audible. But I find this to be true with most loudspeaker designs.
Here at The Galileo Company (a research firm; we don't sell any audio equipment) we've designed systems (Wh3) to evaluate single drivers. You can see the systems here:
Over the past several years, we've evaluated quite a few single drivers. I can't publish our numerical results, but I'm allowed to give my own impressions:
My opinions change, but, as of tonight, my favorite all time single driver is the Altec 755C, built about 40 years ago. Some fanatics will pay $3000 a pair for Altec 755A's, but we can't afford them and haven't tested them.
Many of our listeners prefer the Fostex 200A. It's got great tonal balance, but our research with the Audio Nirvana super 8 cast frame has caused some of our best listeners to switch allegiances. The AN can seem thinner in the bass, but the clarity and imaging is quite special. The Fostex 206E is quite similar, and I'm not sure our listeners can distinguish them in a blind test.
We've tested many, many other speakers, but I don't want to speak disparagingly about any brand. Other speakers we like a lot are the JBL LE8T, the ElectroVoice SP8B, and the 8" Stephens, all over 40 years old. They have nice balance, good imaging, but not at the level of the Altecs, Audio Nirvanas and Fostex 200A and 206E.
We make measurements galore, but I'm not sure we know what to measure. Frequency response is only a very small part of the package. My best measure of a good speaker is that I listen to the music I'm using to test it. I know a speaker isn't very good when I keep switching songs and albums to find something that sounds great. I know I'm listening to a great speaker when I forget I'm testing the speaker and spend too much time listening to the music.
I also know now that a lot (most?) of high end audio is self hypnosis. Listening is the only cure.
f200a and fe206 equal in performance? My findings are fe206e has +12db peak in responce from flat. If you like that great. I dont. Use a notch filter takes away the air. Using in front horn reduces peak to a small degree but still measurable and audible. To me fe206e is 1 of the worst sounding fostex I much perfer fe166e over fe206e but sure some are groving to the peaky responce of fe206e maybe the rise adds a bit of color that others like I dont know. But I will pass on fe206e.
Hi, Saki70. The speakers are all tested in our Wh3 enclosures (USPTO Application #: 20080199032) , which you can see here:
They are triangular rear loaded folded horns a little under 10 feet in total length.They don't have any boxlike sound to them.

Johnk, I didn't say the 200a sounds like the fe206; I said that the audio nirvana super 8's sound like the 206. Although we make lots of measurements, it's what listeners tell us that matters. We're not really interested in speakers; we're interested in how people hear and perceive music. One of the most highly rated speakers we use (the altec 755) has the most restricted frequency response of all of them. We know, for example, that the same speaker sounds different to different listeners...
Fe206e & AN SC Hemp 8 incher DO NOT sound the same or even close.
Different drivers for different applications & taste.IMO
Johnk's has his opinions so do I and others. Personally, I like Fe206e in horn loaded designs but that's just me. For what it's worth, AN & Fostex make some affordable drivers for DIY crowd delight. Have fun all.

Hi, JohnK. I didn't say the Fostex 200A sounds like the 206E; I said that the Audio Nirvana Super 8 sounds like the 206E. While you don't care for the 206E, some people prefer them. David, of Commonsense Audio, a dealer for Fostex among other brands -- http://www.commonsenseaudio.com/ -- says this:
"The FE206E is the most detailed, the most extended, the most efficient, the most natural sounding, and has the best bass of all Fostex speakers." So that's what makes horse races. People hear speakers differently, and frequency response alone isn't a good indicator of how good a speaker will sound to any particular person...
It suppose to say AN Super Alnico 8" driver.
And again - fe206e and above mentioned do not sound the same .... - presentation wise.

Used fe206e in many designs inc front horns, built optimized cabinets designed just for all theses fullranges didnt just use 1 cabinet for all. Cabinet needs to be optimised or designed for ea driver no 1 cab design for all fullranges. Fostex fullranges better sounding than fe206e =f200a f120a fe166e fe167e fe207e fe208esigma fe168e sigma fe138esr. Do not see where fe206e is a deal. You can do better with fostex for less money. Or spend more and get a quality fullrange. But YMMV I know many dont get a chance to hear what these drivers can do when used proper. So fe206e since many say is a alright performer might be good enough for folks not able to get the chance to hear better fullrange or wideband transducers.
In our lab at The Galileo Company, we're not studying speakers, but people's perceptions of speakers. In this forum, I notice huge disagreements among honest, thoughtful people about how speakers sound. A good example: David Dicks, an experienced supplier of drivers and custom loudspeakers, says the fe206 is the best speaker Fostex makes (he sells Fostex and other drivers) In this forum, JohnK, an experienced supplier of custom loudspeakers, says the 206 is (perhaps) the worst speaker Fostex makes. He prefers the Fostex 200a. But Dicks says: "Two of these speakers have huge magnets and cast frames. They are very expensive. These are the FX200 and F200A. They do not go high enough in the treble to be truly satisfying. And the midrange is somewhat veiled, soft, and lacking in detail compared to the FE206E."

Since studying peoples' perceptions is my business, I'd be interested in your opinions on two questions:

1.) How is it that experienced, thoughtful, honest people can disagree so much about how the same loudspeakers sound?

2.) What does that say about the current state of loudspeaker design theory?

Listiac - IMO, it may not be as much about the speaker as the system/room it is place in and the taste of the listener. Just today, a friend of mine was selling a certain speaker because they were too bass-heavy and muddy for his room and system. If asked, he would say he didn't like them because they lacked definition and clarity. I tried them in my room and system and they sounded thin and lacking in midbass - and I am by no means a bass freak. I'm talking about the proper resonance of the acoustic guitar body and such, as opposed to synth bass or whatever. So, if asked, I would describe the same speaker as "thin and lacking in midbass".

In reality, I think all opinions should be prefaced by "In my room, with my system and with the recordings I played, my opinion of this speaker is ..." However, audiophiles love to couch things in absolutes - this speaker has these flaws and that speaker has those flaws" You just can't do it that way.

And that's how it happens, IMO.
I think you should consider your source of information maybe some is biased to what 1 sells. Since I dont offer any of the drivers I suggested in my last post. Maybe bias to what 1 sells is the issue.
Hi, Chayro,
I believe you're right about the room. Steinway in New York makes (among others) five grand pianos, the model S, M, L, B and D in order of increasing size. They're all top quality, but are made for specific sized rooms. At Ithaca College, where I study piano performance, we have large Steinways (model B - 6'10") in one small practice room, but they don't sound their best. When I practice, I always try to get a Model M, which sounds great in the small room.
Thanks for your help!