More Real Horns! Melbourne Audio Club

RED SPADE AUDIO at the next meeting Wednesday 21 Septemberpse-144-2
Last month we were introduced to a Henry Kristanto from Sydney. His designs are based on high-output and efficient speakers. This month we have a local Melbourne business headed by another enthusiast, Paul Spencer from Red Spade Audio. His mission, to create a wide-band, single point source elliptical horn, designed to appeal to more mainstream audiophiles. The PSE-144 is such a speaker. It combines a horn loaded 1”compression driver with four dedicated 4” midrange drivers coupled via an acoustic chamber. All outputs combine near the throat where a point source emerges.
“A horn loudspeaker must radiate from a point source, otherwise severe problems occur” says Paul. “Traditional horn speakers tend to excel in some areas at the expense of others.”
The PSE-144 measure 900mm Wide x 600mm High, with a total depth of 482mm.This isn’t a small horn. All sound above 350 Hz emerges from a single point source. Dispersion control is one of the most important aspects of this loudspeakers design. The music is presented within a wide and deep soundstage. Available as a kit, the speaker comes with all the necessary components including a pre-assembled crossover and a mounting stand for the horn. Options to consider is colour, black or white and a suitable woofer with enclosure.
We will be listening to the PSE-144 with one of Red Spade Audios recommended woofers from Acoustic Elegance, an 18 or 15inch model. The speakers will be demonstrated with a Behringer Active X-Over, while amplification will be a Pre & Power combo from Elektra Audio. In terms of the presentation, Paul and his business partner Roger, will go into the history of the project. They will explain some of the technical aspects behind the design.
With the micro-dynamics of an electrostatic speaker and the sensitivity of a professional audio system, Red Spade Audios new horn speaker, is designed to attract those who previously disliked horns.
Nick Karayanis – the real Program Co-ordinator.

Tri and his Garrard 301s

garrard 301 2

The 301 in an experimental plinth

Garrard 301 6

New thrust plate, new cap and motor refurbished

Garrard 301 5

Very free running new idler wheel, speed capstan and improved eddy current speed control

Garrard 301 4

Installing the new idler wheel. Brand new felt ring on bearing

The older 301. Different capstan, different eddy current brake.

Garrard 301 8301 with Koetsu

The two 301s.

Garrard 301 7

Mark Doehmann and Henry Kristanto

Not at the same time! The Melbourne Audio Club will have Mark Doehmann and his new Audio Union turntable, and Henry Kristanto and his amazing Redefy speakers, as presenters in upcoming meetings.

These are products that are some of the best in the world. Mark is responsible for the Continuum turntable system which redefined what analogue audio was capable of. The new system is his personal ideal of what a record playing product should be.

Henry demonstrated a pair of his speakers ar Red’s place, if you missed them you must hear them on ghe Melbourne Audio Club meeting .

Details in your MAN or on the blog. You don’t get the magazine? Time to renew your club membership contribution!

Tannoy production in Scotland may end.

Tannoy began in London (Tulsemere Manufacturing Company),  moving to the Coatbridge Scotland gactory in the 1970s.

The T C Group has owned Tannoy and Lab.Gruppen and other pro sound labels until being bought by The Music Group.

Behringer’s Music Group has been the parent company of Tannoy’s owner TC Group of Denmark since last year. Production of the prestige Tannoy models has long been in the Coatbridge factory; other Tannoy products and components sourced from China. Consultations are taking place which may result in all Tannoys being made in China.

 

Unrelated! House for sale in Heathmont.

I know this is not Ausio related, but my son is selling his house in Heathmont near Ringwood Victoria. The auction is on 20 August. 1 Westmore Drive Heathmont, Ic. Good position, near schools, trains. Has a nice swimming pool, 5 bedrooms, study, rumpus eoom ideal for your audio system or home theatre.

Melbourne Audio Club meeting July

A correction,I have the programme details for the next MAC meeting. I made a mistake in the proposed programme, the music will be Members Choice, and hardware from Ray’s Hi Fi Exchange stock and personal collection.
Here is the writeup from Nick:
MEMBERS REQUEST NIGHT
This month’s meeting will be a members request with club members providing the musical program. MAC members are invited to bring along a favourite or new piece of music that could appeal to other members. Put some thought into the track selection, I will be listening for some new demo material for future club presentations
On entry, each member with a CD will be given a slip of paper to write their name on. A table next to the door will have tree containers marked : Classical, Jazz and Other. Please put the slip of paper into the appropriate container. When your name is pulled out, you will be offered the opportunity to play your music.

To ensure as many members as possible can participate, the maximum time for each track will be no more than 5 minutes. This should get us through plenty of CD’s before the coffee break.
Equipment on the night will be provided by Ray Goh from the Hi Fi Exchange. At the time of this write-up, Ray was still finalising the equipment selection. With so much gear to choose from, his shop is an Aladdin’s Cave of classic old gear looking for a new home. Whatever gear he puts together for the night, I’m sure it will be a thoroughly satisfying musical presentation.
This would be a good opportunity for all members to discover some new sounds at this meeting. Maybe you heard a new piece of music at the recent Melbourne HI FI Show, and would like to share it with other members. There’s more to Hi Fi than just the equipment.
Nick Karayanis – the real Program Co-ordinator

I expect this to be a most entertaining evening. Remember, guests are welcome, and a reminder members subscriptions are due for this year

And a picture taken by Nick at the HiFi Show

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Melbourne Audio Club AGM

Next Wednesday15 June is the AGM. Business should not take long and then we will be treated to music and equipment provided by David the President.

8pm in the Willis room,NunawadingCivic Centre.

Tannoy from WhatHifi

Tannoy’s 90th anniversary has been overshadowed by the news that the company’s factory in Coatbridge, Scotland is to close with the loss of 70 jobs.

The news that Tannoy’s parent company, Music Group, plans to close the company’s factory in Coatbridge, Scotland, and move production to a new facility in Zhongshan, China, is the latest blow to hi-fi manufacturing in the UK. 70 employees are likely to lose their jobs and marketing activities will be moved to Music Group’s Innovation Centre in Manchester.

A spokeswoman for Music Group told What Hi-Fi?: “We have been manufacturing in China for the last 20 years, and have had our own plant there for 15 years. The new factory, which represents a $100m investment, is due to open in June 2016. Some Tannoy products are already made in China by another supplier, but in future all manufacturing will be done in-house in our own factories.”

Currently the Mercury, Eclipse, HTS, Revolution and InWall speakers are made in China, while the Prestige, Kingdom Royal and Definition speakers are made in Scotland.

Asked about the legendary Tannoy Prestige range, a big part of whose appeal with customers is the fact that it is made in Scotland, she told us: “Uli Behringer [chairman of Music Group] is planning to keep manufacturing of the Prestige range in Europe, although not necessarily in the UK.” Making them in Poland is thought to be one of the options being considered.

This is part of a steady pattern over the years, with many legendary British hi-fi brands – Arcam, Audiolab, Castle, KEF, Mission, Quad and many more – being snapped up by overseas investors and moving manufacturing overseas. In a global economy, this is nothing new. Look at what’s happened in the motor industry: British Leyland eventually became JLR, owned by Tata in India, and Mini/Rolls-Royce is now part of BMW, while VW owns Bentley.

Would the UK still have a thriving car industry if those overseas investors hadn’t stepped in? Probably not. And the likelihood is many of those famous hi-fi names would have disappeared too if someone else hadn’t snapped them up. Building audio products in the Far East, eastern Europe, the USA or elsewhere is now very much the norm. Hard economics are at play here.

When contacted by What Hi-Fi?, Uli Behringer told us: “Tannoy Scotland is losing substantial money, a situation that is simply not sustainable and hence the steps we had to undertake. But we will be massively investing in Tannoy, and especially our large R&D centre in Manchester.

“For years Tannoy has not seen any investment in technology and is clearly lagging behind companies such as KEF and Bowers & Wilkins [which has itself just been sold]. We are absolutely determined to change this and have hired Peter Sommer, a former executive at Bang & Olufsen and B&W, to lead our lifestyle division.”

With the doors likely to close at Tannoy’s Coatbridge factory after a consultation period with unions and staff, it’s a timely reminder of the company’s proud heritage and where it came from. So we take a look back over the past 90 years…

An iconic brand

Only a small percentage of brands ever have the linguistic momentum to make it into the dictionary. Let’s see: Biro. Hoover. Kleenex. None of them are audio companies, because there is only one generic trademark synonymous with sound. That’s Tannoy, which is 90 this year.

As we’ve just reviewed one of its newest speakers, the excellent Tannoy Eclipse Three, it seems like an appropriate time to look back at the firm’s journey. Tannoy has kindly given us privileged access to its archive of documents, the comprehensiveness of which can only indicate one thing: pride.

Tannoy wasn’t always Tannoy. It was the Tulsemere Manufacturing Company in 1926, when broadcasting was in its infancy and the first talking film had yet to be shown. Radio sets needed huge batteries, which in turn needed huge chargers. Enter one Guy R Fountain, who came up with a new type of electrical rectifier, with the aim of making home-friendly chargers.

This did rather well, and Fountain founded a company named after the two metals used in the rectifier: Tantalum and lead alloy. The Tannoy trademark first appeared in 1928 and quickly became associated with inescapable public address systems. They even made it into the British House of Commons.

The war years

During the war years, Tannoy also provided PA systems to the British Ministry of Defence and RAF airfields. WWII films were a golden PR opportunity, as was the victory celebrations at Buckingham Palace, where Tannoys were used to announce the end of the war.

All of this paved the way for the Dual Concentric speaker, invented in 1948. It had a tweeter set deep inside the centre of a woofer for time alignment – a design still used to this day. It was originally intended for microphone measurement but the speakers ended up being picked up for use at Decca’s FFRR studios. Then EMI ordered some for Abbey Road.

Eventually, Tannoy entered the home. They were unashamed beasts with drivers of at least 10 inches, and they would dominate the room. In the 1980s, it was all about sound quality: aesthetics be damned. At least for a while. These days, speakers are slimming down and getting prettier, (yes they are.)

More after the break

Tim Lount, vice president of sales and marketing at Tannoy, has been with the company for 27 years and we don’t know anyone better suited to talking us through how the company has changed, and how it has kept going for so long.

“Audio performance at every price level has always been a given within the Tannoy speaker range. One element that has changed dramatically over the years, however, is the aesthetic design of loudspeakers.

The demand from consumers, especially in the more ‘mainstream’ hi-fi speaker market, is that they need to look good and consumers are also increasingly more demanding when it comes to judging finish quality.

Tannoy has always placed performance and functionality as the primary criteria when designing a loudspeaker but we have had to rise to the challenge of cosmetic appeal and exceptional fit and finish in order to strongly compete in a very competitive market.

“This cosmetic demand runs from our entry-level models, right through the entire range. Even our ‘traditional’ appearance high-end Prestige series had a face lift a couple of years ago, adding visual improvements to the exterior cabinet trim – individually machined metalwork instead of cheaper castings, more attention to detail within the cabinet finish such as veneer in-lays and intricate routing.”

We should add, at this point, that not everybody is as sensible as us Brits. Slimming down is simply not an option for some. Tannoy is hugely popular in Japan, where they have even less space.

And yet, a clothing shop has just opened that dedicates one floor to British subculture – and a pair of heavyset Westminster Royals. While this makes little sense, it provides a measure of Tannoy’s influence around the world. Lount continues:

“Tannoy has a huge fan base around the world. This is across all sectors of our business – commercial install (shopping malls, airports, pubs, clubs etc), recording studios (many famous artists and recording have been mixed and mastered on Tannoy studio monitors) and of course in the consumer markets of hi-fi and home theatre.

The Japanese and many countries in Asia are great admirers of the Tannoy Brand. But whereas it always tended to be our Prestige series that was talked about, in recent years we have seen substantial growth of our entry level products and mid-market models such as Revolution XT which has captured attention in markets East and West.”

 

Looking to the future

But what about the next 90 years? The consumer audio market has changed dramatically in the last few years. Categories have sprung up to challenge the traditional stereo way.

Not only are speakers getting slimmer – they are becoming more portable, and there is an increasing demand for connectivity. Bluetooth is more popular than ever, and multi-room networked music systems are rapidly becoming the norm. How does a very traditional company stand against such change, Tim?

“I guess that Tannoy may have appeared slow to ‘join in’ on products such as active speakers, Bluetooth, multi-room etc. We have tended to very much cater for the hi-fi enthusiasts market at all price levels. As Tannoy is now part of the larger Music Group we have access to an enhanced technical resource and without doubt we will develop exciting new products within the wider consumer audio market. Watch this space!”

MORE: That Was Then… Tannoy Mercury M3 review

Who are Music Group?

The company is chaired by Uli Behringer, founder of pro audio group Behringer, and is based in the city of Makati in the Philippines. It is currently building a new $100m manufacturing plant, with accommodation for up to 10,000 workers, at Zhongshan in China.

2009: Acquired Midas and Klark Teknik from Bosch Communications Systems

2012: Bought UK speaker manufacturer Turbosound

2015: Bought Danish TC Group, owner of Tannoy, Lab.gruppen, Lake, TC Electronic, TC Helicon, White Acoustics and TC Applied Technologies for an undisclosed sum