Jonny Wilson & his Sonist Audio high-efficiency speakers.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Steve Hoffman, Jul 16, 2014.

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  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    UPDATE on Sonist Audio CONCERTO 4 speakers.

    I have these up in my listening room now and I'm playing them every day for hours with no listening fatigue, just great sound. The best thing, of course, is that I can use my low-watt amps and still have full dynamics and natural sound with just 8 watts a channel.

    That is a tremendous thing for me, as I believe that low-watt single ended class A amps are some of the best sounding you can buy.

    So, I'm switching off with my Woo Audio WA5 300B stereo amp and my Audio Note Jinro 211 integrated (17 watts) and my WAVAC EC-300B and I'm having fun, fun, fun!

    8 watts or 200 watts, makes no difference to the CONCERTO 4s, they handle everything nicely. When I had the Audio Note 2A3 amps here (on their way to the San Fran stereo show right now) they worked just as well..

    What I like about the Sonist Audio gear is that it is (for this type of musical presentation) very reasonably priced.

    With my PS Audio digital front end I even bypassed the preamp with the WAVAC and just used the digital volume control on the PS Audio and it worked nicely, pure Western Electric 1938 300B sound, effortless, balanced, dynamic and totally crankable. In fact, these speakers can rock, they can be subtle, they can do whatever is thrown at them, very well.

    The fact that these are not horn speakers means that I can play for hours without ear fatigue, important to me because I listen for work and for pleasure.

    So it's fun playing with my low powered gear, something I had not been able to do for years and years because the speakers I have here all require JUICE to make them sing. My Tenor Audio 350m monoblocks provide that juice but I'm enjoying 8 watt playback just as much as my 350 watt a channel system!

    Recommended for you single ended triode lovers, everywhere.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
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  2. ServingTheMusic

    ServingTheMusic Forum Resident

    Steve, I have been enjoying your reports on this speaker.

    This begs the question..why would anyone set out to design an INEFFICIENT speaker when the benefits of efficiency are clear.

    Are there any downsides to to a Hi-Eff speaker?
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  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    There is always a compromise in the bass. Sometimes a bit whompy, sometimes not enough, etc. Throughout audio history this has been a problem. I've lived long enough that I can put up with a slight bit of whompyness to get a magic midband.
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  4. ServingTheMusic

    ServingTheMusic Forum Resident

    I'm with you on that....
  5. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    Trade-offs galore in speaker design: to simplify matters greatly, deep bass from a small small box ala AR (acoustic suspension boxes use a woofer with an extremely long throw suspension/spider assembly and heavy cone with a low free air resonance in a box stuffed with fiberglass to act as a sort of spring to get low bass in a box that was smaller than 3 cubic feet) was an early cause of speaker sensitivity that was well below horn loaded and ported boxes of the time. Ported boxes were hit and miss until Thiele/Small came along with their driver parameter based formulas (box size could be juggled to either shrink box size, or extend low bass by using a larger box matched to the proper sized vent or passive radiator) - sensitivity tends to be higher than acoustic suspension boxes as the drivers normally have a less compliant/more sensitive woofer driver, low bass can sound "one-note" or boomy if the box isn't matched properly to the woofer and its vent.

    Full range single drivers can have an extremely wide frequency range compared to a standard woofer due to the driver having an ultra lightweight cone. Problems occur when low bass notes are present in music (the low cone weight needed to reproduce upper mids and highs isn't well suited to moving lots of air), and highs aren't well extended (off-axis response is usually pretty poor due to the size of the woofer cone having to be large enough to move air for bass notes). On axis response is reasonable, but typically doesn't go out much past 14 or 15 khz - a "whizzer" cone usually helps extend response, but can produce goofy sound if not properly designed.

    Horn boxes are the usual sensitivity champs, but trade-offs there include a refrigerator (or larger) sized box to get bass below approximately 40 hz, horn midrange and tweeter drivers have typically been hard to tame for peaky response, off axis response can be limited/poor, and a very large room best suits horn loaded boxes.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
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  6. ServingTheMusic

    ServingTheMusic Forum Resident

    Thanks for that overview, it was helpful.
  7. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    In a former life, I used to build/rebuild speakers on a pretty regular basis... :wave:
  8. ServingTheMusic

    ServingTheMusic Forum Resident

    Ah-ha! Thanks again.
  9. DaveC113

    DaveC113 Forum Resident

    Front Range CO
    Nice post Mike!

    Speaker design in general seem more about implementation, but I will say that really good lower sensitivity, high-power multi-way speakers tend to be expensive! For example I'd take a complete TAD system over anything else and they are low-eff 3-ways. I prefer a more simple approach like the Sonist, or similar 2-way high efficiency designs as extremely high quality can be had for well under 6 figures of a TAD system. :D
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  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Wanted to give another update on these great speakers. I have my WAVAC EC-300B amp in use with the SONIST AUDIO speakers and I must say, I love having a pair of speakers that can shine with 7 watts a channel. I can use them in any room, any configuration, any volume and everything sounds single-endedly wonderful.

    The trick with these speakers (and probably Jonny doesn't even realize this, or maybe he does) is to find a low wattage amp that is pretty much neutral. This translates to a sort of "power glow" of good sound when the volume is cranked on these babies. Thing is, the volume doesn't need to be cranked too much to get the most of what these speakers can do with a few watts. Always musical, never anything but magical.

    I've had these in practically every room in the house INCLUDING our big master bathroom (don't ask) and it really doesn't matter the size of the room, all that matters is that the sound being fed into the speakers is high quality. A crappy amp (and I've tried this on a day that I had not much to do) will make the speakers sound thin, shrill and grainy. In other words, what you put in to it, comes out the other end as music. The quality of the music is totally your call. THAT BEING SAID: If you have a little $500.00 homemade 3 watt amp kit, as long as you've made it right with nice sounding tubes, it will make these speakers sing. If you feed a $25,000.00 300B amp into it, the speakers will sing, but not $24,500.00 better. That's the key. Your amp, as long as it is clean sounding, will shine with these. You don't need a zillion dollar system. I really dig that.

    Thanks to Sonist Audio for letting me continue to use these. My 300B's thank you too!
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  11. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident


    Sounds like you're having a blast with them!

    Nice to see a speaker company use HQ caps, coils, solder and binding posts.

    It's sad when you see some other speaker companies using low quality crossover parts.
  12. Kkfan

    Kkfan Forum Resident

    Music City, USA
    Thanks for the update, Steve.
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    I'm saying goodbye to these fine speakers, it's been exactly a year and my time is up, sniff..

    Hope some of you will explore this (relatively) inexpensive option for your triode system, you won't be disappointed!

    Thanks again, Sonist, and to my buddy Bill Leebens for arranging this loan.
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