Things progress, change is inevitable. I've been listening to my Oris 150 horns with ND2 units for quite some time now. Regular visits to BD-Design ad listening to the newer units have left me wondering if things can be improved even further in my own system. Besides a choice between different drivers, there was also a possibility to try out a different set of horns; the 200. These horns were quite a bit smaller in diameter and depth. The first would provide a more pleasant view and provide a more rigid surface perhaps limiting coloration in comparisson to the 150. The decreased depth (length) of the horn will provide less bundeling resulting in a more open sound.
I was given the chance to try out these little horns, as that is what they are when viewed besides the Oris 150. Although the difference in really not that much, the front view appears to make the 200 look about half the size of the 150. Kind of takes some getting used to, specially when also sitting atop of my rather bulky bass cabinets. The back chamber has a little more volume than with the 150 horns, this should add some weight to the low end perhaps.
I mounted my ND2's inside, hooked them up and set the 200 horn atop of the bass cabinets. I was chuckling when I sat down to have a listen. Size doesn't matter they say :)) After a few minutes I was sure the cross-over for the bass was lacking quite a bit. It had been semi-tuned ("mwah, that sounds about right") to match the Oris 150, there seemed to be a dip in the mid-bass where the 150 had taken over. The 200 won't go down this far so work had to be done on the cross-over to get things smooth again.
A little black mailing ;) over the phone ended up having Bert Doppenberg come over with his measuring gear to figure out a good filter for my room/speaker combination. He got back at me having me move these 70kg monster forward and backwards, and sideway and forward again in order to position the cabinets properly in regards to distance from the listening position. Then came aligning the 200 horn with the bass to improve time-alignment. This meant moving the cabinets and horns around again until an optimum was found. Or was he just having some fun with me ;))
Some quick measurements pointed out something I already knew; the filter I had was incorrect (duh). Up side was that I now knew why as well. Grabbing some parts we started experimenting. I'll spare you all the details but we ended up with a pretty good filter and alignment of the speakers. The mid-bass was still lacking some clarity which was attributed to not enough dampening and improper spikes (M12 nuts) underneath the bass cabinet. More experimenting will follow soon on this...
Today I sold the ND2 units. I had them for sale quite some time now, the reason being I wanted to upgrade (replace) them with more potent speakers. I'd heard the BD2 and BD3 units several times and had actually gotten used to them by now. My interests lay with the BD3 (now MD3) unit which has quite a powerful motor behind it. The difference between it and the ND2 lies in almost every aspect. More control, power, refinement, spark. Okay, the price might be considered kind of expensive, but the difference is in relation in my opinion. Now to save up for the difference in price between what I have and what the BD3 will end up costing... gulp....
I keep getting questions now and then why I always use AER drivers and not something else; have I listened to other brands? The answer to that is yes, I have. The only alternatives in my opinion are compression drivers and other high efficiency baffle/horn speakers. Sticking to cone speakers for horns and baffles, I've had the chance to listen to brands such as Fostex, Supravox, Fertin, Phy-HP, Diatone, Philips, Lowther, Stamm and some other brands I just can't remember the names of. Out of all these speakers the only ones I really like are the Supravox 215-2000 and one of the Fertins I heard in an open baffle (really enjoyed that one, but never found out which unit was playing). These have decent speed and dynamics while not losing life as much as say the Fostex (very harsh and paper-sounding, cold, yegh). Diatone makes some very nice speakers, but they lack in both the high and bass which would require a 3-way setup. Lowther is just too aggressive for me, although I loved it a few years back. Phy is nice and warm, but sounds quite muffled lacking real speed and dynamics.
Coming to compression drivers, they offer everything I like and then some. Many Altecs have had the pleasure of teasing my ears, factory standard and modified. I've even heard some TAD's. They have speed and dynamics that a cone speaker can only dream of, but also lack some life and are sometimes too harsh to my ears. These speakers are perhaps the most sensitive to cross-overs of all speaker types. Match them with horns and they are finicky as hell. Screw up on the filter and the sound is dead. Another factor is that 3-way is almost required to do it right as only a handful of drivers can actually do the mids and also reproduce adequate highs. Many people I know tell me they can't hear anything over 12kHz anymore, but I have no such problem (17-18kHz last time I checked). Maybe this plays a role as well.
So out of all speakers left besides the AER, my choice would rather lean towards compression drivers than other types of cone speakers at this moment if I would have to choose. Speed and dynamics are not all I am interested in, but it is an important factor I admit. There really is such a thing as "too much of a good thing", which is why I haven't actually switched to compression drivers.
But hey, this is only my crappy opinion.
Returned home today with a pair of MD3s under my arms (well, sort of). I'll mount them tomorrow and start the play-in period all over again :(