valve amplifiers and high efficiency speakers

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05/21/2017 09:53 AM
Electro-Voice EV 209-8A - 8" Full-range

During a visit to Sakuma's Direct Heating website, I encountered a cool SE 801 amp schematic designed for either a Lowther PM6 or an Electro-Voice 209-8A. I googled the EV 209-8A and nothing came up in Audio/DIY centric English language websites. But there were a lot of US dealers stocking the driver from as low as $18 each.

basic specs

After downloading and studying the detailed specifications at the EV website, I chose the cheapest internet seller and phoned-in an order for a pair. 

It cost $40/pair from Full Compass delivered within a couple of days to my doorstep. In spite of their great customer service, their packing left a lot to be desired - see the slightly wrinkled whizzer in the above right picture - the drivers were free floating in the box, not even tied down face to face ;( 

Due to lack of resources to build the recommended 1.8 cubic foot sealed cabinet, I loaded the EV 209-8A in a Heathkit 1.2 cubic foot ported cabinet, which used to house a Jensen P8RL + RP103. 

Heathkit 1.2cf + EV209-8A

Sharp fall off below ~ 90hz, otherwise the in-room RTA result was satisfactory. The tonal balance reminded me of a good mini-monitor speaker with no upper midrange nasties. It was also quite extended in the high frequency and at no time did I crave for a super tweeter.

Further internet research yielded this Japanese website which did an in-depth study of the EV 209-8A. Based on Chrome browser translation, transmission line loading was used to get around the bass deficiency.

Regardless of Qts values ;) and in keeping with JE Labs tradition, a trial in an open baffle is de rigueur. Since my original pair of OBs are currently in storage, I improvised a 55" wide x 32" high flat baffle using a 24" x 24" x 1/2' thick pine plywood baffle from my experiments in the 90s as the core, supplemented by cardboard extension wings.

OB + EV209-8A

Despite the even sharper fall off in mid bass response as shown in the RTA, subjectively, the bass extension was similar to the EV209-8a/Heathkit box combo. But the scale of the sound field produced by the EV209-8A/OB combo was a lot larger than when it was loaded in the Heathkit cabinet.

Since I discovered that my very first high efficiency speaker (a green KS 14703/Altec 755C) was carefully stashed in a box in the basement, I installed it in the OB to take a trip down memory lane. 

OB + Altec 755C

I've covered the Altec 755C in the Sound Practices No. 17 Homebrewer feature many moons ago, so I will spare adjectives to describe the subjective performance of the KS14703/755C. Suffice to say that the above RTA graph shows it all. It is just in a different class sonically and affordability! Perhaps not a very fair comparison for the EV209-8A because this driver with an intact cone and voice coil is worth about 20 times more when they come up for sale.

So even if I couldn't coax Altec 755C performance from the EV209-8A, its street price, efficiency, relatively flat impedance curve and midrange to upper frequency performance quality impressed me enough to bring it to the attention of the Audio/DIY world.