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Lowther PM2A's

Disturbing the waters of our lives

(Better go get something to drink, this is a long one)
[Italian version]

Product: Lowther PM2A Drivers
Enclosure: Martin King MLTL's (DIY)
Enclosure: Jenna Labs Medallion II's (DIY)
Manufacturer: Lowther Loudspeaker Systems Ltd.
US Distributor: Lowther America
Approx.cost of the PM2A's: $ 1350 (USD)
Reviewer: Scott Faller - TNT USA
Published: February, 2004

[PM2A - Full Frontal Nudity]
[PM2A's Bum]
Lowther PM2A's

Trivial Bits

As I sit here trying to read an article in Stereophile about of all things, decimation (down sampling high bit rate recordings on CD's) I keep getting interrupted by Emerson, Lake and Palmer who are getting dizzy on my Systemdek. I'm really trying to expand my cranium about sampling rates and how little tricks can make CD's sound better, but those three just won't leave me alone. Keith keeps reaching inside his Steinway, plucking the strings and saying "Hey, pay attention pinhead, I'm doing something completely original here.".

How was I to ever know that a single pair of speakers could disrupt my musical life force like the Lowthers have. In all fairness, it's not just the Lowthers but really my system as a whole. That's what it is too, wholeness. It's that final, scary step into the abyss of audio hell. Or is this heaven. Depends on if you are from Dyersville, Iowa I suppose.

This may not be heaven but honestly, I think I'm a damned site closer than I was. See, before I was lured into that more is better syndrome. It's a pretty simple mathematical expression actually. More Watts + More Speakers = More Clarity, Dynamics and Detail. In a very real plane of existence, this completely is true. For a long time I had quite the killer kilo-watt system. Carver ribbons for tweeters, Focal's as mid-bass drivers, then filling in frequencies only demons could hear were a pair of Shiva's in a 9.75 cubic foot box that was tuned to 16Hz (and it did it flat, TYVM). All of this was tri-amped using a three way active crossover. No lossy passive crossovers in my system. Nope, not for this (slightly) overgrown (and bald) teenager. Not a chance. Give me watts or give me death was my motto.

I have to admit it was extremely cool. Not to mention, I could do things like blow out candles sitting 5 feet away with the Shiva's (as demonstrated every time somebody would say "So, let's hear this thing"). I'd have my wife so mad at times she'd stand at the top of the steps slamming doors to get my attention as if she were screaming at the top of her lungs "Turn that God damned thing down".

From the time I set up the Beast, I always felt as if I was missing something. At the time, I didn't think it was dynamics because my home brewed speakers were more dynamic than anything I'd ever listened to. I didn't think it was clarity or timbral balance either because it did a damned fine job at both. So just what was the problem.

I honestly didn't know, so I just ignored the voices inside my head and went along my merry way down a sandy path paved with watts. Then I stumbled on my Goodman's and a lower powered tube amp. Very cool. Over the next year or two I played with that combination with some satisfaction, but it still wasn't quite a trip back to Kansas. A short while after that I bought my Handmade 2A3. Paired with the Goodman's, there was some serious magic. Trouble was, I could see the slight of hand on some of the tricks. Most of the time the magic stayed true to it's name but still, something was missing. So, I continued my quest until I finally got the nerve to look behind the curtain and there I saw the Wizard.

Here in the States, the Wizard goes by the name of Doc Lowther or Jon B. Ver Halen for us common folk. Doc Lowther is the sacred protector of all pale yellow, paper drivers on this side of Oz. Now, I realize there are other paths that can be taken to obtain these ultra dynamic drivers but at the end of one of the paths lies an empty box but I'll get into that in the next section.

Anyway, after months of wandering aimlessly in the dark, fumbling for that SET and high efficiency Nirvana, I finally found the resources (and courage) to flip on the light switch that had been beside me for so long. I have to admit, the initial shock of this decision was not easy to overcome. Here I was, deciding to blow a good chunk of an entire years audio budget on a single pair of drivers. Top that off with the fact that, they didn't even come in a cabinet. That was going to cost me another half years budget if I didn't build it myself. Well.....refusing to be another lemming on the beach, marching towards to a watery grave, I broke ranks. Boy, I'm I glad I did.

[Hey....Let's do the wave!!!!]
(*Note: Computer modelling was done on the Lowther DX4 in a 2.5 cubic foot bass reflex enclosure.
Tuning frequency was set to 85Hz to achieve +/-3dB of the nominal 98dB driver efficiency.The
number of vents were set to 2 and the diameter was set to 3". The resulting computations
stated that the port lengths were "too short". WinISD and Martin King's measured T-S parameters
were used in the computations for this theoretical "design". Changing the parameters to a
3 cubic foot box produced similar results.

Wishful thinking

One afternoon, a nice man delivered two rather unassuming boxes from the land of her majesty, The Queen. I carefully opened the two heavy boxes and revealed a thin, pale yellow papered cone. The parchment was surrounded by a massive cast aluminum frame. Suspended from the rear was a massive chunk of Alnico. When I say massive, I mean massive. I'm talking a mortar shell sized hunk of Alnico.

So now I've got these really nifty speakers but I don't have anything to put them in. The logical choice is the Medallion II's. The plans for them came with the PM2A's. After looking at the plans and talking to Doc Lowther, it seems that the Medallion's rear loaded horn design will take the best part of a month of weekends just to build them. I don't think my lovely wife will let me have the garage for that long, so I needed to find something a bit less time consuming.

Well, a bass reflex box is definately out. I know from experience that these things don't reproduce bass in the quantity or quality that I (and many other people) consider to be acceptable. For giggles, I did some quick modeling of the DX4*. My 'puter sez when you mount this 98(+)dB driver in a BR enclosure, it falls off to 95dB at 150Hz and then suddenly jumps to 101.5dB at 90Hz. Then it takes a pretty drastic -26dB dump over the next lower octave. Needless to say, after looking at this plot you can pretty much tell that these things are probably going to sound ....... well ..... not so nifty. This simple bit of modeling just reinforced my opinions that Lowthers* won't work in a large(r) bass reflex box. In my opinion, with this type of "design" you will have to use a sub and some sort of EQ to get a reasonably flat bass response down into the lowest octaves. There's no other way around it. It's simple (speaker) physics (Theil and Small helped define it for all of us).

Of course, there are a million different ways you can model this same speaker and I could be full of beans,
so...... (and let's all say this together)...... YMMV.

Some Assembly Required

Martin Kings MLTL's (mass loaded transmission lines)
Enter Martin King and his Quarter-Wave website. For a number of years Martin has been experimenting with Quarter Wave Transmission Line speakers. With the help of a program called MathCad, Martin has figured out a way to take what appears on the surface to be a bass reflex speaker, stuff it with a very specific amount of fill that occupies a very specific area within the enclosure, insert a carefully calculated notch filter and next thing you know, Lowthers make bass. Amazing.
Better things for better hearing through science (math and persistence).

After mulling over the design for a few evenings, I decided to give it a try. The enclosure is extremely easy to build. It took me two long afternoons to crank it out, stain included. As you can see from the ones I built, I dressed up the enclosures a bit. I added some pine outside quarter round on the corners. I used a simple polyurethane to finish the pine. I also used 5/4 pine on the top and bottom and routed it to give the speaker the appearance of being a column. The lighter pine stain contrasts the cherry stained oak on the body of the enclosure. It looks a bit different but that's OK, I like different.

Martins design also calls for some baffle step compensation (or a notch filter for us regular guys) to help flatten the response of the Lowther driver. This notch filter recesses the midrange to the point where you get a pretty darned flat response out of these speakers. There are compromises with this design as there are with all speaker designs. The biggie here is the reduction of efficiency. Guessing, I'd say my 97dB Lowthers will drop to about 92-93dB. That's a pretty significant hit especially considering I've only got a 2a3 and a 45 amp on hand. Best case, I'm only pushing maybe 3 watts. Yikes!

Needless to say, I forged ahead. If nothing else the MLTL's wound be a good enclosure to break in the Lowther PM2A's. Believe me, the PM2A's need some serious break in time too. Doc Lowther told me to expect about 300 hours of break in time before the treble smoothed out completely. He said the bass would start to come round after about 100 hours. He was right on both counts. Out of the box the PM2A's sound pretty pathetic. The treble is harsh and nasty. There was no bass to speak of. After about 200 hours the treble got significantly better, in fact it was pretty listenable at that point.

[Notice the rigid, upright stance of this, our latest phallic symbol]
Mass Loaded Transmission Lines

Now, when I first put these into commission, I tried them without Martins notch filter. Wow, was that a mistake. Then I backed the MLTL's into the corners (without the filter) and started playing with the toe in. I finally settled on a heavy cross that had the apex about 3 feet in front of my listening seat. The sound still wasn't right, so I decided to build the filter Martin recommended.

I bought the 15 ohm version of the PM2A's which means Martins filter shown on his website wouldn't work properly (his is calculated for the 8 ohm drivers). I needed to (basically) double all of the values to get the depth of notch Martin had modeled. I went ahead and ordered the parts I needed from Parts Express and Mouser. I ordered the Jensen coils and some really cool sounding (but really expen$ive) Ohmite power film resistors. In the mean time I dug though my parts bins and came up with the parts for Martins original 8 ohm notch filter design. I figured, what was there to loose except a half hour or so. So I installed them.

At this point I need to make a big clarification. Martins' modeling was based on the Lowther DX3. This is Lowthers entry line driver. What I've got in my hands are the PM2A's in the 15 ohm version. These are their third most expensive drivers they make. There's a reason for that too. They sound infinitely better than the DX3's (I've listened to both). These also have the "new and improved" whizzer design (amongst other major improvements). All of the current production Lowther's (with the exception of the C series) are shipping with this new whizzer. Lowther is offering an upgrade program also, for all of the current Lowther owners with the old whizzers. Just ship your old units back to the factory (or the authorized rep in your area) and the factory will upgrade it for a nominal fee. Such a deal.
OK, back to our regularly scheduled typefest.

After installing the notch filter, I pulled the speakers out from the corners into my usual listening positions. Damned if I didn't have a smoother sounding response (it's amazing what happens when you do your homework). Granted there was that loss of efficiency but I was getting pretty decent bass. I knew at this point I just needed to fiddle with the placement a bit and they'd probably sound pretty good.

I ended up settling on a back wall placement with a slight toe in to image properly (well not properly, but better). I see what you're thinking, "He's back-wall loaded the speakers to get some more bass out of them.". Well sure I did, and it worked, without getting too lumpy either. Now, if I had played a bit more with some heavy blankets or rugs on the back-wall, I could have gotten them to image properly too.

So how did they sound? Well, for a really simple box and build, I'd say pretty damned impressive. They didn't come without their faults. Between about 70 and 100Hz there was a bit of a dip. Part of this was exacerbated by a room null of about –2dB at the listening position.

Now here's the stunning part. I grabbed my geek-o-meter (a Sencore SP-295c) and started doing some measurements. When all was said and done, I was getting rock solid bass all the way down to 38Hz. You read that right, I typed 38Hz, in room. After that, the bass dropped off like a Buzzard shot with an Uzi.

Oh I forgot to mention, I built and installed the Zobel network that Martin recommends. Personally, I really didn't like the sound of it. My 2a3 didn't want any help with the impedence peaks and dips. Maybe this was just me or maybe it was my amp, so as always, YMMV.

A day or two later my parts showed up from Mouser and Parts Express to build the proper filters. I went ahead and built the filters and installed them. Well, to be completely honest, even though this allowed me to pull the speakers out from the wall so they could image properly, the filter made the speakers sound veiled, un-dynamic and congested. I really preferred the slighter notch which gave me a more open sound. I'd rather play with back wall acoustic treatments, but maybe that's just me and my amp, again YMMV. One more thing, it defiantly wasn't the quality of the parts. My make-shift filter built from my scrap bins was an iron core inductor and an Ohmite 10 watt non-inductive wire wound. After I built an identical valued filter (the 8 ohm version) from the more expensive parts, the sound opened up even more. I really think it's because of that really expensive Ohmite power films in TO220 cases (they're $6 each and worth every penny TYVM).

Bottom line on the MLTL's, they are a very worthy design. If you are an SET or lower wattage PP kinda guy and are looking to try a full range, crossover-less speaker, I think you might like these. Lord knows, they're as easy a speaker to build as they come. They don't take up any floor space to speak of and they sound pretty damned good even considering their drawbacks.

[Measurements: 45x14x20 - Turn On's: Jazz and Classical Music - Turn Off's: Bass Heavy Music - Fantasy: To be sandwiched between a BIG pair of drivers that go soooo deeeeep ......oooou, I'm blushing! ]
Our Playmate this month, Medallion
just loves to be exposed

Now for Something Completely Different

The Medallion II's
OK boys and goyles, this project is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. This is a proper, back loaded horn. A complete knowledge of woodworking, a shop full of tools, and a month of Saturdays and Sundays will be required.
That's exactly why I had mine built for me. Yep, that's right, I got lazy and had somebody build them. I found a (somewhat) local cabinet maker build them. His name was James Voss and his shop just on the other side of Useful, Missouri. I kid you not, Useful Missouri is just before you hit Lynn Missouri, another bustling micro-metropolis.

It just so happens I've been driving though both of these towns (if you can call them that) on the way to the State capital where I'm doing the engineering for a building renovation at my regular job. One day I decided to stop and talk to James about building the Medallions. I showed him the plans and asked him how much he would want to build them. James came back and quoted me a ridiculously cheap price that included the 13 ply Baltic Birch. I gave a dramatic pause for a second or so...........then said "Will you take a check?". Well, before he could answer, I had it filled out and stuffed in his shirt pocket.

About three weeks later I picked them up, jammed them into the back seat of my hooptie and down the road I went. Happy as a clam.

Well, needless to say the speakers weren't quite finished yet. I still needed to do the recommended tweaks that Doc Lowther has listed on his website. When James built them, I had him leave one side unglued and just screwed, so I could easily dissect the Medallions and play with the entrails. The tweaks I did were pretty much all that was listed (I didn't do the sand filling). I installed a Dyna-Mat type damping material bought from Parts Express, then I began installing the 100% wool felt in the compression chamber and horn mouth.

Heed This Warning Young Jedi…..Small Pieces

Well, I settled in for an afternoons worth of aggravation. The object of my loathing, the 100% wool felt I needed to install as one of the tweaks. This stuff is supposed to be installed in the compression chamber, the mouth of the horn, then it continues up the face of the front baffle. The 100% wool felt (be careful, there are synthetics and blends out there) is used to help absorb some of the high frequencies in the back chamber. The felt also helps cut down some of the front baffle cabinet diffraction (higher frequencies of course). The suggested way to install this is to use a spray adhesive and press the wool into place.

[sticky shit]

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it ? Well.... a thinking person would ask themselves this question, "Do I spray it on the cabinet or the material?". Well, spraying it on the cabinet could get really messy unless you tape off the limits of where the adhesive is supposed to go. Kinda like spray painting a car and taping off the windows and chrome so you don't get paint on stuff that doesn't need it. Well.... a thinking person then begins to ponder, taping off everything is fine except the overspray is going to get all over everything in my room. I envisioned a small mushroom cloud of spray adheisive hoovering over my new cabinets, then settling like fallout making the floor of my listening room (where I was doing the tweaks) into a giant Shell Pest Strip. Well, we couldn't have that, so I made the executive decision to spray the felt, then press it into place.

Here lies the first problem…..putting me in charge of the decisions. The first piece I tried (try being the operative word) to install was about 20" long and had two cutouts in it. The hole for the Lowther driver and an internal brace. Well, I put on my latex gloves (second mistake) so I wouldn't get all sticky, and I sprayed the crap out of this piece with adhesive (third mistake). Next, I tried to pick it up. ........ Picking it up wasn't the problem, getting it unstuck from my gloves turned into an adventure all in and of itself. You can just imagine the fun I was in for.

Then Mother Nature (and my stupidity) started getting in the way. As I lifted this limp, gummy bastard, gravity reared it's ugly head. The two halves (of this perfectly cut piece) suddenly flopped together like two huge electromagnets of opposite polarity. As I watched this happening in slow motion, six or eight really juicy expletives instinctively leaped out of my pie hole. So here I stood with this thing that sort of resembled a wadded ball of duct tape pondering all the things I did wrong.

Just to take a quick census how we got here (notice I just drug you into it), if any of you guys have ever done anything constructive with raw, woven material (other than wearing it, or talking it off), you soon find out that this shit has a mind of it's own. It doesn't conform to the laws of construction. In construction, things are rigid and straight (providing you cut it that way). They're pretty predictable. So heed these warnings;

1 - Use no gloves, get sticky. Don't worry, almost all of it washes off.
2 – Cut small, manageable pieces, Confucius say.
3 – Don't use too much adhesive. Remember these words "tacky not soaked".

Here endith the lesson.

Life is All About the Little Details

OK, so now that we (see, you're still in this) have finally cleaned almost all of the glue off our hands, arms, hair and nasal cavities, we can actually install the Lowther drivers and give the Medallions a listen.

I followed Jon's recommendations by using a non-magnetic screw and wood insert to fasten the drivers to the front baffle. I used a high quality, mil-spec, silver plated copper wire with a 1000 volt rating. This wire gives me a much thicker Teflon insulation than the typical 600 volt wire. The binding posts I used were the thinnest, cheapest, all copper posts I could find.

Wait a minute....did I read that right? ........SACRILEGE!!!! .............HERESY!!!!

OK....let me explain. See, after playing with the Lowthers in the MLTL's and using a 2a3 amp, I've absolutely become a less is best and the simpler the better freak. It only takes playing with one of these type of systems to quickly learn that everything you thought you knew as an audiophile was wrong. Well, maybe not everything but at least a fair chunk of it, especially when it comes to cable and interconnect construction. Sometime in a future article, I'll go into great detail about this.

OK, so now that we've finished the internal wiring, it's time for a listen….finally. I'll start up front by saying I thought the Lowthers in the MLTL's did a really nice job of reproducing music. Loads of detail and dynamics like I've not experienced before except really expensive horns (think Bruce Edgar and his Titans or the Classic Audio Reproductions, Hartsfield's). What I was really hoping to get out of the Medallions was the same detailed sound except with nice solid bass forgoing the notch filter.

Well, I didn't get what I ordered. Instead I ended up with monster dynamics and details that I never expected to hear. This was more than a little disconcerting. For the next day or two I had to listen intently to make sure what I was now hearing was real (in a musical sense). The more I listened to all different kinds of music, the more I became mesmerized with the sound of these speakers. Here we are talking about a single, full range driver that is covering almost the entire sound spectrum and it's putting out some of the most accurate sound I've had the pleasure of listening to.

There is absolutely something to the back loaded horn design that is inherently right in a musical sense. The details that come out of the horn mouth add not only bass and body to the music but dynamics and huge amounts of detail. Not only micro details of instruments and vocals but spatial details of the venues.

Now I must make this perfectly clear. The Medallions aren't the do all, end all of back loaded horn design. To get decent bass, you need to either corner load these or at least back them against a wall. You aren't going to huge bass like with a LabHorn or Dr. Bruce Edgar's refrigerator sized sub. What you will get is a nice, smooth bass response down to about 60Hz or so. Not too bad considering we are talking about an 8" driver with 1mm of Xmax.

[I'm a pin head and I know it,..... la, le la, le la, le la....]

Sometimes, Even a Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut Occasionally

A couple of years ago I was having an offline conversation with one of the guys from our forum about using a full range driver (like a Lowther) and cutting it off at about 200Hz and letting a sub take over from there to fill in the bass. As I was listening to the PM2A's in the Medallion's, I looked into the corners behind them to see my 15" Goodman's sitting there getting dusty.

I kept thinking about that conversation and began running an inventory of my spare gear through my head. It just so happens that I had a spare active crossover sitting on the shelf (an Audio Research EC-3 tubed) and a pair of Antique Sound Labs ASL Wave 8 mono block amps (8wpc tubed) that I had picked up as a tweak project for the TNT site. Hmmmm, kinda sounds like I could do an active bi-amp setup here.

Well, about a half hour later I was setup and ready to flip the switch.

What I've done is to corner load the 15" Goodman's and pull the Medallions out so they could do their magic on imaging. Let me comment first on the Goodman's. These are obviously a vintage, high efficiency speaker. They are sitting at about 104dB and corner loaded so the little Wave 8's won't hardly have to work producing the sub 100Hz bass. They only have about 2mm of Xmax, maybe. These have fairly thin, rigid paper cones and are another low distortion driver, so they should mate well sonically to the Lowthers.

Well, I didn't realize just how seamless they would be until I turned on the system for the first time. It was phenomenal. The Goodman's filled the room with a rock solid and extremely well defined bass down to 30Hz. Bass that is almost as tight and defined as the Hartsfield's (that I can't seem to get out of my head). This combination sounds so good that I actually decided to tear down my kilowatt, Beast of a system in favor of this setup.

If you are a bass fan, doing a bi-amped setup with large vintage drivers is THE way to go. You could try one of the current pro-sound drivers like a Beyma, JBL, TAD or something similar. They would probably work well too. I seriously doubt that your typical low efficiency, large Xmax driver will integrate as seamlessly as a vintage driver (I tried the Shiva and it didn't blend well at all). If you can live with yourself for not buying an Altec or JBL, loads of other large diameter vintage drivers (12" or 15") can be had for next to nothing on eBay (think Jensen, Lafayette, Vitavox or University). I know Dick Olsher does something similar with an Audax woofer (actually now Dick is using an Eminence). The Basszillas are actually quite different and can't really be compared to an active system. They really are two different beasts. OK, enough about subs, sorry about that.

As I mentioned (much) earlier, the PM2A's that I bought have the new whizzer and suspension design. What Lowther has done is to fold a rigid corner around the outer edge of the whizzer cone itself (along with a few other major mods). The result is supposed to have smoothed the treble response and all but eliminated the Lowther shout that everybody types about. Well, I'm here to tell you, the PM2A's do anything but shout at you. These are some of the smoothest sounding drivers I've had the pleasure of listening to. Even with an ultra-detailed sounding 2a3, listener fatigue is the last thing that could ever happen.

The Lowthers suffer the usual drawback of a single, full range driver, they tend to start rolling the highs. It's not as bad as you might imagine. The PM2A's treble starts rolling gently at about 12k. Think about it, that's pretty damned high for a whizzer cone. In turn I inserted a pair of Rat Shack Super Tweeters crossed at 15k. These things fall a few dB shy of the 100dB (or so) of the PM2A's in the Medallion cabinets. On a minor amount of music they fill in some missing information in that last half octave quite nicely. They don't call attention to themselves in the least.

Now to talk about the main reason I switched to a single, full range driver (the Lowthers specifically). If you have never listened to a speaker that doesn't have crossover anywhere close to the vocal range (below 100 Hz and well above 8k) you won't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Let me get this out of my system….passive crossovers suck. Not only do they suck power but they suck for music in general. There's an entire thesis laying in wait on the benefits of active crossovers but I'm specifically referring to passive crossovers that stab at the heart of the music, the midrange. Everyone I've heard smears or distorts the sound in some form or fashion when used anywhere near the midrange bands (I'll get email bombs over that one). It's the simple truth. Plop yourself down in front of an SET with a pair of full range drivers and you'll quickly understand why I say this. No more is there any nasty sibilance in the reproduction of vocals. No more timbral mismatching of drivers. No more high distortion speakers (notice how low efficient speaker manufacturers seldom ever bring up that subject). No more flabby distorted bass that covers up midrange detail. And finally, no more harsh and etched treble. All we have now is music. Music in it's truest and most natural sounding form.

The coherency within the PM2A's bandwidths, suddenly makes music out of what used to be pleasant sounding noise. There is something that is so right with the sound of the PM2A's, it's almost hard to describe. Vocals and instruments truly begin to take on life. Recording after recording proves this repeatedly. I'm not talking about just audiophile recordings either. I'm talking about all but the crappiest recordings sounding more alive and real than they ever have before.

The PM2A's in the Medallion cabinets, coupled with a quality SET design allow more detail to be retrieved from all of your favorite recordings without loosing an ounce of musically. With the detail comes a focus to music, focus like you wouldn't believe. As I've mentioned in previous articles, I've become an imaging junky. Listening to the PM2A's is like the difference between watching television on a regular set and a 50" high definition gas plasma. The soundstage and images portrayed by the Lowthers are second to none. Pinpoint focus, a nice deep soundstage and realistic proportions of the performers are what you can expect.

Let us not forget about timbral accuracy. When you measure the PM2A's, they are about as close to flat as the Swiss Alps. They are peaky, and look on paper (and my Sencore) to be a rotten choice for a speaker until you sit down in front of them. Listen once, and you suddenly remember how that violin actually sounded at your local symphony. If you've ever been up close and personal with a string quartet, you'll absolutely remember the sound of the bow drawing across the strings. The resonance of the violins or cellos body at a completely different frequency of the strings, then how the two blend harmonically to make separate but a homogenized sound into music. Those are the kind of minutia that are clearly audible and accurately reproduced on the PM2A's in the Medallions.

Everybody that has listened to this system comes away with the same impression. The coherency and timbral accuracy is some the best that they have ever heard. Vocals on the Medallions are to die for. Not to mention their dynamics. In fact, I think there just may be a convert or two that spring up here in ole St Lou'.

[Believe what you will, the bi-amped PM2A's and Goodmans, are better than 99% of anything I've heard to date.]


So in the end, was it worth tearing down my kilowatt system for something this simple. Damned straight it was. Was it worth the $1350 for the drivers not to mention the considerable sum of money and time I spent on the cabinets? Absolutely.

Wanna know the really great thing about this system? The bi-amped Medallion's let me play nearly every piece of vinyl or disc that I own. I'm no longer afraid to put on a piece of music in fear that it will sound bad. Since the PM2A's get the midrange right, filling in the lowest octaves with a sub to balance the sound, suddenly makes my entire music collection playable.

Want to know something else? This is going to sound really strange. If you guys have followed my drivel over the years, you know that I've been really trying to get into classical music. Well, for some reason, it now makes sense. The only thing I can figure is that with my other speakers, they didn't provide enough detail or finesse to make an orchestra sound cohesive. With the PM2A's in the Medallion cabinets, not only do I get it, the signal is now broadcast in Technicolor. I'm now finding myself getting lost in composers like Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Brahms. I know it sounds stange, but thats the way it is.

Well, you can bet the Lowther PM2A's in the Medallion cabinets will continue to be my absolute reference for a long, long time. I've listened to a lot of different systems over the years. I've lusted after a few, but to date, I've never heard any that make music any better than this one does.

Well...... I guess I have to update my bio again.

Manufacturers Comments

Thanks for the very nice and detailed review of your PM2A Lowthers in Medallion II cabinets. My wife is afraid I am going to go up 1 full hat size from a major case of swollen ego after reading this. It won't happen, because so many people have worked on this product to make it a success. Jennifer WhiteWolf-Crock at Jena Labs made the initial design of the cabinets, and tweaks have been provided by a number of people. I am just the keeper of the information.

Paul Joppa, engineer extraordinaire at Bottlehead Corp., has just developed an inline circuit to be used in a pre-amp which will duplicate the baffle step correction filter on Martin Kings design. This will take the passive circuit out of the speaker and increase the transparency of the system. This will be posted onto my website as soon as permission is received from all parties.

Finally, I want to thank Scott for writing humor into the review. It is obvious that he fully enjoys this hobby, and wants to make it fun. The people who take this too seriously scare me. Have some fun and listen to stuff you enjoy.

Jon Ver Halen
Lowther America

Reference Equipment Used

  • Turntable – Systemdek 2x2, Rega RB 250, Expressimo Mods, Rega Super Elys
  • CD Player – AH! Tjoeb Upsampled
  • PreAmp - Korato KVP-10, Dual Mono, Tubed Line Stage
  • Phono Pre - Graham Slee Projects - Jazz Club
  • Amplification - Bi-Amped
    - Full Range Amp (100Hz and up) – Handmade Electronics Deluxe Classic 2A3 SET
    - Woofer Amps – Antique Sound Labs Wave 8's - 8 WPC
  • Active Crossover – Audio Research EC-3, Tubed, 2 or 3 way (discrete)
  • Speakers
    - Full Range - Lowther PM2A's, 15 ohm coil in the Medallion II Cabinets
    - Woofers - Lafayette Goodmans SK-111's, 15" Dual Concentric in bass reflex cabinets
  • Interconnects and Cables,
    - DIY, silver plated copper with teflon insulation,


© Copyright 2004 Scott Faller - www.tnt-audio.com

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