Reviewer: Chris Templer - TNT South Africa
Reviewed: May, 2020
This is a short writeup about a highly intelligent and gifted man, who has for many years had a love affair with the work of Paul Voigt and equipment from the beginnings of our hobby. Mark Andrews stands alone in this country - sure many equally gifted people build amplifiers and speakers - but none but Mark do entire systems totally from scratch. The horn pictured above was the first of his speakers I heard and it was astonishing that something so old could be so good. Over time I saw and heard more of his work and each visit brings something newly made but with origins in audio history.
Twelve years after Paul Voigt started working he met Peter Lowther and soon afterwards Voigt and Lowther started to collaborate. Lowther Voigt Museum. In 1934 Voigt launched his Domestic Corner Horn.
Before going further I want to point out that all speakers and amplifiers/equipment shown in this article have been built by Mark himself. When I say built, apart from the obvious valves, caps and resistors and speaker frames, everything owes it's existence to Mark's ability.
The woodwork on the Domestic Corner Horn plus the Plaster of Paris molding in the mouth, I saw as it was being built and the attention to detail and accuracy to plan was quite mind blowing.
Here are the Domestic Corner Horns (Left) via a cell phone recording. Keep in mind the speaker is 6" in diameter!
Another smaller design (Right).
Both of these have the driver mounted at the bottom of the cabinet "firing" upwards.
All the "Iron" (transformers, mains and output and chokes) are handmade by Mark to his design. So too all the chassis work however capacitors and resistors are period, as too are the valves. In fact these are as close to 1920/30 replicas as it's possible to get!
In Mark's words: "I use a variety of vintage Lowther Drivers: PM2AmkII, PM3A, PM3/5A and PM6A. The Voigt Domestic horns use a pair of original PM2AMkII drivers. The Voigt HC horns use PM3/5A."
"I also have my own Field Coil Driver, which is totally hand made apart from the use of the modern die cast Lowther Diaphragm Baskets."
"The field coils run on a 150 VDC @ 200ma (30 W) PSU using a Mercury Vapour Rectifier, and the Diaphragms are similar to Lowther but sturdier with better control over break up modes. The design also allows for a greater driver diaphragm displacement (Xmax) of 3 mm over Lowther's 1 mm."
These are replicas of speakers used in cinemas at the dawn of "Talking Movies" in the UK.
Mark has a habit of saying up front that this is not hifi as we know it (I think the word audiophile is not in his lexicon). It certainly isn't the anemic rather lifeless sound I hear from most of the so called High End systems I've been in contact with. In fact, if we had this sound at home, we should be extremely pleased. Trying to quantify "speed" or "dynamics" or "scale" is a waste of time - these have all of these and more. There is no boom, no peaky response (the Lowther squeal is missing) and the experience is very involving. Hugely efficient, a couple of very unstrained Watts gives an effortless sound with very detailed and to my ear quite natural results. Without naming them for obvious reasons, some very popular horn speakers are very forward and strident with little body to the sound. Usually paired with some form of bass driver in a box they are tiring to listen to with an etched sound. Not so any of Marks designs, very smooth and anything but tiring to listen to - in fact I could live happily with any of them. And I can't say better than that!
There is no audio system without fault, but the faults here are insignificant and each time I hear one of his creations I wonder where audio today went wrong. Mark has compromised his vintage persuasion by going digital via a server and Squeeze box, but you would never think so when listening to his various systems.
© Copyright 2020 Chris Templer - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - www.tnt-audio.com