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To Jeff Fritz,

I have usually been pretty much simpatico with your tastes and choices in equipment and music. And ah! . . . the Music Vault . . . that qualifies as high porn in my book. (If I ever show up by your territories do not let me in the Vault. I will barricade myself in it and never come out!)

I did, however, notice that maybe you are buying a bit too much in the fallacy of the in-house-designed-and-made drivers. I am not sure we should assume that because a driver is made in-house it is intrinsically better that one from Morel or Accuton or [brand] x. Those companies have probably more expertise, capital, means, and research than do Mr. "Legend Designer.” I was going to suggest a standardized battery of measurements, but then I thought about the standardized testing and the state of our educational system and then the first margarita hit, so forget opening that Pandora’s box.

One thing that I wonder is why no one has never approached the matter of blown [drive] units. I sent my old Magnepan 1.6 for a full refurbish three years ago after my pup attacked it to get the Stereophile CD dog out. I can get a replacement tweeter for my Duevel speaker, but I was out of luck with Talon (my brother-in-law bought those pieces of %$^T). The company was unable to provide a woofer for their first-generation speaker -- and they were supposed to be built in-house. I had a friend that had problems with other elite manufacturers that could not really support their products. So, it would be interesting to know if these rarified manufacturers are able to provide a replacement tweeter or whatever for all their models, going all the way back to their first model. Notice I said replacement. I did not say they will not fix the speaker with the latest upgrade to newer drivers, crossovers, etc., costing $$$$˛ and as you said succinctly: “There should be no shortcomings."

Well, the second Prickly Pear margarita is hitting hard so I will play a mix of Cash, Callas, Harris, Merchant, Zeppelin, etc., and pretend I am in the Music Vault! Cheers and happy listening.

Zdenek Zapletal
United States

Let me clarify why in-house-made drivers are important. Here’s the shocker: It has nothing to do with the drivers themselves. I agree with you that we should not assume that a driver made by a company that sells finished loudspeakers would necessarily be any better than those drivers that could be purchased from any number of specialist driver manufacturers, such as Accuton and Morel. The key, in my mind, is that the company can actually make their own drivers. This means there is sufficient engineering resources within the company to do the not-uncomplicated task of designing a loudspeaker drive unit from the ground up. This task is, arguably, more complex than building the finished product. If that engineering acumen is present in a firm, it leads me to surmise that the company can also design a finished speaker with a high level of expertise. If a company can’t make, for example, their own midrange drive unit, just how skilled are they in the finer points of finished-loudspeaker design?

The other consideration is getting exactly the driver that’s best for the job. Companies such as Accuton and Scan-Speak will make custom drive units and can modify existing types to suit the needs of many speaker makers. But when a company such as Magico, Vivid, KEF, Rockport, or TAD can make exactly the driver they need for the product they’re designing, they have a fundamental advantage of not having to rely on a third party to meet their very specific needs. Which may not happen anyway.

So, ultimately, whether the driver that, for instance, Vivid Audio makes for their Giya G1 is better than a comparably sized model from Scan-Speak, is irrelevant. The Vivid driver was designed precisely for that Giya loudspeaker, and that exact driver could not have been bought from, literally, any other company in the world.

I agree fully that companies need to be able to replace a drive unit when one fails. You’re spot-on with that one. . . . Jeff Fritz