Stereo Speaker Systems #3
Canton Karat 20
Germany ('87-'90) $225
kar·at /ˈkerət/ (noun) a measure of the purity of gold, pure gold being 24 karats. Example: "an ounce of 24-karat gold"
Although it's almost too subjective to discuss, in our humble opinion, these Canton Karat 20 monitors are best described as having detailed presentation, very accurate and, considering these are a 2-way model, never over-the-top in lows, mids and highs. Rated at 4 ohms with a ceiling of about 80 watts each, it's suggested to drive these with a high quality power source that's not afraid of 4 ohms.
Suffice to say these have very high quality components...the 6" proprietary drivers feature rubber surrounds and the 1" titanium dome tweeters are also unique to Canton.
The heavy and slightly ported (on the rear) enclosures are made with real oak veneer for some of the best high quality bass performance compared to other speakers anywhere close to their size. Of course there's always room for arguments there...
The vintage Canton Karat models can fetch some crazy high prices and there are plenty of reasons why. In 1988, new Canton Karat 20 speakers cost a hefty $650/pair and were rarely discounted.
This pair of Karat 20s are in excellent cosmetic and sonic condition. The perforated metal grills are also absolutely pristine.
As usual, let YOUR ears decide...
2-Way Ported Bookshelf speaker
1 inch aluminum dome tweeter
6 inch woofer
Impedance: 4 Ohms
DIN Power Handling: 50 Watts
Music Power Handling: 80 Watts
Frequency Range: 36-30,000Hz
In 1972, with the goal of producing the best speakers in their class, Canton was formed. ‘Canton’ is a combination of the Latin word "cantare" (to sing) and the German word "ton" (musical tone). They started in a vacant small town school building and house in Niederlauken Germany.
Starting with 35 employees assembling speaker enclosures in January of 1973, Canton began its legacy of high quality audio reproduction in the tradition of what they called “pure music”.
Canton speakers combine innovative technologies, the highest quality materials, and a remarkably wide range of models and designs to provide a musical experience "second to none".
Often compared to vintage ADS/Braun speakers, the vintage Canton Karat speakers are quite often considered "better" than Braun by pure "audiophiles". Obviously that's a subjective argument. However, in terms of value, there can be no doubt that Canton Karat speakers are generally expensive and more on the rare side at this point.
"Karat" is loosely defined as a variation when used to describe the values of gold...
(early 90's) $200
In near mint condition, this pair of Ohm E2 was the last upgraded design of the very popular E series. The E2 uses a vented enclosure and *SubBass Activator to extend the deep bass while retaining the natural voice reproduction the E series was known for. The original Ohm E (late 70's), even without the later sub-bass activation, was one of their most popular speakers.
The E2 is well known for it’s natural vocal reproduction in small to medium sized rooms. It reproduces jazz, folk, and chamber music with exceptional accuracy.
Rated at 4 ohms with amp recommendations ranging from as little as 5 watts up to 75 watts, the E2 is very efficient. Sensitivity is around 90 dB.
Similar in size and cabinet design to the highly respected Hartley Zodiac (except the E2 has deeper bass) the heavy and well-braced enclosures have real, hand rubbed walnut veneer.
*SBA: What is Sub-Bass and how do you Activate it?
The SubBass Activator is attached to the back of the woofer's magnet structure. Extending the deep bass improves the perceived sound quality of almost any speaker. Tests have been performed where the only change in the speaker’s performance is extending bass and the extended bass version is consistently chosen as sounding better. Hoffman’s Iron Law applies to all speakers: the efficiency of a loudspeaker (woofer system) is directly proportional to its cabinet volume and the cube of its low frequency cutoff. This law says the combination of very deep low frequency cutoff, high efficiency and small box does not exist. The low frequency cutoff and the shape of the response above and below this frequency determine how deep and how strong we perceive the bass from the speakers.
Ohm was founded in 1972 specifically to develop and market speakers based on *Lincoln Walsh’s patented design. The first model, the Ohm A, is still considered one of the all-time best speakers ever produced. In 1981, John Strohbeen (Ohm’s president) patented a design that addressed three issues with the original speaker; now the stereo imaging could be heard from most listening positions, they can now be used near walls and normal amplifiers could drive the design while high power would not destroy them.
Ohm went factory-direct in 1999 and redefined the speaker line-up from the traditional good-better-best (as the price went up) to the-best-we-can-make for small, medium and large rooms.
Still in business today, Ohm's reputation is regarded as exceptional across the world.
*The entire Ohm line, and, in fact, the company itself, owe their existence to the Walsh driver developed by the late Lincoln Walsh (1903–1971). This driver, in principle, can operate over the entire audio bandwidth from 20Hz to 20kHz and is capable of producing a coherent cylindrical soundfield around the driver cone. It is a dynamic moving-coil design but with strikingly unconventional and original packaging. Sound is radiated from the surface of an inverted cone that visually resembles an upside-down woofer or a very large ice-cream cone. The face of the cone radiates into an enclosure and generates what is equivalent to a backwave from an ordinary driver.
(Germany 1975) $190 (reduced)
Made in Frankfurt Germany, the Model 321 is one of the rarest of all the Braun LS models that was marketed only in a summary leaflet in 1975 and in the overall LS project in late September 1976.
Designed by famed German industrial artist Dieter Rams for Braun. they wanted to make a model that was more reasonably priced and could be appreciated by audiophiles without breaking the bank.
The L-321 is 2-way sealed enclosure with 6.75" main drivers and 1" LS tweeters. Rated at 35 watts @ 4 ohms with a max of 50 watts, the crossover hands off at 1500 Hz.
The teak veneer enclosures have black fabric and weigh about 13 lbs each.
Best suited for jazz and classical, they are in near mint condition.
Dating back to its origin in 1921 in Frankfurt Germany and founded by Max Braun, they went on to establish themselves as one of the world's premier industrial design companies. Their loudspeaker models are highly respected and often compared to Visonik, Canton, etc in terms of excellent design and sound. They were affiliated with ADS for years and supplied the drivers for most of the ADS models that were later assembled into the cabinets by ADS.
In excellent cosmetic and working condition, the 2-way Infinity 1500 speakers are rarely seen. There were several versions the Infinity 1500 some were made in Germany but others were replaced later by Infinity in 1981 and made in the USA. These appear to be the later versions.
They deliver clear, clean, detailed and accurate sound, non- fatigue is the watchword here.
These beautiful Pecan veneer enclosures (20” x 13” x 10”) are solidly built and weigh about 26 lbs each.
The 8" drivers are in excellent condition and have rubber surrounds. The Infinity tweeters are 1” poly dome units...efficient with as little as 15 watts yet they can take a maximum of 100 watts.
The front of the enclosures have 1" bass ports as well. Each cabinet has brand new, beautiful, light brown vintage linen style grill cloth.
Arnie Nudell, John Ulrick and Cary Christie founded Infinity in 1968. Their first product was the Servo-Static speaker system which had electrostatic panels and a servo-controlled woofer.
Infinity has produced both home and car audio products and they are known for their use of neodymium magnets, mylar diaphragms, and polypropylene speaker cones. Infinity produced the *EMIT tweeter and EMIM midrange drivers and later the EMIT-R, S-EMIT, and the L-EMIM which worked to move air based on the principle of electromagnetic induction.
The IRS (Infinity Reference System) which cost $65,000 in the 1980s is one of the first ultra-high end speakers systems ever sold. The IRS had 76 EMIT tweeters, 24 EMIM midrange drivers, and twelve 12-inch poly woofers in four tower speakers cabinets.
The Reference, and later Kappa series, were discontinued after Nudell sold the Infinity brand to Harman Kardon. Nudell later formed high-end loudspeaker company Genesis Technologies,. Genesis' flagship speakers system, the 1.2, sold for US$235,000. It was for the most part an updated version Infinity IRS Speaker System.
In the 1990s and beyond Infinity speakers have been less expensive and more mass marketed to the general consumer. The popular SM (Studio Monitor) series speakers had polycell tweeters and graphite impregnated midranges and woofers.
Genesis FLS G1+
Rarely seen and punching out deep, satisfying bass, the 8 ohm, Genesis FLS GI+ speakers feature 8" refoamed drivers and 1" dome tweeters...the bottom end seems impossibly good for a 2-way system.
The 1+ have beautiful rosewood veneer cabinets and gorgeous beige linen grills.
The 1" concave dome tweeters are set behind metal mesh protective covers and were specially designed for Genesis.
There is a cult following on the Genesis speakers and they are rare.
These are in excellent condition and sound just great! It might be risky to say but, these rival the ADS L520/620 in overall quality of sound.
The cabinets and grills are near perfect.
Genesis Physics Corporation built speakers for Fred Locke Stereo (FLS) to sell as a "house brand" in the 70's but they are identical to certain Genesis products.FLS was a boutique HiFi shop in the Northeast USA that catered to audiophiles and others looking for more than the usual mainstream stereo gear.
Micron 521 near field monitors
The very rare Micron 521 system was General Sound's second to the TOTL bookshelf speakers for this particular series. They are a 2-way system featuring 5" woofers and 1" dome tweeters.
The drivers are mounted in beautifully designed, real timberwood cabinets with radius edges. The front of each feature beautiful brass frames. These are rated at 4 ohms and capable of handling about 60 watts each.
Because they are "time aligned" for phasing purposes, the drivers, especially the tweeters, are recessed into the cabinets. This was a design to improve phasing and provide the best sound quality in such a small enclosure. These are a neat looking design, that's for sure.
As for their sonics, they are very detailed speakers with very good extension...quite dynamic and very transparent. They would be perfect for those looking for a high quality speaker system that have a small footprint but still yield a clean and neutral sound.
Similar in size and the high quality of the Braun/ADS L200, the Micron 521 speakers are one of those rare finds that come around once in a blue moon.
Made in the USA by General Sound in Arizona.
About General Sound...
There is not a lot of information about this company other than a few pieces that people may have commented over the internet. But, regardless of how little information there is about General Sound (Phoenix AZ), the sound quality and build quality of their speaker systems are highly regarded. Not to mention, they are all well designed and look very elegant.
For example, the General Sound Micron 631 + 1011 2.1 system was one of their TOTL models and are considered audiophile collector quality. Other models included GS-10, 521/2/3, GS-5 and others. All their systems were produce from 1980-1985 then the company disappeared off the planet.
FPS/Von Schweikert FPS-200 "Penguins"
Flat panel desktop system $125
In 2002, the novelty FPS 200 Planar wave system was described by Stereophile Magazine as “possibly the only exotic-technology computer system speaker on the planet”.
On a much smaller scale, the FPS-200 "Penguins" were designed to reproduce sound quality near-equivalent to high-end flat panel speakers that are many times larger and costing hundreds more...and yet fit on a footprint no bigger than a desktop.
The "penguin" shaped MCMA technology stereo (left/right) speakers themselves (0.5" W x 12" H) and are styled in classy piano-gloss real mahogany. The system includes an unobtrusive 40 watt, 5" driver, powered subwoofer tastefully designed in maple veneer and small enough to sit up top with the speakers.
Excellent as a desktop system for computer or executive desk or table system paired with a CD player.
About FPS, Inc (Japan) and Von Schweikert (USA).
Established in Tokyo in 1999, FPS of Japan has spent years developing a new type of flat transducer that greatly reduces the disadvantages of ordinary flat panel drivers. Most audiophiles have heard the various incarnations of electrostatic and planar magnetic designs on the market, and many have had their love affair with this unique type of device. However, many grow tired of the limited dynamic range, lack of truly deep and powerful bass, and locked-into-a-vice type of imaging. The lack of dynamic range is due to the limited excursion potential of a stretched piece of plastic film in a clamped frame; the lack of deep bass stems from front-to-rear cancellation caused by the open baffle. Many large panel designs also beam their high frequencies like a flashlight, so one cannot move one's head more than what seems to be a few micro-inches. In addition, some listeners complain of electrostatic "brightness" or thin sound, lacking in body. The Acoustat panels were also said to have been highly colored, hinting that electrostatics and planar-magnetic speakers are not "automatically" superior just because they have no enclosure or crossover. Indeed, it seems that these may be limitations instead of benefits. The brains at FPS have actually found a way to eliminate their lack of dynamics that have haunted planar drivers for ages.
Enter Albert Von Schweikert, (Doctor Emeritus of Loudspeaker Engineering), a transducer designer and system engineer at many speaker companies over the years as well as his own company, Von Schweikert Audio. He has won many engineering awards, including Product of the Year (5 times) and Entrepreneur of the Year, awarded by the SBA in 1996.
Von Schweikert, working alongside FPS, co-designed the FPS 200 system and it was hailed as one of the first advanced desktop sound systems to hit the market in 2000. Almost at the same time, Harman-Kardon came out with their famous "Sound Sticks" desktop system. FPS went on to continue developing Plamar wave. technology.