WE/Altec 755 Part 2 (2 cf box)



As many of you know I am an open baffle advocate and have used the 755A and 755C in this concuction for years. However, I recently attended a radio show event after a few years of hiatus and saw my friend Chong Ong. He handed me these ~ 2 cubic foot "homebrew" sealed boxes designed for use with the 8" WE/Altec 755 speakers. According to him these cabinets were acquired from a retired WE engineer which encouraged me to give the sealed box enclosure another chance.


In the past I have experimented with two types of slanted 2 cu. ft. enclosures - an original Altec 618 and custom built 622 using 1/2" plywood - and always ended up with mixed results. The above cabinets look like the 618 and the dimensions are - 22"H x 17"W x 10 1/2" top depth x 13 1/2" bottom depth - using 5/8" plywood instead of the 1/2" used in the original Altec 618 Utility cabinet. The panels are lined with ancient type of damping material known as "Kimsul", which reminds me of crepe paper. I have seen this material inside Western Electric 753 and 757 loudspeaker systems and even as wrapping material in old tube boxes.


Altec 618

Custom Altec 622 with Altec 408A


The first driver I tried was the 755C but these observations were also validated when I installed the 755A and 755E. Compared to the open baffle, this cabinet gives an impression of quicker transients and dynamic nuances which Joe Roberts call "snap" which I could never achieve from dabbling with the 618 and 622. My main frustration when I experimented with the aforementioned cabinets was, both sounded slow in spite of the many tricks I tried - walls lightly damped with pillow stuffing [Dacron], bare "lacquered and resonant" panels and etc.

Anyway, along with the "snap" comes a more forward soundstage presentation. There is a bit of a midbass hump in the 90-120 hz region reminiscent of an LS 3/5A, most evident with the 755C and 755E because they extend lower in the bass. Bass aficionados will probably prefer this cabinet over an open baffle because of this sonic illusion. But remember that even with open baffles, there is not much solid bass below 60 hz on any of these drivers. For that matter I never heard a modern high-end speaker with an 8" woofer that can go down flat to 50 hz and still possess a lucid midrange like these vintage units. The midbass bloom is less obvious with the 755A and overall this was the best sound I got from this box.

Even if the pancakes are claimed to go up to 15khz, they sound like the highs begin to drop slowly around 9khz whereas the 755A still has some energy past its 13khz limit. This may be a psychoacoustic phenomenon given that the pancakes have been redesigned to extend almost an octave lower and lost the "exotic" cone chemistry of the 755A which brings out the even more glorious midrange and silky highs. As many of you already know specs really do not mean much in real world conditions.

The lack of high frequency extension in the "pancakes" is more apparent in the 2 cu. ft. box and I was compelled to use a super tweeter. The Altec 3000 is a natural choice but since this is hard to find and pricey I found the Fostex FT-17H as an excellent and modestly priced [$70/pr.] alternative. I use a 1uf oil filled capacitor and an 8 ohm attenuator to hook up either tweeters to fill-in the drooping response above 10 khz on these drivers. With the 755A, I did not deem it necessary to use a super tweeter. Even the "ribbon-like" Altec 3000 can diminish the purity of the high frequency abilities of the 755A if not attenuated and crossed over properly. If you insist on extending the 755A's, I can only recommend using the 3000 with a .5uf oil cap and attenuated judiciously.

When I designed the JEL SE300Bdx, my only reference speakers were the 755As and 755Cs in open baffles. The 755As can tend to sound peaky if driven by a brighter sounding amplifier or source component while the 755C and 755E are more forgiving. In terms of "apparent" sensitivity/efficiency, the 755C has a slight edge over the "A" and "E". I need SE300B power to enjoy large scale symphonic music with the 755A and 755E. With the 755C I can get by with an SE2A3 amp. However this does not prevent me from using microwatt SE71A for listening to small scale music on any of these drivers.

Like I said in my SP17 homebrewer article, the 755/OB combination reminds me of the Quad ESL57 with greater dynamic range and sensitivity. This 2 cubic foot box is like an LS 3/5A with a larger soundstage presentation, greater dynamic contrasts and SPLs without the "bextrene" coloration in the mids. If you like planar speakers, the open baffle will yield flatter bass response, even bigger soundstage, provide more depth and airy spaciousness at the expense of "snap". But if space is at a premium, you can achieve an "SE amp" friendly speaker system with BBC nearfield monitor quality from this 2 cu. ft. enclosure with the 755A and the 755C/755E with an Altec 3000 or Fostex FT-17H super tweeter.


Below is a sketch of this enclosure's external dimensions:



Building tips:
·        Use 5/8" cheap plywood, the more resonant the better, 1/2" slows down the sound from my experience
·        Do not use MDF, this was not a known cabinet material to the designers of the 755 and other vintage drivers, anyway it is a sure fire recipe for disaster when using any vintage driver
·        Front mounting will probably lessen the midbass bump and the darker mid-range tonality of the "C" and "E" but make sure that the driver is "routed in" so that the front of the speaker frame is flush with the baffle which will provide enough space at the rear for sound to exit through the small holes at the back of the speaker frame
·        If the driver is front mounted, it is no longer necessary to have a "screw on" front or back panel, this way the cabinet will be tightly sealed
·        I have no source for Kimsul but reckon that Dacron polyester fill will be a decent substitute, just line the walls with 1- 2" of this stuff and it should be fine


Visit Joe Robert's Junkyard Jukebox for great WE755A information!

Another site I just discovered with good information on WE/Altec 755s.

Comments

  1. are above black colored cabinets KS12035 original ones made by WE Co.?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, they are just old DIY cabinets with 2 cu. ft. internal volume.

      Delete
    2. Thanks a lot for your kind/prompt reply.
      Have you ever compared the voice of yours to that of original KS12035? It seems to be very similar between the two because both are of old age.

      I am much interested in KS12035 cabinets, and hope to obtain them. It would be much appreciated if you let me know how to obtain/purchase KS12035 original cabinets.

      Thanks again.

      Delete
    3. I am not familiar with the KS12035, never encountered them in my hamfest/radio show expeditions. It must be a very rare item.

      As stated above, I acquired these seemingly DIY (old) 2cf cabinet many years ago from a dealer friend who found WE755As in them. And as I reported any 755 (A>E) sounded a lot better in this enclosure than in the original Altec 618s I owned.

      I wish I could help you in your hunt for KS12035 but I am no longer based in the USA.

      Good luck and happy listening!

      Delete
    4. Dear JE,

      Thank you very much for your long and detailed reply.
      Can I ask where your JE Labs Arkiv is located at?
      Still I eager to obtain KS12035 or similar WE755A cabinets.

      Your article was impressive, so I read it causiously.
      You said that you acquired DIY(old) 2cf cabinets from a dealer friend many years ago. Could I obtain/purchase your black colored cabinets instead of original KS12035 cabinets?
      Cabinets only or WE755A units included are all wellcomed.
      I am interested in WE755A cabinets, and not so much interested in twitters.

      It would be much appreciated if you accept my somewhat rude proposal generously.
      Of coursem adquate/proper compensation would be rendered.
      Anticipating your positive reply, I wish you good luck.

      Thanks again.

      Delete
    5. I originally wrote this article over 10 years ago for my old and defunct Audio/DIY website which I maintained while living in the USA. I've since moved back to Manila and posted all the articles in this blog.

      Sorry, I cannot sell these 2 cf cabinets because it's the only pair I have. That's why I published the dimensions so that other 755 enthusiasts can reproduce it.

      Thanks for your kind words and interest!

      JE

      Delete

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