Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Western Electric 755a fullrange speakers

Since there are so little information on the Western electric 755a speakers, I have decided to post more pictures for those who wants to know more about the speakers.

According to an expert JE Labs, This 8" full range driver has achieved "cult status" amongst audio aficionados. The most desirable version are the ones branded with the Western Electric logo with the frame in smooth silver or textured charcoal greyish brown finish. The mounting gasket always had 5 - 8 quality control stamps showing the tight tolerance procedures excercised in their manufacture. The later Altec branded 755As only had 1 or 2 stamps but essentially looked the same and came finished in either textured charcoal greyish brown or silver hammertone.

Aside from those quality control procedures and alnico magnet, what sets the 755A apart from the later 755C and 755E is the chemistry of the cone material. The procedure was very intensive, involving a "vacuum formed" process to produce a cone that contained silk and cotton components. This cone material is also found in original examples of WE/Altec 756A, 754A and 728B. Perhaps this is the reason why the 755A has that beguiling and lifelike midrange quality that eludes the later "pancake" versions.

For more details, please visit :

According to another expert Alan: " Western Electric 755A has three versions, the earliest period is zinc colour plating (as per the pictures enclosed), the later version with gray colour navy plating. Western Electric KS-14703 was the final period and produced by Altec at around 1950 - 1953. Altec 755A also has two versions, the early version started to produce in 1954 in 4 Ohm and later period at very late 50? - early 60 in 8 Ohm".

For those who are keen to find a pair, according to Alan: "The estimate price of Western Electric 755a is around HKD30,000.00 - 38,000.00 in Hong Kong and around YEN 550,000.00 - 650,000.00 in Japan (More expensive than a pair of 15" Tannoy red monitor). Altec 755A is around HKD14,000.00 - 18,000.00 depending on the condition and version. "

When buying the WE 755a, Alan has pointed out that: "the impedence matching and db matching is one of major problem when you selecting 755A. The Western Electric and early period Altec 755A is sold in mono, but not in stereo, In fact, +/- 10% impedeance of speaker is acceptable. If you looking for perfectly matching pair 755A than the price will be much higher.

I will listen to them for a while before I give my little comment on the WE755a!


Monday, August 28, 2006

WE & Altec 755ace series speakers

After months of searching and hunting, I have finally managed to find a pair of early Western Electric 755a fullrange speakers in the Paino wood (Spruce wood) cabinets! Many has told me that it will be a mission impossible and one can only find it in Japan.

Initially, I have wanted to settle for a pair of Altec 755C and continue my search for the 755a. I have even bought a pair of original 8 inch Altec cabinets for the 755c ( as the 755c needs cabinet with ventilation). I have advertised in R33 seeking for 755a but not a single respond.

Finally, its a dream come true! Dream do come true for those believe!

According to Alan (an expert in WE amps) there are differences in the WE 755a vis-a-vis the Altec 755a speakers. For detail, please see below extract written by Alan..

WE755A was introduced by Western Electric in 1947. It is an 8 inches full range speaker with frequency range from 70 – 13,000 Hz with maximum capacity of 8 watt at 4 ohm in voice coil impendence. It only has very narrow angle distribution at 70 degrees (I believe this is reason of concentration on tone) and Western Electric suggests user to apply 2 cu ft closed speaker enclosure for this driver.

The Western Electric 755A is designed for PA and monitor purpose. The early version is in zinc plating at silver colour and the later period with gray navy painting. During late 40 – early 50’s, they were usually equipped on train, train station, business building, record studio and radio station as broadcasting monitor. During late 40’s, the major competitors of full range speaker on PA market included Altec 400A and Jensen P8P.

Honestly speaking, WE755A has much better construction than both models included special curve design of paper cone, large size U shaped Alnico magnet and much bigger voice coil construction…! Since the Western Electric sound equipment department was forced to close down by US Goverment in 1949, the production was passed on to Altec in 1950. The early period Western Electric KS-14073 was actually produced by Altec from 1950 – 1953, this version has silver colour painting also with same specs as 755A.

In 1954, Altec first introduced the Altec 755A to the market, the early version with glossy gray navy colour, but late period with brown navy colour. I believe the early period from 1954 – late 50’s should be in 8 Ohm and late period until early 60’s is 4 Ohm.

In very early 60’s, the Altec introduced Western Electric 755B with blue colour painting at 8 Ohm, but this model did not last long than it replaced by the Altec 755C “pancake” speaker in slightly later period of early 60’s with metallic green colour at 8 Ohm. If you look at the front, there is almost no different than 755A version, but if you look at the back than you can see this model no longer using Alnico magnet but replaced by flat ceramic magnet (Indox V) just look like a pancake.

Even Altec claimed 755C has better extension of both end from 40 – 15,000 HZ, but the guess dropped to 9,000 guess if compared to 755A above 10,000 guess. You can easily tell that the mid-range of 755C is not concentrated and transparent as 755A, the tone balance step down to be much thicker and lower bass than 755A but not as clear and open up as 755A…! Believe the angle distribution changed from 90 instead of 70 degree also affect the concentration as well…!

I would say that Altec 755C cannot be claimed as a full range speaker but it is a very good mid/mid-low range speaker in my limited understanding. The final version is Altec 755E introduced in 1968, it is very similar as 755C but the painting changed to white and gray, but also have different construction of wire connector. The sound characteristic of this model is very much the same as 755C, but the bass sound slightly solid and slightly upward than 755C and it still does not have clear and balancing tone as 755A

For those of you who are keen to know about the diferences in the 755 series speakers, please view another Western Electric expert web page:
Please note the picture showing the Altec 755a,c, e speakers are not mine.. I have finally concluded my search for the hardwares and now is the time for the enjoyment of music! For those who are seraching for your dream set up, wishing you Good Luck! : )

Final item for the year - 755a speakers

There are 3 speakers which I have desired namely a large pair of speakers for the living room, i.e Tannoy Canterbury, a pair of 15 ohm Rogers LS3/5a as a music reference and a pair of full range speakers.

For the full range speakers, I have started with the small RCA and a pair of Telefunken with a DIY open baffle. It was my first 2 pair of full range speakers. I have sold my 6 inch RCA spakers as the 8 inch was the ideal size. I was immediately captured by the sound of the 8 inch full range speakers. However, my DIY speakers were so ugly that my wife objected to it straight away.

Later on, I have moved on to a pair of Cora Beta 8 inch high sensitive speakers which is so detail and clear that even the signal noise from my vintage amplifiers could be easily picked up by the Coral. The Coral will be a perfect match for a modern (& quiet) preamplifiers. As I am not willing to change my vintage pre-amlifiers speakers, I have decided to cut love to a friend who can appreciates it more then me. In addition, the huge speakers cabinets also took up too much space in my living room making it difficult to walk. As a result, I have also let go my Siemens amplifiers (as it was too big taking too much space as well).

I have always have in mind a pair of legendary Western Electric full range 755a. However, despite much searching, I have only managed to find a pair of Altec 755e (costs about HK$8000 with a pair of DIY cabinets) and 2 pair of 755c (one with DIY cabinets asking for HK$10,000, and the other without cabinet asking for HK$7800) in Hong Kong.

The recent transaction at ebay for a pair of Altec 755a was about US$1826+ US$100 shipping = HK$14500. However, the fear of buying from ebay is that there is always a risk of non matching pair as well as non arrival of items.

After much consideration, I have decided not to pursue my Western Electric 124 dream as the costs is way too high (HKG$110,000). In addition, I have been advised by many of my hifi friends that the maintainance of the We124 is and will be a constant issues as many of the components are too old!

In addition, for the Western Electric amplifiers, there is always a dilemma of whether to change the capacitors & resistors or not with the Western Electric amplifiers. To change the capacitors or resistors would affect the values and originality of the WE124. Not changing the capacitors on the other hand will affect the qaulity of sound reproduction. Moreover, the WE also needs its Western electric 350 tubes in order to have the pure and "true" Western Electric sound!

Given the various strings of "attachments" and limitations, I have decided that it is not worth the trouble and the investmen in the search for the WE124 as hifi is supposed to give "pleasure" and not "pressures". My recent constant visits to the Hifi master for repairs have tired my eagerness to pursue a vintage amplifiers that needs constant consultation to the hifi "doctor"

With that in mind, my search for a pair of Western Electric 755a speakers has began (as speakers are relatively maintainance free). With the clear direction in mind, I have made up my mind to go for the real Western Electric 755a and not the Altec 755a or 755c or 755e as this will be the last item for the year! Too tired to search and I want to spend more time listening and enjoying the music! Since I cannot find a Western Electric amplifiers, at least i could be compensated with an all original Western Electric speakers!

cheers : )

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Two more items: WE124 & 755a

During these period, I have concentrated much efforts in trying to set up my ideal hifi system as well as trying to learn about vintage hifi.

In the process, I have met up with many fellow audiophiles, some good and some are very dissapointing.

Now, there are two more items which I have desired namely Western Electric 124 & 755a full range speakers to complement my current set up. I must say the hifi journey has been an interesting one despite some set back.. : )

Following which, I intend to stop my vintage amplifier search and go back to my vintage watch and fountain pen collections which is a more "peaceful" form of hobby as there will be less "sarcastics remarks" from people and less "red eye or white eye" treatments. In addition, the main challenges in collecting of vintage amplifiers system are the issue of maintainance and space.

With my current set up, I am quite contented with them as my original intention is not to collect for the sake of collection but to use them in the living room, and bedroom for the enjoyment of music. The process of refinement and streamlining has helped me fine tuned what I like and intend to keep.

Two more items seems to collect so little and easy but it also seems so far to reach..

Please see my small collection at watch & pen blog:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hifi for the bedroom

Space is always an issue in the bedroom. As such, for the bedroom system,I will have to find smaller size items in order to fit them in nicely while ensuring quality sound.

For the speakers set, I have brought in the Phass speakers with the EV35 tweeter (in a DIY wood holders) + Philips 634 player. The most difficult part is the amplifier system as they are too huge for the room. As I like KT66 and 6L6 amplifiers, there are very few vintage amp that is small. In the end, I have to find a new KT66/6L6 amplifier : Sound Master No 36 which is small enough to fit into my small bedroom. The Sound Master No36 is a Hong Kong made amplifier with auto bias for either KT66/6L6 or EL34 tubes. It also has a scoket with USB port for use with ipod.

Quite an enjoyable sound stage with this little set up!

Cabinets for 755c full range speakers

I was searching for the cabinet for the 755c full range speakers.

In Hong Kong there is one company who can custom made cabinet for 755 speakers using the Spruce wood but the cost is very high. Luckily, I have managed to find a pair of NOS metal cabinet for the 755 speakers and I am now eagerly waiting for the arrival of the speakers units to be fitted into the cabinets. What I like most is the size of the cabinet..nice and compact. Moreover, with the see through hole, the conecpet of the cabinets are similar to the open baffle concept. Like what the expert in JE LAbs says: "one cannot expect ultimate bass extension with an open baffle but the lack of cabinet colorations gives purity to the sound that many will find very appealing"

It will be used for listening of vocal!

For details on the various 755s speakers, please read:


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hi fi path

In my hifi journey, I have met many adiophiles along the way. Many of those I know are big time collectors of either vintage amplifiers or LS3/5a speakers.

For me, I change my gears very regularly. Why? I believe, one should only keep those that one like. Otherwise, we will need a large warehouse to store all the gears. Moreover, the unfortunate thing about hifi is that you will have to bring them home for continuos listening before you can tell whether you like it or not. Since I have just started the vintage hifi journey while many of my fellow audiophile have spent numerous years on it, I will have to move faster in order to set up my "dream set".

After much seraching, buying and then cutting love, I have realised that I like KT66 & 6L6tubes sound most. EL34 for me sounded too fast and a bit rough.EL84 tubes is very sweet but lacks the power and soundstage when played in the hall. As such, I have stramlined my other EL34, EL84 amps and keep only the few that I played everyday. Since I have limitaion on space and $$ plus I do not have the intention to rent an office to display the amplifers, I will have to follow strictly the "one in then one out policy" which I ahve promosed my wife. As I tended to get gear in very good condition, I have very little problem in selling them as like what they always say "good items are always in demand, and rubbish will always be rubbish".

I will rotate two amplifers per night, one using the Tannoy Canterbury and the other use the Phass fullrange speakers. I am hoping that the 755c and the WE124 will be my last pursuits but my friend has said that it is impossible....

Friday, August 11, 2006

PHASS Fullrange speakers

The past week has been a very hectic one as I have to travel overseas for work.

This evening, I finally managed to find some time to visit a "new" speaker cabinet makers near my office.

While waiting for the arrival of my 755C speaker units, I have decided to start searching for cabinet for the pair of 755c. Upon arrival to the shop, my attention immediately was captured by a pair of 4 inch full range alnico speakers in beautifully handcrafted Spruce wood (often called "piano" wood in Asia)! Even though the speakers is very small insize, the sound reproduction for Mid is excellent as well as has strong bass and high!

This pair of PHASS speakers units were made in Japan using Alnico magnets from South Africa while the speakers cabinet is made by a famous cabinet makers Feis audio in Hong Kong using the expensive wood that is used for the making of piano or violin. Spruce is the wood responsible for resonance and sound. Therefore it´s used in violin making for the tables with the sound-holes (ff-holes), bassbars, soundposts and reinforcements such as linings and blocks.

The size of the speakers are slightly smaller then the LS3/5a. I like the LS3/5a but I feel that we should open up our heart and mind and accept "new" product that is good. One example is the Chi Ping 3 1/2 inch full range speakers and another IMHO is this PHASS speakers. From the workmanship point of view, the cabinet is excellent and the sound is fantastic. It is espcially suitable for small bedroom or small areas. It is very user friendly as one could just placed it near the wall. The Chi Ping speakers sounded bright and open. The PHASS speakers having the Piano wood cabinet and bigger alnico magnet has the advantage of more refinement and depth.

The unit that I bought is the last prototype sample. Hopefully, the PHASS speakers could be massed produced soon so that more people could enjoy it!

While waiting for my 755C and my WE124, I will continue to listen to my Tannoy Cantebury and this PHASS speakers. Once the WE124 arrive, i will then bring one set of amplifiers, Pre amplifiers and speakers back to Singapore as it was really tough not having any system back home to listen..