Some months back l announced a 555 shoutout and so it happened. It was best to gather a bunch of good ears that have some experience listening to the western electric horns. The regular high end listener can take a while to really understand what is going on. We had to eliminate that risk. So the ears are those of the gentleman seated as seen below. I thank T, M, D, D, W2, C (he took the photo…thanks C) and J….My wife could have joined and given us the benefit of her experience. Indeed from her workspace she will often make comments on the sound especially when I change things, she is so often correct, I know she would spot the sound she likes the most.
The aim of this shootout? Well we can all get hold of or read about options about just about anything on the planet. The western electric 555 does not escape this reality. We have the originals be that 555w or not, mesh or not, low cost Chinese replicas, highly priced GIP laboratory and originals with replacement diaphragms.
From my personal collection I set aside we555w original, we555 with replacement diaphragm, GIP laboratory 555w and line magnetic 555 (thanks T).
I wanted some contradiction about the sound this array of drivers can produce, not just my single opinion in a that “quick judgmental audiophile manner” I have managed to have escaped more than a decade and just decided to be with “my sound”. Some would agree that this test is pretty rare. I have assisted attempts to make 555 comparisons before just like some of the auditioners gathered here at my place. We agreed that these did not allow any clear guidance, mainly because the system was not fully stable nd tuned. My system has all the qualities required to make a test like this make sense and allow listeners to voice clear opinions.
We did the test with emt927/139st, western electric 86 amplifier with we274a, we262a and we300b, tunagr power supply and all the cables that work. And last but not least my western electric 16a original hanging as it should.
The test was done full range no tweeter and no bass. A fully open window into the drivers capabilities allowing no distractions or variations due to xover, bass and treble integration, phase etc…..no second grade driver will impress here!
1st of all the “555’s” got “baked” for 6 hours so they all reach working temperature.
Then it was important that the test be blind, meaning that nobody except me knew what driver was playing. This was achieved with a very rudimentary method! This worked…M seemed to approve!
After the exhausting tests it was high time to enjoy the other tastings on offer….
Yes I know that you may want some concluions, comments on the sound. Well audio16 is not an audio review platform but a place of sharing. I will obviously guide my friends and customers in the direction I feel is the better option. However, out of the 4 druvers there are two that really stand out with an unanimous vote (one of these two being the preference of M and W2) one that was different and a potential candidate when seeking a higher resolution (again unanimous) even if the cost is a loss in smoothness. One that none would recommend unless used in narrower bandwidth, above 300/350hz and below 1500hz or so.
Myself I did not vote on this shootout even if I have my winner.