Acoustron LWE-II vintage speakers (Louis W. Erath) ULTRA RARE
I saw these at an estate sale of a Beaverton, Oregon jazz musician. Had no idea what they were, but since they looked like serious business indeed. Researching them, I realized Id stumbled onto a pair of Unicorns. As rare as Acoustron speakers are, these high-end variants- The LWE-II's- were produced in extremely limited quantities, and I have yet to find an instance of another pair being offered for sale. In fact, as far as Ive been able to determine, the pictures Ive taken for this listing are the ONLY stand-alone photographs of LWE-IIs anywhere on the internet. So one shudders to think what these LWE IIs (with TWO 14 woofers) will sound like once properly dialed in.
Id love to learn more about them and would be happy to share your wisdom and/or amend this listing accordingly. I manage a storage facility in metro Portland that is extremely easy to find and access.If you live anywhere in Oregon, Washington state, western Idaho or Northern California, I would consider meeting you half way/ part way. Honestly, I do NOT look forward to packing and schlepping these things to Fed Ex, then worrying about them until receiving word of their safe arrival. Having said all that, Im in no particular hurry to sell. They look stunning, and its a pleasure to have them in my home. In fact, at their previous address, they hadnt been hooked up for decades and served strictly as Mid Century Modern décor pieces. A Google search will unearth quite a bit of information on Acoustron LWE speakers, (at least the more common LWE-1s) and their designer, Louis W. Here a bit of what I found.
These speakers will rock your world! Just takes a technician to hook them up which is why the idea never took off. A geophysical engineer in Houston named Louis W. Erath started a tiny speaker system manufacturing firm in Houston back in 1966. The first product was a bookshelf system (Model 1).The basic designer choices then were identical to what we have now; acoustic suspension, reflex, or horn for the low frequencies. As we all now know, the acoustic suspension systems are inefficient but with extended low end, the bass reflex types are more efficient with potentially better transient response but somewhat less ultra low-end response in smaller boxes, and the horns; the most efficient with the (potentially) best transient response and dynamic range of all but with the largest size and (usually) higher cost. Of course there are many more subtle considerations within these choices, but these are the basic limitations design engineers have to work with. Surely there must be some of you out there that have dreamed of using classic high efficiency large magnet woofers (normally reserved for bigger reflex designs) in a relatively small bookshelf size box and "somehow" designing the box or the venting or "tuning" or "something" so that you could get the extended low end response of an acoustic suspension system but at a much high efficiency and not give up the transient response. Erath's experience in designing transducers and amplifiers for geophysical survey trucks with their ultra low frequency'ground-thumper' systems designed to shake the earth enough to get recordable reflections back from subterranean strata was a really unique background for branching off into loudspeaker system design and production. He invented and developed a design that did cheat and win handsomely. As a point of reference you can see what happens if you mount old classic high efficiency large magnet drivers in a WAY-TOO-SMALL-BOX by referring to the Klipsch model H (Heresy). I know there are some of you out there who love this little box system, but frankly the extreme low end down at 32.7 HZ (LOW C on pipe organ) just isn't there at all. All that the model H produces is harmonics of the fundamental frequencies down in this range. I know it may be wonderful through the rest of the range but lets face it the extreme bottom end is crucial for the emotional impact that we all strive for in a system. The out-of -phase signal is fed from the output of an amplifier's final output stage back to the input of that same stage. Actually the same concept can be used in any intermediate stage of amplification as well.
A side note: Previously I spoke with someone who had worked in Erath's shop and he said that one of the amps they had problems were some of the Sansui models. He said to get a circuit diagram for whatever amp I use (probably from a service manual as they are rarely included in users manuals) and send it to him and he would be happy to mark where I needed to clip inside the amp. He said that there was a good chance that the bulbs would still be good since it was a low power application and that bulbs degrade with hours of use, not time. He said that there is one problem that can happen and that is that some amps, not many... He also mentioned that his listening room is 18' x 15' which is ideal for listening to these speakers.Ive only been waiting about 3 years to put this system together and I finally got all the pieces together tonight. Erath really knew what he was doing! I wouldn't trade my K-horn system for it but MAN do they put out some bass!!
I've only hooked up a cheap CD player directly into the amp using the gain controls but it sounds pretty amazing, especially when you consider the flat sound they give with other amps. Almost everything in my basement was rattling when I cranked it up, and they're on a concrete floor. Good tip for anyone experimenting with these speakers: Turn the "Room Gain" down on the back of the speakers - it makes a huge difference! Then I read the Operating Instructions paper (see link in above post) and cranked the Room Gain down to "2" and it tightened it right up.And I still hear the extended bass response! (I'm in a small room about 16' x 20') This might be obvious to some, but I had to waste a bunch of time messing with the EQ on my preamp and source until I read that page with the recommended Room Gain settings for various room sizes. Listening to the latest Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians and the kick drum is moving my shirt. Acoustron went out of business (1973) after suffering financial losses in the language lab end of their business. Acoustron licensed 140 LWE dealers nationwide, many of them McIntosh dealers, as their amplifiers worked well with the LWE circuitry. Soon after Acoustron's demise, many LWE dealers closed out their remaining stock at a discount, some telling their customers that there was "a fire at the Acoustron plant" which was untrue - there was never a fire. Vintage LWE speakers are characterized by their near exclusive use of CTS (Chicago Telephone Supply) drivers with Electro-Voice T-35 tweeters (used in some models), 3/4" plywood cabinets with walnut or birch veneer, and 3/4" MDF baffles and backs. The demise of Acoustron combined with the difficulties in marketing and supporting a loudspeaker that needed a modified amplifier along with Louis' busy career in geophysical instrumentation pretty much ended the LWE loudspeaker. CM Labs briefly resurrected the LWE technology for their CM15 Servosound Feedback Speaker System in 1974, going so far as to modify their amplifiers (CM911) to include 6-pin cinch-jones connectors so their feedback speakers (or LWE speakers) could plug right in. The item "Acoustron LWE-II vintage speakers (Louis W. Erath) ULTRA RARE" is in sale since Thursday, June 4, 2020. This item is in the category "Consumer Electronics\Vintage Electronics\Vintage Audio & Video\Vintage Speakers". The seller is "marpentrac_0" and is located in Gresham, Oregon. This item can be shipped to United States.
- Country of Manufacture: USA
- Model: LWE-II
- Modified Item: No
- MPN: Does Not Apply
- Brand: Acoustron