Thoughts wanted for new speaker design

I am working to introduce a new speaker at Capital Audiofest this year and have a few tentative designs but wanted to do a little market research and see what you guys would find most interesting. Since I don’t have $40K for focus groups, thought I would ask your guys POV.

I currently offer two stand mounts - one which is a fiberglass based composite (Nightshade) and the other is Carbon Fiber bases (Blackthorn).

you can see them here at:

i am currently sold out but will be back in stock in about two weeks.  

i am looking to see what you guys would be most interested in:

1. a higher efficiency standmount - 92dB to 93dB but will be using compression drivers. Material could be MDF or Bamboo but most like Bamboo. Price ~$2500

2. A less expensive standmount made from bamboo or MDF that will be ~$2000. Likely be less than $2000 if it is MDF.

3. A Nightshade (fiberglass) Floorstander that would retail at $8-$10,000.

4. A floorstander that would look like 1 or 2 though I expect the efficiency of 1 will be closer to 100dB. Retail $3500 to $5000.

Unless you guys saw me at AXPONA or know someone who bought my first batch of speakers I know you haven’t heard my current stand-mounts. Just looking for a POV on what will be most interesting to you.

Thanks in advance.

They are not custom.  They are from Eton which are used less frequently here in the US than in Europe.  

They are spectacular drivers and they actually sound better than they look, and I think they look pretty fabulous.  
My opinion is that there should be more speakers that maximize output above the subwoofer range.  I think a sealed box that starts to roll off gradually around 80 hz is the ideal for a lot of situations.  Even for bigger 3-ways I think it makes sense.  It allows for much better dynamics in the rest of the frequency range and reduces room problems.  Most of the time the best location for bass depends on room resonances.  It'd be better to not have to worry about that much for main speakers.  
A sealed box that rolls off at 80hz is easy interesting.  I need to think about what to do with the crossovers tue drivers I am using can comfortably deliver that.  

It certainly would maximize flexibility in terms of placement.  Something to consider as I work on these more modestly priced products.  
@kenjit I am using the Arcosia’s but I buy them direct from Eton making them much more reasonably priced.   If you hear them you will understand why I use them.  

Spectacular drivers.  

My two cents, keeping in mind I am not shopping:

1)  The 2 way with a compression driver seems like a good way to diversify your line and offers a choice for lower power tube lovers.  
2)  $2,000 standmount.  It is probably just me, but it seems like prices have just gotten out of control.  Even classic value companies like Vandersteen have seen massive increases in pricing and are introducing ever more expensive speakers.  
3)  I really like the idea of a speaker with a controlled roll-off below 80hz.  What I think would be even better is a high quality, under $500 active speaker/subwoofer crossover.  
I would like to see something like a somewhat affordable ($3K), large(ish), high efficiency (93-95 db) 3 way like the Trenner and Friedl ISIS.  Thinking 12-15" woofer, 8-10" midrange, compression tweeter. :D
With 2 way, two driver speakers stick to the stand mounts. The smaller enclosures are easier to build and resonate less. I think you should do a floor stander and go for broke. It would help sell your smaller speakers.
It could either be 2 or three way. I wouldn't go out of my way to roll off the bass although I would favor mid bass and midrange performance over bass knowing that many of us would add subwoofers. I prefer sealed speakers or dipoles. Try and get the speaker to dip a couple of dB around 3000 Hz. As Wilson found out people tend to like the smoothness (less sibilance) that adds to the sound. I try to place  a cross over there making it a 6 dB down point. Then I play around with moving either driver up or down till I get the desired dip starting at about 2K and ending around 6K. You might also do something unheard of. Make them two way with one tweeter and two mid bass/mid range drivers then cross to separate subwoofers. This would give the freedom to place the subwoofers were they will do the best. 

Good Luck,
   @mcreyn I am leaning am leaning toward a speaker using compression drivers given that I import and Art Audio and that lineup is largely low power tube amps.  I have found a line of compression drivers I like and will do some experimentation.  

Regarding price, my speakers cabinets are made in Pennsylvania.  I am using very premium parts and by avoiding cutting corners, I can’t compete in the sub $1000 range.  That being said, because I am consumer direct, I can produce a speaker that is as good or better than other products in the $2K+ range.  And at higher price points, I am a value.  Unless I go to Indonesia for production, I could never the powered speaker you are talking about.  

@mijostyn  Fascinating tips around crossover design and consistent with other suggestions I have received.  Will take it into account for this and future designs.

 @keithtexas   I will look at your suggestion and see what I can do.  $3K might be tough to do out of a premium cabinet material like bamboo but I am 100% certain I will produce a design like this at some point to go with my Carissa and Opus 2 amps from Art Audio.  
I am in CT myself. Do you have a showroom or just strictly a production facility?
You are in the $2,500 to $10,000 price range.

What is at least one unique feature or difference about your speakers that sets them apart from the heavy competition in this price range?

You have to tell us, we can't tell you. 
My production facility is in PA.  I don’t have a showroom but will schedule appointments in my home.  Or, I will come to you so you can listen in your home.   
I love Eton drivers. I used to have them in my car 20 years ago.

Out of the 4 choices, I would choose choice number 4.

I like to see high efficiency floor-stander cos’ I am currently have a pair of Heco Direkt Dreiklang. It is a German made with 98db. It sound big and very dynamic. The only drawback is the size of the speakers’ front baffles is too wide which is impossible for a small room (I have a dedicate listening room 7x10 meters).

I’m planning to build a second system with 300b tube amp for my office but cannot find a pair of narrow baffles, high efficiency floor-standing speakers which look nice to meet my requirement.
@gs5556  the single biggest differentiating factor in my current speakers is the cabinets.  The Nightshades are made using a fiberglass cabinet over a DuPont Nomex Honeycomb core and the Blackthorns are Carbon Fiber over the same core.  

The composites provide rigidity while the honeycomb core dampens the sound due the increased surface area.  

The cabinets behave very differently vs. MDF.  They don’t resonate the same way and the result is a clearer and cleaner sound.  

I am exploring other products to offer a more approachable price point.  
@alexwichai1  I am not 100% sure I could do a high efficiency speaker with Eton drivers.  A “narrow” baffle, high efficiency speaker is a challenge at any price.

How narrow of a baffle are you looking for and what kind of bass response are you looking for?  

To be honest, I am now consider buying Heco, The New Statement, without any audition. The distributor here in my country is not taking any stock on this brand (it is very hard to sell and they have only Direkt range on demo).

Please see the link below.

Narrow baffles for me is something not wider than 30cm and not so slim that my 3 years old kid can easily push it down and damage the cabinet. The kid is my main reason for not buying any stand-mount speakers.

Heco, The New Statement, bass response (according to their website) can go down to 18 Hz with 93db sensitivity. I think it may work well with low power 300B amp.
If you can sell a bookshelf at $4,000 which is a good as Joseph Pulsars,
I would buy a pair. 86db with a 5 1/2 woofer + tweeter. He uses SEAS.
Are they too pricey to meet the $4k price. Only goes to down to 40hz but
somehow it seems much lower.
A little 2 way stand mount speaker using Dayton prefab cabinets could offer a lot of value. 

Give it away and if its a hit it will make your bread and butter speakers easier to sell. 
@Alexwichai2 12cm is very doable.  

Shooting for 93dB, also very doable.  With compression drivers I could go much higher though I am not sure I can give you a low frequency response of 18dB.  With two 10” to 11”  woofers I am certain we can get low though.

With Eton drivers I would have to use 2 tweeters and mid ranges to get the higher SPL.  The Heco’s are 3000 GBP from what I see.  I could do something at that price made of wood and probably paper drivers like Eton’s orchestra line.  Compression drivers would give you a higher SPL but worse bass response.  That is the trade-off

This would take me six months to perfect and you wouldn’t get to hear them in advance.  Far from ideal.

@jeffseight  I can produce a Pulsar-like speaker using the exact drivers from Seas in a 1” thick Bamboo cabinet that would be stained or cleared for $4000.  I could also do them in a veneered or painted MDF but I think bamboo is the better choice.  

“Solid” bamboo panels are engineered.  The advantage is that density is remarkably consistent and because it is a grass and not a wood, it doesn’t expand and contract the way hardwoods do with moisture.  It is also 29% stronger than red oak.  

I would customize the crossover to the exact cabinet I create based around those speakers. I would plan to use Clarity Cap CSA caps and Goertz copper foil inductors to maximize clarity which are standard in my Blackthorns and would still use WBT binding posts and Kimber Kable inside which is standard in all my speakers.

You seem to have your current stand mount design and production well in place.

Something NEW for the show, which, assuming successful, will be added to the line.

In the context of a young speaker company moving up the chain of recognition/volume:

I vote for higher efficiency, same essential size as your current offerings, as production is in place. Small size keeps parts, finished product, shipping containers from requiring large storage spaces, that's the practical part.

More efficient, designed, added to the line, specifically to allow less powerful amps, both SS and to use with a buyer's existing or desired Tube equipment. Allowing a client to need/spend less on amp power leaves more money in their pocket to afford better speakers.

I would not advise chasing price as a means of success, rather continue your design, and look into methods of recognition beyond shows, word of mouth, private listening. 

Sold out sounds like success, but a large concern to anyone involved in the sales chain, I suggest never promising a production schedule that adds too much unneeded pressure to you or your organization. Beat your promises most often of course.
Oh yeah, be sure and have low power amps playing them when you demo them, the true way to reveal their efficiency beyond words.

Perhaps both a low powered SS amp, and a Tube preamp and tube amp. Maybe a modern integrated tube amp with remote volume and remote input switching, so people can bring their own source material and easily hear it.

If you can hook up with an amp maker, they could loan you their equipment, benefiting from their exposure via your speakers.
@keithtexas   Those Trenner and Friedl ISIS are $40K.  Holy crap.  The only way a pair of speakers that size could be made by hand for less than $6K would be to make it out of MDF and I am not sure I could ever hit $3k with drivers and crossover parts that I would be proud to put in a product of mine.  

MDF is not going to perform the way the hardwood plywood Trenner and Friedl are using is going to perform.  The sound will be muddier and IMO, wouldn't even be a poor man's imitation.  

In round numbers, I could probably do a baltic birch plywood cabinet in the $6K range with a mainstream veneer.  "Solid" bamboo (engineered planks) would be in the $7K to $7.5K range.  These will be much closer in terms of sound profile.  I am not privy to the method they are using for venting so I am certain mine will sound different but would be excellent.  They definitely wouldn't be identical but I could do a "poor man's version" in better materials that you might be pleased with.  
@elliottbnewcombjr  Thanks you for your POV.  I am leaning toward a higher efficiency stand-mount that would pair with the Art Audio Carissa (18w SET) which I import and have one in inventory to use for shows.  
Re: "Heco, The New Statement, bass response (according to their website) can go down to 18 Hz with 93db sensitivity. I think it may work well with low power 300B amp."

Talk about playing fast and loose with the specs. They rate the speakers as "4-8 ohms" with sensitivity of 93db @ 2.83v. Translation, they are are 90db efficient speaker at 1 watt.

Similarly, their 18-20,000 hz range is given with no restriction, +/- db, or -3, -6, or -10 db downpoint. Any bass driver can go to 18hz, the question is how far down will it be relative to its average level and what will be its output limitations.

Thiel/Small parameters and Hoffman’s Iron law still apply to all speakers. Designers have to pick their tradeoffs of two of the three of bass extension, efficiency, and enclosure size. There is no way two 8 inch paper drivers in that sized enclosure (approximately 3 cubic feet) are putting out any real output at 18hz. Because those are lightweight paper, their fs is probably in the 40hz range, so at best the enclosure is tuned in the high 30hz range with a 24db/octave falloff below the turning frequency. They could tune lower, but the group delay will go through the roof and efficiency down.

The short is that their specs and reality don’t comport.
Right mcreyn. There is absolutely nothing special about that speaker and maybe you might feel 18 Hz in a phone booth but in any normally sized room those speakers might go flat to 40 Hz if that. And since when did an Alnico magnet become special or indicate how well a mid range driver might perform. 

I have been contacted by a few people who told me that they had new speaker designs.  I have to take the time to go hear them.  I partnered with GT Audio at a few Capital Audio Fests as he makes fantastic panel speakers.  Another person has a new driver design so I am really interested in hearing those also.  In producing something I always told myself that it cannot just be another component.  It has to be something that within less than one minute the person goes, I have not heard anything like that before.  Otherwise to me, I am just wasting my time.

Happy Listening.
@bigkidz  I agree.  When I set out to start something I wanted it to be differentiated.  Why bother putting out another MDF cabinet speaker using the scanspeak, SEAS or SB drivers.  

Thus, my composite cabinets made from prefabricated sheets- I am not the first to use composites but I am by far the least expensive and I think if you heard the Blackthorns in particular, you will be pleasantly surprised at sound quality.  You won't say I haven't head anything like that before, but you will probably say I haven't heard anything like that before at that price.  Quite a few people did at AXPONA.     

The unfortunate part is that my prices start pretty high and it is tough for people to engage with the brand which is why I started this thread.  The question is, how can I make these things my own, in a differentiated way.  

If you are going to be at Capital Audiofest.  Pop in.  I am going to have room 525.  
@verdant - I thought you were looking for some ideas on models you would manufacture and distribute. I'm not in the market right now, but thought the 3-way high(ish) efficiency design sounded interesting, since it seems there are some good 15" woofers and 8-10" midranges (kinda pro models) out there. Mark Levinson/Daniel Hertz also have a hi-eff 3 way but it is not cheap, to say the least.  Good luck.
@keithtexas   Was going through the implications and am not expecting you to buy them.  More, do you think with significant deviations in terms of price and material these would still be interesting?

i think I need to figure out how to make something cheaper and I love the idea of a $3K floorstander.  Just not sure how to do it.  


I think it depends on your target market. Over 3.5k for a standmount speaker is a tough pill to swallow for someone my age (mid twenties) who is just getting into audio or even as a second speaker. I like the style of your designs, very minimalist cabinet and a driver with a lot of character. An affordable efficient standmount (around 2k) seems like an interesting product given your current lineup and the market as a whole. The problem is marketing to my generation as few of us seem to go to audio shows. I think my generation of consumers like to purchase online from established companies with a return policy. I'm thinking of Kef, monitor audio, focal, etc with flashy websites and that are perceived as "cool". We don't like going somewhere to buy something, for better or worse.

Your current products seem like a third or later speaker; after someone has invested some time and money into this hobby. They know what they are looking for and are willing to do some serious research and/or go listen for themselves.

Again I think an affordable efficient standmount fits into your product line well, its just a competitive price point. It seems to be filled with lower efficiency speakers from major companies.

Just my two cents.
@ajnackman   Thank you!  This is really helpful insight.  I am definitely going to produce a competitively priced, higher efficiency, stand-mount.  
Without even $40,000, do you expect to do research to see what sounds the best, design and make drivers, cabinets, and crossovers, then buy equipment to test, are you really wanting us to choose between things we will ever hear in advance?  
@davignau  -  Think of it this way, if I spend $40K on research, that goes into the cost of the speakers and needs to be recovered increasing the price or increasing the number of units that need to be sold to break even.  You correctly pointed out that development costs money.  Spending the money on focus groups adds to that cost.  

Focus groups are intended to screen ideas and generate new ideas. I have a list that I think are interesting and received a couple ideas above that I had not considered.  I can take these ideas along with the ones I already have, drop them in quant research to see which has the most superficial appeal and then I can work on development.  I have to then deliver on the superficial idea. 

so no, I don't expect you to choose between things you have never heard. That would be silly. Just looking for ideas.  

I have successfully brought two products to market that were well received by both consumers and the press earlier in the year but they are expensive.  We shall see if I can make it a third that will ideally be at a more competitive price point.  

@jeffseight   I have a cabinet maker who is working on a cabinet for those those magnesium SEAS drivers and millennium tweeter.  
When I was just starting out as an Interior Designer of Corporate Offices, I came back from a client meeting, met with the furniture and furnishings department head, and said "the clients wants cheaper furniture".

Betty batted her eyes, and said "You mean less costly, we don't offer cheap furniture".

You neither buy, make or sell CHEAP stuff, I advise never using that word again.
@elliottbnewcombjr    You are right!!!!  Can't believe I used that word in a post.  

The Joseph Audio Pulsars are using off-the-shelf drivers. You can easily find a professional who will assemble a comparable speaker for $4k or less. The main thing is the cabinet aesthetics probably won’t be comparable.

The markup on the (v1) Pulsars are quite high. It looks like retail price on the drivers is around $1200, and the MSRP of the speaker is $8k.

If you look at some internet direct brands the markup is significantly lower. For example the Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2-EX uses the 64-10 RAAL tweeter which is around $370/pair with Seas Excel W16 woofers ($570/pair) with CURV diaphragms. So that’s easily $900+ worth of drivers and the Sierra 2-EX only costs $1650 retail.

Of course Ascend probably (rightfully) assumes they can make up the difference in volume, and the Pulsar is likely a much lower volume product, so they went with much higher markups instead.