A Labor of Love
It all started in 1999 just after opening a high-end store in Indianapolis, Indiana. A new speaker manufacturer brought a high efficiency speaker and an older Wavelength Cardinal 300B SET amplifier to pitch for my representation. The speaker design was not complete and that kept me from taking on the line. But before he left, he asked if I would sell his older Wavelength amp as he had a new one coming in. Not wanting to pass up on an opportunity to get more familiar with this intriguing SET sound, I gladly accepted.
I hooked the amp up to my reference speakers and after I lifted my jaw off the floor, sat mesmerized ... listening to the sound I had searched years for! After just two songs I researched Wavelength’s contact information and called; begging to become a dealer. Once that was taken care of I quickly discovered that my reference speakers as well as my entire inventory were not able to fully satisfy all musical needs with such low power. My next mission was to find one or more compatible speaker lines at the upcoming 2000 CES show. Unfortunately the only speakers I was able to find that had the efficiency, compatible impedance, and sound quality was Avantgarde Speakers. I immediately became a dealer and subsequently one of the top dealers in the US, but there was still the need for a less expensive and smaller speaker that would be able to reveal the magic locked in these amps had without any compromises. Thus, Vaughn Loudspeakers was born, with the mission to rival the very best performing speakers and to do so with power efficient designs.
At the time, I knew very little of speaker design. I was fortunate to get Gordon Rankin of Wavelength to spec the initial design that I subsequently spent the next 6+ years tweaking and fine tuning until we developed three designs ready to introduce at the 2008 CES show. Not nearly as soon as we had hoped, of course, but creating a new loudspeaker category did take time. Our aim was to develop remarkable designs that would be able to take full advantage of all of the musically superior qualities of the best low powered amplifier designs while not revealing their handicaps.
We experimented with several paths, always trying to keep the designs as simple as possible. First we tried full range drivers but they were peaky in the upper midrange, lacked top end air, and had pitiful bass response. A ribbon super tweeter added the top end we were looking for but the aggressive midrange was still there. After getting the upper mids tamed and real extension on top it became obvious that we needed flatter and deeper base for the foundation of the music. Wanting to avoid a complicated 3 way crossover, we ended up successfully mating a woofer with a simple three-part crossover that would handle all three drivers in a way that is very tube amplifier friendly, with 8 ohm impedance.
Vaughn Story 2021 Update
It’s hard to say what the biggest change or addition for 2021 but the extended COVID 19 break has given me a lot of time to come up with crossover updates to every speaker as well as three new models.
Updated Crossovers: All Vaughn Loudspeakers will now use the new V-Cap ODAM capacitors on our tweeters. This new capacitor is the most uncolored and transparent capacitor we have used on our tweeters. How the ODAM caps work in other applications is up to others to test and reveal but in our designs nothing has come close on the tweeters. These and minor inductor adjustments have created even better performance from all of our designs.
New Cabernet III and Monitor speakers: We have brought back an updated and significantly improved version of our Cabernet speaker that won 2009 Stereo M mojo speaker of the year. It uses Accuton’s direct drive dome technology on its midrange similar to other very expensive speakers such as Von Schweikert’s $300,000.00 speaker. The Cabernet III is a full range design with built in powered bass driver and the new Cabernet Monitor which is a small stand mount to be paired with high quality subwoofer like MJ Acoustics. This speaker is amazing in its resolution and musicality which is a bit of trick with the speedy ceramic drivers and their resonances. Mating with a very fast ribbon midrange solves the speed problem and the new crossover eliminates the resonances for high resolution but musically engaging fatigue free listening.
Adjustable Subwoofers: You will notice many of our designs now come without bass drivers and this was on purpose. Speaker set up and optimum performance are greatly enhanced by being able optimize placement of main speaker where it sounds and images best and the subwoofer provides best performance. In most every case the best spot for the main speaker and the woofer are not the same especially with our line array designs. We do make models with built in woofers for those that prefer an all in one package or the need to fit more easily with decor. In my main system I run 5 subwoofers but up in the living room an all in one speaker was need to fit in with the decor so pick what works best for you and your room.
Bi Polar Speakers With Focused High Frequencies: As you will see our bi-polar speakers have front and back drivers but the upper most frequencies are reproduced forward facing only. We have found this to provide the big, open and realistic sound space of the biggest dipole, bipolar designs with much greater focus and high frequency response. This does give the best of both worlds from the focus and image specificity of traditional 2,3, or 4 way designs and dipoles big, open and more natural soundstage of the real thing. Once you hear it you will know what I’m talking about and if your like me will feel you have finally found the sound you are looking for.
Complete System Help: I’ve been into this crazy hobby for 50 years now and that along with owning a retail store has given me exposure to lots and lots gear some truly great, most pretty good and some not good at all. I believe Wavelength Audio, Tom Evans Audio Design, Backert Labs preamplifiers and MJ subwoofers offer performance better than anything else at their price points. These are all brands that are not just hifi devices but give the closest illusion of real music in your room. All great equipment but as we know synergy between components is also very important. We are happy to assist in an y way possible in getting you the type of system you desire
Finally, Single Ended Triode(SET), Output Transformerless(OTL), Push-Pull and low powered Solid State amps had tight deep bass, glorious midrange, and a clean, clear top end that revealed the soul of the music. Next began the long process to voice the speakers by picking cabinet materials, wiring, and crossover parts. Hundreds of parts and cabinet designs were tried finally settling on what we felt best represented live music.
What you hear now is the result of this labor of love. Solid engineering principles - yes, but the ears and the heart were always the final judges on what was used in each design. As excited as we are about cabinet resonance, premium wiring and crossover design, if our labors do not elicit visceral and emotional responses to the music we love, we know we still have work to do.