WELCOME TO :-
............WAY BACK IN 1922, A YOUNG APPRENTICE DRAUGHTSMAN, STANLEY EDGE , WAS PLUCKED FROM THE SHOP FLOOR AT LONGBRIDGE AND TAKEN TO LICKEY GRANGE, THE HOME OF HERBERT AUSTIN. HERE STARTED, ARGUABLY, A GREAT, ALBEIT BRIEF PARTNERSHIP:
WORKING ALL HOURS , IN SECRECY, MAINLY IN THE BILLIARD ROOM, AUSTIN AND EDGE DESIGNED A NEW SMALL CAR WITH WHICH AUSTIN PLANNED TO SNATCH THE CYCLECAR AND MOTORCYCLE-COMBINATION MARKET. IN THIS HE WAS WHOLLY SUCCESSFUL.
BY MEANS OF SOME BACKGROUND, IT HAS BEEN SAID THE COMPANY WAS IN SEVERE FINANCIAL TROUBLE AND THAT THE SEVEN WAS THE SAVIOUR . IT IS LIKELY THIS IS PARTLY TRUE AS THE GREAT WAR HAD JUST ENDED AND THE COMPANY WAS PROBABLY CONTRACTING IN SIZE. HOWEVER THE CULMINATION OF THE LONG HOURS WORKED WAS THE BUILDING OF THREE PROTOTYPES AND OF THOSE ,OK3537, SURVIVES TO THIS DAY. THE DRIVING OUT OF THE WORKSHOP BY AUSTIN HIMSELF OF THOSE PROTOTYPES, ONE OF WHICH BUCKED LIKE A MULE WAS THE PRECURSOR TO A LEGEND WHICH CONTINUES STRONGLY TO THIS DAY. IT IS DIFFICULT TO ENVISAGE THE CAR SCENE TODAY WITHOUT THE INFLUENCE OF THE SEVEN.
JUST IMAGINE FOR ONE MOMENT THAT AUSTIN HAD FOLDED. THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO MERGER WITH MORRIS, NO BRITISH LEYLAND MOTOR CORPORATION (AS WE KNEW IT ANYWAY) AND PROBABLY NO ROVER GROUP TODAY.
STILL THIS IS GUESSWORK, ALBEIT INFORMED, BUT THE FACTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES:- THE FIRST BMW CARS WERE AUSTIN SEVENS, MADE UNDER LICENCE AND WERE CALLED DIXI. THERE ARE STRONG SUGGESTIONS THAT EARLY DATSUNS WERE A7 COPIES, POSSIBLY LICENCED;CERTAINLY VERY SIMILAR. AMERICAN AUSTIN WAS SET UP WITH A VIEW TO SELLING LARGE NUMBERS OF AMERICAN BODIED A7s (buy the book!) IN THE STATES BUT WAS NOT VERY SUCCESSFUL. THEY DEVELOPED INTO THE BANTAM WHO DESIGNED THE FIRST JEEP, ON WHICH THE LAND-ROVER WAS BASED. ROVER GROUP GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH, WITH A RANGE OF SALOONS AND ESTATES INCLUDING THE SUPER-SMOOTH AND COMFORTABLE ROVER 75 AND THE PERFORMANCE MG RANGE, TOPPED BY AN AMAZING 500 AND 1000BHP SUPERCAR, FORECAST FOR SALE VERY SOON!!! NO MORE BMW/ROVER!
WELL YOU'VE HAD YOUR MOMENT, BUT MANY MORE ARE NEEDED TO GUESS THE STATE OF PLAY WITHOUT THE SEVEN.
THE AUSTIN SEVEN STORY HAS BECOME FOLKLORE AND SEVERAL SONGS WERE MADE ABOUT IT, THE FOLLOWING IS FROM A RECORDING BY CLARKSON ROSE :- (DOWNLOAD 580K .WAV) .
A7s WERE POPULAR IN AUSTRALIA TOO, WHERE MANY STYLISH BODIES WERE PRODUCED AND IN FRANCE THE POPULAR ROSENGART CAR WAS A GOOD OLD A7 UNDERNEATH A DIFFERENT, ATTRACTIVE SKIN.
IN 1937, REALISING THE SEVENS LONG REIGN WAS AT AN END, THE FACTORY INTRODUCED THE BIG SEVEN MODEL. SUPERFICIALLY IT LOOKED LIKE THE OTHER SEVENS, BUT HAD A 900 cc ENGINE, OF SOME 25 BHP AND SHARED VIRTUALLY NO COMMON COMPONENTS WITH IT'S PREDECESSORS. THE DIE HAD BEEN CAST HOWEVER AND THE LEGEND HAD BEGUN.........
FROM AN EARLY AGE, THE "BABY" AS THE SEVEN WAS KNOWN, WENT RACING. IN FACT AS EARLY AS WHITSUN 1923. WHEN COLONEL ARTHUR WAITE, AN AUSTRALIAN, ENTERED THE LIGHT CAR HANDICAP AT BROOKLANDS.....
FIRST A FEW COMPARISONS:- THE ORIGINAL ROAD CAR , CALLED A "CHUMMY" BECAUSE OF THE RELATIVE CLOSENESS OF DRIVER AND PASSENGER, HAD 10.5BHP. AND WEIGHED ABOUT 6 1/2 CWT. IT WAS IMPORTANT THEN, AS NOW, TO KEEP THE WEIGHT AS LOW AS POSSIBLE. THE RACER HAD ABOUT 24 BHP AND WAS PROBABLY EVEN LIGHTER, GIVING A VERY RESPECTABLE POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO OF ABOUT 75BHP/TON. THIS EQUATES TO A MODERN SUPERMINI OF TODAY. IT IS LIKELY IT PERFORMED AS WELL, INDEED WAITE, WHO DROVE TO THE RACE IN THE CAR, WON IT AT A SPEED OF 63MPH, THEN DROVE HOME AFTERWARDS.
PROBABLY THE MOST FAMOUS VICTORY FOR SEVENS WAS IN THE 1930 500MILE RACE AT BROOKLANDS , WHERE A CAR DRIVEN BY SAMMY DAVIS AND THE EARL OF MARCH (LATER DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON), WON AT AN AVERAGE SPEED OF 83.41 MPH. THESE CARS CAME TO BE KNOWN, UNOFFICIALLY AT LEAST, AS "ULSTERS" DUE TO THEIR SUCCESSES IN ANOTHER FAMOUS RACE OF THE DAY, THE ARDS TT, A THRILLING ROAD-RACE, HELD OVER A 30 MILE COURSE AROUND THE STREETS OF NEWTONARDS AND DUNDONALD IN IRELAND. THE "ULSTERS" BECAME AND REMAIN THE MOST COVETED OF THE AUSTIN SEVEN RANGE, APART FROM THE WORKS EXOTICA OF COURSE. Click here for more Ulster images.
For a really interesting article on a "Brookland" A7 click here:
AN EXCITING EPISODE OF THE SEVEN CAME WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF THE "RUBBER DUCK", OR "DUTCH CLOG" RACERS, SO CALLED BECAUSE OF THEIR RESEMBLANCE TO BOTH DUCKS OR CLOGS, DEPENDING ON YOUR POINT OF VIEW! WHILST NOT TOO SUCCESSFULL INITIALLY, THE DUCKS, AS I PREFER TO CALL THEM, BECAME A FORMIDABLE LITTLE FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH. OF THE FOUR CARS ORIGINALLY BUILT, WE ARE HONOURED TO BE BLESSED NOW WITH THREE OF THEM; THE SAND RACER HAVING RE-SURFACED IN Y2K. THE NEW ZEALAND DUCK IS IN THE HANDS OF GRANT COWIE, HIMSELF AN N.Z. MAN, ALBEIT IN AUSTRALIA;. HIS CAR IS SHOWN HERE, FIRSTLY, WELL ON THE WAY TO COMPLETION AND NOW, FINISHED , IT TOOK PART IN THE 2002 HISTORIC WINTON. THE DUCKS WERE (ARE) POSSESSED WITH AN AMAZING SUPERCHARGER SCREECH WHICH HAS TO BE HEARD TO BE BELIEVED - LISTEN TO MARTIN EYRE'S UP PRESCOTT, OR GRANT'S, AND HOPEFULLY JOHN SUTTON'S, see: http://www.motorsnippets.com/cars/main.asp?articleid=295 (THANKS TO JOHN FOR THIS LINK) . IT WILL STAND YOUR HAIR ON END!!
HEAVY DEVELOPMENT SAW A STREAMLINED DUCK DERIVATIVE BEING THE FIRST 750cc CAR TO REACH 100MPH IN BRITAIN. (A 750 MG MIDGET WAS THE FIRST TO 100 mph AT MONTHLERY) . OTHER FAMOUS CARS WERE DEVELOPED THE "SIDE VALVE" AND "TWIN CAM" BEING THE BEST KNOWN. THESE WERE DRIVEN BY SOME EQUALLY FAMOUS DRIVERS TOO, BIRA, HADLEY AND KAY PETRE TO NAME BUT A FEW.
AS THE MODEL RANGE CHANGED WITH THE TIMES SO DID THE COMPETITION MODELS, RACING THEN, AS NOW, SELLS CARS. THE ULSTERS DEMISE HAD FIRST BEEN PLUGGED WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF THE 65/NIPPY AND THEN THE 75/SPEEDY. BUT RELATIVELY SPEAKING THESE WERE MILD IN COMPARISON. SPEEDIES IN VARIOUS GUISES WERE RUN AT LE MANS, BUT WITH LITTLE SUCCESS. THESE CARS WERE THEN RE-BODIED IN A MOST UN-AUSTIN SEVEN LIKE SKIN FOR TRIALS WHICH WERE BY THEN VERY POPULAR. ONCE AGAIN A NICKNAME WAS COINED :- "GRASSHOPPERS", WHICH DESCRIBED THE WAY THE CARS LEAPT AND BOUNDED UP THE HILLS. THE CARS WERE MADE AVAILABLE IN EITHER HIGH OR LOW BUILD FORM, DEPENDING ON THE TYPE OF EVENT ENTERED. THEY WERE FAIRLY HIGHLY TUNED, WITH A SOMEWHAT INELEGANT, BUT VERY EFFECTIVE BOLT-ON SUPERCHARGER ARRANGEMENT MOUNTED VERTICALLY ABOVE THE FRONT OF THE ENGINE. INDEED THE LATE BERT HADLEY, TALKING IN A INTERVIEW FOR THE ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE, DESCRIBES HOW HE SHOT PAST THE "OLD MANS" GATE AT 85MPH WHILST TESTING A "GRASSHOPPER", UPHILL TOO. RETRIBUTION CAME LATER!
ANOTHER FAMOUS CAR , ALTHOUGH NOT A FACTORY MODEL WAS THE
"LIGHTWEIGHT SPECIAL" BUILT BY ALEC ISSIGONIS. THIS CAR HAD A BLOWN
WORKS DUCK TYPE ENGINE, WITH ABOUT 70BHP, (AS MUCH AS "SIDEVALVE")
AND ONLY WEIGHED ABOUT 600LBS THIS GAVE IT A PHENOMENAL
POWER-TO-WEIGHT RATIO AND IT WAS VERY SUCCESSFUL. CONVENIENTLY
ISSIGONIS WENT ON TO DESIGN, IN 1959, THE "NEW" AUSTIN SEVEN , BETTER
KNOWN TO MOST AS THE "MINI".
JUST BEFORE THE WAR THE 750 MC WAS FOUNDED BY BILL BODDY AND OTHER LIKE-MINDED ENTHUSIASTS, TO PROMOTE THE CAR AND LOW-COST MOTOR SPORT - AN AIM WHICH CONTINUES TODAY. NOWADAYS THE 750 CLUB USE RELIANT ENGINES, THEMSELVES A SEVEN DERIVATIVE, IN THEIR RACERS. BUT IN THE HEADY DAYS AFTER THE WAR, A BATTLE ENSUED WHICH WAS TO ONCE AGAIN CHANGE THE FACE OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT, FOR IN 1952 A CERTAIN COLIN CHAPMAN STARTED MAKING CARS, POWERED INITIALLY BY A7 ENGINES...
CHAPMAN'S CARS, TO BE KNOWN AS LOTUS, BLEW THE OPPOSITION AWAY, AT LEAST BEFORE HE FACED THE FIRST OF MANY BANS TO BE IMPOSED THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER. HIS DESIGNS WERE REVOLUTIONARY, NOT EVOLUTIONARY, FOR THEY ENCOMPASSED INGENIOUS CHASSIS AS WELL AS ENGINE MODIFICATIONS. FOR THE FIRST TIME THE FLEXIBLE AUSTIN SEVEN "A" FRAME WAS TAMED AND THE RESULTANT INCREASE IN CORNERING SPEEDS WAS HAND IN HAND WITH SUCH THINGS AS REVERSED CAMSHAFTS AND CYLINDER BLOCKS GIVING 4 INLET PORTS AND 3 EXHAUST, RATHER THAN THE OTHER WAY AROUND. IN AN EXCITING DEVELOPMENT THE 750MC ARE HOLDING A COMPETITION TO INVENT THE MK V LOTUS, THE ONE THAT NEVER WAS. THIS INVOLVES DESIGNING THE ENGINE AS CHAPMAN INTENDED, WITH THE AFOREMENTIONED BANNED MODS. ONLY TRADITIONAL DRAWINGS ARE ALLOWED, ANY COMPUTER DERIVED ENTRIES WILL BE DISQUALIFIED!
SUCH WAS THE SUPERIORITY OF THE CHAPMAN DESIGNS, IT IS SAID THAT ON ONE OCCASION HE LAPPED ALL BUT ONE OF THE FIELD WITH A ENGINE WHICH HAD ONE PISTON AND CON ROD REMOVED DUE TO DAMAGE.
IT WOULD NOT BE RIGHT TO MENTION THE 750 MC WITHOUT JACK FRENCH TOO. JACKS'S FAMOUS CAR, SIMPLICITY, ALSO TOOK THE SCENE BY STORM; ULTRA-LIGHT - IT WAS SAID ALL THE BOLTS WERE DRILLED THROUGH THEIR CENTRES!- SINCE TOTALLY DENIED, SIMPLICITY'S AND JACK'S RECORDS STOOD FOR YEARS - ALL ON 30 BHP. SIMPLICITY REGULARLY ATTENDS THE ANNUAL BEAULIEU RALLY.
ANOTHER NAME TO NOTE WAS BROADLEY, COUSINS GRAHAM AND ERIC, WHOSE MODIFIED "ULSTER" WAS CALLED THE BROADLEY SPECIAL. THEIR 1957 CAR WAS CALLED LOLA, AFTER THE SONG OF THAT NAME. LOLA FIELDED 27 OUT OF THE 33 STARTERS IN THE INDY 500 OF 1995!
GONE ARE THE HEADY DAYS OF THE SWINGING SIXTIES, WHEN CARS COULD BE PURCHASED FOR A FIVER (OR MUCH LESS) AND EVERY STUDENT AND HIS DOG HAD ONE. THE SEVEN WAS ALWAYS THE CAR TO SUFFER THE ATTENTIONS OF THE JOKER AND THIS CONTINUES TO THE PRESENT, IF THE FOLLOWING PICTURE OF MY CAR IS ANYTHING TO GO BY -THIS IS HOW I FOUND IT AT WORK ONE DAY!
TODAY THE CARS ARE USED IN ALL MANNERS, FROM EVERYDAY, ENTIRELY PRACTICAL, CHEAP TRANSPORT, (CLUB INSURANCE STARTS AT £42 A YEAR, ROAD TAX IS FREE), TO FULL-BLOWN (LITERALLY!) RACERS. WORLDWIDE TOO. THEY COME IN ALL FORMS FROM THE HUMBLE STANDARD RUBY OR CHUMMY, CARS SUCH AS THE AUTHORS EX LWB "ULSTER" TYPE SPECIAL, V.S.C.C. VINTAGE RACERS AND THE EVER POPULAR SPEED-HILL CLIMB TYPES SUCH AS USED AT PRESCOTT (DOWNLOAD 1.5MB MPEG VIDEO FILE).
SEVEN ENGINES WERE ALSO USED FOR A VARIETY OF OTHER PURPOSES
FROM TRACTORS TO FIRE PUMPS, ONE COMMON USE WAS AS A BOAT ENGINE.
HERE IS SUCH A
ENGINE AS DISPLAYED AT BEAULIEU .
TODAY IS A GOOD AUSTIN SEVEN DAY!! I WAS 'PHONED EARLY IN THE MORNING BY ONE OF THE (18+) EX-OWNERS OF MY ULSTER, RAY BROAD; HE HAD IT IN THE EARLY SIXTIES. IT TRANSPIRES THAT HE OFFERED HIS NOW, WIFE, A LIFT HOME FOR THE FIRST TIME, BUT THE CAR HAD TO BE PUSHED TO START IT! ANYWAY, THEY WERE BOTH REALLY PLEASED TO SEE AND RIDE IN IT AGAIN AND RAY DROVE THE CAR FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ALMOST FORTY YEARS. I SAID IT WAS A GOOD DAY - FOR WHEN RAY 'PHONED ME, THE CAR WAS SAFELY IN IT'S MOTOR HOUSE, UNUSED FOR SEVERAL MONTHS, UNTESTED AND UNTAXED, BUT CERTAINLY NOT UNLOVED. FORTUNATELY, I AM ON GOOD TERMS WITH MY FRIENDLY GARAGE MAN AND A QUICK PLEADING CALL EXPLAINING THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND I WAS ON MY WAY. NOT ONLY DID THE CAR PASS, BUT HE TOLD ME WHERE I COULD GET IT TAXED IF I WAS QUICK! AN ULSTER IS QUICK OF COURSE!! MAYBE IT WAS THE BRAKE TEST WHICH DID IT, I DON'T KNOW, BUT WHILST SPEEDING, (I MEAN BY THAT DRIVING SPRITELY!), TO THE POST OFFICE I BRAKED HEAVILY - IF THAT'S POSSIBLE IN AN A7 AND THE PEDAL FELT RATHER STRANGE. WELL, ACTUALLY, IT DIDN'T FEEL LIKE ANYTHING - BECAUSE IT WASN'T THERE ANYMORE!!! IT HAD UNSCREWED ITSELF AND FALLEN OFF.... A QUICK LEAN DOWN AND A SPIN OF THE WRIST AND WE WERE ON OUR WAY AGAIN. A GOOD A7 DAY AS I SAID.
NOT A GOOD A7 DAY! : WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FAIL TO DO UP (OR LEAVE OUT), YOUR FRONT SUMP BOLTS, THEN DRIVE WITHOUT OIL FOR 20 MILES - YOU'RE CHASING RAINBOWS!
THE AUSTIN SEVEN CLUBS ASSOCIATION (A7CA) EXISTS TO PROMOTE THE PRE-WAR AUSTIN SEVEN CAR THROUGH ITS UMBRELLA OF AUSTIN SEVEN CLUBS. THE ASSOCIATION WAS FORMED IN 1969, WITH THE VIEW OF BRINGING TOGETHER THE VARIOUS AUSTIN SEVENS CLUBS THAT THEN EXISTED. NOW, JUST ABOUT EVERY AUSTIN SEVEN CLUB WORLDWIDE BELONGS OR IS AN ASSOCIATE MEMBER.
THE ASSOCIATION PRODUCES A HIGH QUALITY QUARTERLY MAGAZINE, IN THE STYLE OF AN AUSTIN SEVEN HANDBOOK. THESE MAGAZINES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE MEMBER CLUBS OF THE ASSOCIATION, EITHER INCLUDED AS PART OF THE SUBSCRIPTION, OR FOR A SMALL ADDITIONAL FEE. THE ASSOCIATION IS RUN BY A COMMITTEE MADE UP OF MEMBERS OF VARIOUS CLUBS.
THE MAGAZINES, OR "GREY BOOKS" AS THEY HAVE BECOME KNOW AMONGST THE AUSTIN COGNOSCENTI, HAVE LIKE THE CARS THEMSELVES BECOME COLLECTORS ITEMS. A WELL THUMBED AND OILY EXAMPLE IS AS DESIRABLE AS A SIMILAR CAR AND LETS FACE IT, ANY A7 WHICH WAS EVER USED WILL BE OILY!
THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY IN 1997, HAD A FLOURISH OF COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS TAKING PLACE, SUCH AS THE JOHN-O-GROATS TO LANDS END RUN, WHICH HAD A RECORD 116 STARTERS AND 101 FINISHERS. THE PINNACLE OF THE YEAR WAS ARGUABLY AT THE BRITISH MOTOR INDUSTRY HERITAGE TRUST SITE AT GAYDON WARWICKSHIRE, IN MAY. THIS EVENT SAW OVER 600 AUSTIN SEVENS ATTEND, TOGETHER WITH SOME OF THEIR BIGGER BRETHREN. GAYDON 2000 WAS A GREAT SUCCESS, DESPITE THE WEATHER ! FOR PHOTOS OF THIS EVENT CLICK ON GAYDON1 AND GAYDON2
A note about HALFSHAFTS - That old Austin Seven bugbear!
I have been experimenting a lot recently and spending a lot (as usual!) on , more hi-fi. I now have at least 15 pairs of loudspeakers in my house and if you include the 10 speaker set-up in my car, way over 100 individual drive units. I have a small house, I'm -65db in one ear too.....More of the latter anon.
Most recent things have been bought on ebay, mainly UK, but two abroad (from Germany in fact). A revelation was listening to a pair of original Goodmans Maxims from circa 1963 - what a sound! I bought another pair for posterity and otherwise irreplacable, spares. No wonder it is said the BBC, who bought many, based the design of the famous LS3/5A on the sound of them. Goodmans original sales blub about the World's smallest hi-fi 'speaker still holds true in my view. I wonder quite how far we have really come in 40 years? Incidentally, the Maxims were, I'm told, designed by Laurie Fincham, later of Celestion and KEF, then Infinity and now THX.
I have been buying up things I wanted in the 70's, but couldn't afford then, including some AR and Marantz gear. I always wanted an AR Receiver (saw one in Tottenham Court Road once) and managed to get an AR Tuner a little while ago; I now need the AR Amp to go with it. I bought an original classic AR XAU Universal Turntable new, back in 1973; it was £41.90! I still have it, the box, receipt, everything
More recently I bought via an ebay contact a pair of Loth-X Amaze 'speakers. Loth are a Singapore-based, German-owned company, who produce Lowther-like horns the size of a barn door! Garage door, anyway. The Amaze is actually a much smaller "bookshelf" (large bookshelf!) transmission-line design. The idea being to bring the Loth sound to the masses with a more affordable (£795 - the Bard is circa £20,000!) and housable 'speaker. All the recent Loth designs use Stefan Stamm's single unit driver, which has a parasitic whizzer cone like a Lowther unit or many other drive units of the 60's. Not the anathema I once read it to be apparently. I believe the principle uses main cone break-up to mechanically cross over to the concentric parasitic tweeter cone, there being no electronic, power sapping crossover, to sour affairs. There is a phase plug too. Loth use a newer unit in some of the big horns than the one fitted in the Amaze, which is a mere165mm diameter btw. but the principle is the same. The Stamm cone is doped with an expensive special coating to improve its performance, a dubious by-product of which is attracting flies, apparently! The unit was developed by Stamm himself over a period of 12 years or so.
All the Loth range are housed in beautiful real wood veneer cabinets and the Amaze is a terrific example. Very light in weight for it's size, it is not of the heavy-damped, leaden brick brigade and uses thin walls to let the driver breath. Don't be put off by this. Resonances allowed lower down can let the all important midrange/voice go uncoloured and free. The sound appears to be an acquired taste at first, with a horn-like forwardness and bass-light quality and this perhaps is exemplified by my pair having 4 owners in as many months! Basically, I don't think they persisted long enough, as once run in these impressions evaporate and as someone else said of the Amaze on another webpage, the bass lowers by an octave after this initial period (and the forwardness disappears). Whilst "bookshelf" mounting is mentioned (there is a large front "mouthed" port), a good solid pair of stands works wonders, without destroying that marvellous presence and treble attack. I used Something Solid 4X4 stands, about 470mm high and now some s/hand Target HR 50 ones. So sad that Target died (back again??). RIP. Filled with (clean!!) cat litter, the stands, any stands, are acoustically dead, without being dead weight. Money saved there can save you Pounds - send it to me!
The big thing about the Loth drivers, like the Lowthers, or little 'speakers like the old Maxims is that they act like the classic single-point source radiator - something so many large (and expensive) multi-unit loudspeakers struggle or fail to achieve. They throw up a high, wide-ish soundstage, which is deep too; I'm listening as I type actually. Just how good the little Maxims are is demonstrated by the the fact they do the same thing, only the stage is higher and the bass slightly deeper, albeit a little one-note. How well Goodmans did this 40 years ago says a lot about how little progress has been achieved in many cases, in all that time! All with a 3 inch woofer and a slightly smaller, but large by normal thinking 2.5 inch "tweeter". They do block up a bit at higher levels, but who's counting watts here! Just 8 is the rating in fact.
The Loth-X Amaze are remarkably efficient compared to normal transmission line designs which suck power into their hungry crossovers (none in the Loth of course); so does the LS3/5A, ravenously, but still won't go loud in the bass. The Amazes's quoted efficiency is a shattering 96dB/W, which translates to 'loud' even with SET amplification. My Quad II's, whilst not of the former arrangement, partner very well with them. Actually, the Maxim's are somehow sonically limited with the Quads and prefer transistor power - they do have a crossover of course. I use a 1973 Scan-Dyna 2400 receiver of 30W/channel with them. The 2400 looks like an escapee from a pop concert of the 70's - I once saw "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" locally and always remember the stacks of Kilowatt-rated Orange amplifiers; the synth in the centre of the room with operator who held that excrutiating note until we all wilted - or was it from the smell of *ope, Man. Well I probably know why I'm deaf anyway! The brain damage is something else and it really wasn't self induced! After the concert I remember staggering into my then Mini Cooper and starting the engine again whilst it was running and fluffing all the gearchanges too. Btw, Arthur came on dressed as a ship tossing in a storm and didn't set his hair on fire! But I digress. The Scan-Dyna was well rated in it's day, especially for a class "B" design, for it had little or no crossover artefacts present and hence very low distortion at low levels, like many a valve amp and unlike all early and most recent CD players, which boasted 30%+ at low levels! Well, they were still a revelation to me and my Philips CD104 was the start of many. Now full circle, I marvel at the sound of my ebay treasures - a Philips CD100 and the golden version, the Marantz CD63 (not the later CD63 front loader, which I'm using as I type). Even though the former needs a good slap on the top to output audio, what is SACD anyway?! And why. I'll try it one day I guess.
On another "note", I read on somebody's inspired website that a Tandy (Radio Shack) sound level meter was invaluable in getting the levels the same for loudspeaker testing. Tandy has gone now, here, but instead I bought an AZ Instruments 8928 digital meter from the 'net. Although the frequency response leaves a little to be desired for hi-fi (300Hz - 8KHz) - it won't measure your 126dBA @16HZ from your REL Stadium accurately perhaps, it is an super tool to make sure one sets the general levels identical when comparing. The digital unit I purchased has a +/- 2dB accuracy, over a 40-130dBA/45-130dBC range and despite my worries that an analogue one would be easier to use, my fears were quickly dispelled. By using the peak hold function on the digital display and watching the quick-acting analogue bar display which has a 30dB range, measurements are dead easy. Repeatability is assured too, often to 0.2 dB. The "C" weighting is a flat response, whereas the "A" is as per the human ear and I believe the frequency response is greater in C mode; it is with the Tandy, or Radio Shack one. Btw, I found 84dBA was as much as I wanted at my ear(s) and this equated to 103dBA at the 'speakers, both in the house and the car.
My very recent purchase of some Opera Mini tranducers, enabled me to accurately set up the levels and carry out more objective comparison of them with the Amaze and Maxims, albeit the latter with the Scan-Dyna as the power source. Here are designs from literally different ends of the Earth and time, using established techniques - an Infinite Baffle (the Maxim); Transmission Line (Amaze) albeit with the Stamm driver, not unlike my classic Goodmans Axiom 301; and the front-ported reflex design of the Opera Mini. The Maxim and Opera are similar in size, about shoebox size Goodmans said in their literature, though the Opera is bulkier. The Amaze is much bigger than both the others, about 4 times the volume in fact. "They" say all good loudspeakers will sound the same and these must be good as they do. Alright, they do sound subtely different, but all are more than capable of being "lived with" imh (deaf) opinion. I forgot to mention that the Operas use very high quality drive units, ScanSpeak etc, are made in Italy and use 1" thick hardwood for an unsurpassable by most, finish. Never mind the Rainforest, perhaps?
My quest for 70's glory persists with the aquisition of some old QUAD gear. Reading the terrific "QUAD - The Closest Approach" book by the famed Ken Kessler of Hi-Fi News, I read that early 303 power amps tend to "Void their electrolytics" over the PCBs beneath - something to be avoided I think! Early versions, up to about serial No, 50,000, had the four big capacitors for the PSU and output coupling with their pins facing downwards. What apparently happens is that they suck air in and the bubble rises to the closed end and they let go, explosively. If you have never been in close proximity to a large electrolytic exploding then you haven't lived!! I have at least twice and lived to tell this tale, but this is another reason probably why I'm deaf. The noise is tremendous, as is the mess they make, let alone the real possibility of physical injury such as loosing an eye, or even both.
What I did was turn them around like the latter versions of the amp, so that the pins face upwards. This involves quite a bit of re-wiring and should only be attempted if you have the necessary skills. I have, with over 25 years "in the trade", but still had to substitute different coloured wires for the original striped QUAD ones, as I didn't have the matching stuff. All the leads have to be lengthened unfortunately. I'll host a picture when I can. It goes without saying almost, that safety is paramout here and the mains must be disconnected when mods are carried out. Wear goggles and always keep one hand in your pocket in time-honoured style. Very carefully ensure all the leads are in the right place before switching on! Upon re-connection of the mains, immediately check the capacitors are charging up with the correct polarity, or the "voiding" will take place anyway! Quite whether the inversion is a good thing with old capacitors remains to be seen, but the air should be "breathed" in and out without getting trapped at the closed end of the can.
The QUAD rail voltage in the 303 is set to 69 volts with a little potentiometer on the PSU board. The 'pot is near the plastic securing clip for the PCB and when springing the clip open to hinge out the PCB, the 'pot can be damaged if carelessness with a screwdriver is achieved. (the clip can break off too - one of mine has). I will probably have to fit a new pot to mine, as the rail voltage was at the end stop setting of 85 volts, despite the pot not being at the high voltage end of it's travel - mine will vary from about 56 volts to 85 volts, btw. 85 volts is a bad thing, as the aforementioned capacitors if rated at 100 volts (mine are) will be far too near their limits. It is inadvisible to operate any electrolytic at more than 50-70% of it's rated voltage if reliability is required.
Now lets talk about bass!
Not boom-boom, but real, floor-shaking, gut-wrenching stuff. Do you have any of that? Probably not, unless you possess genuine full-range monsters, but then you could have a sub, like me.
I put a sub in my Range-Rover some years ago, a Jamo hi-fi one, bridged across the main 'speaker outputs. It was quite successful, but when I got my little Mercedes A160 (clutchless - great system imho, not many other's it seems?), I fitted a spare wheel-mounted Pioneer, of modest power handling, but threw a mighty bridged-Alpine at it (c.250W). It was awesome for such a small car and drive unit and when I bought my current X-Type, I opted for the factory-fitted sub system. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I wish I hadn't bothered in fact. Still, some think its ok. Many systems sound ok at a standstill, but this one is like so many others that just disappears on the go. I guess 30 watts was always going to be frail and not being able to adjust the sub volume helps - not!!
Anyway, I made a sub like an REL Storm some years back. I fed it from my 'redundant' Quad 405 II (which rolls off about 20 hz I believe) and it was quite good - very good in fact, but due to being in a 'semi' I could never use it properly. Surround systems came and went (I have a Sony set up still) and so did the house and now in a detached one I use a Pioneer amp, a VSX-1014 to be precise. Well, like so many other things I've aquired, I bought a 'proper' sub, on ebay. First a Paradigm PS1000 (now in my bedroom..) , then an early REL Storm - the real thing this time. As you know, if you read the above, I use SET amplification with Loth-X Ion speakers - hardly earth-shattering in the lower regions, but clarity - oh yes, in droves!
Well some think subs aren't musical, but of course REL disproved this ten years ago. I use the line-level input from the Pioneer amp and let it auto-set up with the supplied 'mike and the high-level inputs fed from the Consonant 300Bs. Do you like Avril Lavigne? I do. Well you may know 'Let Go' then. Back at the old house, 'Complicated' has some low bass which the Loths just touched - it showed promise maybe, but actually with the Storm and the new 'pad', nothing much gets added, but then comes 'Sk8er Boi' - OMG!! What the **** was that? The room just moved. It did for me anyway, I don't know about Avril back in the studio. Five times in the first few opening bars the Storm hits the roof, or the floor - whatever.... Bass and Hi-Fi will never be the same again unless 'its' plugged in and switched on, and its not over-blown, kilowatts of car thump-thump, but true, as recorded? (I guess) ecstasy. Go on,you know it make sense!