After hearing some Econowaves and various driver and waveguide/horn combinations, I have found that not all drivers and waveguides are created equal. This comes as no surprise. You might like to read about a series of waveguide shootouts which include measurements of speakers like these, and listening impressions.
Waveguide shoot out 1 >
Waveguide shoot out 2 >
Are you looking for a speaker that ...
- is something different - not another slim floorstander!
- plays nicely with valve amps
- is room friendly - suits a room that can't be acoustically treated
- knows how to rock in a way that other speakers can't
- won't hurt the hip pocket
- is ideal for home theatre, not simply another hifi box
Read about it on the Audio Karma forum:
Econowave thread > (sign up required to view images)
or on Parts Express >
Warning: Information overload!
Don't expect to read it all in one sitting. Or 10 sittings. Read as much or as little as you like, but if you want to simply build it "monkey see, monkey do" style, then start here:
Standard version >
Deluxe version >
What about horn coloration?
If you've heard a compression driver based system before, you've probably experienced the coloration that most dislike. Earl Geddes has shed some light on the problems with horns and new designs have overcome the nasty shortcomings that many associate with horns. This is something that you need to experience.
Read about some listening impressions here >
What are the advantages of the Econowave?
1. Controlled dispersion
The waveguide maintains a flat response over a controlled angle such as 90 degrees and we aim to cross to the woofer at a point where it has a match polar response. A conventional two way with a dome tweeter and cone mid can't achieve this. The polar response will shift at the crossover. The only way to avoid the shift is to operate the tweeter down to where it has an omnidirectional dispersion. This isn't a desirable trait.
Controlling dispersion means a better interaction with the room. The econowave usually has narrower vertical dispersion to avoid ceiling reflections.
2. High efficiency
A typical two way speaker is limited to around 87 db efficiency. This tends to limit dynamics as well as output level. Power is cheap but power compression and poor thermal dynamics are limiting factors. Higher efficiency is necessary for an effortless clean dynamic sound. The econowave has around 95 db efficiency and will sound almost twice as loud at modest input levels. This difference will increase with higher power input, since the Econowave will likely have higher power handling as well due to the use of pro drivers. The raw efficiency of a compression driver is around 108 db.
3. Easy to drive load
Typical driver choices will result in an 8 ohm load, which is easy to drive. Typical floorstanders have a 4 ohm load. Most AV receivers aren't suitable. With conventional hifi speakers, one has to spend more on the power amps. An Econowave speaker could eliminate the need for an amplifier upgrade and more than pay for itself.
I may in fact build my own Econowave. If I do, it will be an active 10" version and the result is likely to become a surround speaker. The longer term plan is to build a 15" active version with the B&C DE200 compression driver and Acoustic Elegance TD15M. It's a toss up between starting with a budget version first, or simply going for the deluxe version. I'm also planning to build my own waveguides, so this wouldn't really be an Econowave project, but the design approach would be similar.
Do you want to buy one but can't build it?
You have two options. One is to source all the parts and have a cabinet built locally. The other is to purchase a Geddes kit. They are designed by Dr Earl Geddes who appears to be leading the field and is a pioneer when it comes to waveguides. If they fall within your budget, seriously consider the Geddes kits. Even if you don't buy them, at least read some of the papers.
Geddes speaker kits >
Geddes papers >
Which Econowave should I choose?
I have a couple of suggestions:
- avoid the Selenium D220Ti and other titanium compression drivers - much better drivers are available
- avoid the Dayton round waveguide/horn - the Pyle unit is better sounding and measures very well
- adding reticulated foam is highly recommended, but must be allowed for in the crossover
- even when using a poorly made adaptor, better drivers like B&C DE250 and BMS 4550 sound better than the Selenium which is intended for screw fit waveguides and horns