BURTON SOMERVELL: Their remarkable and short-lived hybrid cone & ribbon speakers


I have just read the article " Interview with the Gods", and loudspeakers "Burton Somervell" were mentioned.  I can not find any info on them.  Can you help !

Thank you so much for your enquiry. Usually I’m able to answer incoming queries to everyone’s complete satisfaction first time. But sometimes I don’t. And sometimes my answers lead to further queries. Such is the nature of operating the audio world. Anyway, I mention this because I hope you’ll feel no hesitation in continuing the dialogue with me until all of your questions have been answered to the best of my ability and to your complete satisfaction. I have a lot of patience.

Now then, I was as far as I know the only retailer for BS speakers. They made 3 models in prototype form. A small bookshelf unit called the Round-One, a remarkable small active and a tall thin pair of bi-polar passives which used a cabinet construction material never used previously in speaker design. I have and use to this day (and have for years) that passive pair. I alternate between these and my Vandersteens.

As far as I'm aware they didn't get beyond the start-up stage and I have lost contact with them. The bi-polar passives are a hybrid ribbon design using to sideways-firing bass drivers of monumental trade cost plus a rather wonderful ribbon driver for mid and treble. To minimise the effects of microphony the crossovers are housed in separate chambers in the cabinet.

If you are in the market for a serious pair of speakers at a bargain price then please let me know. I'll be able to offer a demonstration Meanwhile. here is the publicity material that was produced:

This technically advanced floor-standing model is primarily intended for classical and jazz material including vocals. A frequent response from listeners is: “Oh I see. I’ve never heard that instrument on this recording before.”

The construction is unusual in that it uses the very highest quality Scandinavian bass-mid drive units in a super-light weight cabinet which does not store vibrational energy in the way that more conventional cabinets do contributes hugely to the unboxy, airy clarity. The resonance associated with the rolled surround on all cone drivers is eliminated by the side-mounting of these units.

In addition, the two bass-mid units are mechanically coupled so that the unavoidable vibrations in the magnetic assembly caused by generating the sound waves in the cone are completely cancelled, removing yet one more cause of colouration. All in all, more constructive innovation than you might dream of.

If you want artificial warmth or sweetness or some other coloration from your speakers, the bi-polar passives will disappoint you -- they’re far too neutral.

Experienced listeners rarely mistake bass depth for bass prominence. However it’s possible than on first listening one might think that the bi-polar passives bass is actually not very deep at all. This is because it lacks additive warmth and weight. Really deep bass is often more readily felt than heard, and this is the case with the their lowest reaches. In short, serious bass – but only when musically appropriate.

Properly driven and in anything other than overly damped rooms you’ll notice that the lowest notes are nimble and highly detailed,. The objective being to convey subtle changes in pitch and pressure on (say) organ music. You won’t hear bloat or furriness because our bi-polar passives offer the real thing.

Here’s what a user has told us: “Absolutely stunning soundstage and breath. The bass, midrange, and treble are flawlessly integrated. Great dynamics and speed. Imaging is precise with audible bass down past 35 Hz. Slim cabinet structure, will fit in most spaces. The sound just glows.”

Another said: “Correctly sited, the speakers disappear leaving only a huge, wide, deep soundstage with 3D holographic imaging. Crisp, clean, and precise sound. If that guitar player in the studio dropped a pick during the recording you’ll hear it! With the proper power and setup its nearly impossible to beat for the price point”

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