Bastanis speakers in retro perspective
- why we do the things we do -
by Robert Bastani, November 2014
When you ever listen to historical professional cinema speakers from the first decades of the 20th century, you'll note that these speakers offer superior transient response, micro- detail and max. dynamics in comparison to common modern home hifi- speakers. The old masters of these times couldn't ground on existing designs. At this pre WWII time there was a heavy competition on technological leadership among continents. Big investments were put into science causing an acceleration in speaker design.
The low wattage tubed amps of these days required high efficient speakers with huge bass- horns and horns for the midrange and upper frequencies but for best possible sound quality. In small theaters there were open baffle wideband driver- based systems available, with some help from medium sized bass horns and horn tweeters. During the past WWII- period a radio at home was common and with the upcoming stereo sound serious home hifi was introduced but financial out of reach for the masses. The first period home hifi still showed an extremely high quality level. However this was quickly going to change. With the upcoming affordable high wattage transistor amps during the seventies of the last century, also small, inexpensive and low efficient bookshelf speakers were designed (Braun) and so stereo found its path to the mass- market. The total quality downgraded constantly and rapidly by adverse selection, driven by marketers of bigger growing electronic companies. Not only speakers and amps showed downgraded quality but also formats: best was reel- tape, then followed phono with downgraded dynamics and in a last step the quality- reduced digital formats.
Today stereo is nothing special at all, it's affordable and compatible for all digital sources. The young generation wears earphones and the daily listening time is much longer compared to a few decades ago. Today music is everywhere, in elevators, in cars, in shops, restaurants etc... listening to music has become like fast food. In today's consumption society everything seems to be fine but there is a big change going to happen in culture.
There are moments in life that even elevator music can be very nice and relaxing but music has a much bigger meaning. Music is an universal language for all humans worldwide and can be found in any human culture. Music can take big influence and we are able to surf on a music wave to the stars and beyond! An elevator can't lead us to the stars, elevator- music is a tranquilizer only.
However, people start to realize that most of the times music from a poor system, like music from poorly designed speakers, does not have the positive emotional impact one is looking for. Slowly awareness among people arises that a high quality format can have such more positive impact on someone's emotions when listening to music.
Back to the technical side of the story.
There are legions of low efficient multiway "Reference" speakers available for the price of a car or even the price of a house. However, compared to the historical speakers from the first decades of the 20th century most of them sound like fast food tastes. Even for the best and most expensive high efficient drivers of today it's hard to compete with the drivers of the old master- designers. The old Klangfilm and Western Electric gear isn't available anymore, most of it was exported to Asia during the years where the old Odeon theatres closed down. Today there are companies copying the high quality historical drivers as good as possible but it's hard to reach the same quality like in the past times. Speakers built from these drivers are very big but they justify the size and price in comparison to most of the low efficient "Reference" speakers.
The Bastanis approach however is different. By using the insights and possibilities of today, and by extensive research of the old Masters designs, Bastanis has created new designs of absolute quality speakers that are smaller and more acceptable sized for living rooms with normal dimensions.
All Bastanis speaker designs therefore follow a few design principles:
- Highest possible efficiency.
- Crossover-less wideband drivers.
- Simplified designs, reduced to the max.
- Reduction of distortions – even the dynamical non-linearities – to a minimum.
- Taking care that all parameters are optimized and not a few of them only.
- When the existing methods aren't sufficient search for new methods but don't compromise the design.
The central part of all Bastanis speaker- designs are the wideband drivers which always are crossover-less. When a driver behaves fine with a proper self roll- off there is no need to use crossover parts for correction. Crossover parts show energy storage effects and even the best and most expensive parts only can downgrade the sound quality and never increase the quality of the signal. Some of the Bastanis speakers have big diameter wideband drivers and they produce a very natural midrange without "beaming" effects. Big diameter drivers don't need to move a lot for even very high spl- output and so the sound stays relaxed. The transient response is superior because the high efficient big diameter drivers and the resulting huge radiating surface offers dynamic headroom far above what's required for home hifi.The high efficiency, the dynamic headroom and the crossover-less direct coupling to the amps is responsible for the amount of fine details even at lowest listening levels. The amount of fine details and structures let the music become "alive" and the listening- experience is on max. intense- level.
The Bastanis speaker designs use wideband drivers which reproduce the musical content up to 7Khz or 8Khz depending on the model from the line. This frequency- band contains nearly all musical information. The Bastanis wideband drivers behave as a single point of source causing the sound imaging to be big and natural, much like full range speakers. The big diameter Bastanis wideband drivers show bending wave- behavior to higher frequencies. The cones break up very early and show controlled resonance- behaviour in the full frequency- band they work on. The resonances stay far below a disturbing level and the self roll- off to higher frequencies also is free from disturbing resonances. To achieve this unique behavior it was required to find some new methods of cone- treatments to make the paper- cones more elastic. Then additional treatments follow using a variety of home-brown lacquers and minerals which dampen and de- dampen different small areas of the cones depending on their behavior over the frequency- band.
The bigger sized Bastanis 12″ and 15″ wideband- drivers are extremely high efficient and equal the highest efficient fullhorn- speakers. The tweeters need to show matching efficiency and only horn- tweeters match. The Bastanis horn- tweeters easily could play from about 2,5Khz on but the wideband drivers reach much higher and the tweeters are crossed over at about 8Khz. This guarantees that they work free from distortions and dynamical compression. The Bastanis Gemini tweeters work as horn dipole- tweeters and so they are free of resonances from the back- chamber. The pure sound and the dipole characteristics is a benefit for the imaging and so the Bastanis Gemini tweeters are solitaire in the league of high efficient horn- tweeters. The caps for the tweeter's crossover are made in- house to achieve the best possible sound quality. Also the speaker- wire is Bastanis- specific and even the paralleled resistors for some speakers of the line are.
The Bastanis speakers are designed to the max. of what's possible from technical side without any marketing- compromise. There are experienced longtime- customers who were used to the common "buy and sell" of stereo- components and speakers, some of them have invested lots of money and never were satisfied before they revealed the Bastanis line of speakers. Most customers keep their Bastanis speakers for a very long time and don't look for other speakers anymore, I thank them a lot!