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May 2013 Issue
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The complex and very expensive MBL 101 radialstrahler, a fantastic

omni-directional loudspeaker. 



After a long history enjoying hi-fi sound reproduction, starting with a Mullard 3-3 kit from Henrys Radio in the Edgware Rd. and a king’s ransom in upgrades, at retirement I decided to purchase a sensible and reliable system to last. This consists of a Sony ES 777 CD player, the matching tuner purchased new, the matching amplifier purchased used from Haden Boardman and the matching loudspeakers from the notice board at Sainsburys. 

However in a moment of madness during a visit to the Warwick vintage radio collectors fair John Howes had on offer the most beautiful pair of Rosewood Omni-Directional loudspeakers by Larson who i understand was responsible for other similar systems. 

Driving home I kicked myself for being mad, or at least stupid, to start chasing my tail again. Arriving home my wife was most impressed and declared they are nice. Pause to sit in chair and let this message sink in. This was a first! 

I removes six m.m. of accumulated dust from the upwards firing tweeters then rewired and re-capacitored the inside, and polished up the outside. I am informed that the cost of the veneer today would be very high. 

Then listening began. After several hours the loudspeakers began to settle in and the room was filled with a very good sound – no, correction, a superb sound filled the room. People who visit all comment on the sound.

  I admit they do not suit rock music but anything else is excellent. 

My questions. Why do omni-directional loudspeakers receive so-so reviews. If you sit in a concert hall you do not have a hot seat. Why have I spent a fortune over the years trying to heat the singers tonsils rattle or the resin falling off the violinists bow. As you can read I am converted. As the Larsons where made in 1974 I think it was a long and costly journey. 


Pat Rickwood. 



The Larson had a single downward firing bass/midrange unit and an upward

firing treble unit. It was omni-directional and "a superb sound filled the room"

from them says Pat Rickwood.


Hi Pat. Omni-directional loudspeakers fire sound all-around the room, so more sound energy is bounced off walls and ceiling (and even the floor if uncarpeted) than with conventional loudspeakers. Sound returning from acoustically reflective surfaces is very uneven though, as well as randomly time delayed, so what you get is uncontrolled and room dependent. How much of the room you hear depends upon your closeness to the loudspeakers: sit close and you hear more of the loudspeaker than the room reflections; sit at a distance and it is the other way around. Due to this, omnis are less specifically accurate or revealing as a directional loudspeaker that sends its message to your ears with less room influence. You rightly identify this as a concert hall experience: big, spacious and unchallenging in that you don’t hear “singer’s tonsils rattle”. But not everyone wants this; the market for Rock dominates and in this world images of instruments and singers placed artificially on an imaginary sound stage are the accepted norm. That’s why omnis are not so popular with loudspeaker designers, or listeners. But they do give a relaxed and spacious sound, enjoyable in its own way. NK



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