Nostalgia is in hi-fi like never before. At high end fairs, you’ll see designs that look like they came from the 1950s and 60s. Valve amps are on the rise, and on the speaker front, forgotten technologies like back loading horns and open baffles with full-range drivers have been revived.
Few have as high a star among nostalgics as UK loudspeaker manufacturer Lowther. The small company has been making their own hand-built speaker units designed for horn speakers for almost 90 years. The speakers are all of the full-range type, where a single driver covers the entire tonal range. With few exceptions, Lowther’s speakers are eight inches in diameter with ultra-light paper cones and exceptionally powerful magnets that were efficient enough to harness the very few watts of tube amplifiers of the day.
Lowther for life
Horn loudspeakers are expensive, huge, and in terms of frequency range and linearity, they are far surpassed by modern designs. But then, nobody buys an English sports car because it’s handy for shopping in Ikea! It’s all about emotion and fascination. Lowther’s website, under the motto “Lowther for life”, explains that you don’t just buy a pair of speakers, but become part of a family.
Lowther has been living quietly and relatively hidden over the decades. But now that horns and full-range units are back in vogue, they’re celebrating by resuming production of a line of classic horn speakers. Not least the Hegeman horn, which must be considered one of the most legendary horn designs in history. On a par with Klipshorn and JBL Paragon – but a lot more rare.
The Lowther Hegeman Reproducer is a large full-range horn speaker measuring 120 cm in width, 120 cm in height and 60 cm in depth. The original version houses a PM4 full-range driver, but the new version features a newly designed field coil unit. The field coil was the loudspeaker of choice before 1930, and is for those who find ordinary full-range speakers not authentic or exotic enough. Here the magnet in the speaker is replaced by an electromagnet.
The single driver plays into the whole of two horns. The back loads a folded bass horn that take up most of the nearly one cubic metre cabinet. The front drives a large plaster mid/high range horn. Lest anyone miss the extreme construction, the new version has lights built into both horn sections!
The Lowther Hegeman was originally built in 1950-1951, and the manufacturer estimates that only 20-30 units were made in total at that time. And since the heart of the design is a giant plaster horn, many of them have probably perished in the 70 years since.
But now the chance is there again. Lowther will build “a limited number,” consisting of four sets a year. You’ll need the really big wallet, though, to become the owner of a set. The price will be £70,000. Equivalent to a similar euro amount. Import duties not included.
Build it yourself
Fortunately, Lowther also has offerings for those who don’t have income from family estates in reserve. The company has resumed production of a number of its best-known horn designs. Some of them are even available in DIY versions, where you get the pre-cut plywood panels and have to assemble the horn cabinet yourself. For example, you can become the owner of a set of Acousta 115s with PM6A full-range units for £6400.