19 May, 2018
Western Electric 46
Click pics to enlarge. Top: Less than half the room shown. Double RCA 15" Field Coils in Bass Cabinet. Gaumont (UK) drivers behind the Multi-cell Horns, fronted by Jensen 302 tweeters. Hidden behind in the corners are a pair of EV Patrician 800 used as subwoofers. Just above the left horn one sees slivers of the subwoofer amps placed upon the EV. The host is a bodybuilder - note the thing dangling above the sofa, used for weight-lifting, or hanging oneself after despairing of ever achieving such sonic bliss.
Magnificent Horn System: Western Electric 46
These days I don't have time to do Home Visits, but yesterday was an exception. These days it takes me many days to write an article, but this one is an exception. One makes exception for the exceptional.
Thanks to my friend/taskmaster icefox, aka the "HiFi pimp 淫媒” (a nickname I think I aptly bestowed opon him, and I am glad it had gained widespread recognition) for introducing Eric. Eric is one of a rather prominent breed of HK audiophiles who have a dedicated space in an industrial building. I had visited him once a long time ago, but in a very short time this man has morphed into a WE man with one of the best horn systems I have heard.
Click pics to enlarge: Center Rack, Vintage Volume Knobs atop the Marantz player, and above it, the tiny Streaming Devices; beneath, buffer WE transformers. Further down, the pair of WE 46 amps. Flanking the 46's are a pair of WE 87 in disuse. Above the right 87, a pair of WE 124, and a WE 133. To the right, on separate rack, pair of WE 49.
Source: Marantz player into highly modified Musical Fidelity Digilog (a TDA1541 DAC); also Tidal streaming using cheap Bluetooth renderer. These are connected to a pair of vintage potentiometers and then a pair of WE 1:1 transformers for buffering before going into the amps.
WE 46 I count myself very lucky to have finally heard the legendary WE 205D tube in action. The Japanese WE crowd have long placed this tube in the stratosphere, calling it the stuff of dreams, 夢幻之球. This is really an integrated amplifier, with an output of 1.5 watts from a pair of push-pull 205D.
Not that much info on use or sound on the English internet. Fortunately, there is Official WE manual with schematics and there are some pics in radiomuseum.
Gaumont Kalee 379 The horn system is unusual too. The Gaumont system is a UK unit said to be similar to the Altec 288 system. There is next to nothing on the internet, and it is my first encounter of this name.
The RCA 15" field coil woofers have their own amps (click right pic to enlarge).
The Electrovoice Patrician 800's are, ha, used only as subwoofers. There are plenty of info on these, legends on their own. Peruse the Official pdf, and there is this beautifully written article on the EV Patrician series in the Finnish INNER magazine, plus more pics on itishifi.
Easy. This is one of the very best horn systems I have ever heard anywhere (giving our other WE friend Humphrey a run for his money). To me the greatest virtue of this system is not just the WE 46 (which I wager potentially can be even more sinuous sounding than here), but the system as an integrated whole. Most preciously, the system conveys atmosphere like few others. I think the large surface areas here dedicated to bass reproduction is one of the reasons.
The opening of Celibidache's Pathetique (Warner) conveyed fully that brooding atmosphere that only a good horn system can. It should be mentioned here that I am a great fan of German radio recordings, which are more successful in capturing atmosphere than most others. Similarly, the third movement of Shostakovich's 8th (Andris Nelson/Boston SO, DG), also a live recording, has plenty of atmosphere, and symphonic weight.
Yes, I went home and played these, but there is no way a small system, no matter how meritorious, can come close. Salut!
All this from 1.5 watts, the magic of WE!