LOTH-X ION BS1 Loudspeaker Reviewed

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Rare these days in that it's a purist company producing amps, speakers AND turntables, Loth-X is a darling of the single-ended-triode/horn-loaded crowd. Its credibility is indisputable, up there with Wavac and Edgarhorn and Living Voice and the other tube/horn crazies you usually find at the breakaway show at the St Tropez in Las Vegas. Only Loth-X exhibits at the officially-CES Alexis Park...which tells you that it distances itself from the SET crowd, if only geographically and politically. But there's more: this Singapore-based brand actually makes stuff normal people can afford, and yet it still adheres to the 'Code of SET'. Even in the entry-level £400-per-pair Ion BS1 loudspeaker.

'BS', he said in Beavis' best voice. Stop laughing: just as the Germans will have to live with the name T&A, so do the Singaporeans have a lot to learn about English slang. Whatever, the speaker is categorically not 'BS' because it does everything it should, while offering unbelievable value for money. Not bad for a specialist audio import, eh?

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In a sense, the Ion BS1 is a horn-surrogate for those who cannot afford any of the true horns on the market, or who simply cannot house something other than a bookshelf/stand-mount speaker. Aside from deviations such as the teensy Zingalis, most horns tend toward the biggish. (Even I, the Horn Hater, have to admire Loth-X for their show of Non-Political Correctness in this age of downsizing.) And small the BS1 is, though its exceptional depth-to-width ratio makes it hard to find suitable stands. Each 26lb unit occupies a space of 8x11 3/4x15 3/4in (WDH) - narrow but rather deep and, as a result, uncommonly elegant for a budget speaker.

Veteran designer Stephan Stamm fitted the BS1 with Loth-X-manufactured drivers consisting of a crossoverless 6in paper cone woofer and a 1in cloth diaphragm, fluid-cooled tweeter. The woofer runs full range, with the tweeter coming it at 10kHz, with only a single polypropylene capacitor running in series with it. This minimalism should, in theory, produce a sound damned close to a full-range driver as regards transparency. This sums up the Loth-X speaker philosophy: 'Multi way systems are a compromise; loudspeakers should be based around single, low-mass paper drivers.'

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