Kevin Scott of Definitive Audio (a specialist hi-fi retailer based in Nottingham) and Guy Sergeant of Audio Innovations started working on a serious full range horn system in the early nineties. Inspired by the Thunderbolt (see Speaker Systems page) they decided that a purist design using the same principles could be the basis for a world leading speaker.
So with that in mind they approached Vitavox who agreed to a Joint venture and whilst they didn’t provide the funding they did give them access to their full technical resources. In honour of their assistance the speaker system where branded Living Voice. Guy was mainly responsible for the crossover design whilst David and Neil Young of Vitavox worked on refining the bass horn design and an industrial design consultant was called in for his aesthetic input. After nine months of meticulous empirical development on the crossover and the composite cabinet the speaker was ready for the market. Called the Air Partner it caused a stir when it was released to the British press in 1992 and to the public at the London Hi-fi show.
The design used a Gauss 1502 tweeter rolling in above above 13 Khz, whilst the mid range was covered by an RH330 horn in a sand filled box coupled to an S2 compression driver. Crossovers were all conventional second order slopes.
The bass horn was driven by an AK157 and used similar ‘Z’ shaped folding geometry to the Thunderbolt. As the diagram below shows, the internal surfaces of the horn were curved, smoothing the flow of air. The mains structure was made of 36 mm high density Birch ply. A ‘phase plug’ was also used, as in the Thunderbolt, to extend the frequency response of the bass horn. The area behind the driver was left open, as it was judged to sound better than using a sealed chamber. Even though this should compromise bass extension it was still measured (by Hi-fi Choice reviewer, Paul Messenger) to be just -5 dB down at 40 Hz.
Below: Later version with Slot tweeter mounted below mid horn.
Air Partner Statesman
The Statesman version was released in 1995 and was the ultimate version of the Air Partner. It featured a variety of refinements which included JBL 2405 slot tweeters that were time aligned by being positioned on a gantry over the compression drivers coils. The damping on the mid range unit was changed from sand to a polyurethane polymer and I also believe the S5 rather than the S2 compression drivers were commonly fitted. They were available in Mahogany with Birds Eye Maple detailing or Black Lacquer with Birds Eye maple detail.
Specifications Sensitivity: 105 dB/watt @ 1m Dimensions 1830mm x 660mm x 915mm Frequency response: 50Hz - 21KHz Min amplifier recommended: from 3 watts Max power handling: 100 watts continuous Weight: 110 kg per unit
Below: Kevin next to the Statesman at the London Hi-fi Show Tone Scout
The Tone Scout was designed to be a smaller, lighter and more affordable speaker that would offer similar levels of sound quality to the Air Partner albeit without the same levels of bass extension. A choice of JBL or Beyma tweeters were available and a Fane 12 inch bass driver was used in a back-loaded, scoop type horn.
Specifications Sensitivity: 105 dB/watt @ 1m Dimensions: height 115, width 62.5, depth 57 cm Frequency response: 50 Hz - 21 kHz Min amp power: From 5 watts Power handling: 100 watts continuous Weight: 85 kg (190 lbs) per unit
Just as the Partner evolved so too did the Scout, which was renamed the Air Scout which featured the JBL 2405 tweeter as standard.
Below: Original sales brochure for the Air Scout
For those people that wanted more bass extension, the RW24 bass horn was introduced in 1997. Designed to supplement the Scouts output they use two 12 inch drivers in a re-entrant (bi-furcated) ‘W’ horn. The drivers can be wired for stereo or mono or on very large systems (like the one pictured below) a set per side could be used. Due to their high efficiency there is no need to use a separate amplifier for them - their passive crossover meant that a stereo amp can run the whole system. They measure 84 x 146 x 59 cm.
Living Voice now also produce a range of efficient (for non-horns) speakers of more affordable price and smaller dimensions. Their website is here: Living Voice There are a couple of interesting consumer reviews of the Scout here: Audio review.com
The Emporium, who are primarily a used and vintage audio specialist dealer (see Buying & Links page), produced a one off horn speaker called the Emporihorn which used an RH330.