People have different ways of indulging their love of the exotic; mine is specifically focused on a pair of chassis made by Seas. More precisely, the Seas X1 Exotic F8. Seas developed this wide-range speaker with a retro look, which is the real draw here. It runs on a heavy ALNICO magnet, which causes a paper membrane with integrated papyrus fibers to vibrate. In addition, there is a solid die-cast basket and a decent rubber seal. And what do you do if you have two of them? Obviously, you start with a couple of boxes – sorry, too profane – a couple of loudspeakers. Udo based the name on them, naming his baby “Simply Exotic.” In the end, you get a 4-ohm TQWT with the abovementioned chassis. Done – now you can enjoy building it yourself!
Okay, I do have a few impressions and some background information for you, too.
Act I: First steps
What did I actually want before I went into Udo’s shop? Obviously, wide-range speakers – good ones. I skipped the pro/con discussion, and it’s not relevant for fans of this chassis. I had listened to a few already, but I was always scared off either by the price (for ready-made products) or the quality. Naturally, that’s a purely subjective response. So I just stopped by Udo’s place to get an idea of the drivers and the cabinets. From that point on everything happened pretty fast, and I ended up ordering the things right away.
Act II: Pure theory
Since I don’t have any woodworking experience myself, let alone the tools for it, I had to ask a friend to take care of the cabinet design. I chose Ewald. He builds speakers himself, and also empty cabinets, according to customer specifications. I think Ewald only helped me because he wanted the chassis for himself, but anyway...
Our cabinet is a little different from the original assembly kit. The width is 26.8 cm, so it’s 3 cm narrower in the front, and the height is 119.6 cm – within 4 mm of the original. The recalculation of the tubing created a depth of 37.5 cm, originally 34 cm; the opening was widened to 2.6 mm. According to Ewald’s calculations, the bass also goes down a bit lower. He used 18-mm birch plywood and 21-mm sheets for the baffle and rear wall.
For the interior wiring I used solid-core studio-quality cables. The connection brackets are made of solid copper without any gold, silver or rhodium coating. The correction network (frequency crossover) is currently still on the outside of the speakers in case it needs to be adjusted. Time to assemble it and screw everything together, and slowly break the things in.
Act III: At the record shelf
So, who wants to go first? No shoving, please, everyone gets a turn. Since we’re in the blues category, let’s start with the blues. First off is the one with blues right in the name – Blues Company, with ballads and choice love songs. “Cold Rain, Cold Rain, rollin down my eyes” – Toscho is slightly on the right side of the room, and the quickly struck chords create lightning-like explosions while building momentum. Behind him, the drums build up power and set the rhythm, every thump of the bass drum beautiful to the ears. The music keeps on flowing, interrupted by short breaks, and emphasized by the deep bass sound of a Hammond B3. The first piece is a bravura performance – nothing disruptive, nothing too strong or too weak. Maybe a slight humming in the bass, which was quickly fixed by modifying the insulation a little bit. Red Blood confirmed my first impression. The structure of this track is slightly more complex, with more percussion creating some depth in the sound pattern. Everything is great.
Now it’s time for a little more schmaltz: Willie Nelson’s album “Healing Hands of Time.” We choose the title track and hear a delicate orchestral intro, the first few guitar notes and then his voice. The song is like a feel-good barometer, in some sense setting the mood for the track “Night Life.” With Willie, I look a little more closely at the fine details. Everything is leisurely and unhurried, subtle but not flat. The Exotic does very well with it. You can dive right into the music, as long as you like the genre and the atmosphere is right. The Stockfisch albums are similar: “Direct Metal Master Cut Vinyl Series” – a title that long should guarantee good quality. Chris Jones’ “No Sanctuary Here” has a super resolution and shows us what he can do. Freed from the speakers, he sounds like he’s standing right between them. You can almost see the steel strings being strummed. The same for Sarah K., “Stars.” The sound experience builds freely in the room, and all of the details – from the chirping of the crickets to the fingers hitting the guitar – are clearly defined and prettily woven in on the wide stage.
For classical music, you need plenty of time. My test starts with Stravinsky and his “Firebird.” Does it work? I’m not sure. The opening is gentle, but by the time you get to the “Dance infernale du roi Kastchei,” the bass attacks start to sound pretty funny. Yes, folks, dynamics are a wonderful thing! Later, when you get to the finale, everything is nice and complex. The triangle announces the big kettledrum, which unloads its charge onto the listener with a mighty boom. This recording of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Mariss Jansons comes from a CD. Another nice recording is Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dance by Eiji Oue with the Minnesota Orchestra on LP. It features beautiful dynamics and subtlety – here, too, the Exotic puts on a high-level performance. Structure, plasticity, subtlety, location, staging – everything is there, and the pulses are short and dry. To be fair, it should be said that large orchestral pieces aren’t its MAIN strength, but it doesn’t make any missteps. On the contrary, if you’re standing right on top of it, a big multi-way speaker will have more “whump” around the bottom and more “ping” around the top. Just give it some room and 20-30 watts of tube power, and Wagner will put you under his spell. .
How about a little bit of opera? All right, but let’s be quick about it – Maria Callas in “Madame Butterfly” by Puccini. By the time you get to “Cononore Murore,” her legend is explained. No other soprano inhabits roles the way she does – it’s an ancient recording from 1955, but no one dies more beautifully. And what does our Exotic do with it? Emotion level: high, goose-bump factor: present, a little moisture in the eyes: done.
Cut – Time for a scenery and costume change. Now we’re hearing Jazz at the Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall, NY, 1952, on Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich’s stage. “The orig Brum Battle,” the Verve LP from the 1970s, volume up and down. It’s crazy how much swing and drive this disc gives us, when you consider that the recording is 60 years old and my LP is about 40. You can almost feel the scenery from the recording – you’re right in the middle of it, not just in the audience. The audience eggs Gene on, and Gene gives the energy right back to the audience – fantastic. It makes you feel like hearing another live recording: “Jazz at the Pawnshop,” my favorite. The live atmosphere is even more intense here, with good sound quality, too.
The speakers do a wonderful job of conveying the flair of the Jazz Club in Stockholm. It doesn’t matter whether the sound of the vibraphone moves slightly forward and the lighter beats on the hi-hat are more in the background, or whether the drummer isn’t playing on the drumhead, just tapping lightly on the edge of the kit – nothing is lost or swallowed up. Speaking of swallowing, listen to the glasses clinking in the background. Now for the quiz: how many glasses does the bartender break during which song? Please send your answers directly to the bartender.
All joking aside, I think wide-range speakers were made for this, skipping the last “ping” right at the top, along with the lowest “boom” all the way at the bottom – here you don’t need it. They precisely sketch out the room and the stage, and they fade into the background as the source of the sound. The high notes are clear as glass; the vibraphone vibrates wonderfully; the beats on the snare drum are clearly drawn; the saxophone is never too sharp or overdone. Sure, we could keep going, for instance with Benny Goodman’s “Happy Session” on Wax Time Records, a pure big-band feeling; “Otello live at Schloss Elmau” by Dieter Ilg; ACT, Oscar Peterson, Rammstein Seemann live LP, etc., etc.
I think this exotic wide-range speaker is one of the best devices for audiophiles out there, with absolute long-term listenability. There’s no comparison to the “slap-bang horns” around 96 DB, which have amazing dynamics, but the high range often sounds exaggerated. No matter whether you’re listening to voices, a small jazz club or a big stage, it’s just plain fun, and that’s what matters. Obviously the quality of the recording makes a difference, too – garbage in, garbage out – so you’re going to have to re-listen to your whole music archive. Everything flows, and here it’s the music that is flowing. So that’s it for now. It’s 26° C outside and (thanks to the tube) 28° C in here. Time to turn everything off and grab some food. But wait, the speaker’s saying something to me – what, one more song? The Doors? Which one? “The End” – a solid choice, my exotic friend, you’ve got good taste. Off we go.
Shamelessly cool – purely mystical.
CD player: Opera Droplet, amplifier: Octave, PhonoPre: WBE, record player: Amazon, Opera arm, Dynavector needle, cables: compl. VoVox, power strip: Isotek. Rack: Finite Element, AntiSpike for the Simply Exotic. Comparison loudspeaker: Etalon Essence, a two-way speaker about the same size, made in Hungary, about 90 DB.
Thanks to Udo and Ewald.
Greetings to my wife’s displaced Chi.
You can buy the Simply Exotic from Intertechnik .