"'The whole 'Alnico mojo' is about smooth compression at high average levels such as you'd have running an amp flat out. AlNiCo (aluminum-nickel-cobalt) is an alloy magnet and all alloy magnets are easier to demagnetize than comparable ceramic (strontium ferrite) magnets. What this means is that as the voice coil starts moving in response to the input signal, it generates a magnetic field of its own which tries to demagnetize the magnet. As its effect lowers the available magnetic field of the AlNiCo magnet, the driver becomes less efficient and its voice coil moves less. The physics of it are that the small magnets near the surface of the poles called domains begin to change state or flip direction. The result is smooth compression, the same kind of operating-curve compression that occurs in a tube amplifier. The ceramic magnet on the other hand doesn't compress or demagnetize as easily so the voice coil moves to its mechanical limit and won't go any farther. This is why some players say that ceramics sound a little edgy at high average levels as opposed to AlNiCo. However, by properly designing the entire magnetic circuit, ceramics can be made to behave quite well for desirable guitar-amp tone and dynamics. You might compare these two magnetic circuits to solid-state amps versus tube amps where the solid-state amp gives you all it's got then clips hard while a tube amp compresses nice and smooth. The extension of this idea is that with the AlNiCo like the tube amp, you can seem to have a louder average volume since it compresses smoothly. But the compressing or demagnetization that occurs with AlNiCo is not permanent. It springs right back to its designed operating point.'"
AlNiCo comes in different compositions and with different properties.
By February 26th, final tweaks on version 1 aka Vox 3f were in the end zone. "Filter sorted but we did some further investigating on the woofers and found the cast aluminium basket too weak for the large 37mm magnet assembly. With 2/10th of a millimetre clearance on the voice coil, it just takes one good knock which will of course happen in transit and it goes out of alignment.
"Armin has now sourced a stronger basket but it's going to be a few weeks before he gets them. There's also a ribbon delay from Raal who are full-on busy with their SR1a headphones so will not get these until end of next week. Finally decided to add some bronze wire mesh covers on the woofers which are being made at present. So all in all we are looking at mid March for the Vox 3f (TB driver). Vox 3a will be around May, only just doing my first attempts at membranes."
By mid March, Martin had booked a room at the alternate Munich show of the Marriott Hotel. He was doing T-shirts for the occasion. An early group email wanted feedback on the favorite design. I voted elephant.
The Indian parable about the three blind men describing an elephant is as ancient as it remains contemporary. "His legs are like marble columns." No matter how the three guys go about it, their attempts fail. They've never actually seen an elephant. Much hifi opinions are like that in the forums. Then there's that elephant in the room; about sound|kaos the name and people not knowing what to make of it. Martin was poking fun at his own expense. It's the best humor there is.
Chaos reality also meant that the wife/partner of his wood-turning shop had fallen sick. This caused a delayed dispatch of Vox 3 cabs to his Feutersoey workshop. The actual practice not theory of chaos is always to adapt and improvise. I'd hold that tune until it was time to play it. I didn't think that attraction strange at all.
Just in time for Munich, the bronze mesh covers for the woofers had arrived and Martin had this Walnut pair running laps in Switzerland to be properly pumped for Germany. I'd get my loaner pair right afterwards. A matching Bakoon AMP-13R delivered one week prior. I was all set to hear the Vox 3 like its designer does.
At HifiDeluxe 2019, Vox 3f alternated with an as-yet unnamed sound|kaos open baffle which simple math would call Liber-8 for its six Enviée woofers plus two Enviée widebanders. The six woofers net slightly more cone surface still then the single 18-incher of the Libération. Two pairs of Vox 3 showed off, one on metal stands, the other on wooden perches. "The denser metal leg increased bass performance so that became our final choice." When the speakers were airborne, "I also sent wooden legs so you can compare the two. To fit, just remove the T-plate from the speaker and bolt it to the Walnut support. The longer M6x35mm bolts are for the base plate, the shorter M6x30mm bolts for the top of the stand and the speaker connection. Don't overtighten the rubber grommet inserts. The T-plate should not touch the enclosure."
HifiDeluxe photos from Dawid Grzyb's show report.
As to any pachyderm, "this is the only elephant in the room" was the byline to the big tusker on the poster. Leave it to Martin to have the last word. As luck would have it, just then Grandinote's Shinai 37wpc integrated amplifier arrived in Westport as the very model Martin had shown his first Libération with three years prior. That gave me a second set of pre-approved electronics. Make it rain?
To take competitive measures, our Kroma Audio Mimí monitors for quite equivalent coin—though their optional Krion stands are significantly dearer than the sound|kaos types—would make for the most meaningful comparators. Ivette's Boenicke W5 would also make an appearance.
"Above you see the new and old 13cm woofer side by side to show the beefed-up new basket. Then comes the crossover board in various states of assembly. I was quite surprised by how much the PCB improved detail, blackness and a more refined sound. The final step is potting the assembly in a rubber compound. No expense spared of course."
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