There continue to be a lot of unconventional speaker designs in the high-end, including horns, electrostats, transmission lines, field coils and ribbons. But one particular concept that remains fairly rare is the single point source.
The idea of using just one full-range driver per channel dates far back in hi-fi’s history. Instead of dividing the frequency range up among multiple drivers — many of which often being sourced from different suppliers — a single-speaker design theoretically can avoid problems introduced by crossovers and non-matching cone materials. And having just one source per channel radiating sound into the room also overcomes the time-domain challenges of trying to make a handful of drivers speak at once.
Visitors to the Eclipse/On a Higher Note room at T.H.E. Show in Newport got to see one of the modern applications of the point-source idea. Eclipse, which is owned by Fujitsu Ten, was showing its TD510Z Mk. II speakers ($5,990 a pair). The unusual transducers likely first drew attention from passersby for their styling, which resembles a couple of huge eggs mounted horizontally on forward-sloping stands. But the sound wafting from the door also likely was just as big an attraction.
Each “egg” in the TD510Z has a single 10-centimeter, full-range fiberglass driver. The custom-made cone is attached to the enclosure with a flexible rubber surround. Special care is taken to control vibration throughout the design, from internal damping in the egg to the heavy stand and spiked base.
The result, I found, is a pair of speakers that have an uncanny knack for presenting music as a cohesive whole. Where some two-way, three-way and four-way speakers draw attention to their respective high-, mid- and low-frequency signals, the TD510Z proved to offer an extremely focused soundstage and realistic portrayal of instruments.
After listening to some stirring classical music, I had Enigma sales manager Paul Burnip cue up “H Gang” from Donald Fagen’s underrated “Morph the Cat.” The well-recorded track features a Steely Dan-ish driving rhythm arrangement, overlaid with sinewy guitar work by Jon Herington and a jazzy horn chart.
Right from the opening notes, it was clear the TD510Z excelled at capturing the pace of the recording, as well as offering a cohesive aural picture — like looking out a large picture window, as opposed to glancing through multiple panes. “H Gang” has a dozen musicians playing at once, but the song’s melody was what emerged, rather than a collection of parts.
The TD510Z also did a better job than many speakers I’ve tested with this song in allowing me to hear Fagen’s own multitracked backing vocals — something he didn’t often do (without help). In addition, Keith Carlock’s drums were solid and Gordon Gottlieb’s percussion sparkled. All in all, the TD510Z offered a very pleasing, organic sound that would be easy to live with.
At Newport, Eclipse was demoing the TD510Z with two of its TD520SW self-powered subwoofers ($7,200). Each subwoofer contained two drivers in a floating structure to reduce stray vibrations.
It might seem that including the subwoofers would not make this system truly a single point source, but in this case I think that would be splitting hairs. Each TD510Z was run full-range from 42-22,000 Hz, driven by a Luxman L590AX Mk. II integrated amp ($10,000) and fed by a Luxman D05u CD player ($5,000). The subs were filtered to operate between 25-50 Hz. Since very low bass essentially is nondirectional, the egg-towers still were providing most of the relevant one speaker-one ear output for each channel.
For those who’d like to enjoy the Eclipse sound, but are looking for more of a lifestyle speaker, the company also had on static display in Newport a desktop version, the TD-M1 ($1,000). The system — which keeps the eggs-on-a-stand design, but is dramatically shrunken in size — is self-powered and offers wireless access.
Eclipse may not be a well-known name yet, but its work is gaining notice. Neil Dorfsman, who engineered “Brothers in Arms” for Dire Straits, is said to be a fan. Overall, I think the company’s designers are making their point.