Sequerra – a rare vintage

Of all the legendary hi-fi products, one of the best known is the Marantz 10B FM tuner. Renowned for its fabulous performance (and its built-in oscilloscope), the 10B was designed by Richard Sequerra, who later went on to launch his own DaySequerra tuner (updates for which are still available).

Dick Sequerra has also produced some innovative loudspeaker designs over the years, one of which was the Sequerra Pyramid Met 20, designed in collaboration with Ted Jordan.

The Met 20 was released around 1990 and features the Jordan JX53 and JX150 drive units. As far as we know, only seven pairs were ever made.. The JX150 is used over a wider bandwidth than usual, being allowed to roll off naturally until the crossover kicks in around 5 kHz. The JX53 crosses over at 2 kHz, instead of the 500 Hz Ted Jordan used to recommend. That greatly increases the power handling of the entire system, which is quoted at 200 watts (peak).

The unusual cabinet shape (it’s a truncated trapezoid or trapezium in the UK) is instrumental in spreading internal cabinet reflections, giving a cleaner sound, free from resonances. At 58 cms tall, it’s large for a stand-mounted speaker, but the shape would look well on top of a suitable subwoofer – as in this Eikona design from one of our customers.

Dick Sequerra has had a long and interesting career in hi-fi and there is a fascinating interview with him on the Stereophile website. At one point he says something which Ted Jordan would certainly have agreed with: 

“The notion that audio is simple and easy to do is a big fantasy. There are very few people who have ever done it really well.”

If you would like to buy a rare piece of audio history, the very first production pair of the Sequerra/Jordan speakers are currently for sale on eBay in the US.

 

Postscript: We received a message via Facebook from the seller of these Sequerras:

“When I spoke to Dick 3 weeks ago he told me the ONLY reason he designed them was to show what the Jordan drivers could do in a single sealed enclosure. He said “Ted Jordan was an absolute genius”. Dick is 90 now and selling his studio.”

“The audiophile bargain of the millennium”

It’s always good to receive testimonials from customers and never more so than when they come from professionals within the hi-fi industry. 

We have just received the following from just such a professional who has a great deal of experience in both the design and audio evaluation of a number of well-known, high-end products:

“I have been using the Eikona drivers (2 pairs) in cabinets of my own design for the last couple of years. I used to own a pair of Electrofluidics Sonolith 2.2’s and have built a pair of VTL’s using the previous JX92S drivers. 

Back in the mid 90’s I was involved with Tom Evans and Patrick Handscombe doing listening tests for the Acoustic Precision Eikos FR1 loudspeakers, also using the 92S driver. When I got back home and fired up the Electrofluidics all I could hear were the crossovers. 

So when the Eikona 2 was released I just had to get my hands on some. 

I was not disappointed. In over 2 years of critical listening, they have never given themselves away. They cope with everything I throw at them. They truly are the audiophile bargain of the millennium.”

Project – A Jordan loudspeaker with Italian flair

Fabio, one of our customers from Italy, was in touch about his Eikona MLTL38 loudspeaker project. He requested permission to use the EJJ logo on his cabinets. Intrigued by this thoughtful finishing touch, we asked for details of his project. Here is what Fabio has to say:

 

Nothing is missing from the small Eikona 2, the coherence and the timbre are of the highest level ….. the speed of the transients will make you jump from the armchair, particularly on those majestic passages of great orchestral music ….. 

How can a single, 10 cm driver produce bass worthy of note? … in my room, it almost seems to have a subwoofer; nothing is missing, they are ideal for medium-small rooms.

LISTENING:

Martha Argerich and Friends – live from the Lugano Festival 2008: the violin and the piano are reproduced with grace and elegance, there is no difficulty in listening; the piano plays warm and round, while the violin is never harsh, the timbre is perfect and the speed of the Eikona is surprising. 

Minnesota Orchestra – Showcase Eiji Oue – Reference Recordings: track no. 6 of this HDCD, literally leaves you speechless because it is “The Firebird Suite” by Stravinsky, in fact just listening to this piece, it seems to have a hidden subwoofer, it is impressive how these little drivers manage to reproduce the continuous bass drum beats in a as authoritative as it is lightning, without the sound of rumblings, “tails” and “blows”.

Tracy Chapman: well she is there in front of me with her deep and unique voice; one of the first CDs I listened to with these speakers was just this and I remember that in more than one passage I got goose bumps. 

John Coltrane – Blue Train, Miles Davis – Kind of Blue, Michel Petrucciani – Live Blue Note: the instruments are real, alive, the details are heard until the last touch on the drums.

CONCLUSIONS:

These Eikonas will print a permanent smile on your face. I admit that I was initially doubtful about the choice, because in fact, it might seem that they are small, that they do not make it, and the cost, well … But there is an old saying goes, “in the small barrel there is good wine” – here this barrel does not contain wine but it will make you very euphoric. 

I had some doubts that haunted me, but reading the reviews on EJ Jordan’s website and having an amplifier that is the ideal companion for these little gems, I embarked on this venture. I am not a technician in the field so I have tried to take care of all the details to get the most out of these objects that I now call “magic”. So with my friend Fabrizio we started the construction of the piece of furniture, taking care of all the details that a Hi-End speaker cabinet must have.

I have to say that after listening to them for a few days, one of the questions I asked myself was “but if a single driver can do so much, how will the larger Line Array sound?”

I’m not sure, but if in the future I have to have a larger environment in which to put my Hi Fi and a more muscular amp, I would definitely consider one of these projects.

DESIGN OF MY CABINETS:

I started from the design of the MLTL38 and keeping the volumes, I tilted the front and the rear panel by 5° trying to create fewer parallel faces. I inserted perforated bulkheads both to support the sound absorbency and to break down resonances, creating surfaces not parallel to the rest of the cabinet walls.

WOOD: a 26 mm thick  Okoume plywood is very robust, multilayered and heavy.

SOUND ABSORBENCY: of the 3 internal sections that I created, I covered the first 2 starting from the top with sound-absorbing panels in bituminous material plus felt, about 1 cm thick (normally used to soundproof car bodywork).

As suggested by EJJ, I inserted a cylinder of sound-absorbing Dacron, behind the Eikona and another under the driver so that all unwanted midrange frequencies do not pass from the first volume to the other 2.

EXTERIOR FINISH: the cabinets were then veneered with real rosewood and impregnated with a red colour with subsequent transparent bottom and glossy varnish … many coats of glossy varnish!

To embellish the whole, I added aluminium plates with the technical characteristics. At the base I put a 5 mm black Plexiglas plate, a small wooden riser and then a 12 mm iron plate to which some decoupling tips were added. The part of the screw that came out of the plate was hidden with full aluminium feet used as a blind nut, which is very Hi End ….. in short, we Italians always have an eye on the finishing touches.

Jordan Eikona TL2 transmission line loudspeaker

The Eikona TLA is the highest performing loudspeaker design we have published for the Jordan Eikona full-range drive unit. It is capable of magnificent performance across a wide range of musical genres and its transmission line alignment gives clean bass down to 30 Hz.

A number have now been built across the UK, Europe and USA and we have a testimonial page dedicated to the design. There is even a Pentagonal TLA under construction. However, we have had requests for a slightly smaller TL which will be easier to accommodate in smaller listening rooms. 

The TL2 is the same height as the TLA (1.2 m / 47 inches) and is therefore capable of achieving the same low bass response, but the use of two Eikonas instead of four gives it a much smaller footprint. Power handling is reduced from 400 watts (peak) to 200 but that is more than adequate for most purposes in medium-sized rooms. The Eikonas can be wired in series (to give a nominal 16 ohm load) or parallel, if your amplifier is capable of handling 4 ohm loads. The 16 ohm option is ideal for tube amplifiers and the result is a very easy-to-drive loudspeaker.

The TL2 Design Guide is available to download now. 

As ever, if you decide to build this or any of our designs, we are happy to answer any queries and would love to receive photographs and listening impressions – we’ll then add your loudspeaker to our expanding gallery of customer projects.

 

 

Home Theatre – Preview

Building a home theatre system can be a daunting undertaking. A major advantage of using the Jordan Eikona is that it’s a straightforward, single speaker driver installation. Cabinet volumes can range from 5 to 15 litres, depending on what you want to achieve. It’s simple yet flexible. We have a number of customers who have used 5 or more Eikonas for their home theatre systems. 

Currently, Jim in the USA is building a house on the edge of the Arizona desert. The building is being made from traditional adobe brick and will include a home theatre system. We received a fun email recently about progress on his home theatre and he was kind enough to allow us to share it:

“I got impatient waiting for the house to be completed so I put together a make-shift home theater system including left, right and center speakers.

I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying listening to the Jordan Eikona speakers. They sound fantastic. They sound entirely neutral, detailed and flat across the frequency spectrum, at least to my ears. Most home theater speakers and sound bars sound over-hyped. But not the Jordans. They really sound good!

I really do enjoy the Jordan speakers. Their ability to produce a natural sound is uncanny. Pianos, strings, drums, whatever, all sound like they do in real life. When you listen to other speakers, you realize how colored their sound really is. For the fun of it, I went to a local hifi shop and listened to some speakers that cost up to $5000, including some Bower & Wilkins. I did not like any of them. In comparison, they lacked clarity, coherency and were fatiguing. Besides watching movies, I have also been streaming a lot of music. No matter the source material, the Jordans are easy on the ears.”

We’re supporting Jim with advice and recommendations during his home theatre project, something we’re very happy to do for all our customers. If you would like to find out more about our speakers or what we can offer, do get in touch or sign up to the newsletter.

Welcome to the Reel World

The analogue revival is no longer confined to vinyl LPs; welcome back, the reel-to-reel tape recorder.

It’s a surprising development given that pre-recorded open reel tapes were only ever a tiny part of the market even when at their most popular in the 1960s (pre-recorded tape had to wait until the advent of cassettes to make any significant impact domestically). Tapes are bulky and costly to manufacture and distribute, but if made with care, the audio results can be stunningly good and there is no denying that a good open reel machine is a seriously cool device (and much more visually interesting than a record-spinner, in the author’s opinion).

In response, open reel machines are being manufactured for the first time in decades. 

The most famous of the new entrants is from Ballfinger – not Daniel Craig’s latest adversary but a German industrial design group previously known for stylish watches and desk lamps. The design team at Ballfinger felt that the time was right to produce a new machine and was drawn to tape by its fundamental importance to analogue music. Ballfinger spent four years developing it and their 063 machine is available in four variations, two of which are replay only (the point of which is somewhat elusive as the prime advantage of tape is the ability to record stuff). There is no denying that the Ballfinger machines are big, bold, impressive, apparently useful as chairs and have generated plenty of press coverage – much of it outside the traditional audiophile suburbs. The prices of the Ballfinger machines range from €9,997 to €23,980.

Not content to leave it to their German neighbours, the Swiss are getting in on the act too. Sadly, their machine is not from venerable open-reel manufacturer Revox but venerable turntable manufacturer Thorens. The TM 1600 tape machine is styled to match their revived TD 160 turntable. It’s sleek, classy, playback only, €11,999 and based on the Ballfinger (but you can’t sit on it). Meanwhile, the real reel deal, Revox, announced in 2016 that they had a new open-reel machine in development, called Project R2R.

Initially intended to be a playback only machine (why?) with a record version available at a later date. Its appearance suggests that it’s based on a Studer professional machine, but we’ll have to wait to find out more; it was slated to appear in 2017 but no sign of it just yet.

If you want a real Swiss reel machine, look to Metaxas & Sins, whose T-RX portable recorder resembles a Stellavox by way of Alien. It won’t be cheap but it is in production.

Open reel is a small but increasingly active field. At present confined to the highest of high end, there is plenty of scope for the rest of us to dip a toe into the reel world via the second-hand market. This is something we’ll return to in another blog.

Customer project – Gergő’s DCR experience

Dear EJ Jordan

The speakers are assembled and have been running for more than a week now. I decided to wait before sending you my listening impressions, so that I can get to know the speakers better. I’m a slow listener. 

I haven’t been particularly familiar with wide-range speakers and starting a DIY project was most definitely out of my comfort zone. The reason I chose to build the Eikona DCRs is primarily due to owning the 47 Labs Model 4717 amp (aka Shigaraki), which proved to be a transformative experience for me. I fell for its exceptionally unobtrusive way with music. So much so that maintaining this “unobtrusiveness” became my top priority in terms of system building. From a technical point of view, using a crossover-free design therefore made a lot of sense. Plus, as you know, the commercial version of the VTL, the Konus Essence became the reference speaker of Junji Kimura, the designer of 47 Labs, and that also gave me confidence that the Eikonas are the way to go. And I think it’s healthy to get out of your comfort zone occasionally. 

When I finished the speakers, I first placed them more or less at the same spot where my two-ways used to stand. I switched on my amp, played some music and listened. Then I got worried. I’ve tried my best not to expect anything particular, but what I’ve heard in the first few minutes was underwhelming for the most part: small, grey and closed-in sound. 

I’ve figured that these drivers might indeed need some play time to get them going. I went to sleep, dreamt about speaker placement, driver break-in and wiring issues and woke up very early in the next morning. 

I left the system on to play some music while I was preparing my breakfast. When I returned, something was different: I felt that the presentation became a touch cleaner and noticeably more effortless. And the music still didn’t sound right, and in particular, the soundstage was very diffuse. I’ve figured that this was obviously a placement issue, so I’ve started fine tuning front wall distance and toe-in. My first aim was to lock the vocals in the centre of the soundstage. A tiny increase of toe-in solved this issue. This surprised me. First, the proportionally huge effect of that tiny toe-in adjustment; second, the way it messed up the mixes of my records. 

Vocals were perfectly centred now, but I’ve also heard them way more forward as if the instruments were all mixed down a few dB-s compared to the vocals. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. However, at this stage it was pretty clear that all these speakers need is very careful placement. 


So I’ve experimented and I’ve soon learned how these speakers react to certain changes. This was again fascinating: these speakers are incredibly well-behaved and predictable if you pay attention to them and learn to “speak their language”. After a few more minute changes (we’re in the millimetre range here) everything just clicked. Again, a new experience for me. 

Once I’d managed to find the right spot for the speakers, magic started to unfold. The way the Eikonas just let the music flow into the room is amazing. Finally, I don’t feel like a spectator of the musical event, but as someone who is truly experiencing it. The sound of voices and instruments are incredibly real and solid. When a cymbal is hit, it is not just a sound, rather it feels like a multi-sensory experience: I can sense its “metal-ness”, its movement, its surface roughness. 

This brings me to the most valued aspect of the Eikona DCRs. Namely, that they are somehow capable of getting the very essence of music. And genre does not factor in. I’m a true musical omnivore, and so far I’ve heard these speakers playing a single acoustic guitar/blues, richly orchestrated pop/folk, classical, techno, experimental, reggae and metal. Yes, they’re truly stunning with vocals and acoustic instruments, but they’re also great with electronic instruments. I listened to two hours’ worth of deep house EPs last night, and I couldn’t stop sofa-dancing, because these speakers really get the groove. Should it go deeper? Sure, it would be the icing on a cake, which is already delicious! 

Metal. Full-range speakers can’t do it, right? I think, wrong. I’ve listened to Pantera and it was the balls-to-the-walls fun, full-on adrenalin rush that it’s supposed to be. I’ve listened to Kyuss and their guitars plugged into bass amps were fully there with their buzzing presence. It was heady and heavy at the same time just as it should be. Again, would it be better if the speakers slammed harder? Probably yes. Then again, I’ve heard speakers that go deeper, slam harder, yet most of them failed to deliver as much fun as the Eikonas – seemingly – effortlessly do. In fact most of them sounded stiff and stuck-up, as if they were trying hard to pretend to be cool, but in the process they just make it obvious that it’s all faking. And if fun is gone, what’s the point? 

Ok, I could go on and on, but as I look at word count, I already recall a quote, that I’ve read ages ago: “I’ve learned more about penguins from this book than I intended to “. I imagine you probably feel something similar by now. 🙂 

One more thing: besides the great sound and presentation, I also love these speakers because it’s extremely rewarding to go home and listen to speakers that I’ve built and know inside out. 

I also would like to thank you for your support! You really helped a lot with my build and actually you made me truly fall in love with the hobby. I think you’ve created a great vibe around the company, and a relaxed corner within the hifi world where it’s ok to ask, ok to experiment, ok to enjoy what you have. I’m happy to be a member of the Eikona owner family. 

Best regards, Gergő 

 

Update:

I’ve since added a subwoofer to my system, the B.K. Electronics XXLS400-FF specifically.

I’m using the high level connection and cross over at around 55 Hz. It mates with my DCRs seamlessly. Obviously the sub provides generous support at deep bass frequencies (some of my favourite music does require this), but it’s more than just added bass.

Interestingly, the sub enhanced the characteristics of the Eikonas, that are already great: the openness and size of the soundstage, the unimpeded forward momentum of the music, the transparency of mids and highs, etc. Since I’ve had precisely zero experience with subs, and even though I’ve read about this effect with regard to subs, hearing it is entirely different.

I’ve never seen it coming that a sub will make Skip James’s falsetto voice even more angelic, fragile and enveloping, but it did exactly that! So much so, that I know look at the sub as some sort of active acoustic treatment rather than a bass machine.

An elegant Eikona Array in Slovenia

One of the services EJ Jordan Designs has always provided is working closely with our customers. We do not just sell loudspeakers and move on; we’re happy to be involved in the design process until we have helped the customer attain the goal they are seeking.

We were recently contacted by a customer in Slovenia who has an elegant, stereo, high-end home theatre system. The loudspeakers he was using were a pair of Grundig Audioramas which, although fitting well visually, did not give him the natural-sounding quality he was after. The aim was to replace them with a pair of Eikona Arrays, built into the structure of his home theatre platform. The question was, how exactly?

There were two features we could immediately make use of – the pillars either side of the platform and a hidden sub-woofer which would provide bass below 80 – 100 Hz.

We went back and forth a few times, assessing the size of room and the preferred listening position. An early idea was to consider a pair of glass, open-baffles. Utilising the two side pillars cut down the width required, but the result was still something which was felt to be visually intrusive.

The process continued and eventually we arrived at a pair of sealed cabinets built onto the side pillars, based on our Triangular Array design. The baffles were angled to give the best stereo image and the cabinets were constructed to look like an integral part of the pillars.

The visual results can be seen below. 

How did our customer react to the sound?

“After a couple of hours I started with serious listening. The sound is very musical, there are lots of new details previously not heard (in other systems / speakers). The mid is just outstanding and I think nothing can compare to this (I used to own various loudspeakers like Martin Logans, Magnepans, Sonus Fabers, Soulsonic Impact, etc.). 

They are quite sensitive to ideal listening position – need sweet spot. Also vertical position is important to hear high frequencies. I regret not having placed drivers a few inches higher, but in the seating position, all is just fine. I have the impression that I’m inventing my tracks all over again. I think that using more Eikonas per speaker makes things better. I probably wouldn’t regret adding a pair or two more on each speaker. 

They look good and sound good. I don’t miss extra high frequencies and the bass is well integrated with my sub. Unlike with other loudspeakers, in this combination, I can’t hear when the sub comes in. I think the Eikona Array speakers would put to shame extremely expensive loudspeakers in terms of sound accuracy, musicality and rhythm. The frequency extremes don’t matter so much to me because 99% of music is happening in the frequency range of Eikona. 

Thank you again for all your support.”

 

 

 

Axiom to Eikona – a full-range loudspeaker journey

Ken Rownd is one of our US customers and he recently completed his first Eikona loudspeaker project – a larger version of our Reflex 7 enclosure. He had a number of questions along the way with which we were happy to help out. We asked what he thought of the final result and he was good enough to provide a full review. We hope you enjoy reading it:

I got my first full-range driver speaker some years ago, a 1950’s Stromberg Carlson mono receiver and speaker. Although I liked it, I considered it just a novelty. I have expensive (to me) multi-driver systems and massive subwoofers too. Over 40 years I have accumulated multiple systems, most of the amplifiers are from 1959 to 1963 with a couple from early 70s – all tube stuff. I love the old equipment.

A couple of years ago I saw a pair of big, beautiful, custom speaker boxes for cheap. I found they contained Electro Voice full-range drivers. I liked them so much they ended up in my bedroom.

I then read a little about the desirability of point source and minimal (or lack of) crossovers. So when a year later I saw two more beautiful custom boxes containing Goodmans Axiom 301 drivers – I purchased immediately. I love these Goodmans speakers, everyone to whom I show them say “they sound real”. These are mine forever.

Since I seem to like 40-50 year old full-range designs I decided to look for a modern system. I selected the Jordan Eikona 2, based on the designer’s previous work at Goodmans. I did not get to hear a sample and even had to purchase the drivers from the UK. Remember when you could take audio equipment home to audition? All I have near me are TV stores!

With a custom-guitar builder, I designed a box based on the Reflex 7. I went with a small box as I have too many speakers already and did not want another big box in case I did not like the result. The enclosure cabinets are made from Zebra wood, Peruvian Walnut, and Maple. The laser-cut grills are thin Birch plywood.

I found the initial sound of the Eikonas playing Janos Starker’s Cello (Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suites) to be stunning – in fact powerful. Blues and jazz vocals (Bonnie Raitt / Madeleine Peyroux) were brighter than I prefer.

EJ Jordan Designs say there is no break-in period on the Eikonas, however I found that 4-5 hours of operation tamed the brightness and days later it was completely gone (break-in or ear adjustment?).

I did increase the internal box volume for the Reflex 7 by about 40% but these are still a small speaker. I got a small subwoofer just in case but did not really want to use one. I do not have sound measurement equipment but test tones give strong response at 50Hz and very good response at 40Hz. The 30 Hz is audible but diminished.

I love the clean, articulate sound these speakers provide. They are surprisingly powerful even on symphony or rock music. I am a full-range driver convert for sure. 

As for box size – I wish mine were bigger just because the boxes came out looking so beautiful. For sound delivery these small boxes are everything I hoped for. I compared them to some massive cabs and came away impressed. The cab size does matter – the Goodmans and the Eikonas do not sound the same with a 1kHz tone applied.

As expected from the difference in driver sizes – the Eikonas have more high frequency energy while the Goodmans have more low frequency energy. Adding the sub gave the Eikonas louder bottom end but had marginal effect on my enjoyment.

The 4-inch cone Jordan Eikona 2s are a serious audio experience; mine are in a large room with vaulted ceilings and fill the air with powerful, controlled, convincing sound. I have auditioned them in 3 different systems and rooms using modest tube power.

I am so glad I got to take this trip. Are they better than the Goodmans? Perhaps. These two are a bit different but I find it very hard to choose between two systems that give such pleasurable performance. I am keeping my Goodmans – the Eikona reflex speakers are keepers as well.

EJJ Note: It is perhaps not surprising that Ken likes the Goodmans 301 as it was also worked on by Ted Jordan during his time as technical director at Goodmans

 

DIY – Pentagonal Transmission Line

The Jordan Eikona Transmission Line Array was published on our blog in December, after more than two years of development. The design has already proven popular, with several builds in progress. 

The prototypes were constructed by Ian, one of our new Eikona demonstrators and a member of the LencoHeaven forum. He has demonstrated the TLAs to a number of LencoHeaven members and the feedback has been extremely positive. We have collated a page of their listening impressions, which you can read here.

Meanwhile, we had an interesting request from Rob, a US customer who wanted to build an Eikona loudspeaker that was a little different. He was keen to build a pentagonal enclosure, having seen Simon Regan’s craftsman build. In discussion, we quickly narrowed the decision to an Array of four Eikonas, to get the required sensitivity for his low-powered SET tube amps (and also because he was attracted to the enhanced stereo imaging of the line source format). The next question was – which of our cabinet alignments would best suit his requirements?

Rob wanted the loudspeaker to be able to convey the weight of a double bass (the five-string instrument goes down to 31 Hz) so we settled on the TL Array.

Compared to the standard, rectangular cabinet, it is a more challenging construction project but the pentagon is aesthetically more interesting and its non-parallel cabinet walls reduce internal resonances. Placing the line divider at an angle is particularly effective at reducing reflections from the back of the Eikonas.

Click on the image at the top of this page for a closer view of the plan. The Pentagonal design has also been added to the TL Array Design Guide, which is available as a high-res PDF here.

Rob has begun work on his enclosures and we will publish photographs and his listening impressions as soon as they are available.