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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Wardsweb Series III Speakers
by Luther Ward

[img]http://wardsweb.org/misc/series3.jpg[/img]
You hear a lot about book shelf and wall mount speakers these days. Be it limited space or the often quoted “wife acceptance factor”, there are manufacturers who focus on this market and others who have added to their lineup. The speakers you are being presented with in this review won’t come anywhere close to disappearing in a room. The Wardsweb Series III speakers are quite the contrary.

At 47 inches tall, 24 inches deep and around 300 pounds each, these speakers stand out in a room. I will go as far as to say, these speakers make a visual statement. Now if they were just another pretty speaker, this would be a very short review, but once they grab your attention with their sleek lines and exotic wood, these speakers hold on to it with music; beautiful aural bliss.




[img]http://wardsweb.org/misc/design.gif[/img]

Design

You notice immediately the design goes beyond your traditional box speakers. They remind you more of a nice piece of Italian furniture with their slowly curving sides and rich sapele pommel veneer in a high gloss finish. Even the grills continue this gentle arc across the front.

Technically these speakers work to encompass the strengths from a combination of horns and conventional drivers. They garner the openness of a large mid horn with the dynamic bass of a 15 inch woofer and the high end detail from a horn tweeter.

The drivers used to accomplish this include the JBL 077 compression driver tweeter with the acrylic phase plug, the Altec 511B horn mated with the Altec 802-8G driver that utilizes their patented tangerine phase plug and the hefty 22 pound JBL 2235H woofer that dips down into sub territory.





Construction

[img]http://wardsweb.org/misc/backbonesm.gif[/img]
The backbone and frame are CNC machined from 3/4” Baltic birch. The rest is made from ¾” MDF and or a combination of both. The sides are four layers of kerf MDF. The slots in the kerf MDF of each speaker are filled with 12 pounds of glass beads used in bead blasting. The interior of the cabinet is sprayed with a rubberized sound deadening material with fiberglass batting covering it. This works to achieve a cabinet that is acoustically dead.

The cabinet is covered in African sapele pommele veneer and finished with 14 coats of gloss lacquer. The cabinets sit on custom machined feet made from 6061 billet aluminum. All of this working together to give you a speaker with both an elegant beauty and a robust presence.




Listening

Melody Gardot – My One and Only Thrill - Your Heart is as Black as Night (vinyl)
Here the Series III speakers make use of the mastering genius of world renowned Bernie Grudnman. The horns give depth to the music and the imaging comes to life. This brings Melody into the room. Close your eyes and you believe she is there with you. The bass notes adding a lush feel to the whole experience.

Bill Evans Trio – Waltz for Debby (reel to reel)
This iconic album recorded live at the Village Vangard in June of 1961 is well known through out the jazz community. Once again these speakers allow you to be part of this trio’s performance. The notes from Bill Evan’s piano ring true and the decay hangs in the air. Every nuance is heard in detail from the subtle background of patrons to Scott LaFaro’s mastery of the upright bass. Paul Motian snare is crisp and the hi-hat sizzles. The three drivers of each speaker come together to present the music very much in the same way this trio’s instruments created it.

Steely Dan – AJA – Title track (vinyl)
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker released this album in 1977. It won a Grammy award the following year and has gone on to become a classic. The influences of rock, jazz and blues create music with layers these speakers take in stride, like a walk in the park. The piano of Donald Fagen, the guitar riffs of Walter Becker, the percussion of the snare and hi-hat in Steve Gadd’s hands, and the tenor sax of Wayne Shorter (Yes, from Weather Report) all come to life, presented both individually and as a whole. Each instrument comes through clean and clear. Think of it like the difference of hearing music in the next room and then walking into the room. The music opens up and is no longer veiled.

Conclusion

The large mid horn will please listeners with an open and airy sound that just seems real, never “shouty” and never fatiguing while the horn tweeter adds just the right amount of sizzle. They will realize they can actually feel the deep bass even at lower listening levels, giving a richness to the music that is controlled and tight.

In a world of iPod earbuds and stand mount speakers, the Series III speakers seem like a throwback to the days of old when speakers were furniture. Yes, they are large and that alone may throw some people off, but for those with the room or those willing to make space available, these speakers will not disappoint. The ability to cover a wide range of music, from room shaking rock to delicate woodwind ensembles, allows these speakers to be right at home with a broad range of listeners. Be careful, you may find yourself loving large speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Here it is, kind of a mini review of my DIY speakers taken from an outside point of view. Let me know what you like, what you don't like, what you would change, edit, add, etc... Writing is hard enough but reviewing something I made is very difficult, trying to balance tech detail with a more conversational evaluation. That and I'm more tech oriented than prose writer.

Love it or hate it, hit me with it. It is the only way to learn.
 

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I have not forgot you Luther... I have just been swamped and need to take time to analyze this. I will try to tomorrow some time.
 

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Hey Luther...

I have taken a few minutes to read this. Just a few thoughts.

Did you see my post about the format guidelines we would like to use? I think I mention about 1500 words being the minimum, but we prefer 2,000 or more if possible.

You stated, Now if they were just another pretty speaker, this would be a very short review

By our standards it would be a very short review... or what we might call a mini-review with less than 900 words.

I assume this is the case because these are DIY speakers?

Of what I see I like well enough, but we definitely need to see you do something with more substance in the review. What about the Klipschorns?

Do you have ability to do any kind of measurements?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I knew it was short. I was trying to just get something down on paper and see what the responses were.

What kind of substance? What kinds of things do you think are missing? What would you like to know about the speaker, the design, the construction, the sound or something else? What are the readers looking for, interested in or what are we wanting to give them?

I could ramble on in the review but I don't know that it would add anything but word count.
 

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You could give some information about the company. Who they are, where they are, where the product is manufactured and the credentials of the top designers or owners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You could give some information about the company. Who they are, where they are, where the product is manufactured and the credentials of the top designers or owners.
For any other speaker that would be easy. For a speaker I built it goes into direct conflict with the first rule of reviewing I was told many years ago; Don't talk to much about yourself in reviews--that's for editorials, columns, etc.

That is why this review is somewhat different from a normal review for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Speaking of reviewing, here are some rules I was given years ago and have been confirmed in varying degrees by Steven R. Rochlin of Enjoy the Music, Jeff Dorgay of ToneAudio, Marc Phillips of The Vinyl Anachronist and Colleen Cardas of Cardas Cable


Do not talk to much about yourself in reviews--that's for editorials, columns, etc.

Do not speak in terms of me, myself and I.

Never start off by telling the story of how/why the editor gave you the particular product for review. No one cares.

Don't directly compare a product to another product; someone has to lose and you'll make them mad.

If you really don't like a product, it's better to pass on the review than to completely trash it. If it turns out you did something wrong, or it's not compatible with something in your system, you'll lose credibility. If there's a problem or if it sounds terrible, speak with the manufacturer first and discuss the problem.

Keep it simple; listen and report what you hear as honestly as possible. It sounds obvious, but sometimes politics or biases creep in and corrupt your review. Clear your head and stick to the facts.

Avoid the "b" word...BEST. Nothing is the absolute best.

Now having said all that, I do notice the reviews here write a lot from first person. The reviewer speaking of his background, his thoughts, his experiences. I will be more than happy to follow suit. It will make writing a lot easier.

Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks
 

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We certainly do not want ramblings... we prefer it be relevant. That is why I suggested the Klipschhorns so that you would have more to talk about.

Do you have the ability to do any measurements?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
We certainly do not want ramblings... we prefer it be relevant. That is why I suggested the Klipschhorns so that you would have more to talk about.

Do you have the ability to do any measurements?
If I switch to first person and speak from my perspective, I can rewrite my review and give you something to compare too. There is much more to be added by doing that.

If you would prefer a new review on the Jubilee speakers, I can do that.

I do not have any ability to measure speakers.
 

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Since I read every single review all you guys do, I must say I actually enjoy that they are written in first person. To me, this harkens to something I see JJ say a lot - because we do not have a storefront, we strive to provide as honest an opinion as possible when we reply and provide information.

If I had any concern that one of our reviewers had a personal agenda, I guess it would detract from any review that person does and it's validity. However, as I do not believe this to be the case, I think it follows suit with what we are all about (IMO) - simply providing information in as personal a way as possible.

Just my .02.
 

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I am terrible with that... I think I speak in first, second and third person when I have done my reviews. :dizzy:
 

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I have written reviews as well as informative articles online, and IMO it is important to pick one (1st, 2nd, or 3rd person) and stick with it. Some apply better than others to certain types of content, but switching back and forth can confuse readers. (that's not a dig at Sonnie - just my observation :T)

In the context of a review, if we do not refer to ourselves (i.e. what we hear, see, feel) it may tend to sound more like a brochure or advertisement. By communicating our personal connection to, and experience with the product, we can offer our readers more insight than a page in a catalog.

Having said that, Luther's list of rules offers some great guidelines IMO. Not all readers will be interested in knowing the reviewer on a personal level, so I personally try to avoid talking about myself just to add more words to a review. I also try to maintain simplicity and honesty in anything I write, which is clearly a goal of HTS as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Since I read every single review all you guys do, I must say I actually enjoy that they are written in first person. To me, this harkens to something I see JJ say a lot - because we do not have a storefront, we strive to provide as honest an opinion as possible when we reply and provide information.

If I had any concern that one of our reviewers had a personal agenda, I guess it would detract from any review that person does and it's validity. However, as I do not believe this to be the case, I think it follows suit with what we are all about (IMO) - simply providing information in as personal a way as possible.

Just my .02.
Thanks for the feedback. I too think just speaking like you're talking with a friend lends itself to a freindly honest conversational tone. I guess I should just write these as myself and not as a reviewer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Oh, and BTW - beautiful speakers!
Thanks, they are a labor of love. I called them Series III, because they are the third build to find my perfect speaker. The others were Altec 2-way horns and then JBL 2-way corner horns.

Will you be at Dale's tomorrow? I will be driving over from San Antonio.
 

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Speaking of reviewing, here are some rules I was given years ago and have been confirmed in varying degrees by Steven R. Rochlin of Enjoy the Music, Jeff Dorgay of ToneAudio, Marc Phillips of The Vinyl Anachronist and Colleen Cardas of Cardas Cable


Do not talk to much about yourself in reviews--that's for editorials, columns, etc.

Do not speak in terms of me, myself and I.

Never start off by telling the story of how/why the editor gave you the particular product for review. No one cares.

Don't directly compare a product to another product; someone has to lose and you'll make them mad.

If you really don't like a product, it's better to pass on the review than to completely trash it. If it turns out you did something wrong, or it's not compatible with something in your system, you'll lose credibility. If there's a problem or if it sounds terrible, speak with the manufacturer first and discuss the problem.

Keep it simple; listen and report what you hear as honestly as possible. It sounds obvious, but sometimes politics or biases creep in and corrupt your review. Clear your head and stick to the facts.

Avoid the "b" word...BEST. Nothing is the absolute best.

Now having said all that, I do notice the reviews here write a lot from first person. The reviewer speaking of his background, his thoughts, his experiences. I will be more than happy to follow suit. It will make writing a lot easier.

Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks
Those are some good points that we should consider implementing.

There is that perception of "mini" reviews that we have to overcome if we make it short. I think the preference is that a reader will see the review as more credible if it is longer, provided there is sufficient substance to the review. That does not mean there will not be any boring parts to some, such as specifications. What we don't want is the reader to have to leave the review to find out more about the product... that is if we can help it. I think that is why we place the specifications within spoiler tags. If the reader wants to see something to do with the specifications, they click a button and don't have to go to the manufacturers site. If they don't care about the specs, it won't be in the way of taking up space in the review.

I think there is a combination that can give us what we need.


As far as the reviewer talking about themselves, I agree with that. What I like is what Dale suggested to me about having profiles on the reviewer. Some readers may want to know more about you. "Who is this guy?" What we may do is have an area where our reviewers offer a profile of themselves along with a list of the reviews you have completed here at HTS. When we prepare the review we can place, "by Dale Rasco" below the title... and have Dale Rasco link to his profile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Those are some good points that we should consider implementing.

There is that perception of "mini" reviews that we have to overcome if we make it short. I think the preference is that a reader will see the review as more credible if it is longer, provided there is sufficient substance to the review. That does not mean there will not be any boring parts to some, such as specifications. What we don't want is the reader to have to leave the review to find out more about the product... that is if we can help it. I think that is why we place the specifications within spoiler tags. If the reader wants to see something to do with the specifications, they click a button and don't have to go to the manufacturers site. If they don't care about the specs, it won't be in the way of taking up space in the review.

I think there is a combination that can give us what we need.


As far as the reviewer talking about themselves, I agree with that. What I like is what Dale suggested to me about having profiles on the reviewer. Some readers may want to know more about you. "Who is this guy?" What we may do is have an area where our reviewers offer a profile of themselves along with a list of the reviews you have completed here at HTS. When we prepare the review we can place, "by Dale Rasco" below the title... and have Dale Rasco link to his profile.
Yes I can add the specs on each of the drivers under a spoiler link. I didn't know how in depth you wanted to go. As I mentioned before, I've very technical. Things I may find interested can easily bore or fly over someone's head. I don't want to loose the reader.

I think for me speaking in a more conversational tone and putting tech in spoilers would work well. I also like the idea of a reviewer's bio. I do not think many here, if any, know who I am.
 
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