Just posted this response, but since it was my first post on that site, it will need administrator approval before being accessible to the public. So I'm posting it here as well...
First off, thanks to Amir for running these tests and conveying his appraisal.
We sent these speakers to be evaluated at the request of a customer. While the speakers were intended to be shipped from Amir to the customer after the tests were completed, yesterday we requested that they be shipped back to us for a closer inspection. Until they are returned and we’ve had a chance to evaluate them, I can’t comment on what we may find with respect to this particular pair.
That said, perhaps a review of the origins of this speaker might be in order.
As I’ve said many times in the past, speaker design is all about balancing trade-offs. There is no such thing as the “perfect” speaker.
About eight years ago, a customer requested we build a custom speaker he called the WOW1. The name came from the Seas Excel “W”12 and the “OW1” tweeter. As I recall, the reason he chose the Seas W12 was to match his existing speakers which used larger Seas Excel woofers.
In a perfect world, that might have been the only pair we ever built. But we don’t live in a perfect world.
Every day we receive emails asking us to recommend a speaker that can overcome issues related to an intended application. An example would be a situation where one speaker sits in an open area with plenty of room behind the speaker, while the other speaker must fit in a corner with a glass wall right next to it. Or a tower speaker that can’t be over 35” tall. The list is endless.
We also must deal with issues related to other household members. Comments like “my spouse will not agree to floor standing speakers,” or “my partner does not want to see any speakers,” are quite common.
After we designed that first pair of WOW1’s, we continued to get requests for speakers that were very small (mini-monitors) and would fit inside an existing bookshelf cavern or mounted on the wall…applications where rear porting was not feasible (rear porting is always an option).
We also had many requests for a small speaker that could be mounted on a wall for home theater surround duty, crossed to a sub at 80Hz.
Another common request is a small speaker to be used at relatively low volume levels for a computer monitor, again placed against a wall.
While none of these situations are necessarily ideal, the WOW1 design is the only design we currently have available that can meet those requirements. If another design would work better, we would certainly recommend it instead. But most often, interest in this design is related to obstacles that prevent the use of larger speakers, or even rear-ported speakers.
When someone orders a pair of these speakers, we normally like to know how they intend to use them. Often, they are used as computer monitors, surround speakers crossed at 80Hz, crossed with a sub in a small system or for casual background music in a den or bedroom. If not, we normally recommend they look at another, better suited design. After all, it makes no sense to sell someone a speaker that would not work for them, especially when selling direct on the internet where negative comments can spread quickly.
We have another design called the SongBird. When people attempt to order them, I most often encourage them to look at the SongTowers instead. The SongBirds are a wonderful sounding speaker. But the sensitivity is low and the power handling is limited. Some potential purchasers have indicated that they rarely ever crank the speakers up to high SPL’s. I make sure they understand that they can never do it with this design. And yet, in the right situation, it is a particularly good speaker.
The WOW1’s were never intended to be main speakers in a serious listening environment. We obviously wouldn’t choose a 4” woofer for that purpose. As was pointed out, this driver would be better suited as a midrange. But a larger woofer is simply not an option on a speaker of this size. And even that size is considered too large for some. The other day I received an email asking if we could reduce the WOW1 height for a bookshelf application that only allowed a 10” tall speaker. Another customer asked if we could build a speaker that was 10” on a side and played at SPL levels of 110 – 115 db (we obviously passed on that one). We deal with these sorts of requests every day.
While perhaps not a perfect solution, sometimes a design such as this is the only viable option. That said, this design has only received positive reviews and very positive comments from scores of owners who are perfectly happy with them. None have ever been returned.
I should add here that I personally use these for surround speakers in my dedicated home theater and am very happy with them – and I’m quite picky.
Since driver technology has advanced in the last eight years, why wouldn’t we design a mini-monitor that used a superior driver combination and dealt more effectively with the front port issues? For one reason: there is no money in speakers in this size and price range. It is like in-wall speakers. We are constantly asked whether we would be willing to produce custom in-wall speakers. The answer is always no. No matter how well they are designed, there are simply too many compromises. We would rather spend our time working on more cutting-edge designs like one on the drawing boards now - a project which will introduce a novel new tweeter concept.
I noted several comments concerning powered speakers with DSP. I completely agree that all issues noted could be addressed with this approach.
A few years ago, we did a slightly larger powered monitor we called the PowerPlay. It had the flattest response of any speaker we have ever offered. And when auditioned at shows and audiophile society meetings, it received nothing but rave comments. But there was zero demand for the design. The only pair we ever sold was the original prototype pair.
While I may wish it was different, powered speakers are of no interest to our customers.
Converting this to an active speaker would only serve to add cost to a design in a field that is already crowded. And there would not be much margin in it. This is better left to a high-volume manufacturer.
When these WOW1s return, we will evaluate them and determine the nature of the issues here.