I’ve been covering a lot of open-baffle speakers at audio shows these days, and many of them are more recent to the marketplace. Opinions, like winds, are changing about open-baffle loudspeakers. Either people are finally listening to their ears or the chatter on the internet is making it easier for people to feel comfortable in converting and subverting conventional wisdom. Don’t mistake this as the death of the two-drivers in a box, but more the realization that there is definitely more than one way to skin a cat.
Manzanita Audio of Kerrville, Texas has added itself to the growing list of impressive open-baffle loudspeakers that I’ve heard. On active demonstration at the Lone Star Audio Fest 2019 was Manzanita’s Widow Maker III loudspeaker. The WM-III is a true three-way floorstanding H-Frame open-baffle speaker. From the photos included, you can see that the bass loading is asymmetrical, and shallow cardioid in design. The mid-range is open-baffle, while the tweeter is in typical monopole configuration. Crossover is passive and Linkwitz-Riley 2nd order. Impedance is an amplifier friendly 6-ohms.
Each tower contains two fifteen-inch treated ribbed paper-cone woofers with rubber surrounds flesh out the low-end. A single 7-inch mid-range driver, also of the treated composite paper cone type and rubber surround, handles frequencies from 225hz on up to 2,250hz. A single 1-inch silk-dome tweeter carries the high-end frequencies from there up, with the aid of a frontal wave-guide and large rear chamber and ferrofluid cooling. All of the mid-range and tweeter drivers utilize robust FEA optimized ferrite motor systems. Overall frequency measurements range from 32hz-18,500hz give or take 3db. However these figures are room placement dependant and typical listening distances.
During my listening sessions I found the experience to be refreshingly smooth. In some sense, I’d even say the impression I got was that of a vintage sound, with nudges of modern day refinement. Top-end was slightly laid-back, and bass was proud and deep. The Ming Da amplifier drove the pair quite well, as the speaker system’s overall efficiency is rated at 91db/watt and with an RMS minimum of 15-watts. Even though we had 70wpc available in triode mode from the Ming Da’s KT150s, the need for all of that power seemed uncalled for. The system played loud and in control as the volume knob stayed in relatively conservative territory. The smooth presentation of mid-range and treble, while exhibiting complementary bass has put the Manzanita Audio Widow Maker III in my favor. It is easily my favourite open-baffle loudspeaker of the Lone Star Audio Fest.
Widow Maker III Open Baffle Loudspeaker (3-way) – $4,750 pr USD
MC 368-B150 Class-A Integrated Amplifier (KT150 / 70wpc Triode)
100 Series CD Player
By Eric Shook