Audio products handmade solely in pursuit of the best value engineering and also the most beautiful sound quality that can be attained from traditional materials.
We have done steady, iterative research and development on single driver loudspeakers and the appropriate cables and amplification for them in our own dedicated workshops and development spaces for over a decade, considering and/or incorporating every new technology related to single driver loudspeakers with a sense of curiosity and willingness along the way. Over time, improvements to in-house processes have accrued to the point that it has given us our house sound.
The original lineage of audio technology we are tapping into goes back to the earliest days of (enjoyable) audio reproduction.
Audio demonstrations used to be a common circus trick in the late 1800's. Over time, fidelity improved, as did the complexity of recorded music. Now, a loudspeaker's task is to be able to play not only our musical heritage, but also be able to keep up with recordings and recording techniques that haven't even been developed yet. A good loudspeaker links all of musical history, present, and future together in one enjoyable piece of furniture.
Initially, Blumenstein Audio was named Blumenstein Ultra Fi. "Ultra Fi," After the Ultra Fi movement of extreme audiophiles in European and Japanese audio designers and hobbyists starting in the late 1950's - many of them importing and modifying the original American audio classics from the 1920's, 30's and 40's. Eventually, European and Japanese designers would contribute heavily to the audio industry in the 1960's and 1970's. Blumenstein Ultra Fi represented the full circle echo of the ideas and engineering that travelled around the world before coming back here to US soil - in the form of some of our closest industry allies and prior mentors.
Why single driver/wide range direct radiator instead of horn loudspeakers?
While Horn speakers can also be traced back to the earliest days of audio, lets face it - unless they are very expensively/thoroughly designed, horns honk. The also suffer from a lack of integration across the entire frequency band. Akin to a comparison between a vehicle with a narrow powerband motor requiring multiple gears versus a single speed transmission given sufficient torque from the motor to drive at any speed without shifting.
Our own body of work is classic-inspired but miniaturized, wide-operable-band Helmholtz resonator (bass-reflex) speaker and subwoofer designs we arrived at by generationally adjusting our enclosures over time to the actual power band properties of the speaker drivers that we have been receiving from our suppliers for years on end. We have also listened to our client's feedback in order to arrive at the drive units that we use in our production loudspeakers.
Every driver we currently offer as a production model has passed numerous conventional and unconventional tests for durability and sound quality under real world circumstances. We have found that when carefully tuned, with tank-like build quality, a properly made bass reflex enclosure can perform extraordinarily well with single driver or subwoofer speaker drivers.
Our cables keep pace in sound quality with some of the best of the modern brands, yet have a higher quality build than is typical at our pricepoints, and an unconventionally supple feel to the hand - just like our speakers' smooth sanded, linseed oiled finish.
The unifying design philosophy we have is that each individual component we make will let another world of nuance come through any system that it is added to. By extension, a fully rigged complete Blumenstein system, including speakers, cables, subwoofers, and audio furniture and accessories is designed to work together both sonically and ergonomically in a more uniquely thought-out way than any other stereo system on the market is designed to be able to operate. Our futuristic sounding and looking audio designs from traditional materials are also made to last.
Handmade speakers: smaller, but more powerful.
The most important results of our research and development are counter-intuitive to have actually worked out in these ways. For instance, over time our full range speakers have been able to become smaller yet more accurate and make more and better bass. Our subwoofers have become more efficient and simultaneously smaller and also make more and better bass. Our floor stands have become lighter weight and better sounding. Our cables are more flexible, less delicate, but sound even more purist.
Furthermore, as all our designs have become smaller and simpler in production, they have been able to describe a more complex sound, resolve detail, and communicate musical to the listener like never before. We pass this benefit on to our customers in the form of reasonable prices. We feel that the pinnacle of an American design is to be historically informed, purist, and deliver competitive performance for the price.
Less is more
We've seen this happen time and again across cross disciplinary studies. Less is More, when a fresh, simpler design concept discovers higher quality materials and careful production techniques that revolve around the primary sense in question - the sound quality.
Our fullrange speaker and subwoofer cabinet designs prove that the acoustic environment and presentation of far larger loudspeakers can indeed come from compact wooden speaker enclosures, but the materials and construction must be of sufficiently high quality and balanced in strength in order to reliably attain ideal acoustic behavior. In the process of pursuing this goal, we arrived at even better sound quality than we could have ever imagined! In a sense, there is less to go wrong in a smaller but more carefully tuned speaker enclosure. Just like the way that small race cars handle the twisty bits with ease that flat out embarrasses larger, chunkier, messier race car designs.
Wide range / full range
Viable, great sounding full range driver technology already existed for almost 90 years when we started our quest for the golden tone in our commercial loudspeaker products 10 years ago. And the question seems to remain within the audio industry: Why not have the majority of the octaves covered by a single, musical, extremely talented direct radiator speaker driver?
Really: why not single driver?
- Our ear has a single full range Timpanic membrane
- Microphones are generally full range diaphragms
- There is a single pair of speaker wires coming from the back of your amplifier.
Why not hook up the unfiltered fullrange signal from that single pair of speaker wires to a wide range / full range radiator speaker driver of tasteful sonic design, and then only use the supporting frequencies that you must and in a fully intentional, minimalist, yet effective way in terms of the drain from the voltage of your amplifier. (like the active crossover inside our Modular Outboard Subwoofer Amplifier or the whisper of voltage needed to run our supertweeter found in the Triton).
We feel like the real race that needs to be run has been the same one all along - to convince the ear, brain, and heart (beat) that the music is entire, complete, and real. Almost 100 years into direct radiator speaker design, realistic sound quality still comes from wide range / full range paper cones, and wood enclosures. And so we went looking to natural, traditional materials and materials science for our next sources of inspiration.
One way to understand the uniqueness of the construction of our speakers is to list off the physical parts they do not have and then list back what they do have.
They have miniscule damping, no/minimal tweeter (1 octave supertweeter on Triton), and all models make the most effective use of subwoofer energy - if a subwoofer is desired in the system.
Still, no extraneous drivers, no capacitors, resistors or inductors (no crossover), no equalization, (no BSC, no Zobel network, etc.), no biscuits, no miters, no paint, no primer, no lacquer, no solderless clips, no grill cloth, no nails, no threaded inserts, no spikes, no unnecessary curves, no nameplate, no structural plastic, no terminal cups, no removable panels, and no extra internal chambers.
More wood and less everything else
Instead of allowing the acoustic environment of the speaker cabinet to be slowed down by all those unnecessary design crutches, Blumenstein speakers are made of just wood, glue, and finish. But the finest woods we can source, the strongest glue on the market, and the finest, most traditional finish we could find. These simple, but highest quality ingredients, kept in balance, produces a totally natural sound free from the typical anomalies (frequency, phase, dynamic, and impulse response) that are considered to be par for the course handicaps to traditional speaker designs.
For instance, The necessity to attain a flat frequency response led us to use technically slightly less efficient single driver speakers, but mounted to stronger yet lighter weight, undamped, and therefore energy efficient cabinets. The end result is a high efficiency speaker that wakes up sooner and is better matched to the creamier sounding range of power output from your amplifier. Most importantly, because we are not using hot, trebly full range drivers to artificially up our average efficiency specifications, that means that our speakers are actually there all along - delivering on the bottom end.
As a rare treat from a single driver speaker design, our Our Orca, Marlin, Triton, and Benthic actually make bass - and gobs of it! But extremely clean, tight - and delicately room tune-able as it should be.
The point is that our unique high efficiency bass reflex cabinets, which produce inherently clean, clear, and pure midrange because of the materials and construction quality, are not then burdened with trying to cover up nasty mid and high frequencies with massive wads of speaker stuffing. And so the bass from our speakers is uncharacteristically powerful, "in room," and well defined.
But moreover, we are focused on making speakers that are appropriate for the human environment - your actual home. We are focused on making speakers that yield extraordinary results in normal situations and every day volume levels as well as the higher volumes needed in critical listening environments.
High efficiency full range system design
Your amplifiers drive our full range speakers (Orcas, Marlins, or Tritons) in the high, mid, and bass frequencies simultaneously with extremely wide and even dispersion down to their lowest acoustic cutoff frequency of 45hz (Triton), 80hz (Orca), or 90hz (Marlin). Below that frequency, the sub takes over. Therefore, your main stereo amplifier is only "seeing" the power requirements of driving the bass of the full range speakers, which enhances overall headroom.
To drive the subwoofer, your stereo amplifier sends a small amount of voltage into the "high level inputs" of the active crossover of the Outboard subwoofer amplifier. This is a stable, minimal load that does not affect the sound of the fullrange speakers, which are still being run full range without any signal filtration.
This means that the your main stereo amplifier only has to deal with the wattage needs and electro/magnetic feedback/noise of one small, lightweight and utterly easy to drive fullrange driver and perhaps a whisper coming from a super tweeter. The true difficulty of driving the subwoofer driver and making the lowest of the low frequencies in a way that will blend in with the full range speakers is left to the more naturally capable paper cone subwoofer driver, rigid wooden cabinet built on the same platform as the full range speaker cabinets, and high quality subwoofer amplifier with an active crossover.
This is one of the main keys to our speaker systems' reputation for high efficiency and clarity in the bass - is that they are an easy load in the bass range by allowing the use of powerful, high quality subwoofers. (and also, by using appropriate subwoofer high level input cables - the Anchor Chain). Our speakers make ample volume with low power because of the way they use that power. Just the same way that turbo charging a race car can be done elegantly, or messily - and it seems that every manufacturer seems to have a different goal in mind.
Our goal is to simply make the music more enjoyable, emotive, and enveloping for the listener. Our sound systems will take you to outer space - and back.
We have created a topology of strategic bracing and pre/post tensioning of the cabinet and driver parts, developed over literally thousands of hours and iterations across years of independent research and development that assures the specific strength to weight ratio of our cabinets can be attained reliably in our shop's day to day production processes.
We assemble our cabinets using the classic yet minimalist style of all-glue butt joinery, without added fasteners of any kind. This allows the pieces to assume their natural, unstressed positions during construction, and are allowed to cure in this acoustically harmonious arrangement once the glue dries. By gluing an entire cabinet at once, we are able to carefully control the amount of pressure that is placed on each clamp by hand, thereby tuning each speaker during construction — much like a musical instrument. This style of assembly also allows the cabinet walls to settle ever so slightly over time in a pre-calculated manner, as is absolutely necessary for the longest-lasting woodwork. The cabinet's overall construction and the parts used are extremely rugged, moisture resistant, user serviceable, even user repairable, generations down the road — much like a guitar or violin. If you are looking for speaker to last and even mature in sound quality and visual effect as a piece of furniture for generations, then look no further.
Precision in form is power in function
We machine our speaker parts entirely in house with top quality hand-operated equipment following precision-made patterns — ensuring high accuracy, high speed, and low energy consumption. The use of hand tools also provides us with the best and most reliable quality control - a craftsman's eye.
Our speaker designs are not only acoustically optimized, but mathematically optimized for the greatest yield from a sheet of plywood. Less than 6% of our speaker panels become scrap or dust, considering all of our production processes combined. This helps keep the price of our speakers down because we are not diverting our skilled time and materials to deal with the trash, nor are we unnecessarily wasting the expensive materials that constitute such a large part of the retail price. Our wood alone cost up to 10 times as much as MDF, which most speakers, even very "high-end" ones, are made of. Yet, we could not make our speakers sound half as good without top quality woods and construction processes.
The industry leading quality of our woodwork comes by no mistake.
All of our products are rough sanded then polished through the highest grits in order to achieve their completely smooth surface. This is a vital step to do justice to a cabinet's potential to both look and last beautifully.
To finish the cabinets, we use Tried & True Danish oil, a polymerized linseed oil sourced from upstate New York. This finish was developed from a 200-year-old coach maker's varnish recipe, and we hand-rub and hand-polish it on our speakers in the traditional technique.
Without the help of any added dryers and solvents, this non-toxic finish gives the cabinet surfaces a beautifully understated shine.
For over 10 years, every step of our production has been done with hand tools or hand operated power tools.
The final stage is for the drivers to be carefully affixed to the speaker cabinets and then the speakers' sound is compared with our reference models. After so many different quality-control checkpoints, the only true "pass or fail" mark is decided at this point — when the speakers become audible.
Finally, the speakers are packaged carefully, and sent to music lovers around the world. It is our hope that our speakers can be of valuable service for many decades.
Our work doesn't stop in the shop. Every purchase from Blumenstein Audio also comes with long-term support and setup advice. We welcome you to join our dedicated community of owners who know no substitute for the true quality of our products.
With their unconventionally wide high frequency dispersion angle, the virtual point source fullrange drivers of our speakers produce a clear and unwavering presentation of the actual space a recording was made in and produce satisfying bass at high or low volume levels, with or without a matching subwoofer.
Paper cone full-range drivers with large magnetic circuit yields high efficiency, excellent detail retrieval, and powerful room presence.
Cabinets are carefully glued by hand with optimal clamp tension to ensure the ideal final tone is developed, which is critical in an enclosure with minimal sound absorbing material to sound so completely unstressed and balanced.
Solid wood flared bass reflex ports (not plastic) are sanded smooth on the inside to eliminate turbulence. This is the key to the unexpectedly powerful bass and lower mid-range presence for speakers this size.
Low resistance internal wiring yields the maximum potential for bass output from any amplifier.
- Finished with hand-rubbed non-toxic linseed oil. This finish, unlike paint or lacquer, is easy to maintain by the customer for years to come.