Eminence Beta 12LTA on Open Baffle

Eminence Beta 12LTA on open baffle

This is my favorite ‘full range’ speaker even tho it’s not really full range. It gets nearly everything right – but you must modify it in order to smooth out its roughness and add a super tweeter to extend its high frequencies. It can be used in sealed, ported or open baffle type cabinets. I’ve even read about a monster sized BIB back horn that lives somewhere. I use the 12LTA on an open baffle. In addition, a helper woofer in the form of a powered H-frame, provides bass.

The Eminence Beta 12LTA frequency response extends high enough into the treble that adding a super tweeter seamlessly is easy. I’ve tried the old Radio Shack pod super tweeters with good results. I’ve also tried the Eminence ASD 1001 with better results.

Modifying the 12LTA is easy. Just remove the dustcap. Once removed the sonic character of the driver smoothes out noticeably. Further smoothing results when fitting the driver with a phase plug. A pair of phase plugs was donated to me by JRKO. Thanks, they are awesome! The sonic difference between adding the phase plug and not was minimal to my ears even tho the charts below indicate improved performance. Simply removing the dusctap is all that’s required to eliminate a slight cupped quality.

beta-12lta-measurements

Eminence Beta 12LTA measurements with and without dustcap.

Link to original thread at diyaudio.com:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/full-range/179161-beta-12lta-3cf-box-port-size-10.html#post2429767

Immediately, I was smitten by this driver. I’m a full range driver fanatic. I love the coherence a speaker without a crossover can provide, but the 12LTA also has dynamic power none of the drivers in my collection exhibit. This dynamic power is expressed as an easy confidence. From the most delicate violin to the most complex orchestral swings, the 12LTA handles everything with aplomb. Even Rock & Roll sounds great, something most full rangers can’t claim.

Having experimented with several full range drivers on open baffle it was just a matter of time before trying the 12LTA. Interestingly, in my system, any driver from 3″ all the way up to 12″ uses the same form factor – a simple 19″ x 19″ baffle sitting on top of an H-frame.

The tweeter simply utilizes a 1.33uf capacitor as its crossover, nothing else is needed. Treble is only as good as the supporting tweeter – but it must be efficient! Pro Sound compression tweeters are a good match for the 12LTA and since this application uses just the tippy top octaves of what the tweeter produces the harshness is eliminated. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how nice Pro Sound tweeters sounded when implemented this way. It’s a tricky thing finding the right capacitor to use with a tweeter in any application. Even tho I settled on 1.33 for the ADS 1001 tweaking the treble up a notch on the Spotify EQ brightened things up nicely without introducing any additional sibilance or other unwanted artifacts. In other words, I liked how the speaker sounded when I raised the treble.

The Eminence Beta 12LTA is rated at 97db per watt. This is the most efficient driver I have. It’s clearly more efficient than the Fostex 168z and Tangband 1808 which are rated at 94db and 93db respectively. The 12LTA bristles to life with just a few watts and sings beautifully with low powered tube or digital amps. It even rocks with solid state! If you’re seeking high efficiency, this driver is tough to beat – and that includes Lowther, among other pricy full rangers.

The driver’s balance is warm and full thru the midrange. Critically, I’d say male vocals are nearly perfectly reproduced while female vocals are slightly less realistically rendered. This is where blending the tweeter is critical or Norah Jones and Diana Krall will sound slightly cupped. But this is an easy fix given some patience integrating the tweeter. I’d recommend experimenting with capacitor values between .47uf and 2uf. I started with 2uf (which was too bright) and worked my way down to .47uf (which was too dull). The tweeter you select will determine the best capacitor values.

Once you have dialed in your tweeter to taste the 12LTA is incredibly musical. On open baffle, imaging is superb. Instruments pop like nothing I’ve heard before. Musicians occupy their own space and the image produced is very broad and deep. I understand this is contrary to typical audiophile theory that smaller drivers and slimmer cabinets have superior imaging but this is not what I hear. A handful of better drivers produce ghostlike imaging some of the time but none as consistent as the 12LTA. Additionally, crescendos swell like nothing I’ve heard before. In my home, there seems to be more than sufficient headroom – these speakers play very loud!

The superior imaging can also be attributed to the driver being on an open baffle. Personally, I feel open baffle produces the most realistic imaging. But this is a preference not everyone shares.

I love music and can enjoy long listening sessions with many full range drivers I own. Having recently been thru an enjoyable experiment where 3″ drivers were the norm, I’ve gone much larger with the 12LTA and feel I’ve lost none of the excellent qualities of the smaller drivers (as long as I can include a helper tweeter). In fact, perhaps the addition of a tweeter improves treble further. If you are looking to ‘go big’ and can get your head around the idea that a large diameter woofer can perform as well – or better – than smaller drivers then I can’t recommend the Eminence Beta 12LTA enough. With some elbow grease (removing dustcap and integrating a tweeter), I believe you come out on top of nearly all full range drivers on the market today. What you end up with is a speaker that does it all without compromise. Whether it’s Classical, Rock, Folk, Girl & Guitar or Techno Synth, this speaker provides sound with incredible ease of presentation, scale and realism.

The large, wide range, Eminence Beta 12LTA is a purpose built Pro Sound driver. It was designed by engineers and contains no black magic or pixie dust. It looks big and perhaps is a bit ugly. But what it may lack in looks it gains in performance. It’s large 12″ paper cone opens a window into the venue transferring the sound from your amp into music unlike most drivers you’ve already heard. It’s not picky about amplifiers either – which is uncommon since most full range drivers are. For me it achieves among the best sound I have heard in over three decades of DIY speaker building. As long as I can incorporate a helper woofer and tweeter, this would be my desert island driver.

beta-12lta-phase-plug

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4 thoughts on “Eminence Beta 12LTA on Open Baffle

  1. Hi Zilla – I’ve tried to source the ASD 1001 and am just coming up with a compression driver and not a driver/horn combo. What would you suggest using? Thanks!

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