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Thread: The original Westlake / Sierra / Eastlake monitor

  1. #61
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    [quote=michaelg;171994]I always thought of the Westlakes as "harsh"
    [quote]

    I heard 3 Westlake designed rooms at that time and did not find any of them harsh....interesting opinion.

    Century 21

    Le Studio at Morin Heights (went there with John Hannah and had the privilege of sitting in on a all night session with Rush)

    Caribou Ranch in 1980. What a great spot. The barn reminded me of the fun we had at our Rat River Farm parties (outside St Piere, Manitoba in 76 and 77. Racks of DC300A's and plenty of JBL's.....and beer.

    Ken

  2. #62
    Member michaelg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Pachkowsky View Post
    I heard 3 Westlake designed rooms at that time and did not find any of them harsh....interesting opinion.
    I visited hundreds of Hidley's studios during the '70s and the only one to really impress me was the Phonogram complex in Hilversum, The Netherlands.

    In fact, it was the nicest studio I have ever seen! No financial constraints - no holds barred. It was in the middle of a large "aspen-like" forest and had a lot of glass walls so the studios seemed to extend into the trees.

    Phillips had had their hand in it big time so it wasn't "pure" Hidley - the trademark "rough" red rock and warm wood treatment had been abandoned for a "smooth" fieldstone, cool grey/blue colour scheme - but it was definitely Hidley! Gorgeous.

    We were there installing some of my gear in preparation for a Golden Earring session and got to experience the studios in operation over a couple of days.

    This was in about '78 and I don't know what version of the monitors were in use but the evolution of Tom's philosophy paid off big time in Holland. I thought it sounded great!

    Tom's success was in holding his cards close to his vest, taking a very proprietary, holistic approach to building recording "systems" - keeping the design, construction, installation and certification processes completely "in-house". But the "Hidley approach" cost a lot of money and you couldn't buy it out of a dealer showroom! He didn't license his intellectual properties. Many copied his designs without understanding and failed.

    This was about the same time I was planning and developing the Fostex Laboratory Series monitors and it would be accurate to say I felt we could build a monitor that would do as well, or better, but on a distributable and reproducible basis!

    We ended up successfully delivering a standardized, but scalable solution which could be retrofitted to a variety of existing facilities and which could be a core component of new designs. Our design provided a new standard, consistent reproducible performance in applications ranging from mobile trucks through the the largest world-class installations.

    And I believe we addressed and conquered those specific issues in the "Westlake" design with which I found fault. The Fostex Laboratory Series monitors exhibited extremely well-mannered dispersion and integral time correction/phase alignment. They did not sound "harsh". And I dare say that no-one who heard them would disagree!

    IMHO.

    BTW, in order to provide a correct low-frequency acoustic load for the monitors, we supplied both half-space 2π steradian soffit mounting kits and vertical versions with plinths for full-space 4π steradian environments.
    Michael Gillespie.
    204.943.9000


  3. #63
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelg View Post
    I visited hundreds of Hidley's studios during the '70s and the only one to really impress me was the Phonogram complex in Hilversum, The Netherlands.


    And I believe we addressed and conquered those specific issues in the "Westlake" design with which I found fault. The Fostex Laboratory Series monitors exhibited extremely well-mannered dispersion and integral time correction/phase alignment. They did not sound "harsh". And I dare say that no-one who heard them would disagree!

    IMHO.

    BTW, in order to provide a correct low-frequency acoustic load for the monitors, we supplied both half-space 2π steradian soffit mounting kits and vertical versions with plinths for full-space 4π steradian environments.
    Michael

    I have only seen photo's of your design and never had a chance to hear the finished product. You certainly have raised my curiosity. Do you have a pair of them at home? Could the design be easily duplicated using current drivers?

    I have been in San Jose Del Cabo,Mx looking at a business opportunity for the last 10 days and will be leaving this Saturday. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I plan on flying to Winnipeg to visit my folks up in Pine Falls. I would love to get together with you over a cup of coffee? Have you stayed in touch with Bob Oliver? I would enjoy seeing him after all these years. He used to come over to a house several of us shared at 201 Scotia Street. I beieve he was teaching mathmatics at Red River at the time? Last year I exchanged some emails with Ted Telesky. He is well and living in Santa Barbra as you probably know.


    Ken

  4. #64
    Member michaelg's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Pachkowsky View Post
    Do you have a pair of them at home?
    Yes, I have a pair of LS/4s and several other limited production models.
    Could the design be easily duplicated using current drivers?
    I was actually about to debate Don McRitchie on that point; most of the current drivers that I am aware of are what we used to refer to as "sound reinforcement" products, not "studio monitor" grade. That doesn't mean that one couldn't attempt it, but they wouldn't meet our "internal" criteria. Fostex can still produce the H420 wooden horn design but it is only available in birch or laminate (~US$600+ ea), not solid teak. We were having problems even back then sourcing sufficient high-grade teak for the monitors and the prices were getting insane. I am unaware of anything close to the T825 diffraction horn super tweeter although I have seen a few rare units move through eBay. It might be a worthy exercise though!
    I would love to get together with you over a cup of coffee?
    I'd look forward to that if we can find a common date. We are doing a major house/kitchen renovation in June and will be traveling a lot. My son and I are flying down to Chicago for Clapton's second Crossroads Guitar Festival. I am visiting Wayne Jones in Beaverton Oregon to pick up a load of Ampex 351s and will be in Victoria for a wedding.
    Have you stayed in touch with Bob Oliver?
    Unfortunately, no. Someone told me he had retired from the college. I have a possible email address for him but haven't succeeded in reaching him.
    Last year I exchanged some emails with Ted Telesky. He is well and living in Santa Barbra as you probably know.
    Yes. Ted and I remain in constant communication. He is slowing down a little but has been spending huge amounts of time setting up manufacturing plants in China. He has been consulting on a Microslop Zone Player cradle out of Australia and some projects for Monster. I hope to see him this summer as well.
    Michael Gillespie.
    204.943.9000


  5. #65
    Senior Member spkrman57's Avatar
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    Could you post pics here of the monitors?

    They sound interesting.

    Ron


    Quote Originally Posted by michaelg View Post
    Yes, I have a pair of LS/4s and several other limited production models.
    JBL Pro for home use!

  6. #66
    Member michaelg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spkrman57 View Post
    Could you post pics here of the monitors?
    There is a whole thread about them and other Fostex units elsewhere on this board.





    These are representative of our "audiophile" offerings of the day:



    Michael Gillespie.
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  7. #67
    Member michaelg's Avatar
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    When looking for the Century 21 pix, we found a treasure trove of stuff I had forgotten about completely!

    Here is a page of one of our old signal processing brochures which includes representative clients. The top right pic is Century 21's "A" control room. The two rack units above the engineer's head with the black meters were my products.

    (The engineer is Jack Clements from Esterhazy Saskatchewan who later became an award-winning movie producer - he did one of my favourite aviation movies: "For the Moment" starring Russell Crowe and filmed primarily in Brandon. Jack died this spring.)

    The others are CKY-AM (Winnipeg), Children's Television Workshop (NYC) and Little Richard in concert (I can't remember the touring sound company name!).

    Michael Gillespie.
    204.943.9000


  8. #68
    Member michaelg's Avatar
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    Westlake versus Fostex

    Here's some really interesting stuff - I didn't realize we had these!

    These are comparative plots of the Century 21 Studio "A" Westlake TM1 monitors relative to the Fostex LS/3 monitors in situ at the listening position at the console.

    The Fostex are in the top row, the Westlakes in the bottom; the vertical increments are 2.5dB per division.

    The Westlakes are tri-amped and third-octave EQ'd by Hidley. The Fostex are driven by a single amplifier with their internal passive crossovers driven flat from the console.


    Michael Gillespie.
    204.943.9000


  9. #69
    Member michaelg's Avatar
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    Talking Fostex LS/2 plots

    Here are the lab measurements for our smallest "Laboratory Series" monitor, the LS/2 which was spec'd at 45Hz-20KHz, within 6dB. You will see that we were very conservative - that was a worst-case, 4π spec; in a 2π soffit mount, we could have actually spec'd the LS/2 down another octave to 23Hz!!

    Note that above 800Hz the performance of all models was identical! Only the low frequency cut-off varied between models as they were scaled to properly integrate with the monitoring environment. No sense putting a 19Hz monitor in a room than can only sustain 50Hz!

    Michael Gillespie.
    204.943.9000


  10. #70
    lfh
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelg View Post
    Dynamic is the first thought that comes to my mind. Lots of power. But I always thought of the Westlakes as "harsh" /.../ which wasn't helped by a little slap reflection off the ceiling and console which tended to destroy mid-band definition. The bass was well-controlled and tight. Overall, a work in progress, a step in the right direction from what went before. /.../

    Hidley's approach was an integrated environment, a closed system. Auditioning a "part" of the system alone would be of no particular value.
    I think (based on studying the designs "on paper", that is) "work in progress, a step in the right direction from what went before" sums it up nicely: Hidley pioneered many of the CR concepts we today take for granted (flush mounted mains in a splayed wall, bass "traps", room symmetry and so on). What was missing at the time (at least outside academia) was a thorough understanding of psycho-acoustics (especially the negative effects of early reflexes) -- and good measurement tools.

    According to an often cited interview with Hidley, he had listended to studio monitors outdoors (on a roof) and had never heard such good reproduction. He thus tried to partly recreate free field conditions with the "soffit" mounted mains, an absorbing rear wall, and massive bass (broadband) absorbers. However, I think he -- probably inspired by concert hall designs -- tried to "go one better", by deliberately introducing a fair amount of reflexes, something that actually hurt the design. (Starting in the late 70:s, the LEDE design camp strived to address those shortcomings.)

    As to the graphic EQ, I guess you're right. If it was an integral part of his designs (e.g. to adjust the LF for the half space operation and so on), it wouldn't make much sense to listen without. Nevertheless it would be interesting to know what the thoughts about EQ were back in the days. According to current thinking, they probably only made matters worse when attempting to correct situations that only can be addressed properly with a fully parametric EQ -- and in some instances (comb filtering) only can be corrected by means of proper room treatment / geometry.

    Do you happen to remember rougly what the curve looked like; mild (few dB:s) corrections and possibly a HF slope -- or did it look like the Swiss Alps?

  11. #71
    Member michaelg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lfh View Post
    Hidley [...] had listended to studio monitors outdoors (on a roof) and had never heard such good reproduction.
    You are describing a 'standard' poor-man's "anechoic chamber"; when we didn't have access to the National Research Council's anechoic chamber, we were known to have buried some speakers in the ground and hung the microphone over them!
    Do you happen to remember rougly what the curve looked like; mild (few dB:s) corrections and possibly a HF slope -- or did it look like the Swiss Alps?
    I honestly can't remember.

    But during those test sessions, we did stick one of my company's parametric equalizers in front of the Westlakes (without changing/removing any of Hidley's 'calibrated' setup) and spent a night trying to tame them. Here are the results:

    Michael Gillespie.
    204.943.9000


  12. #72
    lfh
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelg View Post
    These are comparative plots of the Century 21 Studio "A" Westlake TM1 monitors relative to the Fostex LS/3 monitors in situ at the listening position at the console.

    /.../

    The Westlakes are tri-amped and third-octave EQ'd by Hidley. The Fostex are driven by a single amplifier with their internal passive crossovers driven flat from the console.
    I think it's impressive that you still have that data after all those years (and know where to find it).

    Just to be clear: The Westies sat in their soffits, and the Fostex monitors were free standing, right?

    In any case the FR of the Westies as installed there looks quite nasty... I bet Hidley didn't use the same measurement rig and mic position that you did What surprises me in particular is the large difference between L and R.

    Oh, and clearly the Fostex look very well behaved! Very cool!

  13. #73
    lfh
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelg View Post
    we supplied both half-space 2? steradian soffit mounting kits and vertical versions with plinths for full-space 4? steradian environments.
    How did you go about soffit mounting them? Was there a version with a baffle for the mid and HF horn?

  14. #74
    lfh
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelg View Post
    But I always thought of the Westlakes as "harsh"
    As to the early Westlakes (TM-1) sounding harsh: It seems the folks at Polar Studios were not entirely happy either, since -- if my "detective work" is correct -- the monitors soon got converted from 3-ways to 4-ways, and the 2420:s got replaced by a "real" tweeter, see http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/s...?t=9131&page=3 (post 37 and onwards).

    Ken, do you know what year the HR-1:s went into production?

  15. #75
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lfh View Post
    Ken, do you know what year the HR-1:s went into production?
    I am not sure but could find out. It's got to be since the early 80's I think.

    I will look into it on my return from Mexico.

    Ken

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