The Asawari: part 2

The drivers

We contacted someone in Peerless India. They make drivers as subcontractors for big-name brands in the West. In fact, the name Peerless India came because of an old agreement between this Indian firm and the famous Peerless of Denmark. The agreement is now gone but the name had been allowed to remain.

Peerless India didn't sell any drivers in the Indian market; the market was too small. So they released surplus quantities of some of their drivers through a semi-official channel, which was a one-man wholesale firm: a certain Jeetubhai. We got Jeetubhai's phone number, rang him up, and set up an appointment to meet him in a building called Galeda Dham in Ghatkopar West. We waited an hour, killing time drinking tea and eating vada at a roadside joint. I remember it was raining a bit, and I had a friend with me for company. (This friend later became my partner-in-crime in some of my DIY activities.)

Jeetubhai finally arrived, and we entered what appeared to be a warehouse through a dirty lane towards the rear of this building, and sat in a windowless 6'x6' cabin cum office. Jeetubhai was a short Gujarati gentleman, built in the mold of a small-time trader with a deep belief in his own significance and importance. We spent about an hour and a half listening to his stories about his values and ethics in life, his donations to good causes in his community, his saintly nature ("Main chai tak nahi peeta" (I don't even drink tea)), his dinner-time conversations with the Rath family (the owners of Peerless India) and his total indifference to money. And then we spent about fifteen minutes looking at drivers he stocked. We made a list; the details are posted somewhere. He showed us some fabric dome tweeters, and a particular silk dome tweeter which he said was much better than the rest. And finally, as his piece de resistance, he brought out some Kevlar cone midbass units. I fell in love with them at first sight. (That was the first time this happened to me, and it had to be a driver, not a woman.)

This Kevlar driver was finished like a jewel. I didn't know whether it was technically well designed --- I didn't know enough about drivers to judge this. Peerless 6.5-inch Kevlar midbass, front view I could only see that this was no stamped-sheet-metal basket like the rest of the Peerless India drivers... it was a cast basket. I thought it was cast metal, but later realised it was some sort of jet-black polycarbonate material. The cone had a soft rubber surround and a black raised dust cap. The magnet was of average size. The flange was designed for surface mounting, not recessed fitting, and the edge of the flange tapered to a knife-edge so sharp, uniform and free of burrs and unevenness that I was willing to caress its curves most obscenely then and there, had I been alone. Lust must have been popping out of my eye sockets.

Jeetubhai had one page of data for each driver, in the form of a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of some datasheet from somewhere. Most parts were as unreadable as ancient maps: I began to sympathise with Lara Croft, tomb raider. We saw the T/S parameters of the Kevlar driver and we could see that it had a stated Vas of about 36L and a Qts of about 0.34. It also had Fs of 36Hz, I think. (Later measurement of my samples turned out an Fs of about 42-44Hz.) All in all, a usable set of specs --- none of that Qts of 0.9 nonsense which the Boltons had given me.

I decided then and there that I'd build my first pair of speakers using these Kevlar drivers and one of the good Indian tweeters. Peerless 6.5-inch Kevlar midbass, rear viewThat's what has finally become the Asawari. The tweeters I landed up using are called the TG25 Al-dome ones from Peerless India. Pretty conventional design without any top-end peak or harshness, ferrofluid-cooled, with an Fs of 1500Hz. Cost? The Kevlar cones were for Rs.1500 (about USD 33) each, and the TG25 were for Rs.800 (about USD 18) each. Prices have gone up about 10-15% since my purchase.

And I decided I would do an MTM simply to allow two bass drivers to handle the low frequencies. I thought this would make it easier to get low distortion and good SPL in the low regions; this proved very correct later. In fact, I have now begun to believe that plain TM architectures like the Proac Response 2.5 are an aberration: they can't handle decent power levels cleanly unless the drivers have something exceptional about them. So you either design a simple TM standmounts specifically for low-SPL usage (some people just like their music clean but soft), or you go to an MTM or a proper 3-way.

Incidentally, we didn't buy these drivers from Jeetubhai; he requested us to buy from one of his dealers. Since then, we have been dealing with Dilip Devyani of Dev Electronics, on the first floor of one of the antique buildings on Lamington Road. They can procure all the drivers Jeetubhai supplies.

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