This ain't no April fool's joke!😆
Since the mid-60s (scroll down to pdf page 31), stateside audio experimenters have been trying to squeeze the last ounce of performance from the Coral/Sony "Holey" and Foster/Fostex FE103/Realistic 40-1197 family of 4" drivers. Meanwhile, Japanese aficionados like Old Joe (above), whom I follow on YouTube, kept snapping up Anaheim-manufactured Altec 405As in multiple quantities to stuff into their mini A7 VOTT projects.
Because of the dearth of units left in the States and my indifference towards engaging in a bidding war versus fellow Asian hobbyists, I patiently hunted them for 20+ years via other channels.
|Altec 405A specs|
The 405A is a 4" 60-15,000 Hz wide range driver with a sensitivity rating of 92dB/4ft/1W. It's equipped with a massive Indox magnet that's almost the same diameter as its cone.
IMHO and experience, Altec cabinet plans always deliver sonically. Aside from a full understanding of the physics of sound, their engineers used their ears as the final arbiter in a design brief. To me, that trumps any design completely derived from a mathematical formula or computer simulation. So I asked my buddy @ Hommage Audio to fashion a Bonsai pair of Altec 614-style boxes based on the above dimensions.
|Interior stuffed with Dacron|
For sentimental reasons, I have a pair Realistic Minimus 8s on my test bench. I always thought they were above average, although not extraordinarily special. Same deal with the "Holey Frame" drivers I pulled out of a Sony TC500A RTR machine. To my ears, both FE103 derivatives have an upper midrange resonance, which require an EQ/contour network to make them more listenable.
|614 style 405A cabinet|
I found the 5.25" Realistic 40-1354A more impressive in spite of its narrow band whizzer honk. Back in the 90s, I played with it in a ported box similar in size to the above Altec 405A cabinet, as well as in a TQWT. Both speaker projects came from the book Designing, Building, and Testing Your Own Speaker System by David B. Weems.
|Silbatone box + 755C and 405A in a 0.4 cubic foot ducted port box|
Spoiled by years of exposure to Altec 755As and 755Cs in open baffles or 2 cf boxes, and more recently, in Silbatone cabinets, I considered this Altec 405A + Bonsai 614 style enclosure project as a mere novelty experiment.
As soon as I hooked them up to my near-field hifi system, I was pleasantly surprised that they play like their bigger brothers, albeit at a reduced scale.
It's physically impossible for the 4" cone of the 405A to extend much below 90 Hz, but the roll off is gentle and there's enough harmonics to suggest bass lines. I hear a slight trace of peakiness in the presence region. For my taste though, an EQ filter isn't necessary.
Although the Altec 405A can't replace the Altec 755C (much less the 755A) in my near-field set up, its midrange depth, micro dynamics, detail resolution and overall tonal balance makes it worthy of the Altec badge!👍😊