If you’ve seen the new Field Coil prototype, you know that Wild Burro has a new cone. The short story is that it’s a simple paper that sounds much like the old cone, but with a bit more high frequency extension, and its black instead of green. However, I’d like to take the opportunity to share a bit about the history of the old cone and some of my thoughts on fullrange speakers, with a couple of comments about audio in general.
I think enough time has passed that I can let the cat out of the bag. The “old” cone was previously marketed as a “Hemp Matrix”, made of Hemp, Carbon Fiber and Kevlar. I won’t go into detail about how I ended up with it, but its worth pointing out that a year or two before I started Wild Burro, the same cone might have set you back 2-4 times as much per speaker, and was well received at that! The tooling to build those cones no longer exists, so I, nor anyone else, will be selling them in the future.
I don’t care, because my new paper cone sounds just as good. Honestly, most paper cones designed for fullrangers seem to work pretty well. I once had some graphs comparing the Hemp cone to a very popular, similarly priced product, measured on the same rig on the same day. They differences in frequency response were awfully small despite the cones being very different! If we compare my new cone with the old, the differences are tiny. A degree of difference on the mic angle makes a greater difference. Sure, different cones have narrow peaks and dips in different places, but I think other things matter far more. Honestly, naming the type of fiber in the paper matters only in marketing.
To my ear, the implementation of a loudspeaker driver makes by far the biggest difference in sound. You need a box and amp that match the speaker. Sure, one tune will sound better on a speaker that has a peak at 6K and another will sound better with a peak at 6.1K. But the overall shape of the response as dictated by the enclosure and the electrical characteristics (impedance curve!) of the speaker will make a huge difference on all material. If you like the “detail” and “speed” of a low Qts speaker with a shorting ring in a vented box, what you like is the lack of bass and hot top end. Similarly, if you listen to a big fat dome tweeter off-axis, you probably like it because it rolls off hard in-room above 8 or 10K. That is nothing to be ashamed of. If you like what fullrangers do, you’ll probably like many of the fullrangers on the market. Choose one that allows you to build the sort of system you want. Think about efficiency and box type. Be honest with yourself. If you want a very bright speaker, or a very small speaker, other people’s products will suit you better.
So, the new cone is slightly different, and if I had to, I’d say it’s a bit better because it has a little more extension. And while it is sad that I don’t have any fancy words to market it with, at least I can be open about what it is: a traditional paper cone. As always with my products, it represents an enormous value. And whether or not it works for you will depend on whether you like the peculiarities of fullrangers and how you implement the speaker. Of course, if you want them to be green colored, you are now out of luck. The best fullrangers I think I’ve heard, the field coil prototypes, use this cone. You can’t buy them. At least not yet.
If you are looking for fairly flat in-room response from one speaker in a simple enclosure that works with a low-powered amp, whether green cone or black, you’ll be hard pressed to do better than the Betsy or BetsyK.