Dedicated to the World’s Finest Speaker

 The Flame Still Burns

“Then the music started and I was again startled by the clearest, most life-like reproduction of recorded music I’d ever heard. The recording being demoed was a solo A Capella contra-basso male voice.  The image produced could have fooled me into believing the invisible man was singing in the room.   When they functioned, they played better than anything I’ve ever heard.”  Steven Kastner

“We suspect, though, that most audiophiles will find these speakers to provide the most mind-blowing listening experience they have ever known.”  J. Gordon Holt,  Stereophile

“The Single Best System Commercially Available.”  J. Peter Moncrieff, International Audio Review

Ever seen these types of comments regarding a speaker before?  You haven’t, because this speaker is truly unique.   Here’s a few more from respected reviewers…

“We just stood there, dumbfounded, with our jaw hanging open.”

“So much closer to live music than anything else.”

“Our standards for being able to tell live from reproduced music have been forever changed. ”  

Imagine a speaker with no moving parts.  No mass, no cones, no ribbons, no diaphragms, no enclosure, no Doppler shift, no resonances- just the ability to modulate the air directly.

Now imagine a perfect audio point source (the ideal pulsating sphere) radiating uniformly with constant phase.  This has been the dream of physicists for at least a century.

There has been only one speaker that has ever come even remotely close to those lofty goals- the Hill Plasmatronics 1A, built in New Mexico by one of the world’s preeminent laser physicists.

Chances are you’ve never heard a Plasmatronics speaker.   Not surprising, as only 52 pairs were made thirty plus years ago.  You had to be a dedicated hi-fi nut to have heard them even back then.

The Hill Plasmatronics 1A was expensive- no doubt you could purchase a home in some parts of the country for the same price.  It was complicated- vacuum tubes, helium tanks, an electronic crossover, multi-amplification, and even a rock inside each speaker.

Yet it was remarkably simple to explain its key virtue- if you played back a recording of a telephone ringing, someone in the house would come in the room and pick up the telephone.   The Plasmatronics 1A did not require an extended listening session to prove its inherent superiority.

Lynn Olson once compared Alan Hill’s speaker as an SR-71 Blackbird lurking in a world of Boeing 737′s, a claim many owners would agree with wholeheartedly.

This site is dedicated to the enjoyment and preservation of this technological masterpiece.

 

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Dedicated to the World’s Finest Speaker

  1. c1ferrari says:

    Congratulations, emmaco…beautiful ;-)

    Very best regards,
    Sam

    • emmaco says:

      Just getting started, but I’m glad you approve.

      Hope to have the site fully operational by Christmas. In the meantime, it will be getting updated constantly as time permits.

      If you have anything you’d like to add (photos and experiences are always welcome) please email me directly at emmaco@emmaco.com

      Thanks,

      John

  2. Carl Miller says:

    I was a dealer for Plasmatronics and have heard many wild tales about this speaker. First. It was not a health hazard. The odors produced by the arc were not ozone which I was told was not produced in quantities large enough to be harmful, said Dr. Hill, but was mentioned by jealous competitors to restrict sales of this speaker by making it appear as producing unhealthful gas. I listened to them for over four years and suffered no ill effects. They did produce an odor, but it was not ozone. My demo room was not well ventilated and I can assure you that a man of Dr. Hill’s integrity would go broke rather than market a speaker dangerous to a person’s health! You can bank on the word of Dr. Hill and my experience over several years as a reference to their safety. I have never seen a testimony or legitimate fact sheet which proved they were unhealthful. Some competitors and critics were simply uptight about the Hill accomplishment and resorted to untruths to defeat sales of this radical but ingenious design. Now, some understated facts about the sound of the Plasmatronics speaker. The high end of this speaker was its true accomplishment. From about 800 hz, no speaker I ever heard was as accurate sounding as the Plasma arc. It revealed things about recordings that one rarely, if ever heard. It was audio’s truth detector and gave. accurate reproduction of upper frequencies that other speakers simply pretended to achieve. This speaker told the truth and many sound sources of that era were revealed as pretenders to accurate reproduction. The Plasnatronics speaker revealed sound as was recorded and covered no flaws in the recording. It was the best truth teller of its time and possibly even of this time–from 800 hz on up. Truly a great accomplishment. However, below 800 hz, the speaker was good, but far less an accomplishment than the upper frequencies. Many speakers were as good or even better than the Plasmatronics in the below 800 hz range. Maybe Dr. Hill would have eventually improved this lower range, but he did not to my knowledge improve it. This is largely what I recall about the merits of Dr. Hill’s design.

    • emmaco says:

      To that end, I finally decided now’s the time to get on with a long planned project.

      I decided to tri-amplify our set and add an electronic crossover. Also updated the support electronics.

      I figured the only way to attack the mid bass and bass compatibility was drive each of them directly. So I added a Yamaha SP2600 crossover into the system and switched to an Emotiva five channel 200 Watt amplifier and plan to start the electronic reconfiguration this weekend.

      Bypassing the passive crossover seemed to be the only way to get phase/time domain/polarity/amplitude/ and frequencies all aligned. The Yamaha allows you to change these via laptop, after a firmware change requiring an afternoon trip down to Yamaha. Thanks to Joe Lopez at Yamaha for all his help. His father created the Fulton J speakers!

      Also changed out the mid bass driver to an DynAudio unit and the bass drivers to an Audio Concepts AC12- after plugging in the enclosure volume and finding T/S parameters to match from commercially available models.

      Took an impedance graph of each of them yesterday and have been sweeping them to give the drivers a little exercise first. Used that marvelous WT program which is incredibly easy to use and remarkably powerful for $99.

      My first effort will be to try and integrate the midbass driver with the plasma. Initially I’ll start off with a Bessel filter, check polarity, and then figure out levels, delays, and slope rates.

      Then attempt to do the same with the bass and midbass diver.

      Wish me luck!

      Thanks,

      John

    • jimionic says:

      I’m a new member on this site, I noticed that you were a dealer on the plasmatronics , I used to own a pair of these , they are the best , it’s a long story why I don’t have them now ,after I sold them I was sorry. The next day I tried to buy them back . It’s a long story ; anyway , do you know of any for sale or someone they aye interested?
      Your help is appreciated .
      James Simonetti
      jimmyboyjpx@gmail.com

  3. RobertHarley says:

    Hi,

    I’m trying obtain photos of the Hill Type 1 for inclusion in a forthcoming book called The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio.
    Can anyone help?

    Thanks.

    Best regards,
    Robert Harley
    Editor-in-Chief
    The Absolute Sound

  4. buhl says:

    Hi,

    I had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Hill at his residence a few nights ago and watching his good friend replace the low-range woofers which had just been re-coned.

    I had never experienced these speakers before, and an I can confidently say FWIW that this was probably the best audio listening experience I am likely to have in my lifetime. My ears were “sore” in a very novel way after we went through a few hours of classical and jazz, and it was suggested that it was the amazing transient response of the speakers that was the culprit.

    For those seeking repairs, Dr. Hill indicated that the tubes were difficult to find, possibly available only out of Russia, for example.

    They guy is clearly a genius. We discussed many topics, and I am proud to say that I may have actually manged to interact with him at about the 5% level. He remains enviably intellectually driven and mentally crisp, and is a highly considerate gentleman.

    Not an evening I will forget anytime soon!

    Brecken

    • emmaco says:

      Would love to have Dr. Hill join the group…

    • Tonehack says:

      I am glad to hear that he got the drivers fixed. I visited him in August and was concerned that my mentor had no speakers to listen to. I also had two bad tubes. Does anyone know where tubes can be had? On that note, I am looking into building a 6MJ6 replacement module and have found some candidate FETs. Thoughts?

      Tony

  5. Tonehack says:

    Hi all,
    I went back to old New Mex last August for a family gathering and made sure to visit Alan and Carol while I was there. What a treat it was! I must tell you though that his speakers are not in great working order. He told me that his hands are too shaky to work on them, and that he hasn’t enough tubes to run all the channels. His woofers are both in need of new surrounds and I think they might be blown, as there is no sound coming from either of them. Oh, how I wish that I lived close by so that I could fix them for him. Here is the man who made these fantastic creations, and he cannot even enjoy them.

    Tony

Leave a Reply