Every once in a while a unique concept is translated into something real, special. So it is with the original Manzanita Open Baffle design. The concept is simple. Design an Open Baffle speaker with acceptable bass extension small enough to be practical in most home environments. Make it simple to use. No special equipment requirements other than a clean stereo power source (15 watts per channel RMS - 150 Watts program). Plug and play!
Original Manzanita objectives
The virtues of the Open Baffle design have been known for almost 100 years. Inherit simplicity, lack of cavity resonances, wide - deep sound stage with high resolution, pitch accurate bass. However, as usual, there is a price to pay. A traditional Open Baffle design requires a large area baffle to support production of deep bass. There are several ways to minimize baffle size, but each creates a new set of issues to be solved. No free lunch!
Extensive prototype crossover - baffle design work plus numerous driver tests indicated a speaker meeting the concept could be produced for a reasonable cost. A system engineering approach balancing baffle size, wing depth, driver selection and crossover topology proved to be the solution.
Additional design criteria included using off the shelf components, simple baffle construction, tight material and construction costs, compatible with traditional stereo amplification, positioning the high frequency driver at ear level, minimizing woofer floor reflections, covering the audio spectrum with only two drivers, produce flat bass response down to 42 Hz, keep operating efficiency above 82 db per watt and incorporate a simple low component count passive crossover.
Determining a maximum baffle size required a look back at loudspeakers that have found success in the market place. It was thought best to limit the baffle size to be roughly equal to that of popular larger bookshelf speakers produced from the late fifties through the early eighties. And like all of the larger bookshelf designs, the Manzanita sounds best sitting on an 18 - 24" stand out at least 30" from a rear wall.
The result of all the work and consideration was given the name Manzanita in honor of the large and rare 30 foot Manzanita tree just outside my front door.
Describing the sound qualities of any speaker is of course very subjective. I feel the most credible descriptions are those most frequently provided from hundreds of people who have listen to the Manzanita in various venues. Most frequent comments include "the Manzanita's disappear", "amazing, clean dynamic bass", "deep and wide sound stage", "Wow, they can really play at live music levels without strain", "I can't believe the shear bass output" and so it goes. The real clincher is "How can such a simple design with such a low cost sound so good?"