Ellam-dappo, built by George, US

Copyright 2021 © Troels Gravesen

Hi Troels,

Perhaps time is the greatest testimony of truth. Having made several of your speakers using drivers from Scan-Speak, Audio Technology, SB Acoustics, Seas, The 15W/8530 in the Ellam D’Appo has been the greatest surprise of all. Of my 8 speakers, I’m still drawn to the organic nature of the 15W/8530 driver as it blends so naturally with the 98000 or 83200 tweeters. So much so, that I’m thinking of making another pair of Ellam D’Appos for the office, perhaps that’s the greatest compliment to a speaker.

Since I’ve already submitted my Ellam D’Appo build, I wanted to offer a long-term follow up review. The Ellam D’Appo was cast as an after thought in light of the Ellam’s popularity. I think the D’Appo is the most underrated speaker on the site. I see that it is sadly in the dustbin of “Discontinued” speakers. However, I’m happy to report, in the course of a 4 year listening period, the Ellam D’Appo seems to defy physics, and material science. Side-by-side, it approaches my vintage Pioneer Quartet 70 (12in 3-way) in bass extension - completely mind boggling! It also exceeds the acoustical warmth of the Scan-Speak Classic 18W/8545 mid-woofer in my 8in 2.5-way. The 15W/8530 doesn’t lose midrange detail under moderately high volumes, and the highs from the 98000 tweeter are deliciously refined over the flatter 83200 tweeter. Clearly, the 15W/8530 in the Ellam D’Appo leaves nothing desired in terms of frequency extension and timbre. The 15W/8530 is still a darling among 5.25in mid-woofers I’ve heard.

As expected, the Superior Z-Caps in the midrange, and Silver Z-Caps in the tweeter offer increased timbral clarity, air, and detail. However, what is unexpected is the effect of the Mundorf Hepta ( or Jantzen Litz coils) rendering a holographic, multidimensional image that is palpable. I didn’t anticipate to hear this over the basic air coil, but, these seven-strand coils do make an audible difference in conveying convincing spatial information in tube-like fashion. One could only imagine what an updated LR2 filter with stepped baffle could do over the 2nd order woofer/3rd order tweeter compromise...

The split-cone treated paper of the 15W/8530, and the ever so slightly darker presentation of the 83200 tweeter gives the D’Appo a neutral, smoother, and rounded characteristic to the sound, enabling to mate better with ever so bright sound of solid-state gear. The 98000 tweeter in the sytem (5.6uF instead of 3.9uF, and R change) offers slight increase in transparency. However, a simple tweak of the tweeter resistor can voice these speakers to mate perfectly with either solid state or tube. I do have a basis of how an all-tube system sounds on these speakers based on my Don Sachs Tube Preamp and KT88 PP amp - stellar, full bodied, perfectly balanced in all registers! Listening to the Ellam D’Appos with the aforementioned crossover in combination with the sonic virtues of the 15W/8530, the Ellam D’Appo sounds tube-like even on my $300 Onkyo TX-8511 100W/ch receiver. A bold endorsement! On the Pass XP-22 and X250.8, the match is sounds boundless.

Compared to the SBA 16-MTM, the blending of the midrange and tweeter is more seamless and organic in the Ellam D’Appo. To my taste, the stiffer-coned SBA MW16-P8 sounds more “audiophile” in its crispness, whereas the compliant-coned Scan-Speak 15W/8530 is more “musical” in its roundedness - to the point where I keep returning to the Ellam D’Appo than any other speaker. The over-reaching 5.25in 15W/8530 has more bass extension than the 6.5in SBA MW16-P8. The only tradeoff is better dynamics in the SBA due to the stiffer cone. However, over prolonged listening the 15W/8530 offers a better balance of musicality without giving up much resolving detail.

You’ve had many speakers come and go, but I know how much you revere the 15W/8530’s sonic virtues in the Ellam as a reference monitor. It is the only speaker that continues to be in your lineup all these years, testimony to an amazing driver. Doubling the cone area of the 15W/8530 Ellam driver holds even greater sonic potential. In the spirit of updating classics, the Ellam D’Appo could benefit from more transparency of an LR2 crossover and a stepped baffle. I hope you might consider such an update in the future...

Thank you for being a great ambassador to speaker design!
Best Regards,
George from Boston, U.S.A.