From the revolutionary designs of our founder, Paul Voigt, in the 1930s, to our current world-beating EX-series drive units, Lowther have an outstanding history of innovation and excellence in audio performance.
As we deliver drive-units fit for the twenty-first century, we continue to build on the proud heritage outlined below.
Paul Voigt, the founder of what was to eventually become the world-renowned Lowther Loudspeaker Company, was born in London in 1901 and educated at Dulwich College and University College, London. He graduated in 1922 receiving a BSc. degree in electrical engineering. Among many other audio contributions and 32 patents, he can be credited with the first high-flux energized speaker drive unit and horns using the “Tractrix” contour.
While employed at the Edison Bell Works in London, Voigt started work on his first loudspeaker. When that famous company ceased trading in 1933, Paul set up his own business “Voigt Patents Limited” , based in Sydenham, London. Under an agreement with Bell, he retained ownership the 19 patents that he had received for his ideas.
Paul’s speaker designs were unique because they used a single unit to cover the entire frequency range. He achieved this by using a mechanical crossover, better known as a ‘whizzer’. The speaker unit itself consisted of the main cone and a smaller cone, both being connected to the same voice coil. The frequencies of the bass were spread out by letting the backside of the speaker beam into a folded horn. Paul Voigt is best known for the conical quarter wave horn, the ‘Voigt Pipe’, also known by its English name and abbreviation: ‘Tapered Quarter Wavelength Tube’ – TQWT.
Domestic Corner Horn
The “Domestic Corner Horn” released in 1934 set a new benchmark for high-quality sound reproduction. This unique design gave an extremely life-like non-directional presentation, with the sound entering the room at a height between 3 to 5 feet above the floor.
Also in 1934, Paul Voigt met O.P. Lowther. from the Lowther Manufacturing Company. This meeting eventually resulted in a merger between the two companies as they became ‘Lowther-Voigt Radio’.
During World War II, Paul was kept busy maintaining the horn speakers which he had successfully installed in cinemas. After the war, priority was given to the design of an improved driver, using new magnet materials. This driver had a flux density of 18,000 gauss (1.8 tesla) and was released in 1949.
In 1950 Paul decided to move to Canada with his wife, setting up the North American sales network for his new designs, which he ran until the outbreak of the Korean War. He then taught electronics for a while before moving to Ottawa to work for the Canadian Government in radio regulations, until his retirement in 1969.
Donald Chave, who was previously Lowther’s Chief Engineer, bought the company after World War II. He finally developed the PM-1 driver using the Voigt cone assembly. Before Paul Voigt left for Canada it was agreed that Lowther would produce the domestic corner horn under license. About 400 corner horns were produced between 1934 and the early 1950s. Donald later expanded the products and developed new drivers based on the early Voigt units.
Stewart Hegeman was also involved with Lowther in the early 1950s. In 1951 Lowther released the incredible ‘Lowther-Hegeman Reproducer’, which was a result of a collaboration between Hegeman and Chave. At three-times the price of a Lowther Voigt domestic corner horn the enclosure was four feet wide, four feet tall and two feet deep. A newly-developed PM4A drive unit was used inside a large horizontal plaster horn, giving an amazingly wide dispersion of mid and treble frequencies.
The newly-developed PM4A drive unit was used inside a large horizontal plaster horn, giving an amazingly wide dispersion of mid and treble frequencies. It was a result of a collaboration between Stuart Hegeman and Donald Chave.
In the early 1970s Donald Chave and his long-term friend, Roy Hopps went into partnership. They researched new magnet materials which then gave rise to the ceramic-based “A” Series of Drivers and the renowned Neodymium based EX and DX Range.
Several new enclosures designed were developed most of which continue in existence today and details of which can be found on our website.
In the early 1970s Lowthers moved its production facilities from Bromley, Kent to Norfolk. As a result, the Lowthers Shop was closed and Lowthers ceased to manufacture the speaker enclosures in-house.
Shortly afterward, Donald Chave died and Diane Hanson became a joint shareholder with Roy Hopps. On Roy’s death in 2005 his shareholding passed to his wife Rosa.
For the full range of modern, high-quality drive units and loudspeakers we now produce, please select the ‘Products’ page from the drop-down menu above.
For more info about Lowther, why not visit the Lowther Voigt Museum website.
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