I’ve long loved the Walsh speakers from Ohm Acoustics and to this day, I haven’t found anything that can reproduce music and movies the way they do. Over time I’ve come to own several pairs of their speakers, ranging from their new MicroWalsh line to a pair of Ohm Fs and a pair of Ohm As. I now own a pair of Walsh 5000s as well. The clarity, naturalness, imaging, and spatial properties of Ohm Walsh speakers truly must be heard to be appreciated.
This post, detailing the genesis of the Walsh speaker and what makes them special, first appeared on my old website. I’ve dusted it off and reposted it here for your enjoyment.
Some of the finest sounding, most critically acclaimed speakers are unique designs that operate much differently than conventional box speakers. Many of them are priced out of the range of most consumers. Fortunately, many are not, and can be had for the same price as more ordinary designs. You will not find them at mass market retailers. They are only sold direct from the manufacturer or at audio specialty shops. One of my favorites are discussed in detail here.
The unique Walsh driver in operation. A single pulse travels down the cone, reproducing the entire audio range with one driver.
The line of Ohm Walsh speakers use a unique driver designed by Lincoln Walsh. Lincoln Walsh was a brilliant engineer who was part of the engineering team that developed radar during World War II. He later designed audio amplifiers, and his final project was a unique, one-way speaker with one driver. It was a large cone that faced down into a sealed, airtight enclosure. Rather than move back-and-forth as conventional speakers do, the cone rippled and created sound using a principle known as “transmission line”. The new speaker created a single, perfectly rendered sound wave of remarkable clarity. A new company, Ohm Acoustics, was formed to develop and market Walsh’s new speaker design.
From left to right- Ohm Walsh 2, Ohm F, Ohm A
Lincoln Walsh died before his speaker was released to the public. After developing the Ohm A prototype, in 1973 Ohm introduced the Ohm F speaker to critical acclaim. The Ohm F could reproduce audio signals more accurately than any other speaker, and had a truly spectacular sound. (Thirty years later, the Ohm F still sounds better than many of today’s most expensive, most exotic speaker designs.) Unfortunately, the Ohm F was also a very expensive and fussy speaker. All the way back in 1982 they cost $4,000 per pair, and they required tremendous amounts of power, while being unable to handle high power continuously for long periods. The saying went, “250 watts to drive a pair of Ohm Fs, 300 watts to blow them up!”
A pair of Ohm F speakers. Note exposed Walsh driver on the left speaker. One cone reproduces the entire audio range seamlessly.
Ohm made the Walsh speaker a more commercially viable product by turning it into a two-way system. The Walsh driver still reproduced around 80% of the speaker’s sound, but a crossover and tweeter was added to reproduce the highest frequencies. The sealed enclosure was converted into a ported design. The added port reduced power requirements and supplemented the low bass produced by the much smaller Walsh cone. These changes solved the problems of expense, large size, high power requirements, and low power handling. First introduced in 1982 as the Ohm Walsh 2, the new design was not a Walsh speaker in its pure form, but a speaker designed with Walsh technology. Recognizing this, Ohm sometimes refers to this modified Walsh design as their “Coherent Line Source” driver. (A little known fact is Infinity speakers once made a speaker that was the reverse of the Coherent Line Source, with a tweeter using a Walsh design and conventional cones for the rest.)
Cut-away drawing of Ohm Walsh 2 speaker. Note Walsh driver, figure 1.
If it seems like I know a lot about the Ohm Walsh speakers, well, it is because they have been my personal choice for over fifteen years! There are many great speakers at many price points, but the Ohm Walsh series is the one I have always liked best regardless of cost. Speakers are highly subjective, but to me, the Walshes do everything right and sound great no matter what kind of music you put through them, from heavy metal to Gregorian chant. The sound is incredibly natural and realistic, unlike any other speaker I have heard. When you listen to them, you do not hear speakers; just beautiful music appearing out of thin air. The sound is spacious and envelops you, but at the same time, the stereo imaging places performers and instruments precisely. This effect can be heard throughout almost the entire listening room. It all adds up to an exciting and involving listening experience. The great sound quality and spacious sound make them ideal for home theater, and with the precise stereo imaging, a center channel is not needed. The phantom mode places all the center sounds directly between the two speakers.
Walsh speakers are in very high demand on the used market, and command very good resale values. If you search under “Ohm Speakers” on Ebay, you will often find Walsh speakers that are fifteen years old receiving twenty or more bids. If you are a bit daring and willing to try used equipment, a pair of Ohm Walsh 2s can be purchased on Ebay for between $275 and $400. Support, service and upgrades are available from Ohm for all models, and over the years I have found their service to be nothing less than outstanding. If you call Ohm on the phone, the president and chief designer will probably be taking your call, and he will help you get the most out of your speakers, as well as the rest of your system.
The Ohm name is no longer common in the print media because their speakers are sold direct, and they do little advertising. As a result, few publications review their products these days. Those who do review Ohm’s speakers, however, consistently rate them highly. New Ohm Walsh speakers are only available direct from the Ohm Factory, and include a 120 day money back satisfaction guarantee. You can learn more at Ohm’s website, www.ohmspeakers.com.