AX Horn Loudspeakers. Original built-in concrete horns.
These were first built by Fred into his converted barn in 1979.
Silver sales brochure produced in 1986. First reviewed in Arab Construction and then by John Bamford for New Hi-fi Sound in 1988. Next review was by Dan Silver for Hi-fi Choice in 1992 and included the “Garden System” which was a 4-way compound horn with Jordan drivers. Sadly Fred’s home in the converted barn was allowed to fall into ruin after Fred moved in 1996. We still have the GRC sections of the “Garden System”!
It soon became clear that built-in horns were going to be difficult to sell!
AX Horn Loudspeakers had designed freestanding concrete outside horns …. the HF50 and the SP70. Our first SP70 sale was to Oakwood Leisure Park in Pembrokeshire as an effect speaker on one of their rides. We began developing ancillary hi-fi products from 1988, the first of which was our polymer concrete Z-stand which we showed at the Hi-fi News Show at the Penta Hotel Heathrow.
The following year lots of stand manufacturers sloped their products backwards in the same style but in wood or steel. The following year we produced the AX Delta stand in three sizes which has proved to be very effective and we use them still! These were our first GRP/GRC products. To accompany the stands, we developed packs of AX Blacktak using a very similar material to Bostick Blutak but in black as an interface between stands and equipment. At that point we had our biggest ever sale providing give away sample packs for the front cover of a major hi-fi magazine… 27,000 packs!
OEM and PA
In the early 90s we worked on designs for other people. Having used Ted Jordan’s
drivers in our “Garden System” Fred was asked by Ted to make Jordan Altair enclosure in black polymer concrete and then worked on developing a
satellite/subwoofer system for Bruce Rae using Doreen Jordan’s Bandor drivers.
This system was exhibited at the Hi-fi News Show in 1993. We were asked by Urs Wagner of Ensemble in Switzerland to make their new Landmark speaker stand which was a complex GRP shell with GRC fill and honeycomb/carbon fibre top plate. We also made platters in the same materials. Jordan Watts started using
our AX Delta stand for their own speaker too.
In 1995 we were approached by Green Futures who were running an alternative
powered field in the Green Fields at Glastonbury Festival. With Mik Fielding, Fred
developed the “Pedal-powered PA” which is a 500W 3-way PA system with similar
output power to a normal 5kW system. The first version used 1×15” Vitavox bass
driver in a 40hz compound horn, 2x100hz mid compound horns powered by 5”
Fane FR drivers and a single Vitavox 5×3 multicell horn with S2 compression
driver. We later used a more substantial bass driver and changed to 6” PD drivers
for the mids. Later Fred designed the 40hz BassStage … 2ft x 4 ft x 10ft … again
a compound horn but with a single 18” Emminence bass driver which has been
used for many years in “chill-outs” like the one at Solfest in Cumbria under the
It soon became apparent that there would be few buyers for built-in concrete horns despite their effectiveness in Fred’s own house. Fred started designing a free standing AXJET version of the compound horn with a Lowther PM2 driver in 1992 and showed the first ones at the Penta Hi-fi News Show in 1994 with the help of Tom Fletcher from Nottingham Analogue. We got good reviews but world wasn’t ready for the AXJET and we struggled to get decent sound levels and good bass … which are the classic drawbacks of this design. Fred took a 15 year sabbatical from hi-fi and concentrated on PA work and other businesses. Over the years Fred had been re-thinking the AXJET designs, convinced that some of the early PA methods of throating down the front of the driver would improve power transmission. Everyone who builds horns looks back to the early work of the pioneers from the 1920s onwards.
In 2011, Fred’s daughter Arwen persuaded Fred to visit the Hi-fi show at Whittlebury. It became clear that the world had changed in hi-fi and that the slump of CDs and emergence of mp3s and streaming was being redressed by high-res files and high-end equipment. This was the turning point that got us working on the new AXJET! It has been a long haul and it took many iterations to finally discover that the old designers were not always correct and we were able to eventually get proper bass and drive at extremely efficient high SPLs. Our work has taken us through many trials with all sorts of drive units…. Lowther, Volt, Audio Nirvana, Tangband, Voxativ etc. Finally Fred returned to Filip Keller in Stuttgart whose wonderful AER drivers are some of the best available anywhere. Together they have re-engineered both the AER drivers and the AXJET and
“afterburners” to create the Axsuperjet. With Arwen’s continued enthusiasm and drive we had a model that we could present at the Munich High-end Show for 2019!
Over the years we have used the original AXJETS in “chill-outs” at Glastonbury, Megadog, Space, Solfest and the Big Chill amongst others. The newest AXJETs have been used with the BassStage for live PA. Yet these are high-end reference monitors!