Watkins Generation Four
With current technology and our forty two years of experience we have finally succeeded in designing a speaker we believe is unexcelled at reproducing pure and natural sound. The Generation Fours literally open a door to a realistic and believable soundstage of imaging, detail, and natural tonal quality. With good recordings the speakers simply disappear, and you hear each instrument in its own space with a natural air between them, along with the natural ambience of the recording site. Our exclusive dual-tuning process allows the lowest note on the bass fiddle to be reproduced at full power and with detail, as well as drums and other bass instruments. This is unsurpassed for a small speaker of the Generation Four's size, and it gives the music a full-bodied and detailed sound, unlike the thinner booming sound of other small speakers. This in a bookshelf size, and also at an affordable price. Listening to music on the Generation Fours is a pleasure you may not have experienced before. Handcrafted in Tennessee.
A TRUE VALUE AT $2,495 / PAIR
Dual Tuning for Better Bass
Inherent to small speakers is an undesirable bump in frequency response of around 3 to 6 dB in the upper bass with the low bass falling off below that, thusly they are notorious for poor bass response. We employ a new and unique concept of dual-tuning, which focuses on the driver and the enclosure, resulting in phenomenal and detailed low bass response for a speaker of its size.
Two types of tuning dominate 95% of the market, sealed box and vented port, each having different advantages and disadvantages. Our new and exclusive technique combines the advantages of both, without the disadvantages of either.
Unlike other small speakers, where the frequency response in the low bass has dropped down in volume, the wattage creating the undesirable bump in their upper bass is now re-directed into the low bass to bring it up to par in volume. This eliminates the bump and creates flat frequency response throughout the entire bass region, allowing the harmonic structure of music to be reproduced correctly. You hear bass instruments with detail and a tonal quality that spells realism, and are a pleasure to listen to.
Note in the response curve shown below that the roll-off is precisely 18 dB per octave. This is exactly what it should be for a hybrid between the 12 dB per octave for a sealed box system and the 24 dB per octave for a vented port system.
Our Goal and Accreditation
Before getting into details, a few words about our experience. We've been designing and manufacturing upscale loudspeakers for forty-two years, all handcrafted in Tennessee. Although a small company, we are known world-wide for our patents and innovations. Our speakers have received Editors' choice awards by both The Absolute Sound and Stereophile magazines, the leading magazines in the audio business. We invented the Watkins dual-drive woofer, marketed world-wide by Infinity. It received world-wide acclaim and was decisive in putting Infinity on the map. It had no equal at reproducing low bass in the pre-subwoofer era. We pioneered the first acoustic absorbers for music room treatment, and they were hailed as a breakthrough by the leading magazines. We hold three U.S. patents on loudspeakers, and have authored numerous articles in the leading audio magazines. Our goal has always been to create speakers with excellent tonal quality, high definition, and extended bass. In short, a speaker that creates a realistic soundstage like that of a live performance.
Why the Generation Fours Sound So Good
Our exclusive Watkins dual-tuned bass system delivers full power down to 41 Hz with flat, clean and detailed response. Unlike other small speakers, this allows the Generation Fours to reproduce bass response that provides a full-bodied and satisfying sound to the music.
The cone composition and damping ring in our low-mid frequency driver allows for a uniquely smooth and flat response and peak-free roll-off in the high end. This allows instruments and voices to be reproduced with correct and natural tonal accuracy.
With our first-order crossover design, the impedance does not fall below 6.7 ohms from 20 through 8,000 Hz, or below 5.3 ohms above that. The benefit here, along with a higher than average 88 dB sensitivity is an easy load for an amplifier. This can make a given amplifier sound better, and monster amplifiers with high wattage are not needed. A 60 watt per channel amplifier is quite adequate in the average size listening room. The 5.3 Ohm minimum impedance also allows tube amplifiers to operate a cleaner mode.
The smooth roll-off of both our low-mid frequency driver and tweeter is due to eliminating the usual need for crossover inductors with their inherent distortion and undesirable reactive load on amplifiers. Thus there are no sharp peaks and dips in either impedance or phase like that found in other crossover designs. Even very expensive speaker systems are not in the same league with the unsurpassed low value of reactance of the Generation Four's phase response (compare this with any speaker on the market today). The benefit from this low inductance load allows amplifiers to reproduce transients more accurately, resulting in music that's better defined, clean, and without harshness.
Another major factor to the Generation Four's clean and natural sound is our exclusive custom-damped tweeter. All tweeters have a high-frequency resonance that distorts and colors the sound. Our special damping process eliminates this unwanted resonance completely. This is another factor in allowing the entire musical spectrum to be reproduced with natural, clean, and uncolored sound. See following section for details.
The Generation Four operates in the dual-tuned mode of our own exclusive design, providing unsurpassed low deep bass in a small cabinet. The lowest notes on the bass fiddle (its lowest octave) are reproduced at full power with detail between each note, and with natural tone unique to a small speaker. This is due to extended and flat frequency response below 100 Hz, that reproduces each note with its original volume and tone intact. This applies to the low notes on other instruments as well. The end result is a foundation for music that provides full and satisfying sound, again unique for a small speaker.
Our low-mid frequency driver cone uses a special blend of polypropylene and minerals for low distortion and clean natural sound. The motor utilizes both aluminum shorting rings and coil back-venting for linear movement and low distortion. It also incorporates our exclusive damping ring for natural reproduction of voices and instruments in the mid-range band.
The tweeter is acclaimed world-wide as the best of its type, and is second to none in its low distortion. We then modify it to eliminate the high-frequency resonance peak in frequency response common to all dome tweeters. This resonance emphasis of a band of frequencies (which varies in intensity with different tweeters) is one of the causes of slightly harsh and edgy high frequencies on violins, horns, and other high frequency instruments. A small round and thin disc of plastic or other type of patch is used in front of the dome in most tweeters to minimize this undesirable coloration. Instead, we use a special proprietary damper on the tweeter itself to completely eliminate the peak at its source and stop the problem in the first place, instead of trying to patch it over. The result can be heard as clean and well defined high frequencies, pinpoint imaging, and natural air and space between instruments.
We install a small rigid and airtight enclosure behind the tweeter to prevent the woofers very high back pressure from modulating the tweeter dome. Normally this pressure flows through the domes necessary mounting plate openings for the voice coil wires, along with any leakage between the dome mounting plate and the magnet assembly's front plate. Thusly I.M. distortion, which can be as high as 10% at normal listening levels in some systems is eliminated. The result is clean, accurate, and enjoyable sound that prevents listener fatigue. For example, cymbals have a natural shimmer, violin higher notes don't bite your ears, and there is a distinct and natural air space between instruments.
Multiple order crossovers using reactive inductors (coils) are found in practically all dynamic loudspeakers, again in an attempt to minimize problems in the frequency response of the drivers themselves. And again we have stopped the problem at the source itself and completely eliminated the need for inductors that themselves cause coloration. As noted, our low-mid driver utilizes a special "sandwich" type cone, shorting rings, and coil back-venting, along with a proprietary damping ring to eliminate the need for inductors. The Generation Four's crossover is a first order six dB design, using just a single premium grade low-loss capacitor. This avoidance of using reactive coils is difficult to design into a loudspeaker, and therefore almost never found. However it is the only type that allows accurate transient response and truly excellent detail in music.
The icing on the cake is the unique time-aligned sloped front baffle, allowing the sound from the low-mid driver and the tweeter to arrive at your ears at the same time. The end result of this, and all the above is speakers that literally disappear. If you close your eyes you won't be able to pinpoint the location of the speakers, instead you hear a panorama of natural and realistic sound as though you were present in a concert hall.
Recipient of The Absolute Sound's 2018 Editors' Choice Award
and their 2017 Golden Ear Award
Click here to read our latest review in The Absolute Sound's December, 2017 issue.
Quotes from Stereophile about One of Our Previous Models
Larry Archibald (Stereophile Magazine owner) wrote:
"As this review appears, the Watkins WE-1 remains firmly ensconced
as J. Gordon Holt's reference system. In fact, for the first time there
has been a respite from JGH's recurrent pleas, "It just doesn't sound
real," or, "I haven't liked anything I've listened to for months."
Instead I hear, "Have you noticed how these grow on you?"
Gordon Holt (editor of Stereophile Magazine) wrote about the Watkins WE-1:
"The more these speakers stay around my listening room, the more I like them.
I find these speakers "wear" better than any I have lived with for many years."
Click here to read our Watkins WE-1 review in Stereophile.
Generation Four Specifications
Type: Two-way dynamic, operating in our exclusive dual-tuned bass mode (patent pending).
Drivers: One 6 ½ inch woofer-mid, and one 1 inch magnesium alloy dome tweeter.
Frequency response: +/- only 2 dB 41 Hz to 20 kHz. Down 10 dB at 30 Hz and 28 kHz.
Crossover: Special 6 dB first order with no inductors or resistors, and just a single premium
grade low-loss capacitor. We use 99.99% pure oxygen-free copper wiring. All connections
are soldered (no clip-on connectors). Even the two internal connections in the capacitor are
soldered. This will prevent oxidation and distortion over time.
Phase shift: Unequaled overall for a conventional dynamic speaker. Maximum 38 degrees
with no sharp peaks or dips. Only 8 degrees shift in the critical mid-range band from 250
through 3,000 Hz.
Sensitivity: Above average at 88 dB at one meter with 1 watt input, 180 degree radiation
Impedance: An easy load on amplifiers, 8 ohms nominal. Minimum 5.3 ohms, maximum
20 ohms, 20-20,000 Hz.
Recommended power: 30 to 150 watts, unclipped music.
Break-in: 40 hours of music at reasonable levels, or 20 hours of pink noise.
Inputs: CARDAS SILVER PLATED COPPER binding posts.
Stands: Recommended height: 28 inches to 32 inches.
Cabinet: High density non-resonant with special 4-way internal bracing. Time-aligned front baffle.
Finishes: Superior, furniture grade natural cherry and black ash.
Dimensions: HWD 14 x 8 ½ x 13 ½ inches.
Net weight: 24 lbs. each. Shipping weight 32 lbs. each.
Warranty: 2 Years.
Price: Available direct only, allowing an exceptional value at $2,495 / pair (You save dealer markup.)
15 day return privilege. If returned, buyer pays shipping costs.
Origin: Our speakers have always been handcrafted in Tennessee.