EgglestonWorks Andra II loudspeaker
Since the Andra's debut in Stereophile there have been big changes at EgglestonWorks. While too complex to detail here, the end result is that the company is now under the resolute leadership of president Michael Sabre and director of sales and marketing Jim Thompson, but remains in its tradition-rich home of Memphis, Tennessee.
When Sabre and Thompson determined that the time was ripe for updating the Andra, they didn't have far to look for inspiration. After Sabre assumed control of the company, EW developed their titanic Ivy Reference in collaboration with mastering legend Bob Ludwig, for use as Ludwig's reference at Gateway Mastering. The Ivy was then translated into the only slightly less imposing Savoy.
The lofty ambitions of the Andra II project were to make significant and meaningful improvements to the Andra, ladling in a large share of the performance of the $100,000/pair Ivy and $40,000/pair Savoy. The primary goals were more accurate amplitude response, higher efficiency, deeper bass response, and a major increase in overall transparency—a tall order.
Evolution at Work
Some of what has changed in the journey from Andra to Andra II is apparent at first glance. The Andra II is more than 7" taller than the original. The cabinet has very thick (1.53-1.79") walls of layers of MDF laminated together with vibration-damping adhesives, then cut to shape on a computer-controlled milling machine. The slim top section, containing the midrange drivers and tweeter, remains clad in black granite, and the overall fit and finish are everything one would expect in a speaker costing nearly $20,000/pair. With their slender top sections and deep-cabinet design, the Andras do not overpower a room, and their handsome presence attracted plenty of appreciative comments. The knuckle-rap test produced only bruised knuckles and a heavily muted tk from the speakers. These are exceedingly dead boxes.
A glance around the back of the speaker shows another major change. The cabinet is now a sealed box, and the woofer chamber is 50% larger than that of the original Andra. Just about all that hasn't changed are the drivers (footnote 1). The twin Dynaudio 12" woofers have 4" voice-coils to handle high power, and are considerably farther off the floor than in the original Andra. They now operate in a pressure-loaded push/push (isobaric) configuration, and the cabinet in which they work is filled with a non-settling, crimped Dacron called AcoustaStuff. The result is a more even impedance curve and improved efficiency over the first Andra.
The Andra's heart remains two beefy 6" Morel 166 midrange drivers connected directly to the speaker's inputs. The Morels are modified by EW to meet their own specifications, have 3" voice-coils, and, like the woofers, can accommodate large amounts of power. The original Andra ran these drivers full-range, but the EW design team became convinced that driver-to-driver differences in the Morels' top-end rolloff compromised the speaker's ultimate performance.
One of the most challenging exercises for the EW team was therefore developing a crossover network that let the Morels work only in their most effective bandwidth without affecting the speaker's much-lauded midrange. According to Sabre, achieving this took months of work, primarily listening. The midrange drivers now operate with sealed transmission-line loading, with more AcoustaStuff packed into the labyrinth. Up top, the Dynaudio Esotar tweeter still holds pride of place. If there's a better dome tweeter, I haven't heard it.
Footnote 1: Owners of the original Andra can have their speakers upgraded to II status for $2750/pair plus round-trip shipping to Memphis. This includes major changes to the cabinet, a complete crossover change, new wiring, modification of drivers, repolishing of the entire speaker, and full inspection of all internal and external parts.