Bookshelf Speakers

Usher Be-718 Bookshelf Speakers with Beryllium Tweeters

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Although Usher may not be a name that comes to USA consumers' minds when thinking of speakers, they have actually been making them for more than 30 years. Perhaps the lack of name recognition comes from the parent company being in Taiwan.

MusikMatters, a Dallas, Texas based company, became the exclusive USA distributor a short time ago, and Usher's reputation state-side has grown ever since.

The founder of MusikMatters, Atul Kanagat, looked at what American audiophiles wanted, and then went to Usher in Taiwan to get it made.

The result was the new Usher Be-718, which is the subject of this review.

Specifications

  • Design: Two-Way, Slot-Loaded
  • Drivers: One 1.25" Beryllium Dome
  • Tweeter, One 7" Woofer
  • MFR: 42 Hz - 35 kHz, - 3 dB
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB/W/M
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.06 kHz
  • Power Handling: 200 Watts
  • Dimensions: 15.2" H x 10.2" W x 16.9" D
  • Weight: 37.9 Pounds/Each
  • MSRP: $2,795/Pair USA

Usher

The Design

Usher makes some big heavy speakers. We reviewed a pair of these - the floor-standing CP-6381s - a few months ago. They weigh 137 pounds each.

The Be-718s are bookshelf monitors. They are about the same size as most bookshelf speakers, but are much heavier than average, nearly 40 pounds each.

They are beautifully finished on all sides, with the enclosure being made of an acrylic material, and with Birch wood side panels. You can choose either black or white for the acrylic.

Usually, one sees speakers that are either sealed (no port) or with a round port in the front or back. The Be-718s are slot-loaded, meaning that the "port" is a long thin slot rather than a round hole.

One other thing - the most important - makes the Be-718s unique: the tweeter is made of beryllium, which is a very light, very strong metal. In fact, beryllium has an atomic weight lighter than aluminum, yet it is much stronger. What this means is that the tweeter dome can be made very thin (the factory heats it to 7000 Fahrenheit), and this results in low distortion because there is less tendency for the tweeter dome's mass to interfere with its moving back and forth.

One problem with beryllium is that it is very difficult to work with (it's brittle and toxic if it gets on your skin), and so is very expensive to manufacture. In the past, companies have gotten around this by using alloys (mixtures of two or more metals). Finally, though, pure beryllium tweeter domes have emerged, through special manufacturing processes that have been developed. Nevertheless, only a few companies make them, partly because it is still a dangerous substance to work with.

The tweeter on the Be-718 is 1.25" in diameter. It is covered with a stiff metal mesh grille to keep fingers off of it. A close-up photo is shown below. You can see the gray beryllium dome beneath the mesh. A conventional cloth grille covers the entire front of the speaker.

2007-12-usher-be-718-speakers-tweeter-closeup.jpg

The woofer is 7" in diameter, and from the way air was coming out of the slot during low frequency tests, I would estimate that it has a very long excursion capability.

The rear panel has two pairs of very heavy binding posts, with metal bus bars that can be removed if you are of the bi-wiring/bi-amping ilk. There are two nuts on each post, and the outer one is used to lock banana plugs tightly into the posts. The inner one is used to lock down spade connectors.

2007-12-usher-be-718-speakers-binding-posts.jpg

All in all, these are some of the most beautifully made speakers I have ever seen.