XP Series Speakers 1959-1973

Discussion in 'Fisher' started by TheRed1, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    Part 1 of 5 (1959-1964)

    High Fidelity, Oct. 1962
    To be able to quickly enter into the rapidly expanding small-box component speaker market of the late 1950s, Fisher contracted with Bill Hecht's United Speaker Systems, Inc. of East Orange, NJ. That exclusive relationship lasted until Avery Fisher sold his company to Emerson in 1969. The first product of this partnership was the XP-1 which sold for $129.50. Introduced in 1959 for the 1960 model year, early versions are shown with an "egg crate" style grill and the classic script 'TheFisher' badge. Later version are shown with a standard cloth grill.

    1960

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    1961

    In 1961 Fisher added the lower-cost XP-2 ($84.50) and the premium XP-3 ($224.50) while continuing to offer the XP-1 as a mid-line model at the same price ($129.50). The XP-3 appears to have only been available for short time early in the model year and was replaced mid-season by the slightly less expensive XP-4 ($199.50).

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    The XP-2 was offered as part of Fisher's nifty little 'Custom Module' mini-console paired with a TA-600. Despite the scarcity of information on the 'Modules', I have been able to trace them through 1965. The 1962 CM II used a 100-R, X-100, MPX-200 and a pair of XP-2's. The 1964 CM III used the 50B tuner with an X-100-B and XP-2's. The 1965 CM IV used a 400 receiver and XP-5's.

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    1961½

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    1963

    The XP series (XP-1A, XP-2A & XP-4A) were all updated, receiving the new rectangular two-tone badge with the Fisher swallow. It is probable that there were also changes in the speaker design but I don't know the details. Prices remained unchanged.

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    1964

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    Do any of you Fisher collectors have early XP Series Fisher speakers? It would be interesting to get some impressions of the quality and potential desirability of Bill Hecht's creations. Photos would be cool, too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012

     

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  2. sipuser

    sipuser Well-Known Member

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    I have the following and like them all but only listen to the XP-10's daily.

    XP-1A
    XP-10
    XP-7B
    XP-9C
    KS-1
    WS-80
    WS-1
     
  3. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    Wow, that's quite a representation of Fisher/United speakers. I didn't realize there were any collectors of this oft-maligned product category. It looks like you're only an example of the first generation short of a complete collection. A pair of rare XP-3's would round it out nicely. If you were to hook them all up together they'd certainly make a unique home theater set-up.

    Coincidentally, I had just started working on part 2 which introduces the XP-10 when I saw your post. That is apparently quite a speaker - I'm not surprised it's your daily driver. Do you have any of the original literature that accompanied your speakers?
     
  4. larryderouin

    larryderouin Turn it UP, POP? PLLUUEEEZZZZZEE Subscriber

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    I've got a pair of WS-1's. Strictly Mid and high's. More of a filler speaker to kill the dead spots. German driver (4x7 approx). I use them with my Futura or C.E. as extensions in the corners.

    Larry
     
  5. sipuser

    sipuser Well-Known Member

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    I grew up with fisher gear so have always found them to be first rate. I also have Altec's, JBL and Pioneer's speakers to compare with and find the Avery era speakers sound are just as good as others made back in the day in the right sitting IMHO.

    I'm not much into the home theater thing so that will never happen :)

    I'm not real sure on speaker documentation, I have a 3' stack of fisher information from the 50/60's era but havent gone through it in 10 years. I keep the catalogs handy but owner and service manuals and other fisher information are stored away/buried behind other stuff.

    My XP-10's are keepers, just the right size with the right sound pressure for my room size. I sold a pair of XP-18's about 7 years ago to my regret but they needed a larger room to really shine and a friend finally wore me down on the 18's so I sold them.
     
  6. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Caesar non supra grammati

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    I have XP-56 and XP-9, as well as a later model called the 102 which is, in fact, an XP-56 with some very minor cosmetic changes. I like them very much. The XP-56, with the replacement of the cone tweeters by some generic domes, are my favorite 2-way speakers, period.
     

     

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  7. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    Part 2 of 5 (1965-1967)

    From a Dealerscope profile of Bill Hecht by David Dritsas:

    It would appear that the XP-10 was the first speaker to incorporate Hecht's soft dome tweeter. However, dating its introduction is a bit tricky. Audio magazine claims it was introduced in late 1963 which would probably place it in the 1964 model year. I can find no mention of the XP-10 actually being for sale prior to the 1965 model year which is when it turns up in Fisher catalogs and price lists. Perhaps Audio is referring to pre-production examples that were made available to the industry press. I don't know.

    1965

    For 1965 Fisher expanded its speaker selection with two new models: an entry-level model, the XP-5 ($54.50) and, at the other end of the spectrum, the impressive XP-10 ($249.50). The rest of the line-up remained unchanged, including prices.

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    Note that the Audio review refers to the introduction of an eddy-current damped electrolytic-copper voice coil in the XP-4A. Perhaps the new voice coil was one of the changes made in '63 that the 'A' in the model number signifies.

    1966

    For 1966 Fisher retired the XP-1A, XP-2A and the XP-4A, introducing three new models to replace them: the XP-6 ($99.50), XP-7 ($139.50) and the XP-9 ($199.50). Also, sometime during the model year the XP-5 became the XP-5A with an increased price of $59.50. It was the only model not using Hecht's new soft-dome tweeter. The XP-10 continued as Fisher's flagship speaker with its price unchanged.

    The seemingly odd omission of an XP-8 model might be explained by the pronunciation of the model number sounding like the word expiate. I am sure a keen salesman with a background in publishing, like Avery Fisher, would have appreciated the implications of a speaker with a name that sounded like some sort of atonement might be required.

    EDIT: Based on the console catalog, the '66 models would have been the first to have individual ID badges in addition to the rectangular, two-tone 'The Fisher' badge with the swallow. However, there have been instances where Fisher catalogs omit the insignia in their illustrations; so a certain amount of skepticism is warranted. From the '66 Fisher console catalog:

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    1967

    1967 retained the previous year's model line-up and prices with one "small" addition. The new XP-33 "Little Giant" became Fisher's least expensive XP speaker at $49.50.

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    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  8. Ken Boyd

    Ken Boyd AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I came across a pair of the X10's they were in great shape, and I really wanted to buy them to go with my Fisher amp, but I have to say, I was not all the impressed with them as far as the sound. I think the hi frequency drivers were dead. When everything is working do they sound any good?
     
  9. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Caesar non supra grammati

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    Many think so.
     
  10. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    It's also possible the controls for setting the tweeter response were either turned down or perhaps corroded and non-functional like those in AR-3 speakers often are.
     
  11. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Caesar non supra grammati

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    The conventional wisdom is that Avery Fisher preferred a 'rolled off' sound to his speakers and insisted that they sound this way. In my small sample set, this rumor is true. In my case, for my XP56, I replaced the tweeter (and removed a resistor in the simple crossover network that was used to attenuate the tweeter). The dome tweeter in the XP7 speakers I have (I incorrectly said I had XP9 above) is often hardened and non-responsive. I replaced mine with Fostex silk dome tweeters.
     

     

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  12. Ken Boyd

    Ken Boyd AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I checked the pots on the back, they were much more than what one would called rolled off highs, I think they were non existant. If the guy still has them I will probably snag them if I can get him to come down a bit. I would think finding some tweeters to get them going wouldn't be something I couldn't manage.
     
  13. sipuser

    sipuser Well-Known Member

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    Ken Boyd, from what I have heard and noticed in Fisher speakers that used the orange dome tweeters most need to be rebuilt to bring the XP-10's back to full sound.

    In my XP-10 the tweeters did work but I pulled them to save for later and replaced them with a PE Dayton Audio Silk Dome Tweeter with a 4 ohm resistor in series. I also cleaned the Pots and rebuilt the crossovers with new caps. You can see what I did in this thread.

    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=471760

    It took a couple weeks for the new caps to break in and for me to notice a change but once I did I'm glad I went with the new caps.

    The High Fidelity XP-10 write up TheRed1 posted above is spot on in my opinion.

    Vintage Fisher speakers are excellent and with a little attention are well worth the going price for most of them.

    TheRed1, another great Fisher thread, thanks for posting all this information!
     
  14. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    I have always been skeptical about that particular bit of web wisdom. I've certainly never seen any documentation to back that up. Looking at the entire span of Mr. Fisher's involvement in the audio industry and his speaker preferences over that time (1937-1969); it just doesn't make sense. He was one of the pioneers pushing the limits of frequency response at a time when most would have thought such a pursuit pointless given the limitations of 78 records and AM radio.

    His home reference system utilized some very exotic Western Electric drivers salvaged from the 1939 World's Fair (and now in the Smithsonian) that were anything but rolled off. After WWII he wrote to all of his old customers advising them to replace the outdated speakers in their Philharmonic consoles (Jensen A-12 field coil w/separate PM-6 tweeter or Cinaudagraph "Magic Magnet" speakers - not too shabby even by today's standards) with the new Altec Duplex speakers - for a "300% improvement." Even as late as 1988, with his aging ears, he was using KEF speakers in his home system. Certainly not the speaker choices of a man who preferred dull, lifeless music.

    I think it far more likely that the high frequency drivers and/or the crossovers used on Fisher/United's XP speakers just didn't age well.

    EDIT: . . . as confirmed by sipuser above.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012
  15. Ken Boyd

    Ken Boyd AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks to both of you for all the great info, I really like those cabinets and hopefully he still has them, as he knew I want them and I have already purchased a few pieces from him. I had pretty much already planned to just change out the drivers. I was thinking of putting in some Yamaha BE drivers for the hi frequency and possible the mids as well. I liked the Yamaha NS speakers pretty much with my SS amps but I liked them much better when I used the Fisher on them. I also have some spare Audax silk dome tweeters that I purchased as spares for another speaker set that would probably do well. If he still has them and I purchase them I will post some pics of them.
     
  16. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    Part 3 of 5 (1968-1969)

    1968

    A year that produced an explosion of new XP series speakers. For clarity I will subdivide the model year into early and mid-season (1968½) groups. The early '68 models might originally have been intended for the '67 model year. There is some evidence that Fisher experienced some sort of production hiccup in 1967 which delayed the introduction of new models. The following is an excerpt from a document clearly labeled "Dealers Confidential Price List - 1968" which is dated effective Aug. 1, 1967. That was an unusually early kick-off for a new model year - most initial price lists have a September or October date.

    Discontinued for 1968 was the XP-5A. New models included the XP-55 - a probable replacement for the XP-5A - listed at the same price, $59.50. The XP-6 became the XP-6B with a reduced price of $89.95 - ten dollars cheaper. (I'm not sure if there ever was an XP-6A model.) In counterpoint, the XP-7's price was increased ten dollars to $149.50. The old 3-way XP-9 was significantly redesigned; becoming the 4-way XP-9B without a change in price. Also unchanged in price was the XP-10. Topping out the line-up was the new 4-way XP-15 Consolette at $299.50.

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    Collectors' Note: Below are the models only mentioned in early 1968 Fisher sales literature which were discontinued by mid-season. These would have been produced for only a short time and would be, presumably, somewhat uncommon as a result.

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    1968½

    Following are the models available mid-season 1968:

    • The XP-44 "Little Giant, which replaced the XP-33 as the least expensive XP model at $44.50.
    • The XP-55B, an update of the short-lived XP-55 with a reduced price of $49.95.
    • The XP-60, a probable replacement for the XP-6B with a lower price of $79.95.
    • The XP-66, a new, inexpensive ($109.95) 3-way model that filled a gap that existed between the previous 2-ways and the XP-7.
    • The XP-7, now back at the '67 price of $139.50.
    • The XP-9B, now twenty dollars less expensive at $179.95 - probably to create a more even price spread across the line.
    • The XP-12, a new 3-way Consolette at the price point previously occupied by the XP-9B, $199.95.
    • The XP-15B, an update of the XP-15 with a price reduced by thirty dollars - Now Only $269.95!
    • The XP-18, a brand new 4-way with a massive 18" woofer and a very hefty price tag of $329.95 - EACH!*
    *It's probably a little late to note that ALL of the prices listed are for a single speaker. None of these speakers were what you would have called cheap!

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    1969

    The sale of Fisher Radio Corp. to Emerson Electric Co. (a division of National Union Electronics Corp.) was publicly announced in early February of 1969. Perhaps as a result of the impending change in ownership there were no new models. The black background in the catalog says it all - it was the end of an era.

    There is an unexplained mismatch between the illustration, which plainly shows three different consolettes, and the descriptions - which only mention the XP-18. As far as I can tell, all three were available in 1969 since they were also listed in 1970 catalogs. That's just sloppy and very un-Fisher-like.

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    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012

     

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  17. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Caesar non supra grammati

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    I can only say I do not know *why* the Fisher XP series speakers I have had exposure to seem to suffer from rolled-off highs, but it has seemed to be the case, and has been reported on AK by others as well. Recapping did not restore the sparkle, but removing the attenuating resistor did, in the case of the two-way speakers with cone tweeters. In the case of my XP7 speakers, the dome tweeters were simply hardened and non-functional, as appears to often be the case.

    I wonder sometimes if the issue is simply that modern tastes are a bit different. In my case, aging ears may also account for some of it.
     
  18. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    I completely agree that the criteria by which speakers are judged has evolved over time. What sparkled for Mr. Fisher in the late 1930s might not sparkle as brightly for you and me - but I bet it wouldn't sound half bad, either. Perhaps some of Fisher's reputation for lackluster speakers is a question of unrealistic expectations - especially for the longevity of now quite old high frequency drivers.

    While I sincerely doubt that Mr. Fisher ever limited the frequency response of any of his products to suit his personal tastes; I'm sure compromises were made - especially at the less-expensive end of the speaker spectrum. Your XP-56s would be a good case in point except that they were produced in 1971 (or later) which was several years after Mr. Fisher had sold out to Emerson.

    1971 was also well after Fisher's relationship with United Speaker Systems, Inc had ended. By this time Emerson had shifted all of its production off-shore and had divested itself of all of the older Fisher plants as well. It is unclear exactly by whom or where Fisher-branded speakers of the post-Hecht era would have been produced. It was supposedly quality control problems resulting from all the production facility changes that prompted Emerson to seek help from Sanyo.

    I think those old, stiff tweeters you found in your XP-7s are probably typical of what one should expect to find in the classic Avery Fisher/Bill Hecht XPs - and they should be judged accordingly.
     
  19. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Caesar non supra grammati

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    Well, my XP-56 (and identical in nearly all respects 102) are labeled "Fisher Radio, Long Island City, NY." I do not know if they were actually made overseas, but the drivers appear to be CTS or similar, not Japanese.

    Mine were completely non-functional; others have reported very weak response from theirs. I'm always surprised when I hear of a pair that still work at all and would tend not to trust them. But it is not a major feat to replace them with modern silk dome tweeters.
     
  20. Ken Boyd

    Ken Boyd AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Maybe a nice replacement would be silk domes made by Phase Tech, since Bill and his son owned that company. I have a few old pairs of their speakers and the dome tweeters in them sound very nice. I heard that Bill died recently but I know his son still is over there at the factory.

    I also talked the guy that had the X10's he has sold them but he informed me he just purchased a pair of the X15's I might go look at them if he doesn't think they are worth to much. For the most part I really don't want to pay much for a pair of Fisher Speakers because I beleive when it comes to speakers a person can do much better with his money.
     

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