View Full Version : Look at these crazy things! - Plasmatronics


rgrjit8
07-06-2006, 07:46 PM
http://cgi.ebay.com/HILL-PLASMATRONICS-RARE-FULL-RANGE-PLASMA-SYSTEM_W0QQitemZ150007040363QQihZ005QQcategoryZ505 97QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

The fact that helium is used to hit the highs would make a good jioke, if it weren't serious.

I'd sure like to hear them, but Lord! how he carries on with his description!

yamahammer
07-06-2006, 07:51 PM
i hope the vocals don't sound like donald duck, or mickey mouse

mhardy6647
07-06-2006, 07:54 PM
Yup. Ozone's the problem with plasma speakers (especially full-range ones). I guess that's why the Hill Plasmatronics used helium rather than just ionizing air like the DuKane/EV IonoVac tweeters.

Paul C
07-06-2006, 08:09 PM
These WERE highly touted by the magazines at that time.

I've told people about those things, and their eyes cross, then they say, "You've GOT to be kidding!"

retrokeeper
07-06-2006, 08:38 PM
These have to be.....some of the weirdest damn speakers I've ever seen...just think...if the helium could make them "hover and float" around the room.....that would be really freaky :scratch2: :yes: Rob

bully
07-06-2006, 09:02 PM
They cost a small fortune, too.

Parky50
07-06-2006, 09:08 PM
Wow, those are strange indeed !!!
I would assume that these would rate pretty low on the WAF list as well... :nono:
I could just imagine a bunch a folks walking out of an audition room speaking like Micky/Minnie Mouse... :nutz:

Parky50
07-06-2006, 09:12 PM
i hope the vocals don't sound like donald duck, or mickey mouse


LOL... ya beat me to it !!!
Missed your post on my first read... apologies Mr. yamahammer.

Cosmos
07-06-2006, 09:28 PM
just think...if the helium could make them "hover and float" around the room.....that would be really freaky :scratch2: :yes: Rob

Yes, but think of the placement variables you'd have... :D

thedelihaus
07-06-2006, 09:47 PM
Alvin and the Chipmunks were used as a test record by the dealer of these... :smoke:

GnRNut
07-07-2006, 01:53 AM
careful with these "WARNING HIGH VOLTAGE"

2DualsNotEnough
07-07-2006, 02:29 AM
I dont think youd want to have friends over for a Cigar while listening to these...
BOOOOOOOOOOOM!
Jimmy

Nat
07-07-2006, 08:14 AM
I'm not sure about this, but I remember reading that these require a hell of a lot of electrical power, and that it might be neccessary to upgrade the electrical circuits in your house, and maybe even to it.

wineslob
07-07-2006, 10:36 AM
I think they also had high failure rates, if my memory is correct.

macaltec
07-07-2006, 11:48 AM
I've been toying around with a simple version of a plasma arc tweeter. It is basically the same setup used to make a plasma globe with a 555 timer chip in the circuit and some 10K trimpots to adjust modulation and duration of the spark gap. Don't really know what to expect, but for about $20.00 in parts its been fun so far. I was concerned with the ozone thing myself and glad to hear it brought up here. My Jacobs ladder (same principal) produces alot of ozone and becomes bothersome after a short while. I'm also curious to make a singing Tesla coil.

Blue Meanie
07-07-2006, 03:57 PM
I dont think youd want to have friends over for a Cigar while listening to these...
BOOOOOOOOOOOM!
Jimmy

Why? :scratch2: Helium isn't particularly flammable/explosive... :no:
And ozone is only flammable if made from pure oxygen... :yes:

Jeff

rgrjit8
07-07-2006, 09:19 PM
Alright, let's put our heads together and make a hydrogen powered subwoofer.

We can call our TOTL model "The Hindenburg!" :banana:

stuwee
07-08-2006, 09:59 PM
I lived in St. Louis for a short time in 1980, heard this at a shop never forgot the sound. The look when the lights were low. Trust me even at that young age I know a ploy when I saw one I wondered why? They sounded so great, why use the light show. If I remember correctly they cost $8,000 and rumors were already starting about reliablity. I will never forget the mids and the highs. I guess that's wht I love the Martin Logans so much. Wish I had the scratch to buy, get that old nostaliga :banana: :music: Even if they did crap out in a month!!

go :smoke: Craig

Bigyank
07-13-2006, 09:45 PM
Reserve not met and bidding on these suckers went to 1434.00!

Wonder what the reserve actually was......

Yank

Filmboydoug
07-14-2006, 08:49 AM
Isn't there a story about the inventor of this technology being hospitalized from breathing too much ozone at a trade show or some such?

wineslob
07-14-2006, 11:19 AM
Isn't there a story about the inventor of this technology being hospitalized from breathing too much ozone at a trade show or some such?

There were alot of "issues" with these speakers. The ozone being one, the device for the arc, and hissing from the gas supply. I would think they would be more of a curiosity piece than anything else. They did do mid-range EXTREMELY well.

Whitehall
07-14-2006, 11:34 AM
Ozone is highly oxidizing and makes a great bleach or disinfectant.

It is used in many places these days in place of gaseous chlorine as in sterilizing drinking water.

The EPA has very low limits on general air concentrations and OSHA has the same for the workplace.

Probably couldn't sell this gadgets today if they generate free ozone.

Nakdoc
07-14-2006, 02:12 PM
I have heard these speakers, and have known Alan Hill since I was a kid. Small world. Alan created the plasma speaker concept in an attempt to design a lens for the "Star Wars" laser. He was always an audiophile, so he started a speaker company to build a limited range version. I heard these at the 1979 IHF show in Atlanta. The tweeter was so good critics focused on the woofer as the weakness. Alan said the full range would have cost $20k in the day, but it would make the critics eat their words.
The helium keep oxygen from entering the plasma field creating ozone. Very little ozone is actually produced..about as much as a room ionizer. As far as I know these are reliable. If an AKer buys these speakers I will provide contact information. Last I talked with Alan these were still available on a custom built basis.
The woofer needs about 500 watts of Threshold type quality. The plasma tweeter, by the way, has THD of less than 1%!

Vint Age
07-14-2006, 03:59 PM
Auction ended with reserve not met. :scratch2: A high end, high quality, and high maintenence to be sure. I'll bet they're awesome but I'll stick with my NS-1000M's. They don't need 500 watts and a supply of hellium to get them singing and the beryllium drivers are pretty low distortion; plus they left me with a few $$$ in my pocket. :thmbsp:

Cyclotronguy
07-14-2006, 04:22 PM
The guy who had ozone toxicity wasn't Alan Hill and the speaker wasn't the plasmatronics.

That would have been Nelson Pass and the "Ion Cloud"

Cyclotronguy

Blue Meanie
07-14-2006, 06:36 PM
The guy who had ozone toxicity wasn't Alan Hill and the speaker wasn't the plasmatronics.

That would have been Nelson Pass and the "Ion Cloud"

Cyclotronguy

Wasn't that a STAR TREK episode (LOL)? :D :scratch2:

Jeff

webbb
07-17-2006, 11:20 PM
Well how about that. Never thought any of these were still around.
I actually heard these also, sometime back in early '80s it must have been. A friend and I went to some dealer someplace in LA area I wouild guess. I remember seeing them just as pictured, and hearing them. The woofer was indeed the weak spot, but the plasma sounded great. You would not hear the hiss of the gas supply during music. I remember thinking there was a disconnect between the fantastic mid/treble and the bass (but the cost was so probibitive to grad students that it did not matter).
Since my research at the time was the inductively coupled plasma for chemical analysis, it was rather interesting indeed to see this speaker come out. One of the other guys in our lab would modulate his driving frequency and make his plasma produce audio, but it was only sine tones that I recall hearing. I cannot remember if he actually got it to play music. And then there was the Plasmatronics that was actually made. There is high voltage in there - you have basically a radio transmitter that dumps the energy into the plasma, and then it gets modulated to make the sound as the nearly massless plasma increases and decreases in size. Quick - oh yeah.
You can get good chromatographic grade helium around here for about 60 bucks a cylinder and I think they last a loooong time in the Hill speaker. I don't know what the tank rental would be, but if you can afford these, then it would not matter much. They are definitely on the large side. Very large. But what a sound. However, I am not tempted since on the other side of the country and have not the room either.
I am glad one of you eagle-eyes spotted them.

Cyclotronguy
07-18-2006, 02:16 PM
I spoke with Alan Hill several months ago, while down at the White Sands Range in NM. He's still doing plasma physics and has some even more over the top designs for speakers.

Cyclotronguy

Bigyank
07-18-2006, 02:20 PM
:D Hey now! You should hook him up with our site here! :D

Yank

Cyclotronguy
07-18-2006, 02:45 PM
Alan's too busy running a business and playing with really big toys to hang out on the web, unfortunately... cause he's a heck of a fun guy and has more than a lifetime of fun stories. Has a really cool Hi-fi as you might guess. Just retired his vintage Threshold SA-1's. What stunning looking / sounding hardware those were.... talk about audio "jewelery". Nelson Pass did the circuits on those and Rene Besne did the industrial design.

Cyclotronguy

shstrang
07-30-2006, 08:26 PM
I've always wanted to see one of these up close. I remember seeing them in Stereo Review but never with this much detail

kstagger
07-31-2006, 09:11 AM
I actually had the good fortune of hearing the Dukane Ionovac tweeter. Absolutely amazing. So fast and pure. Too bad the rest of the speaker - midrange and bass - couldn't keep up. This was back in the 90s that I heard a resto-ed pair of the original Dukane speakers - but whew...

Susurus
01-17-2008, 09:31 PM
Only 5 plasma-based audio transducers? (commercially available or at least reviewed)

1. 1950's Dukane Ionofone/IonoVac/Ionofane (later EV)

2. 1979 Alan Hill -- Hill Plasmatronics

3. 1982 Siegfried Klein -- Magnat (http://www.plasmatweeter.de/magnat.htm)
Magnasphere Transpuls MP-X-101 with MP-01 plasma unit
Later models MP X-066 $8,000, MP X-088 $20,000 (with MP-02 plasma unit). These large units tried to push some real bass!

4. 1983 Nelson Pass -- "Ion Cloud"

5. (current) Acapella Audio Arts

Accidents - at the CES show

Susurus