December 1, 2009

Searching for the Extreme: Building the EgglestonWorks Andra III

After my positive experience with EgglestonWorks’ Dianne loudspeaker -- launched at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, and reviewed by me in May on Ultra Audio -- I decided to speak with the company’s owner, Jim Thompson, about the more ambitious Andra III, also launched at CES 2009. The Andra is the firm’s best-selling speaker to date, and the one most people immediately think of when the name EgglestonWorks comes up; the III is only the second update since the Andra’s inception. I asked Thompson for a little background on the Andra:

"The original Andra was introduced in 1997 -- really, in late 1996, but [we] didn’t really hit full production until 1997. It was at CES that year that we made a splash and were reviewed in Stereophile in October, subsequently being named Speaker of the Year in that magazine. The Andra II debuted in 2002."

Thompson also gave me some background on EgglestonWorks itself, which has kept a somewhat low profile in the last few years. But it seems that in 2009 EW is back and stronger than ever, as evidenced by my visit there -- one stop on The Great North American Loudspeaker Tour.

More of the backstory from Thompson: "EgglestonWorks as a name brand was established in 1992, though it has gone through major changes both as a product and a company since that time. I came to work for EgglestonWorks in 1997, right before the Andra being named Speaker of the Year [in Stereophile]. EgglestonWorks was one of those really cool companies in Memphis at the time that no one really understood. I mean, I talk to people now who glaze over when I tell them what I do. Some people don’t get it, and that’s OK.

"I came in at a pivotal time for the company. In late 1998, the founder of the company left, and in 1999 one of the original investors acquired the company outright. I stayed on and worked my way from an accounting/management position into sales and marketing. The process of building speakers fascinated me, and I read everything that I got my hands on. I was also lucky in that my father is a professional pianist/organist. Tinkering with musical instruments and appreciating music comes naturally when you grow up in a music store. Though I didn’t get into this directly to build speakers, that became the passion. Over the next decade I took over the reins of the design side as our product line began to grow. In 2004 I bought the company, and hope to further our position in the industry through innovation and exciting products."

Here is a pictorial account of the construction of the Andra III. My full review of the speaker will appear early next year, right here in Ultra Audio.

EgglestonWorks’ co-owners, Jim Thompson (left) and John Callery, holding panels that comprise sections of the Andra III’s internal woofer chambers.

Left: An Andra III multilayered baffle ready to be screwed and glued.
Right: A partially constructed Andra III cabinet showing the separate internal chambers that house the speaker’s two 12" woofers.

Sanding down the Andra III cabinets takes a lot of time.

A laminate is applied over the raw MDF cabinets to cover seams -- a step that’s said to aid in the finishing process.

Freshly painted Andra III cabinets. The rough section you see will be covered by side panels of machined aluminum.

After the cabinets are completed, the drivers and crossovers are installed, followed by the final testing. Perhaps the set you see here are the samples that will be shipped to the Music Vault for my review!

. . . Jeff Fritz


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