YL, GOTO, ONKEN, ALE - A SAGA

In the beginning, it was YL ( Yoshimura Laboratory ), and they became very famous. Yoshimura Laboratory started with the 555 and tried to go beyond. Even today, if not produced anymore for many years, Yoshimura Laboratory drivers are very common in Japan, and many used ones are available. YL let an important mark. All contemporary high-efficiency speaker designers in Japan had their beginning at Yoshimura Laboratory. Goto was founded in 1965 by Seya Goto. Goto san was an employee at YL Acoustic, which president and founder was Yoshimura San. In a short time, Goto got responsible for the development and construction of compression drivers for home use (hi-fi). Besides Goto, Endo San, founder of ALE acoustic, and Koizumi San ( founder of Onken ) were also former employees of YL Acoustic. 1965, after some important developments of drivers for domestic usage, YL ( which was not a small company, but rather making products at industrial scale ) decided to work with other products, more compact and easier to produce, orienting to finished speakers with folded horns. 

Seya Goto, however, went the opposite route, developing more complex drivers and systems, with higher performance, without care of the cost. In a few words, he wanted to produce new products, wanted to find new limits, go beyond the limits achieved at that time being. YL was not interested to go in this direction, so Goto left, and let Endo San and Koizumi with the development of YL.

Goto had in mind to make products, much more superior to the ones, YL had made in the past, products that would be the avant-garde of audio products for home use. So he started his independent research, and concluded, that the horns hat to be spherical, round, and straight. He came to this conclusion through mathematical/theoretic research, and as well through long listening sessions.

Soon after starting his venture, he met Takajo San, a famous guy amongst audiophiles in Japan, and an expert in the master recording. Takajo San was also passionate about hi-fi, and so, right after they met, he asked Goto to develop better drivers, with the ability to have higher dynamics and better detail. At that time, Takajo had a not very common opinion and philosophy, which today might make us smile: an audio system must be able to reproduce sound in a way, that it is indistinguishable from the original sound. Takajo made a vast number of recordings and compared them with his audio system, improving the results more and more. This influenced Goto remarkably. Takayo registered many times the noise of insects, because they represented to him very specific and particular sound, like a violin. The noise of insects in particular, repetitive, and rapid transients, very difficult to reproduce well. Takajo understood the importance of the transients, more than other parameters commonly used. So, the support of Takajo San was enormous and permitted Goto to improve the horn profiles, to change the magnets, the diaphragms, etc.

After this important and intense period, Goto presented his new products, with the promise of a sound, closer to the original sound, with the slogan: “Original, and reproduced sound, must be the same.”

Since then, Seya Goto never stopped, and improved his products, even at a short looking, it doesn’t appear evident, the big step forward he made in more than 40 Years. Goto had in the beginning only compression drivers in his program, and not woofers. In 1965 the diaphragms of the drivers were of aluminum, like the best American tradition, from which he started. Amongst the first products were the sg17 tweeter and the sg555 midrange. One of the first improvements was the substitution of the tangential suspension with an FRP film ( probably mylar ): the improvement was substantial. 

Afterward, Takajo was fundamental also for the development of the first Goto woofer. At the time, Takajo used woofers special for horn loading, and made for him, by a TAD engineer. When one of the TAD woofers stopped to work, he searched for the TAD engineer, but the men had died, and TAD was not able to repair the woofers. So Takajo asked Goto to repair it. Goto observed intensively that object and understood that the development and production of a good woofer were perfectly in his ability. Goto never repaired that woofer but developed one with an enormous magnet. The weight was 40kg. It was this way that Goto also started to make woofers, completing this way his offers, to realize a horn system, only using Goto Unit drivers. So the SG38W was born. Goto did find out as well, that horns had to be short, to have low distortion and a correct sound. So, contrary to all others, he chooses the hyperbolic profile. This profile has an important characteristic: “The impedance is constant almost from the cutoff Fc frequency, contrary to the exponential profile. This was the determinant factor of the choice of Goto, if however not the only one.”

Don’t let forget us listening. The model SG370, and SG16TT, have been produced without any change for 30 years, now. The SG38W is not the same today as in the past. The improvement of the Goto products went through various steps in the last 40 Years. Seya Goto founded his company with this goal in mind, to surpass always the limits, and this is what he does until today.

Cost is not an important factor, he is driven by the passion of research, because, reproduced sound must sound the same as the original sound. Some improvement was to use stronger and bigger magnets, and the bettering of critical parts, with the introduction of very expensive but extremely well-performing materials, like permendur, and last not least, with the introduction of diaphragms made of beryllium. Unfortunately, these drivers are also much more expensive.

Stefano Bertoncello