The world's first compression driver

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Staff member
ODJT Supporter
Nov 10, 2006
Ventura County, CA
Most PA speakers use compression drivers to reproduce high-frequencies. They are highly efficient and since they concentrate the sound into a small area, they are great for feeding into horns. Of course, horns are great for providing directionality to a sound source.

While large concert systems as we know them developed in the 60s, horns were used from beginning of sound reproduction. Early record players had no electronics but they had horns. Early audio amplifiers were not very powerful. To reproduce sound, efficiency was needed and thus the compression driver came to be.

The earliest compression driver is the Western Electric 555-W and it came out in 1926! Here is what it looked like.

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DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
I care about historical accuracy, and I'm quite sure the world's first compression driver was a woman, probably married, and quite angry. Though shrill in it's reproduction, it had unusually high SPL and wide coverage. It remains to this day a leader in high frequency projection.