Coral Flat 5 Version 2

I think its pretty obvious looking at this website that I’m a fan of Coral. They produced some of the most iconic full range drivers of all time, and I think overall they were much better than most of the competition of their era. One of my all time favorite speaker drivers is of course the diminutive Coral “Holey Baskets”, an industrial driver that came with the old Sony reel to reels of the 60’s and that I’ve talked about a bit on another page here. Another favorite is the Coral Flat 10, a driver that really opened my eyes to the amazing wide band sound early on in my hifi journey. Now I have discovered what I think is probably the best sounding Coral of the lot, the Flat 5 version 2.

Yes, I think this is the one. As Coral’s smallest offering in the commercial market, these 5 inch drivers from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s are simply stunning in performance. Over the years, I’ve gotten used to good sound, and as my wife says “our ears are spoiled”. I can’t argue. But hearing these little wonders running in my Telefunken cabinets, we are beyond spoiled!

I lucked out finding a pair of these amazing little drivers still new in their packaging, never mounted. There isn’t a whole lot of info or anecdotal experience on the internet about these speakers, but the little that is out there is very positive, so I didn't really know what to expect beyond pretty good performance. One bit of info I found suggested that these were a good replacement for the famous Quad ESL speakers. Its hard to believe a 5 inch driver could in any way replicate the sound of a multi-panel ESL, but I have to say it would be an interesting shootout.

Immediately upon firing these up for the first time I knew they were very good, and as they broke in and loosened up they proved to be nothing short of incredible. Like the Holey Baskets, they make a MUCH bigger sound all on their own than they have any right to. Bass is there, but of course it’s rolled off at the extremes in an open backed cabinet. What is there is very detailed and articulate. Plucked upright bass sounds quite realistic, if only slightly rolled off (and we used to own an upright, so we know what one actually sounds like in person, as opposed to some exaggerated pro-tools fantasy). Piano is also very good. But unsurprisingly, where this driver really shines is in the human voice. Voices can be incredible. Depending on the recording they can float out into the room in a way that can be a spooky realistic. Tonality is so good! Placement and space is among the best I have heard in my room with the Flat 5. The upper frequencies are strong and vibrant without being pushy and over-sharp in the way a whizzer coned driver can be. These are very smooth, but not veiled in any way. They are very easy to listen to for long sessions.

I have only rarely seen these drivers for sale in 20 years of this hobby, so I hesitate to recommend them so strongly as they may be nearly unobtanium. However, I can’t think of another small wide band driver I would say sounds better. The Coral Flat 5 V2 are simply amazing, and in my experience, their overall performance is probably in the top 2 or 3 out of all of the wide band drivers I’ve owned so far. Super highly recommend if you can find a pair.

My pair of the Coral Flat 5 drivers were still sealed in their plastic bags, although one had been opened and removed at some point ages ago, and has a bit of the “liver spotting” that these white cones sometimes exhibit. The other is completely mint. Amazing, like opening a time capsule. What a treat!

Nicely crafted drivers.

Here they are in the Telefunken open backed cabinets. The Flat 5 were NEVER meant to be used in this way, they are designed for a bass reflex box, and yet they excel in this big cabinet. In comparison to the Holey Baskets, these have more smoothness and detail and feel more hifi, while the Holey Baskets do still have the “emotional” context nailed down. The Alnico might have a part in that; Alnico has a special magic that just cant be quantified. Its good to own both!