Coral "Holey Basket" fe103a full range driver

These unlikely little industrial speakers are the best sounding sub 6 inch fullrange driver I’ve yet heard. Truth be told, they best most of the drivers I've owned, regardless of size. Known unofficially as Coral Holey Baskets, these little 3.5 inch drivers were made by Coral for Sony, and came as portable speakers in some of the Sony Tapecorder reel to reel machines made in the mid 1960s. With large alnico magnets, fabric surrounds, and thick white ribbed cones, these little things are monsters.

Smaller full range drivers can have the ability to somehow tie a lot of program material together into a super coherent package, and these old Coral drivers excel at that, but at the same time they give a good sense of big seamless space that other small full rangers (and most drivers in general) usually lack. They have an "open-ness" to their sound (without betraying the bass) that few other speakers I've heard can convey. And most importantly, they pass along an emotional presence with the sound that is hard to quantify, but that very few drivers seem to be able to do. If only they had made a 12 inch version of this driver, it would be the unrivaled King.

I used these for years at a previous home in a living room system mounted in the Telefunken cabinets and driven by Lance Cochrane’s EL84 amp. The little Corals are still my primary application with the Telefunkens as the surprising giant/miniature combination never fails to impress me. How can these little speakers deliver the goods in a way that a big 12 inch driver fails to do? It's mystifying. These little Coral’s have a real gift for imaging and a sound that completely belies their size. HIGHLY recommended, and a real bargain in DIY hifi. These will put a smile on your face.

Update Summer 2022: After several years of lying dormant, I recently put the little Corals back into rotation, mounted in the Telefunkens. This is still such a wonderful sound to listen to. Lately I’ve become re-fascinated with the Altec 755a legend, and have been keeping an eye out for a legitimate pair that don't cost the moon, but I have to wonder if I get them whether these little Corals will end up just trouncing them. These don't play loud, and don't have the clarity (or size) of the 18 inch Lii driver I’ve been addicted to, but they do have something else, something that's hard to articulate, but it is warm and familiar and these “little monsters” get my very highest recommendation. After 15 or more years of knowing this sound, and a dozen or more drivers past, it is still a top recommendation and a really superb sounding driver. (For the adventurous.)

The mighty Coral Holey Baskets in the big Telefunken baffles. NO ONE who hears these for the first time can believe its only the little Coral drivers making such a big sound. Of all of the drivers that have gone into these old cabinets over the years, the little Corals are one of my favorite implementations. One of my very favorite drivers so far in this journey, and surely one of the best sounding speaker drivers of all time.