Matsushida / National / PanaSonic 8P-W1

Here are pretty much the weirdest looking speaker drivers I’ve owned in my many years in this hobby, but one of the very best sounding in my Telefunken cabinets. These are the wonderfully exotic Matsushida National (later PanaSonic) 8P-W1 wide range drivers. These date to the mid-1950’s, and somehow in all this time I had never heard of this speaker driver until I purchased the pair below. It just goes to show that there is always something new and surprising to be found in this odd hobby.

I’ve seen and owned a number of vintage Japanese hifi drivers and have always been pleased. This pair is probably the earliest that I’ve yet owned and certainly they are the most unusual. The 8P-W1 are dual cone drivers and one could almost argue they are tricone. The main cone is an odd shaped biflex, with a strangely textured metallic parasitic cone attached where a traditional whizzer might normally go, and all of this is topped off with a very prominent bulbous phase plug. I don't recall ever seeing a driver quite like this and one has to wonder at the logistics of launching and producing a speaker driver like this way back in 1954. A lot of research must have been put into these, for they are far from normal or ordinary and don't seem like a mainstream product at all.

As you can imagine I was excited to get these mounted into the Telefunken cabinets and making some music. After cutting the facia boards and setting these up I was very pleasantly surprised. You never know until the moment you fire them up, and these are sublime! I know they have been compared online to the famous Western Electric/Altec 755a and although I’ve not yet heard that speaker (hopefully one day), there is something mysteriously realistic about the sound of this Matsushida National speaker. Plucked strings have a resonance and aura that is remarkable, and the human voice sounds quite authentic. Bass energy is quite powerful and easily deep enough for most music, and I don't feel any need for a tweeter here. I’d estimate sensitivity at around 94 db/wm, so at 8 ohms its a fairly easy load for most of the flea watt amplifiers. Although there is not an overt impression of hyper detail in the way a few of my drivers have been, these none the less portray everything you want to hear on a recording with a wonderful sense of organic reality and big open space. I don't think they are missing anything, but are not exaggerating anything either. There is something about their tone that is almost breathtaking. If you have ever heard a non-oversampling DAC it is a similar feeling; coherent and very natural.

So, are these weird old Matsushidas the best? In all honesty I don't even know what that means anymore. I can tell you that these are EXTREMELY easy to listen to and put a smile on my face as soon as they start going. They are giving the Coral Flat 5 v2 a good run for the money, and I could certainly be happy with this sound for the long haul. I’ve never seen another pair of these before, and plan to keep mine. If you enjoy the wide band driver sound and ever come across a pair, I highly recommend them.

Unique looking speakers!

The bulbous phase plug apparently gave this speaker the nickname “The Fist” back in the day.

Nicely crafted vintage drivers.

The goose bump texture of the parasitic cone must serve a purpose. All in all this is certainly one of the strangest, but best performing drivers I've owned so far.