CTS / Zenith 49-1045 12 inch full range drivers

I must be channeling the Zenith Gods lately, because here is another great sounding vintage Alnico driver that stumbled into my studio at a super affordable price. Made by CTS and labelled Zenith, the 49-1045 featured here dates to 1967 and came from a top-of-the-line Zenith X942 solid-state console. I know that might sound like a curb alert item to many folks out there, but to put it in perspective, those consoles went for almost $500 in 1967; the equivalent of around $3800 today. Very similar in some ways to the incredible 49CZ852 driver, the 49-1045 has a similar 12 inch ribbed cone, but with an added whizzer for sharper high frequency performance.

All in all this is another superb performer from vintage Zenith. Sounding almost as good as the CZ852 driver, this one puts out a more forward soundstage and a little more snap. Otherwise it shares a lot of the 852’s sound; a big and effortless soundscape with tons of palpable detail, but still smooth and relaxed at the same time, especially for a whizzer cone driver. Of similar efficiency, I'd say 95-96 db/wm based on perceived volume. I've been running it with the Yamamoto 45 and my Type 10 amplifier, both with great results. If I hadn’t already experienced the 852 I’d surely think this was the “One”. In side by side comparison, I do still prefer the 852, but part of that might have to do with the fact that my pair have thousands of hours on them now (and my ears are used to them), while this pair just came out of its console after many years of hibernation. Time will tell, but it's sort of a toss-up either way. If you find a pair, highly recommended.

Notice the splotchy discoloration on the cones from decades of sunlight moving through the cracks and fabric in the console.

The frames are much beefier, although somewhat less elegant than the 852. To me, these really resemble the Philips/Norelco full range drivers of the same era, but in my experience the Zenith sound is more balanced. I wish I still owned the Norelco drivers for a side by side comparison, although I’m confident the CTS/Zenith would trounce them.

137 is the designation for CTS, and these appear to have been made in the 10th week of 1967 (710).

Here are the 1045 and the 852 side by side for comparison.

Quite a lot more Alnico on the 1045 driver.

There are some clear differences in the shape of the cones and baskets.

Here are the Zenith 49-1045 set up in my living room system in simple open baffles and driven by Lance Cochrane's PP EL-84. These sound great in the big space.