My Story I have developed great appreciation for vintage Celestion speakers, after my experience with the top of the
range model, Ditton 66; and I always wondered how small
bookshelves from the same manufacturer would sound like.
To my knowledge, the smallest speakers made by Celestion
during 70s were the Ditton 10. However, they rarely appear on
eBay, so I decided to purchase a pair of slightly bigger, Ditton
15. These on the other hand frequently appear on eBay, and you
can pick a pair in decent condition for around 100 GBP.
Just to clarify - usually before reviewing vintage speakers, I recap the crossovers to
ensure that capacitors are within manufacturer’s specification.
On this occasion, caps were within specs, so there was no need
for a recap, so this the review of unmodified speakers.
The Ditton 15s were launched in 1966 and were one
of the smallest speakers in Celestion's offer (the smallest
speaker in the offer was Ditton 10, shortly followed by County,
Ditton 15, Ditton 44 Monitor, Ditton 25 and Ditton 66 Monitor).
The Ditton 15 is a two way construction with 1" dome tweeter, 8"
bass driver and 8" passive radiator, housed in a relatively rigid, braced
enclosure. There is a first
order filter feeding the bass driver and a second order filter
feeding the tweeter, so a fairly simple crossover setup.
From what I gathered, back in the day, these speakers offered very
good value for money and sold in thousands in the late 60s and
early 70s. According to the Internet sources, the Ditton 15 was
eagerly sought after by the stereo conscious public, and became
the biggest selling bookshelf loudspeaker of its time.
Maximum Input Capacity:
Look & Feel
These Celestions, in my humble opinion, are
very pretty to look at, especially with the grills on. Finishing
quality of the enclosures and majority of components is very
good indeed. Enclosures are made from 15mm chipboard with
couple of bracings inside and veneered all the way around. To
reduce enclosure vibrations, thick 'dynamat like' damping panels
were attached to internal walls (visible on the photos).
Enclosures are tightly packed with foam (not all of it is
visible on the photos as I large amount was removed to allow
The crossovers are made from basic components that were
available in the early 70s, which is no surprise. The drivers on
the other hand are very well made. The tweeter, is the well know
driver with a built in turbine grille, used in many other
legendary constructions including Spendor BC1 - you can find out
more about this driver
here. The bass driver is an 8in paper diaphragm coated with
some sort of rubbery looking substance (most likely to dampen
resonances) and driven by a medium size ferrite magnet and
suspended on long lasting rubber surround. The basket is made
from very rigid cast alloy. The passive radiator shares the
design topology with other speakers from the Ditton range. It is
a light polystyrene piston, with surrounds on both side of the
piston - very different to passive radiators available nowadays.
After first listening test I had to check my amplifier to
ensure that the treble knob is in the level position... The
first impression I get it that there is a bit too much treble in
comparison to the other frequencies. People often describe this
type of sound as bright. I was a little surprised to see this,
as I was expecting the relatively early roll-off of the tweeter
to create adverse effect (i.e. lack of treble). It shows how
little musical information there is above 15kHz.
The speakers appear to be fairly transparent, however, their
perceived transparency is more of a result of the boosted treble
than a characteristic of the actual speakers. Complicated music
passages show it clearly, where little Dittons often struggle to
keep up. Another bad news is that they don't seem to have much
room around the instruments - these microlevel details that
create recording atmosphere are just not there. The soundstage
appears deep and wide, however, the imaging is not great. These
speakers are good at reproducing male vocals, and I really
enjoyed listening to Frank Sinatra on them (not necessary the
most realistic reproduction, yet, still enjoyable).
If you had read any of my previous reviews, you might have
noticed that I often test how well speakers reproduce clapping.
I found that a lot of speakers struggle to realistically
reproduce it, which often sounds more like frying something on a
pan than clapping. Unfortunately Celestions Ditton 15 make
clapping sound more like frying. Saxophones and other
instruments sound ok but are nothing to write home about. Not to
mention relatively weak attack.
I had great hopes for these speakers, because of impressive
sound of their bigger brothers, 44s and 66s, however, these
small bookshelf speakers are a bit of a disappointment.
Pretty little speakers with relatively clean
and bright sound. Quite unbalanced though, with
treble dominating over all other frequencies. Not very engaging to listen.
Balance of Sound:
Neutrality of Tone:
Please note - if you want to know what I
mean be the descriptions above, hover you mouse over them.
More detailed information will be available in separate
section of this website.