My Story It was a cold winter day, during the times when I was not
really into vintage HiFi. I was new in town and decided to visit
local CD shop to see what was there. I discovered that apart
from CDs they also had massive basement full of vinyl records.
What a view! I went for a browse and fallen in love with the
music that was playing in the background - one of the soulful
tracks by Eric Bibb was playing from the rotating black disc...
Sound was coming from a set of old looking speakers, powered by
really strange (it was to me at the time) looking amplifier.
Despite the fact that an old power cable was used as a speaker
cable and secured with a piece of chewing gum, the sound quality
was mind blowing - so much warmth and emotion. Without
hesitating, I have ask the shop keeper about the music and the
equipment. The speakers turned out to be Celestion Ditton 44
powered via vintage Sugden Class A amp (don't remember exact
model). This was the time when I realised that sometimes vintage
equipment can deliver things that modern can't (there
may be different reasons for it, including nostalgia,
but it works).
I've done a lot of research about
Celestion, and concluded that higher model, Ditton 66, will be
able to deliver same character of the sound as Ditton 44 but
with superior clarity. I
wasn't in rush to get these speakers but one day, universe reviled
to me an
opportunity and I became a lucky owner of these beautiful
speakers. Ok, I had to spend 4 hours in the car to get them, and
the enclosures were in rather bad condition, but they were
mine! I was informed that they belonged to a HiFi shop in
Cumbria (area in UK) and were used for many years as their reference speakers
(this explained tatty enclosures and handle marks on the sides).
Well, at least I didn't have to worry about running them in...
Speakers were upgraded (more on it
here) adhering to the
factory specifications. Due to this, my views on performance of
are based on listening to them after the upgrade.
One may say that this is not right, but, most of the original caps in the crossovers were nearly 20% out of specs, and therefore,
speakers in the original condition did not sound how the
manufacturers intended them to do. This basically means that my
subjective views below refer to the sound that could be achieved
with these speakers with a bit of work. You will not get the
same sound if you buy them and leave them in 'original' out of
Instead of trying to write something myself, I have
decided that this description from the sales brochure gives a
good indication of what we are dealing with here:
"The Ditton 66 is designed to true professional standards of sound accuracy. Its smooth, exceptionally broad frequency response extends well
beyond the audible range, its dispersion is wide, and distortion extremely low - less than 0.7% in bass and mid-range at normal listening levels. Its high efficiency
(only 4.8 watts input required for 90 dB with pink noise signal) and high power handling capacity result in extremely wide dynamic range. The speaker can accept
programme inputs of 80 watts, for 102 dB S.P.L. output - even more on transients. Even the cabinet's distinctive visual design contributes to your listening enjoyment.
Its tall, slender silhouette permits maximum enclosure volume in minimum floor space (only 1.2 square feet), while aligning the upper frequency drivers more directly
with the usual listening level. Within the cabinet are a superbly matched set of drivers and the Auxiliary Bass Radiator, all aligned on a single vertical axis to
minimize diffraction effects. High frequencies are handled by the HF2000 tweeter (specified by the BBC. for monitor use). The mid-range driver is the pressure-dome
MD500. And for the bass, a combination of the FC12 bass unit and 12 inch ABR (Auxiliary Bass Radiator) together with the carefully damped enclosure form an acoustic
circuit that operates smoothly to frequencies well below 40 Hz. The crossover has resulted from considerable research and crossover points are at 500 Hz and 5000 Hz,
80 watts maximum. 4 - 8 ohm. This monitor loudspeaker system has an exceptionally wide and flat, frequency response."
Price When Launched:
Equivalent Present Day Price:
Current UK Price:
18 - 40,000Hz 90dB (1W input, measured at 1m)
8Ω (4Ω min.)
10 - 160W
HF - HF2000 25mm (1") Dome
MF - MD500 51mm (2") Dome
LF - FC12 300mm (12") Paper Diaphragm
300mm (12") ABR (Passive
500Hz & 5,000Hz
26kg (each speaker)
£330 (please get in touch if you have any info about
£600 to £1,500*
*For a pair.
Look & Feel
By modern standards these speakers are quite large.
Each speaker contains 12" passive radiator, 12" bass driver, 2"
dome midrange driver and 1" dome tweeter. The finishing quality
of the drivers isn't great. Unevenly spread glue, partially
covering driver surrounds; not the best paint finish and all the
other little imperfections common in many British speakers from
1970s. All drivers use standard ferrite magnets but the size of
the magnets on the midrange drivers is incredible - never seen
such a small dome powered by a such a large magnet! Baskets of
the bass drivers are made from a nice die cast alloy. Surrounds
of the passive radiators and bass drivers are made from rubber,
which survived past 38 years and does not look like it is going
to give up any time soon. The tweeter domes are covered with
protective metal mesh that often comes off. Luckily, both of
mine were in place.
The original crossovers are hardwired and they are made from
components that were available in the 70s, which means - out of
specs electrolytic capacitors (with an exception of the tweeter
section). But it is not all bad. We have four air core inductors
which indicates that manufacturers did not look for savings
are made from veneered chipboard, with three internal
reinforcements - fairly rigid but we can do much better
nowadays. The grilles are made from thin metal (not something that
you see very often!) and wrapped with acoustically transparent
black material. Not the best solution, but I never listen with
the grills on anyway.
In my opinion, despite some flaws, very good looking speakers,
especially versions with veneered fronts. Photos below present
the speakers and crossovers after the
When I plugged in these speakers for the first
time, I've had certain expectations in terms of how they are
going to sound, mainly from reading
multiple comments on forums, however, these speakers sounded way better
than I was anticipating. First thing that came to my mind was
how balanced these speakers were. After giving them some more
time, I've started noticing other things. Deep soundstage and
ability of instruments sounding from behind the
speakers is only one of them. Another thing is transparency of
the sound - it is very good indeed, but not overwhelming. Not an
easy thing to achieve. There are many speakers with greater
transparency than 66s, but not many that are equally transparent
and still not fatiguing to listen.
The amount of bass generated by 66s is an
interesting subject. I was never expecting them to go as low as
my Tannoy MG15 in 210 litres BR enclosures. However, on 95% of
tracks that I listened, they generated more bass than Tannoys
MG15. Intrigued by this, I've plugged in signal generator and
started playing. It turned out that between 40 and 80Hz Dittons
sounded louder than MG15s, but they dropped rapidly below 40Hz,
whereas MG15s continued to generate the sound. As a result of
this, MG15s were still generating fairly loud noise at 30Hz
where as 66s were nearly silent. The conclusion is that very few
recordings feature deep bass as we understand it (i.e. 18-30Hz),
so getting excited about 18Hz in a sales brochure isn't always a
good idea. For example fabulous looking specs of 66s -
18Hz-40kHz - perhaps manufacturer forgotten to mention
Enough about the technical specs though. The bass generated by
these speakers is actually quite good and got some punch, which
became clear when I played No Excuses by Alice In Chains from
the MTV Unplugged album.
Midrange and treble are very natural with a
bit of warmth to it. This pays of when listening to more
atmospheric tracks like Lost and Lookin' by Sam Cooke, where
that little bit of warmth plays an important role in engagement
with the track. On the other hand, the same thing that makes
Celestions engaging in quiet tracks, makes them less engaging on
busier tracks. That is not to say that they will sound flat on
busy tracks. Far from that! They will still sound better than
most of speakers within this price range, however, there there
many speakers out there that will play the busy passages with
greater level of separation/transparency.
What these speakers do best is natural presentation of vocals,
clapping and pianos, not to mention the balanced sound across
the whole frequency range. Where they could potentially improve
is separation and depth of the sound stage.
Extremely good speakers, really good value for money. Clear
and full bodied sound with plenty of dynamics and well controlled
deep bass. Good all-rounders.
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.