Mellow Acoustics FrontRo is a very unusual looking — make that ‘unique’ looking — loudspeaker. That’s partly because it’s a hybrid electrostatic, but that is only one contributing factor. Designed by Josh Ford, the FrontRo actually looks a little like an inverted exclamation mark and leans backwards slightly to keep the electrostatic panel pointing towards listeners.
I knew nothing of Mellow Acoustics, so I thought I ought to find out a little. The company was founded quite recently, in 2011, by Tim Mellow who had accumulated some 30 years of experience in the sound industries. He wrote numerous JAES papers, and also worked alongside Leo Beranek on a new version of his classic work ‘Acoustics’. Tim is very much an electrostatic fan and spent some five years developing a new form of electrostatic panel, called an Oscillating Sphere. (For further details, see the JAES paper entitled: ‘How do we make an electrostatic loudspeaker with constant directivity?’)
In many respects the FrontRo is quite unlike any loudspeaker, partly because it stands very low on the ground (with a total height of less than 80cm), and partly because the shape of the bass chamber is essentially triangular (at least from the front). There’s also a slight backward tilt, to point the electrostatic panel axes towards the seated listener.
However, despite the resultant unique style, ‘looks’ weren’t the primary consideration. FrontRo consists of two distinct sections: the ‘triangular’ sealed-box bass section supporting a circular electrostatic panel with a diameter of around 32cm/12.5ins.
Crucially (in my opinion) it has a crossover frequency at a relatively low 600Hz, which is a couple of octaves below the typical two-way model based on conventional dynamic drivers, and well below the zone at which the hard consonants associated with speech are found.