GS402 Speaker

A later version, the GS402, was manufactured after Ira sold off the company.  While similar to the GS401, the design includes a number of improvements over the earlier series.

It was sold in two form factors- wooden and chrome ended. A variety of wood finishes were available.

Wood finishes included White Ash (shown at left), Black Ash, American Walnut, and Rosewood.

 

 

 

The GS402 attempted to reign in some of the GS401’s alleged sins. It retained the classic Peerless K040 midrange while substituting Peerless woofers and a Philips AD tweeter, as well as a different crossover which vented out the rear of the cabinet for better cooling.  The rear adjustment potentiometers are also deleted.

 

The GS402 series features a higher 200 watt power handling and produced a morestable amplifier load than the old 401. In the picture at left, you can see the ceramic resistors behind the metal grill. Also note the lack of fuses and mid and high frequency levels controls as featured on the GS401 series.

External Ceramic resistor values are: Small= 4R7 (original RS part No.155-857)…/… x2 in middle= 11w 8.2 ohm and 11w 6.8 ohm…/…remaining pair is 15w 3.3 ohm x2. fuse is 800 milliamp.

GS402 Crossover

 

 The crossover out of the speaker enclosure.  Note the inductor coils (pink L1, L2, L3, and L4 components) and capacitors (light blue) represented (on the opposite side of the board).  Resistors and their associated values are located in the lower right corner of the picture.

The ceramic resistors behind the vented rear panel.   Note this is only a small portion of the crossover PCB as seen above.  Note that this version does not have a high frequency fuse as shown in the crossover photo above.

Contemporary Reviews

 

 

402 Instructions

 

DW Labs Ltd Instructions for the Gale GS402 Loudspeaker

In order to achieve the highest possible standards of performance and reliability, every Gale loudspeaker is individually calibrated and tested before leaving the factory,

The following notes have been complied to assist you in obtaining the maximum performance from your loudspeakers.

Positioning
For best results position 500 mm from the floor. There are minimal differences between placing the speakers vertically or horizontally. Both speakers in a stereo installation should be at the same height – ideally with the tweeter directed towards the listener’s ear. The speakers are sold in matched mirror-image pairs. The panel at the rear of the speaker indicates R(ight) and L(eft). Stereo imaging will be impaired if the speakers are not correctly placed right and left.

Normally it will be found advantageous to site the speakers on the shorter wall of the listening room, at least 1 metre from the corner, angled so that the axes of the speakers intersect just in front of the listener.

Correct positioning of the speakers is critical and depending upon room acoustics, it can take a great deal of experimentation to locate the speakers optimally.

Connection
Connections should be made securely to the Red and Black terminals, using cables of at least 5 amp rating. It is important that the phasing between the speakers is correct, and this can be ensured by connecting the Red terminals to the same polarity speaker output on the amplifier.

Connection to the speaker terminals can be facilitated by using either standard banana plugs, or for preference a twin moulded plug of 19 mm spacing, ensuring no possibility of short circuiting the amplifier output.

Amplifier
An amplifier capable of delivering between 40 and 200 watts RMS into 8 ohms should be used. Where an amplifier of lower output is used, substantial amounts of high frequency distortion may be produced.

Signal Source
Whilst the Gale GS402 speaker can easily handle the output of any amplifier rated 200 watts RMS per channel or less, it is not intended that the speakers be used for acoustic experiments involving the use of high level signal tones.

The Gale GS402 should not be used for studio monitoring levels in excess of 95 dB SPL. When used in conjunction with a tape machine, ensure that the speakers are muted from the source when shuttling the tape backwards or forwards.

Maintenance
The materials used in the Gale GS402 speakers are of the highest quality, and will give many years of satisfactory service. The GS402 is finished in wood veneer, which is hand-rubbed and oiled. If the veneer becomes dry and dull in appearance, it can be restored by a very light application of teak oil. The treatment should not be carried out more than twice a year.

The grille cloth is made of polyester which is resistant to scuffing and staining. However, it can be damaged by excessive heat and, if exposed to strong sunlight for long periods of time, it may fade. Dust may be removed from the cloth by careful use of a vacuum cleaner, and any marks treated with a barely damp cloth. The use of excessive amounts of water must be avoided as this may damage the cabinets.

Chrome Ends
Polishing with a clean dry cloth is usually sufficient. Resistant marks can be removed with a mild metal polish or a clear window cleaner. Generally take care with the chrome caps as they can be scratched fairly easily.

Packaging
The GS402 speaker is supplied in authorised export packaging and it is recommended that these are retained in case the units need to be shipped.

Manufacturers Specifications

 

Type Infinite baffle, acoustic suspension speaker incorporating separate sealed midrange and tweeter units
Cabinet Constructed from three layer high density chipboard. 18 mm thick and incorporating internal bracing struts to eliminate panel resonances. The cabinet is finished in oiled wood veneer.
Drivers Two 200 mm bass units, one 100 mm sealed midrange unit, one 25 mm sealed dome tweeter.
Crossovers 750Hz and 5000Hz
Impedance 4 to 8 ohms
Efficiency 1 watt for 88dB at 1 metre
Frequency Response Free field responses as measured in the GEC Hirst Research Centre is 45 – 22.000Hz ±3dB. Typical responses in an average room is 35 – 25.000Hz ± 5dB
Power Handling Suitable for use with amplifiers delivering 40 – 200 watts RMS into 8 ohms.
Shipping Details 25 kilos
725 x 420 x 370 mm
Warranty In the unlikely event of speaker malfunction, warranty service will be generously interpreted. Unauthorised tampering or repair to the speaker shall render the warranty null and void.

Review from New Hi Fi Sound: 1984

The Gentleman’s Speaker

‘The cult status of the Gale loudspeakers had the good fortune to remain low-key enough to avoid hype, keeping hi-fi buffs aware of the name without becoming too popular. Thus our interest was fired by the chance to test drive the new GS402’s. Peter Carey tried them out.

Up until now , I suppose the Gale loudspeakers have been to the hi-fi world what Leica cameras are to the world of photography or Morgan sportscars are to the motoring world: something of an anachronism.

One could admire their single-minded pursuit of quality and the purity of their design but to actually own a pair – that took something else again. Or at least that was the case with the idiosyncratic Gale 401 loudspeaker – you know the famous (infamous?) one finished in chrome which lay on its side atop a matching pair of chrome stands.

Rightly or wrongly this speaker earned for Gale a reputation for building quality loudspeakers solely for the dedicated hi-fi enthusiast. Their unusual appearance, horizontal positioning, supposed amplifier fussiness and room sensitivity – not to mention their price! – all marked the Gale 401A as a speaker for the hi-fi nut. Some swore by them, others swore at them!

But this reputation for producing a product ideal for the constant upgrader and fiddler has surely all changed with the arrival on the scene of the Gale loudspeaker for the 1980’s, the Gale 402.

The Gale 402 is a development of the 401C and 401A (the latter being the chrome-end capped version) although that model continues in production for a while yet, chrome finished only. The 402 itself will be available in a chrome finish by Easter of this year – all being well – at a price yet to be announced.

For the moment, the 402 is available in real wood finishes of white ash, black ash, American walnut or rosewood with metallic charcoal grey grille-securing corner pieces. However, Gale will paint the corner pieces according to individual requirements if asked. The basic wood -finished 402’s retail at £479 while the rosewood finish will set you back an extra £50, at £529.

A matching pair of stands are also under development using spiked feet in keeping with current thinking on loudspeaker stand design. The older design stand sold with the 401A simply lacked the rigidity required and was deemed unsuitable for the new speaker. The price of the revised stand has also to be announced but they should be available at the same time as the chrome finished 402A.

As far as I know, these stands Gale were developing never made it to the market place. I do however know that the Gale 402 was actually developed using Linn Sara stands – a good match.

Having dispensed with the aesthetics, how does the new GS402 differ from its predecessor? Well, it is important to understand that Gale were not looking for an entirely different design when they embarked on the 402 project. Rather, they were looking for greater reliability and repeatability form what they felt was essentially sound (groan-Ed) design.

Consequently, a great deal of attention was paid to the often troublesome electronics of the 401 loudspeaker. The 401 had a rather complex crossover – one of the reasons for its reputation as amplifier ‘fussy’ – which has two level potentiometers for adjusting the speakers mid–range and treble response. These were mounted at the rear of the cabinet, adjacent to the input terminal.

Unlikely as it may seem, these pots were not intended to be user-adjustable but there for factory tweaking to compensate for drive unit variations. Needless to say, many owners could not resist ‘fiddling’ with the result that the pots loosened and became noisy.

In addition to these problems, Gale were also faced with the embarrassment of crossovers melting when the 401’s were over-driven, although that took some doing!

At any rate, to overcome both problems Gale have switched to fixed value sound resistors in the new GS402. These not only do away with the pots on the rear – simplifying the crossover and alleviating user-problems at the same time – but also to assist in cooing crossovers when the going gets tough.

Further to this simplification of the crossover, the old 401 design employed two fuses – 5A main fuse and 650mA treble fuse – to protect the drive units should anyone attempt to drive the speaker with inadequate amplification clipping on peaks. Gale accepted that the use of the fuses was probably limiting the ultimate performance of the speaker but countered that they prefer their customers not to use the treble units as fuses! However, in the 402 they have gone halfway by removing the main fuse but retaining one 800mA fuse to prevent tweeter damage from inadequate amplification.

On the drive unit front, the Gale 402 still uses four drive units, two bass, one mid-range and one tweeter. The bass drivers are their own 8 inch units as used in the 401 as is the mid-range unit, a Peerless unit doped by Gale at the factory.

The major drive unit change concerns the treble unit. In place of the previously used Celestion unit, Gale are now using a Philips tweeter in the 402. The main reason for this is not so much the better quality, just more consistent quality, the Philips units suffering fewer production variations. Not only has the drive unit itself changed though, its placement has also been altered. It is now mounted asymmetrically to improve stereo imaging.

The grille cloth on the 402 is also worthy of a mention. The older 401 model employed a lip around which the cloth was wrapped. This created secondary sound re-radiations – most unwelcome. Consequently on the 402, Gale have adopted a loose grille cloth with deep hems into which are inserted four round section steel rods. These rods are located over grommets on the front baffle and then clipped into place with the decorative corner brackets. It would appear to be an elegant solution to a thorny problem.

The review pair were supplied in light ash with red corner pieces and I can certainly vouch for their standard of finish : quite superb. Similarly impressive was the solid construction of the beast.

The standard 402’s use 4mm binding posts to connect the speaker to an amplifier although the up-market 402A will use Fisher connectors.

Positioning the speakers presented no major problem, I eventually located them several feet from the back wall and a good three feet in from the side walls – all right if you have a large room because at 610 x 370 x 270mm, the Gale 402’s are not small! Although the Gale 402 speaker was developed with the speaker in the horizontal position, I preferred them upright, even though differences in sound were minimal.

With a Linn-based front end and a Naim 32/SNAPS/160 amplifier combination, no problems were experienced in driving the Gales to adequate listening levels.

Playing the track ‘This is the House’ from the Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ album, it immediately became apparent that the 402’s could really move the air around. Percussion work was very well extended as you would expect with a box of this size, but also powerful.

Drums and percussion work were delivered very smoothly indeed, perhaps a little too smoothly for some. The 402’s certainly do not generate the same ‘buzz’ of excitement or activity that say, the Heybrook HB3’s are able to at the bottom end. At the same time, they do not have a lot of ragged, loosely controlled low frequency energy that the HB3’s can often generate when producing very rapid, vigorous drum bursts.

The Gale’s also lack the HB3’s tendency to be a little too ‘vivid’ in overall presentation when it comes to reproducing high frequency energy. A case in point was when Annoy Lennox let rip on this particular track, her forceful raunchy voice becoming a little strident with the HB3’s, the top notes rapping you around the ear in a none too subtle manner. This never happened with the Gales, but then you did not lose that quality of dynamism, aggression, or out and out raw energy that the HB3’s were able to recreate.

The Gales did exhibit superb imaging though. The track, ‘This City Never Sleeps’ from the same album has some intriguing effects such as the sound of falling rain passing from one side of the sound stage to the other. With the Gales you are magically transported across this sound stage and feel you can almost reach out and participate in the picture created.

There was a similar effect with the opening bars of ‘Overture -Cotton Avenue’ from Joni Mitchell’s ‘Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter’ album. The interplay between the right and left channels of Joni’s voice and guitar work came across clearly with no merging or blurring of the sound stage. However, the ‘steeley’ feel to the guitar did not come across as well as with some cheaper speakers I have heard. With the Gales, the information was there but you are able to feel your way around it at leisure.

The Gale 402 is, if you like, something of a gentleman’s speaker what a Jaguar saloon is to an out and out racer like a Ferrari. Speakers such as the Heybrook HB3’s give you a cleaner, more instantaneous sound but the smooth, effortless delivery of the Gale’s is something that beguiles you over a longer period of acquaintance.

The title track from the very powerful and dynamically recorded album ‘Thriller’ from Michael Jackson further endorsed this very point. On the one hand, the power and impact of the synthesiser work is there for all to hear using the HB3’s, the trumpet and saxophone solos from Williams and Reichenbach respectively really leaping out of the mix at you.

The Gale 402’s, on the other hand, provide great punch and depth to the same synth lines but with a more recessed presentation of instrument solos. The complex synthesiser arrangements are not as well revealed by the Gales and vocals do not have the same raw energy, but he smooth, powerful, seamless rendition of the Gales has a lot to recommend it.

So what does that leave us with? Well the 402’s are not going to set the world alight, that’s for sure. They do not have the resolution of detail and the clear presentation of complex musical arrangements that speakers such as the Heybrook HB3 posses. At the same time, the Gale’s are not afflicted by the strident high frequency characteristics that often go hand in hand with more dynamic ‘immediate’ speakers.

No, the Gale GS402 is a very powerful and very, very smooth loudspeaker, capable of an astonishingly effortless performance at frighteningly high output levels.

6 Responses to GS402 Speaker

  1. Lothar says:

    What surprises me is, that most people only know the 402s with wooden cabinet, no chrome, although there IS a very rare chrome version.
    Looking at the 401 and 402 Chrome version you could never tell the difference.
    Only way to tell is looking at the back with the ceramic resistors, see pics above, taken from my 402 chrome version.
    Some more differences inside, but who dares to take a pair apart? YES! David does, but I would be frightened stiff to ruin something!

    Lothar

  2. Gordon Macfarlane says:

    Hi guy’s I recently acquired a pair of 402’s
    The serial number panles are missing so I an not sure which is the left and which the right speaker.
    Any help will be much appreciated

  3. Mhinman says:

    I just picked up a nice pair of 402A speakers, black with the chrome ends. They play well so far. They do seem power hungry. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers!

  4. robin-hobart says:

    Looks like a pair of 402s in Adelaide.
    Like my old ones – Celestion tweets rather than the Philips
    WITH the original stands!
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/221073027392?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649#ht_500wt_1344

    • DS says:

      Robin;
      The lady? or is it the usual husband hiding behind his wife’s ebay account? contacted me to see if I had any information, I basically told her/him the same thing as you have posted. I would summise that Gale used the remaining stock in various mixtures and chose Australia to off load it!

  5. DS says:

    An answer to the 402A ‘how much are they worth’ question on the old Google site is frankly ‘not a lot unless you are a Gale fan’. The average person would have no idea what is between the two chrome ends i.e. 401 or 402 configuration. The genuine 402A is very scarce there is no doubt about it but not a lot of people would not be aware of that outside our circle. You could of course just post the words ‘extremely rare’ on ebay and see how it goes but invariably most of the recent Gale sales via ebay (in the UK) have been once again to our members or would be fans. As far as the different driver question goes it appears that if you have an early pair around the 300’s they were still using the old 401 CTS bass drivers, when you go to later serial numbers they have then gone over to the round magnet Peerless OEM type, also in the very later versions they have black internal cabling with DW Labs tags on all wiring instead of the colour coded wiring……confusion rains but it all adds up to experience……….

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