Astute loudspeakers part 1
If you have read the previous articles introducing the Astute Loudspeakers, you may by now have a few questions about how we can overcome the serious limitations facing traditional speakers. Here is where things start to get interesting. Some things are inevitably highly controversial but the proof of the pudding is always in the eating so the best advice is to reserve judgement till you have heard them. The purpose here is to explain what they offer from a reasoned standpoint. New ideas and using the best of existing ones The Astute loudspeakers are revolutionary because of new ideas on controlling energy, drawn from our long experience of leading turntable and tonearm design. They are also revolutionary on the strength of a difficult set of judgment calls, which in combination, deliver a huge leap in performance.
A beautiful cabinet can command a high premium but hide a shocking number of unseen flaws that affect performance. Examples of this are multiple drivers with cheap magnet assemblies, brass connecting terminals rather than expensive copper ones, cheap cross-over components and computer generated designs which save a lot of time but are hopelessly unmusical and unable to capture you emotionally.
The Astute Speakers invest heavily in critical areas of performance, whilst not neglecting to give special attention to details that many would consider to be of minor importance.
How delayed energy reflections affect your loudspeakers
As mentioned previously, the first radical idea, is that of removing the speaker from the effect of long reflected energy paths. It took a long time
for the penny to drop that hanging the speaker was the best answer.
To produce sound accurately, we all know that conventional wisdom strives to hold the speaker absolutely stationary. This is entirely logical, as ultimate performance depends on positional accuracy in the motion of a driver. All vibration will of course upset positional accuracy and herein lies a significant hurdle.
You would think intuitively that a heavy, rigid box is the answer – right?
This approach is entirely understandable but has a couple of problems arising from an oversimplification of complex issues.
In conventional bookshelf speakers the energy reactions produced within the speaker are transmitted into a stand which then transmits the energy to the floor. At this point some of the energy is reflected all the way back from the floor into the stand and back into the speaker. This long energy path means delayed resonances which are highly detrimental and add distortion to the sound. The result is a smeared effect on the music along with overhung notes, especially in the bass.
In floor-standing speakers the situation is of course similar, except there is no stand. The problem is still that of a long energy path to the floor, with energy reflection taking a long route back to the driver. Interestingly, Max Townsend has launched a special “spring stand” which isolates floor-standing speakers from the floor. Reviews have endorsed that this approach really works and yields significant improvements. The unlikely answer Hanging a speaker using thin high strength cord is a fairly “ultimate solution” to eliminate delayed energy reflections and this is the method enjoyed by Astute speakers. Some people naturally wonder if there is a loss of impact by using a hanging design because they envision the cabinet moving like the recoil of a rifle when fired. This is logical until you consider that the speaker does not handle frequencies below 85 Hz. Also speakers operate more like a recoilless machine gun at these sort of frequencies and above – the physics here is complex and based on the momentum of air movement inside the cabinet affecting the moving cone.
Further to this you can see the cabinet is perfectly stationary and feels to have less vibration to the touch than many large speakers.
Next week we’ll look at some of the many other aspects of the Asutes.
Thank you for your interest.
If you wish to see photos of the Astute along with prices please see link
Origin Live awarded “Highly commended” by Hi-Fi+ magazine 2011 for the Resolution deck and gets into the top 30 “sights of the Gadget show” 2011.
Origin Live recently exhibited to a much wider audience at the “Gadget show Live”. With an attendance of around 100,000 it was interesting to note that many people had never actually seen a modern turntable. With its immense eye catching appeal, the Calypso and Sovereign deck had wives and girlfriends dragging their partners over to see them – always a good sign where looks are concerned. Of course our main reputation is built on sound quality but great looks really help.
We were probably the only stand out of 250 to get 2 products out of the thousands on show into the MSN tech “top 30 sights of the show”. The new Astute Loudspeaker got the 24th spot followed by the Calypso at 25. The “Bat Mobile” at £120,000 was number one, as a fully functioning replica from the cult batman film. This is a “large” car and parking it must be a problem but nonetheless an amazing sight. Not just the turntable was attracting attention, the new Astute speaker range got many admiring gazes and comments of “gorgeous!” The Astute Speaker is not just another box – there is so much to this speaker that makes it a ground breaking design – the main idea is to produce the superb sound quality that is only possible with large drivers. Rather than go down the road of a hideous box in the corner, we have come up with something that adds style to a home. If you are in the market for speakers or know of anyone who is, then these are to be highly recommended. Please see web site for details under “Speakers.”