During the last twenty years, improvements in
speaker performance have come in vanishingly tiny
increments because we’ve pretty much taken the
technology as far as we can. And now that HD music
is commonplace, the weakest link is the speaker.
So the time has come to rethink the speaker.
Happily, the following two advances in electronics -
when combined - open the door to our next step
1) Extremely well engineered, great sounding,
economical, tiny, cool running and spectacularly
powerful amplifier modules.
2) Powerful and abundantly inexpensive high
quality Digital Signal Processing. DSP.
Used together they let us tear down the old barriers
with these three simple steps:
1) Move the amplifiers into the speaker for a
short direct signal path.
2) Use one amp per band, often one amp per
driver. A two way has two amps: one for the
woofer and one for the tweeter. A four way has
four amps, maybe more.
3) Execute the crossover function in the data
stream - before it is converted to analog and
sent to the amplifier. While we’re at it, also
perform timing correction, output limiting,
driver linearity correction, room correction, and
parametric equalization all without degrading
So...... where does this take us?
First: Dramatically better sound. Because:
1) A “bigger” speaker now fits in a smaller box.
Instead of relying on a large internal volume of
air and a resonant port to coax bass from
woofers, we now combine equalization with as
much brute force as we like. We trade size for
2) Because the amps are directly connected to
each driver by a short run of wire with no
intervening crossover we enjoy greatly improved
damping, speed and control, especially in the
bass. Gobs of power with plenty of headroom
yields easy, sparkling dynamics. That is the life in
3) Compared to passive crossovers, DSP
empowers the designer with a new, complete
and fine level of control that makes much higher
levels of optimization readily achievable. We’ve
replaced a blunt instrument with a scalpel.
4) All components in the chain are correctly
matched, developed and tested in unison.
5) Quick, easy, accurate room EQ, allows a much
greater latitude over speaker placement,
correction for room acoustics and adjustment to
the user’s personal tastes.
Second: Better functionality and serviceability:
1) Modular internal components that can be
readily serviced by simple swap out.
2) Elimination of the old style stack of separate
components and wires.
3) Easy control and music selection from an iPad
Third: The new way results in superior total system
cost compared with the old way. You get more for
The old way is over. And, to be blunt: if that were
not so I would not be back at it.
For those so inclined, this page will offer a series of
technical discussions by Pat and Meagan highlighting
our approach to interesting engineering issues.
This issue exposes our purpose and reasoning
behind launching the next generation of
The coming changes in audio
A look into the future
with speaker designer Pat McGinty
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