Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition

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mamba315

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Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« on: 16 Aug 2015, 08:09 pm »
Hey Duke,
  Wondering if there could be an update on current happenings at Audiokinesis.  For example..

What is the status on the AK-47?  Is development still ongoing?  RMAF 2015 debut?

I read there was a beryllium tweeter option on the Zephrin 46 now.  Is this also an option on the larger LCS 4-piece system?  Or does that already use a better tweeter?

Regarding LCS systems, it appears that Zephrin 46 has undergone one update since introduction.  And the larger LCS system had the LCS effect speaker improved at one point?  Anything other running changes I've missed on these models since they were introduced?

Anything else you wanna spill the beans on, etc?  :lol:

Thanks


Duke

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #1 on: 19 Aug 2015, 08:45 pm »
Hey Duke,
  Wondering if there could be an update on current happenings at Audiokinesis.  For example..

What is the status on the AK-47?  Is development still ongoing?  RMAF 2015 debut?

The AK47 project is still in the pipeline, but it's not going to make its debut at RMAF 2015.   

I read there was a beryllium tweeter option on the Zephrin 46 now.  Is this also an option on the larger LCS 4-piece system?  Or does that already use a better tweeter?

The Beryllium compression driver will available for most systems, including the 4-piece LCS system.  The upcharge is pretty stiff... retail on the Beryllium compression driver is in the $500 each ballpark.   I've always used the best compression drivers I could find for the job, which were usually polymer-diaphragm units, but the Beryllium unit is an improvement. 

I approached the Beryllium compression drivers with skepticism, as I've heard too many speakers with uber-tech tweeters where there was an obvious disparity between the tweeter and midwoofer sections.   But so far I haven't had that happen.  Perhaps using prosound-type woofers that are just loafing along in a home audio application has helped in that regard.   Or perhaps much of the discontinuity I've heard in other systems goes back to a radiation pattern mismatch in the crossover region.  I really think that matching up the radiation patterns is the secret to getting coherence through the crossover region because the ears can hear where we transition between modest levels of reverberant energy to high levels of reverberant energy, even though we don't consciously identify it as such.   The reverberant energy arguably has more to do with the feel of the presentation, and when there's a significant discontinuity in the reverberant energy, it doesn't feel right even though we usually can't put our finger on why that is. 

Regarding LCS systems, it appears that Zephrin 46 has undergone one update since introduction.  And the larger LCS system had the LCS effect speaker improved at one point?  Anything other running changes I've missed on these models since they were introduced?

Anything else you wanna spill the beans on, etc?  :lol:

Thanks

The update to the Zephrin is the use of a semi-elliptical oblate spheroid waveguide, and customers have the option of the regular polymer-diaphragm compression driver or the Beryllium one. 

In the works is a dedicated near-universal LCS system.  The idea is for it to be easily added to an existing speaker system.  It will have an unusually high impedance so that it can be safely connected in parallel with most speakers, and will have passive level controls so that it can be paired with main speakers ranging in efficiency from the lower 90's down to the lower 80's. 

I'm also working on a replacement for the Prisma.   I've figured out a way to refine the design a bit, improving both room interaction and bass tuning flexibility.   The footprint will be shrinking a bit as well. 

Taking advantage of the flexibility we have in handing off the bottom two octaves to the Swarm, I'm also working on a couple of dedicated "satellite" systems.   One of these will make its public debut at RMAF 2015.

Too many ideas, not enough time!



poseidonsvoice

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #2 on: 19 Aug 2015, 09:00 pm »
The AK47 project is still in the pipeline, but it's not going to make its debut at RMAF 2015.   

The Beryllium compression driver will available for most systems, including the 4-piece LCS system.  The upcharge is pretty stiff... retail on the Beryllium compression driver is in the $500 each ballpark.   I've always used the best compression drivers I could find for the job, which were usually polymer-diaphragm units, but the Beryllium unit is an improvement. 

I approached the Beryllium compression drivers with skepticism, as I've heard too many speakers with uber-tech tweeters where there was an obvious disparity between the tweeter and midwoofer sections.   But so far I haven't had that happen.  Perhaps using prosound-type woofers that are still just loafing along in a home audio application has helped in that regard.   Or perhaps much of the discontinuity I've heard in other systems goes back to a radiation pattern mismatch in the crossover region.  I really think that matching up the radiation patterns is the secret to getting coherence through the crossover region because the ears can hear where we transition between modest levels of reverberant energy to high levels of reverberant energy, even though we don't consciously identify it as such.


I'm pretty sure you are right about this. I guess the one question is if the move to a Beryllium unit from a sonic standpoint is commensurate with the drastic increase in cost even after making sure the radiation patterns match at the xover point between the woofer/tweeter. I would be most interested in a comparison with the B&C DE-500 that is titanium as well as neodymium in that regard. I am scared that the Beryllium will be better :-(

Best,
Anand.

JLM

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #3 on: 19 Aug 2015, 10:57 pm »
A satellite Zephrin to mate with a Swarm would be super cool!   :thumb:

Duke

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #4 on: 19 Aug 2015, 11:36 pm »
I guess the one question is if the move to a Beryllium unit from a sonic standpoint is commensurate with the drastic increase in cost...

That is indeed the question! 

My guess is that it will be worth the upcharge to some people and not to others, but in my opinion the benefits are not just in the top end, where Beryllium's stiffness supports extension north of where typical middle-aged hearing gives out.

The first speaker I did with the Beryllium compression driver was a custom job.  Two people familiar with my work (three counting myself) felt like that system was the best I'd done thus far, so I decided to offer it on the Zephrin.  The only Zephrin owner to have owned both versions, Brian Walsh of Essential Audio, felt like he heard a worthwhile improvement right away, as I recall.   

I think my speakers with polymer-diaphragm compression drivers are still quite competitive within their price ranges, but imo the ones with the Beryllium-diaphragm compression drivers are more competitive within their inevitably somewhat higher price ranges.


Duke

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #5 on: 20 Aug 2015, 02:17 am »
A satellite Zephrin to mate with a Swarm would be super cool!   :thumb:

Using the top section of the Zephrin as a satellite is one of the things I'm thinking about.  You'd have the option of adding the upfiring quasi-universal LCS section, or not.   The quasi-universal LCS section under development will have a footprint of one square foot so it's not too bad in that regard, as there's usually that much unused real estate somewhere behind the main speakers anyway. 

Regarding satellites built with the Swarm in mind, I probably wouldn't want the mains to go down much below 80 Hz, as the Swarm does a really good job from there on down.   But I'd also want to avoid the all-too-common situation where the satellites are weak in the upper bass/lower midrange region, just north of the subwoofers.   There are several ways to address this, and I'm still mulling over which to go with.

mamba315

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #6 on: 20 Aug 2015, 09:18 am »
Well I don't know what you have planned in these "Satellite systems," but I like the idea.  I'm considering some form of LCS speakers.  However, I feel that the large LCS system is larger than it needs to be IF the Swarm is already part of the picture.  Certainly the main speaker seems much larger than necessary in a Swarm assisted system, but possibly the LCS speaker is too.

But I like the two-box (main+LCS) idea, since it's ultimately more flexible and possibly just better than a Zephrin one-box.

And in the end, having smaller/lighter speakers is always a bonus.  Because life.

So it seems you've already considered this.  Feel free to divulge more details at any time  :lol: :thumb:

borism

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #7 on: 20 Aug 2015, 03:20 pm »
Hi Duke,
This is an interesting thread. I am greatly enjoying my original Jazz Modules. Following the prior comments, what would be in your opinion the better next step (if that is a fair question) for people who have (limited) full range speakers - adding a Swarm or LCS system? Sure, it is clearly dependent on ones priorities and the JMs have a great bottom end to begin with. Also, somewhere (possibly the Absolute Sound Swarm review) I read that improving the bass improves the spatial perception.
Best,
Boris

DaveC113

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #8 on: 20 Aug 2015, 04:37 pm »
I'm pretty sure you are right about this. I guess the one question is if the move to a Beryllium unit from a sonic standpoint is commensurate with the drastic increase in cost even after making sure the radiation patterns match at the xover point between the woofer/tweeter. I would be most interested in a comparison with the B&C DE-500 that is titanium as well as neodymium in that regard. I am scared that the Beryllium will be better :-(

Best,
Anand.

Unfortunately, YES!!! ...not just yes, but YES!!! CD w/Be diaphragm are the only CDs I've ever thought were excellent sounding drivers.

Duke

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #9 on: 20 Aug 2015, 04:40 pm »
Well I don't know what you have planned in these "Satellite systems," but I like the idea.  I'm considering some form of LCS speakers.  However, I feel that the large LCS system is larger than it needs to be IF the Swarm is already part of the picture.  Certainly the main speaker seems much larger than necessary in a Swarm assisted system, but possibly the LCS speaker is too.

But I like the two-box (main+LCS) idea, since it's ultimately more flexible and possibly just better than a Zephrin one-box.

And in the end, having smaller/lighter speakers is always a bonus.  Because life.

So it seems you've already considered this.  Feel free to divulge more details at any time  :lol: :thumb:

The Dream Maker LCS system, and the Zephrin, were both designed to be used without subwoofer support, so their boxes are pretty big.   The LCS section itself needs to have pretty good directional control, which dictates that its footprint can't be shrunk too much. 

The internal box volume requirement for the satellite main speaker shrinks considerably when we factor in the Swarm.  But if good directional control remains a high priority, once again that dictates a fairly wide waveguide and correspondingly large-diameter cone.   The Zephrins do many things well, but ideally I'd like to have radiation pattern control down lower in frequency than their 6" cones can provide in the horizontal plane.  It's always a juggling of tradeoffs.

Hi Duke,
This is an interesting thread. I am greatly enjoying my original Jazz Modules. Following the prior comments, what would be in your opinion the better next step (if that is a fair question) for people who have (limited) full range speakers - adding a Swarm or LCS system? Sure, it is clearly dependent on ones priorities and the JMs have a great bottom end to begin with. Also, somewhere (possibly the Absolute Sound Swarm review) I read that improving the bass improves the spatial perception.
Best,
Boris

The add-on LCS speakers will do more to increase the apparent acoustic space than the Swarm will.  I wasn't going to go public with this just yet, but the name for the add-on LCS speakers will be the "Space Generators", as that seems to be their most obvious benefit.   

DaveC113

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #10 on: 20 Aug 2015, 04:45 pm »
I really think that matching up the radiation patterns is the secret to getting coherence through the crossover region because the ears can hear where we transition between modest levels of reverberant energy to high levels of reverberant energy, even though we don't consciously identify it as such.   The reverberant energy arguably has more to do with the feel of the presentation, and when there's a significant discontinuity in the reverberant energy, it doesn't feel right even though we usually can't put our finger on why that is. 



The Harman listening tests prove pretty conclusively that this is the case and therefore should be near the top of the priority list. Many people look at the test results and conclude that a flat FR is the preference being demonstrated but IME it's really a smooth FR on and off axis that is most important. It's amazing to me how many speakers do not have smooth off-axis FR...

http://www.princeton.edu/3D3A/Directivity.html

Duke

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #11 on: 20 Aug 2015, 06:55 pm »
The Harman listening tests prove pretty conclusively that this [what's happening off-axis really matters] is the case and therefore should be near the top of the priority list. Many people look at the test results and conclude that a flat FR is the preference being demonstrated but IME it's really a smooth FR on and off axis that is most important. It's amazing to me how many speakers do not have smooth off-axis FR...

http://www.princeton.edu/3D3A/Directivity.html

Yes, the Harmon research has identified five predictors of loudspeaker subjective preference: 

1.The first-arrival sound’s frequency response at the listening position;
2.The spatially-averaged response across a window plus or minus 30 degrees horizontal and plus or minus 10 degrees vertical;
3.The spatially-averaged response of the early reflections from the four walls, ceiling, and floor;
4.The sound power, or the sum total of the speaker’s acoustic energy radiation; and
5.The directivity index, which looks at the difference between the first-arrival sound’s frequency response and the sound power (summed omnidirectional response).

Note that four of the five are primarily functions of the off-axis energy.   And if you think there's benefit in listening from a bit off-axis, like with axes criss-crossing in front of the sweet spot center, then one might even say that all five are primarily functions of what's happening off-axis. 

Brian Walsh

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #12 on: 20 Aug 2015, 07:37 pm »
The first speaker I did with the Beryllium compression driver was a custom job.  Two people familiar with my work (three counting myself) felt like that system was the best I'd done thus far, so I decided to offer it on the Zephrin.  The only Zephrin owner to have owned both versions, Brian Walsh of Essential Audio, felt like he heard a worthwhile improvement right away, as I recall.
You recall correctly. The improvement was, to use a well-worn audiophile expression, "not subtle." More like an OMG forehead slapper, with a big SEG on my face. :thumb:


mamba315

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #13 on: 21 Aug 2015, 10:24 am »
The Dream Maker LCS system, and the Zephrin, were both designed to be used without subwoofer support, so their boxes are pretty big.   The LCS section itself needs to have pretty good directional control, which dictates that its footprint can't be shrunk too much. 

The internal box volume requirement for the satellite main speaker shrinks considerably when we factor in the Swarm.  But if good directional control remains a high priority, once again that dictates a fairly wide waveguide and correspondingly large-diameter cone.

I'm perfectly fine with the width of the mains on the big LCD system.  It is needed for maintaining directionality down to lower Hz.  But the height (and corresponding volume) of them is certainly more than needed in a Swarm system.  Which also makes them heavier (my personal peeve).

And I'm also fine with the current size of the LCS speaker.  Combined with the monitor design I alluded to above, it seems a formidable combination with Swarm support.

Is that one of the ideas you're working on, by chance?   :icon_twisted:

Duke

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #14 on: 21 Aug 2015, 06:10 pm »
I'm perfectly fine with the width of the mains on the big LCD system.  It is needed for maintaining directionality down to lower Hz.  But the height (and corresponding volume) of them is certainly more than needed in a Swarm system.  Which also makes them heavier (my personal peeve).

And I'm also fine with the current size of the LCS speaker.  Combined with the monitor design I alluded to above, it seems a formidable combination with Swarm support.

Is that one of the ideas you're working on, by chance?   :icon_twisted:

I hadn't really taken weight into consideration, as an argument in favor of stand-mount speakers.   Thank you for your input.  Here are the things I've considered, but how much, ah, weight, to give to each area, I'm not sure.

1.  Using the same drivers, a stand-mount + stand costs more than a floorstander version.  If you already have the stands then of course the stand-mount is less expensive. 

2,  While the stand-mount does weigh less, you don't necessarily have to lift a floorstander - you can use a padded dolly (so maybe the cost comparison should be standmount + stand vs, floorstander + dolly).   It's also easier to fine-tune the location of a floorstander by wiggy-walking it a bit.

3.  The floorstander requires more aggressive internal bracing, but that's not hard to do.  It also has a lower-frequency top-to-bottom internal standing wave, but that can be addressed as well. 

4.  If you're going to use the LCS modules, it helps a bit if the mains or mains + stand can act as a "shield" to block the direct path so that the LCS's early sidelobe contribution is minimized.  Not all stands work well in this regard, and I don't want to go into the stand-making business. 

5.  Standmounts convey less "visual mass", so they have a higher wife acceptance factor, even though they usually have a larger physical footprint than a corresponding floorstander.  Intuitively floorstanders + subs just seems like overkill in many rooms, even if there are good reasons for going that route. 

So overall I think floorstander satellites, no more massive than necessary to reach down to the Swarm, are a more practical use of resources.  But stand-mount satellites would probably sell better where WAF is a factor (assuming the Swarm hasn't already lost that battle before the first shot was fired!).   So I'm working on both.

Do you think there would be a market for a home audio speaker designed to keep weight to a minimum?  If so, tell me more about what you have in mind. 

Thanks!
« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2015, 07:12 pm by Duke »

mamba315

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #15 on: 22 Aug 2015, 08:08 pm »
4.  If you're going to use the LCS modules, it helps a bit if the mains or mains + stand can act as a "shield" to block the direct path so that the LCS's early sidelobe contribution is minimized.  Not all stands work well in this regard, and I don't want to go into the stand-making business.

This is something I hadn't considered when requesting stand-mounts, but it makes perfect sense.  All other things being equal, I prefer lighter speakers.  But I just don't want to give up very much performance in the sake of weight savings, as much as my body would like it.

So overall I think floorstander satellites, no more massive than necessary to reach down to the Swarm, are a more practical use of resources.

I see your logic now.  I guess my next question is, are these floorstanding satellites designed with the same size woofer and waveguide as the larger LCS system?  Or are they narrower units sacrificing a little off axis response for better WAF?

Duke

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #16 on: 23 Aug 2015, 04:33 am »
I guess my next question is, are these floorstanding satellites designed with the same size woofer and waveguide as the larger LCS system?  Or are they narrower units sacrificing a little off axis response for better WAF?

The floorstanding satellites will be narrower AND have better radiation pattern control.   The cabinet's shape will be sort of like that of the Prisma, but with a substantially shallower footprint and two 12" midwoofers instead of just one.  The second midwoofer not only gives us a better radiation pattern match in the vertical plane, but also mitigates the floor-bounce notch by having a significantly different floor-bounce path length.   


« Last Edit: 23 Aug 2015, 05:34 am by Duke »

mamba315

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #17 on: 23 Aug 2015, 06:17 am »
 Do you have an approx weight for the floorstander satellite?  It seems like such a speaker (with Swarm support) would completely eclipse the performance of the current big LCS system.  In theory at least.

JLM

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Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #18 on: 23 Aug 2015, 10:41 am »
One advantage of stand mounts is being able to adjust height.  Seems like 95% of floor standers assume the listener is either standing or sitting on bar stools.  Please consider using your listeners using a comfortable chair as one of starting point givens in your designs (that's what I did when I commissioned floor standers 12 years ago).  Even with stand mounts variable height stands are far too rare (I own a pair which came in handy for our club's monthly meeting yesterday).

FireGuy

Re: Audiokinesis update? Summer 2015 Edition
« Reply #19 on: 23 Aug 2015, 12:36 pm »
One advantage of stand mounts is being able to adjust height.  Seems like 95% of floor standers assume the listener is either standing or sitting on bar stools.  Please consider using your listeners using a comfortable chair as one of starting point givens in your designs (that's what I did when I commissioned floor standers 12 years ago).  Even with stand mounts variable height stands are far too rare (I own a pair which came in handy for our club's monthly meeting yesterday).

Not to hijack the subject of this thread... but your statement on adjustable height (main) speaker stands is worth endorsing.  A descent good quality, articulating stand from 18" to 36" (for example) seems like a good opportunity for someone.