There’s an old dichotomy in many things in technology: power or nuance? Many of us are taken in by power, myself included. Nietzsche said that the world is all about power and he was right. As a young person, I was coerced by the concept of power, so I bought a sports car with a big engine, amplifiers with 500+ watts of power, followed bands that had a powerful sound and of course comic books and superheroes. Superheroes and supervillains are all about harnessing power and energy. Consider any superhero and what you’ll find is that each one utilizes energy in a different way. This is also, interestingly enough, the key to a successful audio system.
When I was a little rock ‘n roller and in the “new band every month” phase of my life, we liked power for our amps; Peavy was dependable, affordable power and it worked well for what we needed. As I got older, I became more interested in nuance and finesse whether in audio, cars, music, or anything else. The power vs nuance debate may be a matter of taste as in; do you like Metallica or King Crimson, (yes you can like both and I do). Do you prefer a 2,000 watts per channel amp driving large 4 inch horn tweeters, multiple arrays of mids, and stacks of 18 inch subs, or a 200 watt system driving smaller, precisely tuned monitors? Clearly application matters – is it a stadium, or a home theater, but still there are subjective choices to make in any setting.
With myself, it’s been a matter of getting older and appreciating nuance more than raw power; maybe it’s this way for most people. Our company has endeavored to achieve the best balance between power and nuance. This is why we focus on speech intelligibility; it requires power and sensitivity.
After years of research and experimentation, we’ve learned quite a lot about how to optimize speech intelligibility; there are several factors.
In some cases, in a room with bad acoustics, setting them up in the conventional left-right front of room pairing is worse for intelligibility as opposed to placing one in the middle. Our speakers are aesthetically pleasing so you can put them where they’re supposed to be.
The room where an audio system is going must be studied and analyzed. Then the room needs to be outfitted with the right loudspeaker design, including number of drivers per speaker and then optimal speaker placement. The proper amplifier has to be used and programmed based on the acoustics of the room.
The type of speaker driver matters – we’ve found that ribbon tweeters have better transient response, transient sounds are important for the brain to understand and decode transition markers in speech. As in any audio system, low distortion is important, we’ve found that our proprietary 3.5 inch mid drivers are best after years of experience.
Apologies if I didn’t come up with a winner in the power vs. nuance debate; it’s a combination of subjective preferences and science. We do our best to apply the science in every situation and let that speak for us.