Hands-on speaker demo, RMAF room 2014

Duke LeJeune

[Industry Expert]/Member Sponsor
Jul 22, 2013
Princeton, Texas
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest director Marjorie Baumert has invited my little company, AudioKinesis, and James Romeyn, to do one of the four featured "Innovations Rooms" on the Second Floor of the Tower at RMAF 2017.

The mandate for these Innovations rooms is, that they be educational and visitor-friendly. So we will do our best to accommodate music requests, answer whatever questions people have, and generally be educational as well as promotional. And of course, we're supposed to be innovative!

The topic we want to educate people about is, the psychoacoustics of reflections in small rooms. As background, and at the risk of oversimplifying, here are some basics:

1. Reflections that arrive relatively early tend to degrade clarity. But reflections that arrive later tend to enhance the feeling of being immersed in the acoustic space of the recording, without degrading clarity.

2. Reverberant energy with a poor spectral balance tends to degrade the tonal quality. But reverberant energy that has approximately the same spectral balance as the first-arrival sound tends to enhance the tonal quality and timbre (or "texture") of the music.

So according to this line of thinking, relatively late-onset, spectrally correct reflections are the most likely to be beneficial.

What we hope to demonstrate, in a hands-on, ears-on, user-friendly fashion, is the perceptual difference that accompanies an increase in late-onset spectrally-correct reflections. We will have a remote control unit that can be passed around among listeners, which will enable them to toggle on-and-off a secondary array of drivers that contributes late-onset, spectrally-correct reverberant energy.

In other words, you (or a fellow listener, depending on whose turn it is) can sit there and toggle between settings with relatively little reverberant energy (the main driver array is fairly directional) and enhanced late-onset reverberant energy (without an accompanying increase in early-onset reverberant energy). Hear for yourself what the tradeoffs are, and if you learn something useful, well these principles are generally applicable regardless of what speakers you use. The experience may inspire you to adjust your own speaker setup (again!).

I might mention that there is at least a little bit of conceptual similarity to the adjustable radiation pattern width of the Beolab 90's... the difference being that instead of having a "wide" mode, this system will have what might be called a "deep" mode. All passive, so less interesting (and a heck of a lot less challenging!) from a technical standpoint, but hopefully still able to illustrate the principle we want to demonstrate.

This is conceptually similar to what we have done in a few past audio shows, EXCEPT for the user-friendly remote - that is new, and credit to Jim Romeyn for figuring out how to actually do it. We think that's going to make our room the funnest, even if it's not the overall bestest. (Well we hope for that too of course!)

Just for the record, Jim and I have worked together on the design of these new speakers, which are named the "Azels". The Azels incorporate most of our best ideas (just no multiple small subs!)... and some pretty cool parts too, like woofers with four-inch voice coils, and Beryllium-diaphragm high frequency drivers... so we haven't totally abandoned our audiophilia nervosa for the sake of being educational.

I don't know what the other Innovations rooms are doing, but this year, don't miss the Second Floor of the Tower!


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