Room Correction

GREAT ROOM CORRECTION

The companies that do room correction the best are the companies that have been at it the longest with the most expensive gear.  Lyngdorf, Meridian, Tact, DEQX and Rives are about it for the elite of the resonance tamers.

But there has been a great deal of progress in this field in mass market products.  Courtesy of Audyssey room correction, this capability can be installed in mid-fi receivers for just a few dollars.  This greatly lowers the bar for admission to the benefits of room correction.  Not only is the basic capability accessible, it is now of a very high sonic quality with no perceptible loss in transparency to offset the gain in smooth response and phase correction. 

Room correction will not make up for a terrible room or a very poor placement of speakers or bad speakers but it can make a well thought out system sound excellent.

At this point in time, room correction has crossed the threshold from being a costly crutch for a bad stereo system to being an asset to any high fidelity sound system regardless of cost.

 

Receivers

GREAT RECEIVERS

Receivers are the Swiss army knives of audio components. They do almost everything except move air. Long shunned by audiophiles for their inferior sonic quality, receivers of late have been gaining ground on their separate component cousins. 

One large reason for this is the increasing prevalence of digital in the audio chain. Receivers are typically made by large companies with the resources to take on digital engineering and do it right. Getting it right in digital in a mass produced product does not cost nearly as much as it does in analog. 

Conversely, the smaller high end companies are typically well grounded in the analog domain and making the switch to, or integrating digital research and engineering into their operations is virtually impossible on an economic basis. How much it cost Texas Instruments to develop their digital amp chips isn't known but but Donald Trump could probably retire on it. Other chip companies have spent upwards of $30 million with no marketable result. 

The Panasonic receivers use the TI chipset resulting in the sound quality/price ratio we were trumpeting several years ago. Once the chipset has been developed, it still takes a major player (Panasonic/Matsushita with over 250,000 employees) to incorporate a complete digital product offering. 

Other large companies such as Sony and Yamaha now have digital amp receivers with digital chipsets of their own while some companies use Tripath or ICE (by B&O amplifier modules. The net effect is to give them a big boost in closing the huge gap in sound quality between themselves and the best of the separate component manufacturers. Pioneer has chosen to stay with analog amps and upped it’s game by sensing the temperature of each output transistor and adjusting the bias accordingly. 

Onkyo (and Integra) has long been the standard by which receiver amplifier sections have been measured but the truth is the top end models of many brands sound extremely good.

Besides the fidelity of the basic signal, the other well developed area of interest for audiophiles is room correction. Taking the major room problems out of the equation is a huge step forward for overall audio performance. There has been a price to pay for this in terms of transparency in the past but with each new implementation, this seems to fade more into the distance.  The Audyssey system now incorporated in many receivers has worked extremely well in the systems we've worked with and there has been no sacrifice in transparency.

Good room correction has been very expensive to do in the past and perhaps the top end systems are better but any improvement will cost a great deal more. Lyngdorf,  Meridian, Tact, DEQX and Rives are about it for the high end and going with any of these equipment makers will add many thousands of dollars on to the total cost of your system.

Small note. The greatest benefits of room correction have always been in small to medium sized rooms. In very large rooms or rooms with large openings, any room correction system has increasing trouble with the increasingly long reverberation times. This is the case with most systems but the Pioneer does address this in their system - allowing for time sensitivity to be varied. 

 

Subwoofers

SUBWOOFERS

Edge Audio     Hyperion 12 Super performance for $599US. Buy it direct.

HSU     Great reputation for quality bang (or boom) for the buck - buy them factory direct 

Vandersteen     Three 8" drivers in this sub make it a design that we really like. Buy it from their dealer base.

Paradigm     Buy any Paradigm sub over $600 and you have excellent performance guaranteed and great value. Buy it through their dealer base.

Atak subs - simple cabinets, killer drivers and cheap enough to go with a distributed subwoofer system.

Players

CD AND DVD PLAYERS

Being square in the digital domain, advances here are coming at a furious pace and prices are dropping. A little Panasonic DVD player with 192kHz/24 bit upsampling DACs sounds awfully good. Don't pay attention to model names as product life span is fleeting, such is the pace of improvement.  In cd, dvd and bluray players, audio quality is just about the same in the digital domain.  The difference is in the analog outputs.  If you don't use analog, stick with a $100 player and know you are getting a digital input to your pre-pro or receiver as good as any $10,000 player can deliver.

PROCESSORS

Completely in the digital domain, processors can only go down in price and up in performance. Don't spend a lot up front unless you can afford it.

Bryston
Nobody has said anything sounds better than the SP1.7. Expensive. We sell it.

Outlaw
Good by all accounts and certainly great value. Buy it factory direct.

Anthem
Excellent by all accounts. Pretty expensive. Buy through their dealer base.

 

 

Audiophile Amplifiers

HIGH END AUDIO AMPLIFIERS

Bryston, Tact, Spectron and Hypex Audio are the best amplifiers we’ve encountered over the past decade but for some very different reasons. 

The amplifiers most would recommend without hesitation for anyone for anything would be Bryston. They sound great, they’re extremely well built and reliable and they have the best warranty in the business. If this sounds like “no one ever went wrong buying a Honda”, it is a little bit. But it’s no backhanded compliment. Have you taken a look at the 2013 Accord lately? 

Brystons are the amplifiers for audio connoisseurs too practically minded to be fanatics. Simply a great company to deal with. 

True fanatics can step up to Spectron. Loved by both tube and transistor enthusiasts, the Spectron amps produce huge amounts of power with an incredible level of transparency and detail. If you want to be able to read every last note on the page, Spectron will deliver them in large black print. Just make sure you have a backup amp in the garage. That John Ulrick and Spectron have not flooded the world with D1 amps is one of the great tragedies of hifi history. 

The Tact amps have been just super clean and powerful and we used them because of their built-in crossovers. ALL AMPS SHOULD HAVE THESE. But I digress. An extremely well built product with extremely refined, detailed sound and lots of power. Doesn’t grab me quite the way the Spectrons do but a great amp with unique capability. When plugged into their preamp with room correction, in a nice correctable room, the bottom end is unsurpassed. A steep learning curve. 

For the diy crowd, the Hypex amps are superb and come in a large number of configurations, some with built in crossovers.  Great stuff to work with.

Crown amplifiers have long been a mainstay of the pro sound industry but (as with most sound reinforcement gear) the sound quality has been improving dramatically.   If you are looking to drive your subwoofers with clean, cheap, abundant and reliable power check out the new digital Crown XLS amps.

Receivers are another category but don't dismiss their audiophile credentials.  The top end receivers from a number of manufacturers will raise a sweat on the brows of a good many audiophile amplifier designers.  Onkyo in particular has  a history of building really sweet amp sections into its receivers.  We used the Onkyo 818 in one of our demo rooms at the Axpona Chicago Audio show in March, 2013 and the system (under $10,000 complete) drew raves and a lot of listening time from people who spent the weekend evaluating 6 figure and up ultra audio packages.

 

After Purchase Advice

AFTER PURCHASE

So you've done your research, made an informed decision and purchased your Newform Loudspeakers. Now, you just have to wait for them to arrive, unpack them and find the perfect place for them. If you're worried that it won't be that simple, just take a look at the following sections, we've been through this before and everything you'll need to know is here. You can also take a look at and print out this Instructions.pdf file as well. 

If you have any questions not covered here, you can look at our Common Questions page, or email us and we will gladly help you. 

Ribbon Technology

THE TECHNOLOGY

Loudspeakers are merely air pumps. The speaker with the greatest fidelity is the air pump producing the fewest errors (room interactions aside). Film drivers have the greatest potential for making the fewest errors given their low mass and virtually 100% driven diaphragm. This low mass and great diaphragm control can also produce the near absence of diaphragm resonance which is a major source of harshness and listening fatigue in cone and dome drivers.

The Newform Ribbons take film drivers to their next level by eliminating the well known old problems and taking advantage of new advances in our understanding of what constitutes true high fidelity to the human ear. Our new technology Ribbons improve on the classic Ribbon and electrostatic designs by representing high, purely resistive loads that any amplifier can drive to the best of its ability. At the same time, the sensitivity is higher, further reducing amplifier stress and allowing the greater dynamics of our systems to be exploited.

The Newform Ribbons provide extremely smooth and extended frequency response with unmatched horizontal dispersion. Why do our new designs compare so well to the classic electrostatic and Ribbon designs? Newform Ribbons have narrow (3/4"), tightly suspended diaphragms that inherently provide extremely good horizontal dispersion. As one of our kit customers pointed out, "Newform Ribbons simply store less energy than any other design I have heard". The less stored energy (released several milliseconds late), the cleaner the sound.

Once we have exploited the benefits of film diaphragms to create a superior sound wave, there is the question of delivering that wave with maximum integrity into the room and to the listeners ears. Aside from the obvious benefits that derive from being a Ribbon or film driver, there is the issue of diffraction. Our Ribbons have the smallest acoustic profile of any driver operating from 1 kHz up. When it comes to acoustic profile, the less you see, the more you hear. The entire structure is only 3 1/4" wide and 2 1/2" deep. (The Oval Ribbons are only 2" wide.)  It is heavily beveled at the front and the diaphragm is within 1/8" of the front of the structure. Given the narrow width of the diaphragm (dispersion is a function of diaphragm width and wavelength), there is very little to interfere with extremely even off-axis response. A critical consideration in producing a truly coherent soundfield in home theater.

Excellent and very even off-axis dispersion patterns are prime contributors to a deep and well-focused soundstage. The clarity, which is created by our narrow film diaphragm, is maintained by the absence of anomalies as the waveform moves beyond the loudspeaker structure and into the room. Once into the room, they will not be degraded by ceiling and floor reflections because as broad as our horizontal dispersion pattern is, our vertical dispersion is conversely limited.

This line source characteristic is of extreme importance to soundstaging focus and depth as well as to soundfield coherence in home theatre and intelligibility in public area installations. Conventional system manufacturers are coming to this conclusion as well as can be seen by the emergence of systems in the higher end featuring dome arrays and ever more ribbons. These arrays produce cancellation patterns which effectively reduce vertical dispersion. Newform Ribbons produce a naturally controlled radiation pattern which has no comb filtering in it. 

In the complex world of sound reproduction, design simplicity is the foundation of excellence. For a more complete discussion of our technology and its practical application, browse through our "Published Articles" section.

 

Cabinet Construction

The R630v3 and the R645v3 speaker cabinets have been quite heavily upgraded. The objectives were to improve bass pitch definition, midbass transient response and reduce diffraction effects. These new cabinets meet their design targets very successfully but, as you can see, they are far from simple to construct.

Features of the new cabinets:

  • heavy shelf bracing
  • complete diagonal wall bracing
  • damped wall surfaces
  • damped air volume
  • decoupling pad on top and bottom of cabinet
  • solid surface top
  • seamless, large radius vertical edges

Bottom line: superior construction yielding excellent internal damping and very low wall vibration plus excellent anti-diffraction characteristics. The basic elements of the speaker cabinet construction are as follows:

Vertical Wall thickness - 1" high quality MDF board
Bottom thickness - 1" bottom + 0.07" damping pad +1" MDF base
Top thickness - 1" top + 0.07" damping pad +0.5" Solid Surface polished top
Shelf braces - 2
Diagonal panel wall braces - 9
Vertical Corner Treatment - Heavily radiused (1.5")
Wall Damping
 
- Damped walls
- Multiple layers
Cross Brace Damping - Damped cross braces damped with 0.070" barrier mat
Base attachment
 
 
- Bolt in base
- 4 hex head machine 1/4 x 20 screws screw into internally fixed insert nuts
Top Material
 
 
- Solid surface top (Formica "Black Lava")
- Damped top
- Damped bottom
Brace Material - Baltic birch bracing
Grill Material - Baltic birch grill
Internal Wall Damping Pads
 
 
 
- 18 to 20 triangular pieces glued to interior walls
- Polyester film
0.25" urethane acoustic foam
- 0.07" limp, dense plastic barrier mat
Internal Volume Damping - 1" - 2" urethane acoustic foam damping
Finish - 0.020" black ash Formica laminate
Kits - Bare enclosure
Base
 
 
- Low gloss black paint
- 1" MDF, 0.070" Damping Mat
- Diagonal wall bracing
Grill Finish - Black polyester doubleknit grill cloth
Grill Mounting - Low vibration, strong and flexible pin (in cabinet) and rubber cup (in grill frame)

 

Try the knuckle wrap test. About as solid and dead as a loudspeaker cabinet gets. We will not be responsible for sore knuckles!!

Why damp the cross braces? Cross braces are connected directly to the wall of the cabinet and thus short circuit any damping inside or on the interior wall of the cabinet. A thorough approach to damping requires that any cross braces which go through the air volume of the enclosure must be damped to prevent them from acting as antennae - picking up the soundwaves inside and transmitting them to the walls. Baltic birch is very strong, resilient and very inert and with the damping mat glued to it, quite resistant to the transmission of midbass frequencies. Damping the cross braces is a practice unique to Newform Research as far as we know.

Baltic birch void free plywood is the world standard for professional sound loudspeaker enclosures because of its strength and light weight and "silence". Newform uses high grade MDF for enclosure walls as it is ideally dense and inert. MDF simply would not stand up to being hauled around in trucks and setup 3 times a month for touring groups. Nor would roadies hold up too well setting up loudspeakers made with the much heavier MDF. We use Baltic Birch over the typical MDF for bracing and damping because its qualities of superior strength and resilience are best for that application.

 
 
R630v3 top Solid surface top plate. Exceptionally smooth, seamless baffle to side transition.
 
 
R630v3 Top rear.
 


R645v3 Cabinet interior with baltic birch shelf braces, diagonal wall braces and triangular wall damping pads. Cross braces and 1" - 2" volume damping acoustic foam are added in the final fabrication steps.
 
1" acoustic foam and triangular damping solid mat/foam pads.
 
 
 
Internal view of work-in-process model LineSource Reference cabinet.
 

Tweaks

The R645v3, and to a lesser extent, the R630v3 have been the focus of a huge amount of audio enthusiast attention in terms of modification and upgrading. 

At least three companies, Sonic Craft, Madisound and North Creek offer crossover upgrades and Sonic Craft offers also BlackHole acoustic damping kits.   The Coaxial Ribbon LineSource based models can also benefit from this kind of upgrade approach.

For the most part these speaker tweaks are going in the right direction. Newform cannot justify the cost of these modifications in a production loudspeaker where 10 to 15% of owners are motivated to make the upgrades. However, the use of higher quality capacitors, whether Hovland, Theta or Sonic Craft and foil inductors can only improve the sound quality. Improved damping along the lines of Blackhole or Blachford on the cabinet walls again, can only be an improvement to older models but keep in mind that the v3 models incorporate multilayer damping and panel damping. 

Our only strong recommendation is that the tweakers keep the upgraded crossovers outside the enclosure. There are two reasons for this. One is to keep the large caps and inductors from restricting airflow inside the cabinet. The second is to facilitate easy changes to the values of the crossover components and to allow the "inevitable DSP crossover /biamp" upgrade to be installed easily. 

To this end, Newform has developed an external terminal plate for mounting the crossover and allowing easy direct hookup of the "inevitable full digital chain". Plug and play! 

The upgrades discussed on the web in numerous forums range from simple (the upgrade cap simply bypasses the internal unit so there is no need to go inside the cabinet) to almost a complete rebuild of the speaker. When you undertake the modification project, be sure you have the background to see it through. 

In looking at the modifications you might be considering, always keep in your mind the possible upgrade path to digital crossovers.  DSP crossovers and digital amps with built in crossovers are here now and they are becoming more common.   Several receivers and preamp processors have both digital crossover and room correction built into them.   This is an extremely potent combination.

Where you choose to jump in on these curves is your decision but choices are available now from Tact, Hypex, Lyngdorf, Emotiva, DEQX and Behringer.   Onkyo now has digital crossovers built into some of its receivers.  That plus room correction and the great sounding amplifier sections, make these Onkyos a bit of a killer ap.  Call us for an update as this is a rapidly developing area. 

In terms of ultimate tweaks, we have the No Holds Barred (NHB) models which address all of the upgrade issues and go several steps beyond in terms of advances in enclosure technology. As well, you can browse through the "Owners Projects" page to see some really well done individual approaches to solving the acoustic imperfections inherent in any loudspeaker design.

 

 

 

Specifications

Specifications