- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr. and Ross Jones
- Published on 06 October 2008
Believe it or not, this is a subwoofer. It has two 21.5" drivers, 2 ohms nominal, and will deliver 142 dB SPL. They are used at concerts, and sometimes there are eight of them in the auditorium. The price is $15,000 without amplifiers.
These in-wall speakers are for mixing studios. Built-in class D amplifiers supply 800 watts to each of the 15" subwoofer drivers, 400 watts to the midrange, and 200 watts to the tweeter.
Because I'm (Ross Jones) a musician in one of my parallel lives, I was familiar with a fair amount of the equipment displayed at AES. The main focus was on the recording environment, with booths dedicated to gear found in pro studios. The major digital-audio-workstation vendors were there (ProTools, Sonar, Cubase), along with tons of plug-in specialists, and channel strips of every variety (compressors, EQ, preamps). I pointed out to JJ a particularly expensive, high-end tube-based vocal preamp that is used in many studios; he wondered why they obsessed with such quality at the recording stage since it was going to be compressed beyond recognition at mastering. Touch©.
In fact, I wished I'd allocated more time to attend some of the workshops, one of which was entitled "Revolt of the Mastering Engineers." On the other hand, most of the sessions had titles such as "An Improved Distortion Measure for Audio Coding and a Corresponding Two-Layered Trellis Approach for its Optimization." This was an engineering convention, after all.
There were also lots of exhibits dedicated to live sound reinforcement, including speaker vendors for large venues. We chatted with the folks at Adamson Systems Engineering in front of one of their arena-sized subwoofers, contained two 21" drivers in an enormous ported cabinet, capable of 146 dB SPL down to 30 Hz. JJ, no doubt wondering how he could fit one into his house, asked about pricing.
The other interesting part of the pro audio world is that most of the music and soundtracks that we listen to on passive speakers in our homes were mixed and mastered on active monitors. Companies like JBL and Focal had displays, along with unfamiliar ones such as FAR-Audio. These are active, tri-amped studio monitors with software-based internal EQ.