Second thing: walk into an hifi store and you’ll see two way loudspeakers, mounting drivers only slightly better performing then the ones used in pc speakers, packed in an enclosure made out of some rare wood essence with a price tag of several thousands euro; let’s not even mention the important models, where a small floorstanding tower can easily cost as much a small car.
We decided that it was time to start to think differently: a loudspeaker has to be a nice looking device, of course, but not a modern sculpture which occasionally spread some music around, it must be designed, first of all, to achieve the most accurate sound reproduction possible. The forms beauty it’s certainly extremely important, for a device which is supposed to become part of our interiors furniture, but the acoustic performance does never be sacrificed upon the altar of the aesthetical appearance.
Almost all the loudspeakers dedicated to a domestic use are built out of MDF panels, Medium Density Fibreboard, wood powders glued and compacted under high pressures. The panels thickness it’s usually greater with the increase of the price and prestige of the speaker itself, so as the value of the final finish.
It’s a material certainly good for the purpose, with a good specific weight (a good loudspeaker is heavy, always: its total mass should be at least 100/200 times the mass of all the driver’s moving masses employed), but shows some weakness, too: becomes very expensive when you wanna get a speaker’s shape which is not a simple box made out of six flat panels, suffers humidity, is highly flammable, requires expensive tooling for complex processing.
Why not to try to think something different?
We focused our attention onto high density PVC, easily available in several fomats and typologies..
First of all, we have great rigidity, high mass and good nonresonant properties. A 10 mm thick PVC pipe does almost have the same mass of a 25 mm Medium Density Fiber panel (1600 kg/m3 against about 700 kg/m3 of the MDF). Doesn’t suffer humidity and it’s almost fireproof. The speaker structure, based on a cylindrical pipe, does have the minimum amount of junctions. The shape itself, from an acoustic point of view, it’s almost the best possible, both considering what happens inside the speaker, both outside (diffractions, generation of internal resonances, etc. etc.), and it simplifies considerably the constructive process, reducing costs (and, consequently, the final price), ensuring also an extremely satisfactory aesthetic result.
So all of our speakers are basically made out of a single piece of high thickness PVC pipe : cutting a section it’s obtained the necessary space to insert an MDF front panel, where takes place all the holes and closed volumes of almost all the drivers, elastically joined to the speaker’s body.
The speakers is then sealed by an upper and lower panel, which in some models, are replaced by the woofers themselves, assuming then a structural function, not only acoustic.
The final result is an extremely rigid and damped assembly, which doesn’t need any internal bracing, with a cylindrical shape and an extremely smooth surface.
The “look” problem: how to give an attractive appearance to a brilliant orange plastic pipe? We found the solution from the wrapping world.
Luckily, the chemical industry produces films not only for cars, but also a great variety (more than 900 ) for home interiors, which were just perfect for this purpose. The quality of these materials is outstanding, both in terms of duration over time ( for the car application these films are guaranteed against five years of exposition to snow, ice, rain, sun and high temperature excursions) than for
the realism of the various textures ( ranging from all the possible wood veneers to stones, leather, metals, carbon fiber and textile reproductions) is almost unbelievable. So we eventually got a cylindrical, slender shape which reminds of a column, a minimalist look which appears very nice from every point of view, and can blend with any interior design without being “out of place”, thanks to the variety of finishes available
Mythologized in their effects by the so called “golden ears”, crossovers have to be brought back to their effective realty, not mystic at all, of filtering passive devices. Crossover nets have to be as simple as possible and realized with components adequate to the task, any other consideration it’s only fruit of mystification. Components oversizing doesn’t lead to a better sound, but only higher costs, and all the costs which do not involve a significant performance increase are simply out of our way of thinking.
Inside the V&A speakers there are only first and second order crossovers, assembled with components properly dimensioned for their specific use without any useless waste of money
Drivers (our philosophy)
At that point, all what is needed for the loudspeaker enclosure was there. Time to think about the drivers: a much easier task, We have to say.
No “audiophile bullshit” or “voodoo hifi”, here: only the good, old acoustic physics laws. You won’t find tremendously expensive connectors, internal silver or gold cabling, and all of this stuff: these things are useless for a better sonic reproduction, and if you think we’re wrong, well, just go elsewhere. We prefer to place ten euro in a better driver, than in a better looking connector: that’s our philosophy, pointed to substantialness
For the lowest frequencies, only the best drivers for the task, but not the “most expensive”available: the ones more adequate to the reproduction of the frequencies given to them, without useless waste of money, exclusively built in Italy or Germany. Most of our designs are vented alignments: a reflex system, if properly designed, can put together great extension, excellent impulse response and consistent pressure levels. We like “overdamped” systems, whit a response that is somewhere in the middle between an acoustic suspension and a traditional reflex, because in our opinion this kind of design brings the best possible listening experience.
Mid and High Frequencies
For mid and high frequencies, instead, our choice was mandatory: isodynamic planar drivers.
Because, in our opinion, these are absolutely the best drivers possible for mid and highs, plain and simple. They were a great choice thirty years ago, and the evolution of the materials and the assembling process made them improve day by day: at the present time, we have extraordinary acoustic output, high power capacity, extremely low distortion and amazing time response. The latter, in our opinion, is the main reason that makes these drivers unbeatable , with such a “live” and natural reproduction when it comes to the human voice: the diaphragm does have such a ridicolous mass that there is almost no inertia, and it stops moving immediately, when the electric impulse stops. This behaviour can be visualized with the “waterfall” graphs, where it is shown how rapidly a driver stops when the electric impulse is ceased: we have added a few examples at the bottom. Additionally, the diaphragm is always inside the magnetic flux, so it doesnt’ change its behaviour at different volume levels....You may agree or not with our considerations, but we are sure that a listening session would make absolutely clear what we mean. Planar midranges, then, and Heil tweeters, with the famous “accordion” diapraghm, still among the best tweeters ever: Oskar Heil’s patent, also known as Air Motion Transformer, still remain, thanks to its conceptual simplicity, a little masterpiece. The folded driver design, combined with the small motion range, means the AMT acts like a point source version of a larger driver, inherently resulting in lower sound reproduction distortion. As a result of its motion pattern, the AMT "spits" the air out in a way similar to the action of shooting a watermelon seed from your hand by squeezing it between thumb and forefinger. The speed of the air as it leaves the diaphragm is approximately five times faster than the speed of the actual driver structure, hence the name, Air Motion Transformer.
Nelle immagini seguenti potete confrontare sula destra, il grafico di waterfall del nostro modello Lember, dotato di mid planari e tweeter di Heil: A sinistra un modello di diffusore di prezzo mlto simile e al centro un modello del costo di quasi 25.000 Euro. E' evidente come la velocità di decadimento sia spaventosamente superiore dai 1000 Hz sino all’estremo udibile.
To better explain what we mean with the importance of the “decay time”, here you have the waterfall graph of a floorstanding model from an important manufacturer, sold for an amount of 4,000 Euro pair, with cone midrange e dome tweeter
Here we have a loudspeaker from a highly reputed british manufacturer, with cone and dome drivers of the latest technology and materials: it is evident how this graph looks a lot closer to our product, but this speaker costs six times our Lember, being sold for 25,000 euro pair!
A cross section of one of our midranges. You can see the flat diaphragm, onto which is layered the coil, inserted between the front and rear magnets
Tweeter AMT (air motion transformer)
How is made an Air Motion Transformer tweeter, AKA Heil tweeter, with its folded diaphragm