Spatial Audio has been knocking it out of the park at each of the show demos I’ve encountered, and the show at RMAF was yet another “win” on that string.
The “why” of that, though, may not be readily apparent. At least, to me, it wasn’t. Isn’t. Wasn’t. Whatever.
There’s just not a lot there there. It’s a panel speaker, sure. Boxless! This generally speaks to a radiation pattern that does less-horrible things to a room. Got that. I understand, too, that the “controlled dispersion” design takes that radiation pattern and optimizes it radically — again, to minimize room interactions and additionally doing serious heavy lifting to ensure an optimal frequency dispersion at the listening position. Got that.
So, that explains why it doesn’t sound like a hot mess. What it doesn’t explain is why Spatial Audio speakers sounds so good.
The last Spatial Audio speaker I heard was the M2 — here, The M1 open-baffle loudspeaker ($4,000/pair) is double what the M2 costs, and is considerably more awesome. A 2-way design and fully passive, they have and need no bi-amping and no DSP correction. Interesting, as this is something of a departure for designer Clayton Shaw, especially given his earlier work with Emerald Physics. The frequency response on the M1, at 32Hz-20kHz, means significant extension, and a 95dB sensitivity with a 4Ω impedance means you’re probably not gonna need your mega-power amp, either.
So, the Red Dragon Audio S500 stereo amplifier ($1,995), for example, is probably way more power than you’ll ever need or use. Based on Pascal Technology Class D modules, the S500 can put out 250 watts into 8Ω; this doubles into 4Ω, and the little amp can be bridged for over 1kW of output.
A Prism Sound Lyra DAC ($2,250) did double-duty, part decode, part preamp. This DAC is “trickle down” from the award-winning Orpheus design, and has been here simplified for those of us that don’t actually need 8-channels of I/O.
GIK Acoustics provided room treatments.
So, here’s the skinny on the skinny — I think Clayton is on a roll. Emerald Physics was very interesting, and while he no longer seems involved with that project, it’s clear that he’s far from finished with high-end audio. Speaking of which, in doing a bit of fact-checking for this post, I found out that he’s also got a much bigger speaker hiding in the wings — the Lumina (starting at $13k/pair). A big jump in price, yes, but … well, here’s what he has to say:
The new Lumina series open-baffle speakers portray a level of emotional engagement seldom heard outside live music. Lumina’s free breathing expression is a marvel to experience. Spatial’s new X32 series of precision coaxial drivers incorporate the world’s first pure Beryllium compression tweeter diaphragm for unparalleled transparency and natural tonal density. Lightning quick acceleration is courtesy of the X3212’s 96dB Sensitivity and 35 lb magnetic structure. Twin 12 inch Servo Controlled Subwoofer drivers provide crisp, resonance-free bass down to 15Hz. The open-baffle bass section is self-powered by 600 Watt monobloc servo amplifiers.
Not sure when we’re gonna see that, but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for Spatial Audio. You should, too.