It’s Friday night and you’re relaxing in the comforts of your own home after a long day. You turn on the speaker to listen to the track that always has the power to move you and just like that, your evening has been transformed. The right music can instantly elevate your mood and the right home speaker means you can enjoy these mood-lifting moments whenever you need them the most.
Whether you’re an audiophile or just someone who loves a good tune, we can all agree that the ubiquity of music has permeated the life of the modern man. Now with technology evolving faster than ever, the desire for innovation and creativity skyrockets to create new and better ways to access and experience audio.
Existing in the form of high-end, luxury speakers, they’re able to completely transform and revolutionise the way you hear music. From Devialet’s one-of-a-kind, patented Analog Digital Hybrid Intelligence to Bang & Olufsen’s meticulously designed statement, high fidelity (hi-fi) speakers, these luxury brand speakers allow the listener to have full control of their soundscape and immerse themselves in the audio.
But what differentiates a high end speaker from a budget model? And what are the key qualities that make them unique?
The Dedication To Craftsmanship And Design
There is an artistic aspect that exists within high-end speakers. Oftentimes, there is a triumph of form marrying function to create a product that is able to improve the audio performance while enhancing the atmosphere of the space.
Bang & Olufsen’s Beolab 90 is a great example. After extensive research and design over three years, it features a 360-degree design with 8,200 watts and more than 10 speakers. An average speaker only holds 500-1,500 watts. The amount of wattage plays a large part in the volume of the speaker, however, the challenge with a higher speaker wattage is that it lacks a specific definition. Oftentimes, the sound comes out without clarity or sharpness. In order to counter this issue, Bang & Olufsen’s speaker is equipped with 18 premium drivers, 14 channels of ICEpower amplifiers and 4 additional class D amplifiers. The amplifiers reduce the amount of distortion in sound while the premium drivers allow it to reach an impressive volume. From a visual aspect, there is nothing else quite as unique, its geometric and bold design is based on a complex aluminium cabinet with a rock-solid structure and its curved base allow for easy placement anywhere within your home, but it wasn’t designed this way by coincidence. The casing and housing are set at angles that have been calculated by acoustical engineers to provide the best possible performance. The frequency range is controlled by tweeters and midranges that are strategically placed in the tower to ensure an immersive sound delivery that is second to none.
Similarly, Bowers & Wilkins’ Nautilus speaker is filled with revolutionary design and technology. Right from the outset, John Bowers, one of the founders of the company, recognised that the shape and structure of a loudspeaker cabinet exerted a huge influence on the overall sound of his loudspeaker designs. He wanted to create a loudspeaker that didn’t sound like a loudspeaker at all — rather, it would deliver a performance so realistic that the listener would believe they were experiencing the live event itself, or the best-possible recording of that event. That led to a lot of innovative thinking. Thus the Nautilus speaker was created. At a glance, the Nautilus is no ordinary speaker; shaped in abstract and contemporary form, it features multiple spirals and tubes that sit atop a shell-shaped body. The long, tapered damping tubes proved to be a revolution, allowing the drive units to work optimally by gently absorbing stray energy, it soaks up wayward energy and reduces resonance to the point of insignificance. To package the Nautilus tubes, their designers developed a striking, space-efficient, spiral form from which the speaker takes its name.
This merge of design and functionality leads to one purpose: the enhancing and creation of a fully immersive and customisable audio experience.
Rising Above The Noise With Technology and Innovation
Other than design, audio technology plays a huge part in ensuring outstanding sound quality. Brands dedicate years of research to create softwares and systems that are able to bring clarity, volume, customisability and power into their speakers.
Devialet is no stranger to inventing unique audio technology. With a variety of patented formulas, they incorporate complex technologies to enhance their products. Known as equalisers, it allows users full control of certain frequencies that are found in audio. For example, if you prefer a more bass-heavy focus, Devialet’s RAM® technology allows you to adjust accordingly with unrivalled accuracy. With countless settings and full stereo compatibility, it’s able to custom fit the exact characteristics of your turntable or stereo, creating a fully personalised listening experience. Additionally, their ADH® Intelligence is the world’s first hybrid amplification technology. An industry-defining invention, it reduces distortion and harnesses the linearity of Analog amplification (Class A) while taking advantage of the compact nature and power of Digital amplification (Class D). It maintains the analogue amplifier’s voltage generating function (to maintain their excellent audio performance levels), while entrusting the current generation function (and accordingly, that of generating power for the load) to an amplifier equipped with drastically superior energy efficiency, maintaining the same performance despite the stereo size.
Another important aspect of audio technology is the ability to create spatial audio. Spatial audio has the ability to make sound feel as though it’s coming from all around you. While surround sound gave our music a sense of horizontal direction, spatial audio takes this one step further by adding height cues to film soundtracks and music. Combined with extensive research on audio technology, hi-fi speaker brands have now accomplished this mission to create some of the most luxurious, complex sound systems.
Ross Lovegrove’s design for the MUON by KEF encapsulates spatial audio technology perfectly. Tasked with turning the finest acoustic engineering into the ultimate loudspeaker, the MUON is fabricated from super-formed aluminium to deliver a seamless midrange, full and open sound. Its signature Uni-Q® drive unit array uses highly sophisticated CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software to control, contain and emphasise the power of its bass. Using a CAD/CAM software allows more variety and customisation in a design. Since it’s completely manufactured by machines, it adds a degree of precision and control in the speaker’s system, allowing KEF to deliver seamless imaging throughout the room, resulting in music with unprecedented three-dimensional presence.
In terms of customisation and preference, Focal’s Aria 900 speaker collection allows music lovers to choose their listening style. The Aria 926 focuses on a well-balanced listening experience while the Aria 948 focuses on emphasising denser acoustics. If the user prefers more bass in their music, they could opt for the Aria 936. This range marks the return of high-fidelity which is expressive and accessible to all.
The amount of engineering precision, innovation and craftsmanship that comes with high-end speakers set them apart from their counterparts. With complex technology and units that look more like pieces of art than sound systems, the appeal of luxury sound systems are ever-present — and these brands are setting a high standard for innovation while pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with audio engineering.
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