5 Apr 2013
Tech Specifications – anything goes!
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5 April 2013
Last month truth in specification was a hot topic on CXtra – our talk show at CX-TV. The Segment concerned can be viewed here.
This came off the back of a GEARBOX review we did for the Rare Audio RA-VEX15A-500R powered 15″ and horn speaker box.
This is what I wrote:
It was more than one tradeshow ago that I kept hearing the opening riff from Back In Black, far too loud, just long enough that it irritated everyone. Especially me. Because when I started ENTECH I declared No Audio Demonstrations, at a time when some tradeshow halls were like the battle scene in Apocalypse Now.
Then the culprit speaker box actually arrived at our studio for review. We didn’t actually play Back in Black through it.
While Jimmy faffed about with his critical listening test paradigm, I went for a screwdriver. The box, loaded with a 15” and a horn, weighed just 21kg complete with ‘active amplifier’, and I wanted to know why. Why so light? And how the 500 watts RMS claimed?
Getting the grill off did not involve screws. Off it came, all wobbly and bent out of shape. Like the wobble board in a Rolf Harris song!
Once the 15” driver was removed, the surprises started. The speaker itself must have been designed around a rare earth element, like Unobtanium, because it was so incredibly light. But wait – that’s because it is actually a pressed metal, lightweight speaker, of hitherto unknown origin. Suim Zebra 15, it says on the back. Google didn’t shed light on Suim. Look, I didn’t insert the CX boroscope inside the magnet, so I can’t say with absolute certainty that there wasn’t a hitherto unknown element within there. But I am 99% certain this was just a cheap little speaker. It has, quote, a ‘paperbark cone technology that ensures additional rigidity for longer life’. This is a visual device that sets the product apart from others.
Then there is a passive crossover network, happily sitting within the wooden box (pictured below). This is because the amplifier module, sitting nearby, is mono. Not bi-amped, like most ‘active’ or self powered boxes. So they need a passive network to feed the high frequency. Which announced itself as a Suim CSR 150D – High Technology Units. That’s nice.
I think the amp module (below) must similarly be constructed of a rare element, as it was cleverly compact. No real need to dissipate heat from that neat little heatsink either, they must have made a new kind of output device in play here. We are fairly certain this is not a class TD, or D, or K device.
It would be good to have definitive answers on these questions, but the web comes up blank. Possibly to avoid pesky retaliation, as JBL and Meyer flock to acquire these technologies?
On back is the neat looking mixer and connector module. Behind it inside the cabinet is a rough wooden box that had the audacity to leap up and insert a splinter into my delicate finger.
So we know why it is a lightweight box, and that’s because it hasn’t got much inside of it. Presumably to help with weight, they helpfully stapled just enough white speaker wool so as to be visible through the vents. Just out of eyesight from outside, the wool helpfully stops. This saves sheep, presumably.
We played some tunes, it sounded like a DJ box. We got a microphone and shouted, and it fell apart.
That is the review (above). Here is the VIDEO version, which is in the GEARBOX channel at CX-TV.
Did I go too hard on Rare Audio? Is this any worse than other $1,100 powered speaker boxes out there?
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