John Tchilinguirian: Energetic Speakers Page 5

Tchilinguirian: Yes. Our aim was not to develop a refrigerator that dominated the room and was very difficult to place. We wanted it as a lifestyle product that could go into a lot of homes and integrate well with a lot of different rooms. That's one of the tradeoffs, I guess.

Deutsch: Were you aiming for a particular price range when the design started out?

Tchilinguirian: It was a price range between $5000 and $6500.

Deutsch: But you knew you weren't building a $10,000 speaker.

Tchilinguirian: Right. Nevertheless, we wanted the [speaker's] performance to compete with products that cost $10,000 or $15,000—to be as good as or better than those products in terms of overall musicality, spaciousness, and imaging qualities. One of our important goals has always been precision of imaging—much more precise than, for instance, dipolar or bipolar loudspeakers.

Deutsch: Is this where Mirage and Energy go in different directions?

Tchilinguirian: Yes. The Energy product may not be as spacious-sounding as the Mirage product, but it has much better imaging qualities...precision of each instrument in the proper location in depth, width, and height. That's where the two brands differentiate.

Deutsch: Looking at the entire Energy product range, it seems to me that, with the introduction of the Veritas, you're developing a split within the range. First you have some relatively inexpensive speakers, and now you have this flagship speaker at $6000 which is intended to compete with the best. But you don't have much in between. I'm wondering if the Veritas technology is going to trickle down into the rest of the range.

Tchilinguirian: Well, at the bottom end of the range, Energy covers a number of price points with some very good products. We've got a new speaker that came out last April, the Energy Excel, which will retail for $150/pair. We were playing it in Vegas and got a phenomenal reaction. But it's true—there's a big gap between the $2000 22.3 and the $6000 Veritas. We're definitely going to do something in the future to cover that price range.

Deutsch: And it'll be the Veritas kind of technology in a smaller box?

Tchilinguirian: Similar, yes.

Deutsch: What about your plans with respect to DSP—do you plan to use it in crossover design or room compensation, or both?

Tchilinguirian: Both. Primarily room correction at low- and midbass frequencies, but also looking at crossovers. I'm less involved with that than Ian Paisley, who was President of the consortium for the Athena Project (footnote 3). He's been heavily into it. The research is completed, and the hardware is available to consortium members, so it's up to each member to take that research and use it.

Deutsch: What do you think the future holds for the development of loudspeakers?

Tchilinguirian: One of the main things—there's been talk about it for a number of years now—is room correction: getting a certain loudspeaker to sound good in a number of rooms. The problems are primarily in the bass, midbass, and room nodes. I don't know how far it will go with DSP and crossover work, but I think we'll see a lot of DSP applications to do room corrections. The trend has also been to make smaller speakers that maintain their musicality.

Deutsch: Where is the bottleneck now? Is it the drivers, enclosure designs, or crossover?

Tchilinguirian: I think the bottleneck is trying to extend the low frequencies in a small enclosure. One solution is to design a small speaker that sounds good but doesn't necessarily go that low, and integrate it with a subwoofer. We've started getting into subwoofer technology and have a number of subwoofers out right now, and we're coming out with a servo model—a high-end subwoofer.

Deutsch: Many people say that the problems with subwoofers are of integration, of not degrading the sound of the rest of the range.

Tchilinguirian: Yes, the crossover between subwoofer and satellite. We've done a lot of work in that area as well. We have a crossover unit coming out under the Athena Digital brand—it's Ian Paisley's design—that really does a phenomenal job.

Deutsch: Is it DSP-based?

Footnote 3: The government-sponsored Athena Project involved a number of Canadian manufacturers and researched the use of digital signal processing (DSP) to optimize the loudspeaker/room relationship.—Robert Deutsch