Can this be the ultimate speakers?
Meet the Orion speakers:
Open baffle (boxless) design, active crossover, an engineering that goes against most, if not all of the esoteric audiophile mentality, requiring no fancy "snake oiled" cables (the engineer who designed these speakers uses wiring he bought at Radio Shack), no fancy source, and no fancy preamp to get superior sound.
However, a power amplifier suitable for the Orion speakers might be considered "fancy" because you need 8 channels to drive a pair of Orion speakers. That's the thing about open baffle with active crossovers: each driver has his own channel. (each Orion speaker has two woofers, one midrange and one tweeter)
According to this review from theaudiocritic.com, these 60 lbs speakers are better than ultra high-end audiophile speakers weighting as much as a concert piano, costing in the range of 100 000 dollars a pair. I trust theaudiocritic.com because unlike many other audiophile publications, they review audio products in an objective, measurable and accountable way.
The Orion speaker set is still expensive, but still within reach for most of us. A custom-made set ready to use is 8200 dollars, but you can order the plans for 300$ and spend around 3000$ of material if you can invest some 50 hours of your time to build them yourself. Add to this the cost of a decent source, decent preamp and a multi-channel decent power amp. The designer recommends this 500$ preamp and this 2500$ 12 channel power amp Although you only need 8 channels for the Orion speakers, you still have four spare channels to drive subwoofers and/or surround speakers with the recommended power amp.
So for as low as around 7000$ (if you build the speakers yourself) you can have a true audiophile stereo system that supposedly equal or even beat the most expensive "esoteric" audiophile setup (esoteric means here that there is no limit on the cost, such systems can easily cost half a million dollars!)
I am not yet sure what to think about it, and would like your opinion about these speakers if you have ventured yourself into audiophile territory.
However, I do like the approach of the guy who designed these speakers, having the set goal of providing the best possible speakers for the lowest possible cost. His website has many interesting informations about acoustics and speaker design, well worth reading.
Find all about it here:
Siegfried Linkwitz obviously knows his stuff, his designs have always been rather well regarded by a variety of more trustworthy sources. Should be in another league than the usual overpriced audiophile bullshit. I haven't heard any of his speakers yet, but I'd really like to see what's it all about.
Thanks for pointing the review out, very interesting and would love to hear them, which is doubtful but who knows. If I was looking to buy a pair, there’s two concerns I would have over box speakers, one would be keeping them clean, what a pain to keep the dust out of them and the second issue would be as he said the optimal placement is not suitable for all rooms and who has a room large enough to keep them far away from walls and corners. Edit: but aside from those 2 minor issues, I do like the look and wouldn’t dispute the audio critic’s review and would love to hear that soundstage :)
electrostatic speakers anyone?
What about the lack of a box makes them better? I have always been of the opinion (perhaps incorrectly) that the box provides a resonance to the output of the driver that when done correctly provides for an aesthetic superior to a driver alone. Am I incorrect?
-One characteristic of the open baffle design is that sound comes from the front and from the back of the speaker equally. This might explain the greatly improved soundstage.
-Without boxes, the woofer and midrange amplitude must be altered in order to sound natural. The lower the frequency, the higher it's amplitude must be amplified in order to compensate for the lack of a resonating box. That is the purpose of the ACTIVE crossover. On normal speakers, the crossovers are PASSIVE: Frequencies below X Hz are directed to the woofer, frequencies between X Hz and Y Hz are directed to the midrange and frequencies above Y Hz are directed to the tweeter, using simple electronic filters made using only resistors, inductors and capacitors.
The active crossover for the Orion speakers not only filters the frequencies according to the drivers they're directed at, but it also gradually amplifies the frequency as the frequency gets lower. That way, no box is needed.
Hey, I forgot: for smaller budgets and smaller rooms, Linkwitz also designed the Pluto:
3000$ for a custom made pair without the subwoofers. Even less than that if you build them yourself.
All electronics, including the amplifier, are included within the base of each speakers: Yes, it means you can directly connect a cd player or a PMP to them.
Scroll about halfway to this page for a detailed review.
2-way active speaker system with 5.25" woofer and 1.7" tweeter
Acoustic frequency response: 60 Hz to 15 kHz
12 dB/octave roll-off below 60 Hz, Omni-directional radiation below 3 kHz
Equalized woofer and tweeter response, Crossover at 1000 Hz, LR4 (24 dB/oct)
Tweeter level adjustable +/-2.5 dB
Woofer amplifier 150 W peak, Tweeter amplifier 50 W peak
Power consumption 12 W without sound
Speaker placement: >2 feet from adjacent large surfaces and objects
Optimum listening distance: 75% of speaker separation
Room size and acoustics: non-critical when listening at optimum distance
Closed baffle cabinet
Outside dimensions: Footprint 12" x 8", Height 42.5"
Weight 15 lb (7 kg)
Are ALL improved, boxes no matter how rigid,inert and dead. Will limit some aspects of performance.Well executed speakers will mask these shortcomings so well you do not even notice.
However these open back speakers also have their minor faults,remember you always give up something to gain something.No escape,no free lunch.
-more driver displacement in the lower spectrum
Are just two of the negatives,not real issues as sound matter over the slight extra effort to properly place these.
Open baffle speakers always interested me but demanded placement(space) I did not want to give up ...or taken by other gear.
I found some more interesting stuff.
From a reviewer who bought the Orion speakers:
"Box speakers are musical instruments by nature, the Orion is a reproducer."
The Audio Critic have posted this postscript some time after his initial review:
I've searched the web, and haven't found any reviews about the Orions that are any less than excellent.
Again, too bad these speakers are not available through usual audio distributors, but as Linkwitz stated somewhere on his website, if they were available on the usual audiophile market, they would cost more than 20 000 us$ a pair. Linkwitz is a true so******t. He deserve more praise.
Iv'e been doing quite a bit of reading on linkwitz's website and everything is simply laid out to tell the reader what is being offered with the uttermost bit of honesty in Linkwitz's speech. I mean common, we don't see John Grado or any other manufacturer in the audio industry inviting anyone to his or her house telling the public they have an option of hearing their products before buying them hehe ;)
Jokes aside, except for being the ugliest loudspeaker, ever, the Pluto is definitely something to consider in the near future.
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