Moving the Audiant SR35 floorstanding loudspeaker from concept into production has been an exciting challenge. I'm exceptionally pleased with the Audiant SR35... at last a loudspeaker that not only is a perfect aesthetic match, but also specifically designed to extract the very highest level of detail and reproduction from the amplifiers in the Audiant range.
As some of you know, or heaven forbid have experienced first-hand, Perreaux dabbled with speakers in the late '70s. Producing, by today's standards, monstrosities such as the LR390 3-way loudspeaker, ML80 5-way loudspeaker, as well as commercial PA units like the Stagecraft IV bass bin, PE8 mid-range and HF4 high-frequency horn. Thankfully, times have changed!!
Our first modern hi-fi speaker has been a long time in the making, with the desire to produce a loudspeaker igniting almost a decade ago. In that time, we've experimented with many concepts and made countless prototypes. From developing and producing our own ribbon drivers to listening to a plethora of speaker system configurations - dipole, isobaric, band-pass, sealed, reflex... the list goes on. We've explored different materials - solid wood, MDF, plywood and aluminium; each having their own pros and cons for different applications in the speaker design.
Being a manufacturer of amplifiers it was only natural that we delved into the fully active route too, producing a fully active system we affectionately labelled 'Big Bertha'. She was a 3-way configuration each speaker consisting of four 10" woofers, two 5" mids and a single ring radiator tweeter. Active crossover and room correction duties were handled by the accomplished HDP-4 preamp processor from Aussie outfit DEQX.
L to R: Big Bertha with grille, 10" woofer and grille detail, Big Bertha without grille
Standing almost 2m tall and weighing near 100kg each (excluding amplifiers) Big Bertha was massively imposing and demanded equally gutsy power amps to perform at her best, so of course we obliged with three Prisma 350 stereo power amplifiers. Big Bertha sounded simply sublime, the scale and weight, even at the lowest of volume levels, belied belief. We were gob-smacked, we thought we'd hit the motherload. Then you appreciate why these systems cost five-figures, sometimes six, and you quickly come crashing back to reality. Making the realisation that a system of this scale was accessible by only 1% of The One Percent was crushing.
That defining moment was game-changing – we decided our loudspeaker had to represent good value and be accessible to anybody who so desires. We'd gone from one end of the spectrum to the other in what seemed like a heartbeat. Our job just got infinitely more difficult and we faced massive challenges to produce a loudspeaker that not only sounded exceptional, but also represented good value and most importantly, built in New Zealand to the World-class standards expected of today's loudspeakers.
We revisited all the development we'd done over the years – the custom drivers, the materials, the different speaker systems. With our new goals in mind we soon discovered why MDF constructed bass-reflex speakers are so prevalent; there is simply no other way to get better sound for your buck. Our research showed us that better sound was possible with different materials and technology but the cost of tooling up and the extra material and process costs were not feasible.
It was extremely important that in the quest for affordability we didn't loose sight of the ultimate goal – sound quality. Compromises are inevitable when affordability is desired, yet we've chosen drivers from one of the World's most prestigious driver producers, Norwegian company SEAS, along with high quality crossover components, a solid aluminium baffle, complex internal bracing and extensive acoustic damping to ensure the best possible sound quality.
Audiant floorstanding loudspeakers hand-veneered in American Walnut
The SR35 is the perfect Audiant loudspeaker: its sound is detailed and dynamic, yet the neutral balance is a perfect match for the natural sound of the Audiant amplifiers; the aluminium trims give the speaker the same modern and contemporary look that characterizes the Audiant range; and it possesses the excellent value that the Audiant range represents.
With the Audiant SR35, I believe we've achieved all the goals we set ourselves in producing a loudspeaker – superb sound quality, modern contemporary design and good value for money.
Learn more about the Audiant SR35 loudspeaker on our website.