Fascinating New HT Speakers from Bob Carver

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Arthur S, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Bob Carver is one of the true geniuses in audio, and has been for more than 35 years. The story of his first amplifier, made in an empty coffee can is classic.

    This is his latest effort:

    http://www.sunfire.com?CR.htm

    Please note, you have to click on the image.

    Ribbons are some of the very best sounding drivers ever, and they should be, the MSRP of the 5 speaker system is $4,000!

    Enjoy!
     
  2. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    I'm not so sure I'd call Carver a genius but he's certainly creative. I'm not sure how those speakers are going to work though given the 1.5 cross over point to drivers that fire off to the side...and the ribbon in the center is orientated to give a very narrow dispersion pattern which could be an issue.
     
  3. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    And let the nitpicking begin...

    Andy:

    Let's not get overly enthusiastic about Carver or his new speakers. In my book, someone who, 30 years ago, designed a 400 watt, 9 pound amp, is close enough to genius for me.

    Who in audio would you call a genius, if anyone [​IMG]
     
  4. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Art please call my Andrew not Andy...

    As for whom I'd call genius? That's a good question and I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer...the smartest guy I've met in the audio world is the engineer behind NuForce. He used to design guidance chips for the military but I'm sure there are many more.
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    -3dB at 95Hz? Not enough midrange.
     
  6. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    JG

    Guess we might have to run those subwoofers all the way up to 100Hz [​IMG], as SVS sometimes suggests.
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I like speakers that cover lower than that. Yes, a good sub can pick up that slack, but one of the characteristics I look for in a speaker is a solid midrange. Obviously, I haven't heard these speakers, and they do look interesting, but I'd still be hesitant about them unless they have a very gradual roll off on the low end. Clearly, he had a certain sub, or certain level of sub performance, in mind when he designed these as well.
     
  8. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    I'm not really understanding what these speakers are. Where are the woofers? The literature is really superficial and the manual PDF link doesn't work.

    "Their side-firing configuration actually takes into account the physiology of our ear-brain processing system. "

    Also, what the heck is that supposed to mean? I'm really skeptical of statements like that.
     
  9. Terry St

    Terry St Second Unit

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    To be fair, those speakers are pretty tiny. They're not bose-cube tiny, but they're definitely smaller than your average bookshelf speaker. The center channel speaker is just 3.75" deep! At 4.8kg you could almost duct-tape it to the front of your TV if you didn't have space on top of it! It looks like Carver is trying to move in on the HTIAB mini-cube market and you have to make some pretty serious audio trade-offs to do that. These aren't going to threaten anybody's full-range towers or even a lot of bookshelves, that much is certain. I wouldn't spend $4K on a mini-cube system myself, but there are plenty who would.

    Now, if you want to see *real* genius at work when it comes to a whole lot of sound in a small package, check out the venerable Totem Mani-2. Yes, they're full bookshelf size and substantially larger than these Sunfire ribbon speakers, but they go from 29Hz - 20kHz +/- 3dB. That's damned good for a tower speaker, let alone a bookshelf! Admittedly, you'd be a fool to shove these up against the wall like you would with a mini-cube system, but they are seriously good sounding speakers.
     
  10. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    JG

    Wouldn't surprise me at all if his subwoofer of choice for this package was a Sunfire True Sub Jr. [​IMG], but for far less money, the SVS SB-12Plus would get the job done quite well. Still, anyone prepared to drop $4K on the set probably could pony up enough for a Sunfire sub. How bout we play a little fantasy HT, and pair the set up with the Sunfire True Sub Signature EQ, -3db, 16-100Hz (starting to sound like a great match), greater than 116 db peak output with room gain, (no slouch), 2700 watts. Built in EQ, with supplied mic. All in a 13 inch cube.

    Chris

    Really sad that the Owners Manual link is dead! The claims about the ear-brain physiology and brain processing is most likely a leap to claim benefits for the dual side firing mid-range drivers. I would guess that such a configuration would make for a very spacious presentation, as compared to something like a THX, MTM speaker.

    Terry

    From the little we know about the system, it does seem that Carver used some of the same technology employed in his miniature subwoofers (+116 db from a 13 inch cube), with the midrange drivers in these (high pressure, high back EMF, with drivers capable of 2X normal excursion for their size. So what we have here are 2 X 4.5 inch cones, capable of the excursion of a 9 inch driver. Maybe you could say those tiny satellites have the equivalent of 2, 9 inch drivers in them.

    I am more than willing to grant genius status to Vince Bruzzese, however, Bob Carver has not only done speakers of all kinds, from his original ribbon/multiple 12 inch woofer driver full range, planar, that employed much original thinking, like underdamping the woofers, etc., to many, many original amp designs, including Phase Linear, Carver, and Sunfire amps. No one else has designed an amp that with the flip of a switch, can mimic a tube amp, or a solid state amp. There are so many stories about Carver. He was in a contest in which he bet that he could match the sound of ANY amplifier in 48 hours with one of his miniature amps. Under the aegis of Stereophile (I think), he matched the sound of an uber expensive Conrad-Johnson tube behemoth, with a 10 pound box after holing up in a motel room for 48 hours. No one could tell the difference in sound!
    He is responsible for Sonic Holography, the miniaturization of subwoofers, tracking down converter amps, that allow for 400 watts X 7 in a 40 pound box that runs cold as ice and have the voltage source (solid state sound), and current source, (tube sound) switch.

    With all due respect, I can't think of anyone who has designed such a wide range of products that are simply unparalled. From 400 watt, 9 pound amps, to full range speakers, to processors, to magnificent tube amps, (Silver Sevens), to 7 X 400 watt, 40 pound amps, to this new ribbon satellite system. If that ain't real genius, I don't know what is.

    With regard to the Mani-2, I was very interest in and researched that speaker pretty thoroughly some years ago, including reading the full review in Stereophile. Excellent bass response for a small bookshelf! This does come at a pretty steep price, $4,000, last I heard. I lost interest in it when I read the reasons of a guy who was selling his pair. Pretty long time ago, but it was something about dynamic range, and compression effects from getting all that bass from a pretty small box. That did it for me.

    Regards
     
  11. Terry St

    Terry St Second Unit

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    You could probably round out a 5.1 system with Totem's HT speakers and have an awesome set of full-range stereo speakers for listening to music. It might not even cost much more than a set of these carver-cubes and a good sub. They might not go quite as low unless you got a sub for the Totem system as well, but it would be an interestingly different system to hear before you laid down the bucks. I think many who listen to a lot of music would definitely go for a system based around the Mani-2's.

    As for the quality of the mani-2's... They're beasts to drive apparently. You need a seriously good amp, and not just any high-powered amp but one that can handle a not-so-smooth impedance curve. I would be interested to hear what that guy you read about was trying to drive them with. The pair I've heard were some of the best full range speakers I've heard, but they were really well set up. They were in what is probably the best stereo music-only listening room setup I've ever seen/heard. Because of their size a lot of people probably put them on bookshelves or jam them into corners, which you really shouldn't do with them. It should also be noted that the mani-2's have been through a *lot* or revisions over the years.

    As for Carver's genius... I'm not disputing it. I'm just saying this mini-cube system isn't a great example of it really. It's aimed at a very specific market that is far from being all inclusive. These speakers would be a poor choice for many here, especially for the money. Making a mini-cube system out of ribbons isn't that terribly innovative either. It's not like he's managed to get response down into the more typical HT speaker range of 40-60Hz out of mini-cubes. They probably need to be crossed over well above 80Hz, which might make them difficult to set up properly. They might be the holy grail for ribbon-fanatics who want a mini-cube system, but that's about it.
     
  12. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I'm sure I could name a dozen surround sound systems I would glady replace with Carver's XT speakers.

    My own PSB Platinums? probably not.....
     
  13. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Terry

    The absolute best sounding bookshelf speakers I have ever heard, by a long shot, were a local brand sold in California. They cost about $175 each, and had great all around response, with no subwoofer. Crazy good 3-D imaging and soundstaging, with hight, depth and space around all instruments. Driven by a kit made Dynaco 200 X 2 solid state amp.

    Hoffman's Iron Law details the compromises necessitated by small sealed boxes. Spending $6,000 for a pair of small bookshelf speakers and a really good amp is not popular in these circles. An HT system using Mani-2's for the mains, would end up costing ~$10,000 with the 3 other Totem speakers, 3 additional channels of amplification, and a really good subwoofer. There just isn't much of a market for that around here.
     
  14. Terry St

    Terry St Second Unit

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    I'm not sure where you are getting your prices, but those are a tad high. Also, if you're want to compare apples to apples, don't forget to figure in the cost of amps/preamps and a sub for the Carver cubes. The price difference isn't going to be as large as you are suggesting, especially if you skip the sub for the Totems. A lower end Totem system would definitely be in the same range. I'm not trying to bash the carver-cubes. I'm just pointing out the sort of competition they're facing.

    As for Hoffman's... That might also be why those Carvers only go to 96 Hz (-3dB???). You have to admit though, that for not much more physical volume and only 5dB of sensitivity, an extra 70Hz of extension is not a bad payoff.

    Regardless, there isn't a big market for *either* $4000 book-shelf speakers or $4000 mini-cubes. We're firmly in niche territory here.
     
  15. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Terry

    Agreed, we are way into niche territory here. And don't get me wrong. I would love to try a pair of Mani-2's. I'm sure I would enjoy them quite a bit. Unfortunately, I'm a currently so speakered up, with KEF, Mission, JBL, and several others, that speakers are the last thing I need. There is one bookshelf coming early next year that is of interest to me, and if you would like to talk about this some more, please PM me.

    Thanks

    Arthur
     

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