When bigger is better

I remember well my first encounter with the Infinity IRS speaker system – it was an experience filled with awe both at the size and presence of this massive system as well as the magnificence of the performance. That first event took place at Harry Pearson’s home in Sea Cliff New York and it lives with me to this day.

I think perhaps what impressed me most was not the system’s total mastery of the room it played in, nor its ability to render a lifelike orchestra or large group perfectly. Rather it was its uncanny ability to playback a single instrument or small group better than anything I had ever heard before. This, the first and finest example of the line source loudspeaker.

In later years Infinity founder and my partner in Genesis Loudspeakers, Arnie Nudell and I built a more modern version of the original IRS called the Genesis 1. 1.2 tons in system weight, the setup included 4 floor to ceiling towers: two midrange treble wings and two woofer columns and here again was another implementation of what is known as the line source.

A line source loudspeaker is simple. You need only built it with speaker drivers covering every inch of space from floor to ceiling to have it qualify as such. And here’s the thing – there is perhaps nothing in the loudspeaker world that more accurately reproduces a single perfect point in space than this floor to ceiling approach – which looks about as counter intuitive as anything I have ever seen. The biggest loudspeaker system you can imagine reproducing more perfectly a single performer on acoustic guitar with perfect image size, specificity and reproduction – it just doesn’t make sense to you visually as you sit in awe of what you’re hearing.

Of any regrets I have over my 40 years in this field it’s that I did not acquire and still have a pair of these magnificent line source loudspeakers. I miss them.

Paul McGowan – PS Audio Intl.

The choice is yours

Yesterday I posted about the controlled demo and several of you seemed upset that I would even think about suggesting my musical choices might show off our equipment better than yours. I understand the sentiment but I only half agree.

Let me give you a bit of background. Years ago when Arnie Nudell and I ran Genesis Loudspeakers there was one rule Arnie enforced with great vigor at shows – if you want to hear the Genesis loudspeakers, you listen to my demo first then you can play whatever you want. There was little room for argument with Arnie on this one and his reasoning was sound. ”Let me show you the best qualities I know this system to have so you can quickly hear what I hear.” Who better than Arnie, the designer of the loudspeaker, to know what really worked on the system to show it off?

Today many manufacturers have abandoned this demonstration technique and let anyone play anything they want and hope for the best. I think this is a disservice to potential buyers.

Here’s the other side of the coin. I have also been to a number of fixed demonstrations where the potential customer has no ability to play their own material and I think this is also a disservice – an interesting show to be sure, but not all that valuable.

The best demos I have ever listened to and been a part of were a combination of the controlled demo to initiate the listener as to what’s possible and then let them play whatever they are familiar with to gain their bearings.

One without the other doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

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