Origin stories of Infinity’s flagship loudspeaker, the IRS, have as many variations as M&Ms but this is the one I was told.
It all took place over a dinner attended by Infinity partners Cary Christie and Arnie Nudell along with their international sales manager Leon Kuby. It was Kuby who challenged Arnie to consider building a line source loudspeaker without design compromise. Nudell is reported to have scoffed at the idea saying such a speaker would be absurd, taking up most of the room and costing a king’s ransom. Over time the challenge moved from the absurd to the possible and finally to the practical.
From TAS’ Jim Hannon:
“Like Infinity’s previous flagship loudspeakers, the goal of the formidable seven-feet, six-inches-tall, four-tower, Infinity Reference Standard (IRS), introduced in 1980, was to reduce “the musical distance between the live performance and its reproduced illusion.” Its sole design objective was to “achieve the world’s highest level of musical accuracy, and to develop the new technology needed to attain that objective.” Originally conceived as a statement of what a large line-source dipole without any design compromises could achieve, the IRS attained surprising commercial success, and served as HP’s long-time reference. That alone should be enough for the IRS to reach iconic status!”
In fact, Stan and my first meeting with HP of the Absolute Sound was at a time when this very speaker was his reference. We had come to visit Harry and show off our new little phono stage, a $120 silver box about the size of a pack of English muffins that was our sole product. Harry kept promising to give the phono preamplifier an audition while we sat transfixed by the sound of the IRS—but the audition never happened. When 2 a.m. rolled around we were all tired. Stan and I went back to California the next day changed by those speakers. Our horizons had been forever extended as we witnessed what few people ever get the chance to do: be in the same room when the musical distance between a live performance and its reproduced illusion had been reduced to near nothingness.
The IRS loudspeaker system changed my life and the lives of others. It was a seminal work that deserves its place in history. It will live in permanency at our new building with its own dedicated room. Sometimes history has to be preserved so we can understand our roots.