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Lucie Audio

8pm Wednesday 18th July, visitors welcome.

Willis Room, City of Whitehorse Offices
Maroondah Highway (Whitehorse Road), Nunawading
Melway Map 48 Ref G9
Contact: 9437 1249

 

When it comes to choosing or designing a loudspeaker there are two rules to consider: Rule #1; There is no such thing as a perfect loudspeaker. Every design is a series of compromises. Rule #2; One has to accept that there will be compromises and decide on a design which reduces these compromises.

 

This month's presenter has developed a speaker system which further reduces the compromises associated with the conventional passive loudspeaker. Rick Bond from Lucie Audio will be demonstrating his speaker system which utilises active crossovers with room equalisation by means of his DSP pre-amplifier. "Our pre-amp is built around the capabilities and feature set of the MiniDSP 2x4HD processor board. This gives us the power to process the stereo audio stream in real time to perform room corrections and digital crossover functions. Correction technology is powered by Dirac Research AB, world leaders in this field".

 

The process maps out the frequency and impulse response characteristics of the speakers in the room in a 3D grid around the listening position. After completing a frequency sweep with a microphone connected to the computer, a desired frequency response curve and an optimised impulse response are measured; the data and a set of filters are generated to map the two together. This data is then uploaded to the unit and stored in one of four configuration slots. This provides great flexibility in that up to four combinations of tonal response, crossover parameters and optimal listening position can be stored and readily recalled via the unit's remote control.

 

"To get the best from the MiniDSP hardware, we developed an active analogue volume control board. Maintaining volume control in the analogue domain provides the best approach to the gain structure".

 

Rick will be demonstrating his system with two sets of book shelf speakers and a matching subwoofer. He has developed these two distinct speakers to cater for the tastes of the listener. The Lucie Model One Loudspeaker is a 6.5" Point Source design. The full range driver is sourced from Dayton Audio for its zero crossover distortion. Excelling at delivering the nuances in the midrange, this design is recommended where primarily acoustic music is appreciated in a small to medium, focused listening environment.

 

The Lucie Model Two Loudspeaker is a traditional two-way compact speaker with drivers from SB Acoustics and Scan-Speak. Recommended and pre-set crossover slopes from the DSP Pre-Amp are set at 6db per octave and centred at a fairly high 4kHz. First-order crossover slopes are chosen for their phase neutrality, made possible by the smooth and extended response of both drivers. This bass reflex (ported) design has a greater power handling and more driver excursion, better suited to bass-heavy music. The system extends the response well below the frequency of the cabinet, giving exceptional performance for a fairly compact enclosure.

 

Cabinet materials are chosen for their high density and sustainability. Narrow grain carbonised Bamboo or Baltic Birch ply are laminated, no veneers are used, precision CNC cut then hand assembled and finished. Due to the laminar sheet construction inner wall profiles are able to be uniquely contoured to minimise internal reflections and cabinet resonances.

 

This will be Rick Bonds first public presentation at an audio event. A relative new-comer to the HiFi scene, this young man has developed a complete active system that puts DSP technology within the reach of many audiophiles.

 

Nick Karayanis

Program Co-ordinator

          

Ken Tripp
Wise and Wonderful Webmaster
Melbourne Audio Club, Inc.

http://www.melbourneaudioclub.org.au

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StereoNET's own [mention=152455]coffeemachinist[/mention] - Good luck Rick!
Was fortunate enough to have Rick demonstrate his exciting new concept and can highly recommend an audition!

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Just wanted to follow up and say thanks for coming last night to the several SNA members I spotted in the crowd. I thoroughly embraced the chance to waffle on about my gear for a while and spin some tunes. Hope you enjoyed!

 

-Rick

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Rick, do you have a webpage for Lucie Audio where we can see your speakers yet?

regards Ian

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Hi Ian,

 

A pertinent question! As of right now, no - but it's in the works. It's early days and I wanted to focus on the products first and foremost, as there's not much use having a website, marketing material and sales platform while the products go unfinished.

 

But - I have been posting updates on my favourite social media platform Instagram - lots of behind the scenes and work in progress stuff if you're interested. You can find it at www.instagram.com/lucieaudio

 

Also I'll post below my notes and technical background of my designs - and of course I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

The technical foundations of Lucie lie in room correction and efficient amplification, and their liberation in getting the best out of some fairly unconventional loudspeaker designs. Central to this is the premise that most commercially available speaker designs are based on a series of assumptions relative to the end user's room acoustics and tonal preferences, which are only by occasional chance completely accurate. The uncomfortable fact in sound reproduction is that the listening environment is so often the deciding factor in overall enjoyment of the system, and it is a topic that is seldom addressed when choosing one piece of equipment over another. 

 

Tone controls or EQ are very unfashionable topics in modern hi fi, and I'm not sure why that happened - often the recommendation is to buy this or that because it has this or that tonal balance, but this is fraught with peril for so many reasons - why not have freedom to tune the system as a whole, together with the room!

The use of DSP allows just this - to achieve the best possible result in terms of tonal balance, soundstage and accurate presentation of instruments and voices. 

 

The DSP pre-amplifier -

Our pre-amp is built around the capabilities and feature set of the MiniDSP 2x4HD processor board. This gives us the power to process the stereo audio stream in real time to perform room correction and digital crossover functions. Room correction function is powered by Dirac, world leaders in this technology. The Dirac Live platform combines powerful and flexible capabilities with an easy to follow measurement process. 

In brief, this process maps out the response characteristics of the loudspeakers in the room in a 3D grid around the listening position, using a series of frequency sweeps recorded by a supplied measurement microphone connected to a PC running the measurement utility. After completing the measurements, the summed frequency response is displayed, and a target or desired frequency response curve can be superimposed over the measured data and a set of filters generated to map the two together.  This data is then uploaded to the unit and stored in one of four configuration slots, which can be easily activated via the unit's remote control or via the software utility. This provides great flexiblity in that up to four combinations of tonal response and optimal listening position can be stored and readily recalled.

To get the best from the MiniDSP hardware, we developed an active analog volume control board to provide the best approach to gain structure, ie. maintaining volume control in the analog domain, before power amplification. A custom linear power supply for the volume control and DSP boards ensure top audio performance.

 

Power amplification - 

Our power amps are built on modular designs from Hypex in the Netherlands. Hypex are at the forefront of a new era of ultra high performance Class D amplification. Amplifiers based on their Ncore technology developed by Bruno Putzeys are now appearing in the highest echelon of products from boutique manufacturers like Mola Mola, to mainstream brand offerings such as the NAD Master series. Modular design allows us to configure number of channels and power output according to individual needs. 

Specifications of Ncore amp modules are superb across the board, and their characteristics focus on neutrality and resolving power -  Ncore is the first Class-D amplifier not just to nudge the best linear amplifiers, but to surpass them in every aspect relevant to sound quality.

 

Loudspeakers - 

Our philosophy with loudspeakers is to stray somewhat from established design norms, made possible by harnessing the power of DSP and active crossovers available in the pre-amp, and multiple channels of amplification in our power amp. Central to this is the goal of eliminating phase issues across the mid range, where our auditory system is most sensitive. 

Analog dividing networks or crossovers found in conventional hi-fi speakers are used to split up the full spectrum of audio into smaller chunks that can be effectively handled by transducers designed for low, mid or high frequencies. 

These sometimes very complex networks of passive components (inductors, resistors and capacitors) have a significant influence on the overall character of a speaker design. Careful attention must be paid to their properties, individually and as a whole, if the combined acoustic energy of the drive units and crossover network is to be rendered accurately in the time domain, and at equal amplitude independent of frequency. Of crucial importance is the sum of the signal when it is originating from two separate sources, for example in the overlapping range between high and low frequency drivers. 

The best drivers available can be made worthless by an improper crossover or cabinet design, but even when optimised, a passive crossover design will entail several compromises and assumptions about the influence of the listening room, for example how much baffle step compensation or bass boost should be added to cancel cabinet losses - this is a variable and dependent on final placement in the room, yet it must be baked into the crossover design. 

So for us, active crossovers and room equalisation allow a key advantage - to dispense with the cost and complexity of analog crossover networks wherever possible, and give access to a wider range of drivers with some tempting advantages, taming the characteristics that would otherwise make them unfeasible in passive designs. 

Cabinet materials are chosen for their quality - sustainable, high density and naturally beautiful timber laminates, precision CNC cut and hand assembled and finished. Due to the laminar sheet construction, inner wall profiles are able to be uniquely contoured to minimise internal reflections and cabinet resonances.

 

Lucie Model One loudspeaker (names TBC!)

The simplest expression of the Lucie loudspeaker philosophy -  a single point source driver delivers the full audio signal. Zero crossover distortion or phase errors. A large, light and strong paper composite diaphragm with powerful neodymium motor give neutral and transparent vocal rendition and a precise and vivid soundstage. Excelling at delivering accurate and nuanced midrange, this design is highly recommended where primarily acoustic music is appreciated in a small to medium, focused listening environment.

 

Single driver full range, bass reflex (ported) enclosure
Size: 18 litres (medium bookshelf / stand mount)
Frequency response: 65hz -18khz (-3dB-0dB)
Crossover- nil
Impedance - 8 ohm nominal

 

Lucie Model Two loudspeaker

A traditional two-way compact loudspeaker with state of the art low distortion drivers from SB Acoustics and Scan-Speak. Extending linear frequency response above and below the Model One, the design physically time-aligns the acoustic energy from the low and high frequency drivers to maintain neutrality and phase coherence through the crossover range. Recommended and pre-set crossover slopes are 6dB per octave centred at a fairly high 4khz, meaning the low frequency driver is handling more midrange energy. First-order crossover slopes are chosen for their  phase neutrality, and made possible by the smooth and extended response of both drivers outside their designated passband. Wider directivity and thus a broader sweetspot are delivered by the cloth dome tweeter and shallow cabinet wave guide. Qualitatively, these design choices deliver an accurate and neutral, yet non-fatiguing loudspeaker with excellent directivity. With more driver excursion and power handling on tap and a lower resonant frequency, this design is better suited to bass-heavy music without reinforcement via a subwoofer.

 

Two-way full range, bass reflex (ported) enclosure
Size: 16.5 litres (medium bookshelf / stand mount)
Frequency response: 35hz -25khz (-3dB-0dB)
Crossover- nil, active via DSP (two channels of amplification required for low frequency and high frequency), passive available as an option.
Impedance - 4 ohm nominal

 

Lucie Subwoofer

Built to extend the frequency response of the bookshelf cabinets to the very lowest octaves. The sealed construction and large, low distortion driver give extremely linear bass performance, and the use of a Linkwitz Transform equalisation in the DSP system extends response well below the resonant frequency of the cabinet, giving exceptional performance for a fairly compact enclosure. 

Sealed enclosure, single 12" driver
Size: 30 litres, floor standing
Frequency response: 20hz - rolloff frequency (eg. 120hz)
Built-in amplifier power - 500 watts, class A-B with linear power supply


Material options available for loudspeakers: Baltic birch ply or narrow grain carbonised bamboo, solid laminated construction (no veneers used)
Finishes: Natural oiled or Black Japan, others possible via consultation

 

Cheers, Rick

 

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Any pics of your speakers?

Sounds similar in principle to the Kii three,, but they use multiple drivers to create a cardioid response.

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