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    The Note

    The Note white finishI am sitting at my desk with the thought that you and I are here, in this moment, for the same reason: we want to be closer to the music, closer than ever before.

    My 'The Note' line array loudspeakers are different. They aren't like 'high end' you may have heard before. Not massive boxes with drivers of different sizes to handle different parts of the frequency spectrum. Unfortunately differently sized drivers can create uneven room effects, timing errors and, consequently, difficulties with placement and listening away from the sweet spot that can never be fully overcome. My speakers are not little monitors that are designed to embrace the compromises and do one thing well. They are tall, slim line array loudspeakers that are easy to move and position for nearly immediate, unparalleled enjoyment out of the box. A line array has lots of drivers, precisely positioned and this gives some real advantages for music lovers.

    My quest to perfect the line array concept has been ongoing since the late '70s. The Note line array is the best speaker I have ever designed. The culmination of decades of listening and testing.
    Nearly all of the reproduced recorded sound you and I have ever heard is distorted in a way that is unacceptable to me as a lover of music. The trouble is, because it has been like that forever, we are used to it. It's what we expect. But when you hear my The Note loudspeaker it might be a shock, because you are hearing the music, not the speaker. It might necessitate an adjustment but with a little listening time you will understand.
    There are lots of reasons for distortion with loudspeakers. There is usually a lot of movement going on, stray reflections, resonances. The biggest problem with a conventional speaker is to do with how much the speaker cone has to move. The speaker cone is pushing against air. It is hard to control that excursion if it has to move a long way to create the sound pressure needed. Horns attempt to place a pressurized zone in front of, or behind the driver to tame it a bit. But horns typically introduce unwanted colorations and a very, very directional experience so that you become a prisoner of the sweet spot. Electrostatics and other planar designs also 'beam' in a way that is not like real music. Instruments don't beam. With electrostatics if you move a little bit off axis the soundstage collapses. The Note creates a vast soundstage, that is stable. You can walk around in it.
    In essence the line array is a very simple idea. I use lots of drivers that all receive the same signal so that each driver has to work less than those in a conventional speaker. I am creating less movement for a given sound pressure level. This is how I get the distortion so low. Those speaker cones you might have seen at the audio show in that big box, visibly pumping, are distorting, a lot. You will struggle to see my speaker drivers moving, at all, even if the music is loud. 

    The Note arrays have been measured to have a total harmonic distortion of 0.1% at 2KHz when driven by 100 Watts of power and 1% at 20kHz. That is vanishingly small THD. You can't hear it. 100 watts of power can easily drive The Note to sound pressure levels that would be uncomfortable in most rooms. So we don't need a lot of power and this is good for quality and clarity. At a distance of four meters from the loudspeaker, 36 watts are required for 95 dB SPL (no headroom included).

    Because The Note is so clean and neutral it is a revealing speaker. It won't be adding any euphonic 'bloom' to attempt to sweeten poor recordings or inferior equipment further back down the chain. But this is a relief really. Such artificial enhancements quickly become fatiguing. You can rest assured, if it's not satisfactory, it's not the speaker. Feel free to make improvements in the choice of source components, amplification or recordings. It's one less thing to worry about. So often in our search for sonic nirvana we struggle to locate the weak link and, understandably, often end up at the speaker. The measurable distortion in the typical hi-fi speaker would be an engineering fail if present to the same degree in a source component or amplifier.

    Not so with The Note. We are almost at electronic component levels of distortion with it. Look elsewhere if something seems wanting. The speakers will open an immense holographic window on well-recorded music of any genre at any playback volume without compression, congestion or image collapse. But it may not be kind to poorly recorded and mastered music.

    Dynamic shading in music reproduction is important. It is how musicians emphasise or de-emphasise subtle changes in loudness in individual notes or sounds to tell the musical story. We have heard live music; we have been in a concert hall. The speed and agility of a symphony orchestra moving from soft to loud is something very few speakers can emulate. The Note has exemplary dynamic performance, revealing the slightest nuance in loudness, or moving from a whisper to a roar effortlessly. It sounds real. This because the drivers, having individually so little work to do are in a near perfect 'ready state'. Drivers in conventional designs are spending a lot of time recovering from excursion which is why they start to sound congested at high volume. To employ a phrase coined by the late Harry Pearson, founder of The Absolute Sound magazine, on hearing an earlier line array of mine – the Pipe Dreams, they have exceptional dynamic linearity. The Note exceeds even the Pipe Dreams in this respect. You can enjoy your speaker at any volume.

    Dynamic shading. Dynamic linearity. What do these terms mean? Music tells a story, it goes somewhere, it follows a path, it's a journey. A lot of that sense of story, or tale comes from the dynamics the musician uses in the playing of notes and sounds. It can be a very subtle thing and we need to be able to hear it or we can't understand how the story is unfolding.

    System packages

    These consist of recommended components needed to complete a Note speaker system and can be ordered directly from us. To complete an audio system based on The Note speakers requires a sub woofer, ideally a pair of subs that can go up to around 180Hz and down as low as you like, and an equalization method. The equalization system is available as an analog device that provides a high pass filter and slope correction for the speaker – line arrays in the near field have a sloped downward response at high frequencies. Amplifiers in the range of 100 to 400 watts into 4 ohms are ideal with this option.

    The equalization can also be achieved with a dsp solution such as those from DEQX, which we recommend. The DEQX system comes with the equalization for The Note built-in and further has the ability to do room correction and subwoofer integration with careful control of group delay. One can also use some EQ to shape the response to your listening preference. The DEQX has very high quality DACs built in plus analog and digital inputs and outputs.

    Mark Porzilli

    The Designer at the Designer’s Desk