Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just freakin wow.

Yesterday I got in 4 proprietary 8" drivers spec'd to work in the BigE line array cabs.  Two standard, two coax.  The coax are for the downfill boxes in a hung array.  One of the interesting things about BigE cabs is just about any driver will work pretty well, they don't care.  Through experimentation though Steve and Tom have come up with a set of T/S parameters that optimize the cab's characteristics. 

I had been running Eminence LA8CNMBA's in a WT8, which is a top box for an array.  With an Eminence NSD for a tweeter, crossed at 3.5k simple 6db slope.  It was really fine, though the high end would chop up at higher power, because of the NSD.  Eminence is not known for the quality of their hf stuff.  Except the ASD, which is an outstanding value.  The LA8's are a very fine driver, designed for line array work. 

Last night we ran to the shop for a bit, installed the proprietary 8's.  The cab just opened up.  Like you'd released the throttle.  But it really highlighted the shortcomings of the NSD when I tried to turn it loose.  I had also ordered some Faital tweeters, as the other licensees and the designers recommended them.  So we yanked the NSD and installed a Faital. 

Son of a bitch.  I was astounded.  Utterly astounded.  This thing is an audiophile cab that can do 125-130db.  Solid response to 80 at least.  I was running without subs.  Palpable pressure from a top, throughout the frequency range.  But, and it's a big but, the level of detail from the sound was just insane.  Running rock through it you could hear the compression, hear the processing, hear everything.  TBH, it highlighted just how poorly the tracks we chose were mixed.  Going to take some rock music today that I know is well done in the studio.  It was typical of what I hear every time I listen to current recordings on really fine equipment.  Music mixed for $10 headphones gets shown the door with high end audio.

 Tried some pop music, (Katy Perry) it was better.  Kick was tight, articulate.  Katy's voice was outstanding.  Fun to listen to. 

Then the real test.   One track that has been my go to for years. "So What" by Miles Davis on "Kind of Blue".  I've listened to it on practically everything I could get my hands on for years.  And listened to it a jillion times.  The other track is a new one, Goat Rodeo, "Here and Heaven", from the "Goat Rodeo Sessions".  Finely mastered, outstanding dynamics, and a great piece of music to boot. 4 of the best acoustic musicians in the world doing a mashup of genres.  If you don't have this CD, get it.  

My jaw hit the floor.  There were things in "So What" that I have never heard, anywhere, on anything.  This from a cab with 2 8's, a 1" compression driver, sitting on an old vanity, 5ft from a wall in the middle of a wood shop, full of tools, block walls, a reflection nightmare.  No placement setups, no concern for room acoustics, nothing you usually do with really fine speaker evaluation. The cab was behind a 4x8 worktable and my Sawstop saw.  Not exactly a primo setup.  Just hooked up and run where it was.  You could hear Miles start the note,pursing his lips and the teeny teeny search at the start to get the note right.  You could hear the strikes on Bill Evans piano.  I mean the mechanical part of the strikes.  But Cannonball Adderly's saxophone was the most astounding part.  It leapt out of the cab.  A single cab was imaging in the room.  I could close my eyes and pick out the players.  Some in width, which it shouldn't do at all,  but the DEPTH, every instrument was placeable in the sound field by depth location.  His sax sounded about 6 ft tall, you could literally feel it run up and down your body as he riffed the scales. 

Next up was Goat Rodeo.  I was foaming at the mouth by now.  At the start of the track, you can hear the musicians scooting around on their chairs, laying the bow on the cello and violin.  It's only a fraction of a second, but it was clear and distinct.  Once they started, you could hear and feel as the bows moved from string to string.  The cello was just breathtaking.  Hell, the entire track was breathtaking. 

Today they get the real setup.  Two cabs running, BigE 12" subwoofer, using the digmoda amplifier with it's extremely powerful dsp to play with crossover points, and serious horsepower instead of the 60w HT receiver we were using.  

I cannot wait to build a set of these for my home system.  I'm sorry if you numbers guys think this whole thing sounds like a goofy audiophile review from a magazine.  I don't know how else to describe what I'm hearing.  I'm not sure the numbers produced from testing in the next month or so can begin to describe the cabs.  They are just different.
Stay tuned.  

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