Sunfire Cinema Ribbon Loudspeakers

Of the world's billions of loudspeakers, some 99.735% (an unassailable number I just made up) use only conventional dynamic drivers. That is, cones and domes. Coils and magnets. The remaining 0.265% of speakers use something else - that something invariably being one or another variation of a flat panel suspended from or sandwiched between large magnets statically charged screens.

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Of these already rare variations, probably the rarest is the ribbon speaker: a thin metal or metallized film suspended within a magnetic field, courtesy of perimeter magnets arranged one way or another. The audio signal runs through the ribbon, which - as your vividly remembered high-school physics doubtlessly informs you - then vibrates in response, exciting the adjacent air, and voila! Viola. Or violin, cello, fuzz guitar - whatever.

Ribbon drivers are tricky, but Sunfire chief designer Bob Carver and his cohorts have been fooling with them for decades. Sunfire's new Cinema Ribbon speakers deploy a high-frequency ribbon driver in every model; the heavily pleated ribbon, though only about 5 inches in length, is claimed to approach the surface area and thus the power-handling and output potential of a standard 6-foot-long example. (Speaker-tech guru Tom Nousaine posits that the Sunfire driver is actually, technically speaking, a planar-magnetic type, a closely related form. Either way: makes no real difference to my purposes.)

The other two drivers in the CRM-2 speaker are twin conventional dynamic cones, 4.5-inch woofers that fire to the sides. Conventional only in their essence: Sunfire tells us that these are deployed much like the cones in the company's well-known miniaturized subwoofers, delivering extraordinary excursion and thus unprecedented power-handling and output potential from tiny means.

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