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Brent Butterworth

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 29, 2013 0 comments

Speaker Standouts
An old-school category sees surprising innovation

One could argue that this spring will see as much innovation in the speaker category as in headphones. But when you think about it, that’s not really so surprising. After all, speakers can be almost any size, almost any shape, almost any weight, while headphones will always have to be small and light enough to fit on your head.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 01, 2011 0 comments

My greatest CES disappointment led to my greatest discovery. After a cable manufacturer bailed out on the bacchanalian dinner he’d promised me, I ended up at the New York New York hotel nursing a glass of watery house bourbon while dropping quarters into a video poker machine. I soon noticed that the man next to me was sketching electrical circuits on his napkin.

Brent Butterworth Posted: May 09, 2012 0 comments

If there’s any speaker spec that’s routinely bogus, it’s bass response. You see a lot of little speakers rated to deliver bass below 40 Hz, but that measurement is almost always taken at -10 dB, instead of the industry standard of -3 dB. Even if the little speaker does hit, say, 36 Hz at some level, it almost certainly can’t deliver any usable volume at that frequency.

There are ways, though, to get legit sub-40 Hz response from a little speaker. One is H-PAS, or Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System, invented by Solus-Clements and now used and licensed by Atlantic Technology.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Feb 13, 2013 0 comments

Home theater nuts can never have enough subwoofers. But the average household isn’t run by a home theater nut. Usually, the decisions about what goes into the living room are made by someone for whom audio gear is only slightly more welcome than cockroaches. For that person, even one sub may be too many.

Atlantic Technology built its PowerBar 235 soundbar precisely for households split by the conflict over good sound versus bulky audio gear. The PowerBar 235 is one of only a couple of soundbars designed to deliver satisfying bass response without a subwoofer.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Jan 27, 2011 0 comments

Speaker makers fall into two general groups: the Canadian school and the artsy school. The Great White Northerners - guided by decades of study conducted at the Canadian National Research Council in Ottawa - fuss and fuss until their speakers deliver perfect measured performance, then run test after test with trained listeners to make sure their speakers sound practically flawless.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 13, 2011 0 comments

There are times when prejudice is forgivable. One can hardly be blamed for assuming that store-brand whiskey, truck-stop coffee, or music by a lite-jazz artist who goes by a single-letter surname is going to suck. Likewise, one might reasonably presuppose that a little cube-shaped speaker isn’t going to please serious listeners.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 31, 2010 0 comments

I don't know who said, "You can never be too rich or too thin," but it wasn't a speaker engineer. Thinness is the enemy of good sound because in order to produce sound, a diaphragm of some sort has to move back and forth. The lower the frequency of sound, the farther back and forth that diaphragm has to move.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 23, 2012 1 comments

When I’m looking for speakers to review, I gravitate toward two types: ones that have the potential to sound great, and ones with weird designs. The former offer the potential for hours of joyous listening. The latter offer the potential for either a previously unimagined sonic nirvana or an audio train wreck, both of which are fun to write about.

Definitive Technology’s $899-per-pair StudioMonitor SM65 fits both descriptions.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Sep 18, 2012 0 comments

One of my favorite things about the audio biz is that anyone with a dream and a garage can get in. Accumulate the knowledge to design a speaker or an amp, gather the tools and materials to build it, muster the courage and social skills to sell it, and you’ve got yourself an audio company! (Unfortunately, a few would-be entrepreneurs skip that all-important first step.)

There’s no better current example of this phenomenon than John DeVore, founder, president, and chief designer of DeVore Fidelity. DeVore was a musician and high-end stereo salesman in new York City who’d nurtured a hobby of building his own speakers. When he finally got to the point where he was satisfied with his designs, he started to produce and sell them. His company now builds speakers in the old Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has become a hotbed of artisanal manufacturing.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Sep 16, 2010 0 comments

Lots of companies make cars. Lots of companies make video projectors. But when you look under the hood of either product, you’ll realize that not many companies make engines — i.e., the piston engines that power cars and the light engines that power projectors. That still leaves plenty of things to do like add a body, decide which features should accompany the engine, and sometimes tweak the engine to better suit individual needs.

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