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AirShip Taking Off

The Making of AirShip

REL has been known for true state of the art, great sounding and robust wireless systems since our first effort a decade ago, the LongBow. At the time, most high end audio companies had zero experience with hi res wireless. And the subwoofer brands of the day were offering truly awful off-the-shelf Bluetooth-based wireless with delay times measuring well over 100 milliseconds in some cases. To put that number into context for you, that’s the functional equivalent of having your subwoofer placed in your neighbor’s living room 2 houses away!

We introduced the first zero compression wireless system and it was not just about cold, technical numbers (just 16 ms of delay against a then-standard 120 ms) but sounded great; warm, fast, dynamic and reliable when wireless of the day was cold, dynamically compressed and prone to drop outs and losses, well beneath the standards we all associate with high end audio.

Our success came about because we approached the design of our first wireless effort as we do all design work, as a pure high end audio component (dedicated digital and analog power supplies, superior DACs and ADCs as well as broadcast-quality wireless transmission protocols). It had to be thus to be considered worthy of connecting to the subwoofers we’ve toiled over for decades.

Now Taking Off

And now, an all-new AirShip™ Zero Compression Wireless System is set to take off. But whereas the first generation used 2.4 Gig processing, we opted for the much faster 5.8 Gig processing formerly reserved for the US military. This new chip is significantly faster, aided no doubt by its LSIC (large-scale integrated circuit) design which keeps all circuit paths very short and aids in transmission speed. Simply put, the shorter the signal path because all the critical circuits are kept in close proximity to each other, the faster and clearer the output signal will be.

Having Your Cake and Eating it Too

We retained the dual channel design that RELs require so that each AirShip can simultaneously process both High Level signals (or Low Level, good for active speakers), at the same time it is handling a dedicated .1/LFE Theatre channel. By doing so, it permits the wonderfully natural Full Range sound for which RELs have become famous to perfectly support a high quality 2-channel music system. In addition, it is the simultaneous ability to process the .1/LFE channel information which allows for professional transfer studio quality theatre bass to be delivered wirelessly to this newest generation of REL subs. Truly the best of both worlds. Whether music or film sound, AirShip delivers.

I was completely unprepared for the final result. My first texts to our Chief Engineer Justin Magana were so over-the-top that he thought I was having a go at him. But the resultant sound is close enough to good hardwired connections that there are significant aspects of its sonic performance in which the wireless link is clearly superior to copper wire. Weird. It actually seems faster, and yet captures the physical volume of spaces in fuller scale and with more detail than the copper wired connection.

Try one for yourself, they’re remarkable and fully up to the lofty standards we set for ourselves when we began the high end wireless journey over a decade ago. All aboard, AirShip lifting off!


November 5, 2019 - Posted in: System Thinking