The All New Serie S, Enjoy the Journey

Every new project represents a journey of sorts. Some come together easily and all at once. Meanwhile, others struggle and fight, the solutions coming in dribs and drabs as we work behind the scenes to pull rabbits out of our hat. Then there are those that struggle for months to produce completely satisfying results, causing doubt and long anxious nights. Have we come as far as we can in this performance category? Are we starting to tap out at the limits of current material science?  And then the solutions come in a breathless rush and so greatly exceed our initial expectations that we wonder at the end, how could this ever have seemed hard? This last category is the tale of our New Serie S.

Oh sure, we had promising beginnings with deeper bass and more output realized almost immediately; the result of dynamically re-balancing the drivers resulting in more linearity of movement and longer stroke to handle the power of the 1,000 watt NextGen 5 amp we borrowed from our big 212/SE—here limited to between 800 and 1,000 watts. We knew we’d need all that power to deliver the dynamics we were cooking into this new design.

But sonically, the improvements weren’t initially what we’d describe as dramatic. More like iterative improvements. Ho hum. But as the project moved into its middle months of development, we could sense there was more–much more– to be gotten. That was the point where I added a featherweight carbon fibre sheath to the backside of the cone. This was originally needed to allow our ultralight alloy cones to survive while handling 800+ watts of power. Literally, the aluminum cone would explode under max volume testing. Instantly, the sound transformed from uneven and thin, but producing deep bass, to powerful, richly textured and ineffably “right”. That was the turning point in the design.

Shortly after this, I came to Justin, our chief engineer, and asked him to whip up specially tuned versions of our Serie HT filters to dramatically upgrade the theatre performance of S on its dedicated .1/LFE channel. By now, Justin’s an old pro at how we execute filters and so he deftly whipped the .1/LFE filters into shape. By the second pass he had theatre performance stonking along, with vastly more output, a hugeness to the deep bass we’d never come close to hearing from previous generations of this class of product, yet retaining the agility and speed we’ve become known for.

Now we had a different problem. For close to 30 years, our musical performance has defined REL. Yet after rebooting our theatre filters and doubling down on power and drivers we suddenly had theatre performance that overshadowed our musical signature. It took me about two weeks to realize that we had simply exceeded the current state of our primary music filter and a small secondary filter we use to tune out violins and female sopranos was also getting in the way of the party. I sat Justin down on the spot and explained what I wanted and he created what came to be coined the PerfectFilter™, so named because it balances out extreme deep bass with weight and authority on one hand against a clear, open middle and high registers that seems to extend out to Channel 7 in the video spectrum.

Every once in awhile, you’re fortunate enough to recognize things as they happen, in precisely the moment that something big and important has taken place. It happened to me the day our daughter was born. It was instantly obvious that life as I had known it–as we had known it–had transformed in a powerful and wonderful way and we could not, nor would we ever want to, go back again to what had been.

That night, the moment we cued up the first cut, a little-known piece we came to rely on late in our developmental listening program that has tons of subtle musical and hall cues with what may be the most perfectly naturally balanced microphone technique I have heard in a live recording of jazz, we both stopped and stared at each other. We’d never heard this type of spatial clarity and ultra-deep bass in a relatively simple, medium-priced design. We were listening to a mini reference product; in less than half the volume of space here was enormous power, exceedingly deep bass, huge dynamics and all the subtlety and delicacy only truly great subwoofers can pull off. Here was the New S.

The design team, Justin our amazingly humble and talented Chief Engineer, Alex who is the all-time Grand Master at keeping every part of every project on task and Vivian who spends hours working with the factories making sure they are doing what we need when we need it, and myself are so very proud of these newest members of the family. We hope and trust you will quickly come to experience them and marvel at their multiplicity of talents and that, like us, you will come to love these as much as do we. We thank you the opportunity to do what we love.

September 24, 2019 - Posted in: News, Principles of Sound