The Inside Story
The text below is a transcription of the video
Well, good morning. This is John Hunter with REL. I have the distinct pleasure of introducing our No.32, just so that people understand our numerology, the 32 was conceived in the 32nd year from REL’s birth. The 32 has really big shoes to fill. Everything we’ve done in the seven years since we launched the No. 25 has informed all of our lesser products, so much so that we realized that there were a number of lessons that we’d learned in those, the development of all the antecedents to make this product that much better. This is the best we know how to make. There are models that we make that play just as loud, but when you get up into reference grade, what you’re looking for is speed, purity, texture, delicacy, ability to die into the equivalent of black level shadows and video, right? The subtlety of the ability to, to do all the harmonic shadings, and it shows up in theater and film as well, by the way. So, the 15 inch driver for the Europeans out there, that’s a 380 millimeter driver.
This has been rebalanced and extended from the 25. So, these are not duplicative drivers. This driver handles about 40% more maximum power, even though the wattage rating on the amplifier has not gone up. We have yet to find a big amp that is this supple, this fast, that handles that kind of super-fast, almost square wave like transients. Most big amps blur things a little bit, and it’s really important to us that we not lose it in the electronics. The driver is quicker, it’s a little bit more sensitive, although we’re not claiming anything more. It’s like a DB more sensitive and it has a richer, fuller, exceptionally deep base to it. So, where you’ll hear the difference comparing this, for example, with our previous No. 25 is it is a bigger, richer, fuller voicing. It simply hangs on to the lows further down where the other one can start to fall. We’re talking trace amounts below 23-24 hertz. This one is really steady. So, all of our References use pure carbon fibre for the driver materials, and we use them a little bit differently than most people do. It’s really common to see carbon fibre. It looks beautiful when you do it, but doesn’t sound great to use just a pure hemispherical mold. It’s one continuous weave of it. What we find more useful is to do two pieces. They are all in that hemispherical mold, but we have a large, very stiff center cap that’s made of actually slightly thicker material that ties the integrity of the shape together, which is why we can play for hours and hours. We test our drivers for 24 hours continuous at the maximum the ample do when we’re doing development just to make sure that these things can hold together for the long haul. And so we’ve got roughly 50-60% of the, of the diameter of the actual main cone as an overlay. And what that does is it stiffens, it toughens it, and it also quiets things. When you have that overlap of the glue bonds, it really quiets down the structure and that’s one of the secrets to get the kind of texture and delicacy that we can get out of such a big concussive driver.
Now, these amps, these thousand watt amps, we’ve now sold over 6,000 of these over the last seven years in different models. They are as bulletproof as a thousand watt amp can be. We have two parametric, an A filter and a B filter. And it’s really important to understand that when you don’t want to be using it, you need tip and you’re done. You leave it in the middle. Otherwise, any changes you make, you’re actually changing the parametric continuing rather than being able to adjust gain or crossover points.
So, the cabinets are sort of the visual glory of our reference pieces. This shape was not arrived at casually. Some of our conclusions began 12, 13 years ago when we were developing what became the first generation of the MKI and what is not contestable. So, we can only conjecture and we can do all the modeling we want and things, but at the end of the day, you have to build them, listen to them, and make sure that the form and the volume and everything does what you want it to do. This is a large volume cabinet and as I said in an early portion of this, it’s got this beautiful boat tail that the actual relationship of width to taper at the rear is critical. As you get up into these big drivers, it’s important to be able to somehow control the back wave. That’s the only possible explanation for what’s going on. These side panels are laid up out of 30 millimeter, one in eight inch thick, solid billets of the best grade of MDF we know how to find, and they get loaded into a very large radio frequency bombardment chamber. Sits in the middle of that, and it gets bombarded for over an hour. And what it is, is it’s enough energy to begin to loosen up the binders that are in the HDF, the glues and the various fillers that are in there that are part of the acoustic signature of that material. And at the point that it becomes what is referred to as plastic, it’s not running gooey, but it is formable. It goes into a 50 ton press that has a female form, which is the curve of this and a male form, which is the inverse.
And there’s a hydraulic round that comes down. It sits down exactly the same pressure each time, and it sits there for five hours until its ice cold. Once you release it from there, it’s completely set. They don’t drift. They then get finished, cut and eventually assembled into these. It takes three weeks to finish one of these cabinets. I’m not talking build it. It takes over a week to build a cabinet. It takes three weeks just to finish these because the amount of surface areas immense the number of coats we have, and each one of them is sanded out using at least three different steps. It’s a very labor intensive process to build these.
I just thought it would be fun to take you on a quick guided tour of all the cool design things that are in there. Starting with the front. The grill is both beautiful, but also very functional. A conventional woven cloth. You have so much air pressure coming off the front of this driver when it gets going, it would probably pop the grill out of the restraints. At the very least, it would make loud flapping sounds and be really distracting. So, just the ability to release the air pressure, these huge wave fronts that come exploding off the front of this driver is critical. The visual design I take no credit for, my old mentor, Franco Serblin, who was the design genius at Sonus Faber many, many years ago developed this for use with his speakers. And I thought about the challenges we were facing, and it was the perfect solution to it and the fact that it is absolutely beautiful. The rails are almost the same. If you come along here, one of the neatest things about it though, and this is continued on and we borrowed from our Serie S, these beautiful polished stainless steel trim plates at the back. The new badge is fantastic. It’s so simple and so elegant. It’s all done out of first polished and then chrome plated, triple chrome plated stainless steel for the main body of it with an inset of carbon fiber for the actual badging. It’s very subtle, just a little tiny glimpse of the chrome. A lot of detail of both design and the acoustic results that we can make these do dual duty for. And then moving around to the back. One of my favorite cities in the whole world is Paris and the way that the French designers, when they laid out all the street signs is just so beautifully done.
So, we borrowed the font from Parisian Street signs. It’s just a little bit more elegant. You’ll see these are really wild swooping serif fonts, and it’s just prettier. Why not? And then all of the complexity of being able to do line arrays with 0.1 jumping from unit to unit as well as high level being able to do that, all of that’s been clarified within the 32. So, you can use them any way you want.
So, let’s wrap this up. I’m going to say it quietly and definitively, the 32 is simply the best we know how to make. We have 32 years of history building the best subwoofers on the planet, and we have put everything we know, every last little detail into making the 32 better, better than a No. 25. And that is saying something. That is a model that was given the only prize I know of product of the decade. So, we knew we had big shoes to fill. Every part of the performance of this has improved, and then all these little tiny details that other people probably don’t even notice, but we do.