Author Topic: Air Loudspeakers-The past  (Read 3036 times)

Offline Air

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Air Loudspeakers-The past
« on: October 17, 2015, 11:54:13 AM »
For the past 15 years or more I have been researching, designing and building loudspeakers. I collaborated with a number of people who I am indebted to immensely. They taught a novice, gave advice,  listened to my designs, build the cabinets, were patient with quick  telephone calls that became hours of questioning sessions. Most of these mentors became friends, some bought loudspeakers from me and others are waiting for the next generation of  Air loudspeakers. My family often said that I should concentrate more on my day job, and were sometimes fed up with all the mess in the house and could not face one more question on how does this sound  or which concept sketch do you prefer. In the process I learned a lot. I thought that it can't be that difficult an aspiration to achieve.
I look at commercial designs and thought they could be easily bettered. Hours of trying to tune my initial project by ear, for example, led nowhere.  I realise that it is not at easy as getting your hands on the best components and later software and still later measuring equipment. it takes knowledge, but more. You have to be able to let your preconceived ideas fly out of the window, change your beliefs and assumptions when the evidence both empirical and subjective comments don't support them. After all of this effort, I am happy to say there are about 15 sets of Air models floating around in SA. I know of at least 1 pair that was or are in Aus.
and most of all that the new generation Air loudspeakers are in the pipeline. There is no venture capitalist nor philanthropic sponsor in the background so progress in slow, but I hope to update on progress from time to time for those interested in the quest.

The blog below catalogues some of the projects and what went into it.
http://air-loudspeakers.tumblr.com/
Hope you find it interesting
Stefan
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 06:47:03 PM by Family_Dog »

Online Rhino

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2015, 01:06:51 PM »
They look really great.
All the best on your venture.
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Offline King_Julian_S

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2015, 04:24:22 PM »
Looks very good sire.
 :2thumbs:
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Offline ghostinthemachine

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2015, 04:24:55 PM »
Very very beautiful.
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Offline WD

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2015, 05:02:19 PM »
Beautiful!




Offline Kemosabe

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2015, 05:56:18 PM »
Welcome and good luck wih your venture. I dont want to come across critical because I think your speakers look lovely but for a commercial success one would need a little extra. I mean the construction is flawless from what I can see but a ported 3.5 way is not something at least 10 competent diyers on this forum haven't built before. Heck some of them have built more than 100 different models. So since I cant actually hear the speakers through my ipad screen can you perhaps shed some light on your secret sauce? Is there something which sets these apart from the crowd? As I say not being critical. If this had been posted under diy rather than commercial I think I'd be gushing!  :thumbs:
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Offline CAD

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2015, 06:20:17 PM »
Very nice  :thumbs:

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Offline Air

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2015, 10:59:49 AM »
Hi Guys
Thanks for taking the time and the thumbs up.
I agree with Kemosabe that commercial success is an elusive dream for most small manufacturers whether diy or someone who tries to put it on a more commercial ground. I guess it is a sense of perspective where one sees yourself. I am involved in the industry for more than 20 years and were for a long time the importer of a respective Uk brand of speakers, namely ProAc. So I understand the cost model of what it takes to make a product available for the local consumer. With loudspeakers, the scenario concerned me. I realise we pay transport costs on duties and taxes on the full ex-factory price of speakers. A large component of the cost lies in the cabinet and bulk of the product while the technology elements and IP are relatively low. So if we can produce locally, the material for the cabinets as well as the labour can be stripped out of the costing model and if one can achieve quality, a product can be available to local consumer at a more reasonable cost. Obviously that is the start of the logic, but there are lots more involve. Building a brand that people out there will trust, getting volumes to get the interest of manufacturing partners are only but  a few of those. My day job involves developing strategies for companies large and small and one of the theoretical models that I often use is the idea of value innovation published inHBR in 2004 in which Kim and Mauborgne highlight that value innovation is not related to product innovation only, but also service and delivery. So helping others understand this insight, I thought how does that impact on my own interest and passion.  It does not imply that I wanted to do a me-too product, quality is paramount. Quality for however is a relative concept, and I see it as having huge strategic potential on how one defines quality.
Loudspeakers are an interesting product for me. For some, the technical performance is all that counts. This segment interest is in frequency extension, ie for example  bass  and these days high-frequency extension. Other segments of consumers value other parameters, like fit and finish, maybe design or form factor. Obviously these are not mutually exclusive but as a designer one has to make certain decisions and then represent that with confidence. I recognised that not all can be satisfied. The insights that are involved in loudspeakers come from engineering(electronic, acoustical, material), but also industrial design, interior design, psycho-Acoustics, marketing etc.  Also psychology and philosophy in  terms of consumer behavior, ego needs such as i want mine to be bigger or more expensive than yours. :)
what makes the Air speakers in my mind a strong value proposition for a well-defined group of potential customers are based on well-proven engineering and scientific principles, quality in execution and in fit and finish, at a price that constitute extreme value from a financial perspective. The form design is important as loudspeakers are used mostly in a domestic environment and psycho- acoustic factors are also important. On a more subtle level,  there are people who enjoy enjoys being part of a story, they feel they must back the underdog, small guy etc.
I have strong technological partners and have strong relationships with them. The business to business relationships that were established on the back of Airmusic involvement in the industry created opportunities for me. I have an open door to many who have  deep skills and are involved in tuning some of the icon products in the market. There are definitely many talented diy designers and builders in SA, and world-wide who can do the same and better. I think they are my peers and I don't compete with them, most likely they will never buy a product nor will they take a sale away from me. The challenge is now to bring all this to fruition.
I am working on the next generation of products that will embody my vision more accurately of what a great loudspeaker should be about. It is taking the story written so far to the next chapter.
By the way Kumosabe I assume you don't like 3.5 ways ported designs. :) The Air Forte is  a 3 way build with customised drivers around the concept of an almost full range speaker with high sensitivity that has a friendly impedance so no monster amps are required to make them sing. 






 

Offline Air

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Re: Air Loudspeakers-the pipeline
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2015, 11:57:05 AM »


Offline Rodney_gold

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2015, 04:38:18 PM »
I heard Serges pair  a few times , exceptional speakers.
I wish you luck with the venture

Ps i still have my meridian dsp5000 speakers  I bought from you guys when you did meridian..they still sound amazing.. in a 2nd system..
The rand was R4.25 to the pound at the time ....
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 04:47:53 PM by Rodney_gold »
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Offline Air

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2015, 05:23:43 PM »
Hi Rodney
Good to be in touch, feels like a different life when we did Merdian. I know how fond you were and are of the DSP5000s. Did you also had a 508.24. Alan is still using my old unit and when i am tired of all the high-resolution modern dacs, its nice to settle down and listen to music and forget about hifi. :)
The Fortes are good, but no speaker is  perfect but really good and its kind of you to endorse the sound and design. What goes into getting to such a level of sound is hard to relate. Have you ever heard the Air 2s also at Serge, the 2-way floorstander?
cheers
Stefan
With the Rand at around 20 to the pound, a home-grown loudspeaker makes a lot of sense..if one can achieve comparable levels of sound and quality  :)

 
 

Offline mahleu

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2015, 06:35:59 PM »
You need more than an excellent product at the right price, you need decent marketing. Proper photos, video, website and the personality to get your speakers into shops.
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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2015, 07:33:26 PM »
I am not a person who pays undue attention to speakers although I acknowledge several skills are required to build a good-looking cabinet, design crossovers and whatever else goes into building a pair of speakers.

Twenty years ago, a group of friends told  me: "We have neither seen nor heard anything exceptional from whatever you are trying to make or do. We strongly advise you to stop wasting your time or otherwise start with a clean sheet of paper so to speak. Ignore the local market and try and make a product which is so exceptional, so unusual and so good that people will aspire to own one".

The above was a rather rude wake-up call. But it worked.

skollie

 
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 07:59:18 PM by Skollie »
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Offline Rodney_gold

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2015, 08:20:54 AM »
Im not sure which models they were Stefan , floorstanders , curved design , and he had 2 rel subs with them.
I saw and heard aout how meticulous you guys were over the build and what went into them.. was really tempted to buy Rod's set.. but went all in for G1's
I eventually had 24/96 DSP6k's , 518 , 568.2 , 508.24
I still use the 586.2 to control my twin SVS SB13 subs.

the usual elephant in the room came up when contemplating rods speakers.. and that was that they werent cheap 2nd hand (round 70k) and that resale might be an issue bearing in mind the DIY aspect of the speakers..
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Offline Air

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Re: Air Loudspeakers
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2015, 09:30:46 AM »
The model you referred to was the Forte. Interesting that you considered a set. I sold both Cpt pairs in Joburg within 2 months. The resale value is always a factor for unknown products(brands), but if the history is something to go on, I guess the Air models don't do so badly. 3 pairs of Air2's changed hands and sellers got close to what they originally paid, and in one instance more. :) And the forte's also sold easily once customers heard them, once again at prices that constitute value for both the buyer, the seller and myself. The key factor in this all is the initial pricing of products relative to the value you get. The fact that is was involved in the transactions certainly made it easier.
The fact that you mentioned you were really tempted to buy a pair is a huge compliment, given he fact that you settled on the G1's though. The new owners also shopped around, and look at speakers priced in the same category as the G2/3, but settled on the Forte's because of the extreme perceived value. 
I am busy tooling up for a new range(s), and won't go public until all i are dotted are and all t are crossed. I just thought I would put the history out there and test the water. Interestingly I get lots of advice publicly and more requests and questions privately. When i am in Cpt again, I will contact you, it will be nice to meet and hear your system. Certainly looks stunning and the Thorens steal the show :)