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There are so many exhibits at CES that it's impossible to cover all of them, and Amphion's innovative speaker design made me wonder how many other interesting exhibits I missed. Amphion is a Finnish speaker company - http://www.amphion.fi - attempting to establish a foothold in the United States, and were displaying their speakers to great effect at a companion show to CES, The Home Entertainment (THE) Show, which is not associated, but runs in parallel, with CES.

By far the most interesting speaker design I encountered at either show, the Amphion Xenon speakers are shown here with Amphion sales manager, Anssi Hyvonen.

The Xenon speakers have an amazingly uniform hypercardioid horizontal dispersion pattern from 150Hz through 20kHz.

Click for a Larger Image

What this means is that the speakers have a uniform horizontal dispersion pattern from the upper bass through the midrange to the lower treble that is narrow, thereby reducing sidewall reflections greatly. The uniform dispersion pattern means there is no sudden changed in perceived tonal balance of the speaker through the frequency range because the speaker's off-axis response tends to be same through the frequency range thereby causing reflections that are uniform through the frequency range.
 

How this is done is the innovative part: the midrange is assisted by acoustic chambers with vents on either side of the driver that, working with the midrange, generates a hypercardioid response at its lower frequencies (from 150Hz), where the 6½-inch midrange would normally have an omnidirectional response. This is similar to how directional microphones work. The tweeter is built into a cavity that shapes its dispersion pattern. The speakers also cross the tweeter at an amazingly low 1.5kHz, which is quite unusual considering how much consequent power the tweeter would have to handle, but moves the crossover and its attendant inter-driver colorations and lobing out of the most sensitive part of the human hearing range.
 

Click for a Larger Version

I didn't know any of this when I sat down to listen to the speaker, and I cast a suspicious eye at the close proximity of the Xenons to the side walls, and the acoustically untreated walls of the room. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard speakers that maintained great neutrality, while exhibiting wide dynamics. WIth its innovative design, fairly moderate price (estimated US price $3,700) and seemingly successful implementation of its innovative design ideas, watch out for the Amphion Xenon. []

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Show report last updated: 23rd April 2001. 276 original images on-line.

 

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