This project was a facelift commission and collaboration with Hifimaailma magazine in 2010. The brief was to simply come up with a design that tames the brutal PA components into something that you can actually use in a well decorated living room.
Not too many decades ago, large loudspeakers were commonplace in middle class homes. Speakers used to look like part of the furniture both out of necessity and due to different role of music in people's lives. Advancements in speaker and amplifier technology shrunk enclosure sizes in the coming decades. But the laws of physics haven't changed. Big speaker is inherently more sensitive than its smaller counterpart. To achieve the same volume the little speaker has shout from the bottom of its lungs while for the big one that is barely a warm-up.
The starting point of Project 100 was a DIY loudspeaker kit designed by Samu Saurama, chief editor of Hifimaailma. We wanted to demonstrate that big isn't necessarily same as butt ugly. I dug inspiration from the past decades: from old Braun designs to Hermann Miller's mid century modern furniture.
Perhaps the most striking part of the design is the very large bent plywood profile enveloping the speaker. Special tooling and work methods were improvised on the fly as the massive lamination was conveived. This huge plywood piece was biggest in volume that had ever been done in the workshop of My alma mater.
The front baffle was divided in two segments to lighten the masses visually. Black paint and natural birch complement each other nicely. The baffle is actually in two layers: they sandwich the bass driver between them for more elegant look. Bent tube legs elevate the speaker and makes it look more effortless and more faithful to the era. A little altitude was necessary also because I wanted to conceal the bass reflex ports. Not the least because their diameter was an impressive 150mm each.
Insides of the speaker consist of CNC machined support structures which are glued into an interlocking matrix. They are necessary as the side panels are very large compared to ordinary speakers and hence prone to resonate.
Loudspeaker drivers were from Italian manufacturer Eighteen Sound. They are technically PA gear but when properly applied they surpass many hifi drivers in performance. 15 inch woofer handles bass and midrange. 1 inch compression tweeter sits in the bottom of very large constant directivity horn. The speaker was designed to work both in passive and active configuration. We designed an easy retrofit for Hypex AS2.100 module in case the user needs built in amplification and room correction.
What it sounds like? Project 100 had the sickest dynamics I had ever heard in a normal living room. Especially the drums sounded like... well, real drums. No matter how much I pushed these, My ears were always surrendering way before the speakers even broke a sweat. Being a very big speaker, the directivity is more pronounced. This makes immersing oneself to the music easier as the listener gets more of the recording and less of the spatial echoes.