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Oct 20, 2003

So the Boston Globe published an article today about Bose’s new “Cylindrical Research” loudspeakers.

From the article:

Inside the speakers, two dozen small and powerful transducers are stacked vertically in a flagpole configuration. Each transducer, about 2 1/4 inches wide, can convert 30 watts of electrical power into sound. “So long as these transducers are all operating together as a cohesive unit, they can produce the wedge-shaped radiation pattern we want,” Jacob said. “We want to squeeze the sound energy into a pancake so it can’t leak out” in all directions.

This basically sounds like a line-array speaker — a vertical array of transducers with limited vertical directivity and wide horizontal directivity. Sound propagating from a line-array source decays at 3 dB per doubling of distance rather then the 6 dB/distance doubling that is characteristic of a point source (in the near field). Because the sound from the array decays over a longer distance, sound levels at the stage will be better matched with the sound in the audience. So far so good.

My question: where exactly is the innovation here? Line-array speakers have been around for a while (these for example), In fact, line arrays are quite popular with the DIY crowd. Bose has even manufactured line array speakers before. So what’s new here?

Don’t get me wrong, I like Bose products (although I think they are a little overpriced) and I have great respect for Amar Bose. If there is something new here, I want to know.

Wired talks about how DVD releases of popular television shows may have their soundtracks altered because it’s too expensive to license the pop music tracks that appeared in the original broadcasts. Pathetic.

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