When people come to hear the IRSV system in Music Room One they’re always in awe of the number of drivers: 36 tweeters, 12 midranges, 6 woofers per side.
Most loudspeakers have one of each: tweeter, woofer, perhaps a midrange. On a speaker like the IRS, the duties are shared. Each tweeter handles 1/36th of the sound, each midrange 1/12th, each woofer 100% (the woofer’s outputs aren’t divided as the midrange and tweeters are).
What are the advantages of dividing tweeter and midrange duties amongst so many drivers? Dynamics and linearity.
Imagine the challenge single driver systems have when covering the entire 100dB of dynamic range. You’re essentially hoping to cover loudest to softest with a single piston per frequency band. Compare that challenge with dividing the task amongst many—like a single horse vs. many horses pulling a heavy wagon.
There are many multi-driver speakers, but few that go floor to ceiling like the IRSV. Floor to ceiling multi-driver speakers are called a Line Source. What’s counter-intuitive about a line source is how specific the imaging can be. With that many drivers, one would think the image would be tall, rather than lifelike, when the opposite is true.
Line source speakers have a cylindrical wave launch where the sound radiates outward in an expanding cylinder, as though from a line in space. Its radiation pattern is such that it hasn’t any floor or ceiling bounce, as do conventional speakers which are closer to what we might call a point source.
Few among us can afford the cost or the real estate of speakers dominating the room from floor to ceiling, but if you ever have a chance to experience the effortlessness and pinpoint imaging of a true multi-driver line source, grab it.
It’s a real ear opener.