The mighty IRSV in PS Audio’s Music Room One. 1.2 tons of elegant overkill in 4, seven and a half foot tall columns wrapped in Brazillian Rosewood. The system remains unmatched even to this day. Its multitude of drivers in a floor to ceiling line source produces breathtakingly effortless music at any listening levels.
There were only 58 pairs of the IRSV produced, and lucky owners of this classic rarely sell them.
Does this mean that you have to have an IRS to get close? Or, is it possible to put together an affordable modern day equivalent of this reference standard loudspeaker?
I believe the answer to be a qualified yes.
Newer driver technologies, like the AMT style of folded ribbons that can be used for tweeters and midranges, exceed the performance of the original Infinity planar ribbon drivers. Modern amplifier and servo technology betters that of the original IRSV and cabinet advances are readily available too. In fact, just about every aspect of the IRSV can be bettered with today’s technological advances and found in speakers magnitudes less expensive.
But there are two qualities of the IRSV that have yet to be conquered in a single loudspeaker: the effortless sound and the craft of its original designer, Arnie Nudell.
Very few speakers can claim effortless sound like the IRSV and for good reason. The vast majority of speakers rely upon small numbers of drivers to do the work of many. There are 108 separate speaker drivers in an IRS. Even today’s biggest behemoths rarely have more than one or two drivers handling any one frequency range. It certainly is not out of the question to build something like this again but at an economical price? That’d be a real challenge.
Certainly, today’s speakers can duplicate or even exceed the IRS in terms of tonality, imaging, and full frequency response. What’s lacking is the effortless I just mentioned.
You can get close – really close – but no one has yet figured out how to make it affordable or (for that matter) available.
If you’d like to see more of my thoughts on the question, go to this video Is it possible to get the same sound as the IRS for less?