The Beast

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It was the summer of 1987. PS Audio was located near the beach on California's Central Coast, my family and I perched high atop an inland hill in Atascadero, a pleasant 30 minute morning commute. Earlier that year I had gotten my first taste of the Infinity IRS III speaker system and wanted one more than anything I could imagine. I could taste the desire. The IRS had been the first effortless, yet revealing, loudspeaker system I had ever heard. Dynamics exploded in the room and I could hear musicians breathing in the quieter passages. How could I have lived another day without owning one? Of course I hadn't the money for such things. These dreams of mine were expensive, well beyond my means. Undeterred I set out to build my own version. There are 108 drivers in the IRS. My meager budget afforded about 1/10th as many. Where the IRS was effortless because of its many drivers, I would be forced to create effortless with ten times fewer and a large dose of cleverness. I had noticed over the years that with exception of the IRS, when systems got louder, they did so with ease until the size of the room stopped their progress—limiting linear loudness, compressing that which exceeded room size. The IRS takes over a room and never suffers this common form of dynamic squish. That's the character I wanted to preserve. A truly linear dynamic regardless of room size. I thought I knew how to make this work and proceeded to begin construction on The Beast. The Beast—nicknamed by my wife because of it's size and ugliness—stood 7.5 feet tall. It was built of 1" MDF, a skill saw, hand drill, wood glue and screws decorating the outside as if it had chickenpox. The base of the beast was an 8 sided woofer enclosure, angled in a way I had hoped added style, though the truth was it just looked odd. Up the front baffle were six, 6.5" polypropylene drivers flanked by six 1" dome tweeters. Along the left and right side of each tower, three more 6.5" drivers in a vertical row, each pointing to the sidewall of the room. These side mounted drivers where where the dynamics happened. Beyond a certain loudness, the room begins to compress dynamics, creating a squished bubble, as if a sound umbrella contained dynamics struggling to escape. I had a simple idea to combat that: add side speakers that pushed the encasing sound umbrella outwards, giving the illusion of effortlessness. To make this work, the side drivers should only add to the sound envelope at the very point where compression begins - thus applying more pressure to overcome compression. I designed a simple LDR (Light Dependent Resistor) circuit in front of a second power amplifier whose gain was set such that the greater the room compression, the louder the side speakers became to overcome it. The scheme worked. The sound was as dynamic and effortless as the 108 drivers of the IRS, yet relied upon far fewer and a dose of cleverness. In 1990 we moved to Colorado to begin Genesis speakers. I dutifully drug The Beast over the Rocky Mountains and they sat in my lab collecting dust for another five or so years before sadly hauling them off in pieces to the dump. They had worked well, proven my point and validated my idea. Unfortunately, they also sounded pretty poor. The best an electronics designer could do when out of his element. The Beast proved to me it wasn't necessary to follow classic thinking to achieve unique results. There are many ways to scale a mountain, some prettier than others.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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