There are perhaps as many ways to design a new product as there are new products. Our process is likely unique enough to warrant a few words.
When we start a new product the first phase is almost all done on paper, often the erasable whiteboard. These are hazy sketches perhaps of the chassis or the general internal layout. This might seem counter-intuitive as if we're designing how it looks before we actually have something that works. But, in fact, we have done this kind of work for so many decades that we have a very good idea of how it's all going together. These first sketches help us understand if what we're proposing is even going to fit into the space it will eventually live in.
Then it's on to more and more detailed sketches: schematics, choice of components, wiring techniques, connector layout, etc. All this occurs well before we even start the actual design. Once the concept piece is fully modeled the physical process begins and from there (following endless meetings) prototypes are crafted and built. It is only then we start the long-term hands-on verification process in the lab as judged by our measurement equipment and then it goes into listening where we finally discover if all our hard work has paid off. Sometimes the listening room sends us back to the whiteboard.
Take for example our new line of loudspeakers. All the work that's gone into these has been done on whiteboards, paper, and computer modeling. From our new drivers to cabinets, these structures have never been built and are only starting down the path towards completion. Here, have a look.
Getting the speaker to this point has taken nearly a year from when Arnie Nudell and I started dreaming. We first imagined a line source like the IRSV they will someday replace. Then we imagined what kind of drivers would be in that line source and decided on Air Motion Transformers for the mids and tweets, servo woofers for everything else. As one group of engineers are working on designing those drivers to Arnie's specs another is imagining the housing for them, and still another the amplification, servo chain, DSP bass alignment. Will it all fit? Can we maintain the baffle width we need for proper dispersion? How will it be braced? Where will we place the heat sinks and once there will they provide the performance we need? And will the entire package be something people might want to put in their homes? Can mortal humans even move these beasts?
After all these considerations then, and only then, do we build a physical prototype to see how well we did and what changes will have to take place for them to measure the way we want. And then (and only then) do we go to the listening phase where everything we imagined is challenged and vetted. Does it do what we hoped?
Indeed, it's a strange and arduous process but once finished, there's hopefully a grand reward at the end when music comes forth in unhindered effortless beauty.
If not, we roll our sleeves up and start over.
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