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No more speakers
in the middle of the living room !
Lecontoure AIRLINE holographic loudspeaker:
Rethinking everything for the music and for you
AIRLINE is a new technology of loudspeaker from Lecontoure that brings a number of exceptional advantages to audio reproduction. AIRLINE is a unique product in the audio world: a loudspeaker engineered to provide state of the art audiophile performance in installations when the speaker must be placed near a wall. Our challenge at the outset was to blend radically new and cutting-edge technologies into a reference loudspeaker , which from the faintest whisper to the most eardeafening sound-pressure levels maintains a yet unheard degree of composure and fidelity.
AIRLINE redefines transparency and space
The design objective was to embody in a compact floor standing loudspeaker, the best available technology for hi-fi home entertainment. The cylindrical enclosure gives the AIRLINES their naturally quasi omnidirectional dispersion to offer flexible placement options and a breathtaking holographic sound that does not significantly vary as you move closer to or further away from the loudspeaker.
The Slim and elegant cylindrical appearance hides a highly innovative project capable of making the daily listening experience uniquely superb and enjoyable. This is not one of the usual odd shaped speakers that invade the space of your home and are tolerated only because of the function they perform, but rather a contributor to make the home space more suited to your lifestyle. The most important feature is that AIRLINE will benefit from placement in direct proximity to the rear wall, keeping as much space as possible for furniture and getting nearly unvisible behind sofas, chairs and peaces of furniture.
This challenge has been met. The result is a more contemporary and attractive loudspeaker design of limitless dynamics,
efficiency, extreme extension and redefined transparency. Everything we have expected and something we could have never
imagined. Lecontoure is proud to unveil the AIRLINE loudspeakers
The AIRLINE technology provides a coincident orthogonaly emitting loudspeaker that has a similar acoustic behaviour to point source avoiding the common problems associated with crossovers and off-axis change within the audio band. AIRLINE loudspeakers behave as a single invisible source and create a true 3D holographic sound stage like no other.
Lecontoure AIRLINE, models & colors
white, pearl, slate, black, klein blue, marroon
Only experiencing the AIRLINES will let you understand that this is an outstanding invention.
Its elegant appearance magnifies both the technology and the emotion of the music.
Forget traditional speakers.
Let the AIRLINES naturally find their place in your life.
Lecontoure AIRLINE 400 Signature Lucide Red Edition
Key advances over the AIRLINES : Form and architecture
The shape of the AIRLINE is the first noticeable aspect of the design. The cylinder enclosure comes directly from its basic function : Form Follows Function. Cabinets made of wood-based panels are subject to standing waves and resonances like the skin of a drum. Their assembly joints create multiple reflection of these vibrations reducing the possibility for them to get damped efficiently. Flatness and parallelism of the surfaces promotes stray reflections known under the names of "edge effect", "baffle step" and "standing waves".
Seeking for the ideal form devoid of flat or parrallel surfaces, without assembly joints and having higher stiffness and pressure resistance, cylindrical shape appeared among the most interesting.
A non baffled mid-woofer
When we finaly adopted the horizontal position of the main driver, the cylindrical shape naturally imposed itself. In this arrangement, the disastrous effect of baffling on the sound become almost non-existent.
A perfectly rigid and inert enclosure
As a consequence, as the most adverse vibration generator, the woofer, is in the vertical axis with the ground as reference for its movements and given the weigth and the extreme rigidity of our cylinder, no more enclosure intermodutlation is allowed. Unlike conventional speakers, vibration are spread in the direction of the longest dimension of the cabinet. Thus, vibrations can flow freely over the 92cm tall cabinet. Throughout this trip, the energy is absorbed by the 16mm (equivalent to a 38mm flat panel) thick continuous multilaminate structure consisting of self-damping pine and fir wood fiber with zero intrinsic resonance.
A total absence of "box-sound"
In the unlikely event where a remaining part of this energy would be reflected at the base of the enclosure and go back up to the driver's frame, it is a journey of 184 cm that the signal will travel while still weakening gradually. In a conventional loudspeaker, this energy emitted horizontally in a vertical column only travels the circumference of the enclosure in an endless round, upsetting sound emission with intermodulation, blur and resonances contribuing to the so-called "box sound". By design,
AIRLINE are completely free of this effect and provide a unique resolution level.
Are classic measurements meaningful ?
In all traditional designs the listener always faces the speakers, So, naturally, conventional studies, measurements, analysis and controls are processed by facing a microphone 1 meter away to the tweeter. For decades, frequency response of loudspeakers describe their behavior with great precision but in the volume of a tennis ball in front of them forgetting that elswhere, lower, higher, on the right or the left or further away the response can be quite different showing reduction of more than 20dB over entire ranges of the audio spectrum ... It is therefore understandable that with such measurements set as the standard, it is difficult to describe the real behavior of the loudspeaker.
Are drive units imperfect or improperly used ?
Cone drive units are very reliable and durable but they are far from being perfect. One of the most neglected area of their design is how their response is impacted by increasing sound pressure. Mecanical distortions appear with increasing the sound level at the rhythm the mecanical limits of their components, assemblies and materials occurs. Indeed, the parameters taken into account for the creation of a drive unit are mostly antagonistic and each driver is the result of compromises made according to the destination of the driver or to the cravings or the phobias of its designer. Rigidity opposes to lightness, like damping opposes to efficiency, etc.
These choices determine the final color of the sound, especially material used for the diaphragm and dust cap. This apply to all drive units without exception, what ever the technology used. The main drawbacks that these drivers offer is their greater instability under varying sound pressure -30 to +30 degrees around the emitting axis. It is also where the largest changes are visible at high frequency when measuring frequency response. Torsional and bending modes appear from 100Hz and there are hundred whithin the useful bandwidth. Each mode has its own coloration and distortion and induces aggressive and confused sounds.
New questions, news solutions
We built our first prototype from this observation asking us with this new question : Why not use the cone diaphragm drive units in the area where they are more stable in frequency response and distortion spectrum ? This question can also be rephrased as follows :
Why should we always use and focus on an emitting domain part where drivers show the most unstable response and the busiest harmonic distortion and project all this to the face of the listener ?
Vertical firing mid-woofer
Thus, we placed our mid-woofer horizontally at the top of our cylindrical enclosure. In this configuration, unstable signals, non-linear frequencies and most polluted materials are sent vertically and never toward listener's face. The result is a dramatic reduction in the perception of cone artifacts, errors, non-linear distortions caused by the bending modes of the diaphragm. This deals with a uniquely free and clean signal. Experiencing this, one can easely understand that the non-linear mechanical distortions are the origin of hardness and "projected sound" effect of conventional loudspeakers once a certain level is attained.
The horizontal position of the main driver has many other critical consequences :
1) A linear response all round
Whatever the angular position of the listener, measured response remains the same. This is never the case with normal speakers, that actually exhibit frontaly the generator of distortion.
2) Vibration reduction by anchorage to the ground
There is no better static reference than the ground for vertical vibrations, even more so when combinated with our inherently inert enclosure.
3) No crossover on the mid-low frequencies
Because higher frequencies and mechanical distortion are issued exclusively vertically, their contribution to the emitted spectrum is tiny and filtering can be completely avoided. As a result, the woofer is connected directly to the output of the amplifier with zero component on the signal path, like a full band driver. The signal remains completely untouched. This benefits dramatically to transient behavior.and phase linearity. Thanks to the high efficiency of the driver, it is then possible to apply proper dampling to its diaphragm to cancel unwanted frequencies, both the ones actually present in the electrical signal and the ones resulting from mechanical harmonic distortion.
4) Orthogonal mid-woofer and tweeter firing cancels inter-modulation
The high frequencies are reproduced by the tweeter. Like any other drive-unit its reponse becomes more directive with increasing frequencies. To keep the whidest possible trebles extention, the axis remains classic, almost horizontal . As a result, woofer and tweeter are acting orthogonally at an angle of 90 degrees and the most disruptive unit, the woofer acting vertically never upset (by inter-modulation) the most sensitive one, the tweeter on its horizontal axis.
The importance of this point is particularly striking when the scale of the movement involved in a tweeter is measured. If at maximum power the tweeter's dome moves less than a tenth of a millimeter, the majority of his work lies in movements of the order of a hundredth (40dB dynamic) or a thousandth (60db dynamic) that is then the 1/10 th of a micron ! Therefore to ensure proper dynamics the stability of the tweeter on the horizontal axis must be guarantied at this scale. Because the movements of mid-bass woofer and tweeter are in the same axis this condition is impossible to satisfy in conventional front firing loudspeakers. Only orthogonal emission can, if well implemented, ensure the stability of the tweeter's motor on its axis. This unique feature allows AIRLINES to deliver an unknown clarity and subtlety of its restitution.
5) Vertical firing mid-woofer cancels doppler effect
In normal front firing bass/medium units, both very low frequencies and medium frequencies are emited by the same membrane. When very low frequencies are reproduced, the cone moves a lot and smaller medium frequencies are then accelerated and slowed down at the rythm of the cone movement. This causes the doppler effect that can also be understood as in air intermodulation. As seen previously, the AIRLINE bass/medium unit is firing verticaly and the listening beam is oriented horizontaly. Thus the doppler effect is completely cancelled at the normal listening place and transformed in a absolutely non detectable vertical movement of the emitting source.
A non hydrophilic woofer membrane
The material used in a loudspeaker cone has a large impact on the character of the sound produced. Paper is a very good material for loudspeaker membranes but its main drawback is its sensitivity to damp air; paper has a high hydrophilic nature that creates dramatic alteration of its behavior. In order to guaranty a permanent top resolution and smooth response, AIRLINE membrane is made of high strength:weight ratio glass fiber that remains free of damp air effect.
Airtight diaphragm for a silent moving woofer
The mid-woofer driver have a sealed center cap in the center. This cap eliminates pressurised air from the internal of the cabinet passing through the ring opening of the central magnetic pole piece. This removes the cause of airflow noises you can get from traditional loudspeakers using a central phase plug when the air is forced through a center and is blown out like that what happens in a bass port. The gain is detailed, crystal clear, accurate reproduction without distracting and masking airflow sounds.
A non-baffled infra-cardioid tweeter
One of the elements that generate the most accidents in the response of a tweeter is the panel on which it is fixed , or even just its front fixing plate. We have been searching for a tweeter providing both ultimate musical response and mounting plate free body to promote sound dispersion from the lower part of its frequency domain .
A tweeter body smaller than its membrana
Through the use of an ultra powerful miniature magnetic motor, the tweeter is not larger than its membrana. . This membrana is maintained on a millimeter at its periphery and its curved shape allows it to go 4 mm beyond its support and thus radiates without any reflection. This results in an extremely wide dispersion from crossover frequency.
A point source for an all-round coherent phase
The virtually coincident emitting of the two drive-units maintains a linear phase and spectrum throughout the all listening room . At lower frequencies the tweeter has an infra cardioid radiation patern. Then gradually and linearly, that is to say without any of the cancellations that traditionally occur, its emitting narrows and becomes more directional in a rather conventional manner.
No more unique sweet spot
These are the features allowing to build an holographic soundstage either wide , smooth and accurate even though if the listener may stay outside of the space between the two speakers. From a distance of one meter, the speaker's response curve shows a remarkable linearity and allows the formation of this fabulous holographic image significant anywhere in the listening room . There is no more privileged listening "sweet spot" as virtually all past and existing speaker systems impose.
AIRLINE pushes the boundaries of room acoustics
Because AIRLINES spread their energy equally in all directions, room acoustics defects are no longer subject to the high pressures imposed by classical loudspeakers. It is then possible to play louder. At very high level, it is surprising to find the same sounds, the same tonal balance and clarity than at a very low level: room limits are pushed forward.
AIRLINES in the listening room
Compared to conventional directional loudspeakers, the Lecontoure AIRLINES behaves differently in listening room environments. Thanks to their consistently wider dispersion, the reverberant damping of the room will be less significant. AIRLINES emit energy into a 180 degree pattern reducing the adverse effect of room reflection that destroy focus and coherent imaging. They load all wall surface evenly and have 80% less energy hitting the same surface than conventional speakers that emit all of their energy into a 30 degree dispersion pattern. This allow the AIRLINES to build an holographic soundstage either wide, smooth and accurate even though if the listener may stay outside of the space between the two speakers.
Trebles adjustment switch
Once the AIRLINE loudspeakers are correctly positioned, some tuning of the sound may benefit the performance. The high-frequency output level may be adjusted using the toggle switch near the binding post under the enclosure. The default setting (0 dB) provides a flat response. The + position gives more output, which may be required, for example, in larger rooms or if the acoustic of the room is dull, if circumstances dictate that the speakers have to be placed more off line than recommended, or if the speaker is built into custom furniture and placed behind or near curtains.
From 10 watts ...
The Airlines do not have the excuse of being difficult to drive. A 10 watts amplifier can already allow a realistic rendition. However, one thing is sure, only the best currently available amplifiers and a rigorous implementation of the whole system will allow to reveal the true emotional potential they are capable of.
An invisible connection
To reduce the visual impact of the speaker cable (some may be very thin and flat), the terminals are placed in the base under the speaker. Thus no speaker cable will hang behind the cabinet
Funilly "wireless speakers" will always exhibit a mains lead
and Network speakers will even need a second cables for the network :
as smart as promised ?
3 points for a perfect stability
At the basement the contact with the floor is provided through 3 small tangent cylinders, allowing infinitely small tangent contact without the drawback of spikes that will always destroy your floor. This give the drive units an incredibly stable platform to work from, and with 3 points, no set up is required.
AIRLINE are ported cabinets following our new low Q factor rules to tune them. As bass reflex ports connect the inside of the cabinet to the listening area, having the port opening in the direction of the auditor would have been a dramatic design mistake.
On the AIRLINE, the port opening faces the floor and this deals with a reduction of 90% of the polluted and unwanted sounds it actually radiates. The gain is a blur free reproduction without permanent masking airflow noise and in box background sounds.
A rock steady crossover
Vibrations and magnetic fields have a desastrous effect on analog and digital electronic circuits This is why we located the crossover in the basement of the speaker. In this arrangement the crossover is like on its own put directly on the floor, and most of all far away from the upsetting drivers.
à suivre ...
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