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The AIRLINE holographic sound

Paris show HAUTE FIDELITE 2018 Marriott November
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AIRLINE redefines emotion, space and transparency

Our challenge at the outset was to blend radically new and cutting-edge technologies into a reference loudspeaker which maintains a yet unheard holographic 3D sound stage from any place in the listening room from the faintest whisper to the most impressive sound-pressure levels.

A 3D sound stage from anywhere in the room

AIRLINES create a true 3D holographic sound stage. They provide state of the art smooth and accurate audiophile stereo performance even though if the listener may stay outside of the space between the two speakers.The sound from each speaker is evently emitted around all around and create the authentic impression of a live performance. This eliminate the sharp axis of symetry where the slightest movement of the listener is so disturbing.

Lecontoure AIRLINE 400 Signature Lucide Red Edition
See what you hear

No more single sofa in the middle of the room

AIRLINES solve the music lover's dilemma: see his living room cluttered with speakers enthroned at good distance from the walls to avoid the exaggeration of the bass and try to create a sound stage that is always an unstable equilibrium in one point and only one: in a sofa, in the middle of the living room, precisely right between the speakers.
With the AIRLINES there is no longer "A" privileged listening spot along the axis of symetry where the two speakers have consistently equal effect, no more unique sweetspot as imposed by all past and existing stereo and multichannel systems.
The utopia of focusing a theoretically ideal sound in a single point suddenly seems obsolete and really unambitious.

Moving around in the room in front of the AIRLINES with your eyes closed and discovering the orchestra pivoting like a virtual sound object in its complex, detailed and coherent 3D dimensions is a striking experience.

Rethinking everything for the music

AIRLINE dramatically impacts both the sound quality and the uncompromising inclusion of loudspeakers at home. AIRLINES are not "one more varnished wood enclosure" which encumbers the living room and is only tolerated for its "sound function". They contributes to organize the home space to suit your lifestyle without compromising listening to the music at the highest level of quality.
Placed near the rear wall, the side walls or against a bay window, the AIRLINE speakers develop a realistic and natural holographic 3D sound stage. The living space becomes completely free and through this, the AIRLINES also contribute to consensus within the house.

The best loudspeaker in the world ?

AIRLINE technology provides a coincident orthogonaly emitting loudspeaker that has a similar acoustic behaviour to a point source avoiding the common problems associated with crossovers and off-axis change within the audio band and reducing 20 times distortion over previous loudspeakers.

A timeless beauty

Their slim and timeless appearance, such as a BAUHAUS creation, hides an highly innovative project capable of making the daily listening experience uniquely superb and enjoyable. The AIRLINES can either set a modern style or almost disappear behind a sofa, a chair or a mid-height piece of furniture without affecting the quality of the performance.

This challenge has been met. The result is a more contemporary and attractive loudspeaker design of limitless dynamics, extreme extension and redefined space and transparency. Everything we have expected and something we could have never imagined. Lecontoure is proud to unveil the AIRLINE loudspeakers

  • Lecontoure AIRLINE 150
    2 ways, 88dB efficiency, 6.5" woofer + 1" tweeter
    Diameter 19cm, Height 92cm, basement 23x23cm
    all models, fabric finish

  • Lecontoure AIRLINE 150 Reference
    + Lavardin Technologies Model CX cabling

  • Lecontoure AIRLINE 200
    2 ways, 89dB efficiency, 8" woofer + 1" tweeter
    Diameter 23cm, Height 102cm, basement 25x26cm
    all models, fabric finish

  • Lecontoure AIRLINE 200 Reference
    + Lavardin Technologies Model CX cabling

  • Lecontoure AIRLINE 400
    2 ways, 89dB efficiency, 8" woofer + 1" tweeter
    Diameter 23cm, Height 102cm, basement 25x26cm
    Lavardin Technologies Model CX cabling
    fabric finish
    + steel/fiber cabinet, high energy drivers

  • Lecontoure AIRLINE 400 Signature
    + high gloss lacquer finish 1000 colors

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.









Key advances over the AIRLINES : Form and architecture

The cylinder, Form Follows Function

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. The rectangular box with parallel sides, is the worst container for a speaker to be placed in. The inside parallel walls of the box coincide with wavelengths of musical frequencies, creating 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 cylinder naturally imposed itself. In this arrangement, the disastrous effect of baffling on the sound becomes just 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 cuved 16mm thick (equivalent to a 30mm flat panel) 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 make while still weakening gradually. In a conventional loudspeaker, this energy emitted horizontally in a vertical column only travels around 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.

Drive units

Are standard measurements meaningful ?

In traditional speaker design 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. Frequency response of loudspeakers describe their behavior with great precision but only in the volume of a tennis ball one meter in front of them. Two loudspeakers with almost identical curves made in this way may sound entirely different in terms of whether they are bright or dull, smooth or rough. On-axis curve just forget to show that elswhere, lower, higher, on the right or the left or further away the response can be radically different showing dramatic cancellations over entire ranges of the audio spectrum ... Measurements made at these other angles where it is hopelessly observed that the non-linearities can be moved but never canceled, are experienced with desperation and frustration.

"Classic design is obsolete"

Are drive units imperfect or improperly used ?

Cone drive units are very reliable and durable but they are far from being perfect. The most neglected area of their design is how their response is impacted by sound pressure changes. Mecanical distortions appear with increasing the sound level at the rhythm the mecanical limits of their components, assemblies and materials occurs.These mechanical distortions are added to the electrical signal delivered by the amplifier and nothing can prevent them or erase them any more.The main drawback that cone drivers offer is their greater instability under varying sound pressure -20 to +20 degrees on the emitting axis. It is also where the largest response changes at high frequencies can be observed. Torsional and bending modes appear from 50Hz and there are hundred whithin the useful bandwidth. Each mode has its own coloration and induces aggressive and confused sounds.Shape and cone material choice and surface treatment can reduce some of the bending modes but could never achieve to cancel 100 different ones!
These are the defects that prevent the brain from forgetting the presence of loudspeakers because it recognizes their signature and lets you know it unconsciously without having to think further.

New questions, new solutions

We built our first prototype from this observation asking us with this new question :
Why not use the cone drive units in the domain 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 the frontal emitting beam where drivers exhibit the most unstable response and the busiest mechanical harmonic distortion and project all this garbage to the face of the listener ?

"It has taken a lot of hard work to forget previous knowhow and theory and create new concepts out of the box".

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" of conventional loudspeakers.

The horizontal position of the main driver has many other critical consequences :

1) A true linear response all round

Whatever the angular position of the listener, the response remains the same. This is never the case with normal speakers that actually exhibit frontaly their mid/woofer driver: "the generator of cone distortion".

2) Vibration reduction by anchorage to the ground

There is no better static reference than the floor for vertical movements, even more so when combinated with our inherently inert enclosure.

3) Minimum crossover on the mid-low frequencies

Because higher frequencies and mechanical distortion are issued exclusively vertically, their contribution to the useful spectrum is tiny and filtering can be completely avoided. As a result, the woofer is connected directly to the output of the amplifier through one component only. This highly benefits to transient behavior.

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 of a tweeter membrana is measured.If at maximum power the tweeter's dome moves less than a tenth of a millimeter, the majority of his job lies in movements of the order of a thousandth (60db dynamic) or a ten-thousandth (80dB dynamic) that is then the 1/100 th of a micron ! Therefore to ensure proper dynamics the stability of the tweeter's body 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 speakers the large movement of the cone when bass are reproduced accelerates and slows smaller medium vibrations at the rythm of the cone movement.This causes the doppler effect that can also be understood as "in air" (for 3 ways speakers) or "in cone" (for the 2 ways ones) intermodulation. This obscure but serious distortion generates blur and discomfort. In the case of the AIRLINE, verticalityof the emission cancels the doppler effect. Acceleration and deceleration are replaced by a tiny vertical movement totally undetectable.

6) Measured harmonic distortion reduced 20 times

Most of the measured distortion of a loudspeaker comes from unwanted and uncontroled cone vibrations. They are harmonics, that means multiplications of the original frequency and they are emitted on the drive unit axis. The AIRLINES emit these frequencies vertically over them, where nobody actually stands to listen to music. Thus they are not thrown to the face of the auditor. Distortion measurements in the listening area shows harmonic distortion reduced 20 times.
This is a major step forward in loudspeaker design.
AIRLINE low harmonic distortion is now lower than distortion produced in electrostatic and isodynamic speakers without any of the drawback of these panel speakers.

A non-baffled infra-cardioid tweeter

One of the thing that generates the most dramatic accidents in the response of a tweeter is the front face panel of the speaker on which it sits, or even just, in an alarming way, its front fixing plate! Our tweeter has no mounting plate and is not fixed to any panel. Its magnetic motor and its body are smaller than its membrana. This membrana is maintained on 0.9 millimeter at its periphery and its frontal dome curved shape allows it to go 4 mm beyond its support. Thus like a 1/2 pulsing sphere it radiates without any reflection allowing an outstanding 160 degrees reflexion free dispersion of the sound.
This performance is just out of the thinking with tweeters fixed to a loudspeaker, loaded with a horn, surrounded by a mounting plate and with ribbon tweeters where the ribbon is recessed in a cavity inbetween two big magnets.

A point source for an all around coherent phase

The virtually coincident emitting of the two drive-units maintains a linear phase and spectrum throughout the all listening room . From the lower frequencies the tweeter has a natural infra-cardioid radiation pattern. The mid/woofer acquires the same infra-cardioid pattern from placement near the wall. As the patterns of both drivers is exactly the same no cancellation, no black hole, no over sound pressure, no coloration no response non linearity is possible any more.
Thus, AIRLINE speakers build a unique 3D sound stage that no other even said "omnidirectional" or panel speaker could ever achieve.
This is simply the Holy Grail of any speaker designer.

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 shows a remarkable linearity and allows the formation of this fabulous holographic image significant anywhere in the listening room, even from the left of the left speaker !

The utopia of focusing a theoretically ideal sound in a single point suddenly seems obsolete and unambitious.

There is no more privileged listening "sweet spot" as virtually all past and existing stereo and multichannel 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 exited by the high pressures imposed by classical beaming 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

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 70% less energy hitting the same surface than conventional speakers that emit all of their energy into a 30 degrees dispersion pattern.

From 10 watts ...

The Airlines do not have the excuse for being difficult to drive. A 10 watts amplifier can already allow a realistic rendition. However, one thing is certain, only the best currently available amplifiers and sources and a rigorous implementation of the whole system will allow to reveal the true emotional potential they are capable of.Then, in return, AIRLINE will reveal the true potential of a true state of the art setup that other speakers will limit and will always hide.

An invisible connection

To reduce the visual impact of the speaker cable (some good ones may be very thin or even 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 proudly exhibit a mains lead that require to be plugged into mains outlets and installed not too far from them !

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 withoutthe 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.

Silent port

AIRLINE are ported cabinets following our new low Q factor tuning rules. As bass reflex ports connect the inside of the cabinet to the listening area, having the port opening in the direction of the auditor or even on the back face of the speaker would have been a dramatic design mistake. From the port opening of a prestigious brand reference speaker we measured medium signals as loud as minus 12dB only under the main driver level. This means therefore a dynamic range over self emitted noise that is 12dB only! Is this seriously acceptable in the high end industry? Definitely not for a Lecontoure speaker.
The port opening of the AIRLINE faces the floor and this deals with a reduction by a factor of 70 of the unwanted sounds it actually may radiate over 360 degrees instead of 5 for classical ports. The gain is a blur free reproduction without the distracting and masking airflow noise and the in box background escapted notes.

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 said ultra high end drive units using a central phase plug when the air is forced through the center and is blown out like that what happens in a bass port.

A rock steady crossover

Vibrations and magnetic fields have a desastrous effect on analog and digital electronic circuits and signal pass. This may explain why amplified "active" speakers sound so limited when trying to reach average hifi performances.
We located the tweeter high pass crossover in the basement. In this arrangement the crossover is like on its own put directly on the floor free of any vibration.

Trebles adjustment switch

Once the AIRLINE loudspeakers are correctly positioned, some tuning of the sound may benefit the performance.The high-frequency output level of the AIRLINE 200 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 placed behind or near curtains.

à suivre ...

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