The Grimani Systems CinemaOne Audio Ensemble package is the most refined high SPL loudspeaker package available in the industry to day. Suitable for rooms up to 20,000 cubic feet, this package is capable of filling larger screening rooms with sound that is at once dynamic, accurate and nuanced in ways that even good audiophile loudspeakers cannot achieve. This is a result of proprietary technologies and techniques, like our Conic Section Array™ waveguide. Installation and setup is a fraction of that required by conventional solutions.
With decades of experience working with large-scale audio systems, reliability is built into our product’s DNA. In the event of a problem, a Grimani System’s technician can take a look at the system via the Internet, as all our speakers are IP addressable. Commissioning and calibration of the system is included in the price.
Conic Section Array™ Waveguides
Developed by Grimani Systems founder Manny LaCarrubba, the Conic Section Array™ (CSA) is a novel waveguide that represents a new class of ultra-wide dispersion device. The CSA grew out of Manny’s work with a previous invention called Acoustic Lens Technology (ALT). Danish consumer electronics company Bang & Olufsen utilizes ALT. You can find Manny’s invention rising out of the dashboards of several of the major European automotive brands, and in nearly all of B&O’s higher end speaker and video products.
What these waveguides do is solve the age-old problem that all conventional high frequency drive units have with the beaming high frequency content in an ever increasingly narrow coverage angle. This means that you can only hear full frequency content if you are directly in front of the speaker (or nearly so). It’s important to realize that ALL loudspeakers exhibit this behavior to some degree –Acoustic Lenses or a Conic Section Array™ GREATLY mitigate the problem.
Why is this “beaming” of high frequencies phenomenon a problem? Well, it’s in the high frequencies (above approximately 3kHz) that the attack of a drum, the pluck of a string, the sibilance of the voice, the brassiness of trumpets and the “air” in music lives. It’s the high frequencies that bring life to recordings; too little and everything sounds “soft” and un-engaging; too much and things get “hard” and “edgy” sounding — which is very fatiguing to the ear. This problem is particularly acute in loudspeakers for cinema use.
Grimani Systems loudspeakers are active speakers, and make use of digital signal processing (DSP). All the amplifiers and DSP are located in the speaker to increase reliability and simplify installation. Our speakers accept a standard AES/EBU digital signal at 24bit, 96kHz resolution that is carried on a standard CAT 5 cable. Having high quality and very powerful digital signal processing for each loudspeaker enables us to take a slightly different approach loudspeaker design.
Of course, the most obvious thing to do with DSP in your speaker is to use it for the crossover. While ANY form of active crossover is vastly superior to passive crossovers (ones that use large capacitors, inductors and resistors), a digital crossover is more flexible, has less noise and distortion, and is more stable over time than any analog crossover could ever be. Traditional passive crossovers, frankly, have no place in a premium cinema system loudspeaker. They introduce distortion components. They are a potential failure point. They can’t be built with nearly as much precision. High order slopes are simply not practical to build…and that’s not the worst of it.
Passive crossovers make the electrical load that the amplifier “sees” much more complex and difficult to drive. They also keep the amplifier from being able to directly control the motion of the drivers (woofer, midrange and tweeter). Whatever damping factor your amplifier has, if it’s driving a speaker with a passive crossover, just forget it! (Damping factor is the ability of an amplifier to control a driver’s motion.) The resistance in a typical passive crossover will GREATLY reduce that number. This increases “ringing” or “time smearing” in the driver as they can’t be adequately controlled. But it gets worse, still.
Active Speakers and the Grimani Systems paradigm
As most integrators know, an active speaker is one in which the crossover uses “active” or powered electronics and amplifiers are built in to the cabinet of the speaker. This paradigm has become quite common for recording studio monitors and sound reinforcement speakers. There are a few examples of esoteric hi-fi speakers as well.
Why did we at Grimani Systems choose to build our speakers this way when virtually all other manufactures of cinema loudspeakers do not? Well, there are some compelling reasons. It’s a mystery to us that more in our industry have not taken the lead from the professional side of the business – then again, we have a background in professional audio.
First and foremost, the reason for putting the amps in the speaker is stability and reliability. If you’ve ever had to grab a flashlight and squeeze behind an equipment rack that was stuffed into a closet and try to decipher the silk screening on the back of an amp and/or inspect a connector as you troubleshoot a problem – and who hasn’t – you understand where we’re coming from.
Every separate box with cables that link to other boxes creates a potential failure point or a potential miswire. While you were trying to squeeze your hand into a tight spot to plug or unplug something behind a rack, ever unplug the wrong thing or plug the connector you’re working with into the wrong spot? Ever come back to a job months or even years later and find that somewhere along the line someone (an installer for some other company usually) had to move some of your stuff around and didn’t get it put back exactly right? Ever bring a beautifully wired rack out to a job site and then have to start tearing it apart because no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get the hum out of the system? Yeah, us too.