January 28, 2010

10 Qs For David Amey, ProAc Representitive.

During ProAc's recent event held at CMY Audio Visual, A Musical Listening Experience with David Amey, I had an opportunity to throw 10 quickie questions at him over a cuppa, after the initial Carbon Pro 8 speaker musical demo. So here they are:

1) Big E: ProAc seems to have moved all their speaker ports towards the bottom firing direction, any design or user application advantages for the move?

David: ProAc is heading that direction with all our floor standing speakers, as you can see. We feel a bottom firing port allows more flexible speaker placement in a domestic environment, which now days are increasingly subjected to the WAF(Wife Acceptance Factor), i.e. hifi must co-exist in harmony with the family well being. With a bottom firing port, one can place the pair of speakers that much closer to the rear wall with out the room boom effect, meaning more space for the family and a less intrusive speaker in the living environment. However, there two versions of the theme. First, on our more afford able models, the ports just fires direct to the floor, which is not so good, because we will never know what's under the speakers, like carpets or rugs, wooden or concrete floors are just some of the more common surfaces. So on our higher end speaker models, we built a plinth under the speaker, supported by an arch design on the sides. This design allows the bottom firing port to have a consistent surface to work on, allowing bass response to be more predictable. On our Carbon Pro Series speakers, the plinth is made from carbon fibre composites, which has a certain reflective quality, very desire able to achieving tuneful, tight and dynamic bass response.

2) Big E: Tell us a little more about the carbon fibre drivers, for instance, how are they made?

David: Our factory is very close to those F1 racing team support facilities. We get the carbon fibre technology direct from them. For instance we have to over lay up to 300 very fine layers of carbon fibre sheets, in between allowing time for each layer to cure completely before laying on the next layer. It's a labour intensive process, that requires skilled hands. The plinth of the Carbon Pro 8 speakers for instance, can take the weight of a person jumping up and down on it repeatedly without cracking or breaking, with both ends supported like a bridge! You get the idea. We chose carbon fibre for it's stiffness to light weight ratio, so that our speaker cones will achieve the ideal pistonic movement.

3) Big E: O.K., but in recent years, other speaker manufacturers have also started to use carbon material on their speakers. How do you differentiate your product from the others?

David: Yes, I am aware that Wilson Benesch do use carbon on their speaker baffles, but not on the speaker drivers. Others may lay claim to have also use carbon material on their speaker drivers, but as far as I know, they are more like carbon particle infused, or rather, carbon coated on the cone surface, but never use carbon fibre as a whole speaker cone construction, that's where we are unique.

4) Big E: With the speaker drivers achieving ideal pistonic movement, do ProAc have to adjust the speaker cross overs to suit the new technology drivers?

David: In a way, yeah, because of the ideal pistonic movement of the speaker drivers, we can simplify our cross overs designs, using less but better quality passive components, you know less is more here?

5) Big E: You mean first order passive cross over designs are used for the Carbon Pro series speakers?

David: We at ProAc would rather you hear great sounding products best, without knowing what goes on inside the products. But yes, the Carbon Pro series passive cross overs are of first order designs. I know you audio writers are always looking for more information to spice up your stories!

6) Big E: Agreed! We aim to provide some insight and depth in to the products that we write about. Care to tell us if ProAc has some kind of an listening room in the factory to test audition and finalise voicing of it's speakers?

David: Yes, we have 2 listening areas to test and fine tune our speakers in the factory.

7) Big E: Any particular amps that ProAc uses to test it's speakers?

David: When we design a speaker, we would have no idea what our customers will partner them with, as there are so many amplification choices out there. So we use a variety of amp designs ranging from solid state to valves and modern class D to test mate our speakers during development stages to ensure they work with a wide variety of electronics available in the market.

8) Big E: The Naim/ProAc combo on demo today sounds really good. Is Naim one of those amps used to test ProAc speakers during development stages?

David: Yes, like I said, we use many different amps for testing our speakers. So far Naim, Creek and a few others have proven to be very suitable partners for our speakers.

9) Big E: Have the current global economic downturn affected ProAc sales?

David: Yes, we are certainly not spared on the economic front. In fact we saw a drastic down turn of orders at the end of 2008 till mid 2009. By July last year, I must say that things started looking up again. And when the orders start pouring in again, we had to re-adjust our inventories and ramp up production out put to cope. In fact we now have backlog orders to fulfill, which is an extremely positive turn of events.

10) Big E: How many pairs of the flag ship Carbon Pro 8 speakers have ProAc sold to date?

David: I am glad that we have sold out our first batch of 20 pairs of Carbon Pro 8 so far, we are still working hard to fill our order back logs. I am also happy to announce that we have just started manufacturing the smaller Carbon Pro 6 speakers, which I estimate to do even better!

Big E: Wow! Congrats to your success and thank you for your time.

With that, our friendly chat ended and it was time to go back to our regular week end life.

No comments: