The Translator 

£ 2 8 0 0

It has been an absolute pleasure to design the Translator.

 

A speaker to enhance the music and emotions of the most critical listener.

Having worked in the hi fi industry for 35 years, regularly auditioning and demonstrating well known and respected speaker brands, it was surprising that i found only a handful of them performed well enough to present music as naturally and realistically as one would wish.

From the very begining we knew precisely how we wanted the Translator to present a believable musical image.

Listening to be effortless, natural and easy, allowing the listener to relax into great detail presented in a well focused soundstage where vocals and instruments were to be free of colouration or change in timbre, especially in the vital area of the midrange frequencies. The smallest transients had to be retrieved to help maintain the freshness and speed of response without losing any natural warmth that would be present in the recording.

The bass had to have sufficient extension to work well in various room configurations with tight control, even output and low colouration.

It is the sort of wish list that any speaker designer would want to achieve, but rarely does.

Our experience also included many years of listening to a design of speaker that used a 'first order' crossover filter instead of the usual 2nd, 3rd or 4th order filters found in the vast majority of high-end designs. This first order speaker design had really become a reference point for us as it would continually out-perform all other speakers by sounding more natural and realistic. We came to appreciate over the years that the crossover was responsible for its advantage over the others, even those speakers with better drive units and enclosures.

It was a very exciting prospect to think that we could develop a design of speaker using a 1st order crossover and upgraded driver units mounted in a heavy rigid enclosure and then paying close attention to the components in the crossover, implementing higher quality inductors and capacitors of much closer tollerances.

The field of speaker design is a fascinating arena of so many differing opinions and strategies. You may be the humble hobbeist or the maths and physics academic. It doesn't matter. It really is open to all abilities.

The internet provides a wealth of information regarding crossover circuits and the pros and cons of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th order. Reviews, forums and interviews with manufacturers proved very informative for our understanding the advantages of 1st order and why it is rarely implemented.

Here are the unique properties of 1st order filters. They 

 

pass through all signals with the same time delay.

 

produce a phase difference that is constant at all frequencies.

 

maintain amplitude and phase unchanged, thus are transient perfect .

 

have the slowest electrical roll-off , -6dB per octave .

 

have the fewest reactive components , 1 inductor and 1 capacitor.

 

The apparent disadvantage is the -6dB electrical roll off not easily translating into an actual acoustic -6dB per octave roll off, but if achieved, each driver would then operate/overlap too close at the crossover point. Power handling may also be compromised.

 

This one disadvantage discourages the vast majority of manufacturers some notable exceptions being  Vandersteen, Thiel, Dunlavy, Green Mountain Audio.

 

If your speaker design priority is amplitude, a flat frequency response, 1st order is going to struggle to give you that without compromising sound quality.

Your hearing characteristics are, however, amplifying the midrange frequencies already and this is where you can now implement a 1st order crossover optimised, not for amplitude, but simply for what your hearing is telling you sounds right and natural. The resulting crossover design also minimises driver overlap and restores power handling.

 

Alternatively if you have access to speaker design software and input the relevant data of the drive units, enclosure and crossover circuit you plan to use, the software will produce graphs and plots that show your 'theoretical' speakers frequency response, power response, transfer functions, phase and impedence etc etc. This pictoral information is fascinating and beguiling but moves your focus into trying to achieve the best 'amplitude' loudspeaker and not necessarily the best 'acoustic' loudspeaker. The whole design process simply becomes dominated in satisfying the goal of 'amplitude' , the flat frequency response, and that's when your design software will lead you away from 1st order.

 

Our 35 years of listening has given us the confidence to design only by ear. 

To satisfy the most relevant parameter, the pleasure of the listener.  

 

 

 

The 3 Square Audio levelling system 

As Hi-Fi users it has been a long standing complaint of ours that most equipment comes with an inadequate spike adjustment system. It is either poorly designed or badly executed or in many cases both. We were determined to get this right and before we had designed the Translator speaker we had designed the spike system it incorporates.

This consists of a large M10 threaded stainless steel bolt fixed to a 10mm steel plate with an aluminium coned foot of our own design mounted to it. The coned foot has a small hole through it which, with the use of the supplied allen key, makes micro adjustment easy. Due to the mass of the plate, the quality and size of the threaded parts, there is no need for a locking nut thus removing the wobble and difficulty of adjustment associated with M6 and M8 spikes.

We have also taken the opportunity to install a fifth stud on the speakers to allow the purist to stand them on only 3 spikes. We have found, however, that with our system on 4 spikes micro rocking, so common in lesser spike systems, is all but eliminated.

Baltic birch plywood

We have a passion for Baltic birch plywood. 

For the uninitiated this is not the plywood you buy from your local DIY store or builders merchants. This is a very high quality material available only from specialist suppliers. Baltic birch plywood is formed using layers of birch, grown in the cold Baltic regions of Finland and the once Baltic states of Russia. As it is slow grown it is a very dense timber which when veneered together, grain at right angles in alternate layers approximately 1mm thick, forms an incredibly rigid and consistent material from which we can build our products. Baltic birch is an attractive light coloured wood which has varying grain patterns on it. We use the plywood in sheet form but also by laminating it together to form the striped pattern you see on top of The Translator. We have perfected this technique over some time to form an attractive but very strong timber. Finally we use oil and a wax finish which we have developed over a few years to provide a smooth gloss finish which is hardwearing and will not chip like a lacquer or paint.