I recently spoke to Luc Guillaume, Managing Director, Wisdom Audio about planar magnetic drivers, new system controls, and the never-ending quest to achieve perfect room acoustics.
Maureen Jenson: You recently debuted the Wisdom Sage Series ICS7a in-ceiling solution. Tell us about this new in-ceiling loudspeaker system and what makes it unique?
Luc Guillaume: Despite being a crowded segment of the market, we knew we could design an in-ceiling product that stands out from the rest. The Wisdom ICS7a provides high-resolution stereo audio in a living space, a multichannel solution in a media room or overhead channels in an immersive home theater. The planar magnetic driver (PMD) incorporated in the ICS7a covers the top six octaves of the bandwidth allowing a transition to the woofer at around 650Hz. What makes the ICS7a unique is its dispersion of the angled PMD which allows for mid- and high-frequency to open up in the room rather than fight the in-ceiling and beam, like most of the products in the market currently do. The result is, the impeccable sound appears in front of the listener rather than above the listener, and it is superbly balanced.
MJ: How would you compare the sound quality from speakers with Planar Magnetic Drivers to a more traditional dynamic driver?
LG: PMDs are essentially an aluminum trace bounded onto a polyether kapton film. The film is extremely light and extremely strong so it can be tensioned and placed around Neo Magnet to create a motor structure that is far superior to a dynamic driver in its ability to reproduce transient. Dynamic drivers aren’t a very efficient design, as the suspension surrounding the cone introduces inertia, creating slower response and imprecise sound. PMDs can be built in various shapes allowing coverage of five to eight octaves of the audio spectrum. Removing the crossover point from the mid-range where our ears are most sensitive is also a great benefit to increase clarity. Having a single PMD reproducing everything above 650Hz, as in most of our point source loudspeakers, simply makes everything sound so much more natural. If dealers haven’t had a chance to experience our sound at a show, we really encourage them to connect with us for a demo; you have to hear the difference!
MJ: At CEDIA you also introduced two new system controllers. Please tell us a bit more and how these are helping installers solve acoustical challenges.
LG: The SC-2 and SC-3 system controllers include calibration tools to assist installers quickly and confidently overcome acoustic problems and solve unpredictable and complex audio distortions that may occur in an installation. For over a decade Wisdom Audio has been providing electronic room acoustic solutions, helping installers fine-tune the frequency response of our speakers in real-world installations. This leads to the best high-performance audio and clarity not just in our lab but in the most important environment — the end-user’s home. Both of the controllers include Dirac Live by Dirac Research, which is the most advanced room correction technology available today. With the platform’s impulse response and frequency response adjustment, our system controllers ensure a pristine listening experience anywhere.
The SC-2 is a 2RU system controller offering 8-channel in to 16-channel out, while the SC-3 is a 3RU platform providing 16-channel in to 32-channel out. Both units operate at 24-bit 96 kHz and provide the necessary digital active crossover and digital EQ profiles for all Wisdom Audio loudspeakers. We’ve also added an “Expert Mode” that provides installers with an additional layer of live tuning features, equalization tools, and the ability to override delays and trim EQ to optimize system performance in the most difficult acoustic scenarios. With four preset slots to store up to four complete and independent calibrations, installers have plenty of space to perform multiple room correction setups for up to 16 zones or rooms.
MJ: What types of installations are going to demand these solutions?
LG: Any entertainment space where clients value audio clarity and performance without compromising on aesthetics. More specifically, that means media rooms and home theaters with high channel count immersive audio will be the larger segment for both the ICS7a and the Controllers. Our experience at CEDIA this year made us realize that there is a higher potential than expected for the SC-2 and SC-3 for multi-room applications in high-end, luxury installations. High resolution audio dealers are beginning to realize that offering calibration in just a theater or media room and then leaving the rest of the house entertainment audio at the mercy of the room acoustics isn’t working for clients — they need a whole home solution, and we’re happy to fill that role.
MJ: Where are you seeing most of the high-performance audio installations take place: 2-channel, living rooms, or dedicated home theaters?
LG: It really depends on the market. Our U.S. business is largely driven by dedicated home theaters and private theaters, but we have also seen increased traction with media rooms and whole home audio thanks to our line source loudspeakers providing that natural solution for challenging acoustical environments. Europe is starting to shift to a wider media room market rather than dedicated theater and 2-channel solutions, while Asia remains a strong 2-channel market.