I've got plenty more posts to come from CEDIA 2016, but I wanted to take a break from the serious stuff to show you this James Loudspeakers custom-built Steampunk design. For the most part, this exercise was about aesthetics, but underneath the decoration you'll find a fully-functional, three-way active speaker.
The tweeter on the James Loudspeakers Steampunk Speaker. Photo by Mark Henninger
The mahogany cabinet is covered in gears and dials and knobs and pipes. Copper tubes hold the mid/tweeter module above the bass cabinet, while leather and some vacuum tubes (that do nothing) complete the look, which includes a four-dome wide-dispersion James Loudspeaker tweeter mounted in one of it's landscape speaker housings, but make to look a bit like a periscope. It completes the look.
Underneath the artifice is a fairly impressive speaker. It's a 3-way, active design with separate housings for the woofers, midrange, and tweeters.
A close look at the Steampunk Speaker from James Loudspeakers. Video by Mark Henninger.
Chris Dola, acoustics engineer at James loudspeaker, described the design and construction process.
"The idea behind the Steampunk speaker is that were asked to make a centerpiece for a guy's man cave. He wanted to do a pair of speakers to fit the theme of the entire room that he was designing. so we started with looking at what Steampunk was, which is to capture what it would be like if the combustion engine was never invented and everything still ran on steam power. What would architecture look like, what would objects look like, fashion etc. So, it uses a lot of gears, a lot of valves, a lot of brass fittings.
"It started with some brainstorming between myself, one of our other engineers, and are our head machinist. We came up with a couple different design ideas, the first one was the gears we put on the side, and then we wanted to have some brass fittings on it, so we decided to do a leather cover with brass fittings.
"Then we did some copper piping to make it look similar a steam engine and make it look like there were some inner workings running on steam rather than electricity. Then we added some valves on the tubes.
"The original idea was to make the top look like a spyglass, like an old-timey brass piece with the tweeter in the front; we decided it was easier to outfit one of our landscape cans to our tweeter, to get the same but use a material that we already had rather than resource something else. It went forward from there, the customer wanted it to be taller, so we added a second woofer to the bottom and we put a gap between the enclosures with a little tube amp on top, to simulate old-school radio.
"This one is Mahogany—the original was made of Walnut. As for the speaker, the customer wanted good sound but he didn’t want to go overboard. So, when I first selected the drivers I figured we could put a sub on the bottom and a satellite on top like with some other towers that we do. So, we picked the 10 -inch driver for the bottom, it fit within the space he had. We had a 14-inch width limit so the 10-incher fit well inside that. For the top, the 5.25" driver is my favorite driver that we do, it's just personal preference but it fit really well. We selected the quad tweeter because it has very wide dispersion, 150 degrees.
"The rest was just the logistics of making the components sound good together. We made sure his amp was the right one to power the system. For the bottom, you can pump 1500 watts in there, the drivers have very high power handling. The top portion can handle 250-300 watts, but you definitely don’t need that much because it's going to blast your ears. Headroom is nice to have.
"It's a passive, biamped system with two sets of inputs. It does require an active crossover for the sub portion—we don’t like to do passive crossovers for subs because it eats up all the efficiency. We opted to go with a simple second-order crossover."