in a previous post, I made a specific point of visiting the Alcons pro ribbon immersive experience at CEDIA 2016. This over-the-top system from Dutch speaker manufacturer Alcons is all about combining industrial-strength ribbon tweeters (offering 90° dispersion) with horn-loaded dynamic midrange drivers plus ported woofers into three-way cinema speaker arrays. Add a couple of 21-inch passive subwoofers—being fed kilowatts of power—and another pair of 18-inch subwoofers contributing boom and grunt to the proceedings, and you wind up with a 11.1.8 surround-sound system—with an 11.4.8 speaker configuration—that offers a take-no-prisoners approach to audio immersion. Crucially, it vastly exceeds the on-tap dynamic range needed to get maximal enjoyment from any movie.
Alcons Pro Ribbon Immersive Experience. Cineramax is sitting on the left, AVS Forum Editor Scott Wilkinson is to his right. Photo by Mark Henninger
When I sat down to experience the system for the first time, watching the gun fight scene from Wyatt Earp (that portrays the proceedings at the OK corral), I noted that the combination of crickets and gunfire were a persuasive combo that showed off what the system could do. One second it's teasing you with delicate, precisely-placed insect sounds, and the next it's zapping your ears with explosive dynamics that are so intense (like real gunshots) that at times they could be uncomfortable. Let's face it, gunfights are not meant to be pleasant proceedings.
While the demo was notable for the extreme SPL levels it achieved, it soon became clear that the system itself had tons of headroom above and beyond what was being demoed. At one point during the listening session, the system's creator, the residential integrator from Miami—known as Cineramax here of AVS Forum—mentioned that a "125 dB client" was stopping by. During that period (which coincided with the end of the show itself) what was going on in the Alcons demo room was surely by far the loudest and most explosive cinematic experience to be found at CEDIA.
Personally, I have no need for system that does what these speakers could do; it's brutal, shocking, and undeniably intense. But, I get that there are people who love to have their cinematic experiences be that visceral.
When the system wasn't blasting away, such as during music demo segments that included Depeche Mode and Santana concert videos, I caught a glimpse of how the system could also bring subtlety and precision to the table. Given the tremendous amount of headroom possessed by the rig—with no audible hiss—it's a fair bet that distortion is kept far, far away from ever becoming audible. What's left is merciless accuracy, so you have to feed the beast good audio to make it happy.
This is not just a sports car compared to the other systems that are mere luxury sedans, this is more like a Formula One or Indy 500 race car. You get performance that is several orders of magnitude beyond what's offered to consumers, but you better bet your butt that you're gonna feel every single ripple in the asphalt. And with that much power on-tap, and if you're not careful you can get into trouble very quickly and easily—I strongly recommend against extended exposure to the sort of audio levels that system is capable of.
Scenes from the movie teen-dystopia movie Allegiant looked sharp on the screen, and provided a chance to hear the Trinnov Altitude 32 processor render a well-produced, genuine Dolby Atmos mix. The same could be said for scenes from the World War II tank movie, Fury. This is a system that absolutely aces gunshots and explosions.
This system had eight height channels. Photo by Mark Henninger
Aside from the audio, the acoustically-transparent Ultraweave V6 was pretty neat. It's made with an all-in-one, multi-layer fabric
that has a gain of 0.82, neutral color, and only absorbs 1.5 dB of SPL. The weave is so tight, it's immune to moiré with projected resolutions of up to 8K. An integrated black backing layer prevents ghosting artifacts that can occur when there's space between the backing and the screen itself.