MEADOWLARK AUDIO SHOP PICS

The normal configuration is upward firing with a solid top, disguised as an occasional table. This build was specified as front firing so, yeah, cosmetically much better to conceal the driver's so-so looking flange. Looks-wise this is much more in keeping with the mains.

That choice did yield the reassuring plus that we could capture the driver on both sides. You can't make 'em too strong.

More work, naturally, but that's pretty normal when you're trying to get it right.
 
Looking at the picture of the Kingfisher and Blackbird, I was struck by the sharp edges, rather than the rounded corners used in the earlier Meadowlarks and many current speakers to help minimize diffraction effects. Sharp edges seem like a move backwards. What’s current thinking on this issue?
 
Looking at the picture of the Kingfisher and Blackbird, I was struck by the sharp edges, rather than the rounded corners used in the earlier Meadowlarks and many current speakers to help minimize diffraction effects. Sharp edges seem like a move backwards. What’s current thinking on this issue?
That's an interesting question, interesting subject.

If you'd like a concise and lucid explanation of diffraction and wave propagation you might want to check this one out:

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That book is a rare gem by a guy who had both the knowledge and the ability to convey it.

The short answer is that you'll see a tiny notch(s) in a driver/box system's output at frequencies associated with the distance(s) to the edge. When you round that edge that notch gets smaller in amplitude but wider in band, but it's still there. Moving the problem below the passband by making a very large baffle just ain't gonna fly. So you try to spread out the frequencies. You'll notice that our baffles are gently chamfered away and angled in the vertical dimension, doing that job pretty nicely. The tweeter barely "sees" the outer vertical edges of the box. When we look at the tweeter output, it's beautiful.

The real question - to me anyway - is: how does all of this effect perception? In general, the problems in speakers having to do with their propagation issues show up in your perceptions of image focus and soundstaging (plus how evenly and smoothly the room is energized). On both counts I think we did quite well with our old designs, and are doing noticeably better.

Funny thing - we've made Harrier in a form factor quite alien to me, but for the fun of giving the old guard a little poke, and demonstrating, on their own turf, the superiority of Next Gen. Predictable edge effects and all, the darn thing focuses and stages with the best. Go figure. Visible on analyzer but not a hint in the perception.

I've fiddled with it in the the processor, which turned out to be a bad idea.

I'm gonna digress and maybe say the wrong thing. Back in the day we strongly needed to present product that met the expectations of customers, dealers and press. Diffraction was a negative buzz word, even though almost nobody understood it. So, yeah, I was happy to go that way, especially because I could design things that could be produced at a sensible cost and make them look nice.

We make Blackbird as an HT effects speaker, where diffraction is of almost no interest, but the angled direction of the output is. The Kingfisher Center Channel was a custom build to a customer's physical dimension specs. I think we came out great on both looks and function. When we sat down to align the filters, it was like rolling off a log, a few easy steps, it just wanted to sound great.
 
Had an early # Shearwater on the bench today for repair. They rarely fail, and it's typically run-o-the-mill overdrive. "You have a teenager in the house?"

This fella got the last of the foam donuts. I ran out of those twenty years ago then surprise, two turned up hiding in a stupid place.

Funny, aside from the vehicles, which don't really count, it's the first conventional system I've listened to, carefully, in a very long time.



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prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Had an early # Shearwater on the bench today for repair. They rarely fail, and it's typically run-o-the-mill overdrive. "You have a teenager in the house?"

This fella got the last of the foam donuts. I ran out of those twenty years ago then surprise, two turned up hiding in a stupid place.

Funny, aside from the vehicles, which don't really count, it's the first conventional system I've listened to, carefully, in a very long time.



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So how did it sound? :)
 
So how did it sound? :)
Especially since the onset of the pandemic we've been in our own little world, here. The last time I seriously evaluated a serious conventional rig was maybe 2017 when I visited one of the country's top retailers, a personal friend. I spent some time with his flagship rig and a few ref tracks.

Let's just say I knew right then that I was on the right track, had it whipped at a fraction of the price. Funny story: when I told him what we could do he said something like: "Now why would I want to turn a 200K sale into a 50K sale?". Yeah....he had me on that one; he was having no trouble selling tons of top level gear. A walk thru his warehouse was, well, breathtaking. He was definitely cranking it out.

His rig was doing the things it did well, extremely well. Wicked focus/staging, beautifully natural tonality in the vocal range, horns, piano, strings - check, check, check. Percussive texture - check. Emotion - oh yes, touching. So, yeah, very satisfying to listen to, no sins of commission, and I'm sure the guys who own it completely love it. Best I could tell, having not had a body of comparative references, I'd still say that, within the bounds of up-to-date conventional, the sum of his choices was outstanding. The guy's a real pro among pros.

But the differences between our systems - the ones that would jump right out, being not subtle - were: dynamics, bass texture and, of course, peak output. Less obvious to the casual listener would have been vocal believability, but a full notch there. To me, having been reoriented by what I had grown accustomed to listening to, his super sweet rig kinda laid there, needed some get-up-and-go, some pluck, some BANG. Everything was just a little bit compressed, softened.

Anyway, to answer your question: yeah, listening to Shearwater mildly reinforced that perception. Meagan, who, during her teen years blew up more than her share of Shearwaters - so she knows (knew) them well - just gave me a funny look.

Damn that kid would fry two at a time. But she could fix them, so I'd just throw the woofers at her to get even. ;)
 
Btw, if you ever find two more foam donuts in and odd place, I cal dibs on them. :)
You got it, but I'd be surprised.

Most guys are hand cutting new ones from a common industrial air filter foam. Here's one guy selling the stuff as speaker grille material:
 
Just returned from about a week away, installing a Nightingale / Pelican system, on the maiden voyage for the company's delivery system. If we build a large system for you, and you're within reasonable driving range, rather than face the perils of freight, this is how your rig will come wrapped:

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Ahhh, no, I'm not stupid enough to put the Meadowlark Audio logo on the truck.

On that subject: one of the guys who built amps in LA, back in the day, put a "John's Porta Potty" sign on his building.
 
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