Circle Studio Speaker Development


#1

Hi all,

We are opening up our design process to involve people early on to help us develop new and exciting products.

Introducing our new desktop computer speaker project. The aims of this project are to develop the highest quality computer speakers in the world. We are not competing with monitor speakers, or general bookshelf speakers. Our focus is the computer desk, and specifically people who care about incredible audio.

We’d love to get people’s feedback on early concepts to help steer this project into becoming something truly great.

The first question we’d like to ask people is whether they would prefer an integrated sound bar style design, where you build a stereo pair into a single unit (with either a simple 2.0 circuit, or with a dedicated base driver for 2.1), or a dual unit classic bookshelf speaker system (details like active or passive circuit design yet to be decided).

Please keep in mind all imagery in this thread are still early concepts and are subject to change at any time.

Let us know what you think - would you prefer an integrated soundbar, or a dual speaker design? All comments will be considered, and your ideas might make their way into the final design.


#2

Hey guys, This is Brendan whom I’ve spoke with you guys before over e-mail -

I’m super, like beyond incredibly excited for this project and would love to inject as many helpful thoughts and ideas as possible to make it the best it can be to the very end. First off, a few principle design aspects and cues I’d suggest are -

  • Full range drivers, if not co-axial drivers, like my a long shot. Since these are going to be primarily designed and used for near-field listening, nothing comes close to the coherency and ‘3D’ like imaging and sound-staging of a full range driver. Take the BeoPlay S8 for example, of which I owned which is essentially a premium build quality version of Bose’s ‘cube HT systems’ type design, and the sound practically tickled your ear, without and fatigue or driver coherency issues due to not having to have the mid-range and tweeter blend perfectly - because there were none, but simply an incredibly high quality full range driver that extended all the way up to 20Khz, and had plenty of mid-range umph down to the sub which reached down to 20Hz flat. It was sublime.
    • Another example of this being more or less perfectly executed (though perfection is subjective, but in this case it’s the best it can be) - is the Gallo Acoustics line-up of Micro SE and A’Diva speakers; pure full range audiophile sound quality, and they even mention using their speakers for Hi-FI PC Gaming, yeah you read that right, and they love bragging about the very real fact they knock it out of the park, because again: Full range drivers are perfect for near-field.
    • Final example - well two actually: Are the Orb Audio orbs (one being actually used in Abby Road’s studio supposedly to check vocal coherency and performance, because again… without a crossover network muddying things up, no matter how pristine or high quality the CO network may be, nothing beats vocals being reproduced on a full range driver, which is why even the hardest core of Bose skeptics will admit vocals sound remarkably coherent on their systems at the worst of times) - second being Razer’s Nommo speakers. Simple yet beyond amazing sounding for two full range drivers. Like stupid clear and precise.

Second concept I’d like to inject would be: Focus heavily, I mean HEAVILY on pure clean powerful depth of depth bass performance. If you guys are even remotely serious about making the BEST computer speakers possible, you’ll have to beat the Paradigm Millenia series which can still be bought, the Razer Nommo Pro and something like the Klipsch iFi which reaches down to 27Hz - not being made anymore but still can be had for cheap on eBay. My bottomline spec would be 25Hz at least. If not down to 20Hz flat, like the beoplay S8’s.

  • To achieve this, 2 possible solutions: dual 8 or 9" isobaric subwoofer driver design, or a super high excursion 10" - preferably down firing, or possibly even up firing like the Bose Bass Module 700. Now again, as quick aside, I’m a huge audiophile, but I also love Bose for their engineering prowess and especially their later stuff - that’s a pretty divisive opinion, but there are many audiophiles with Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamons w/ McIntosh amps for example that have a Bose Lifestyle system in their mane cave and absolutely love it, I’m one of those types.
    – So again, back to bass performance: This is the make it or break it area for the whole foundation: Shitty bass performance, to be quite frank, will kill the system. Sure a sloppy bass kick here and there and some boom will impress the millennial or Beats by Dre fart can users, but for serious audiophile quality, we’re talking deep, powerful musical extension.
    ---- To top it all off, I’m hoping for some kind of ‘room analysis tool’ to optimize the audio quality to your room. Something super simple - possibly a USB mic connected to your PC or Mac, the system taps into an app on your computer and plays a series of tones, and optimizes its frequency response for best performance based on its location and setup. Would absolutely make a world of difference and be a massive selling point.

For some design aesthetics - I’m thinking BeoLab 14/S8 - though maybe a little ‘rounder’, like the Focal Dome Flax’s or Elipson Planet M’s - or the Gallo Acoustics series; I think a flat front grill rather than a full rounded ‘orb’ look would be best, but the actual enclosure would be a polished internally damped metal sphere. But ofocurse the external look and design could be anything in the end - the internal cabinet volume and anti resonant properties are what matter the most.

If you guys aren’t going to be developing your own drivers which, let’s face it, many don’t (though many do), and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that if high end ones are used, say from Scanspeak or Philips, then I’d suggest Tang Band, Fostex or something really nice like Scanspeak. They’re out there, and maybe you can get something custom fabbed from a speaker driver manufacturer.

— Also have the cords be a really, really clean ‘Apple-like’ look and connection; no gaudy ‘clips’ or zip-tie like junk speaker wire, but something like the white, clean cabling of the BeoPlay S8’s, or think Apple lightning cable or RAZER braided cables - and maybe offer them in a variety of colors? Detachable cables are a must, but have them going into the speakers in a very flush, clean like fashion. That can completely ruined the final touch aesthetic of the system and bring down the whole feeling a notch or two as a whole.

And finally: Reliability; holy hell is this important. Last thing you want is your system blowing up in your face, nearly making you deaf and causing smoke to shoot out of the sub - BIG BIG BIG THING TO CONSIDER: Amp driven and active DSP design to prevent over excursion and driving of the speakers.

Basically: Make the system so it can’t be damaged or be blown. Like what Bose does (another huge plus regardless of their other ‘issues’ may one have with them) - Do that, market it if it’s 100% rock solid of a feature, and you’ll be swimming in fans and support.

Couple nips and tucks -

High end USB connectivity (high quality internal DAC etc.)

Don’t bother with gaudy gimmicks like ‘fake 5.1’ or some crap; absolutely horse sh*t, hate that nonsense

No need for a on desk controller ‘puck’ IMO - but that’s entirely subjective, maybe make it optional? I prefer everything being done in app; makes for a far cleaner desk for most purposes, and is now I have my paradigms setup for my Mac music workstation.

Remote control? Forget it. Don’t bother, guarantee 90% of them will get lost.

And that’s about it for now. Seriously, can NOT wait for something like this to happen. I’m glad I’ve got my two sets of Paradigms, had the BeoPlay (selling it is one of the biggest regrets I’ve ever done), and the RAZER Nommo Pro’s look cool, but reliability is a huge risk with RAZER - I don’t work for any of their competitors nor am I bad mouthing them, I love their stuff, but I’ve personally deal with them on this level, and it’s a total PITA.

– Customer service: Make sure you guys kill it in this regard, and it seems like you would.
– Don’t bother with gimmicky THX ratings. Pointless.

Looking forward to any new advancements. Will keep myself posted,

Thanks,

Brendan


#3

Some great suggestions here.

We will look into this.

I would prefer us to focus on as simple a design as possible. After nailing the basics we can branch out. The difference between the Nommo and Nommo Pro for example.

Without having tested the Gallo Acoustics, do they achieve decent bass performance without a sub?

This will definitely be a ‘nice to have’ stretch goal.

Good recommendation!

It’s one thing to build in DSP limiters to prevent a speaker blowing, it’s another thing for the speaker to be exposed to certain resonant frequencies in the music you’re playing leading to eventual failure. Do you have any insight into how Bose handle this, if at all?

To bypass the standard DAC in the computer? Would there ever be a situation where you’d want a direct line in?

I like this idea, but it could create problems if the software is unresponsive and you need to kill the volume. Seems like a basic volume / power switch will still be necessary.

Thanks for the feedback!


#4

If you mean “isn’t the build in computer sound system good enough?” then the answer is a hard no.
It is far too close to the CPU and other interference causing devices in the machine, and that’s why you get hisses, pops, that constant hiss noise you here with the volume right up and no sound playing, the little blip noises when you move your mouse…
Way too much going on inside one piece of hardware.

Almost all high end audio hardware for PC is connected via a longish USB cable that can only receive digital audio information, and it is only converted to analog inside the device, away from the noise generating stuff inside the computer.

Most people would be using their own DAC/Amp combo with high end speakers anyway, but if you wanted to go the ‘all in one’ route it would be nice to have a decent dac inside the speakers.

A good start would be the “ODAC” (objective dac) which is an open source design that is extremely clean and high quality.

Another value add would be headphone and mic in ports on the front of the speaker, and a usb to line-in converter somewhere inside the device. Further to that, rather than an auto cutoff on headset insertion, have a toggle switch so that the ports dont get excess wear.

Anyway, my 2c.


#5

Yep, that sucks. A compelling argument for in-speaker DAC right there.

Good tip, thanks!

Nice idea. Would require a more complex DAC/ADC setup though.

Can you elaborate on this? Is this to plug in a line device that isn’t a computer?


#6

I’d prefer a dual unit classic bookshelf speaker system. Audiofrog makes some of the best drivers around at the moment and if it’s possible to get computer speakers with their components, I’d love it.


#7

In the vein of this?

Do you have any specific component recommendations from Audiofrog? @flyingpepper


#8

Yeah, something like that. Although, IMO, perhaps more rounded corners to match the case more.

I have the GB60 and GB10 and they’re amazing. I’ve also heard the GB40, the GS40, and GS10. Also excellent for the price! The GB is their high end line, and the GS is their midrange line.

Audiofrog service is next level. You can email them and get a reply from the CEO himself (Andy Wehmeyer) almost immediately. Andy worked for 18 years at Harman as the product manager, product marketing manager, and global product line manager. I can’t emphasize enough how good their service is and how respected they are in the audio world.


#9

Thanks for the tip!

Yep, this is definitely just a sketch concept for now.