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Ovator S-600 High-End Loudspeaker

Thursday 21 May 2009.  Munich High End Show. Naim Audio today launches the Ovator S-600
high-end floor-standing loudspeaker.  The Ovator S-600 is a technically advanced loudspeaker system targeted at the music lover. The S-600 has taken three years to bring to market.

Naim has a history of designing and manufacturing loudspeakers that deliver the maximum music and emotional communication.

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Summary

  • New high-end loudspeaker from Naim
  • Naim BMR mid/high frequency drive unit
  • First use of BMR technology in a high-end speaker
  • No discontinuities of crossover or dispersion in critical voice band
  • Two new Naim low-distortion high-linearity bass drivers
  • BMR in isolating enclosure positioned by leaf-springs
  • Cabinet isolated from plinth and crossover by a leaf spring
  • High Pressure die-cast plinth, adjustable stainless steel spikes
  • Delivers the performance and emotional connection to music expected of a Naim product
  • Easy to setup
  • Design for free field use to ease room positioning

Background

Traditionally Naim loudspeakers require a high level of care and attention during setup to achieve their best. One might possibly equate them to driving an early Ferrari – fantastic fun, exhilarating performance but requiring considerable setup to get the best performance.  This is not a problem for the cognoscenti or the true music lover, but it can be challenging for the busy hi-fi retailer.  Naim found retailers were shying away from demonstrating the existing Naim speakers in favour of models that might not deliver all the emotion and communication but were easier to set up. Ease of set up, use and manoeuvrability to match the high performance were some of the first aspects of the S-600’s design objectives.

Naim worked closely with internationally renowned audio engineer Karl-Heinz Fink and his team to bring the balance of Naim musical delivery with the practicalities of use that the market, audiophiles, and music lovers demand.

The UK and German teams together explored all the possible solutions, methods and materials, which could deliver an exhilarating performance and the maximum music and emotion, without the limitations of complicated set up or very specific room placement.

Naim BMR White Paper

Naim Balanced Mode Radiator

Radical requirements require radical solutions and a combination of Karl-Heinz’s enthusiasm for a new technology called Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) and hearing significant benefits in early prototypes, led Naim’s Technical Director Roy George to give the green light to the development of a very special Naim BMR drive unit to handle the mid and high frequencies.

The use of a technology like BMR until now has only been seen in low-end AV speakers, even though technically it delivers two huge advantages.  There is no crossover point right in the middle of the frequencies where the ear is most sensitive – the voice band .The Naim BMR covers six octaves from the mid bass to beyond the hearing of even a young child.  The directivity, or dispersion as it is perhaps better known, is far more even with frequency, thus ‘driving’ a room more naturally and giving a far wider ‘sweet-spot’. Conventional loudspeaker designs deliver a very unnatural power response in comparison to live voices or instruments.

Development of a Naim BMR drive unit to deliver this level of performance is not a trivial undertaking as perhaps the three years of development time indicates.  The combination of mathematical analysis, computer simulations and empirical analysis, combined with countless iterations of the drive unit with minute changes are hugely resource consuming as well as requiring a massive investment in personnel and advance measurement and modelling equipment.

The Naim BMR driver comprises a honeycomb diaphragm driven by a voice-coil immersed in a twin-neodymium magnet system optimised for linearity through finite-element analysis.  The pressure die-cast chassis provides the rigidity necessary to ensure that every note of musical detail is accurately reproduced.

The module comprising the Naim BMR and the12.7 mm wall thickness cylinder enclosure is suspended within the main enclosure by twin circular plate duralumin leaf-springs – one at the front of the enclosure and one at the rear. The cylinder, extending the full depth of the enclosure, is gradient-filled with damping materials selected through technical analysis and critical listening. The suspension system decouples above 4Hz – more than six octaves below the Naim BMR pass-band. The difference this makes to the performance cannot be overstated.  The isolation of drive unit from cabinet and cabinet to drive unit brings a cleanliness of sound delivery that can only be heard to be believed.

The two eight inch bass units, designed from the outset to be state-of-the-art, are linear and have low distortion – something rarely found in even modern drive units. From the choice of cone material specially selected to have the right combination of mass and stiffness in combination with the Finite Element Analysis optimised magnet and metalwork nothing is compromised.

Features with benefits

Cabinet

  • Hardened Stainless Steel non-magnetic 8mm spikes. Optimal coupling of the plinth to the floor
  • Leaf spring mechanism decouples cabinet from plinth and crossover above 12Hz. Isolates the cabinet from the floor vibrations and vice versa
  • Controlled density MDF multi-laminated to give constrained layer damping. Inherently self damped reducing cabinet talk
  • Curved sides to reduce standing waves which can cause colouration
  • Sloping top to reduce standing waves – double damped to reduce micro-vibrations affecting the stereo image
  • Cabinet and drive units braced to control resonance and improve dynamics
  • Designed for the maximum signal to noise ratio: The cabinet is not a secondary radiator.

Crossover

  • Computer-modelled crossover is housed in the die-cast plinth – decoupled from cabinet vibration
  • Easily to convert to active operation
  • New Naim-designed speaker terminals connector system – detailed explanation below
  • Crossover uses the finest components chosen by listening to bring the ideal combination of technical excellence with listening pleasure
  • Primary inductors are audio-grade laminated core with extremely low DC resistance to improve control
  • Audio-grade ClarityCaps including the very special ESA types in the feed to the BMR
  • Crossover is 4th order acoustic at 380Hz
  • Easy amplifier load – lowest impedance point is 3.2 Ohms but is purely resistive.

BMR

  • Pressure die-cast chassis with triangular rear sections for maximum rigidity and maximum open area
  • Motor System – FEA modelled for optimum linearity
  • Diaphragm (Cone) – Nomex honeycomb core with paper skins to combine low weight with high stiffness and good damping
  • Precision surround which acts as the balancing mass
  • Flux Density optimised with Finite Element Analysis (FEA) modelling
  • Twin Neodymium Magnets
  • Even, natural power response

Bass Units

  • Pressure die-cast chassis with triangular rear sections for maximum rigidity and maximum open area
  • Motor System – FEA modelled for optimum linearity
  • Long-Fibre Paper Cone chosen for ideal relationship between weight and stiffness
  • Flux Density optimised with Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to get the maximum flux in the right places.
  • 50mm Voice Coil to reduce thermal dynamic compression to a minimum
  • Linearity – These bass units deliver linearity previously only a dreamt about

System Tuning

  • Easier to optimise: The even power response delivers better performance in the majority of normal rooms.
  • Optimised for free-field use giving maximum flexibility of position.
  • Doesn’t need solid walls to deliver great bass
  • Better stereo images from a wider potential listening position
  • Closed box system for optimum transient response

Performance

  • Revealing: The S-600 delivers vast amounts of information about the inner detail of the music without being bright or hard sounding
  • Accurate: Delivers rhythm and timbre as it should be portrayed
  • Powerful: Capable of playing at realistic listening levels
  • Dynamic: Delivers dynamics accurately and doesn’t squash transients as so often happens
  • Musical: All of the attributes above would be of no use at all if the S-600 did not convey music and be enjoyable to listen too.
  • Easy to setup: From the out of the box experience to the first notes should be quick. Of course, extra performance will come with fine-tuning but the out of the box performance will be stunning.

Specifications

Frequency response (in room): 28-35000Hz

Sensitivity: 88dB for 2.83Vrms

Nominal impedance: 4 Ohm (Minimum Impedance 3.2 Ohm)

Suggested power amplifier rating: 25-150W (8 Ohm rating)

Weight: 61 kg

Dimensions (including spikes and grilles): 1168x401x434mm (HxWxD)

Further technical explanation of Balanced Mode Radiator Drive Unit

A BMR is a circular flat panel loudspeaker that covers the whole audio bandwidth with an exceptional wide directivity. It utilises the same components that are used in conventional loudspeakers, which are:

§  A surround attached to the rear of the panel to suspend it to the frame.

§  A voice coil coupled straight to the panel and centred via the spider.

§  A motor that supplies magnetic energy.

In a traditional loudspeaker, the diaphragm acts as a ‘rigid piston’ at low frequencies, but turns into a multi-modal object, when approaching its so called “break-up region”. In a BMR there is no ‘break-up region’. Instead, a limited number (usually 2-4) of evenly spread modes are carefully positioned within the frequency band. The modal, bending-wave operation starts in the frequency range where the piston-like operation of the panel would otherwise cause the driver to beam. The result is a drive unit that operates like a piston at low frequencies but turns into a bending wave device at high frequencies. Due to the bending wave operation the drive unit shows a very wide radiation characteristic even at high frequencies. Acoustically a BMR is getting close to behaving like an ideal point source.

The new Naim Terminal System

The Ovator features custom designed input terminals that offer a significant advance on conventional items. The conception and design of the terminals was assisted by the experience gained from the Naim Hi-Line and Power-Line projects to generate an innovative and high performance speaker connection solution.

The terminal works optimally with the new Naim solid hardened copper speaker pin but can also accept standard banana plugs. The sprung contacts optimise contact pressure and minimise contact resistance. They are manufactured from a unique grade of copper alloy with an IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard) conductivity of over 90% and enhanced spring properties. The terminal housing eliminates eddy currents and allows the contacts to float in order to minimise microphonic effects. The complete housing floats within the aluminium back plate of the speaker.

Bright tin plate on both the contacts and the pins was chosen from listening tests, which confirmed the findings from previous projects. The use of the same plating of both pin and contact minimises the potential for galvanic corrosion and the use of tin/copper conductor combinations has a low thermoelectric coefficient reducing any unwanted currents due to the Seebeck (thermoelectric) effect.

One Comment

  1. […] if you need them now check out the pages list on the bottom right for the links to new pages for Naim Ovator S-600, Neat Elite SX and the Thorens TD 309 Tri-Balance all launched […]