(by George Short, President) (Historical Site, all Fibonacci Ribbons retired March 2015)
Fibonacci Technologies is the ribbon loudspeaker division of North Creek Music Systems, Inc. The company was formed in 1991 as the embodiment of my lifelong love of music, passion for high end audio and loudspeaker design, an endless curiosity and need to explore of the nature of things, together with the business opportunity to develop and provide the highest quality loudspeaker components and transducers to small and large manufacturers, OEM’s and the audiophile community.
My earliest memories are of being an audiophile. To this day I think my parents thought I was a little bit nuts because I would spend so much time listening to music, lying on the floor with the speakers pulled up against my ears, volume levels very low but loud enough that the dynamics were there. Later in life but still long before I could drive I would take every opportunity to visit Rochester, NY’s thriving audio salons (this was the early 1970’s), and by the time I was 14 I had put together an acceptable high end audio system.
I was introduced to woodworking by my grandfather and began building my own loudspeakers when I was 15. There was actually a substantial speaker building group in Rochester at that time, as the Rochester Institute of Technology provided an endless stream of speaker builders, and a small shop called The Speaker Place just outside of the RIT campus kept us supplied. I still have the first pair of speakers I built - a two way with an eight inch woofer and a horn tweeter. I was didn't know anything about crossover design back then and there were no books on the subject, so I learned the hard way - by changing components and listening. Of course, all I listened to was 70's Rock (Yes, Rush, Genesis) so I was always designing for the best Rock sound.
In 1980 I heard my first high end audio system that hinted at full immersion - a Bang & Olufsen turntable and Dennon electronics driving a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10's, playing Pink Floyd The Wall. It wasn't loud because the DQ-10's didn't play that loud, but the sound was almost tangible and the goose bumps came out in force. From that moment on I was hooked.
My passion for music and high end audio was most strongly expressed as a desire to improve my loudspeaker design and building skills, and it became the fuel for my formal and informal education. In 1981 I began studies in a five year program in Electrical Engineering and Physics at Virginia Tech, and spent breaks and summers working for my father’s distribution business, saving for school, buying better audio equipment and building up my wood shop. Throughout that time I was designing and building loudspeakers on a regular basis... I sold some and gave some away and still have a few pair. I obtained my first piece of measurement equipment - an equalizer with a built in spectrum analyzer and hand held measurement microphone. I also began to study the details of loudspeaker design from a mathematical standpoint, thinking in terms of diffraction loss, transfer functions and acoustic slopes. Crossover network design became my fascination, as the most difficult and critical part of classical loudspeaker system design.
In 1985, along with fellow physicist (and soon-to-become-legendary-atmospheric-scientist) Gordon Labow, I built my first ribbon transducer. Made with aerospace aluminum foil, spare transformers from the science room, borrowed Samarium Cobalt magnets, and miscellaneous parts salvaged from an old cassette deck, we designed it, put it together, hooked it up to a beautiful vintage Marantz 1B tube amp and, amazingly, George and Gordon’s ribbon worked! I would like to say it was the best sounding ribbon in history, transcending all previous designs and started an audio revolution that soon conquered the planet but... it didn’t... it sounded a little bit fizzy at low volumes and it buzzed a lot when we cranked it up. Still, our primitive ribbon did do some things remarkably well, and tough “A”.
In 1986 I graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelors of Science in Physics, minors in Mathematics and Environmental and Urban Studies. I was accepted to their Graduate School, where I continued my education in Applied Physics.
In 1987 I began a yearlong independent study in electro-acoustics. This was an unusual field as Acoustics had long been replaced by Quantum Mechanics as the usual course of study, and finding a professor who was skilled in Electroacoustics and willing to teach it was difficult. I was very lucky that my advisor, Dr. Diane Hoffman, recommended me to Dr. Paul Zweifel. Professor Zweifel is an expert in Nuclear Reactor physics, and his text is the standard for those who study the subject. He was also one of the few who was knowledgeable in the field of electroacoustics. For the curious, my text books were Dr. Joseph Merhaut's "Theory of Electro Acoustics", the classic "Acoustics" by Leo Berneak, and the first two publications of the Audio Engineering Society simply entitled "Loudspeakers". I also had the complete set of Speaker Builder magazines, and kept up with current developments with the Audio Engineering Society.
My listening preferences at that time had grown to include large dipole speakers, as I had auditioned the Apogee Scintillas, the big Maggies, the Sound Labs and the Quad ESL-63’s. All of them were way out of my graduate student budget, but I did manage to purchase a pair of the original Magnepan 1.2’s, the only pair of speakers I have ever owned that I did not build at least to some extent myself.
During that period I was designing with Dynaudio and Morel woofers, and became fascinated with the operation of the Dynaudio Variovent. There was nothing published on how to use the Variovent, or aperiodic damping in general, so for my Master's Project I undertook the subject. I spent eight months doing both theoretical and lab work, and eventually developed the mathematical foundation of aperiodic damping that was consistent with my lab results. The mathematical model correctly predicted the relationship of system Q and the changes in impulse and frequency response and correlated it with the effect on resonance frequency and the impedance curve. A method of measuring all parameters directly from the impedance curve was also devised. The culmination of this work was published as my Master's Thesis, "The Aperiodically Damped Loudspeaker System", for the successful defense of which I was awarded a Masters of Science in Applied Physics.
In 1988, I joined the engineering team of Teledyne Acoustic Research (AR). AR at this time was the world's fifth largest loudspeaker manufacturer, and had a formidable engineering and research and development team. To put it in perspective, the desk I was given was formerly the desk of Andy Lewis (Signet, Apogee, B&W, now global sales manager for Truextent), and before his it was Ken Kantor's (NHT, Scan-Speak-Tymphany). One of my fellow engineers was John Buzzotti (Advent, Boston Acoustics, EAW). The mechanical engineer was Richard Juszczyszyn (Apogee, Cambridge Sound Works, Boston Acoustcis, now with Tivoli), the Chief Engineer was Mark Nazar (Apogee Acoustics, Boston Acoustics, now VP of Kwanasia), and the Vice President of Engineering was Alex deKoster (Polk Audio, Apple). I also had the privilege of working with Ron Generau, who developed the Sig Tech Digital Equilizer, the first product that would measure room response and correct for early reflections as well as frequency response variations in the loudspeaker. All of the current digital frequency response correction devices finding their way into AV processors today owe their lineage to Ron. We called it AR-EQ in those days. The president of the company was Burke Mathis, who was the former owner of Pacific Stereo and the brother of Curtis Mathis. He succeeded Ron Fone, who has since been the president of Tara Video, Apogee Acoustics and, most recently, Macintosh Labs. Before him was Abe Hoffman, who along with Roy Allison later created Allison Acoustics. The company was founded by Edgar Vilchur and Henry Kloss.
My duties at AR included crossover design and loudspeaker system design as well as research in cabinet vibration, cone materials and cone shape. I was also part of the group that brought the excellent, Dave Berriman designed AR Spirit line of loudspeakers into the US from AR's UK facilities. This was a fascinating project because the Spirit line was to be upgraded for the US and Asian markets without being redesigned, essentially limiting changes to cabinet materials and crossover component upgrades. Here I had the opportunity to directly compare the sound of one capacitor to another, one coil to another, etc. The difference in sound between film cap brands, dielectrics, air and iron core coils, and bi-wiring vs. single wiring, were significant and obvious to the entire listening panel. The line was much improved (although considerably more expensive) and became moderately successful in the US and abroad.
In 1990 I joined the engineering team of Apogee Acoustics, the world’s only manufacturer of full range ribbon loudspeakers, where I was again working under Mark Nazar. Apogee at this time was perhaps the single most influential loudspeaker manufacturers in the world, and company President Jason Bloom a celebrity in audiophile circles. The Apogee Scintilla was the world's first One Ohm loudspeaker, with marvelous sound. The need for amplifiers that could drive that loudspeaker led to a design revolution in the amplifier industry. Sadly, Jason passed away in June of 2003.
I did crossover network and ribbon transducer design for Apogee, and it was perhaps the single most valuable experience I have ever had. Every product we manufactured was listed in Stereophile Magazine's "Recommended Components", including the most expensive loudspeaker in Class A (the Apogee Grand, at left) and the lowest priced loudspeaker ever to make it into Class B. Products that I was on the design team of were also reviewed and recommended in The Absolute Sound, The Inner Ear, Hi Fi News and Record Review, and Audio Magazine. The first speaker I worked on there was reviewed by Anthony Chordesman for Stereophile and also won "Loudspeaker of the Year" in Australia. I will never forget the feeling of being part of the design team that put products on the covers of Stereophile and Hi Fi News and Record Review in successive months.
Apogee had a dedicated crossover component design program to go along with its ribbon speaker research program, and I was fortunate enough to be part of both. Most of Apogee’s engineering team had backgrounds in aerospace with Honeywell, Northrop and Nasa, and were quite accustomed to working with U.S. Military grade components. Part of our evaluaiton process was the comparison of grades and manufacturers of crossover components (standard consumer grade, high-end audio and military) and the superior sound quality of military components was immediate and obvious.
When I left Apogee in 1991 in later started North Creek Music systems I continued with this research, as the kernal of North Creek’s original business plan was to develop and distribute a family of crossover components equal in sound quality to mil-grade components, but priced within the realm of affordability. To this end, all of our components are made by ISO-certified manufacturers and held to military specifications, and while more costly than most “high end audio” parts, it has been proven to my ears over and over again that the quality of the passive components is one of the few essential building blocks of truly great loudspeakers. A decision was made early on that North Creek would work with only the best of the best, and to serve those clients who were concerned with exceptional performance and lasting quality regardless of cost.
I still remember the day when I first penned the words that became and remain our company credo:
We believe that enduring quality is the most significant virtue of any product.
We have unwaiverably stuck to this philosophy throughout the history of this company.
By the mid 1990’s North Creek had developed a reputation as “the source” of the best sounding passive crossover components, and the business grew to supply thousands of hobbyists and over one hundred loudspeaker manufacturers worldwide. We routinely exported to Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Italy, Russia and Great Britain, to name a few.
2001 was the tenth year of North Creek. It was a bit of a milestone; of the 300 or so loudspeaker companies in the U.S. that day, only one in ten was in business ten years before, and most likely only one in ten would still be doing business ten years later. We intended to be one of them. Looking back on the original goals of the company, it is apparent that we had not compromised our product line or our integrity anywhere along the way.
Domestic and international business grew to the point that by 2002, our eleventh year in business, we became the largest UPS Ground shipping account in the southern Adirondacks.
Throughout these years I also freely discussed some of my design ideas and philosophies with Apogee’s engineering team, and kept in touch after Apogee was sold and then closed. I kept my Stage’s and my original pair of Centaur’s, and I kept trying to improve upon them.
In 2002 we introduced a crossover upgrade for the Apogee Stage. The original Stage was a great little loudspeaker, punchy and musical and with that stupendous Apogee sound stage. It was a trend in loudspeaker design from the mid 1980's through the end of the 1990's to concentrate on a large sound stage and precise image focus. The goal was to bring the performance one step closer to the listener and the listener one step closer to the performance with only two channels, to create a more convincing illusion so that one's mind could more easily make the leap into believing that they were actually there. Part of doing so was to create a sound stage that was larger than life.
Of course, the Apogee sound stage is not real or accurate, and in fact it is always enormous even when it's not there in the recording. The Apogee sound stage is an artifact of the loudspeaker design. I am not saying this is a bad thing at all, and in fact among the reasons I remain enamored of my Apogee's is because of the enormity of their sound stage. But.... technically.... it still is distortion.
All classical ribbon, electrostatic and planer magnetic loudspeakers have an Achilles' heal, and that was the "head in a vice effect". In fact, with the Stage's, the vice is in both the vertical and horizontal direction ("the head in two vices effect?") If one was not perfectly centered between the Stages, and at the exact mid-height of the tweeter ribbon, the sound was heavy through the midrange and the top end was completely gone. The Stage was an audiophile speaker, for only one listener at a time. The North Creek crossover upgrade solved the horizontal vice issue; that is, listeners can easily sit three abreast and have great sound. The vertical vice is intrinsic to pre-Sweet Field ribbon designs. And of course 21st century crossover components are much clearer, sweeter and more dynamic than their older counterparts. The upgraded Stage simply blows away the original.
In 2004 we developed a new type of ribbon transducer with a much larger listening window than the classical Apogee-type ribbons. The new ribbon was first incorporated in the Advanced Ribbon Technologies’ Metro loudspeaker. Among the goals Metro (which was also a two-channel speaker) was to build a loudspeaker that had the same magical Apogee-style sound stage, but to also eliminate the "head in two vices" effect. It took years of working with the ribbon midrange/tweeter and conventional woofer to come up with a substantially superior design, and it really wasn't until 2005 that we really had everything working perfectly. The Metro was equal to the upgraded Stage in sound stage, clarity, and musicality, was much more transparent and far superior in dynamics. And both vices were eliminated. The Metro was in production from 2005 though 2009.
Bowing to the current trends in home theater installation, the next step was to built the Metro ribbon into the wall and see what would happen. The first thing we discovered is that we could extend its bandwidth, and with very careful in-wall cabinet design, high pass filter/protection circuitry design, and the original Sweet Field ribbon shape, we had a very listenable in-wall speaker from about 135Hz to beyond 30kHz. This alone was a small breakthrough, as crossoverless performance from almost an octave below middle C to well beyond the threshold of audibility from a line source had never before been accomplished, and it was just magical. A ribbon's clarity is so far superior to any other kind of loudspeaker, it draws one deeper and deeper into the performance.
But the original Metro ribbon in-wall had some issues. The biggest problem was that in taking the ribbon from the Metro's 351Hz crossover frequency an octave and a half lower, we increased its power consumption by a factor of six. This meant the ribbon would get six times as hot, and in fact we could play them so hot that one could see heat ripples emanating from the ribbons' surface. It does not damage the ribbon, but it was a little unnerving.
Then there was the listening window. The original Sweet Field had two listening windows, one at about the mid-point of the ribbon and then a second, larger field above about the top third. This was fine for the Metro, as it was also an audiophile product, but the goal was to create a uniform listening window the entire height of the ribbon.
One's instincts say that one should just make the ribbon in a long, semicircular arc, and that would expand the listening window. Unfortunately, it doesn't work (and in fact, it was known way back in the 1960's that this approach does not work). However, it was a place to start, and by forcing the ribbon into differently shaped arcs, making measurements, changing the arc, and making more measurements, eventually we created an arc that produced the optimum radiation pattern - a uniform sound field the entire height of the ribbon.
While documenting the shape a pattern began to emerge. One does not work in acoustics long before one sees Fibonacci sequences in everything. We have been building cabinets with aperiodic bracing based on Fibonacci's ratios since the early 1990's. Our main listening room ceiling is covered with quadratic diffusers based on a Fibonacci sequence. So it was immediately obvious the ribbon worked optimally when formed into Fibonacci Arc, and the Fibonacci Transducer was born. We called them the Fibonacci Gen 1.
Still, at 28 inches the ribbon was not long enough, and the Sweet Field was only about two feet tall. The window needs to be about 40 inches to cover both the lowest seating position and the highest standing position.... so we built some 45 inch ribbon frames and went to work. The 45 inch ribbon frame with the ribbon formed into the optimal Fibonacci Arc had the perfect Sweet Field radiation pattern, a 42 inch tall window (1.1 meters) with absolutely perfect listening characteristics... and it sounded wonderful. The natural transparency of a ribbon and - because they were long enough - and absence of floor and ceiling reflections, a low end limit of 100 Hz, we had seamless, crossoverless performance throughout the entire range of most instrument and all but the lowest human voice. A unique, continuous sound quality never quite like anything we had heard before. This was the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen II.
Fibonacci Mariposa in-pillar
At low volumes the Gen II's worked beautifully, but because we had extended the bandwidth even lower we had more heat to deal with, and at high volumes the Gen II's would get pretty hot. With ribbon loudspeakers, efficiency is proportional to the square of the magnetic field. So our next step was to exchange the ceramic magnets for rare Earth Neodymium, which are eight times stronger than ceramic and about ten times more costly.
This brought about the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen III. This was a spectacular sounding loudspeaker, with unprecedented speed and microdynamics and layers and layers of detail. Full bandwidth (100Hz to beyond 30kHz), extremely efficient, easy to install, and a dream for most amplifiers to drive. The sound was just riveting. We released the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen III's at the March of 2007 Festival du Son in Montreal. This was a huge moment for North Creek as those familiar with ribbons immediately recognized it as both a radical departure from all previous attempts to build a ribbon and a significant step in performance.
I do not get a lot of chances to listen to other loudspeakers, so whenever I get to an audio show I take every chance to get out and around and try to hear everything. The 2007 Festival du Son in Montreal was a great show, and I heard some very good loudspeakers, many of which I could easily live with. But none had the unique combination of continuity and clarity of the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen III's. Many of the attendees felt the same way, and our room was full of listeners almost the entire time and many came back several times for another listen, we were told by several that we had the best sound at the show, and we made some sales. A great debut for the 1.1's.
I also have a good memory for how different speakers sound, and I remembered an afternoon in 1991 in the Apogee listening room, sitting with the late Jason Bloom, as we listened to the Stages, then the Apogee Duetta Signatures with the original passive crossover and a prototype of the DAX. The Duetta Signatures were beautiful sounding loudspeakers, widely felt to be the best money could buy throughout the 1990's. Much richer and more dynamic than the Stages, if only because of their size. Jason and I were comparing the stock, passive crossover to the active DAX crossover, and we both kept coming to the conclusion that the passive crossover just sounded better. Finally, Jason said to me, "that Duetta crossover, it is just perfect!" and I had to agree. I don't know who designed it, but whomever did was really really good. The DAX prototype went back to engineering. Not many speakers have given me an impression that lasting, so the summer of 2008 I did what any other ribbon loudspeaker manufacturer would do... I searched and searched and finally found and bought a perfect right Duetta Signature in New Hampshire and a perfect left Duetta Signature on Long Island. For a fascinating tale of one person’s pursuit of the ultimate Apogee experience, please visit http://www.hifi-advice.com/Apogee-Acoustics-Listening-Sessions.html .
I set them up in the North Creek listening room, the upgraded Stages along one wall, the Duettas on a second, and the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3's built into the third. Identical CD players, amplification by Belles, identical speaker cables, only the pre-amps and cables were different. Everything was set up optimally and warmed up for days. The Duetta Signatures are absolutely wonderful loudspeakers, and I could gladly live with them for a while, but the comparison ended there. The upgraded Stages were so much better than the Duettas, and the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3's were so much better than the Stages, that I knew we had a real winner. The Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3's were the real deal.
Still, way in the back of mind, I began to feel that the product could be improved. At the very bottom of their range, where they mated to the subwoofers, there was always a very slight discontinuity within the deepest reaches of human voice. The Fibonacci Gen 3's are a home theater loudspeaker, and will always be used with a subwoofer. All processors' standard subwoofer crossover frequency defaults is 80Hz, and most good subwoofers can go up to 80Hz with reasonable speed. The low end limit of the Fibonacci Gen III's was 100Hz. Even the best subwoofers are far happier at 80Hz than 100.
It was at this time that our design paradigm began to shift. A single ribbon transducer, with no crossover, capable of extending from the lowest reaches of human voice (80Hz) to well beyond the range of human hearing, had never been attempted before. In fact, until our technology had evolved to this point, it had never even been possible before.
Most of 2007 was dedicated to research in improving the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3.0 and developing a matching center channel. We began trying different ways to extend ribbons' low end, simulating new motor structures, redesigning the ribbon diaphragm, building and rebuilding prototypes, scribbling ideas on napkins, yellow pads and on one occasion my golf scorecard. By October 2007 the new ribbon was getting pretty good, a center channel with nearly twice the width of the 1.1’s was working perfectly, and we were giving demos to friends, family, any anyone else who cared to listen. More improvements came to the diaphragm and protection circuitry. By February 2008 we had it. A slightly larger ribbon, with a more powerful, more linear motor structure, higher excursion, higher efficiency, and higher power handling. And the full range, 80Hz to 30kHz. The most sophisticated, technologically advanced, transparent and naturally musical loudspeaker transducer ever made. The frequency response measurement is shown above.
The Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3.1 is a truly paradigm-shifting product, doing what every great loudspeaker before attempted to do, better.
We debuted the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3.1 in Denver in 2008 at both the CEDIA show (September) and Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (October), receiving great feedback leading to a steady stream of sales.
Early 2010 was spent developing a free-standing version of the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3.1. As the design progressed it became taller and narrower, then less deep, and eventually led to our unique, diffraction-free oval cabinet that completely vanishes within the sound stage. The Fibonacci Technologies’ Vaya! was released in May 2010. First among free-standing ribbons, the Vaya! can be placed tight against the wall or, with the flick of a switch, moved into free field. It is the most stunning free standing loudspeaker ever build, and ohhh!...the clarity!
The Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3.1 debuted to the public at the Capital Audiofest in Rockville, MD in June 2010. We brought along our full display featuring the In-Wall and prototype Mariposa Center Channel ribbons and the amazing Vaya! Ribbon monitors. Opening day was spent showing our in-walls in two-channel, and we had wonderful sound. Saturday we switched to 5.2 with hi-def video and Vaya! on surround sound duty. We had planned on showing Vaya! exclusively in two-channel on Sunday but events in our personal lives necessitated that we leave early.
This is our "in-wall" display unit, which we have shown at CEDIA and RMAF and most recently at the Capital AudioFest. It is actually a portable wall-and-table-top, with the Gen 3.1's in 16-inch-on-center cabinets left and right and the Mariposa Center Channel mounted below the 56-inch video screen. The Gen 3.1 Center Channel is actually the second largest ribbon ever made (we custom built a seven foot tall pair for a very large installation). Conventional subwoofers are mounted below the left and right speakers. The entire display is six-foot-three tall and just under eight feet wide.
We had wonderful sound at the Capital Audiofest. It was one of those shows where we could play anything - Rock, Jazz, Classical, even my treasured Mobile Fidelity gold CD of Pink Floyd "The Wall" - and the sound was just fantastic. 5.1 was just mesmerizing. Shown here is Diana Krall "Live in Rio" on Blue Ray, and her spectacular piano work was absolutely convincing. The same comment we kept hearing was "the clarity"..."the clarity". The fact is that our ribbons are generations closer to the original performance than any other kind of loudspeaker, and it really makes a difference. Many people felt it was the best sound they had ever heard, other than live.
2011 brought us fill circle. In May we celebrated being in the loudspeaker business for 20 years, and in that two decades everything has changed, and everything has stayed the same. The level of our ribbon technology and crossover manufacturing techniques have become so advanced, one would have difficulty recognizing what are doing today as the progeny of what we were doing twenty years ago. The new ribbon in the lab, the full range Mariposa, was proving to the the best one yet. At the same time, our corporate philosophy and credo has never wavered: we still firmly believe that enduring quality is the most significant virtue of any product.
On January 28th, 2012, while my wife and I were on holiday in Northern Arizona, we were informed via Facebook that a fire had started in the North Creek building in New York, in a section that housed a snowmobile rental company, and that the entire facility burned to the ground. No one was hurt. We lost almost everything; all of our inventory, custom machines, tooling, our records.... all that survived was a few CD’s and a single Big Daddy Ribbon that was in a corner behind a Roxul rock wool bass trap.
In July 2012 we purchased a new building in the majestic Verde Valley in Northern Arizona, and by November began to rebuild the business.
North Creek Music Systems, Inc. continues to grow and evolve, and it has been quite a journey so far. We continue to improve our manufacturing facilities, our technologies and out products. Through it all we have never compromised, and we continue to emphasize enduring quality as the cornerstone of our business.
The fine loudspeakers presented here have been optimized through careful consideration of their precise purposes and placements and countless hours of listening and delicate fine-tuning. The Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3.1’s and Mariposa In-Wall, In-Pillar and Center Channel transducers have a listening window many times larger than any conventional loudspeaker without taking up an inch of valuable floor space. The new Fibonacci Technologies' Vaya! Ribbon Tower Monitor (at right) built with the Fibonacci 1.1 Gen 3.1 transducer are beautiful floor standing tower loudspeakers in a unique, acoustically optimized, diffraction free oval cabinet. They can be Near Wall Specific with a touch of rake angle for high Spouse Acceptance Factor installations, or they can be placed in free field with the flick of a switch vanishes within the sound stage and become one of the most stunning free field loudspeakers ever made.
Loudspeaker design is a fascinating and extraordinarily challenging job. One has to be open minded, free from pre-assumption and forgetting market hype while honestly evaluating the sound of each element as well as the overall system. Every aspect of our designs are critiqued by a listening panel composed of both casual listeners and serious audiophiles.
The Fibonacci Technologies Ribbon Transducers are the holy grail of home theater loudspeakers. They cover the the entire range uniformly, flawlessly, with seamless vocal and musical continuity. There is nothing really quite like it. It is simply the most transparent, dynamic, smoothest, clearest loudspeaker transducer in history.
There is a difference. One brief listen is all it takes.
More about me
Well, occasionally I hear "is all you do is design speakers?", hence this section.
It would be really nice if I could spend more time doing loudspeaker design, which is my first love and certainly would get more attention if the days were a little longer. But my other passions are: spending quality time with my beautiful wife Hilary, camping, biking and hiking, building, investing in real estate, and playing golf.
Over the years, my love for the great outdoors evolved into a passion for mapping, clearing and maintaining the unmarked and long forgotten logging trails that defined the early industry in the Adirondacks (before it became the world's largest protected wilderness). Through the years, the most accessible trails have become favorite hiking and biking routes for both natives and tourists. The quality of biking has improved so much in the Park in the last decade that the area received the cover article in the March 2003 issue of Bike Magazine, "New York - The Best Trails you have Never Ridden". I was lucky enough to co-host the editor and photographers of Bike for a guided tour of the extremely difficult Remsen Falls ”Terminator” trail . A magnificent photo of yours truly and a few friends appears on page 56 of Bike, seven miles from the nearest road, way out of cell phone range and peddling in the snow. In 2005 many became marked and published as part of the Old Forge area trails, and in 2009 designated as the town’s official hiking and mountain biking trail network.
In 2012 we exchanged the glowing greens of the Adirondacks for the Red Rocks of Sedona. Most days after work I can be found somewhere in the woods along with my GPS, plenty of water, and on a good day, my wife.
I also love cooking, especially with and for my wife, and found considerable parallels between cooking and loudspeaker design. Specifically, 1) a simple recipe with the best ingredients is generally better than a complicated recipe with the best ingredients; 2) using the same recipe, the better the ingredients, the better the dish; 3) there are significant differences between the flavor of "identical" ingredients, just like there are significant differences in the sound of "identical" coils, capacitors, and resistors that come from different manufacturers. Also like audio systems, I have learned that most people can sense and appreciate the subtle differences between a good meal and a great one.
I have been fortunate to be able to make a living while spending the last two decades pursuing my first passion, which has become my life’s work. From George and Gordon’s first ribbon, my Master’s Thesis experience shared through the North Creek Web Site, the Cabinet Handbook and the Wiring Guide, research to better driver, cabinet and crossover production (and ultimately to better sounding loudspeakers), and then the last few years of ribbon development. It has been an education with quite a few eye openers, a lot of unsolved mysteries, some unproven theories, and a few breakthroughs. But the Fibonacci Transducer shifts the paradigm.
My Feelings about Audio in general:
I must admit I still love two channel, and appreciate the rare luxury of sitting down and listening to few of my favorite CD's, with my eyes closed and a glass of good Cognac. A great two-channel experience is a transcendent thing, almost an “out of body” experience, and the better the equipment and recording process gets, the more transcendent this experience becomes. It is my deep love of not only music but being “within” the music that started me on this quest.
I also love modern Home Theater, especially sitting in my favorite chair with some candles lit and the subwoofers cranking.
Old style home theater was little more than “watching a movie” in the comfort of one’s own home. It was not until 2009 that the video source, recording processes and loudspeakers had become so refined that the high end home theater experience had (finally) equaled the two channel experience, and the line into “full immersion within the movie” had been crossed.
It was at that time that our design process paradigm shifted as well. Historically, and with only a few exceptions, all of our loudspeakers were designed by, through and for two-channel. That very good two-channel loudspeakers also make very good home theater loudspeakers followed naturally. But conceiving the ultimate Modern Home Theater loudspeaker required a different kernal of reasoning.... home theater is experienced with the eyes open. Loudspeakers that completely vanish within the sound stage are essential but the sound stage itself is created by a five or seven channel mix and processor, it is not retrieved through two channels. Human voice (spoken, sung, whispered) is everywhere. The most crucial element in modern home theater is vocal accuracy.
As our knowledge of ribbons grew and the technology behind the Fibonacci Transducer evolved (and its bandwidth became broader and broader), the driving force force behind its development became the quest to build the single transducer that was capable of recreating the entire spectrum of human voice in the listening environment more accurately than any other loudspeaker in history.
The listening environment is the last crucial step. The approach today is towards active equalization, the evolution of the Sig-Tech digital equalizer I worked on at AR in the late 1980’s, which have now become quite good. Yet even as these technologies merge, one still gets the best results working with a better room, and a loudspeaker that works better in it.
Enter the Fibonacci Ribbon Transducer. A long ribbon transducer mates with a room better than any other driver, and interacts minimally with it. Long ribbons do not suffer from floor or ceiling reflections, so their clarity at any appreciable distance is far superior to cones and domes. Through its optimized curvature and lens flare, the Fibonacci Transducer creates a uniform listening window far superior to any point source. A long ribbon exhibits nearly uniform loudness throughout a very large region of space. A single transducer. With no crossover, no changes is directivity, speed or voicing. Minimal room interactions. The ultimate exercise in simplicity.
To me, the nature of audio has paradigm shifted. Two channel now becomes two-point-one. Five-point-one Seven becomes seven-point-two. Full immersion.
There is a difference. One brief listen is all it takes.
George E. Short III, President
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