Mandate to Innovate - Catching Up with Sunfire - ResidentialSystems.com

Mandate to Innovate - Catching Up with Sunfire

After all the white papers and experiments, after all the PhDs on the science of sound, do we know why we hear what we hear? The legendary Bob Carver is still entranced with the mystery of hearing, even after 30 years of innovation and 27 patents.
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After all the white papers and experiments, after all the PhDs on the science of sound, do we know why we hear what we hear? The legendary Bob Carver is still entranced with the mystery of hearing, even after 30 years of innovation and 27 patents. In fact, it is the wonder and mystery that still inspire Carver's design process. The SubRosa line consists of two new XT-Series models that Carver hopes will outperform any other 2,700-watt subwoofer.

Last week I had coffee with Mr. Carver and Eric Harper of Sunfire, and enjoyed learning about Sunfire's new ribbon loudspeakers and how Carver's earliest patents, such as sonic holograms, continue to inform the custom install business.

Three decades ago, Carver, motivated by his passion for music and physics, set out with a goal -- to build powerful amplification systems with tiny footprints. By exploring precepts of psychoacoustics and soundstaging, he developed patents to deliver authentic imaging in the most compact cabinet possible. He also worked with industry elite such as Henry Kloss and the folks at RCA Research Laboratories and BMW. There he explored subjects such as flat-frequency response using fones instead of decibels, and cabinet interactions.

Carver founded Sunfire in Snohomish, Washington, where he continues to evolve his ribbon loudspeaker line for two-channel and surround sound enjoyment. He told me that ribbon speakers are popular choices among custom installers for their transducer technology, rich imaging, and detail, and of course, the smaller sizes. "It is a hand-in-glove fit," he explained.

All of Carver's experience and research still drive current development at Sunfire. The new XT-Series, for example, delivers on the promise of performance with aggressive price points that meet the needs of Sunfire's dealers. The SubRosa line consists of two new XT-Series models that Carver hopes will outperform any other 2,700-watt subwoofer. The High Back-emf 10-inch woofers are 30-percent slimmer than those in a non-XT Series in-room subwoofers. The second is patent-pending StillBass technology, which features anti-shake technology. Both SubRosas offer max sensitivity ratings in a whisper of a cabinet (44.5- x 14.25- x 3.75-inches HWD) that comes in a handsome Rosewood lacquer finish.

"The next 45 days are going to be very exciting," Sunfire's Eric Harper said.

Several product launches, including the High Resolution Satellite Series, and a focus on "luxury selling," promise to meet the needs of the current Sunfire dealer base. There are approximately 600 Sunfire dealers, a network that continues to grow, Harper says, due to the company's evolving product offerings, a new Flagship dealer program, and cross-pollination with ELAN under their parent, the Linear Technology Group umbrella.

The true artistry of a Sunfire product, Carver said, is the sense of acoustic space and a true "three-dimensional soundfield that you feel emotionally." He agreed that in this MP3 age, dedicated "listening rooms" are less common than home cinemas or whole-house systems, but the Sunfire team still believes in the role of high-end performance systems, and custom dealers are the best equipped to deliver the art of fidelity.

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