THE GOLDMUND STANDALONE SPEAKER
A. Standalone Speakers Vs. Cluttered Living Room
Traditional passive speakers are unavoidably associated with big amplifiers, big speaker cables, all spread out more or less on the floor of your living room to avoid detrimental long Speaker cables. Additional cables, the interconnects, run to a preamplifier, usually not close. The Goldmund Standalone Speaker puts everything inside the speaker: the power amplifiers, the speaker cables and even a large part of the preamplifier circuits.
The Result: In your living room you now have only one pair of speakers on the floor. It can be very tiny ones, like a pair of Metis Tower, or gigantic ones like the Goldmund Apologue or the Goldmund Transformer; you see nothing else but the speakers, a great “Wife Acceptance Factor” improvement.
B. The Improvement of Acoustical Grounding
Over the last 35 years, Goldmund has developed a power amplifier circuit that is totally unique in its capability of “holding” the drivers of a speaker tightly, prohibiting them to resonate with their own inertia, with the speaker cabinet, or even with the room acoustic modes. That’s what Goldmund calls the “Acoustical Grounding” effect. When connected by speaker cables, the amplifiers cannot control the drivers of your speakers very tightly. The Goldmund “Acoustical Grounding” effect that the Goldmund amplifiers can create by controlling the drivers is drastically reduced. More, the passive crossover of the speaker stands between the amplifier and the drivers, degrading the Acoustical Grounding effect even more. And using bi-wiring or bi-amping does not help. In the Goldmund Standalone Speaker, there is one power amplifier per driver, suppressing the passive crossover. In addition the power amplifier is very close to the driver, maximizing the Acoustical Grounding effect.
The Result: With a drastic reduction of spurious resonance from the driver cone, from the speaker enclosure or even from the room acoustics, the sound of a standalone speaker is much more clear and lifelike, with natural tighter bass.
C. Digital Vs. Analog
A traditional audio system is usually transporting the signal in an analog form from the source (turntable or D/A) to the preamplifier then to the power amplifier(s). If simpler in appearance, or exempt of any kind of “digital distortion” - an old enemy of the audiophile that appeared when the CD and D/A’s were far from perfect - the analog connections in the system present serious drawbacks. All analog long cables generate serious losses in the signal that can vary from cable to cable (creating what audiophiles call their “sound”). In addition they may add some sonic signature by adding coloration (magnetostriction…). The same is true for the analog preamplifier. Only extremely sophisticated (i.e. expensive) preamplifier circuitry keeps the signal without too much loss or contamination. Goldmund has always recommended carrying the audio signal in digital format along the system cables and converting it to analog only at the power amplifier, in order to minimize quality loss in the system. This was in fact only a move of the D/A towards the input circuit of the amplifier, and a change of the very costly analog preamplifier for a much simpler digital preamplifier. When well engineered (and coming from analog designers, the first digital circuits were far from perfect, creating the reputation of bad sound for anything digital), the digital transport of the signal can be perfect, as well as the preamp functions (switching, volume control). In addition, some systems functions such as speaker crossover, speaker and room equalization could be made much better in digital and the most difficult ones (like phase or time correction) can only be made in digital.
The Result: With a system where the signal stays digital up to the final power amplifier, sound quality is much better preserved, with a much more lifelike result. And in addition some system functions can be added which, we will see, can prove critical.
D. Wireless Connection
The bad reputation of wireless connection among audiophiles comes from the time where wireless meant analog wireless. Today, wireless systems are all working in digital and are 100% as good as the best wires. Otherwise computer networks would not be reliable through Wi-Fi… The interconnect attaching the analog preamplifier to the power amplifiers in a traditional audiophile system is the most detrimental cable in the whole system. It is also the cable that costs the most to audiophiles when they need to run long ones and want to preserve quality. In the Goldmund digital systems, the cable is usually a coaxial and the length and quality are less critical. And in the standalone speaker, the crossover is inside so only one cable is sufficient, even for a 6-way system like the Apologue or the Transformer. However this is still one of the cables that will run in the room, generating a risk of tripping, and very slowly degrading by stepping on it (the worse you can do to a digital coaxial cable). For the Goldmund Standalone Speaker, Goldmund introduced a digital wireless system of extreme robustness allowing the speakers to be linked wirelessly to a digital preamplifier (now usually called a Hub) or simply to a computer using a small USB dongle provided with the speakers. If an AC plug has been located in the floor under the speaker, no cable remains visible in the room, another step of “Wife Acceptance” improvement.
The Result: By removing the last signal cable, the standalone speaker looks even cleaner and can stand like a sculpture in a Museum, without wires attached.
E. The Proteus Speaker Modeling Software: The Total Correction
During the last 10 years, one of Goldmund’s greatest achievements has been the creation of Proteus, its Mathematical Modeling Software capable not only of designing perfect speakers out of any enclosure shape but also of integrating the results in a room, even for multi-channel. Some traditional audiophile speakers may be assembled with the best drivers in the best enclosure, without sounding lifelike at all. Most of the problems are with the crossover and the low frequency tuning. If properly designed, the crossover is supposed to avoid major amplitude accidents in the speaker frequency response. Some may even achieve a decent phase response with acrobatic passive crossover design (detrimental to the “Acoustical Grounding” anyhow as we have seen before). But the major distortion created by the crossover remains the time distortion and this cannot be corrected in a passive crossover. It requires working in the digital domain, with access to mathematical modeling software. Thanks to Proteus, and thanks to the digital DSP crossover used in all the Goldmund Standalone Speakers, all forms of distortion can be systematically eliminated. Using “Leonardo”, a method developed especially by Goldmund, the Time distortion can be neutralized. But also, both amplitude and phase response accidents of the global speaker, usually due to its shape, its port tuning etc... can be corrected with an extreme precision.
The Result: For the first time, a speaker totally corrected in amplitude, phase and time can be produced. The audible effect is staggering of vividness, and the recognition factor highly improved (this factor concerns the ability of the brain to recognize a sound as real vs. reproduced. It is highly influenced by the alignment of frequencies that, in nature, reach your ear at the same time but that are not properly aligned when any sound is reproduced). In addition, thanks to Proteus, more elaborate shape or different construction can be introduced, the final result being maintained unchanged.
F. Additional Possibilities: The Tuning Of The Room
Tuning the acoustic response of a room is a necessity in many home installations. Often installed in a living room, the system acoustics are far from perfect. Achieving some corrections with acoustic materials or accessories remains possible but then forget the “Wife Acceptance”. With the Goldmund Standalone Speaker, an internal powerful DSP circuit is integrated in the speaker, providing many possibilities of correction that can be calculated by Proteus.
The Result: A perfect system in a perfect room was something requesting extreme acoustical treatment and remaining imperfect. By using Proteus and a Goldmund Standalone Speaker, it is now possible to install it without major constraints for your décor choices. Mixing hidden and visible speakers also provides the possibility to achieve good-looking multi-channel systems for film or concert in a living room.
G. The Cost Effect:
A good audiophile speaker has to be very strongly built and use the most expensive drivers and crossover parts to avoid the most detrimental sonic faults. In addition, it must be associated with top models of power amplifiers and expensive analog preamplifier, not even counting today’s exorbitant price of “good” cables. A perfectly corrected Goldmund Standalone Speaker avoids the cost of a case for the big amplifiers, the expensive cables and the expensive analog preamplifier. In addition it can be built more simply with less perfect drivers since Proteus can calculate the needed corrections for those and make them even more perfect.
The Result: Even at the top Goldmund level, the price of a Standalone Speaker system remains dramatically lower than its equivalent in a traditional audiophile system. And the result is also dramatically better. Even the most hardcore audiophiles have started to discover but more importantly to acknowledge it.
For more detailed and technical information on the Goldmund speaker modeling technology, please click on the white paper below. For a complete understanding of all technologies used in our speakers, also read the Proteus and Leonardo technologies page.