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Audio speakers constructed like a guitar

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August 23, 2006

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August 24, 2006 Audiophiles and audio engineers have long debated the relative sound quality of vacuum tubes, vinyl records, Class A amplifiers, and exotic speaker cables, however, while the musical character of some acoustic devices was often a happy coincidence, there is nothing unintentional about a new loudspeaker from Onkyo and Takamine. Onkyo is now shipping the unusual loudspeaker, designed jointly with renowned guitar manufacturer Takamine, to express the positive qualities of both speaker performance and musical instrument design and construction. The Onkyo D-TK10 designers consciously rejected the inert-box acoustics of conventional speaker cabinetry in favour of a freely-vibrating thin-wall enclosure based on high-end guitar construction. Through strategic placement of struts, stringers, and thickness variations, the speaker harnesses the sounds that would normally be absorbed within the enclosure to stimulate carefully controlled cabinet resonances for a much fuller and richer sonic character.

"For thousands of years, the stringed instrument makers have exploited the acoustic character of hollow wooden enclosures to create beautiful music," said Paul Wasek, Onkyo marketing manager. "Modern audio engineers, on the other hand, have sought to deaden the sound of the loudspeaker enclosure, so the only sounds we hear are from the tweeters and woofers. Now, Onkyo and Takamine have turned that thinking on its head.

"The D-TK10 has thin walls that vibrate like a guitar body, adding depth and character to the music. Unlike conventional speakers, the Onkyo D-TK10 is not an impartial transducer. It sounds very accurate, yet it enhances the music in a way that must be heard to be appreciated."

The long development process of these speakers began after some promising experiments at Onkyo in 2003. Shortly thereafter, Onkyo enlisted Takamine's engineering and design team to help bridge the gap between speaker and instrument, creating a cabinet based on the materials, design and techniques used to craft Takamine's highly regarded acoustic guitars. From this point, each evolution of the design got better and better until the speakers were finally put into production in the Summer of 2006.

The D-TK10's bass-reflex cabinet is constructed of mahogany, and features a sophisticated system of internal bracing that contributes to the precisely tuned cabinet vibration which gives the speaker its warm sound quality. The 4-inch cone woofer features Onkyo's new lightweight and rigid A-OMF (Advanced Onkyo Micro Fiber) monocoque diaphragm, which helps prevent driver breakup even at high excursions. Upper frequency reproduction is handled by a one-inch ring-drive tweeter that is capable of flat frequency response all the way up to 100 kHz.

The Onkyo D-TK10 features gold-plated binding posts that are compatible with banana plugs, spade lugs, or bare wire. The speakers are magnetically shielded, allowing them to operate near video equipment without degrading picture quality.

Due to the labor-intensive assembly process, production of the Onkyo D-TK10 speakers is limited to just fifty pairs per month. They are available in the US exclusively through www.shoponkyo.com at a suggested retail price of US$1,999 per pair.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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