The Hub: Advanced Transduction - another new speaker brand?

It's a truism of the audio business that ANYONE can build speakers. In the most basic sense, it's true: any knucklehead can pound together some boxes out of of medium-density fibreboard, and screw in drivers. The odds of them being GOOD speakers, however, are up there with the odds of a roomful of typewriting chimps cranking out Shakespeare.

So why, amidst the most dire audio marketplace since Edison first recited "Mary Had a Litlle Lamb", would someone choose to come out with yet another speaker-brand? Either the builder is crazy... or they have something that's really different, and really good. Bill Roberts may be a little goofy, but he's not crazy. So he says.

Roberts debuted his Advanced Transduction "Directorate" speakers at Axpona, powered by electronics from high-end veteran Dave Belles (about whom, more another day) . Bill has been involved in music and audio most of his life, as a musician, live-sound engineer, recordist and mastering engineer. For over 20 years he's been refining his speaker designs, with the goal of creating the "ultimate monitor", a speaker that would reproduce all elements of a recording without injecting any coloration or personality, and without any compression of dynamics.

Historically, monitors emphasized efficiency and indestructibility over lack of coloration; the JBLs and Altecs that were the staples of American recording studios were capable of startling dynamics, but were often honky or shrill. The B&W 801s introduced thirty years ago were in many ways more neutral than the old guard, but were a little constrained, dynamically.

Roberts' speakers look ordinary, with a utility finish one might expect to find in a control room; their most noticeable feature is a separate enclosure for each woofer. Those nondescript-looking boxes belie incredibly elaborate construction utilizing dozens of CNC-cut pieces. Even the not-quite-finished-looking Sandstone surface-treatment was chosen for its damping characteristics, although an almost unlimited range of Corian and veneer finishes are available as desired.

All three drivers are line-loaded, utilizing proprietary venting techniques. Extensive analysis using MATLAB has resulted in a system of extraordinary linearity (+/- 1 dB, 18 Hz-24 kHz, -3 dB at 14 Hz), efficiency (96 dB/1W/1M), and dynamic range (peaks of 123 dB, requiring power-handling of over 500 watts). Constrained-layer damping is utilized to create seriously-massive enclosures (over 700 pounds for the system) with very low coloration or intrinsic noise. In addition, the cabinets and driver placements are carefully configured to help cancel out room modes. They may LOOK like plain ol' boxes, but they're not.

The drivers are also ├╝ber-tweak, despite their mundane appearance. Roberts begins with off-the-shelf cones and baskets, but essentially every other element is custom-fabricated, and even the "standard" pieces are treated and modified. The woofer exhibits a free-air resonance of 14 Hz and maximum excursion of 1/2", and its magnet-assembly weighs nearly 40 pounds. The woofer crosses over to the mid at 90 Hz at an effective rate of 18 dB/octave, due to the combination of a mechanical crossover and a very simple electrical network. The crossover to the tweeter is at a surprisingly low 900 Hz, and it runs out flat beyond 24 kHz.

The "Directorates" are a sophisticated and mature design (not surprising, given the years of work Roberts has put into them), addressing physical and electrical considerations overlooked by most designs. In many ways they embody the best elements of the high-end: years of work by a dedicated, as-yet-unknown designer, qualities that become more evident with longer acquaintance, and huge value for money. Their price range of $25-30K is not a small amount of money any way you view it, but given the performance and hardware cost, it could well be a best-buy in the high-end.

In days to come, The Hub will examine more Made in the USA exhibitors from Axpona. See our complete Axpona coverage here.
The specs look like science fiction to me.
Didn't sound that way.
Have NOT heard them, they are new to me.
BUT, having a floorstander size subwoofer and a regular floorstander size mids and treble would seem to be a logical extension of the two separate functions in one module with a separate top for the mid and treble and a separate larger bottom for the sub. So the specs may work and the sound may be there, something new for me to find out about.
If you have the room and the significant other willing to abide them, they may work wonders, heavy on the MAY.
Thanks for bringing these to light! Great seeing products Made in the USA. Please keep them coming.

I'm very much looking forward to one day giving these speakers a listen.
Science fiction my butt. These are probably the BEST speakers I've ever heard! Certainly better than anything under $100k.

As I stated on the "S'phile" blog, these embarrassed EVERY speaker I heard at Axpona, and not by a small margin.

Being in the industry over two decades, these are the first speakers I ever listened to that I MUST own. One audition, and you'll hear what I mean.

Honestly, these are not speakers, but musical instruments. Piano, vocals and drums had such presence, I was taken somewhere I have never before been: THE ABSOLUTE SOUND. Not a rendition, nor "great" reproduction, but a near-flawless recreation of exactly what music sounds like live.

A bit (a large bit) of credit should also go to the excellent Belles products used with the Directorates, as well as Bill's mastery of musical production.

If you can keep-up (you can not; trust me), give Bill a call and listen to him discuss the physics pertaining to these works of art.

And don't think he's got me in his pocket! I must shell-out the same money for these as anyone else.

At the Directorate's retail price, I have certainly never heard anything close. Even the $56,000.00, 10-driver speakers two rooms down at Axpona (you know who you are) were an absolute JOKE compared to the Directorates.

I wholeheartedly gave the Advanced Transduction/Belles room "best of (Axpona)show" after only ten to fifteen minutes in their room.

The second the piano started playing, my "headache" was cured, and I was listening to MUSIC for the first time all day, rather than components.

I won't even get in to the bass, as it's so low, I'd be afraid to summon alien craft playing the Directorates at high volumes.

Bill's speakers will be my reference set the second I can afford them. I think that says a lot, considering I've owned dozens of high-end speakers. Or so I THOUGHT until Axpona.

I've not been so excited about speakers since I first heard a stereo image, circa 1985. The simple, ADS L7/Yamaha system I first experienced "true hifi" on was what prompted me to spend the next 25 years developing audio gear and installing home/car audio.

In those 25 years, I have worked with a lot of the industry's largest names, especially in car audio. Bill is a true genius, ranking with the Richard Clarks and David Navones of the world.

The only issue I have with Mr. Roberts is, I can no longer listen to my current system with any degree of satisfaction, whatsoever.

Joe Mazzaglia
Auricle Audio Design, NA