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Technology

Seawave Acoustic speakers are defined by technological innovations from handmade components to non-soldering technology.

Seawave Acoustic has gone to enormous lengths to push back the boundaries of horn speaker performance. We were obliged to return to first principles, developing the components that would enable us to attain our design goals.

The following parts have been produced through a partnership between ourselves and other specialist manufacturers, whom we must thank here for their patience and dedication in helping us reach some incredible standards of performance.

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True Horn

While the horn is in itself a thing of beauty giving unique form to our loudspeakers, it also performs a highly technical role. As you may have read elsewhere on our site, we refer to our speaker as a ‘true horn’. What exactly does this mean?

Horn loudspeakers were originally produced to maximise the output of a loudspeaker from modest, tube-powered amplifiers. Pioneered by companies such as Western Electric to provide sound for large movie theatres, horn loudspeakers were the norm from the 1930s to the 1960s, providing the fidelity and volume required in these applications.

Unlike the domestic loudspeakers of today, horn speakers used compression driver technology to maximise the output of the speaker. (Essentially, the horn captures the acoustic energy of the compression driver and couples it with the air in the horn, focusing in a specific direction to produce much higher volumes).

So, what is the difference between a compression driver and a modern speaker driver?

Basically, they operate on a similar principle, with an electrical current moving through a coil within a magnetic field. However, unlike modern drivers, the surface area of the compression driver is much smaller and the coil assembly is on the outside of the membrane, rather than in the middle. This translates into a lower moving mass and thus into faster transient speeds with a potentially greater retrieval of detail.

Compression drivers are also able to handle greater power, giving lower levels of dynamic compression than their modern equivalents. Besides efficiently coupling the air, horns are very sensitive, so that the diaphragm needs to move much less, dramatically decreasing distortion.

In order to fully liberate the potential of the compression driver, the horn must be crafted in a very accurate fashion to reflect perfectly the hyperbolic (mid) and exponential (high) curves required to couple them together.

It is vital that this be done perfectly so as not to introduce any frequency aberrations, especially in the mid-range where the ear is most sensitive to inaccuracies. At Seawave Acoustic we sculpt our horns from the highest grade white birchwood in multiple 20mm layers. This produces the ideal rigidity and dampened laminate structure, to create its beautiful sound. The horn is hand-finished and painted by master craftsmen to produce our gorgeous, iconic conformation.

Unlike other manufacturers, Seawave Acoustic’s horn speakers utilise compression drivers with an ideal horn structure that fulfils the design specifications of the originators so many years ago, thus making it a modern ‘true horn’.

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NST (Non-Soldering Technology)

Having created highly discriminating horns capable of revealing the most subtle musical detail, additional colourations become apparent through our manufacturing processes. For instance, lead solder has a deleterious effect on sound. Unlike copper and silver which are highly efficient carriers of current, lead causes resistance and a voltage drop that creates a discernible degradation of sound.

To eliminate this, Seawave Acoustic has developed a unique way of removing completely all soldered points of connection within our loudspeakers. We achieve this by twisting and crimping cables, then sealing them with a powerful resin from the destructive effects of oxidisation.

The result is an unparalleled level of transparency and dynamic expression which fully liberates the potential performance of the compression horn.

We take this methodology to its extreme limits, applying it even to the components we manufacture, producing internal solderless connections in the items below.

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Components

Resistors

Resistors are an important part of crossover design where frequencies are split between different drivers. To match the level of transparency of our horn designs, Seawave Acoustic has created the ideal resistor value and performance benchmark critical to our needs.

Working closely with the best local component manufacturers, we produce resistors to military grade specification, incorporating their NST methodology internally to keep the signal path as pure as possible. To extend their performance even further, the components are located within the highest-grade ceramic housing, creating a product that adds no disturbance within a crossover network and produces exquisite high frequencies without dynamic saturation.

Inductors

Anyone who has experienced a Seawave Acoustic speaker will recognise its legendary bass performance. The secret lies in our inductors. Formulated after years of experimentation and of working closely with our local partners, we have succeeded in producing an inductor that is one third of the length of the best conventional designs and produces less than 10% of the resistance.

With its nickel alloy core and its revolutionary use of Kapton film to insulate our 69 oxygen-free copper (99.9999 OFC), our inductor performs as if it weren’t present at all, promoting unsurpassed levels of bass detail, speed and control.

For the first time, you will hear bass frequencies in your home as if you were in your favourite auditorium.

Capacitors

Our most recent success in high-end component production has involved the capacitor. Utilising 69 OFC and Kapton insulation we have managed to create a capacitor with a level of enhanced performance not previously achieved.

Painstakingly engineered locally, this component perfectly matches the requirements of our horn speaker, creating a naturalness and transparency of sound that are completely consistent with our design ambitions.

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Crossover Design

Thanks to our set of hand-crafted components, Seawave Acoustic can now build its crossover networks without compromise. Values so large that the speakers never reach saturation – specifications that meet the challenge of our discriminating horn designs – NST connecting all circuits – the results of our tireless research and collaboration are no less than revelatory.

The elimination of artifice, the unimpeded speed and decay of dynamic shifts, and the complete transfer of the original signal information combine to remove every barrier between ear and musical performance.

Bo San once remarked that his goal was ‘to recreate sound visibly rather than just audibly’. Our amazing crossover components enable you to do just that – to experience music as if you were gazing into a new, sensual dimension.

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Cabinet Construction

The cabinet is essential for holding together the constituent parts of a speaker and thereby supplying its distinctive physical form. However, it is also a vital component in its own right, albeit one that must remain inert. Any extraneous energy generated by the speaker drivers, as well as the acoustic energy created within the cabinet, have to be captured and dissipated in a way that does not add noise or affect the performance of the drivers themselves. To achieve this, Seawave Acoustic’s AM23 uniquely employs a Uni-Cast AC4C aluminium cabinet.

While other manufacturers bind together sheets of aluminium with braces to try to eliminate the inherent, resonant qualities of the material, we use the excellent vibration control of AC4C aluminium alloy – a combination of aluminium, silica and magnesium. Our unicasting process creates a complex shape with no joins, providing tremendous rigidity. Coupled with the inherent dampening effect of the material itself, this creates the ideal structure for a speaker cabinet.

The result is an ideal dampener for the drivers attached to the cabinet and the acoustic energy produced within it. The horn is able to produce a wonderful degree of detail, in addition to the exceptional bass performance delivered by our state-of-the-art crossover designs.

The Aletheia is a single chassis unit that benefits greatly from the remarkable resonance control properties of AC4C aluminium.

The AM23, too, is a single chassis unit, into which an aluminium horn is threaded to form the rigid, damped cabinet of a superb true horn speaker.

However, the AM34 takes design to a different level altogether, consisting as it does of two sections – the bass and the mid/treble. By separating the two cabinets we have optimised the space that each driver requires to ‘breathe’, while at the same time both physically isolating the mid/treble horn section from the prodigious energy produced by the bass modules, and mechanically isolating them with our proprietary HDMT Insulators.

The result is even greater transparency, dynamic range and bass extension.

Coupling the birch horn to the AC4C AM34 cabinet produces more naturalistic high frequencies while delivering a level of performance higher unparalleled in the industry.

While the Aletheia and AM23 may be superlative compact speakers, be warned: the AM34 will
come like a bolt out of the blue!

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HDMT (High Damping Metal Technology Insulator)

All audio components are affected by vibration, be they speakers or electronics. To ensure the isolation of components from the deleterious effects of vibration, Seawave Acoustic worked with top university researchers specialising in devices for particle physics experiments.

Using a secret, high-damping metal essential for the operation of particle accelerators, we created an insulator that removes ultra-wide bandwidth vibration ranging from between 0.1Hz to 10MHz.

Our High-Dampening Metal Technology (HDMT) insulators are of two types, respectively for speaker and electronic applications. The AM23 uses HDMT insulators between the speaker base and the top of the stand, while in the AM34 they are placed between the bass and mid/treble cabinet. These applications remove any harshness and increase the sense of transparency and dynamic contrast resulting from the lower noise floor.

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Driver Construction

Being obsessively averse to compromise, we took the bold step of producing our own compression drivers for the horn elements as well as, more recently, a mid-bass driver. In a moment of inspiration, we experimented with the ancient Korean technology of Hanji paper. Renowned for its exceptional strength, Hanji paper is produced in a complex process that ensures its unique qualities. For example, important historical documents made from such paper are still in excellent condition today, after more than a thousand years.

Developed and fitted to our compression drivers for the tweeter and mid-bass driver, Hanji paper produces a beautiful natural sound, free from any artifice. Being exceptionally light and stiff it allows the speakers to be lightning fast, so is ideally suited to both applications.

Most critical of all is the midrange compression driver. Unlike the tweeter unit, midrange drivers are required to produce considerable musical energy. They are much smaller than standard drivers, and consequently must work very intensively. After much experimentation we decided upon a titanium compound that could deliver the extraordinary dynamic shifts the AM23 and AM34 were designed to produce. The compound also delivers the neutrality and low distortion critical to midrange performance.

Seawave Acoustic’s drivers have enabled us to reach our design goals and to create a true horn speaker that we believe will attract a wide following through its neutrality and its modest size.

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Seawave Acoustic
#1108, 70, Gasan Digital 1-Ro,
Geumcheon-Gu,
Seoul, 08590,
Republic of Korea

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